RC Steel Atomic Line Cartridges
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- Last updated: 18/12/2022
RC stands for Romagna Caccia, an Italian ammunition manufacturer that started in 1970 but has roots all the way back to 1882. The Iconic RC 4 Piccione and RC 1 Skeet cartridges were used to win Italy’s first gold medal in the Skeet World Championships in 1978, in Seoul. Since then, RC has built up an impressive array of sporting clay and game loads for all calibres, with an emphasis on quality at an affordable price.
Quality control is a key factor that keeps RC cartridges among the favourites for shooters. Batches of cartridges are regularly sampled from production and are tested for velocity and pressure to the strictest CIP regulations. RC also goes further by regularly checking the density of the patterns produced by game and sporting loads at different ranges. This testing is done on their outside range. They also go the extra mile by subjecting individual cartridges to a climate test, where different weather conditions can be created to see what the effect is on the cartridge’s performance. All of this has made RC cartridges even more popular, and with demand in the UK for non-lead ammo increasing, it is well worth looking at what RC has to offer. I chose the RC Steel Atomic Line cartridges, and if you fancy using them, then your gun will need proofing to 1050 BAR. I went big with No.1 shot, just to see how these performed down range. I purchased mine from Just Cartridges and they retail for £407 per 1000, so about on par price-wise with the Gamebore Super Steels.
Typical of most Italian cartridges, the packaging is quite eye-catching! You have a lime green box with an atomic particle symbol and retro silver writing. You can choose either No.3, 4 or 5 shot but are all loaded with either 32 or 34-grams of shot, so a nice heavy payload.
You have a 70mm olive green casing with gold lettering and a large 16mm brass head section. This is designed to take the pressure and ease loading and ejection. Like all RC cartridges, they look very uniform and concentric through the body, with no ripples or kinks. The deep and well-crimped five-star top not only stops moisture ingress but also allows the correct amount of pressure to build on firing, ensuring consistent powder ignition and velocity.
Inside, you have a uniform silver/black coloured flake powder which generates a muzzle velocity of 420m/s or 1378fps, with a nicely shaped internal head section for uniform combustion. The powder was very well compressed below the wad.
Talking of which, the wad is plastic, which is typical when it comes to these types of steel shot cartridges. The wad measures 42mm in length and keeps all the pellets encapsulated within its cup as it travels down the barrel. This protects the barrel and also keeps the shot column and therefore the pattern size a bit tighter down range. There are four evenly serrated sides that instantly peel back as they exit the muzzle, allowing the pellet column to continue unimpeded towards the target.
The steel pellets are dark and uniform, without any corrosion to them, plus none of them were bound together, unlike some other brands I have seen! We had the 34- gram No.1s and the total number of pellets (yes, I am a bit sad and counted them) was 148.
I choose the Browning Shadow with 30” barrels and fitted the ¼ and ½ chokes to ascertain what these RC cartridges patterned like at 30 yards.
Being the larger No.1 shot size, I was not expecting dense groups due to the lack of overall pellets, but good coverage would be nice due to steel shot patterning tighter than lead.
On ¼ choke, we had a total of 91 pellet strikes, with 31 hits to the inner 15” and 60 around the 30” circumference. They were quite evenly spaced with no upward bias, although the top sectors were a bit sparse. However, it was still a nice pattern considering the limited number of pellets.
You often find that when you switch to a tighter choke, ½ in this case, the steel shot pattern can be upward-biased. We had an increased total of 121 pellet strikes, with 40 inner hits and 81 outer hits. Personally, I would go with the ½ choke with this load, and if using this Browning, I would make sure that my bead is just below the target for best shot coverage.
Recoil-wise, yes, 34-grams can be felt more and recoil was noticeably more than some lead 28-gram loads being tested alongside these. Also, ejection was perfect, with no sticky cases at all, as some steel loads I have tested have a tendency to grip the chamber wall. I am not keen on steel but these RC loads fulfil the brief and it will be nice to see how some of their clay loads fare on the sporting range in the future.
I like Italian cartridges, they are becoming much more mainstream over on this side of the channel now and they represent good value considering their excellent consistency from shot to shot. Sure, No.1 steel shot is not for everyone, but just imagine what No.5 RC Steel Atomic line will shoot like. I have a few boxes of these for wildfowl in Scotland, so it will be interesting to see how I get on with them later in the season.
Just Cartridges - www.justcartridges.com