A gauge that is part of the history of smooth barrel hunting, one of the first to appear together with the 12 gauge after the long era of muzzle loading guns, remaining in favor from the early 20th century until the end of the 1960s. Why? The concept of "balance" is perhaps the one that summarizes in the most synthetic and effective way the qualities of the 16 gauge. What do we mean by balance? Without a doubt, a gun that is always under 3 kg and is able to guarantee one of the fundamental shotgun qualities such as easy swinging, but above all an excellent ballistic performance, that is the ability to fire lethal loads without having to resort to exasperated solutions that inevitably produce sharp muzzle climb at the cost of comfort and accuracy.
The 16 gauge was widely used both in walking hunts especially by hunters in search of grey partridges and hares or when hunting small migratory and aquatic birds from blinds. The shotguns used were almost exclusively break-actions, external-hammer side-by-sides and over-unders, before the advent of semi-autos obviously also chambered in this gauge. Over time, the spread of the smaller 20 gauge, especially in its magnum version, which was appreciated for the further reduction in weight, replaced the 16 gauge, but not quite. However, there was no lack of convinced supporters of the old gauge who, despite the difficulty in finding cartridges on the market, did not change their guns. A response to their needs and the growing interest in a 16 gauge comeback came from some companies, the strongest supporter being undoubtedly Baschieri & Pellagri, with a range that today includes 6 different load types for as many hunting types.
Baschieri & Pellagri F2 line cartridges: Classic, Fiber and Extra
The very name of the first load, the F2 Classic, already reveals the company's desire to respect the standard load of a typical medium cartridge, with a 29 g load and shot available in numbers from 12 to 4 to address the different types of hunting and wild game, from skylarks to hares. A further measure to respect the tradition is the 67 mm case used by Baschieri, which can also be used by hunters who still own old 16/65 gauge guns. The type 3 plastic case with star crimp is loaded with F2 x 36 powder, a fast and consistent propellant capable of pushing pellets up to 400 m/s. The plastic wad container allows well distributed patterns even over medium ranges. The same cartridge is also available in the Fiber version, i.e. with plastic couvettes and felt wad in place of the plastic wad container for a thicker and wider pellet swarm at short ranges, ideal for instinctive shots in the woods or when hunting with pointing dogs. The F2 line is completed by the F2 Extra cartridge, an alternative to the two 29 g versions, with a heavier 32 g load which is suitable for medium and long range shots.
Baschieri & Pellagri F2 Short Range Dispersante, a cartridge for sedentary game
For the needs of those who hunt with dogs and therefore fire at stationary wild game or at short range, or for shooting in dense environments, Baschieri designed a cartridge with a medium/heavy 31 g load, the F2 Short Range Dispersante. An ideal cartridge for hunting sedentary game such as pheasant, partridge or hare, but also as an interesting option for woodcock hunting. The case here is 70 mm long with a felt wad and a cross-shaped dispersant to optimize patterns at short ranges. This cartridge is the only dispersant type in the range dedicated to 16 gauge and is available in 25-piece packs with No. 7-8-9 shot.
Baschieri & Pellagri Thrill Shock Slug, the ideal cartridge for wild boar hunt
A gauge that wants to be in step with the times can't fail to include a solution for wild boar hunting, which increasingly widespread and appreciated by hunters. Baschieri & Pellagri dedicates the Thrill Shock Slug cartridge to those who love to hunt the king of the bush using the 16 gauge. With a 65 mm case, a 26 g slug and GP x 32 powder, this cartridge is characterized by high accuracy and stopping power. The high speed of 445 m/s allows for shots even on medium and large sized boars at typical driven hunt ranges.
Baschieri & Pellagri 36 gram Semi Magnum cartridge for medium and long ranges
We conclude this review of the 16 gauge range with the most recent cartridge presented by Baschieri & Pellagri in the main fairs and events of 2019. The new cartridge is a Semi Magnum with a 36 gram load which is particularly heavy for this gauge and is therefore recommended as a solution for medium and long range shots when hunting medium-sized sedentary or migratory game. With a 70 mm case and a plastic wad container, it is distributed in packs of 10 and is available with No. 7, 6, 5 and 4 shot. The 16 gauge Semi Magnum cartridge features a remarkable velocity of 395 m/s.