3 New Steel Loads for Waterfowl

Winchester Ammunition Blind Side

Winchester Blind Side steel loads are loaded with six-sided steel pellets.

Winchester Blind Side steel loads are loaded with six-sided steel pellets.

Shotgun authorities have preached forever that hard, round shot is required for tight patterns. But here comes Winchester saying its six-sided Blind Side Hex Shot patterns tightly, even though the pellets look like little bricks. Winchester achieves those tight patterns with its Diamond Cut Wad that keeps the shot inside a shotcup several feet past the muzzle before three petals near the base of the wad slowly deploy to pull the wad away from the shot.

Patterns tightened up with increased choke constriction when I patterned Winchester’s Elite Blind Side 12-gauge 3-inch load of 1 3/8 oz. of No. 2s. Patterns at 40 yards were 57 percent shot through an improved cylinder, 62 percent from a modified and 75 percent shot through a full choke.

Winchester Hex Shot reportedly hits waterfowl like “high-velocity tumbling bricks, delivering massive wound channels that maximize energy deposit and knock-down shock within the bird.”

Winchester Hex Shot reportedly hits waterfowl like “high-velocity tumbling bricks, delivering massive wound channels that maximize energy deposit and knock-down shock within the bird.”

Blind Side shells are loaded with slightly heavier amounts of shot than comparable HyperSonic and Black Cloud shells. Still, velocities are quite high at 1,400 fps for 1 1/4 oz. of Hex Shot in 12-gauge 2 3/4-inch shells, 1 3/8 oz. of shot in 3-inch shells and 1 5/8 oz. shot in 3.5-inch shells.

Winchester claims Hex Shot hits waterfowl like “high-velocity tumbling bricks, delivering massive wound channels that maximize energy deposit and knock-down shock within the bird.” My son and his friend took it upon themselves to determine if that was true by shooting the 12-gauge 3-inch load of 1 3/8 oz. of 2s while jump shooting mallards and Canada geese along a big river near our home. Thomas and his friend returned with nine ducks and six geese. They reported shooting out to 35 yards and only a couple of the geese required a follow-up shot to knock them down dead.

Today’s top steel loads for waterfowl count on high velocities and uniquely shaped pellets to efficiently kill waterfowl.

Today’s top steel loads for waterfowl count on high velocities and uniquely shaped pellets to efficiently kill waterfowl.

The Best Steel Loads for Ducks?

Thomas and I went duck hunting this past December to further study the situation. We alternated shooting 12-gauge Federal Black Cloud High Velocity 3-inch loads with 1 1/8 oz. of FS No. 4s shot at 1,635 fps, Remington HyperSonic 1 1/8 oz. of No. 2s at 1,700 fps and Winchester Blind Side 1 3/8 oz. of No. 2s at 1,400 fps.

We jump shot a slough and a creek. Thomas passed a couple chances at 50 yards on wild flushing birds because he knows any shot, no matter what its initial velocity or makeup, has fairly well spent itself at that distance. Plus, hitting a duck at that distance is a gamble. Our shots ranged from 20 to 30 yards, with a few at 40. After the shooting was finished and the feathers had settled, all the mallards had been killed with one shot, except one. That greenhead fell with a broken wing and required another shot.

“So which of the three loads shot the best?” I asked my son in my most analytical tone.
“Sneak into certain range, pick out one duck from the flock,” Thomas replied, “and all three loads are the best. Every one did its job.”

This article appeared in the February 11, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


Recommended resources for shotgunners:

Gun DIgest Book of ShotgunningThe Gun Digest Book of Shotgunning

Gamefield Classics

Gunsmithing Shotguns: PDF Download

Shop GunDigestStore.com for more books, DVDs and downloads

COMMENT