Hevi-Steel - Low Priced and Effective in the Fieldby L.P. Brezny
No, it is not Hevi-Shot, the very impressive non-toxic shot that has been out gunning everything on the market of late, but it is manufactured by the same people, Environmetal Inc. I am talking about Hevi-Steel and what it amounts to is a lower grade non-toxic shot product that will still outgun steel shot, but not burn a hole in your pocket as you try to pay for the stuff.
Hevi-Steel is made up of iron, and low-end tungsten scrap material. As tungsten is used for the higher end shot types the overflow can be gleaned off and reused in the product that makes up Hevi-Steel. Being a blend of steel and tungsten (the later retains a good deal of added weight) the density of the new shot type goes up, and that makes it hit harder and go further when sent aloft from your scatter gun barrel. In other words, Hevi-Steel is an improvement in advanced non-toxic shot, but lacks that big price tag.
Selling at $189.90 for 250 rounds, and loaded in 25 round boxes, this new shot is a deal. Price high grade common steel and you will see that Hevi-Steel meets the steel shot price point, or about the same price as the old duck magnum lead shot loads of old.
That's progress in the ammo business, my friends, no matter how you look at it. The new shot currently is being sold through Mack's Prairie Wings, Stuttgart Arkansas. According to my sources the first very large batch of this new shot was bought up by Mack's, and in time others will be stocking the loads.
Currently the ammo is being manufactured through Polywad Inc., a small custom outfit located in Macon, Georgia. This company can only load about four cases an hour being they use a very high-grade custom process. Polywad often does development work for the big industry giants, but is never talked about by gun writers or the general press. One thing you should know about this outfit is that Polywad will hand check every shotshell and weigh them prior to packing a shipment. Quality control is next to none regarding this company.
Hevi-Steel came to me by way of Jay Menefee the top gun at Polywad shortly after the start of 2004. Jay had been playing with the new shot and asked if I was willing to take a hard look at it in terms of it becoming a viable product in the non-toxic marketplace. It took about as long as getting to my phone to make up my mind about wanting to test this new product, and within several days Jay had several pounds of raw #2 shot sitting at my door fresh off the UPS truck.
With no data to go by, I turned to an old outfit Ballistics Products out of Corcoran, Minnesota, and their issue #102 manual covering Hevi-Shot reloading. Using the Hevi-Shot data, I simply substituted the Hevi-Steel for those loads, and within an hours time I was turning out loads on the equally new RCBS Mini-Grand 12 gauge reloading press that had also just arrived from those folks.
Using the BPI - Hevi-Shot wad as a starter, with a 1 1/8 oz charge of Hevi- Steel in the 2 3/4" hull, with Longshot by Hodgdon propelling it the test load moved out at close to 1390 f.p.s. chronographed, patterned like a dream to 40 yards, and did a real job on late season crows in the Black Hills of South Dakota, as well as some nuisance barn pigeons. As for real meat-like game birds, however, that would have to wait with the coming of the fall South Dakota bird hunting season. Every indication during those early tests was that this new shot had something going for it. True, it was about as ugly as a wart hog, but it retained density which is, in my opinion, more important than anything in non-toxic shotshell ammo today, and it seemed to drive deadly wound channels as it developed major tissue damage. Many times a single pellet would do the work of several common steel shot pellets, and this was observed time and time again on trash birds.
Hevi- Steel / steel shot comparison.
Even lacking the good round quality of steel shot Hevi-Steel retains a density of 9.064, against the density of steel coming in at 7.86. This brings the new Hevi-Steel in close to density figure of 9.82. Now you have a non-toxic product the price of the old lead shot duck loads way back when, but will perform much like the Bismuth Cartridge, and Matrix line of non-toxic fodder today. In other words, an advanced shot that the hunter can afford.
It didn't take very long to get the new Hevi-Steel up on big geese as Jay Menefee had just completed the first batch of 3' 12 gauge ammo in a BB size pellet for just such work. In no time at all Jay had packed up a good quantity of shotshells fresh off his loading headers, and thanks to UPS they ended up at my door a few days later. This ammo was loaded to 1 1/8 oz in payload weight, contained in a Precision Reloading TUPRW 1123 SBL Orange heavy steel shot wad, and buffered with 40 grains of poly buffer, or as some call it 'bead' buffer. The buffer is required in this case as an interracial part of the load, as it is used to stabilize the shot so it won't push through the wad wall and make contact with the bore. Hevi-Steel is some very hard material and it requires protection as a part of its 1500 f.p.s. + velocity send off down the bore as applied to some loads.
Heading for Clark South Dakota and Oak Tree Kennels I hooked up with Knock'm Down Production, who just by chance had brought together a waterfowl hunt during the opening of the early Canada goose season in South Dakota.
With a group of midwestern press writers, guides, and pro staff troops with Knock'm down Inc., the new shot was passed out to all, and with the first flock of big bombers rolling in I started to collect data by the pages in my field note book.
Right off the Hevi-Steel clobbered geese to a strong 55 yards like they were hit by a bolt of lighting.
Dead in the air would be no exaggeration here, as some rolled end over end while others simply collapsed and fell hard into the early fall cut wheat field we were decoying. A few previous patterns shot on my home range had quickly indicated that this new shot was very capable of producing solid 88 to 92% patterns at 40 yards with a strong hold over in pellet count to 55 yards when required. This testing had been done by way of a Benelli Nova and a Seminole pass choke. It seemed that regardless of the choke everyone to the number of six hunters were having good luck with the new loads based on a variety of guns and choke systems being employed in the field.
Even with the performance indicated during that first hunt I was still not totally convinced that Hevi-Steel was all that much better then common steel shot. After all, up the pellet size a bit to say T shot, and steel could also do the job at the 55 yard mark. Therefore, the verdict was still out on Hevi-Steel at least for the time being.