December 30, 2009
Bourjaily: Why Hevi Shot Is The Most Important Shotgunning Invention of the Decade
By Phil Bourjaily
For this, my last post of the 00s, I had been trying for a while – and failing -- to think of an end-of-the-decade blog post. My “Eureka” moment came while cleaning up after cooking our Christmas goose. I heard the “tink” of metal falling into the kitchen sink. When I fished the misshapen pellet pictured above out of the sink I realized Hevi Shot is the most significant invention in shotgunning of the past 10 years.
There have been some excellent new guns introduced in the past decade, but most of them, no matter how good, are merely refinements on what came before.* By contrast, Hevi Shot changed the way we think about shotgun ammunition.
Hevi Shot wasn’t the first non-toxic pellet to try to improve on the performance of steel. When it was introduced in 2000, however, it was the first pellet engineered to improve on the performance of lead. While its competitors were almost as dense as lead, Hevi Shot was denser (lead weighs 11.2 grams per cubic centimeter; Hevi Shot weights 12 g/cc) giving it exceptional long range reach.
It was, as you can see here, comically deformed. Conventional shotgun wisdom held that the more perfect the sphere, the better the pattern. Hevi Shot looked like byproduct, not pellets, but it patterned more tightly than the best lead loads despite (some say because of) its mutant shape. Hevi Shot’s density meant could shoot smaller shot slower – with less recoil – and still outperform any steel load on the market. Or, you could drive big loads of Hevi Shot at high velocities and have the most lethal shotshells ever made for hunting. Hevi Shot’s tight patterns changed turkey hunting, too, making 40 yard guns into 50 yard guns (whether that is a change for the better or not is a different argument).
The invention of Hevi Shot prompted Remington, Federal and Winchester to develop their own similar HD, Heavyweight and Xtended Range pellets. Given the scarcity of raw tungsten, none of them are cheap and none ever will be, but all of them outperform any lead load ever made.
So, that is my nominee for most important shotgunning invention of the past decade. You may have your own ideas. Let’s hear them.
*as I am unfailingly reminded by loyal 1100 shooters whenever I write about a new semiautomatic shotgun.