Today’s 1-Oz, 28-Gauge Loads

28-Gauge Loads
Three companies that within the past four years have begun producing 1-oz, 28-gauge lead loads for the US market are RST, Rio and B&P. Photograph by Chris Siefken.
By Tom Roster

American 28-gauge shooters have been clamoring for years for lead hunting loads heavier than the 28’s longstanding 3⁄4-oz shot charge. And finally several manufacturers have listened.

A thorough perusal of shotshell manufacturers’ catalogs (current at press time) reveals that there are now six 1-oz, 28-gauge factory lead loads available to US shooters. This is impressive, given that for at least 15 years only Winchester marketed a 1-oz, 28-gauge lead load in the US. Within the past four years RST has jumped in with a 1-oz, 28-gauge load at a speedy 1,300 fps, and B&P and Rio have, as well, though with velocities hovering around 1,200 fps. The most recent introductions were by Federal (1,220 fps) in early 2017 and another by Rio in October 2017 (1,200 fps).

Editors’ Note: The recently released 2018 catalog from Aguila Ammunition offers a 1-oz, 28-gauge load in No. 6 or 7½ shot at 1,200 fps.

Importantly, all six of the 1-oz loads listed in the chart tested out within plus-or-minus 10 grains of a true 437.5-grain, 1-oz charge weight. And of the pellet diameters I checked, all measured within .002" of the US standard, making them true to US pellet-size designations. These six loadings currently remain our heaviest 23⁄4", 28-gauge lead factory loads.

I am sure that some 28 aficionados are going to point out that in recent years a European manufacturer marketed a 23⁄4" 28-gauge lead load as containing 11⁄8 oz of No. 5½ or 6 shot. However, the boxes I actually received were stamped “11⁄16 oz.” Upon examining some of these shells, however, I found that they contained neither the charge weights nor the pellet sizes that were stamped on the boxes or listed in the catalog.

Acquiring several boxes of these loads in each pellet size, the first thing I did was dissect 10-round samples of each shot size. My examination revealed that in neither shot-size loading was there more than an average 446.7-grain shot charge—a mere 9.2 grains more than 1 oz (437.5 grains). So the load was not 11/8⅛oz or even 11⁄16 ounce; it was a 1-oz load. As to the pellet diameters, I found both shot sizes to mic out about one-half shot size (.004" to .005") smaller than the US standard, so that the No. 5½s were really US 6s and the No. 6s were really US 6½s. Since 2016 I can no longer find this so-called 11/8-oz load being marketed in the US.

Having long shot Winchester’s 1-oz, 28-gauge loads—going through several flats in a variety of shot sizes—I can offer the following lethality findings. My initial experience came through several Oregon ruffed grouse seasons of 30-plus birds using 1-oz No. 8s through quite-open chokes, with No. 7½s for late-season work. The 7½s also proved deadly on mourning doves and Hungarian partridge. Finally, I have fired several boxes of No. 5s at pheasants and found them reliably effective out to about 35 yards. I have yet to find any 28-gauge lead load reliably effective on pheasants at distances beyond 35 yards—not because of gauge, but because of shot-charge capacity.

In case you missed it, in 2017 Fiocchi introduced two new, first-ever-in-the-US, 3" 28-gauge lead loads. One is a 1-oz load of No. 6, 7½ or 8 shot at 1,300 fps. The other, under the Golden Pheasant label, is a 11⁄16-oz load of nickel-plated lead in No. 5, 6 or 7½ at 1,200 fps. I have been able to thoroughly examine both loadings and have found them of the claimed shot-charge weights and pellet sizes true to US standards. As soon as I can have one of my 28-gauge barrel sets chambered for 3" shells, I intend to conduct pattern and lethality tests on appropriate gamebird species. Results and more discussion concerning the 3" 28 will appear in a future column.

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  • Why do we need a 1 oz 28 ga. load. Just shoot a 16 ga., or even better a 12 ga. for reduced recoil. What’s next? A 0.775 bore 28 ga barrel to help with pellet deformation due to longer payloads. We Americans need to stop trying to make all sub gauges equivalent to the 12, as there are plenty of excellent light-weight 12 ga. semi-auto, SxS and O/U’s that are a pleasure to shoot and carry all day.

    • Why do we need 12 gauge 3/4 or 7/8 or 1 oz loads??? It’s a dumb question no point in asking. it’s not about need so much as it is want or desire.
      Trap guys and skeet refuse to admit that 1 1/8 Oz is standard 12 gauge load and always has been. No today’s clays shooter with Euro guys ans gals getting worse and worse want to buy and pack a heavy 12 gauge frame gun and shoot 28 gauge or 20 gauge loads through it making it kick like a tiny little baby gun lol. Whats the point in using a 12 gauge when all your firing out of it are super light loads requiring the wad cushion or stuffing to be so long it takes up 2/3’s of the shell space?????? I suppose they hate recoil………..that’s my guess and it costs less if you reload 7/8 and 1 oz 12 gauge loads at home, it’s the only way to make loading for 12 or 20 gauge come out price wise.
      The 28 however is most effective in it’s heavy field loading 7/8 or 13/16 oz listings but it’s highly over looked in the USA and in Europe. USA manufactures offered little to nothing in the last 25-30 years for the 28 gauge other then Winchester’s 1 oz MAGNUM loading and yes it’s always been considered a Magnum load it’s just Winchester never slapped the terms XX Mag on the 28 gauge listing cause it would not sell well to the users of 28 gauge guns but 3″ inch and Magnum .410 sure as hell sold like hot cakes on Sunday to pot heads. It’s all in consumer need / want / told what you want……………..The right buffered 7/8 oz 28 gauge load with a proper wad and good nickle shot will take 40-50 yard birds all day with full choked guns. Sadly Federal dropped the 7/8 oz load they had years ago and Winchester just never offered one opting to stuff the Magnum charge into the gun in the days of fiber wads and hope for the best. To date the only 7/8 oz wad offered for 28’s is the SG28-2 BPI Green wad. It’s ok but is lack luster when used with out buffer or soft Lead shot. Every experiment I and others have did with that wad resulted in lack luster results unless premium shot and other components were used or tight chokes but not to tight of a choke.

  • The reason why you don’t want a 16 or 12 bore is bulk,weight,increased recoil of the same loads that a 20 or 28 ga.can not only handle better,but less recoil and lighter gun weight in general.The larger the bore,the more recoil you must endure.
    The 20’s and 28’s pattern much better because they require much slower burning powders then the 16’s or 12’s.
    I reload my own ammo and I’ve pattern tested many guns of the same model,same ammo,same degree of choke and in the realm of 7/8’s to 1-1/2 ounce loads,the probably your best all around choice,plus the cost of ammo is HALF of that of a 28 ga..

    • I agree with the Poster -4 gauge when it comes to all around choice in the matter. The 20 gauge is probably the best choice seeing as how they dont make many 24 gauge guns out there lol. I loves my 28’s but I loved my LT-20 1100 and 1187’s on the same or very similar frame size in my youth days. Nothing like a light weight 20 gauge auto-loader capable be way less weight and recoil compared to the 12 gauge of the same make.
      Sadly the euro light weight high dollar inertia operated guns killed the American Gas operated auto shotgun sales. Joke if you ask me but it was the only way for them to cut the weight of the system down to make 12 gauge auto’s lighter. Some Gas Operated euro guns are lighter then older American versions like the 1187 but i am sure with modern technology American makers can do the same. The inertia operation always felt rough and high recoil producing to myself.

  • I have been using my 28ga double on Northern Ontario Ruffed, Sharp Tail and Spruce grouse for the better part of 30 years. I couldn’t imagine picking up another shotgun for grouse as this one just seems to magically jump up to my shoulder and get on the bird. Early season sees 3/4 and 7/8 ounce loads of #8. A loving coat of oil rubbed into the stock every year keeps it looking great.

    However, late season sees some increased distances due to hunting pressure and lack of leaves. I sure appreciate #6 in this scenario because I have had better luck at greater distance due to the increase in pellet energy retained further out. I just don’t get enough pattern density further out for my liking with 3/4 ounce of 6. The Winchester 1 ounce of #6 allows me to use my 28 gauge late season without having to lug another shotgun that I am less intimate with.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my 16 gauge. It is Thor’s hammer on grouse. But I have never gained the love that I have for my 28….

  • I have found like many others that the 3/4 and 7/8 oz area is where the 28 gauge shines and for some reason major manufactures ignore the 7/8 oz load weight for 28 gauge. They jump right to the magnum 1 oz payload weight and don’t even bother calling it a Magnum………….I call this the reverse of magnumitis it’s called .410 is allowed to be called a magnum but for god’s sake don’t put magnum on 28 gauge anything or it will never sell!! The standard heavy game weight load for the gauge 28 is 7/8 oz and if proper hard plated shot is used and buffered the loads do pattern 10% better generally speaking with #4 #5 #6 shot sizes. I think the smaller #7 #8 #9 shot sizes do fine with hard magnum shot and no buffer and they don’t need to shoot 40 anyway. They all run out of steam well before 40-50 yards and that’s the whole point of smaller shot sizes any way is wide pattern short ranges small targets and weak targets.
    In my opinion the 20 gauge is probably the only shotgun a man ever really needs and it;s the most balanced but the 28 gauge is damn sure got most of the bases covered except waterfowl and larger game. Buckshot is a challenge in the 28 gauge and anything larger then #2 buck is useless or even impossible to use. #3 seems to be the sweet buckshot size with 15 pellets = to 3/4 oz for the weight. 7/8 oz is = to 18 #3 buckshot but good luck loading it can be a learnign experience there. Why the manufacture skipped over 7/8 oz 28 gauge i will never know, 1 oz just seems to be this magic weight for Lead shot no matter the gauge you stuff it into……….even 12 shooters for some reason refuse to understand that the 12 gauge is far far larger then 1 oz in 2 3/4′ inch shells and is more at home with 1 1/4 or 1 1/8 oz then any 1 oz payload can ever hope to be. If anything ever truly liked 1 oz it was the 16 and the 20 gauge guns.

  • Hi Tom, the only reason I would want a 1 oz load in my five 28 gauge guns is for waterfowl or perhaps pheasants, but we have to use other than lead for waterfowl and I don’t hunt pheasants.
    I hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock only and shoot sporting clays a great deal and for those uses my 3/4 oz loads are more than sufficient. I am consistently in the 40’s out of 50 shots at clays and if I were to switch to 1 oz loads I would occasionally hit 50 out of 50 and that would take the fun out of clays. That’s why I don’t enjoy hunting pheasants, too easy- no fun. I am what I call a mediocre shot with 12 and 20 gauges (mid-thirties) but do well with 28’s.

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