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Does this gun prefer 7 1/2

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Neil Winston, Nov 12, 2009.

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  1. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    In a recent thread about one-ounce loads (linked above), the question once again came up about guns liking 7 ½’s better than 8’s or visa versa. I’d done some retrospective work on this and never found a whiff of evidence for it, but thought it was time, in this perfect Indian summer weather in Minnesota, to do a proper test and see what happened. I knew what the outcome would be, and said so:

    “When I compared 7 1/2's and 8's with one gun there was virtually no difference in the pattern percentages in any area of the resulting spreads. The 75% figures were the same, the gun shot them equally. The 8's were better patterns of course, more pellets does that, but the percentages were about the same. You could not say the gun shot one size better than the other. But I used a scaling feature in Shotgun-insight and I realize this is a possible objection to the result. So if the weather stays as warm and windless as it's been, I'll try it again. The result will be the same; there will be no difference.”

    Knowing what will happen is no substitute for actually finding out, often as it seems on TS.com that there’s no particular difference between assertion and evidence.

    I’ve been criticized for just testing high-end guns which, some think, might shoot better than the others. They forget that the pre- and post-long forcing cone test I did used an 870 which was the best patterning gun I’d ever tested. But to avoid any charge that the test was rigged, I promised to use the first gun anyone suggested (and I had access to.) Pheasantmaster responded “Neil, I'll make a request that it be an American-made with a tight bore. No mods please. I would like to view some actual patterns as well not just graphs, please.”

    I responded “I've put together the gun Martin asked for. It's American, a 34-inch 0.727 bore/ 0.040 choke 870 and the one-ounce loads are prepared with Green Dot. If the weather cooperates, we'll learn something.”

    A while ago a friend wanted to compare a 0.030 choke’s performance with a screw-in tube constricted 0.032. He asked “So here is my question. If I take a few good shells (i.e. Fed papers) and perhaps a couple of STS, what do you think I would learn by shooting a few patterns of each?" And I wrote back “The answer is nothing, unfortunately, or the wrong thing, or the right thing. The trouble is, you'll never know which.” This test is intended to be an answer to both questions:

    1. Will this randomly selected gun show any pelleet-size preference? And

    2. What is the average shooter likely to get out of a test of two guns involving “a few patterns of each” of two kinds of shells?

    We’ve covered the gun; the shells are once-fired STS’s reloaded with 17.9 grains of Green Dot and an ounce of Remington magnum shot, either 7 ½’s or 8’s. Wads are pink Winchesters and the primers are WW as well. Their velocity is about 1175 fps.

    The distance from muzzle to pattern paper is 40 yards; the weather is in the low 60’s. Each pattern is photographed and later analyzed with Andrew Jones’ Shotgun-Insight program, an absolute necessity for a serious patterner. Here is the first pattern of the test:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>


    When I looked at that pattern I thought “Uh oh, this is not much of a shooter” but then I remembered that one ounce patterns always look bad with 7 ½’s and just went on with the test. It’s true, this gun is nothing special but a lot of other guns aren’t either and when are they going to get a chance?

    OK, let’s get going. Let’s try it the way almost everyone does, by eye:

    The next 7 ½

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    And the next

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    After 7 more like that, we get to compare. Here’s the first pattern with 8’s:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    And the second:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    And the third:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    As time passes I’ll post all the links at the end so you can see them all. You have to remember, this is the ideal way to look at patterns; you can take the whole thing in at once. In the field when the pellets are spread over a sheet 48x48 inches, you have to take your eye off one part to see another and that makes it a lot harder to see differences. But what do you think so far? Does this barrel “like” 8’s better than 7 ½’s? Or the other way around? Or can’t you tell?

    Here are the pattern percentages in 30 inches at 40 yards for the 7 ½’s. Remember. We are counting the pellet-holes, not just doing this by eye.

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    The 8’s, in shot order, look like this:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    So all we have to do is put them together and compare, right?

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    It only gets worse when we try to look in greater detail without a plan:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    No, as the title says, we have to get a little organization if we are going to figure this out. Remember, without graphs all you have is some sheets of paper which makes organization way harder, for example, what are you going to base your arrangement on? Total percentage? Core density? If it’s “evenness” how are you going to define that? Every criterion is going to lead to a different ordering of the patterns, both 7 ½’s and 8’s.

    The main thing that captures our attention so far is how much these patterns vary. Maybe we can see what that’s based on. Let’s divide the patterns up into concentric rings, 0-10, 10-20, 20-30, and the whole pattern.

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    Well, that didn’t help much, let’s put them in order:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    Now we are beginning to see what going on. The 20-30 inch ring is not much related to the pattern percentage; all the action is on the 0-10 and 10-20 inch rings, which are often mirror images of one another (as they have to be if the 20-30 inch ring is steady.) Since they are mirror images, one determines the other, and so we might combine them as see what happens:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    OK, now we’ve gotten somewhere. These overall pattern percentages are strongly linked to their inner 0-20 circles and we can now compare a limited number of variables and see what differences we can find.

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    What we find is that this gun makes no distinction between 7 ½’s and 8’s. It does not “like” either better than the other, just as I promised in that earlier thread. There’s no difference.

    Are the pattern spreads different? Shotgun-Insight calculates a diameter within which 75% of the pellets can be expected to be found. Here are the pattern spreads organized based on the pattern percentage. As expected, the greater the percentage, the smaller the spread.

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    Still, it’s hard to see what’s going on; let’s graph them in order:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    No, this gun does not spread 8’s any more than it does 7 ½’s, though many readers here assume that that’s what happens based on, I guess, common knowledge.

    There is one more metric, one for “evenness,” but I want to get to know more about that first and will probably cover it in a later thread. For the time being, just take my word for it that the “central thickening” figure for the two pellet sizes does not differ in a statistically significant way (P=0.28.)

    So that’s it. This gun, selected at random, shoots the two pellet sizes the same; I’m pretty sure yours does too.

    But you can see why my friend, asking “If I take a few good shells (i.e. Fed papers) and perhaps a couple of STS, what do you think I would learn by shooting a few patterns of each?" is probably not going to get an answer he can use. You have to do more than shoot a few patterns; ten is a place to start. Then you have to count the pellets and invent a way to compare your results using few-enough variables to see what’s going on. It’s a lot of work. Especially since most guns shoot so similarly that your odds on finding anything interesting at all are slim. But if you want to know, there’s only one way to find out: shooting and seeing what happens. Then you’ll know.

    Thank you for your interest,

    Neil

    ©2009 Neil Winston
     
  2. michmoe

    michmoe TS Member

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    Thanks for sharing this Neil,very interesting!
     
  3. Hauxfan

    Hauxfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Neil. Very informative......And the results were as you had expected.

    Hauxfan!
     
  4. JACK

    JACK Well-Known Member Supporting Vendor

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    I concur. But this always bothers me after I see truth in numbers and on paper... What about the "law of probability"? And in particular this case that is presented so well. There is so little variance in the "shots" that lead me to believe that one shot could be extrapolated suffieciently to allow one "shot" to make the initial point. In the first 10 pattern depictions, only one was "uh-oh, not a good shooter"...

    I love the fact that someone else carrys my water on this issue.

    Well done Neil. And Thanks.
     
  5. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Neil- Fine data. I can add the "Ireland Test" results to yours, but they are not real good. I use 2 3/4 dram #8 shells for singles. My instincts tell me that is the correct load. At times, when loading up several flats of shells from a store, I grabbed a flat from the wrong stack (7.5 shot instead of 8 shot). This has caused me to shoot 2 3/4 dram 7.5 shot in some singles events. I could tell no difference. I use heavy 7.5 shot for handicap, but the few times I have shot #8 shot from the 27, I could not tell any difference. However, my dogmatic intuition tells me #8 for singles and doubles, #7.5 for handicap. The confidence I have in a particular load might be more important than what the load actually does.

    Also, with at least one brand of shot and with a few brands of imported discount shells, the shot size stamped on the bag or box may not reflect the actual shot size in the bag or in the shells. This means at times shooters are not shooting the size of shot they believe they are shooting. I have never known about a shooter complaining about this.

    Pat Ireland
     
  6. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Well-Known Member

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    Great job Neil, I hope your weather continues as your information is very interesting and conclusive. We have not been having decent weather to shoot in, let alone do some testing. Can I assume that one once of 8's would pattern similar to 1 1/8 once of 7 1/2's? Thank you again for your efforts in our behalf, Bob
     
  7. wayneo

    wayneo Active Member

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    Neil thats a very good job, thanks. Was that a Remington barrel/choke or aftermarket? I'm quite surprised that a 0.040 choke constriction in a .727 barrel did not put patterns in the 90% range. Wayne
     
  8. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

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    From a lifetime of seeing targets break, what you determined confirms what I always thought. That's why I use 8.5's on the 16 and 8's on the back line. More lead in the pattern works for me.
     
  9. Ahab

    Ahab Well-Known Member

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    I am firmly convinced that a perfect barrel will smoke tagets at 27 yards even if it is .025 constrictions ... doesn't matter if you are using #7 1/2 or #8 1/2s !

    The barrel tuners will give a perfect barrel when they back bore and rechoke, by ironing out any imperfections in a mass produced gun.

    Over boring will produce a perfectly concentic bore without and 'wiggles' and the choke will have a perfectly round smooth taper.

    How many times have you been told to find certain age 870s, BT99s, Mod12s, ect.? Those guns were produced in the days of true craftsmen, who cred, not by let's get them 'out the door' as is what often happens today!

    Just my 2 cents worth!
     
  10. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Wayneo, I too was disappointed by this barrel. Though I would not have expected anywhere near 90% patterns (I've never seen any at my 1000-ft elevation) my other 870 test showed some really terrific performance from a tube I probably got off a gun show table for a few dollars, relatively speaking.

    Rick, Frenchy Frigon always maintained that the first shots after a cleaning were tighter than the rest but I think that the variability of the data when there's no cleaning make it unlikely we'll ever know for sure. I generally clean my barrels before a big event; sometimes I shoot well after that and sometimes I don't. I'd like to blame bad shooting on gun cleaning but I'm too realistic to really accept that. When I miss, _I_ miss.

    MIA, the 10 or 15% extreme spread in pattern percentage in ten shots I got is not unusual; that's why you need quite a few patterns to be sure you know the general level of performance of any barrel/load setup. That's if you just want to know how it works. To make comparisons that means a lot of data. Ten's fine, but if you want to know fine detail (I generally don't) , I guess you'd need more. But just to see how it works - you see that can be done without too much effort. And it's worth it. For example, I'd not pick this barrel to shoot long-yardage handicap with and testing it before spending a season with it could have saved me a lot of time and money better invested in another piece of equipment, one which shoots tighter patterns than this one.

    This test is a prelude to a more interesting assertion I'll be making a a later thread about pattern evenness and "quality." As an introduction, I'd like to have you take another look at that final patterning graph:

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    As you see, there is a strong relationship between the overall pattern percentage and what's happening in its interior rings. The 20-30 inch area, the "annular ring" writers are so fond of referencing hardly plays any role at all, starting at the mid- to upper 20's and ending there too, while the inner and total areas are tied together pretty strongly. Jack, I think you have that right - if you just get the pattern percentage you know all you have to about a pattern in the long run.

    This is just what Ed Lowry says in an article I'll cite later and reflects current thinking about patterns. That is, patterns of a certain percentage will, on the average, look a certain way and those with that percentage are all about alike in the long run. This is, of course, contrary to everything you ever read in shotgun magazines and heard at the club, but I think that's what happening.

    Neil
     
  11. JACK

    JACK Well-Known Member Supporting Vendor

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    Point taken. But tell me, where does one find the paper stock to keep running patterns like this?
     
  12. short shucker

    short shucker TS Member

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    Quite a while back, I sent a barrel/gun to Mr. Wilkinson to have tuned. He wanted me to include shells for this. I loaded up a box of shells with the data on the outside and sent it to him. He called me and asked if I was using 8's like what was printd on the tag or did I use 7 1/2's. According to him it made a difference in what he did.

    All I know is that barrel (682 unsingle barrel) would absolutely turn targets inside out from the 27 with 3dram AA's 8's. It still shot 7 1/2's well, but nothing like 8's. I never put that barrel on paper, no need, but it broke targets harder than anything I've ever owned.

    I wish I still had that barrel. It's amazing what you'll sell when someone catches you at the right time with cash in hand.

    ss
     
  13. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Jack, I use white Artcraft rolls 48 inch/ 200 feet. You get them - by special order - from Penco at 718 Washington Ave North in Minneapolis. You order them here

    http://www.artsuppliesonline.com/catalog.cfm?cata_id=4831

    You have to pick them up; shipping will eat you alive. Even then it's not cheap since a roll will only do about 30 patterns with my patterning setup.

    Neil
     
  14. Ahab

    Ahab Well-Known Member

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    Plain old butcher paper is ideal. Any paper wholesaler will sell you a 'log' ..from 12 inches to 54 inches wide.

    Take a strong friend with you...they are heavy!
     
  15. DTrykow

    DTrykow Active Member

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    Neil. Have you ever done pattern testing on different brand of shot? Some swear-by Lawrence, Remington and West Coast for their long distance, hard hitting, high antimony shot as the best versus the "other" brands like Eagle for their softer lead, erratic patterns. Just wondering. Dave T.
     
  16. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Dave, exactly that test. The shot was Remington Magnum vs Lawrance chilled, both tested for hardness. The gun was the lower barrel of a Perazzi MX-2000 with a larger-than-standard bore and 0.023 choke. The shots were taken at 34 yards.

    <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank">[​IMG]</a>

    Thanks for reminding me of this; it will go into my "pattern quality" thread, down the road a bit.

    Neil
     
  17. zzt

    zzt Well-Known Member

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    For those of you wanting another source for 48" wide white butcher paper, try this link.

    http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-6077/Specialty-Paper/40-lb-White-Butcher-Paper-Roll-48-x-1100

    It's $89 plus $18.75 freight. I also pay sales tax, since they are in-state. That's enough for 275 4'x4' targets if you're careful, or about 250 if you are not. They also sell a relatively inexpensive roll holder w/cutter.

    The 60" wide paper is only $109 for an 1100' roll, but the freight will kill you. The two previous times I checked they estimated $200 for shipping because it had to go dimmed weight. That's down to $89 now, because they stock it in Pittsburgh.

    If you can live with 40" wide material, the best is the stuff Precision Reloading sells. It's thin white plastic and the pellets cut clean, round holes. It's very Shotgun Insight friendly.

    You can also use the white 40" wide plastic tablecloth rolls sold by PartyLand. It's twice as thick as the PR stuff, but way cheaper. It comes in 100' rolls.

    If you are using Shotgun Insight to evaluate your patterns, thinner material is better than thicker. It works best if the pellets punch a clean, round hole in the material and leave no hanging chads. As I mentioned above, the Precision Reloading stuff is the best I've found. The tablecloth roll also works well, as does the 40lb butcher paper. If I could find thinner, I'd try it. The red rosin paper sold at Lowe's, etc. performs the poorest. First, it's red. Second, it's heavy and the pellets leave ragged holes. You'll be doing a lot of hand editing if you use it with Shotgun Insight.
     
  18. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Peter, that's coming up. Two guns, shooting 1 1/8. 1, and 7/8 ounce shells all going the same speed. I haven't had a chance to analyze the data yet but as winter closes in there will be a series of interesting things to keep TS.com on its toes.

    Neil
     
  19. Rick Barker

    Rick Barker Well-Known Member

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    Good post, Neil and again, it appears you were diligent in your study. You have proven a result I have often felt in all my years of shooting. I too use light 8s or 8.5 in 16's and short yardage in my registered shooting. For club events and league, I use 7/8 oz of 8's on 16's and 1 oz of 7.5 at 27 yards, and the reason I do is for the extra little advantage that 7.5 has in foot pounds of energy at longer yardage, but I have shot 8's from the 27 as well and my eyes can't really tell the difference.
     
  20. racer

    racer TS Member

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    Very good work Mr. Winston, as always. I don't recall anyone asking why a shotgun needs a choke. Accepting minor differences in patterns between a standard barrel (.729?) and say a big bore (.800?), the choke restriction number is about the only common denominator. I guess the question is why or how a choke works. Would a barrel need a choke at the end if it was bored from say .729 to .690? Thanks, Dan
     
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