When the folks at Winchester called to invite me down to East Alton, Ill., home to Winchester’s legendary NILO Farms, last October, they said they wanted to introduce me to a new type of non-toxic waterfowl ammunition, one they assured me would be quite eye-opening. Little did the men realize just what an understatement they’d made.
At first glance, Winchester’s new Blind Side appears to be just another 1-3/8-ounce steel load housed in a black hull with a silver base. Even the advertised velocity – 1,400 feet per second (fps) – isn’t out of the ordinary; however, once the technicians began describing the new load in detail, it quickly became apparent that this non-toxic offering was something unique.
To fully understand Blind Side, let’s break a single shotshell down internally, component by component. The first noticeable difference is the shot itself; not your traditional round pellets, but rather hexahedrons – six-sided cubes of zinc-plated steel. The technicians explained there are two primary reasons for the unusual shape.
One, the cubes allow individual pellets to be stacked inside the hull, effectively eliminating the empty space created when round shapes settle against one another. The resulting packing density increases payload by 15 percent; meaning a 1-3/8-ounce charge now fits into a 1-1/4 ounce hull. Secondly, the flat surfaces, along with the corners and edges of the new Hex Shot increases on-target trauma dramatically – this trauma translates into tremendous energy and shock transfer. The proverbial bottom line here is simple; you have more pellets and each pellet is more effective.
Next, you need to see the wad. For several years now, shotshell manufacturers have been experimenting with radical new wad designs, as they apply to non-toxic applications. Many waterfowlers are familiar with Federal’s FliteControl (FC) wad; a rear-braking cup that distinguishes itself through increased pattern densities at longer yardages. Unlike the FC wad, the Blind Side cup sports three diamond-shaped cuts on the aft (forward) portion of the wad proper.
Upon leaving the muzzle, the diamonds open and flex rearward, slowly separating the wad from the Hex Shot charge, but not before remaining with the charge long enough to ensure consistent patterns downrange. Interestingly, the Blind Side wad is a two-piece unit made up of the cup and a second hinged, base upon which the cup and charge sit. Because the Hex Shot creates room inside the hull otherwise occupied by pellets, more space now exists for this hinged wad. This contributes to pressure reduction, increased velocity, and reduced perceived recoil.
Blind Side is loaded using Winchester’s proven Drylock system, a sealing process that serves to keep both the powder charge and the primer watertight. Two formats – 3-inch, and 3-1/2-inch – are available, those in 1-3/8 ounce and 1-5/8 ounce loads, respectively, and containing either #2 or #BB Hex Shot in black hulls. Blind Side hit the shelves in June 2011.