Can Steel duck loads make sense for you?
Duck loads are a thing of continuous evolution, included many changes that have upset thousands of hunters around the United States. Sure, we get the idea behind not putting excess lead into to watershed areas, but the trade off in the usability of most steel loads is horrible, very unbalanced against the hunter. Steel doesn’t typically pattern well, it’s light, it requires too much speed to kill and it doesn’t feel the same. The other alternatives like bismuth and tungsten are either too expensive or hard to find, or they are at risk of being outlawed as well.
So we waited. We waited for some well funded company to start producing a steel load worth a crap. And then it happened. Enter the Winchester Hex Shot load platform.
It’s a more densely packed steel load to increase the amount of shot on target, which incorporates the fast speeds of steel with the total weight on target of lead, perhaps the perfect balance in a duck load. How does it accomplish this unique balance? It’s a combination of things, mostly a reengineering of the shape of the shot itself, which contributes toward other improvements. The hex shaped shot allows the shot to be stacked like a slug, therefore cutting down on the amount of air space in the wad, therefore increasing the weight and density of the shot. Because of this density and weight improvement, it also gets the benefit of taking up less total length in the shell, allowing for better powder ignition, better burn rates and more strategic load maximization.
Because steel shot has a history of bad patterning, the idea doesn’t make much sense for most waterfowl hunters; but this shot takes these theories to task. The hexagonally shaped shot would lead one to believe that the shape would have too much air resistance causing the patterns to spread heavily and shoot wildly; but the improved wad design causes a delayed opening of the cup to ensure the “stack” of shot is released well after the end of the barrel. We know this happens (not only because Winchester says so) because the wads end up 10-12 yard farther out than normal wads.
The load isn’t perfect, and you will get the occasional flyers from the loads. It’s not nearly as consistent as a high quality load with standard lead shot, but it’s almost where it needs to be to make the change to steel loads, worry and anger free. Some practice with a few choke options might lend itself to finding excellent overall duck loads for your waterfowl endeavors.
This is a great Duck Load.
The reason that the Winchester Hex shot makes sense is that it allows either (and in fact both in some cases) higher velocity, and therefore better penetration, or smaller patterns, and therefore good placement on target, and inherently better kill ratio. The 2 ¾” duck loads in this platform perform as well as much larger duck loads with standard steel shot, and arguably better than even some of the lead loads we used to be able to use. What the duck loads Winchester is now making with the hex shot actually does, is it levels the playing field so that hunter’s skill is now the most prevalent factor in the success of his shooting when going after waterfowl. These are duck loads that are certainly worth a look for those who haven’t yet found any great duck loads.