The Right Loads for Ducks - Page 2

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Suggested Loads
Based on a considerable amount of advanced load testing by Ballistics Research & Development being my little piece of the shooting industry, both in the field and on the range, here are some load offerings that can get the job done for you, and not burn up your bank account.

Winchester Xpert
As already discussed, Winchester Xpert is not only a buy on the market, but a darn workable performance load as well. Offered in everything from heavy magnums to 2 ¾” light field this budget priced product is about all most of us need when gunning waterfowl over decoys. From the heavy 3 1 / 2" 1 3 / 8 oz super magnums in 12 gauge to the 1 1 / 16 oz ultra fast 1550 f.p.s. 2 3 / 4" loads Xpert can get it done.

Federal Cartridge
While Federal has tended to spend a great deal of time and attention on new types of non-toxic loads of late they have also cut back some of their lower end line. While I can’t say for a fact, it seems as though their newer line of Estate Cartridge ammunition is taking the place of the early Federal Classic Steel. Estate Cartridge shotshells are loaded at Federal’s Anoka Minnesota plant right along side Federal’s own Ultra Shok, and high grade High Density loads. I have found through two full years of testing that Estate ammo is darn workable for much of my over decoy gunning, and South Dakota stream or stock tank jump shooting. Estate steel shot loads have been very popular in the deep south for some time, and after shooting both the quick 1500 f.p.s. fast movers in both 12 gauge 3.5" and 3" magnum on ducks, I can see clearly why those southern duck shooters packed these loads afield.

Estate loads are available from 10 gauge to 20 gauge load configurations. I have found them to be at a price point that is hard to beat, and I’m here to tell you no duck wants to see those loads being packed afield. Don’t get me wrong, Federal’s main line steel shot ammo can be bought at right prices during the hunting season. Keeping a sharp eye on promotional programs and special deals at those big name sporting good dealers can net you even the very new Federal Ultra Shok ammo at a real bargain price from time to time. The trick here is to shop smart versus just grabbing onto the first load on the ammunition counter that comes along. In terms of the older line in Federal “Classic" and even the “STEEL" brand, by checking around you can still find quantities of these steel shot loads. Don’t be fooled by the box design or name, Federal has built more quality than is being paid for in these older shotshells, and if you can get hold of them buy’em up as they will produce good field results.

If you want a bargain load, turning to the big green machine is not the worst idea either. Remington offers Sportsman Hi-Speed Steel as well as standard velocity Sportsman loads in iron shot. Sportsman are loaded to meet the value based direction for hunters, and like other brands the quality of the components greatly out distances the basic cost. To be quite honest with you, I can’t understand how the manufacturer can make a buck at such low retail prices when it comes to loads like those that have been represented in this section.

Kent Cartridge
Kent is a newer company but with solid teeth within the industry in that they have not only produced some outstanding steel shot loads, but also offer one of the few do it all high energy tungsten nontoxic loads that is bore safe in even very fine grade doubles. As applied to this subject however Kent offers a new “All Purpose" steel shot load in 12 and 20 gauge that will in effect do it all at a less than premium price. Known to offer ultra fast loads even up to the big 3.5" 12 bore at very affordable prices Kent has hit the swamp running with its All Purpose loads. Field testing is still underway regarding these shotshells, but to date I’m in no way disappointed regarding their performance.

As we move into 2005’s waterfowl season, we are seeing a list of load options that are beyond description if all of them were to be listed under the same story heading by this writer. Each year I think we have seen it all, and then I’m completely caught off guard by some ripping new idea that comes busting out of the marsh grass. This year not a great deal has changed from 2004 directly up front, but without question we are right on the very edge of seeing some new options again in waterfowl fodder. The trick now will be to make these new innovations affordable to the average hunter. With the increasing costs of raw products that go into your shotshells you can bet that some major attention is being given to keeping that bottom line right where it belongs, and that would be right at the bottom.
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