#8 1/2 Shot Lead Explained

If you know your shotgun ammo, you know exactly what #8 ½ lead shot is for and that’s sporting clays or 16-yard traps. What makes this round so perfect for these types of shooting is you’ve got twice as much or more pellets per shot than a #6 shot but have more range and power than a #9 shot. You’re looking at 500-600 pellets with an effective range of about 25 to 30 yards. This particular shot is dead center in the “allowed shot size” for competitive target, skeet and clay pigeon shooting.


This is primarily a competition round and you’ll be using it at various ranges depending on what you’re shooting. This could be a planned spacing or sets thrown at specific times in specific directions. It all depends and will definitely be mixed up to keep it interesting. You’ll most likely be shooting at ranges from 15 to 30 yards so learning how your shotgun patterns at those ranges and everything in between is going to be the key.#8-1/2 Shot in .410 Shell


The spread of your pellets or pattern will vary and at longer ranges should be quite a large diameter hitzone. You want to find that sweet spot where you’re getting a large spread while maintaining enough pellet velocity to break your targets as they fly through the air. If you’re not getting the right amount of power for what you’re shooting, consider dropping to a #8 shot or even #7 ½ shot as these are almost always competition approved  and give you a bit more power in exchange for less dense pattern.

Hunting Uses

Though not used much for hunting, there are still some decent hunting applications for the #8 ½. It’s similar in size to dove shot so any small birds can be successfully brought down with this shot. A good comparison is imagine quarter thrown in the air to  represent a small birds head and neck area. Would you rather use a #6 shot with 200-250 pellets trying to hit that quarter or the 600 or so pellets with the #8 ½? This can change a lot depending on the skill of the shooter and what type of bird is the main focus of the hunt but that’s quite a difference in pellets and the diameter of the hit zone.

8 ½ shot is a pretty good size for snake control if you live in an area where poisonous snakes tend to be but be aware of rocks or anything that could cause ricochet issues.

Overall, this is one of the best shot sizes around for competitive shooters of all skill levels and can be a great way to introduce someone to shooting in general.  This shot size can be found most commonly in 12 and 20 gauge, with 28 gauge being a bit harder to find.