|February - March 2005
Volume 40, Number
The Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 629 Compensated Hunter is set up with a Burris 2-7x scope. The Model 629 Hunter features an 8.75-inch barrel and square butt stocks. Cover photo by Stan Trzoniec.
The coyote is in
trouble. Its not that the death rate due to natural causes is escalating, but
fatalities stemming from gunpowder poisoning will likely be on the increase.
I first got wind of
this in March 2004. The voice on the phone was instantly recognizable a good friend
who hangs his hat in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Brace yourself for some big
news! I was already braced, because Eds network is often a jump or two ahead
of my jungle drums.
Our mutual friend, Jay
Menefee, in his role as chief cook and bottle washer at Polywad, Inc. down in Macon, Georgia,
had again been burning the midnight oil. This time around, Jay was not plotting against
turkeys. This time it was a super-deadly load for predator hunters who find the shotgun
more challenging than the rifle.
with Environ-Metal, the Oregon-based company that gave us HeviShot, Jay had
developed a 12-gauge, 3-inch load containing 50 pellets of T-size tungsten-nickel-iron
that sizzle along at 1,325 fps and deliver patterns that are awesomely tight. What better
name for such a loading than Dead Coyote? Believe me, point the gun right
(either head or rib cage) and those crafty yodelers are going to drop in their tracks and
never so much as quiver.
Within a few days of
learning about the Dead Coyote load, a 50-round package landed at my backdoor. All other
in-process projects were immediately shoved to the back burner. The first order of business
was surgery; the cutting apart of a few rounds for a close look at the details of loading.
The white translucent
hull is from Fiocchi, and it features a rolled crimp in conjunction with a transparent
plastic overshot wad that is made to shatter on firing and not interfere with the payload
on muzzle exit. Thirty-five grains of a fine-granule ball-type powder drives the shot
charge, which is box-marked as weighing 1 1/2 ounces with a pellet count of 50. For my
test loads, the count was 52 pellets, and the charges were overweight by close to 43.0
grains. And thats no cause for complaint.
The one-piece plastic
wad column is from Gualandi in Italy. This
wad is 48mm in length and has no integral crush section. For the Dead Coyote load, no
insert wadding is used on the floor of the shotcup for cushioning. The wads exterior
is designed with closely spaced circumferential ridges to reduce bore contact. The very
same wad, by the way, is available for handloading from Ballistic Products and is
cataloged by that mail-order vendor as the 50mm LBC (limited bore contact).
In itself, the LBC wad
is a sturdy unit, and when the payload is packed with a spherical or polybead buffer (as
it is for the HeviShot Ts), there is
total bore protection with any of the harder-than-lead pellets. During my Dead Coyote
pattern testing, I managed to recover nearly every wad, and the only damage (if it can be
called that) was light pellet imprinting of the shotcups interior. In fact, the wads
weathered the bore journey and choke squeeze in such good condition that in a pinch they
could have been used again.
When you look at these
Ts, youre in for a big surprise. Unlike the smaller pellet sizes that are anything
but round, what youll see is a pellet with nearly perfect sphericity. Thats
because the Ts are mold shot. Their surface is not truly smooth but slightly pebble
grained. The average diameter for the 10 pellets I measured was .205 inch, and that places
them in between a true T and TT size in other words a half size larger than the U.S.
standard of .200 inch.
The per-pellet weight
averages out at almost 13.5 grains. Thats getting close to the weight of a lead
pellet of F size, the actual difference being roughly 1.5 grains. Being harder than lead,
however, these HeviShot Ts will likely
give deeper penetration in animal tissue than F-size lead, assuming a matching velocity.
My pattern testing
began with a Mossberg Super-12 autoloader, a gun for which I had a bunch of screw-in
steel-shot choke tubes. The plan was to sort out the best constriction by firing two shots
through each choke and then move on to five-shot tests at 40, 50 and 60 yards. But, alas,
the Super-12s trigger group came down with something akin to the West Nile Virus;
the sear refused to move far enough to release the hammer.
I did fire a few
rounds for pattern at 40 yards before the Super-12 became ill, and the efficiency ranged
from 94 to 98 percent in the time-honored 30-inch circle, with an average of 38 pellets
printing in the 20-inch core. This was with the Terminator choke tube a light FULL
giving .030 inch of constriction. In my opinion, outstanding performance!
I then turned to the
big Browning O-U with 3 1/2-inch chambers and back-bored barrels (.740 inch), using
steel-shot choke tubes (most being of the extended and ported type) that ranged in
constriction from .020 to .055 inch. The efficiencies ranged from a low of 63 percent
with 20 points of constriction to a high of 93 percent with 55 points.
The latter was a Clearview turkey choke. I was a bit apprehensive about running those big,
hard pellets through a tube that tight, but I neednt have been, because there was no
sign of any damage. As I mentioned earlier, the shot charges are fully packed with buffer
of the polybead type a substance so slippery that the pellets can easily shift
about and reposition when moving through the forcing and choke cones. Thus the possibility
of pellet bridging is virtually eliminated. But make your own decision on the matter of
According to what Ive
been told, the metallurgical makeup of these molded pellets is such that they will
fragment rather than ricochet upon striking a hard surface such as rock. But they will not
fragment upon striking animal flesh, though they might do so on striking heavy bone. We
will have to wait for the jurys verdict on this matter.
It is inevitable that
some goose hunters who pass shoot at extreme range will be giving the Dead Coyote load a
try, hoping for some form of magic. The T-size pellets will retain enough energy to deeply
penetrate large Canadas at 100 yards or more, no question about it. But when you start
with only 50 or 52 pellets, pattern density over the long haul becomes almost nonexistent,
and the very occasional kill, if it happens at all, will simply be a lucky happenstance.
If you have any doubt
about that, just look at the nearby table that summarizes my pattern testing. Between 40
and 50 yards, the density loss amounted to 10 percent, and between 50 and 60 yards there
was an additional loss of 13 percent. Even if the rate of loss doesnt escalate but
remains constant as the yardage increases, what will be left at distances of, say, 80, 90
or 100 yards? I think we all know the answer to that. Divine help will be very much
The only justification
I can see for the use of these outsize Hevi pellets on geese is when the wind is blowing
at near-gale force. Pattern drift will surely be substantially less than with pellets of
smaller size, but even then the shooting should be confined to reasonable, common-sense
there be other Dead Coyote loads coming on line? There is at least one that I know of
a 12-gauge 3 1/2-inch round. This one is on the drawing board as I write these
lines, and it should be ready for the market by the time youre reading this report.