- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 05/10/2023
Pigeons are probably the most difficult quarry a shotgunner will face, as their unpredictable flight and speed can test the abilities of even the best shots. Getting enough lead in the air and at a decent speed is paramount for pigeons, but you will dare say shoot a lot of rounds in a day, so recoil is another important issue.
Enter Gamebore’s Pigeon Extreme, which are inspired by World Champion, George Digweed. This load combines high velocity, good shot patterns, and retained energy down range. It’s a premium loading designed for shooters who want the maximum performance from a cartridge and are prepared to pay a little extra for it. Just Cartridges sell them for £474 per 1000.
I like it when manufacturers keep it simple, as this cartridge is only available in one loading (34-grams | No. 5), but you can choose between an eco-friendly fibre wad or a plastic one, which should provide slightly tighter patterns. Whichever one you choose, both cartridges use a 70mm case that’s made from a high-density polymer plastic that’s see-through, so you can see the contents inside. You have a good concentric form coupled with a decent six-star crimp closure. Plus, there’s a high nickel/brass head that helps to provide smooth and reliable ejection, which is important with high-performance loads like these.
A CX2000 primer gives a consistent burn and a small shot-to-shot variation in velocity, so pressures are reliable and safe, and the down-range performance is maximised. With all the different shotguns I have tested over the years, these Extremes have certainly justified that description.
Vectan powder, a very well-known brand that I have used for my rifle reloads, gives consistent, reliable velocities. Plus, it’s clean burning, so minimal residue is left in the bores after a day of shooting. Importantly, it is cleaner to shoot in a semi-automatic, too, where excessive build-up of residue is a curse. Another plus point is the fact that the higher velocity (1450 fps) not only helps the cartridge to cycle reliably in semi-autos but also helps to extend the effective range of this round.
The plastic wad shows separating petals and a cushioned-cup design. It does not quite extend all the way to the crimp, so some of the pellets up top are sitting free. However, the shot density is always tight. The fibre wad version utilises a single-piece construction and is non-fragmenting, plus the fibres are 100% consistent, ensuring a perfect gas seal on firing and good patterns down range.
The trademarked Diamond Shot is produced in the only working shot tower in the UK. The lead shot is graded for roundness and then polished to produce a consistent shot shape, size, and weight. This is why Diamond shot produces good, even patterns and retains energy down range, due to its excellent spherical shape. This is appreciated when tackling high or fast-flying birds, where a good pattern and maximum energy are crucial.
With a payload of 34-grams of No. 5 shot, you should have an average of approximately 256 pellets per loaded cartridge. This combination of weight and pellet size is capable of tackling even the biggest and fastest pigeon.
I recently tested these rounds in an ATA Venza semi, and with the fibre version, it was very mild on the shoulder and smooth to shoot. 50 pellets struck the 15” inner sector and 138 pellets were in the outer 30”. That’s a total of 188 pellets on the board. Overall, good coverage, which is what you want. The pattern was distributed with good centre and fringe hits, so multiple strikes will be more effective and lethal with the ½ choke.
For this test, I used the 12-gauge Browning Black Shadow with ½ choke fitted, which proved these Extremes really shoot well. It was very interesting to see, and as expected, the plastic-wadded Pigeon Extremes shot tighter patterns, so there were more hits in the central sectors than the fibre wad cartridges. However, amazingly, the total number of pellet strikes was exactly the same for the plastics and fibres!
When using the plastic-wadded Pigeon Extremes, you can feel the large payload and shot size, but the felt recoil is not unreasonable at all. On the pattern boards, we had good coverage with a few vacant spots. With a total of 183 strikes, there were 64 inner hits and 119 pellets spread around the outer sectors.
Conversely, the fibre cartridges spread a bit more, so we had 48 pellets in the inner sectors, and these were actually more evenly spread than the plastic version. However, there were 135 pellet strikes in the outer 30”.
So, the fibre-wadded Pigeon Extreme cartridges had the same number of pellet strikes as the plastic wad version, but with more spread to the edges of the pattern. I would say it’s a nicer-looking pattern, but you decide.
With either the plastic or fibre wad version, the extra pellet count from the 34-grams of No. 5 shot size does extend the killing range or hit harder at standard ranges when it comes to quarry species like pigeons. Yes, a bit pricey, but performance costs, and it is worth it if the bag is ultimately increased.