A friend of mine won’t buy cheap cartridges as he says they kick too much. Is that true?

DON BRUNT replies: That’s something of a generalisation which isn’t always the case. Nobody really makes a bad cartridge these days though, as with everything in life, some are better than others. However, inexpensive doesn’t have to mean painful to shoot. A cartridge generates recoil dependent on a lot of different factors. Sometimes it’s down to muzzle velocity, i.e. the faster the charge goes down the barrel the quicker the propellant needed which can, but not always, lead to a sharper felt sensation of recoil. Shot load is also a factor as big, heavy 36g loads will always impart more kick. However, in clay shooting 28g is the maximum permitted anyway so it shouldn’t be a big issue, though obviously the lighter 21 and 24g loads do, generally speaking, produce less recoil. Some people will say they feel less recoil when using plas wads as opposed to fibre, but others don’t notice a difference. Arguably, in the more expensive loads, a more expensive and potentially smoother burning powder might be used, which can help, but some of the very high velocity loads, which can be very expensive can also be a little firm on the shoulder. A lot of people tend to blame cartridges for excessive recoil but in many cases it’s down to the shooter’s gun hold or the gun itself. If it doesn’t fit properly and the head needs to be lifted off the stock to see the target then a nasty jolt is far more likely. Similarly, if it’s an old gun which has shot loose over the years and is slightly ‘off the face’ or is exceptionally lightweight then chances are it will kick like a mule no matter what diet you feed it. As always, my advice to everyone is to find a shell that they like, which suits their style and budget and stick to it. Remember, what works for one gun and shooter may not work so well for another.