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I'm in the midst of my preseason preparation, and I'd like to hear some opinions on what shells you would buy if you were in my situation.

I've been shooting these, and they work okay. 3 inch #2 with 1 1/4 ounce steel at 1400 fps. $12 a box.

https://www.rogerssportinggoods.com/ammunition/federal-steel/federal-speed-shok-steel-waterfowl-12-gauge-3-1-1-4-oz.html

But I can get these black cloud shells (2 3/4 inch #3 with 1 ounce of steel at 1500 fps) for $11 a box, plus a duck call.

https://www.rogerssportinggoods.com/ammunition/federal-steel/federal-premium-black-cloud-steel-12-gauge-2-3-4.html

Since these are premium shells with fancy wads and pellets, can I expect them to perform comparably to what I shoot now? The pellet count is essentially identical to what I currently use, and I like that they shoot faster.
 

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I would stick with 1 1/4 oz. Federals over the 1 oz. Black Clouds.
If you are hitting birds, but get a lot of cripples go up one shot size to #1's. 8)

BTW I shoot the same Federal loads and like them a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Roger's usually has a sale in August or September and will sell a case of Federal blue boxes for $99 shipped. I shot them for the first time last year and they were great. I shoot mainly Xperts due to the price and convenience. They do okay, but I seem to have a few cripples, so I started shooting them closer.
 

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I swear by black clouds but only 3.5" BBB for geese and swans. They blow clear through them at 40 yards and DRT!
 

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For ducks, I shoot the Federal 3" #3 1 1/8oz out of my Browning A5 and love the load!! Good ammo for a good price from Rogers.
 

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I would stick with 1 1/4 oz. Federals over the 1 oz. Black Clouds.
If you are hitting birds, but get a lot of cripples go up one shot size to #1's. 8)

BTW I shoot the same Federal loads and like them a lot.
Dont forget to mention CHOKE tube. that will make a world off difference and you won't need to go up in shot size.

I agree, stick with the 1 1/4 oz .

I shoot a patternmaster Long range. with (yes) Xperts 3" 1 1/4 oz #1's and I smash birds from ducks to geese. I even pack them for swans. I also don't shoot far shots either but when the time calls for it, 3" #1's will knock them down.

I shoot the #1's mainly because it patterns Excellent in my choke tube. Its also a great all around Duck/Goose, close and long range (heaven forbid I ever shoot long range).

If your shooting birds in the decoys then I would shoot 3" #3's exclusively

some tubes I would look into getting would be:
patternmaster (I like the long Range)
Kick's high flyer
I hear some of the carlson's are good too.

I prefer the slower loads in the 1400 range, they pattern better out of my patternmaster because of the design of the tube but, I could be splitting hairs with my theory

I always joke with friends that 3 1/2" shells are a money gimmick.
 

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I have shot Black Clouds for several years. They are a good round, but very dirty. I know you are probably the good hunter that ensures his shotgun is cleaned after a long day in the blind, but if not, these will definitely show. The cheaper the shotgun, the worse these rounds will do for you.
Blind Side hits much harder, but can really mess up the meat. Heavy Metal works well and don't really mess up the meat; just expensive.
Just as someone else said, just pattern your gun to the right choke. The most expensive rounds don't always make the most kills. Some old fashioned Kent or Remington Speed Steel works just as well with a good patterned choke.
 

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Well since Tex has yet to chime in just let me say if you do use black cloud your taxidermist will hate you as those pellets tend to tear out feathers much more than normal loads. (I've gotten several lectures over birds I've dropped off)

Personally I would stay with what you were using and just play around with your choke, changing chokes can make a world of difference
 

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Black Could, Blind Side, Hevi Meatal..................gimmick loads. If you want to pay the money for odd shaped steel shot then have at it. The only thing that makes these loads work is their shot cups (except for the hevi metal its a high priced spreader load with a cheap wad). The flight stopper wad is not a gimmick and will help patterns out at longer range if you if don't over choke it. Of course you can do the same thing with regular (cheap) good old round steel shot by finding the right choke for your gun and load.

Blind side.............wow it's hard to believe people fall for that load. Square shot is not aero dynamic and all you are doing is paying for a high priced spreader load that once again you could get the same effect by opening your choke up with regular round steel and allowing the shot to spread.

Many people do benefit from these loads when they do shoot them (more the blind side and hevi metal) because, they are spreader loads that actually put a good pattern out on birds that are being shot in both the shells and shooters optimum ranges (under 35 yards).

If you feel you need to shoot past that and have the skill in order to do so (99% of ducks hunters don't) then good old cheap round steel shot with the right choke (pattern work required here) will do all you need out to 60 yards with the correct shot size, choke, payload and speed.
 

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I'll have to disagree about the Blindside loads being a gimmick load. My buddy used those for a year. Each and every duck he shot had both wings and feet broken, and the shot would go all the way through the birds. We were shooting the same flock, same distance, and his ducks were messed up. I asked on another hunting forum is anyone had experienced the same thing, and we were getting pictures back of ducks that were almost destroyed because the bb's would go all the way through.
 

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the shot would go all the way through the birds.
I asked on another hunting forum is anyone had experienced the same thing, and we were getting pictures back of ducks that were almost destroyed because the bb's would go all the way through.
I rarely find steel shot in any of my ducks, it seems to always blow through no matter what loads are used. I usually do find a few BB's in the geese I get though. Are you consistently finding BB's in your ducks?
 

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I'll have to disagree about the Blindside loads being a gimmick load. My buddy used those for a year. Each and every duck he shot had both wings and feet broken, and the shot would go all the way through the birds. We were shooting the same flock, same distance, and his ducks were messed up. I asked on another hunting forum is anyone had experienced the same thing, and we were getting pictures back of ducks that were almost destroyed because the bb's would go all the way through.
Because we all want our ducks completely destroyed.
 

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I rarely find steel shot in any of my ducks, it seems to always blow through no matter what loads are used. I usually do find a few BB's in the geese I get though. Are you consistently finding BB's in your ducks?
I normally shoot Xpert or Federal blue box 3 inch #2 for all ducks. If I hit their chests right before they touch down in the water, I always find bb's when I clean. I don't normally pass shoot unless they're right over me and LOW. I find bb's in them as well. I have bad teeth, so I try and pick them all out before I cook or jerky them.
 

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Because we all want our ducks completely destroyed.
Super sad day was that year when we had killed maybe 20 pintails so far (during the season), but none of them had a sprig. A big one came right in, my buddy shot it, and almost breasted it. We shoot them pretty close, but not close enough to gut them. This one was super mangled.
 

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I have a hard time believing in "magic shells."
Shoot them at close range in the lips........with even something as small as a 28 gauge, let alone a 12 guage, if you do your part, they'll die just fine.
 

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I'll have to disagree about the Blindside loads being a gimmick load. My buddy used those for a year. Each and every duck he shot had both wings and feet broken, and the shot would go all the way through the birds. We were shooting the same flock, same distance, and his ducks were messed up. I asked on another hunting forum is anyone had experienced the same thing, and we were getting pictures back of ducks that were almost destroyed because the bb's would go all the way through.
I think patterning your gun and his with the choke loads you both use at the same distance would be very telling as to why this is happening. You could do the same thing with your combination just by changing the choke to match what his gun and choke is doing.

As to messing up ducks, well even shooting my little 28 with tiny 5/8 oz load of steel 4 or 5 shot will really mess a bird up when I center one at 20 to 25 yards as I keep it choked very tight to get it to 35 yards.

Here is what a one of my goose loads from my 28 looks like at 25 and then at 50 yards.

25 yards


50 yards


That is a 30" circle and a goose, wing tip to wing tip can exceed 60" and it's length can exceed 30". Imagine what that would look like if I center punched one with that load at the 25 yards I patterned it at:shock:

As far as Blind side it's self, if it weren't for the wad it would be the ultimate spreader load with it's square shot for short range which would benefit so many people, the down side is as you have seen is the amount of damage to the meat that it causes. That damage doesn't kill the bird any quicker then good old normal round shot, it just makes more of the meat useless:cry:
 
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