Vic Harker reviews the loads that offer the best of everything for the Glorious Twelfth

Last month I reviewed Lyalvale Express Power Gold 28g Skeet load and gave a retail price of £225 per 1,000. This was a mistake on my part and the correct price represents extraordinarily good value at £190 per 1,000.

Grouse. No other form of game shooting quite matches it. A worthy quarry that represents a challenge to the best of shooters and all set in some of the most beautiful countryside in Great Britain. The best of sport deserves the shooter’s closest attention to his shooting technique, the fit of his gun and, last but far from least, his cartridges. Like the grouse shot who uses them, they must be fast and consistent. The load should be hard-hitting but with manageable recoil, so here are some cartridges that meet these demanding criteria...

1. Lyalvale Express Supreme Grouse

Driven grouse shooting can demand Olympian feats of speed and accuracy, so why not use the kind of cartridge that complements this level of skill? From a manufacturer whose shotgun ammunition has won an Olympic gold medal, and with a 65mm case length perfect for English game guns, Supreme Grouse provides performance with suitable restraint. Available in fibre wad 29g 6, £281.50 per 1,000.

2. Lyalvale Express Supreme Game

For the grouse shooter who prefers one cartridge for all his game shooting, he can hardly do better than Supreme Game. From the highlands to the lowlands, for grouse, partridge or pheasant, this premium-quality cartridge delivers optimum performance in any conditions. Available in fibre and plastic wad 28g and 30g 4, 5, 6, 6.5 and 7, £261-£284 per 1,000.

3. Hull Cartridge Driven Grouse

This long-established and much-revered ammunition manufacturer’s response to my request for cartridges for grouse shooting was emphatic: “Driven Grouse”. Developed in conjunction with leading grouse specialists, estate owners and moorland keepers, nothing less will do for Great Britain’s most sporting gamebird. Electroplated copper shot resists deformation through the chokes and therefore penetrates deeper for the cleanest of kills. With a residual velocity at 40 yards of 209mc, this spectacular grouse load is both effective and also easy on the shoulder. In new purple packaging, could there be a more appropriate choice for the king of gamebirds? Available in fibre wad 28g and 30g 5.5 and 6.5, £315.50-£343.50 per 1,000.

4. Hull Cartridge Imperial Game

Voted cartridge of the year in 2012 by the shooting press, this award-winning cartridge is for the discerning game shooter who seeks the ultimate in performance for every kind of game shooting. As an outstanding load for grouse and equally so for driven pheasant, the all-round game shot cannot choose better. Available in 26, 28 and 30g loads with a high antimony shot load that ensures pellet performance and the best possible patterns. Available in fibre wad 26g, 28g and 30g 5, 6, 7, £266.75-£279 per 1,000.

5. Eley Classic Game

All the cartridges sent to me for this grouse issue were fibre-wadded, a clear indication of the concern our cartridge makers have for the grouse’s habitat. Eley Classic Game goes a step further with a beautifully made paper-case load. The scent of a just fired paper-case cartridge is evocative for those whose days in the field began much longer ago than we care to remember. Eley Classic Game is not just an exercise in nostalgia; on the pattern plate and in the grouse butt this cartridge will perform, delivering well-distributed and consistent patterns. Available in fibre wad 30g 6, £367 per 1,000.

6. Eley Zenith

A great British cartridge from the UK’s longest established manufacturer, a wealth of experience has gone into the development of the Zenith cartridge. As a fully integrated maker, all the components that go into Eley cartridges are developed in their own laboratories and carefully matched for pattern performance and shot-after-shot consistency. In the case of Zenith, loaded with electroplated copper shot, the pattern reaches the quarry with every pellet in perfect condition for maximum downrange effectiveness. Available in fibre wad 30g, 32g and 36g 4, 5, 6, £320-£380 per 1,000.

7. Gamebore Regal Game

If grouse shooting is to be likened to horse racing – the sport of kings – you too will feel a little more regal with this cartridge in your gun. A very modern royal too, with state-of-the-art components including Gamebore’s Diamond Hard Shot and a nickel head for clean ejection. This is absolutely vital in the grouse butt when the red hordes are coming thick and fast. F2 blended powder will also ensure minimum recoil so that neither his Highness, nor his aim, will be disturbed. Available in fibre wad 28g, 30g and 32g 5, 6, £260-£290.50.

8. Gamebore Black Gold

An industry award winner, it also takes first place in the grouse butts. No efforts are spared to produce this class-leading cartridge, which shines in any conditions. In a 70mm case, the fibre-wadded version powered by the latest F2 powder have been field tested by a panel of expert game shooters before being offered to the market. Combining state-of-the-art performance with environmentally friendly components, it is the natural choice for the discerning and responsible grouse shooter. Available in fibre wad 28g, and fibre and plastic wad 30g 5 and 6, £273-£290 per 1,000.

10. Fiocchi PL28

A one-ounce Italian game load that can hold its own in any circles, including a grouse butt. Competition bred, Fiocchi loads ensure match-winning consistency that’s equally important for game shooting. The PL28 is particularly suited to short-chambered English guns, and the Latin’s love of speed ensures the shot load reaches the quarry in the shortest possible time. Available in fibre wad 28g 5, 6 and 7, £214 per 1,000.