A selection of 10 cartridges that are perfect for pigeon shooting...

credit: Archant

With his grey camouflage and white bands on his wings like a stealth fighter plane, he is flying home to base as the light fades. His senses are alert, however, to the slightest movement below him, to which he will turn or bank in a display of aerobatics no human pilot could match. He is the woodpigeon – the shotgunner’s greatest challenge for which only the keenest eyesight, the swiftest reflexes and the best cartridges are good enough. Here is a selection from the finest makers...

credit: Archant

1. Eley Pigeon Select

A premium grade load for those who demand the very best, one of whom is Geoff Garrod, vice president of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. A full-time gamekeeper and an excellent pigeon shot, Geoff’s input in the development of Pigeon Select was an important contribution in creating the hard-hitting consistency pigeon shooters require.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 30g 6, £199-£205 per 1,000.

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2. Eley Pigeon

A cartridge that undoubtedly has proven to be the nemesis for tens of thousands of the grey hordes. With Eley’s expertise for producing the right cartridge at the right price, last season I found this 32g load with fibre wad an especially effective pigeon stopper through my Birmingham boxlock.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 32g 6.5, £229-£237 per 1,000.

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3. Hull Cartridge Superfast

This is a load my Remington Auto digests with never a jam. It’s a hard-hitting round and, with a residual velocity of 172mps at 50m, it’s also a ‘reacher’, as our American friends would say. A real value-for-money pigeon cartridge from this famous northern manufacturer.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 27g 7.5, £179-£191 per 1,000.

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4. Hull Cartridge Special Pigeon

Another well-priced pigeon load from Hull and a cartridge that works well in autos. I know rough shooters who won’t use any other cartridge as this 32g load in no.6 shot is particularly effective on quarry at maximum range. Roost shooting or in the hide, however, it is an all-purpose load that delivers in any circumstances.

Available in fibre wad 32g 6, £278 per 1,000.

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5. Gamebore Pigeon Extreme

A high-performance cartridge developed in conjunction with clay target shooting ace George Digweed. As those who know him will confirm, George is equally proficient on live quarry, and he is also very particular as to the ammunition he uses. I have also found Pigeon Extreme an excellent cartridge; the 34g load is devastating at range. Shoot some at the pattern range and you’ll see why: even, well-distributed patterns of particular value for a fast-flying, small target. With Gamebore diamond shot and Vectan powder being used for the most expensive loads, Extreme is a bargain-priced load too.

Available in plastic wad 34g 5, £293 per 1,000.

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6. Gamebore Clear Pigeon

Yet another high-quality pigeon cartridge in a choice of 30g or 32g load. The smaller shot load is particularly suitable for light guns, and those shooters of the side-by-side persuasion would also do well to consider this particularly well-made pigeon cartridge. My Winchester Model 12 Pump also digests them very comfortably and delivers particularly good patterns with this well-priced cartridge.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 30g 6, £225–£230 per 1,000.

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7. Fiocchi Pigeon 32

Italians love pigeon shooting in all its forms and the piccione is also prized as a bird for the table. Stuffed with a mixture of pancetta, the bird’s liver and sage leaves and then pot-roasted in white wine, four birds make a great supper for the same number of guests. First of all, though, you must shoot your pigeons, and Fiocchi Pigeon 32g also comes highly recommended.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 32g 6, £206-£216 per 1,000.

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8. Fiocchi Fibre PL 28

Come to think of it, a 28g cartridge might be more suitable for pigeons for the pot – less lead with your meal! Whichever cartridge you choose, both represent performance in terms of ballistics and good value for money.

Available in fibre wad 28g 6, £219 per 1,000.

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9. Lyalvale Express Pigeon Power

Introduced two years ago, Pigeon Power has since earned an enviable reputation for long-range capability and excellent ballistics, together with shot-after-shot consistency. With a 29g load in the 70mm case, popular in double barrel guns and semi-automatics, it’s an all-round performer in every sense. Another value for money offering from this highly regarded Midlands manufacturer.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 29g 6, £170-£184 per 1,000.

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10. Lyalvale Express Pigeon Special

A 30g load in a 65mm case brings real knock-down performance to the traditional side-by-side shotgun with shorter chambers. Devotees of the lighter gun appreciate their fast-handling qualities for the swift and highly manoeuvrable woodpigeon.

Available in plastic and fibre wads 30g 6, £243-£246 per 1,000.