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It's a bit like musical chairs as far as imported cartridges are concerned at the moment with brands swopping around between distributors at bewildering speed.The latest on the move is the Spanish Saga range which is now being handled by Dave Parsons of SSM International in Herefordshire. He sent us a representative cross-section to try.
Saga first appeared over here a couple of years ago and made a reasonable impression, with the 24 gram trap loads in particular proving popular. The company is Spain's second largest manufacturer, with nearly 50 years trading history behind it so they have plenty of experience to call on.
SSM have now taken on the brand and will be offering a full selection of shot sizes and variants including fibre wad options. The packaging has been modified since we last saw some samples with only the skeet box familiar, although I imagine this will also join the new house style before too long.
For our purposes the range can be split into three groups - Competicion, Solera De Saga and Eurotrap listed in descending order of price.The Competicion range has the top spec. - including 5% antimony and a 16mm high brass case.It seems to have been designed very much with pattern quality as the prime objective because the test figures show it to be marginally the slowest of the range and with the lowest pressures. This is what I often term the 'thinking man's' approach to cartridge design because it puts comfort and down-range performance ahead of pure speed. The Competicion range will sell at under £100 per thousand and delivers excellent performance for the price.
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|Solera De Saga 28g||1466||1213||657|
Next down the price scale, around the mid £90s, comes the Solera De Saga selection. This is similar to its more expensive brother in most respects, using the same UEE PSB powder and an identical wad. (All the range incidentally uses an Italian wad rather than the Saga own-produced type which featured in our earlier tests. Such is the international nature of modern cartridge loading.) The main difference is lower antimony shot and a different primer which alters the performance, giving greater velocity although at the expense of significantly higher pressures.
One feature of all Saga cartridges is that the shot size is printed on the case in both the usual terms - 7,8,9 etc. - and also in its diameter in millimetres. Given the general confusion which exists about the shot size designations in various countries, I think this is an excellent idea which I wish all manufacturers would adopt. In fact Spanish sizes are the same as UK so you can buy your normal favourites with no worries.
Finally we have the Eurotrap range which we tested in both 28 and 24 gram form. This is pitched as a club load selling under the magic £90 per thousand mark yet delivering competition quality performance. This is achieved in the time honoured way of reducing antimony content to 2-3% and keeping frills to a minimum. Shot quality is often what suffers in cheaper cartridges, but this sample was well made and evenly sized. The measured performance is very similar to the Solera range and the average shooter will find little difference in pattern quality, making this a much better buy given the price differential. You will note from the performance data in the table that the 24 gram load is quite a sharp performer with the relatively high pressures that we have seen so often with these light loads.
My overall impression is of a range which has a lot going for it at the top and bottom, but which may not be so competitive in the middle. For shooters on a budget, the Eurotrap line offers solid performance at an attractive price and will sell well on the basis of that price alone. The Competicion shells are thoughtfully put together and give excellent results, again at a price which does not break the bank. Which leaves the Solera De Saga in something of a no man's land in between. If money is tight buy the cheaper ones and I doubt you will notice much difference. If performance and especially pattern quality, are important then the few extra pounds per thousand on the Competicion range will be money well spent. As ever the choice is yours.
Distributor: SSM international, Tedstone Wafre, Bromyard Hereford and Worcester HR7 4PY Tel. 01886 - 853646
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