Patterning 12ga small game loads


New member
Most of the small game I go after are shot with rimfire or centerfire, but I found a great deal on some small game loads for my 12ga last fall so I figured I'd give them a shot. I think they should do just fine for rabbits:

Check Walmart for when they put turkey loads on clearance. 1.5 oz. of copper plated #4 for 35 cents per round.
GC, I think that may be me not being real seasoned with a bead sight. I'm patterning off a bench with a lead sled, so I'm trying to keep the variables to a minimum.

Thanks for the tip, Dust. I'll definitely keep an eye out for those.
My shotgunning of rabbits has always been behind a pack of beagles or kicking them out of brush piles. That meant quick moving small targets that were running and dodging in thick cover. Usually fairly close ranges. A 20 gauge and improved cylinder or modified choke with an ounce of #6's was about perfect. My dad preferred the 16 gauge choked the same. Pop was murder on rabbits with his old Belgian Sweet Sixteen Auto Five. Our rabbits were cottontails. A western hunter shooting jacks at longer ranges should benefit from a 12 gauge with some more choke and larger shot.
Originally Posted By: GCA western hunter shooting jacks at longer ranges should benefit from a 12 gauge with some more choke and larger shot.

This... went with #4 shot based on the recommendation of a fellow PM member who has done more than his fair share of shotgunning jacks. Not saying #6 wouldn't work, this was simply the way I went.
For jacks I use 1 1/4 oz of #5s from a 12 ga. I never change my light modified choke for anything. More choke might result in more kills when they are sitting at long distance, but a disadvantage on the close range runners.

I take tons of jacks while after cottontail, chukar, and quail. When not going after them specifically, I use 1 oz of #6 in my 20 ga with a LM choke. This load will still drop jacks without a problem, but #5s from the 12ga drops them with noticeably more authority when they get out a little further or the hit is marginal. Overall, I prefer rifles if only after jacks just for the Challenge and practice.
That is some great info... thanks. I don't currently have a light modified choke, only SF, F, M, and IC. Next time I'm out patterning I'll test #4s with modified choke at 20-25yd and 40yd, so I have some comparison with my #4s and full choke.
I finally had a chance to test these shells on some jacks. It took them down with authority at ranges from 20-40yd. All and all I was 8 for 8, no wabbits got away
I still want to pattern the #4s through my modified choke, just to see how they do. I have no doubts the #4s are perfectly sufficient for me.