20 ga dove hunting load


September 15, 2010, 10:37 PM
I am taking my son dove hunting for the first time. I am looking for a good dove load that will get out there and still have some thump on it.

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September 16, 2010, 10:21 AM
When I shoot factory, which I don't most of the time, I shoot Remington STS or Winchester AA target loads. They are not as cheap to shoot as the promo crap from ChinaMart but they work so much better. Plus, I then have good hulls to reload. I don't see any reason to buy heavy field loads for dove.

September 16, 2010, 12:08 PM
Oh yeah , I am talking about a reload.

September 16, 2010, 12:26 PM
Doves aren't hard to kill, just hard to hit.

Pattern is far more important then a lot of power.

I have shot skeet loads in my 20 ga double for about 40 years with perfect results.

Just pick a load out of a shotgun manual for whatever brand of hulls you have and go for it with 7/8 oz, #7 1/2 or #8 shot.


September 16, 2010, 01:16 PM
I shoot STS hulls, 15.6 gr. Universal Clay powder and 7/8 oz. #8 chilled shot over a RXP20 wad. Mild load around 1200 fps.

I use it for quail, dove and clay birds, although there as been a few pheasant smack the ground from it. Personally, I would recommend something a little more potent for the big birds, but when one gets up I usually don't have time to change ammo.:D

I would think twice about cranking it up a little with a kid involved. You usually blow a lot of shells at doves and the hotter loads in a 20 ga. starts to get into the shoulder after an hour of shooting.

September 16, 2010, 02:16 PM
WAA hull, W209 primer, 22.5 grs HS6 powder, WAA20F1 wad and 1 oz. Hard #9 shot for 1220 fps.

Been shooting this load for years out of a Benelli 20 ga, Browning BPS and a 870 Rem.

Kills doves as good as any thing out there!

Jimmy K

HS6 and Winchester 540 are the same powder.

September 18, 2010, 03:23 AM
Ok , this is what I went with

Federal Hull
Win 209 primer
Claybuster equivalent of the WAA20 wad
23.5 grs of Longshot
7/8 oz of #7-1/2 magnum shot.

The velocity should be around 1300-1350 FPS

If these are doing too much damage to the meat then I plan on bringing some of his skeet loads. They are;
Win AA hull
win 209 primer
Claybuster WAA20 replacement wad
15.5 grs of Hod Universal
7/8 oz of #9 magnum shot

The velocity of these should be around 1150 -1200 FPS

September 18, 2010, 07:21 AM
That should be a good load... except I would use hard #9 shot instead of #7.5.

7/8 oz of #7.5 shot contains 306 shot

7/8 oz of #9 shot contains 512 shot

So that means there are 206 more shot or a +67% better chance of a hit. Gives the kid better odds of a hit and a better pattern too.

Early season dove are not so tough as later season ones with heavy feathers and larger birds.

Jimmy K

September 19, 2010, 10:48 AM
I'd use the slower, softer load as opposed to that 1300+ one - not necessary for doves

September 19, 2010, 10:51 AM
That's ok, Oneounce, They'll figure it out after a couple hundred rounds.

September 19, 2010, 11:22 AM
As someone else said, dove are easy to kill, hard to hit. With a 20 ga, go for the most pellets in the pattern you can get. In 20ga, high brass, #9 shot is the best dove load, IMO. More expensive than the typical 7 1/2 "target" or "game" loads, but not if it only takes one shot instead of two.

February 24, 2012, 02:26 PM
We have a blackbird problem on our farm and we switched to 7 1/2 shot. I did use a skeet load with hard 9's but the killing energy wasn't there. Doves are bigger than black birds but IMO I think #9 shot is too small. More pellets but less energy per pellet. I hope doves taste better than blackbirds, LOL.

February 24, 2012, 02:33 PM
Not much better.

The best way to do them is to take all the dove breasts and put them in a tightly sealed zip-lock bag.
Then in a mixing bowl, pour in enough Jack Danial's to cover the zip-lock bag.

Then, throw away the zip-lock bag of dove meat and drink the marinade mixed with coke & ice.

BTW: The advice for smaller shot such as #8 is best.

Pattern density is too spotty with larger shot.


February 24, 2012, 04:36 PM
Seems folks are hung up on 9 vs. 7.5

One of the best dove and quail sizes is your basic target load of number 8, running at 1200 fps - typically found in a nice AA, STS, Gun Club, Kemen, Federal, etc., etc., etc., loading from a slew of makers

February 24, 2012, 04:39 PM
I am partial to Unique and #8 shot.

February 25, 2012, 11:37 AM
My first load is also one of the best. In high school in the '70's I killed everything from doves to deer with this load. (For the deer, I substituted some lead fishing sinkers, pinched closed. approximated #2 buck shot at ~.28" ircc).

I used most any hull, 16.0gr of Unique, and any 7/8oz or 1oz wad and enough shot to get a good tight crimp. I loaded these with a Lee loader and #109 powder dipper. (Actually throws ~15.8gr of Unique). I even shot my first 25 straight on a skeet range with this load through a borrowed Charles Daley o/u.

For early season dove's, nothing ever quite matched some extra hard #8.5's I was given. (a partial bag from widow of deceased trap shooter).
For general wing shooting, I liked #8's, but for late season dove's I found the 7.5's prefered. Squirrels/rabbits got #6's, but my favorite was a single bag of #5's I managed to run across. But, magnum #6's will do....... Even for late season dove's with 2-3/4" 1oz loads.... But, I also dropped many mallards with that load....
Nowdays, I've gravitated to 15.5gr of Universal for 7/8oz and #8's or 9's, and 17.4gr of LongShot for 1oz. with #7.5's. But I do have some 3" Bismuth factory loads for ducks/geese.
But, I'm shooting these through a fine s/s I don't want to abuse like I did my Mossberg M500 pump I had in highschool..... (I even used the 16.0gr of Unique and SP20 wad in 3" hulls w/1.25oz of shot..... and blew a few primers and case heads too!!!).

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