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Eley Hawk Cartridge Round Up

Eley Hawk Cartridge Round Up

Eley are my .22LR rimfire round of choice, but Eley Hawk are a separate shotgun ammunition division. I have shot these rounds over the course of the year in many differing shotguns and here are the results from testing on the pattern boards. Eley offer a comprehensive range of 12-gauge shotgun cartridges for all shooting disciplines, here are seven of the pigeon and game series on test.

VIP Game

As the name suggests, this is a premium game shooting round, designed for optimal performance with the minimum of fuss. It has a 67mm case, with high 15mm rim and a black case and white lettering for a distinct look. That 67mm case will fit any 2½-inch chamber and thus is very diverse for a range of shotguns. It uses a photo degradable wad and a 28-gram load of either 5 or 6 shot sizes. You can also have plastic wadded VIP cases and is available in a wide range of load weights from 28-32-gram and shot sizes from No 4 to No 6.

This is a game load through and through, with great overall performance, minimal recoil, very even patterns and for confident shooting out in the field.

The Chapuis Artisan shot these very nicely, with the 28-gram and No 6 shot for lovely, very an even and dense pattern, with a total of 208 pellet hits, of which 66 covered the inner 15-inch circle and 142 outside.
Price: £9.10

Pigeon Select

I like this cartridge and have had good luck with it, as it is a good, no nonsense load for pigeons. This has a plastic wadded 2¾-inch (70mm) case and has a payload of 30-grams of No. 6 shot in a red case. It is designed with a six-star crimp for perfect pressure characteristics and clean firing, which gives the maximum ballistic advantage from the CSB clean burning powder. Velocities are in the 1350-1400fps range and a fibre-wadded version is also available but both have a 10mm rim height for reliable ejection.

In the Chapuis with full choke, I had 253 hits at 30-yards, of which 100 pellets were in the inner 15-inch circle, with a slightly high bias but even shot pattern overall that no pigeon would slip through.

In semi automatics that I favour for pigeons, I have found both recoil and gas operated system function flawlessly with these cartridges.

The Benelli M2 is super fast cycling and Eley Pigeon Select 30-gram load patterned at 30-yards, ½ choke, 188 pellet hits on the board, with 128 within the 29-inch outer circle margin and 60 within the inner 15- inch circle. That’s a great distribution of half the amount in the inner and outer. Very even distribution too, no holes; very hard to better this load.

This round is good to shoot over stubble or roosting pigeons as well as corvids, it is a smooth cycler in a pump or semi and easy on the shoulder in doubles.
Price: £6.20 per 25

Grand Prix

This is a real trooper; I remember using these, albeit paper cased when I was 15. If it ain’t broke… This latest incarnation is High Velocity and utilises a heavy 32-grams of No 6 shot, (shot size No 5 available also) with a fibre wad, perfect for game fields and high or fast flighting game species and still remains a dependable all rounder.

It uses an orange plastic case with a high16mm rim for good ballistics on this version and is 67mm overall length to fit a wide range of shotguns.

In the Chapuis, it gave a total of 268 pellet strikes on the 40-inch pattern board, of which 60 struck the inner 15-inch circle and the remaining 208 No 6 pellets evenly striking the outer portion with a slight upward bias. No Pheasant would get through that at range and a ½ choke would be perfect for normal ranged pheasants.
Price: £9.45 per 25

Hi Flyer

Talking of High Flyers, Eley Hi-Flyers are another hard hitting round with a good 32-gram load with a fibre wad system and available in shot sizes No 4, No 5 or No 6 and also lighter 30-gram load. It is a 67mm case in a fetching purple colour for high visibility and collection and six-star crimp and 9mm rim height, although it is listed at 12mm.

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Due to its 67mm case length, it is designed to be used in all shotgun types and is ideally suited to rough shooting as it is on the game fields.

In the Chapuis, it shot quite high, with a total pellet count from the 32-gram No 4 shot load of 162 pellets, with 41 in the 15-inch inner circle and 121 spread outside. In No 4 shot, there is a smaller pellet count but nice spread and harder hitting individual pellets for tricky shots at longer range.
Price: £8.90 per 25


This is another copper plated round; this time with a 70mm or 2¾- inch case and fibre wad and has a 32-gram shot load. Although you can also have a 30-gram load with fibre wad and No 5 or 6 shot or whopping 36-gram load, again fibre, but No 4 or 5 shot sizes.

It uses a high rim case design of 16mm for improved ballistics and the see through green case shows off the cooper shot well. These copperplated shots are becoming popular as well, with tighter and denser patterns; this increases the useful range too, so handy for those high flyers.

In the Chapuis, I had better overall distribution than the Classic Game copper load, as the pattern was dead centre and at point of aim. In fact, very well distributed and lovely even patterns on the 30-yard pattern board and full choke.

I had 221 of the No 5 shot from the 32-gram load hit the board with 68 hits to the inner circle and 153 to the outer circumference, so a good, well-placed load, with even patterns. With all the attributes that a copper pellet load enables.

Love this load, pricey but very good performance.
Price: £11.25 per 25

Lightning Steel

This is a three-inch case size and this load had 36 grams of No 3 shot. It is ideal for ducks and geese but must be used in chambers proofed for high-pressure loads of 1320 psi. It has a 16mm rim and a plastic wad in a red case and is available in shot sizes No 3 or No 5 and uses a new powder for use in humid conditions.

This large payload and three-inch chambering shot at 30-yards and resulted in a total pellet count of 127 pellets, 41 of which were in the inner 15-inch circle.

In the Browning A5, the No. 3 shot at 30-yards, ½ choke, the shot achieved 117 pellets hits on the pattern board, with 84 in the outer quadrants and 40 within the inner section. Certainly fast and not many voids to the pattern

I have used this load for geese in Scotland over the fields and so long as you correct for lead and keep the ranges sensible it accounted for some sporting Canada geese. Check though that the gun and chokes are high-pressure steel proofed first.
Price: £6.85 per 25

Classic Game

This is a blend or homage to old world style but modern loading techniques. It uses a paper case of 2½-inch, so ideal for classic s/s guns but uses a 30-gram load of copper plated shot and fibre wad. The rim is 16mm high and has a six-star crimp with lacquered finish and is available in No 5 and No 6 shot size only.

The copper plated shot is designed to stop deformation on firing and thus keep the patterns more dense and uniform. This also allows better down range performance in the form of retained energy, so a stronger hitter.

In the Chapuis on full choke, I had, at 30-yards, a very tight pattern as discussed and predominantly higher than the 15-inch inner circle. Here 48 No 6 shot pellet size hit and the rest, 204 pellets, were concentrated high right for a total of 252 pellets. A slight lead and sighting correction and these will give you another five-yards or so.
Price: £11.70 per 25


Shooting a shotgun is all about confidence with the gun and especially the load. With great ballistics and patterns on the pattern boards these Eley Hawk loads give you an insight into some of their range. I particularly like the Pigeon Select and those Zenith cartridges were superb, the choice is yours.

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