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The Shot Debate

Advice for the Shooter

Is One Pellet Size Best For Turkey Hunting?

At first glance, the difference between No. 6 and No. 4 shot is slight: only 2/100-inch, to be precise. But that small distinction (0.11 inches in diameter for No. 6’s vs. 0.13 for No. 4’s) translates in to huge variation in the number of pellets in a given shot load.

An ounce of No. 4 lead shot has about 135 pellets, whereas an ounce of No. 6 lead shot has 225 pellets. This results in 65 percent more pellets in a given load of No. 6 shot than a similar load of No. 4 shot.

As one might expect, a No. 6 load produces a much denser pattern than No. 4 shot, but that’s not all. Numerous shotshell testers report more uniform pattern consistency with the smaller pellets.

“I used to shoot fours until I started patterning turkey loads,” says shotshell expert Clark Bush of All About Shooting ( His research has included firing more than 30,000 shells while test-patterning just about every conceivable combination of turkey load, gun and choke on the market. “Sixes pattern much better than fours, and they are more consistent than fours, which tend to produce irregular patterns."

“The added pellets really help.” says Eddie Stevenson, Remington’s public relations manager. “Sixes can make a heck of a difference in your pattern.”

Shot hardness leads to what a growing number of ballistics experts and hunters consider the ultimate shot for turkey hunting: smallish pellets made from hard-as-steel, heavier-than-lead tungsten alloys, as pioneered in the late 1990’s by EnvironMetal’s revolutionary Hevi-Shot, and which now includes Winchester’s superb Xtended Range Hi-Density, Federal’s super-dense Mag-Shok Heavyweight, and Remington’s new Wingmaster HD.

In No. 6 shot, Tom Roster says, these shells pack everything needed to punch a turkey’s lights out: high pellet counts for dense, uniform patterns; high densities for superior downrange velocity and energy; and hard, small-diameter pellets for deep, bone-crushing penetration. And if you favor 20-gauge shotguns or have a child or spouse who shoots one, they are the only way to go.

As with any turkey load, however, the key is to determine how the new tungsten alloys actually pattern in the shotgun and choke you use. More likely than not, Bush says, you will be glad you did.

“Tungsten sixes pattern beautifully, and you can shoot them from wide-open choke all the way down to (a choke constriction of) .630,” he says. “I routinely get more than 200 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards that have the retained energy of lead fours. That’s remarkable. Tungsten sixes are truly the best of both worlds.”---Lawrence Pyne

Reprinted in part “Turkey Call Magazine” May/June 2007
VOL. 34 NO. 3 ISSN 1064-6094

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