NEW Shotgun Pattern Test Results - Detail & Pic' heavy...


Well-known member
The Day, Range, and Set-up...

The day was bright and clear. Temperature was in the mid-60's with a moderate swirling wind blowing. The range is equipped with large, very solid, wooden benches bolted to a concrete base. An Outers Varminter Rifle Rest was used to steady the shotguns while sighting. Patterns were shot at 25, 40, and 50 yards from the bench. There were at least two shots of each combination fired at each range. A 4'x4' piece of 3/4" plywood was used as a target backer. The targets themselves are Score Keeper 100 Yard SmallBore Rifle targets. The black inner circle is 8" in diameter, the outermost scoring ring is 12" in diameter. There were no other shooters on the range, and no interuptions of any sort. A really nice day...


The two shotguns used are mine. Both are .12 gauge and chambered for 3" shells. Both have screw-in chokes. Both shotguns have chrome lined bores and were cleaned before this testing.

The first is my Benelli M1S90 Camo Turkey Gun with a 24" barrel. It has an orange fiber optic bead sight and is sling equipped.

The second shotgun is my Benelli M1S90 Tactical Model. This shotgun has an 18 1/2" barrel and low profile rugged sights. It is also sling equipped.


The chokes used are from Kick's-Ind. One is a Gobblin' Thunder .660". The other a BuckKicker .680". Both are angle ported and extend 1 1/2" from the barrel.


The loads tested were IMHO the best choices available at this time for 3" .12 gauge shotguns. The first was my old reliable Federal Premium No. Four Buck 41 pellet load at 1,210 fps as specified by the factory.

The next is the Hevi-Shot Dead Coyote T-shot and 1,300 fps.

Next was Remington's HD T-shot at 1,300 fps.

Last of the loads tested was Remington HD BB at 1,300 fps.

Because of the number of images this post contains it must be continued...

Patterns... 25 Yards

The first series of patterns were shot at 25 yards. This first target is from my old reliable Turkey/.660" combo and the Fed. No. 4BK. There were 25 hits in the 8" black. Counting all the hits a total of 34 within the 12" scoring rings. Target 1:

Target 2 is the Tactical/.680" with Fed. No.4BK. There are 20 hits within the 8" black, and 35 total within the 12" rings.

Target 3 is the Tactical/.680" combo with Dead Coyote T-shot. This scored 28 hits within the 8" black and 40 total within the 12".

Target 4 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem. HD T-shot. This scored 17 hits in the black and 28 overall. In fairness to this load it shot slightly high and afterward required a six o'clock hold. This is the only load that patterned slightly off the exact point of aim from my guns and chokes.

Target 5 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem. HD BB load. It scored 35 hits within the black and 47 total in the 12" rings.

I did try the Rem HD BB-load from the .660" choke and it exhibited the classic over choked "donut pattern." At this 25 yards distance the pattern was wide open in the middle with only a few strikes around the edges of the scoring rings. Everything else was clumped together in small places scattered around the edges of the target paper. A very wild pattern. At 40 yards I tried the same thing and could reuse the target as it only had a very few pellet strikes on it anywhere. The HD BB load and .660" choke were completely incompatiable for me.

40 Yard Patterns...

Target 6 is the Turkey/.660" Fed 4BK combo. There were 8 hits in the black and 14 total within the scoring rings. I don't know about this. Past testing has proven this to pattern better...

Target 7 is the Tactical/.680" and Fed. 4BK. I scored these targets by counting any pellet that cut the line. With that said, this combo scored 10 hits in the black and 13 total. In truth, 3 of those ten were line cutters on the black 8" innner circle at five o'clock. In this testing I feel the .660" Gobblin' Thunder performed better with No. 4BK than the .680 X-Full BuckKicker choke. Judge for yourself...

Target 8 is the Tactical/.680" with Dead Coyote T's. This scored 10 hits in the black and 18 overall.

Target 9 demonstrates how finicky shotguns, chokes, and loads can be. This is the same combo as above, the Tactical/.680"/DC-T's, only the hits are much better. This target has 17 in the black and 25 overall. Interesting huh?

Target 10 is the Tactical/.680" Rem HD T's. I could not get this load to shoot well at all. It scored 7 hits in the black and 18 overall.

Target 11 is the Tactical/.680" with Rem HD BB load. This wanted to shoot a bit high at 40 yards and this and the next target clearly shows that tendency. This target scored 19 in the black and 30 overall.

Target 12 is the same as above with a six o'clock hold. Not quite as many hits overall, but much better centered. There were 15 in the black here and 28 overall.

50 Yard Patterns...

It's a long way out there fellows... Target 13 is my old standby, the Turkey/.660" with Fed No. 4BK. 7 centered hits in the black and 10 overall makes it a killer out there at the mid-field mark. NOTE: I only had one last shell to pop with this combo at 50 yards. I hesitate to say this, however, past testing tells me this combo usually patterns better than this particular target would indicate.

Byron South and I have discussed this, we both feel you need at least five solid hits for reliable kills. I don't believe in the "magic pellet" and hoping for one or two lucky pellet strikes. Many of these new fangled hi-tech loads have the pellet energy for five good hits to reliably kill coyotes at long range. But can you get the pattern out there... Here's Target 13:

Target 14 is the Tactical/.680" and Dead Coyote combo. This one scored 6 in the black and 9 overall.

Target 15 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem HD-T load. Only 4 in the black and 10 overall.

Target 16 is the exact same as above - another try. 4 hits in the black and 8 overall.

Target 17 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem HD-BB. Scored 5 hits in the black and 9 overall.

Target 18 is the same as above - another try. 6 in the black and 7 overall.


Without a doubt there is a lot of work left to be done. Nothing here really blew me away! I honestly thought I was going to find a wiz-bang long distance load that would really strut its stuff. I did not find such a load and choke combo on this day... I only wish I had more chokes, loads, and time to work with. I really wanted to chronograph the loads to see if the 5 1/2" inches in barrel length made much difference in velocity. Unfortunately after taking the time to setup my CED chronograph for this test - it didn't work. I had two fresh batteries along, nothing, it wouldn't turn on. That was a set back. Guess it'll be making a trip back to the factory for repair.

I did not test penetration of the individual loads. That would be interesting and useful information. I just had too much on the plate on this day for that extra testing.

I also wanted to dissect the various loads, count pellets, and weight them. I started shooting and simply lost track of the number of shells I was gunning donwrange.

It did seem as if the longer barrel of the Turkey Model with its 24" inch tube out patterned the shorter 18 1/2" Tactical Model. That would need some more testing to ensure that the difference simply wasn't between individual shells. There can be a marked difference between identical shells from the same box. Maybe that explains why sometimes we have to add an additional shot when other coyotes have dropped on the spot under similar shot conditions. I have that planned for a future range session.

In my guns the .660" definately outshot the .680" with the Fed No. 4BK. I did try No. 4BK through the Turkey gun with both chokes and the .660" simply outshot the more open choke. I ran out of the Federal load before I was completely through with what I wanted to do. All these loads were older shells and this will give me a chance to buy some fresh shells. I noticed that Federal is making a big deal about "spiral loading" the shot and this is supposed to contribute to tighter patterns. We'll see... And, the .680" performed much, much, better with the Rem HD-BB load. It pays to pattern with various chokes.

That range work is also important for point of aim issues. I'm pretty lucky with my Benelli's. They both seemed to shoot everything pretty well right to point of aim with the exception of the Tactical shooting slightly high with the Rem HD stuff at longer distances. Not a biggie for me, but absolutely worth noting if those were going to be my "go-to" hunting loads. I've seen other shotguns shoot much further off point of aim. Gotta see what they'll do on paper - no excuses.

The same thing applies to some of those 70+ yard claims for choke or load effectivness. No doubt some loads have the energy - if you can hold a pattern together out there. Obviously, nothing shot that well for me and my combo's.

Again, there is more work to do. I love this stuff, just finding the resources and time to "git er' done" is sometimes problematic. We'll probably draw some varying conclusions from this testing. Of course this particualr testing is all conditional upon my guns, chokes, and these particular loads. However, hopefully this will be useful...


I have edited this post to bring my latest batch of testing to the front of this very complete and lengthy thread...

A update is in order. I now have a Kick's Gobblin' Thunder in .670" thanks to Chuck from Kick's Chokes. Can't say enough about how well I have been treated by the Kick's company - superb product and better service! Anyway, I grabbed a chance to head to the range today with some Remington HD-BB's, 3" .12 gauge.

I shot both Benelli's with the same .670" GT at 25, 40, and 50 yards and the HD-BB's. This load has been extremely consistent in patterning and I've shot a bunch of it at paper this year! Unfortunately, the target backers were soaked and as soon as I placed the same Outers targets on and stapled them, they soaked right through with water. I made my counts while the targets were stapled flat to the backer and when I pulled them off to bring home for pic's they pretty much shredded. Bummer because this time I had some pretty fair patterns to show off!

Using the same procedure as in my original post, the Outers target has a black inner circle of 8" and scoring rings the largest of which reaches out to 12". At 25 yards (and all the ranges) I shot 5 targets with the Tactical/.670" HD-BB and 5 with the Turkey Model/.670" HD-BB combo. In the other testing I felt the 24" barrel of the Turkey Model Benelli slightly outshot the shorter 18 1/2" Tactical Benelli. Not this time, the Tac Model outshot the longer barreled Turkey brother with the .670" GT.

25 yard patterns gave me a saturated 8" circle with from 37 - 40 hits. The outer 12" rings all contained 55 - 62 strikes. It was obvious the Gobblin' Thunder .670" was shooting a very center dense pattern. Both guns shot right to point of aim with the choke and HD-BB load. It was a pretty impressive looking 25 yard performance.

40 yard performance went like this. The inner 8" took 25 - 30 hits. The 12" total count average 35 strikes.

The long range 50 yard patterns still held 10 - 12 pellet strikes in the inner black 8" circle. The outer 12" scoring rings contained 18 - 20 strikes. Now we're talking a pattern and load that can easily get it done at the half field mark. Ok, I'm broke... Now I need to shoot some fur! And boy am I ready...


At this point I think the very best of the best would be the Remington HD-BB load and a choke of .670" constriction. My testing would seem to indicate that this combination will give the max number of appropriately sized pellets (BB), harder and heavier than plated lead, fast at 1,300 fps, with considerably better penetration, this load has patterned very consistently throughout my shooting from two shotguns and two differing choke diameters. A new shooter, or, an older one that wants to try something new would do well to begin with the HD-BB/.670" combination. This compares to the newest cutting edge magnum type rifle cartridge/bullet combo in the hunting world. The downside? They are expensive...

For an inexpensive alternative, I have to look back at my old standard, No. Four Buck with a .660" choke. Much less expensive than the new fangled hi-tech loads and effective enough for most shotgunning of called predators. IMHO, the No. 4BK/.660" combo is sorta like the .30-06 of the hunting world, a proven standard by which all others will be judged by.

An observation, with all the testing I have done here and in the past, and all the results I have seen posted by reliable and honest shotgunners, not one of us has yet to discover the mythical "70+ yard shotgun, choke, or load." Maybe there is one floating around out there, but please excuse me if I seem skeptical when some of those wounderous claims of longrange shotgunning of 70 - 100 yard kills surface in a post or an advertisement from a company.

Another thing, this testing also drives home the point that patterning is so very important BEFORE you go hunting. One thing is for sure when talking shotguns, chokes, and loads... they are as finicky as any rifle can be. Change any one variable and the test shooting must begin again. I think I'm ready to go hunting... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused1.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

WOW!!!! Thats a ton of work you've done. Thanks for takin the money and time to share that with all of us. Patterning shotguns is sometimes a brutal chore, looks like you put in a hard days work.

Im also using the kick's 660 in my 870 supermag. Its a solid performer for 4 buck for me as well.

So......what ya got in mind for penetration tests? Plywood? newspaper? flat stock?
Thank you for that detailed report GC!

The .665 Kick's GT patterns 3" #4 Buck very well in my SBE...@ 40 yds. Very similar to your findings...
Good job GC and thanks for all the information. Yesterday I shot some Remington Wingmaster HD 3" BB's and some Federal Premium 3" copper coated BB's at some 9-1/4" paper plates at 40 yards through a Carlson's Dead Coyote choke. The Rem HD 1-1/2 oz of HD BB's had 73 pellets in them and the Federal 1-7/8 oz of lead BB's had 98 pellets in them. The Remington HD load with less pellets in it put more holes in the paper plate at 40 yards. None of the Federal copper coated lead BB's penetrated the 3/4" plywood that I taped the paper plate to at 40 yards. About half of the Remington HD BB pellets penetrated the 3/4" plywood at 40 yards.

Thanks again GC for doing all the expensive work and sharing the results with us.
All of those loads look coyote deadly to me. I have not tried Dead Coyote but have been getting decent patterns with cheapo Remington 4 Buck and OO Buck loads with a .670 Trulock turkey tube. You would have at least 9+ hits on a coyote broadside with the 4 Buck load at 50 yards but a perfectly head on shot may be a little sparse at that distance. I have heard of people getting 60 yard patterns but have yet to see one on paper. Good Job!
Thanks for the detailed work. Too many guys are satisfied to take a crack at a beer can sitting on a post and call it "pattern testing". They have no idea of how much time, energy and expense can be involved in doing it properly. And, more importantly, they have no idea as to how much variability there can be between the pattern performance of chokes/loads and guns being used.
Thanks for the compliments guys. It's about as much work to resize all those pictures, upload them to Hunt101, then post them here - as it is to pack the gear and shoot the patterns! Whew, that gave me a headache messing with all those pic's.

For penetration I'd like to use soaked telephone books and measure the penetration in inches. That's not as scientific as ballistic gel, however, it's cheap, easy to work with, and a fairly good comparitor between loads. Regarding the recoil, I shot two rounds of skeet the evening before. Then, after testing these coyote hunting loads, I took the Tactical Model and patterned 00 Buck and slugs. BTW, it performed best with an Improved Modified choke for those two chores. Anyway, thank goodness for a slip on PAST recoil harness and Advil!

Your testing also shows how important it is to pattern test. Shotguns, chokes, and loads are fickle as you show on your paper plates. Even though there are less pellets in the HD-BB load, it out shot the other conventional load of BB's. I've seen this before with a few different types of loads. Especially 2 3/4" plated lead BB's, these can be real sleepers for a good tight pattern. I think they've been bypassed with todays hi-tech loads, but back in the day they worked really well out to 40 yards.

Most of those loads would kill a coyote to forty yards. However, beyond that is where it gets interesting and the "rubber meets the road."

I'm not satisfied yet... I want to do more shooting and pattern testing. I need to get my chronograph fixed for some comparisons between barrel lengths. Penetration test would be really cool to do. This was a unique opportunity to shoot two near identical guns with different barrels lengths and a couple of different chokes to see how much those factors affect patterning. The frustrating part is the difference that can happen between two identical shots. One may pattern great, the other medicore at best. That variability is irratating as heck! And, I still haven't found a "wonder load" that'll snatch the earth out from under a coyote past mid-field. But I'm still plotting and planning... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused1.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Wow that's a lot of money GC. The tests prove that even though there have been major improvements in shotgun technology, it is still a short range weapon and those 70+ yard kills we hear about have a bit of luck involved in them. But the shotgun will remain the weapon of choice in thick cover. The only load I have tried that you tested is the DC T-shot, and let me tell ya it's worth it. The fox I have shot with it have been pass throughs, at about 30-35yds...simply amazing.
not to high jack your thread but, here are some targets from the gun pictured in the bottom. barrel is a 18.5 inch cylnder barrel I picked up at a yard sale and I made a choke with a .690 constriction and this is what I got. the first one was the #4 buck remington 3" 41 pellet load and the bottom one was a BB 3" federal load it had 2oz of shot in it. the circle is roughly 4" wide and the cardboard was 24X24. both shot at 40 yds.



One thing I read, and this was supposed to have been taken from a factory email reply to an inquiry on the subject ...... Benelli bore ID tolerance runs from .721" to .728". So you are not necessarily just testing the effects of barrel length differences, unless you have also had your bore ID's mic'd to verify they are the same. I have read, most run close to .723" ID, but one of your guns could be oversized or undersized as compared to the other.
GC many thanks for your detailed and comprehensive testing.

Wish I could of let you barrow my Carlsons DC choke for testing out of your Benelli's. Are you considering investing in one of the Carlsons????

I'm looking forward to the velocity tests between barrels though.

Interesting how on several of your targets you have several pellets touching or in close proximity to each other at various ranges. Fatal for the coyote if they are vital hits.

I don't think the HD in T has much potential, but the BB load looks good thanks to your testing and Bob's plate test.

I still think the 3" 4 buck and DC loads will be our best individual or combination of both loads for us in the field.

Shotguns are just plain fun in tight cover hunting, but for sure you must be ready for a follow up shot on these tuff predators if your shot is off the mark.

Thanks again for your detailed and expensive test.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/bowingsmilie.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grinning-smiley-003.gif
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I am not sure how far to open up the choke, but some of your
data suggests less restriction may improve pattern density.
I did a fair amount of pattern testing on some 10 ga.
Hevishot loads I developed for turkeys, and with the very
hard Hevishot, I found a sweet spot with an older Tru-Glo
Turkey choke, versus a more restrictive Patternmaster.
My brother also has a Browning Gold 10, and was using the
Patternmaster. His results, also showed poorer patterns
on both Hevishot, and Copper plated lead. He borrowed
my old Tru-Glo choke, and ended up having his gun guy search
for the out of production Tru-Glo, and now uses that choke
tube for turkeys, with both lead, and various Tungsten alloy
shots. Just a thought on something to look at. With little
to no shot deformation in the harder shots, the idea is less
choke gets more pellets heading straight down range versus
jamming in the tight choke tube, and getting "spun" out in
a slight arc. There is a sweet spot in the choke
restriction versus tungsten alloy shot pattern, though.
I tried my regular Browning Mod, Full, and Extra Full choke
tubes, and the results were poorer than the more restrictive
Tru-Glo. As for the exact measurements of the chokes, I
would have to check my data, in my loading shop, but the
bottom line is test all chokes available to you, even in
less restrictive chokes, with tungsten alloy shot. One will
jump out at you, especially at the 40 to 60 yard range.