The good news is, if you want better-than-lead non-toxic performance from your small bore, Hevi-Shot now comes in 28 gauge and .410. The bad news is, it will cost you $2-$3 per shell. The further bad news is, no, the price of tungsten-iron loads won’t ever come down, because raw tungsten is very scarce and expensive stuff.
Nevertheless, some people love to hunt with little guns and, at decoying duck ranges, a light load of Hevishot 4, 6 or 7 shot is completely adequate. My friend Dave (shown below with his Lab, Jazz) is a smallbore nut, and when we duck hunted together last week I brought him some of the new 28 gauge 6s to shoot out of his SKB.
Hevi-Shot has sold some softer, lighter stuff called Classic Doubles for small bores in the past, but this is real, Original Recipe Hevi-Shot loaded into smaller gauges. The 6 shot pellets I weighed averaged 2 grains apiece, making them heavier than lead 6 shot, which averages around 1.94 grains. That density translates into improved energy and downrange performance, despite the comically mis-shapen nature of Hevi-Shot pellets (in the shell I cut open to inspect there were lots of the usual snowman shaped pellets, plus one jumbo blob that weighed as much as five of the average-size pellets put together).
We had a few chances the other morning, and the ducks Dave shot were impressed with the Hevi-Shot loads. A bluewing teal, which decoyed to 20 yards or so, was hit hard enough that some of the 6 Hevi-Shot shot went all the way through and out the other side.
Obviously expensive ammunition for a marginal waterfowl gun is a niche item, but it’s nice to see that niche filled anyway. The loads come in 28 gauge at 1300 fps in 4 and 6, and ½ ounce loads of 3-inch; .410 in 7 shot at 1250 fps.