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dense spreader followed by a tight patterning, long-range load. We often use this combination, finishing with a 1-3/8oz 12 gauge load that works wonders in the cornfield. On warm, still days the shooter should use a smaller payload and less velocity. Pheasants use wind to a great advantage, accelerating faster in flight and swinging completely out of range. Since wind usually accompanies changing fall weather, the hunter needs to switch to a heavier load and move up in choke for a little greater range. In colder weather, we use a #6 plated shot in a dense 12 gauge load of 1-3/8 ounce. As the wind picks up, move to #5's. It does not take a large pellet to clean kill a rooster. However, on windy days, the large pellet is needed to maintain energy to the target.

Quail fly low and quick, which makes a spreader load ideal. An X-Stream spreader insert loaded with 1-1/8 ounce of shot at 1240 fps is a field-proven quail load. However, we do not suggest spreader loads on quail if you hunt in a close group. In close shooting situations, wait until the bird is farther out and at a good angle. In this case, use a long-range load of 1-1/4 ounce, 7-1/2 plated shot at 1330 fps.

The Paradise "Master" load:

All right, all right. We keep telling you that you need to load ammunition that suits your specific situation. But, you keep asking what is the one, best, all-purpose load. So, here it is. If you have to pick one load this one gets the nod.

The Paradise Load. Use a 12 gauge, 2-3/4" Winchester AA hull, Winchester 209 primer, Winchester 540 powder, 1-1/4 ounce nickel-plated or copper-plated #5 lead shot, BPGS gas seal, BP12 shotcup with a 1/4" wool felt wad in the shotcup base. This load produces a respectable 1330 fps and 10,000 lup. This load has been the unchallenged master of many shoots for over twenty years. Unfortunately, some of the components, such as Winchester 540 powder and Winchester AA hulls, have become scarce so hoard them when you find them.

Component Recommendations:

We always recommend plated shot for upland birds. Those soft under-feathers will roll a lead pellet into a large ball and reduce or stop pellet penetration. Plated shot, and, in particular, nickel-plated shot, cuts through soft feathers and down. Nickel-plated shot has a very thick cover of nickel over a soft content of lead. A low-alloy core (1-2%) maintains maximum pellet density, best for maximum energy. The nickel plating is very thick and serves as the hardening catalyst for the entire pellet in pattern control. It also provides the essential hardness and lubrication for penetration. A softer core is, in fact, needed for energy transfer (i.e. to compel the pellet to expand when it strikes the target). This combination of physical factors is what makes nickel plate so remarkably lethal. The plated pellet is a no-compromise lethal pellet.

Ballistic Products carries a number of spreader wads that are ideal for quick spreading first shots. The Dispersor-X 12 gauge is good for very small birds and loads under 1-1/4 ounce. For larger birds and loads of 1-1/4 ounce or more, the Brush wads in 12 through .410 and the X-Stream Spreader insert are all field-proven. For longer-range loads, and all in between, we also carry a variety of Sporting Wads in 12 gauge through .410 bore.

We have found that straight-walled hulls such as Fiocchi, Federal Gold Medal, Cheddite and the new Multi-hull (exclusively at BPI) are easy to load for high performance hunting. Straight-walled hulls have the capacity to accommodate larger payloads and wads with sequential compression sections. However, we also have loads available for tapered hulls such as the Winchester AA and the Remington STS since so many of you have these hulls leftover from your target loads. Remember, though, choosing a load based on what components you have on hand will not give you maximum performance. It is like buying ammunition because it is on sale without regard to the content or performance. The idea is to build the best load that will give you the best results on your hunt.

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