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Should you be using tungsten-based shot?

Advice for the Shooter

Each February, I spend 4 days at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sports Show. The convention is normally attended by 35,000 - 40,000 or so active hunters and shooters. Most major sporting goods manufacturers and vendors attend the show and display new and proven products. It's a good place to see what's new in the world of hunting/shooting and a good place to stock up for the upcoming seasons.

I spend 10-12 hours for each of those days meeting and talking with shooters and hunters. No matter how it starts, it seems that the topic always gets around to one of the tungsten-based turkey loads. Should I be using heavier than lead loads? Do you use one of the newer non-lead loads? What in the world is this stuff? One thing is for certain, I don't remember any series of products generating so much conversation and curiosity!

What  are these new loads? Most of the new loads are based on tungsten and other non-toxic metals. They can be used anywhere that lead can be used or that lead can not be used. Most are mixtures of iron, nickel, or copper and tungsten and all are heavier than lead.

The "revolution" began in the year 2000. That year at the World Still Target Shoot Championship, a shooter using Hevi-Shot from Environ-Metal, put 42 #6 pellets in the 3" circle at 40 yards. Shortly after that event, the Remington company began loading Hevi-Shot in their tukey and waterfowl shells. The rest is history.

It turns out that the non-lead loads are not only non-toxic but also shoot some very tight patterns when fired through properly choked shotguns. For the most part this shot is harder than lead, heavier than lead and retains a lot more energy than lead, especially at the 40 yard range and beyond.

Should you be using one of the  non-lead loads? That depends upon a few factors, in my opinion. Do you have a modern gun with screw-in choke tubes? Are you willing to spend a few bucks to pattern your gun? Have you had any problems with birds (turkeys, geese, ducks, etc) taking a hit and still running or flying away? Do you hunt in an area that requires non-toxic shot? Are you forced due to cover or lack of it to take shots beyond 30 yards? Does your gun lose its pattern at 30 yards or beyond? Does your gun not pattern well at all?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider trying one of the new loads.

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