A shotgun cartridge is made up of five components; primer, case, propellant powder, wad, and shot.

The case, usually made of plastic, but traditionally made of paper, houses all of the components and is crimped at the end to contain them. Twelve gauge cartridges come in an array of colours, whilst twenty gauge cartridges are always loaded in a yellow case.

The primer, situated in the centre of the brass head is a key component in the function of a shotgun cartridge. When you pull the trigger, the firing pin in your shotgun hits the outside of the primer cup, creating a small ‘explosion’ within, which in turn produces enough heat to ignite the propellant powder.

The powder, a double based nitro propellant, which when ignited, burns and produces gases which create the pressure that quickly builds up behind the wad.

The wad, which can be either plastic or fibre, is powered by the pressure of the gases. It instantly pushes the shot out of the end of the cartridge, opening up the crimped closed end of the plastic case at the same time, allowing the shot pellets to travel at approximately 1400 feet per second.

The shot, ball shaped Lead pellets, are the parts that come in to contact with the clay target. You will find approximately 350 pellets in a standard 28gram clay target cartridge. The pellets must all be perfectly spherical and uniform in size for the optimum pattern – misshapen pellets will not travel at the same speed as the others, and can knock them off course, ruining the pattern. This is why we prefer cartridges produced by Gamebore, who are the only UK manufacturer to make their own Lead shot, with extra grading to ensure a perfect sphere as standard.

The Anatomy of a Shotgun Cartridge – Black Gold with Fibre Wad

Our cartridges of choice are Black Gold (the fibre wad version is pictured above) which is made up of the most technologically advanced components available worldwide and exclusive to Gamebore, and White Gold. Both contain their patented Diamond Shot, which is lead shot that has been graded, polished and lubricated to create a pattern that is second to none.