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Ammo makers are clearly on the hunt for greener alternatives to lead and plastic, which is a positive trend. If there are new restrictions in the future, we’ll be ready for them. The latest loads from SHOT Show feature offerings for turkey, waterfowl, and upland hunting. There are also some interesting new sub-gauge offerings, as well as plenty for the versatile 12-gauge.
However, all this movement on the non-toxic side doesn’t mean lead is dead. Remington offers a new subsonic training load for the .410, and Winchester expands its Super Pheasant line to include the new 3-inch 28-gauge. Check out the rest of the new shotgun ammo from this year’s SHOT Show.
Apex 28-Gauge Mossy Oak Greenleaf TSS Blend
As far as smallbore turkey guns go, the 28-gauge far outperforms the .410. Even the 2 ¾-inch 28 gauge offers much heavier TSS payloads than the .410 can. New for this year, Apex has a 1 ½-ounce 2 ¾-inch 28-gauge shell containing a blend of tungsten 9 and 10 shot, the rough equivalent of lead 5 and 6 pellets. Even better, the shot is so small that you can launch an overwhelming number of pellets—665—at a turkey’s head and neck from a tiny sub-gauge. The shells are hand-loaded and feature clean burning powder and Apex’s Tungsten Propulsion Wad System designed for tight patterns and to protect barrels from scoring. A box of five shells will retail for $54.99.
Remington Low Decibel .410
Remington’s new Low Decibel .410 load makes the already quiet .410 into a true popgun. At 550 fps, the ½ ounce load is far below the subsonic level, making a great load for teaching young shooters, as noise is sometimes as startling as a gun’s kick to a new shooter. Also, the already soft recoil of the .410 will be reduced to practically nothing. Experienced shooters should find plenty of ways to have fun with these shells as well, and they will still break targets at close range and quite possibly be useful for some pest control. You can pick up a box of 25 shells for $24.99.
This new lineup of steel loads will offer excellent performance at a price point that keeps it within reach of almost every budget. UltraSteel uses the rear-braking Flitecontrol wad to hold the shot together a short distance out of the muzzle before separating cleanly, leading to dense patterns downrange. There are eight offerings in 3-inch, 12- and 20-gauges. The 12-gauge features 1 ¼-ounce, 1450 fps loads of BB, 2, BBx2, 2×4, and 3×5, while the 20-gauge shells come in 1400 fps, 1-ounce loadings of 2, 2×4, and 3×5. A box of 3-inch 20-gauge retails for $36.99, and a box of 3-inch 12-gauge retails for $40.99.
Federal Hi-bird bismuth
For hunting in places where you want to leave no trace at all, Federal extends its Hi-Bird line to include a 12-gauge, 1 ¼-ounce load of bismuth 5 shot. It should be a great shell for pheasants where lead isn’t allowed, as well as a load for ducks over decoys in places where you don’t want to leave plastic wads in the water. Instead of a plastic over-powder wad, these shells have a cellulose wad that will expand to seal even in overbored 12-gauges. Unlike plastic, it’s unaffected by temperature, too, so these shells will deliver in all guns, in all conditions. Hunter can pick up a box of 25 for $73.99.
HeviMetal Extreme BBx2
Duplex loads go in and out of fashion. They are in again, thanks in part to Hevi-Shot, which introduced the first load of the current stacked-load trend with Hevi-Metal several years ago. This new Hevi-Metal Extreme contains 70 percent steel BBs and 30 percent 12 gr/cc Hevi-Shot pellets. Packed into Federal’s long-range Flitecontrol wad, this 1 ¼ ounce, 1450 fps payload will pattern tightly and hit hard and be perfect for when geese give your decoys no more than a look. There are also 12- and 20-gauge 1×4 loads. The 12-gauge load features a 1 ¼-ounce payload at 1450 fps, and the 20-gauge features a 1 1/16 ounce payload at 1350 fps. A box of 25 retails for $58.99.
Winchester 3-inch 28-gauge
Winchester released three new 3-inch, 28-gauge shells for both upland and waterfowl hunting, taking advantage of the 3-inch hull’s extra capacity to help it step up to near-20-gauge levels. The Xpert Waterfowl and Upland has ¾-ounce loads of 4 shot at 1350 fps for those who want to shoot decoying ducks with steel. Containing 144 pellets, these shells should be fine for close-range work.
There is a lead Super Pheasant load containing 1 1/8 ounces of hard, copper-plated lead 5 shot at 1200 fps. Modest velocity and hard shot is a recipe for good patterns, and these shells will be great for pheasants inside 40 yards from early season to the very end.
The 3-inch bismuth shell has real promise. Winchester alloys their pellets to be much sturdier than older bismuth shot, which could be quite brittle, causing several to shatter under the stress of launching down the barrel. The new 3-inch 28-gauge shells contain one ounce of 5 shot at 1300 fps and should be a terrific duck-over-decoys load. Xpert shells come in at $22-$25 per box of 25, Super Pheasant shells at $29-$32 per box of 25, and bismuth for $50-$55 per box of 25.