No Barrel Damage No-Tox:

Kent Tungsten-Matrix vs. Hevi-Shot

The tested shotshells were "Hevi-Shot" Classic Doubles in 20 and 12 gauge versus Kent Cartridge Tungsten Matrix loads in the same gauges. The test guns were a Beretta Urika 2 Gold 12 gauge and a Browning Silver Hunter 20 gauge. The Beretta used a 28 inch barrel for the patterning work, while the Browning has a 26 inch barrel.

The Kent TM 12 gauge load is 1-3/8 oz. of #5 tungsten-matrix shot in a 2-3/4 in. unfolded length hull at 1375 fps. Its 12 gauge Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles competition offered by "Environmetal" is 1-1/4 oz. of "Classic Double" shot at 1300 fps. The Kent TM 20 gauge load is 1-1/8 oz. of #5 tungsten-polymer shot loaded in 3 inch hulls at 1360 fps, while the Hevi-Shot CD offering is 1 oz. of #5 shot at 1250 fps. Both factory choke tubes and Trulock Precision Hunter tubes were used in each test gun.

There is a very good reason to consider these loads: they are safe to use in older, fixed choke guns, and perhaps a bit safer to use in modern shotguns as well. Although improvements in wad design have reduced the initial scratching and scoring attributed to early steel shot loads, it remains either a possibility or just a matter of time depending on who you tend to believe. Regulations require no-tox for waterfowl, but often (as is the case here in Illinois with public land) you'll need no-tox to hunt pheasants as well. Regardless of the fact that the majority of lead in our environment comes from car batteries, television sets, computer monitors, and poor mining / smelting practices, the hunting and shooting sports industry has been singled out despite the lack of evidence that pheasants try to chew on lead shot. We can all hope for a sudden injection of common-sense, but lacking that "No-Tox" is here to stay despite its problems of rust, ricochet, and dental damage-as well as its toxic cost.

Hevi-Shot suffers from blow-hard marketing syndrome, in large measure. Although Hevi-Shot gained its following from its "heavier than lead" moniker, most of the current Hevi-Shot offerings are not only not heavier than lead, they are not even similar to the density of lead. This includes Hevi-Steel, Hevi-Shot Duck, and the rounds tested here: "Classic Doubles."

Although Hevi-Shot "Classic Doubles" are ad-bragged as "26% denser than steel," they seem to go to great lengths to avoid any comparisons with lead. I don't believe it is any accident or happenstance. As it turns out, Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles isn't all that heavy after all. It runs 9.7 g /cc as opposed to the 11.35 g / cc of lead-- making it about 15% lighter than lead (the same is true for Hevi-Shot Duck). Along the Hevi-hyperbole is the "belted sphere for maximum pellet mass" ignoring the basics that if maximum or similar mass compared to lead was the object, it would need to be a denser material than it is. The Hevi-hype also claims it to be "denser than bismuth." Well, a little fact-checking shows bismuth at 9.6 g/ cc, virtually the same as Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles-certainly nothing to brag about.

Kent Tungsten-Matrix, on the other hand, is heavier than steel, heavier than Hevi-Steel, heavier than Hevi-Shot Duck, heavier than Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles, and heavier than bismuth as well. It is effectively very close to lead at 10.8 g / cc, and both patterns and kills like lead-- a very good thing.

This comparison was one of the easiest I've ever been able to come to a conclusion on: Kent Tungsten-Matrix wins, beating the pants off of Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles every time by no small measure. It put more pellets on the pattern board regardless of gauge, and it isn't hard to figure out why: the Kent loads have better, more appropriate payloads to start with. Not only do the Kent shells have higher pellet counts, they have better velocities and the pellets themselves are substantially heavier and retain more velocity downrange.

We did notice that the Kent TM shells don't mind tighter constriction chokes. In fact, we feel that going at least a half notch to one full notch of constriction tighter than normal (improved modified or full) would give most shooters what they would like to see as "modified" performance levels at 40 yards: approximately 65% patterns with good distribution. Our best patterns, with both the Browning 20 gauge and the Beretta 12, were with Trulock Precision Hunter "Full" extended choke tubes that got us into the 75 - 80 % range. The Hevi-Shot was just a heavy disappointment both in what we felt was effective pattern size and proper dispersion.

We also further tested the Kent Tungsten Matrix 1-1/4 oz. 16 gauge shells in #5 shot, rated at a peppy 1265 fps out of a Browning A-5 Sweet Sixteen with Invector tubes. Again, we were impressed, the Kent Tungsten Matrix no-tox loads proving to be the equal of any 16 gauge shells on the market.

Congratulations to Kent Cartridge for offering a superior product. Kent calls their tungsten-polymer shot the "one true alternative to lead." From what we have seen, Kent has got it right. You can bet we will be hunting with some Kent loads this fall-this stuff is too good not to use to achieve "wild pheasant and wild rice under glass." Dining reports to follow.

Copyright 2008 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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