The Truth About Shot Size

What shot size works best? The size you believe in.

Hunters and shooters love to argue shot size, as if a hundredth of an inch more or less is a matter of great ballistic importance. Several years ago I interviewed Winchester's Mike Jordan, one of the nicest people I ever met in our industry, an All-American at trap and a competitor on the high-dollar live pigeon circuit. I was writing a column on shot size. Mike patiently walked me through all the species and games and the best pellet size for each. Finally he said: "You know, there is no magic ideal shot size. If 5s work for a certain bird, then so will 4s or 6s."

"The best shot size is the one you have confidence in," he said. "At pigeon shoots you have to buy your shells at the host club. When I practiced I used to mix up 7 ½s and 8s so I never knew which I was shooting. I didn't want to build up a certain shot size in my mind as the "right" one. What if I got to a big shoot and they were out of my favorite shells?"