8 New Waterfowl Loads for 2018 – Outdoor Life Magazine

When I started duck hunting in the mid-1990s, non-toxic shot was still in its infancy, steel shot’s performance was still less than exemplary, and a new-fangled load called Bismuth was just introduced. I remember a friend asking me what I thought of Bismuth as we sat shivering in the duck blind, and I had no idea what he was talking about.

Non-toxic shot has come a long way since then. Steel shot performance has greatly improved, while tungsten-based loads have raised the bar in terms of long-range lethality. As for Bismuth, its popularity is back in full force with no less than three options this year. To help you know what to watch for on retailer’s shelves, here’s a look at 2018’s latest and greatest waterfowl loads.

Federal Black Cloud TSS

Tungsten Super Shot, or TSS, has been making the rounds in reloading circles for nearly a decade. At 18g/cc, TSS is more than twice as dense as steel and 56 percent denser than lead. This spring, Federal introduced a TSS turkey load. Now it’s waterfowlers’ turn. Black Cloud TSS is a duplex load containing 60 percent HEAVYWEIGHT TSS pellets and 40 percent FLITESTOPPER steel pellets. There are two initial 3-inch 12-gauge 1 1/4-ounce loads: BB steel/No. 7 TSS and No. 3 steel/No. 9 TSS. Though it will be exclusively available at Rogers Sporting Goods this fall, full dealer distribution will begin by 2019.

Environ-Metal Hevi-X

Hevi-X is Environ-Metal’s answer to the high price of tungsten-based shot. This medium density load is still denser than steel, yet it retains the hardness of Hevi-Shot, allowing the use of pellets two sizes smaller than steel. 12-gauge Hevi-X is available in 3 1/2-inch 13 3/8-ounce at 1,500 fps, 3-inch 1 1/4-ounce at 1, 450

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