HULL HIGH PHEASANT AND HIGH PHEASANT EXTREME
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- Last updated: 08/11/2023
Bruce Potts assesses some Hull High Pheasant and High Pheasant Extreme cartridges
Its origins stemmed from the founder in 1924, Sydney Bontoft, who sold carbide to firms and farmers for lighting. This then led to sales of cartridges to the farmers he visited. Seeing an opportunity, Sydney started to reload his own cartridges for sale, and in 1947, Hull Cartridge was started.
Hull’s introduction of the High Pheasant range of cartridges really started a look into extreme performance for game loads. Hence this brand is made in two versions, one the standard High Pheasant and the other the Extreme version with ultimate performance. They are available in 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 bores, but we will look at the 12-gauge versions.
First up is the High Pheasant, which uses a 65mm case, CX primer, and shows a 16mm head. It offers the performance of a 70mm load but is suitable for use in guns with a minimum 65mm chamber, so older side-by-sides etc. It forms part of the Drop Dead Gauges range, thus combining fast and smooth shooting characteristics with moderate recoil. It uses biodegradable fibre wads to propel the hardened shot, reducing pellet deformation for uniform, dense patterns at longer ranges. It is available in two pellet sizes (No.5 or No.6) and in two weights (30 or 32-grams). This equates to 234 and 297 pellets for the 30-gram load with No. 5 or No. 6 shot respectively, whilst the 32-gram load is 250 and 317, respectively.
By contrast, the High Pheasant Extreme cartridges are again part of the Drop Dead Gauges range. Hull developed them to be the cartridge for high bird shoots. Shooters always want more or blame cartridge performance for their misses! So, Hull devised these Extreme versions of the High Pheasant so that there are no excuses if you miss!
These loads use Xtreme shot, which minimises pellet deformation for uniform, tighter patterns down range. The powder they use achieves 1450 fps but without excessive pressure or recoil. With the Extreme, you also get a choice of fibre or plastic wads for maximum performance.
These cartridges show a black 70mm case with a 20mm nickel head. Various shot sizes are available and include No.4, 5 or 6 in 30, 32, 34 or 36-gram weights. The pellets are harder and as such, a 36-gram load of No.5 shot has 238 pellets per cartridge, while a 32-gram load of No.6 has a total of 275 pellets.
I have used these cartridges in all their forms for testing shotguns over the years and for real field use against game/vermin. They remain a very consistent and fast shooting round, ideally suited for keeping up with any fast-moving and high game, speedy squirrels, and rabbits too! You will also notice that these rounds, although possessing high velocity, do have a smooth ignition system which affords lesser recoil at the shoulder. However, you will still feel the 34 and 36-gram loads.
Using some 32-gram No.5 cartridges in the Browning Black Shadow with a ½ choke fitted, I counted a total of 181 pellets on the pattern board, with a good spread of 71 pellets to the 15” inner ring and the remaining 110 pellets in the outer portion.
Also, the 30-gram No.6 load in a Browning Carbon Maxus (½ choke) shot another great pattern. This was much tighter, with a total of 220 pellet strikes, distributed 66 inner and 154 outer. A great all-rounder and a hard-hitting load with moderate recoil, especially in the semi-auto.
Next up were some 32-gram No.5 High Pheasant Extremes holding 211 pellets (the 36-gram of the same would hold 238 pellets). On the pattern boards with the ½ choke from the Browning B725, I had a healthy spread and a total of 175 pellets. 113 pellets were counted in the outer 30” circle and there were 62 strikes within the inner sectors. Overall, nicely distributed, and hard-hitting on the boards.
The 30-gram No.6s shot a good overall pattern, with great coverage again and an even distribution of shot. We had 213 pellets strike the board, with a very dense inner 15” covered by 95 pellets. The remaining 118 pellets were found around the circumference.
The 34-gram No.4 load (plastic wad) achieved a total of 155 pellet strikes within 30”, with a nicely spread 62 inner hits and 93 outer strikes. A good pattern that would deliver multiple strikes with more retained energy at range.
The High Pheasant and High Pheasant Extreme cartridges offer peak performance. The pattern boards speak for themselves, showing very dense and even patterns. Also, even with the stouter 34/36-gram loads, recoil was no problem at all. Designed for ‘extreme’ ranges or high and fast birds, the High Pheasant range of cartridges offers top-notch performance that you can rely on.