There is no legal requirement to use a particular standard of cartridge for game shooting but you should ensure that you use a shot size and load capable of attaining a clean and efficient kill, and that you shoot within range and within the limits of your capabilities. Your local gun shop or shooting ground will be able to answer any specific questions on shot size or your guns capability.

The typical game cartridge for a 12 gauge shotgun is 28-32g of number 6 shot, but preferences vary according to conditions and species.

Below is a table of suggested shot sizes for certain species.

Species Shot size
Partridge  #6 / #7
Pheasant #5 / #6 / #7
Grouse #6 / #7
Pigeon #6 / #7
Mallard #4 / #5 *
Geese BB / #1 / #3 *

*Note that lead shot may not be used to shoot wildfowl in England and Wales or in certain areas of Scotland. If using steel shot, it is advised to use a shot two sizes large than suggested.

Always ensure that your gun is proved for the selected cartridge and has the correct chamber length.

Old English guns may have 2.5” chambers.

Cartridges longer than 2.5” (65mm) must not be used in these guns.

Only guns bearing a steel shot (fleur de lys) proof mark should be used to shoot high performance steel shot cartridges.

If you have any doubts, see a competent gunsmith.

Campaign for Shooting

Lead Shot

Countryside Alliance brief on lead shot ammunition

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies and how you can change your settings by reading our Cookie Policy