Hevi-Shot Turkey Load
Deep Gulch in western South
Dakota is fittingly named. Its a deep and relatively narrow cut with a brush-studded
north-facing slope thats nearly vertical. Turkeys that roost in the tall cottonwoods
down in the Grand River valley frequently use the gulch as a travel route to reach the
grain fields on the adjacent high, flat land. The gulch is not always a sure bet, but its
one of my top priorities when I have a turkey license in hand.
Once again the gulch paid off during
a hunt this past fall. On that bitingly cold and windy morning, I came away with a pair of
Merriams for the Thanksgiving table. I also came away convinced the new non-toxic
Hevi-Shot is an awesomely effective prescription when turkeys are on the agenda. Even a
bolt of lightning wouldnt be one whit more deadly - when used within reason, of
Hevi-Shot was developed and is being
manufactured by Environ-Metal, Inc. (Albany, Oregon) and the factory rounds are being
loaded by Polywad, Inc. (PO Box 7916, Macon GA 31209). The shot pellets are a
metallurgical blend of tungsten (50 percent), nickel (35 percent) and iron (15 percent).
With all that tungsten theyre heavier than lead pellets of a matching diameter. On
the downside, they are also substantially harder than the so-called steel shot, which
mandates their use only in shotgun barrels that are steel-shot compatible. Thats an
important point to remember. You dont want to run a Hevi-Shot load through a
cherished side-by-side or over-under with thin-walled or mild-steel barrels.
Prior to my hunt I had talked at
length with Jay Menefee, the guiding hand at Polywad. Jay had developed a highly promising
12-gauge 2 3/4-inch turkey load with 1 5/8 ounces of No. 6 shot and was taking a thousand
rounds to the World Wild Turkey Still-Target Championship held last August at Forsyth,
Georgia (under the auspices of the National Wild Turkey Federation). The bottom line is
that these Hevi-Shot loads blew away the competition in the Open event. The shooter was
Randy Lewis from Tennessee, and his gun was a plain-vanilla Remington Model 870 pump
fitted with a Thunder Wad choke. I just had to have a close look at that winning
ammunition, and Jay obliged with enough sample rounds for pattern testing and trial in the
This Super Turkey load is put
together in a Fiocchi transparent hull, and Alliant Steel powder (canister grade) is used
to drive the payload that is contained in a heavy-duty plastic wad from Gualandi. The shot
charge is packed with a bead-type polyethylene buffer that is highly effective in
providing bore protection. Every fired wad Ive recovered has been absolutely free of
pellet perforations, with only light pellet imprinting on the inside. The bead-type buffer
accomplishes this by allowing the pellets to easily reposition as they move through the
chamber and choke cones. In other words, the pellets do not bridge.
A rolled crimp makes it possible to
get that 1 5/8-ounce payload into the 2 3/4-inch shell. If youre concerned that the
overshot card (also transparent) will have a tendency to disrupt the pattern, you neednt
be. The O/S card is of the frangible type that breaks up into tiny pieces on firing.
Muzzle velocity of this load is
approximately 1,100 fps. Thats adequately fast for making head shots, especially so
for a heavier-than-lead pellet that does such a superb job of retaining terminal energy.
Some turkey hunters may clamor for larger-sized pellets, such as 4s and 5s, but I see no
need for them.
Special, extra-tight turkey chokes
providing constrictions of .060 to .070 inch that are so popular for use with lead-shot
loads really arent necessary with this new Hevi-Shot. Choke constrictions of .030 to
.040 inch are more practical for typical hunting situations. Patterns shot with an
ordinary full choke will usually average right around 90 percent at 40 yards - and with
very dense cores that can be defined as around 75 percent in a 20-inch circle.
For 40-yard pattern tests, I taped a
life-sized Federal turkey target to the center of a 4-foot-square target. Using a Light
Full Terminator choke (.030-inch constriction), the average 30-inch efficiency for a
five-shot test was 91 percent with 230 pellets printing in the 20-inch core for 74
percent. Trying another Terminator choke tube with .040-inch constriction increased the
30-inch efficiency by only 2 percent but hiked the core count to 248 pellets (80 percent).
The lighter choke slammed from three to seven pellets into the skull-and-vertebra area,
while the tighter choke delivered from seven to 12 hits. Its arguable, of course,
but that number of hits is getting close to overkill.
When I nailed those two turkeys in
Deep Gulch, the range was approximately 35 yards, and I used the Terminator choke with
.030-inch constriction. Neither turkey managed more than a few feeble wing flutters.
By the time youre reading this,
Hevi-Shot will have won federal approval for use on waterfowl, and Polywad already has
some high-performance loads in larger shot sizes ready to go. From what Ive seen
thus far, Im predicting this new non-toxic pellet is going to be the best yet for
long-range work. - Wallace Labisky