I remember my grandfather used to reload 12 ga cartridges in the evening on the freshly cleared table. With some dispensers he weighed powder and pellets as best as he could, then closed the cardboard shell shorter every time because of wear. I also remember that he took great care of those cartridges and he always calculated long before firing one.
With the advent of plastic and (perhaps) economic well-being, the modern hunter on the contrary not only lacks the time to reload, but above all he lacks thrift.
A long shot, inaccurate or otherwise with little chance of success, today is always worth trying: you risk only a few cents. Too bad, however, that in this way you end up neglecting the true essence of hunting, the time dedicated to your passion and the almost maniacal care of your tools. With black powder guns, on the contrary, all this takes shape and hunting becomes even more beautiful.
Hunting with a muzzleloader
It is not uncommon that when visiting the village taverns you see old black powder guns, by now rusted and covered by dust, hanging over the fireplace.
Precious pieces of history that, however, have nothing to do with Davide Pedersoli’s guns, if not for their charm and aesthetics.
As for performances, in fact, current production black powder shotguns are almost entirely comparable with smokeless powder rifles; and it is even possible to omit that “almost” by simply processing calmly a load that best suits the type of hunting and the way we shoot.
As far as we are concerned, this time we at all4hunters tested a muzzleloading side-by-side shotgun in 20 gauge hunting grey partridges in mountain areas with the aid of dogs. The environment is typical of the Prealpine belt with large cattle pastures, mixed deciduous and coniferous woods interspersed with more or less large clearings.
A wonderful place, sometimes magical, today embellished by this rifle and its unmistakable sound.
Pedersoli side-by-side shotgun
Today's shotgun is a 20 gauge side-by-side, the Waterfowl model, complete with all its accessories. Little stuff, actually. In our vest pockets, some test tubes containing single loads of black powder, a flask with the no. 7 shot and a handful of wads and felt pads. Neither more nor less than when we carry 12 ga cartridges.
Even the loading of the shotgun is much faster than people could think and... write. The time that our small setter named Maja walks around the car is enough to pour the powder down the muzzle, press on the wad, add the pellets and close it all with a piece of cardboard. So, with the half-cocked hammers in perfect safety, we begin our journey through time.
The dog, a woodcock hunter for several seasons, for the occasion wears an old bell that allows me to follow its movements and, at the same time, listen to the sounds of the shotgun when the dog is pointing to the game.
Despite the fact I did not add a carrying sling, the shotgun weighing just under 3 kg is very well balanced and is easy to carry both when I hold it in my hand and when I support it on the shoulder. I got the same feeling when I shoulder my gun simulating the firing and it is during one of these moments that I no longer hear the bell. Maja found the first partridge.
In a couple of minutes I am by its side, I cock both hammers and I position myself in a vantage point from where it’s possible to follow the scene clearly. The bird, however, is not slow in taking off and it catches me in a moment of distraction, so that I miss it completely with my first shot.
The cloud produced by the combustion of black powder is rather invasive and does not allow me to immediately repeat the shot, while the soft and delicate recoil makes me stay on target. A few moments later, in fact, as soon as the white smoke lifts, I fire a second shot that hits the bird in full flight. A great shot and a great satisfaction. Meanwhile, waiting for Maja to retrieve the bird, I have time to pour the powder and shot back into the barrels. Anyway, the hit partridge has something different, a new and very special value. The same goes for the shot, accurate and well-calculated, just like my grandfather’s.
For more information on the Waterfowl muzzle-loading shotgun, please visit Davide Pedersoli & C. website.