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Rifle Reloading Guide
Rifle Magazine
August - September 2001
Volume 36, Number 4
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 212
On the cover...
Typical fixed-sighted revolvers are represented by a Colt New Service .44 Russian/.44 Special and a Colt SAA .41 Colt. Custom work on the Colt SAA by Turnbull Restorations and engraving by John Adams Jr. Photos by Dave Scovill and Gerald Hudson.
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Hevi-Shot Turkey Load

 Deep Gulch in western South Dakota is fittingly named. It’s a deep and relatively narrow cut with a brush-studded north-facing slope that’s 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 it’s 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 Merriam’s 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 wouldn’t be one whit more deadly - when used within reason, of course.

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 they’re 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. That’s an important point to remember. You don’t 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 field.

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 I’ve 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 you’re concerned that the overshot card (also transparent) will have a tendency to disrupt the pattern, you needn’t 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. That’s 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 aren’t 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. It’s 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 you’re 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 I’ve seen thus far, I’m predicting this new non-toxic pellet is going to be the best yet for long-range work. - Wallace Labisky

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