The End of High Performance No-Tox Shot?

While “the end” is likely a bit of an overstatement, the better shot materials are in the process of vanishing from the marketplace in several areas. Sources have reported that Kent is no longer offering their Tungsten-Matrix (8/31/2011-- Not True!), but Winchester is dropping their HD waterfowl loads, Remington is dropping their HD loads, and Federal has already dropped their Heavyweight waterfowl loads, but thankfully not their Heavyweight turkey loads. Hevi-Shot is not so heavy anymore, touted as “Heavier than Lead” for years when they apparently were struggling to say “denser than lead,” but that hasn't been true for most of their line for some time. The densest shot material of all, Tungsten Super Shot, has apparently left the marketplace.

Muhammad, what happened? Part of it is the climb in the key ingredient in most of the “HD” shot materials: tungsten. In January, 2010, ferro tungsten was in the neighborhood of $12 a pound or so. As of August 1, 2011, it is $22.23 per pound. The resistance to improved shot materials over steel has always been price. With raw materials having that kind of spike, it has put what was already a comparatively low-volume product into the territory of less profitable to offer while price increases look inevitable as well.

Lead comes from the ground in the first place and under normal conditions does not dissolve in water. Though the “lead scare” is fashionable, there are less hunters and less shots fired every year. Right now, in 2011, duck populations are at the highest population since spring pond surveys began in 1955. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's duck breeding population 2011 estimates show an 11 percent increase over last year's estimate of 40.8 million birds, and the total duck population estimate of a record 45.6 million is 35 percent above the long-term average. Obviously, the anti-hunting lead scare media blather hasn't done anything to scare away rapidly increasing duck populations, with nuisance waterfowl and crop depredation becoming a bigger issue every year in many areas. While hunting and ammunition costs continue to drive away the ordinary family, taxpayer dollars fund various depredation and “lethal removal” projects by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a regular basis. It is a lamentable trend.

What is not a matter of conjecture is that the denser the shot material is, the more effective it is. It is also not conjecture that what is called “steel,” actually iron shot, is horribly inferior to lead and materials of similar greater density in terms of exterior ballistics and wounding ballistics, it has a propensity to rust, causes accelerated wear particularly in forcing cones, and renders many classic guns unusable. There are scant few effective lead substitutes left, Nice Shot being a notable exception that is also safe for lead-proofed shotguns. It is hard to recall bad regulations, just as hard as it is to unring the bell, so what is left is the hope that tungsten prices allow high performance no-tox to continue. We can hope.

Kent Game-Bore has advised me that they remain committed to their acclaimed Kent Tungsten-Matrix loads, loads that I have personally had great success with and have commented favorably on in numerous articles. While Kent has streamlined their TM line slightly, tungsten prices have stressed their product like everything else, Kent has actually reduced prices significantly on their Tungsten Matrix loads just recently, and they have ramped up their marketing presence as well. We really need to support products like Kent TM, always lead barrel and lead choke friendly, if we expect to have lead-like or better performance available in the future in any meaningful, obtainable sense.


Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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