19 Sep

Best Duck Loads

by Shawn Blackmore |Sep 19, 2016 |0 Comments | Shooting Tips | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Pick the Right Shell for the Right Bird

With different shot materials, pellet shapes, and configurations available, wildfowling has become as much a science as it is a sport. Many hunters may be puzzled as to which load is best for their duck and goose hunting. Shot like Kent’s Tungsten Matrix and Environ-Metal’s Classic Doubles are for older shotguns, but then there’s Black Cloud, Blind Side, and Hevi Shot, which makes selection more difficult. These guidelines, broken down by species and size, should make shell buying easier.

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Small Ducks

Teal

Kent TealSteel 12 ga., 3-in., 1,350 fps, 1¼ oz.,
No. 5 & 6 steel
Effective Range 30 yards
Recoil 35 ft.-lb.
MSRP $13/25 rounds

Because of this speedster’s size and erratic flight, small pellets are desirable to fill a wide pattern from a Skeet- or Improved Cylinder–­choked gun.

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Medium Ducks

Gadwalls, Wood Ducks, Wigeon, Scaup

Federal Black Cloud
12 ga., 3-in., 1,450 fps, 1¼ oz., No. 3
Also consider
Winchester DryLok: 12 ga., 3-in., 1,265 fps, 1 3/8 oz., No. 4; or Kent Fasteel: 12 ga., 3-in., 1,300 fps, 1 3/8 oz., No. 3
Effective Range 50 yards
Recoil 39 ft.-lb.
MSRP $23/25 rounds

For medium-size ducks over decoys or close passing shots, the traditional 3-inch load of 1¼ ounces of No. 3s provides good pattern density and power over normal ranges; also an excellent all-around swatter load.

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Large Ducks

Mallards, Canvasbacks, Small Sea Ducks,
Small Geese (Cacklers and Ross’ Geese)

Remington HyperSonic Steel
12 ga., 3-in., 1,700 fps, 1¼ oz., No. 2
Effective Range 50 yards
Recoil 52 ft.-lb.
MSRP $26/25 rounds

The high velocity delivered by this load increases the effective killing range on large ducks. However, don’t be tempted to stretch your gun barrel beyond ranges at which you shoot well.

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Large Geese

Canadas and Large Sea Ducks

Hevi-Shot Speed Ball
12 ga., 3-in., 1,635 fps, 1¼ oz., No. 1
Effective Range 50 yards
Recoil 48 ft.-lb.
MSRP $25/10 rounds

These tungsten-steel pellets pack the heavy punch often needed to bag Canadas and tough sea ducks like eiders and scoters. They’re expensive but worth it to ensure clean kills.