Things You Need To Know About Duck Hunting Ammo
The information in this article is good for all Duck Hunting enthusiasts , you have to understand all aspects of your gear and understand what it is capable of doing.
It emphasizes the importance of the knowledge and of safety.
This is a a whole lot of good information …
If you’re like me, and you love hunting ducks and geese, then you too spend a lot of time with a shotgun in your hands. You probably sweat the details over your gear too. When you think about your ammo, however, there’s a few things you might not know that can make a huge difference in your success.
1. Faster is better, right?
There was a speed war being waged in the shotshell market for a time. It seemed like every manufacturer was taking basic steel shot and pushing down the barrel faster and faster.
What good does the extra speed do for you? It goes back to when the laws were passed making non-toxic shot required for waterfowl. The density of lead made it fly significantly different than early steel .
2. How’d we get there?
Federal Premium released the first 3 ½-inch 12 gauge loads in the late 1980’s. It was a joint venture with a shotgun manufacturer to increase payload, although originally designed as a turkey gun. Steelshot loads soon followed. The goal was to capture some of the performance of the 10 gauge.
“Technically, 12 gauge 3 ½-inch shotshells have the ability to contain more shot and are launched at higher energy levels, thus they have the ability to be used on longer shots .
The next advancement was speed. Manufacturers played with different powder and load combinations to increase speed ,today loads are faster than ever. The problem inherent with steelshot loads is that the density of steel is less than the density of lead, meaning that a BB-size pellet of lead will weigh more than the same size pellet made from steel. With this decrease in density, the steel load loses velocity much quicker, reducing range and lethality.
Aside from advancements in powder, there were also leaps in wad technology.
With the search for new things driving the market, advancements in the actual shot construction soon followed. One of the first advancements was making the steel shot perfectly round and uniform.
There was also a huge push toward steel alternatives for shot materials. Alternative metal ammunition became a highly competitive market, with HeviShot, Winchester’s Xtended Range, Kent’s Tungsten Matrix, Federal’s Ultra-Shok, and Remington’s Wingmaster HD, among others. Tungsten, bismuth and other blends offered non-lead alternatives that had the shooting characteristics of lead shot .
The biggest issue with steel-alternative, non-toxic loads is the expense. Most of the manufacturers sell these loads in 10-round boxes at a cost equal or greater to a 25-round box of steel or more. There are some great advantages though. For one, the advancements in powder that came from the speed revolution propel these new loads at great speeds and they carry the energy well.
There has also been a push to combine steel shot and the alternative loads in one shell. These shells give hunters the best of both worlds at a lower cost. These advancements have hunters looking to mix it up when it comes to shells.
“While I don’t have hard data to reference specifically, I think the trend back towards the 3-inch is in large part to the advancements in steel ammunition Technology,” said Tim Brandt, marketing and communications manager for Federal Premium .
4. I’m feeling it now
There is a side effect and one that affects every hunter out there. In shotguns, as with anything, with any action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, with the increase in speed, there is an increase in recoil.
“I like to think of the ‘hunter’ and ‘weapon / ammunition’ as a system that has a different optimum balance for everyone,” Brandt said.”
With that, shotgun manufacturers have been looking at recoil reduction systems.
Ported barrels do reduce recoil and muzzle jump to some extent, but at the cost of increased noise back to the shooter. Hearing protection is a must.
With all of the advancements in shotshells and shotguns, waterfowlers have a huge advantage. But you still have to practice. You still have to find the birds and get them to come in. And you still have to be able to hit them when it comes time to pull the trigger. It’s like the old musician’s joke – How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man. Practice!
Article by: Derrick Sigler