Hevi-Steel Reviewby L.P. Brezny
New Information Changes the Performance Profile of Hevi-Steel
In a previous issue of Gundogs Online, I wrote about the lack luster performance of Hevi-Steel shotshell ammunition as applied to South Dakota ring necks. I indicated at that time that Hevi-Steel in a #4 pellet size just didn’t have the needed punch required when taking on tough old ring neck pheasants. Well folks, I think I overstated the situation to some degree, and now I need to set the record straight.
Hevi-Steel has for some time been a rather tough nut to crack in terms of evaluating its performance. To some degree I’m sure that what I have observed regarding Hevi-Steel performance is not the makings of fiction, but real world events that point to the fact that a #4 pellet in steel shot, or in this case even Hevi-Steel has a sort tight envelope of effectiveness. However, with that point stated, the working range of Hevi-Steel could well be a bit better than what I have eluded to in the previous evaluation, and a second industry test hunt at Mitchell, South Dakota this fall proved this element of learned knowledge clearly.
This adventure started with a call from Lee Harstad of the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Lee wanted some shooters and writers to tag along on a local Mitchell, South Dakota and Cabela’s sporting goods stores sponsored pheasant hunt. By bringing a group writers and video sports channel folks together the hunt would make for an interesting event, especially in light of the fact that Lee was willing to allow me to use the hunt as still another ammunition test base.
With my previous lack luster results associated with #4 Hevi-Steel during the early local weekend outing on pheasants I was again interested in seeing what the early effects would be if I supplied hunters with some of the very same ammunition we had previously used. It was not that I wanted to create a cripple reference once again, but I did want to give this new, different non-toxic ammunition a fair and level playing field across the board.
Starting our hunt with the folks at K&M Hunting out of Plankinton, South Dakota, our guide and top gun, Michael Miller, put us into a standing corn field with no less than four darn good dogs across the line of 10 hunters. The field was not very dirty and as such any cripple recovered would be an easy chase for any good dog, and if wounded and recovered I would have a very good chance to study the net effects of the Hevi-Steel fodder.
I had passed a case of Hevi-Steel shotshells out to anyone that wanted to give them a try. I had indicated that I had seen some previous problems during that early hunt, but none the less, all of the hunters saved for David Draper, the representative from Cabela’s, were willing to give the loads in both #2 and #4 Hevi-Steel a try. Dave was shooting a 16 gauge side by side that he dearly loved when taking on ringneck pheasants. I didn’t blame him a bit for wanting to stay with his old and trusted smoke pole.
Now with Vern and Jeff Boer of Wild Dakota Production getting this event on film we raised the first single rooster that was promptly dropped stone dead by way of a load of #4 Hevi-Steel shot. At about 43 yards, and in a light wind, the bird just seemed to be crushed by the 1 1/8 oz. charge of iron shot pellets.
After several birds were harvested a major push along a very grown over shelter belt produced still additional birds in quantity. I was seeing the previous trouble, some #4 Hevi-Steel turn around almost a full 360 degrees in terms of performance. While the dogs did indeed have to chase down a few odd birds, for the most part it was shoot and pick with little or no difficulties observed by the lab retrievers.
Thinking back to the drawing board, and the use of Perma Gel ordnance gelatin which had indicted very workable penetration at 40 yards, I started to gain a working picture of what had transpired on the early hunt. With an increase in wind, hunting some deep GFP production grasslands, and very rangy roosters, it had all seeming added up to just a bit too much for the dogs, and a load that was working right on its effectiveness edge.