by Terry Wieland
Long-time Gray’s readers will be aware of my affection for Baschieri & Pellagri (B&P) shotshells, and their wonderful “High Pheasant” loads in particular.
In 2010, we gave a “Gray’s Best” award to their family of competition shotshells called “Competition One.” And for hunting everything from doves to wild pheasants, I’ve been shooting the High Pheasant (1 oz. of #7s, 2 5/8-inch shells) for the last 15 years. Shells that length work perfectly well in guns with 2½-inch chambers.
Alas, the history of B&P in the U.S. has been spotty, purely on the basis of availability. When I first encountered them, they were being imported by, if I remember correctly, an outfit in Indiana. It then pulled out, and someone else began importing them. After that I lost track because I was getting no answer to calls or emails.
Fortunately, three of us who were fans of the High Pheasants laid in adequate supplies while the getting was good, and we are still shooting them a decade after they disappeared from the market. One of the last communications I had from the then-importer was that they were concentrating on supplying the trap and Skeet market, and had no room in the shipping containers for low-volume numbers like the High Pheasant.
You may wonder what makes the B&P line so attractive. Well, the company is now about 135 years old, so it has certainly proven itself, and one thing the Italians know how to make (along with Ferraris and Berettas) is shotshells. Italians generally like their shotshells peppery—too much so for my taste— and what sets B&P apart is its use of the Gordon system. This employs a compressible base wad that acts as a shock absorber and reduces felt recoil.
Now the good news: B&P has been acquired by its long-time rival, Fiocchi, and is now making a determined push into the U.S. market. The company uses Fiocchi’s warehousing facilities in Ozark, Missouri, and business is brisk, to put it mildly. I’m told the pallets of shotshells are shipped out to wholesalers as fast as they arrive—exactly the same situation in which other shotshell companies find themselves.
Last week, I spent a few days in Georgia, hunting wild quail with Fiocchi’s director of marketing, Christian Hogg, and was able to get the goods on where B&P is now, and where they plan to be next year and the year after.
First of all, B&P ammunition is now loaded in the U.S rather than imported. You might think this makes things simpler, and to an extent, it does. But to another extent, it doesn’t. The hulls are made and primed in Italy, shipped to the U.S., and charged with powder and shot using formulae developed in Italy. As I understand it, and put as simply as possible, the hitch comes in matching powders available in Italy with those available in the U.S.
When I asked if they would be reintroducing High Pheasants, the short answer was “no” but the longer answer was “we’re not ruling it out.”
In the U.S. right now, there is one market panting to be served: Shooters of older guns with 2½-inch chambers. RST is the last remaining source of such ammunition, and they are currently unobtainable because RST can’t get components. RST relies on bigger companies for hulls and wads, and those companies can’t keep up with their own requirements, much less part with any surplus.
Now, Christian tells me, B&P is trying to find some breathing space to develop 2½-inch shotshells to fill that demand. RST makes great stuff, but having only one company servicing a market is too precarious for my taste, to say nothing of pricing. B&P returning to it, with—possibly, we hope, we pray—High Pheasant hunting loads would be fantastic.
I should add at this point that it is not at all difficult to reload 2½-inch shells, including High Pheasants with their Gordon base wads. If you can find a copy of Handloader #324 (February, 2020), there is an article in which I describe how it’s done.
(A search for 2½-inch shells through ammoseek.com returned only one listing: Kent field-trial blanks at $20/box, reduced from $26.99! Learn to handload. Now.)
But back to B&P. Their website (www.baschieri-pellagriusa.com) shows the range of shotshells now available and gives a good picture of the company and its aspirations.
In Georgia, we shot B&P 20- and 28-gauge ammunition on the wild quail, and for those who shot straight (better than your correspondent, at least) they worked beautifully.
Gray’s shooting editor Terry Wieland has a small but carefully guarded hoard of B&P High Pheasants, Comp Ones, and F2 Machs. And no, they are not for sale.