Eley Hawk Traditional Cartridges
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- Last updated: 22/02/2021
I remember using the old paper Eley Impax cartridges on my uncle’s farm in Kent with his Webley Model 700 side-by-side. Those traditional paper case and fibre wadded rounds evoke a lot of memories, even more so after firing, as a paper case and fibre wad had its own unique aroma.
The 1oz (28-gram) Eley Impax cartridge was 2 ½” in length and being paper cased was referred to more as a gentleman’s cartridge for driven days. They gave a smooth firing sensation and low recoil but had enough punch to get the job done. They were traditionally fibre wadded as plastic wads were not available when these were first made.
This made the cartridge very popular for the traditional English Gun shooters with a 2 ½” chambered shotguns. Today Eley make one version with a paper case and another version with a plastic one. Both use 28-grams of lead shot in sizes #6 or #7 and a Kleena EVO III fibre wad. This does a good job of sealing the bore to exert maximum pressure behind the shot and of course, is Eco friendly, which is important these days.
I got mine from Just Cartridges and prices are £293 per 1000 rounds for the plastic case and £347 per 1000 for the paper cased round.
The Eley Impax Traditional is really designed with the lighter weight gun in mind but has a good following amongst shooters who like a lighter 28-gram load.
The propellant is Eley’s PSB-3 powder, which is a progressive powder, so smooth burning and clean. It can achieve around the 1250 – 1300 FPS velocity mark dependent on barrel length, chamber etc.
The plastic cased version is orange in colour with bold black lettering denoting name and loading so is clearly seen, whereas the paper version has a nice red paper case. It is also lacquered using Eley’s Pegamoid method, where the cases are coated and dried to ensure that no moisture can get into the case and affect performance. This increased the shelf life too in environments with changing humidity levels.
Impax Traditional cartridges were meant really for original chambered guns i.e. English guns of the prewar era with 2 ½” chambers but have become popular with all shotgun shooters with 2 ¾” (70mm) chambered guns. 2 ½” cartridges, as a rule, do come in 65mm, 67mm, 67.5mm lengths but this Eley Impax report to be a true 65mm. They show a 10mm high brass case head which helps with ejection.
The Impax have a reputation for being a good cartridge for smaller or lighter game in the field, with enough energy for a clean kill and even patterns, but not so many pellets as to ruin the meat.
They are ideal for walkedup game at closer ranges and many see it as a nice early season partridge load where a fast shot or two is often needed. The progressive burn from the PSB-3 powder contributes to the milder recoil and good velocities are achieved with the Impax, yet pressures are suitable for older guns. Also, the 3% Antimony content of the #6 or 7 pellets ensures a hard-hitting strike with each pellet for a humane kill.
They are not really intended for use in semiautomatic shotguns, but I did try them. I had a lot of hang-ups, except with a well-used SX3 and my old Fabarm. I also tested them with the Browning Black Shadow 12-gauge with ½ choke fitted. I shot some pattern boards at 30 yards using both plastic and paper cases to see the difference.
They were actually quite punchy to shoot and ejected very well. After shooting, the lack of much unburnt powder and residue was nice to see, only the usual pellet marks in the forcing cones and choke tube. I measured the fired cases to check they were true 2 ½” cases, the plastic Impax measured 64.95mm and the paper cased Impax measured 64.85mm.
The plastic cased Impax Traditional loads, despite the lighter 28-grams of #6 shot, produced lovely even patterns with good coverage to all sectors on the board. There was a total of 150 pellet strikes with 45 nicely centred inner hits and 105 pellets spread around the 30” outer section. A good pattern that would humanely kill any game quickly but without peppering it as a heavier gram loading would.
The paper cases were next and these still had that lovely feel to them and smell after you shot them! They are slightly more expensive but worth it for these reasons alone!
We had a total of 179 #6 shot pellets hit the pattern board, more than the plastic case and again great coverage, a tad higher on the board though. There were 35 inner hits, again right in the centre and spreading out and to be honest there were a few more spaces. The remaining 144 pellets landed in the outer sectors.
We did shoot some more targets i.e. rabbit silhouettes and overall the paper cases shot slightly tighter patterns.
Either plastic or paper cased Impax Traditional cartridges shot very well but using a paper case, fibrewadded load is in vogue and may be mandatory, so the slight price difference is negligible. Either way, there is an Impax Traditional load you can rely on.
Eley Hawk Ltd - www.eleyhawkltd.com