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Montana X-treme
Rifle Magazine
October - November 2002
Volume 37, Number 5
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 219
On the cover...
The Cooper Arms .218 Mashburn Bee is outfitted with a Leupold 40X scope(photo by Stan Trzoniec). The five shot stainless Taurus Model 455 Stellar Tracker .45 ACP features a 4-inch barrel (Photo by Steve Gash). Red fox photo by Ron Spomer.
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Product Tests
Remington's Hevi-Shot Turkey Loads

More than ever before, turkey gobblers are strutting on a very thin line. It’s all because of the new non-toxic Hevi-Shot that is now widely available in 12-gauge factory loads exclusively from Remington as a result of “partnering” with Environ-Metal, the Oregon-based manufacturer of the “heavier-than-lead” pellets.

Remington’s turkey-load lineup with Hevi-Shot includes a 2 3/4-inch shell with a 1 3/8-ounce payload (1,250 fps), a 3-inch load with 1 5/8 ounces (1,225 fps) and a 3 1/2-inch offering with 1 7/8 ounces (1,225 fps). The choice in shot size is Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

On the high-velocity side (1,300 fps), there is a 1 1/2-ounce loading in the 3-inch shell and a 1 3/4-ounce load in the 3 1/2-inch shell - each also in shot sizes 4, 5 and 6.

Remington uses its regular steel-shot wad with a five-petal shotcup, and the payloads are fully buffered. Buffer is an absolute necessity with Hevi-Shot, not necessarily for an improvement in pattern performance but to prevent the harder-than-steel pellets from perforating the wad and causing bore damage. Remington’s “Power-Pakt” polyethylene material does a superb job in this respect. All the fired wads I’ve recovered show only light pellet imprinting of the shotcup interior.

Three different 12-gauge offerings were received for testing. The average pellet count (based on three rounds) for the 3-inch, 1,300-fps loading with 1 1/2 ounces of No. 6 was 372. For the 3 1/2-inch round with 1 3/4 ounces of No. 5, the count was 324. The 3 1/2-inch load with 1 7/8 ounces of No. 5 shot contained 340 pellets. The payload for the latter, when checked by scale weight, averaged 26 grains less than the box-marked amount - or nearly 1/16 ounce short.

It was found that wad length and capacity are identical for both the 3- and 3 1/2-inch loads. For the 3 inchers, a 20-gauge wad of paper composition is used as a shotcup insert to elevate the payload for proper crimp space. About 1/8 inch of the shot column (with 1 1/2 ounces of No. 6) stands above the wad, but when the insert compresses during load start, these uppermost pellets set back and are safely contained within the shotcup.

The 3 1/2-inch loads employ a different wad system. It begins with a double-cupped plastic gas seal over the powder charge, followed by the shotcup wad without an insert. Then there is a new twist. Plastic “beans” are used over the buffered payload to regulate crimp space. These so-called beans are in the form of flattened spheres having a diameter of roughly .150 inch and a thickness of about .100 inch. I cannot see any evidence the beans have an adverse effect on pattern performance. Apparently they quickly flare away from the shot mass on muzzle exit.


All are fold-crimped loads, of course. The 3 inchers have a 6-point closure, while the 3 1/2-inch offerings feature an 8-point crimp. The crimps are lacquer sealed to guard against buffer loss.

Remington has also come out with a new screw-in turkey choke designed especially for use with Hevi-Shot (for Rem-Choke barrels only). Unlike a preceding lead-shot turkey tube with straight rifling, this new offering is smoothbored and has the usual knurled extended portion that increases barrel length by one inch. It’s crafted from heat-treated stainless steel and carries a black finish for low reflectivity. Needless to say, the choke will also handle both lead and steel pellets.

According to Remington, the new choke tube has a muzzle diameter of .675 inch and gives .060-inch constriction. When teamed with my Model 870 Special Field (21-inch barrel and a bore diameter of .727 inch) the constriction is .052 inch.

The bulk of my pattern testing was carried out at the usual 40 yards, despite the fact most gobblers are called in and taken at much closer distances. With Remington’s 3-inch load containing 1 1/2 ounces of No. 6 Hevi-Shot, the Model 870 with the new choke averaged 86.6 percent for the 30-inch circle and 65.3 percent for the 20-inch core. In comparison, a pet Hevi-Shot handload with the same shot charge and moving at nearly identical velocity failed to deliver equal performance - only 80.2 percent for the 30-inch circle and 56.7 percent for the core area, which certainly speaks well for the factory rounds.

For putting the 3 1/2-inch loads through their paces, I turned to my Browning Citori O-U with its back-bored barrels (.740 inch), and I screwed in one of my Terminator choke tubes that gave .040 inch constriction. The high-velocity loading with 1 3/4 ounces of No. 5 shot averaged 90.6 percent at 40 yards with 72.2 percent of the charge printing in the 20-inch core. A matching Steel-powder handload using pellets stolen from the factory ammunition gave almost identical results, slamming 91.8 percent of the charge into the 30-inch circle and 71.9 percent into the core area.

The slower 1 7/8-ounce No. 5 load (same .040-inch Terminator choke) delivered 90.5 percent for the 30-inch circle and 73.5 percent for the core. Given the amount of choke constriction, all the above rates as outstanding performance.

With only a few of the sample loads remaining I reduced the test distance to 30 yards, sticking with the big Browning and the .040-inch choke. The 3 1/2-inch factory round with 1 3/4 ounces of No. 5 averaged 92.9 percent in the 20-inch core, most of that count printing in a 12-inch circle!

The 20-inch core counts with the heavier 1 7/8-ounce charge of 5s ranged from 83.2 to 95.8 percent with most pellets striking within a 12- to 16-inch circle. Obviously, the closer the gobbler, the more precise the gun point must be.

A final 30-yard test involved the 3-inch loading with 1 1/2 ounces of No. 6 - again with the Browning - but this time around using an extended and ported Clearview choke tube that gave .055-inch constriction. The core average tallied 91.3 percent, the bulk of that printing in 13 to 15 inches.

There can be no argument about it. Remington is producing Hevi-Shot turkey loads that surpass the pattern performance of anything we’ve seen with even the best of the lead-shot loads. And being heavier than lead pellets of matching size, Hevi-Shot retains more velocity and delivers more kinetic energy.

If gobblers don’t start wearing steel battle helmets and Kelvar vests, they’re destined to be in deep trouble. - Wallace Labisky

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