Interesting post. I agree, if you can't get a tom into 35 yards, you have accomplished nothing in my opinion. Anything past 40 yards is just killing a bird - again, in my opinion.
I've been patterning Benellis since 1991. I've never found a pattern I love. Best patterning guns I have ever seen have been Mossturd 835's and just about any 10 gauge pump. I do now own a 10 gauge pump, which might get to see some playing time this year. I would not accept a free 835 or any other Mossturd product.
Bore ID is a likely suspect. They run from .723 when the cutter is new, to .718 when they finally decide to use a new cutter. I suspect the .718's are the toughest to pattern. My current SBE II is a .719. I also suspect that as the ecomony slumps worldwide, there will be plenty of .718's around
Shot size is also a critial issue. I've got guns that love #6's, but can't kill a emu at 10 yards with #5's, and vice versa.
10 chokes? Child's play. Any of them any good? Lots of crap out there. Tight Wad? Crap. Carlson? Crap. Indian Creek? Crap. My Rhino is marginally acceptable. Primos Jellyhaid is my current choke of choice but only because I have not found anything better yet.
Here are photos of what I am printing right now. It's good enough for now, but I'm planning to test more combinations this year. The counts are hits on the sheet over pellets in the shell. Each shell pellet count is an average of 3-4 shells cut open and counted.
I like the eveness of the patterns. Toms don't always stand perfectly still, so a little horizontal pattern is a good thing. It also allows for a follow up shot (yes, it does happen to some of us).
At 30 yards, there would be little left of the paper, and counting pellets would be almost impossible. At 50, there would be 1/2 or less hits. It just seems like the magic distance for my gun is 30-38 yards.
mudhen - CA
"Lighten up Francis"