This month Vic chooses a selection of the cartridges that are fast enough to tackle even the most challenging of these little birds

1 Gamebore Black Gold – Dark Storm

A new premium grade cartridge from this famous northern manufacturer renowned for pushing the envelope as regards cartridge performance. Dark Storm is quick and deadly with a down-range velocity of 1525fps. High velocities usually equate to significant recoil, but far less so with Gamebore’s award-winning wool wad. It’s advantageous in that it provides a perfect gas seal and its cushioning effect also reduces recoil. Particularly suited to back-bored guns where gas escaping around a conventional wad can be a problem, Dark Storm’s state of the art specification ticks all the boxes in terms of speed, low recoil and hard-hitting patterns with Gamebore’s diamond hard shot. Available in fibre and wool 28, 30, 32, 36, 38 and 40g in shot sizes 4, 5 and 6, from around £279-£495 per 1,000.

2 Gamebore Pure Gold

Another high quality game-getter developed in conjunction with sporting ace George Digweed. Equally at home in the game field, Digweed has worked with Gamebore to produce a cartridge with the same consistency and hard-hitting qualities as the company’s medal-winning target loads, which are such a part of the Digweed success story. Gamebore claim this is the best performing 2½” cartridge on the market and brings 21st century ballistics to traditional English game guns with shorter chambers. Available in plastic and fibre 28, 30 and 32g in shot sizes 4, 5 and 6, from around £260-£290 per 1,000.

3 Hull Cartridge Imperial Game

Developed by Hull with input from a number of top flight game shots and in 2012 voted cartridge of the year, this load has gained an enviable reputation among knowledgeable game shooters. With all the virtues of a high velocity load with less recoil, for partridges the 30g option with number 6 shot is an excellent choice for the discerning shooter. Available in 26, 28 and 30g fibre in shot sizes 5, 6 and 7, from around £266-£279 per 1,000.

4 Hull Cartridge High Pheasant

For those requiring that little extra performance on partridges at altitude, this cartridge with a 32g load of number 6 shot fits the bill. High down-range velocity with just that bit more pattern will put more birds in the bag and it’s suitable for 2½” and 2¾” chambered guns. Available in 30 and 32g plastic and fibre in shot sizes 5, 6 and 7, from around £279-£291 per 1,000.

5 Lyalvale Express Supreme Game

This game load is the result of the vast experience the company’s R&D team have gained over many years. Exhaustive tests in both the laboratory and in the field have produced a game load that, so far as many experienced shooters are concerned, is very difficult to better. In terms of pattern, performance and hitting power at range I found that the 28g load of 6 shot is one that inspires supreme confidence. Available in 28, 30, 32, 34g plastic and fibre in shot sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7, from around £260-£324 per 1,000.

6 Lyalvale Express Special Game

A great cartridge for all seasons and in 28g and 30g a fine cartridge for partridges. Special game remains a staple in the Lyalvale Express range, but it is constantly upgraded in terms of component parts so that it remains right up there with the latest shotshell technology. A favourite with owners of English game guns with 2½” chambers, Special Game has become as much a part of the English game shooting scene as tweed breeks. Available in 25, 28, 30 and 32g plastic and fibre in shot sizes 5, 6 and 7, from around £234-£273 per 1,000.

7 Eley VIP

The first choice of some of the finest shots in the land with that illustrious grouse shooter Lord James Percy among them. Its reputation may have been gained on the grouse moor, but on low ground partridges it’s equally effective. Developed by the UK’s longest established manufacturer, their VIP loads deliver for every kind of game shooting, with a comprehensive choice of shot loads in fibre with photodegradeable wads. Available in 28, 30 and 32g plastic and fibre in shot sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7, from around £260-£294 per 1,000.

8 Eley Grand Prix

I shot my first partridge with Eley Grand Prix and so it holds a special place in my affections, but this is not just a matter of nostalgia. The Grand Prix cartridge has a reputation for consistent ballistics and moderate recoil that goes back decades. Ideal in 2½” chambered game guns, it can hold its own in any company and in any kind of gun. Available in 30g fibre, in shot sizes 5 ,6 and 7, £273 
per 1,000.