Shotgun Ammo photo

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This is a video of Federal’s new turkey load, which they are calling 3rd Degree. There’s no official video of it yet, but Federal’s PR guy JJ Reich shot this for us on his cell phone from the depths of the company’s test range. 3rd Degree, in the tradition of Federal’s long forgotten “Tri-Power” shells, contains three different-sized pellets in its payload. It mixes ridged lead Flitestopper 6 shot with copper-plated lead 5s and tungsten-iron Heavyweight 7 shot. They are layered in a Flitecontrol wad, the same wad used in Black Cloud. The wad is designed to hold the shot charge together for several feet as it emerges from the muzzle.

The idea behind 3rd Degree is a little different from the usual turkey load, which is designed to pattern as tightly as possible. The Flitestopper pellets are loaded on top, and the ridged design will make them spread quickly to provide some extra margin for error at close range. The lead 5s come next, with the Heavy 7 shot bringing up the rear, where it can draft behind the other pellets and hold a very tight pattern.

I had a chance to shoot a few early samples and there are a couple of inches more margin for error at 10 and 15 yards with 3rd Degree compared to other loads. At longer ranges, however, the Flitestopper 6s are pretty well gone from the pattern, and you have the remaining 80 per cent of the payload (about 260 pellets, split equally between lead 5s and Heavyweight 7s) left to work with.

My samples were 3-inch, 1 ¾ ounce loads. I assume a 3 ½-inch 12 either exists or is on the drawing board. I’ll look forward to giving 3rd Degree a more thorough test this spring.