From what little I have seen of Winchester’s new Long Beard XR turkey loads they really do offer nearly the performance of the premium tungsten-iron loads at just a little more than the price of regular lead.
The patterns I shot with the 3-inch 5 and 6 Long Beard easily outdid my old lead standby, Winchester Supreme High Velocity 1 ¾ ounce of 5 shot. At 50 yards there’s no question Long Beard will drop a turkey. I’m not going to talk about the patterns I shot at 60 because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I think shooting turkeys that far away is a good idea. It’s not, regardless of what shell you shoot.
With Long Beard Winchester uses something that looks like epoxy to glue all the pellets into a solid cylinder of shot. When the shell goes off the epoxy shatters but remains in place, effectively cushioning every pellet in the shotcup. They stay round and fly truer and pattern extremely well. It’s the same concept as using ground plastic buffer but it seems to be more effective.
The downside of Long Beard is that the buffer material adds about a quarter ounce of weight, meaning the 2 ounce loads I shot actually contained only 1 ¾ ounces of shot and ¼ ounce of buffer. To keep recoil and pressures down Winchester reduced the velocity to a modest 1125 fps. Lead retains velocity and energy well and I doubt a turkey will feel the difference.
Long Beard will cost more per box than other premium lead loads because the loading machines have to run slower as a result of adding the epoxy-like compound to each shell. Long Beard will be available in 3 and 3 ½-inch 12 gauge in 4,5 and 6 shot.