Winchester Supreme Elite Xtended Range: The Best EVER?

Once in a great while, though endless hours of shotgun and pattern testing, you can find a combination that is obviously, so clearly superior above the rest that it is something memorable, if not startlingly good. It looks like this has just been the case.

The testing has been straightforward over the last several weeks, using readily available components. The shotgun is a current production Beretta Urika 2 Gold 12 gauge, 28 inch barrel, with the "Optima" Plus bore (.732 inch). Overboring means nothing, of course, in a tangible sense, so this less than newprint thickness "overbore" just moves Beretta to the American standard of .729 in. as a 12 gauge bore.

The choke tube used is George Trulock's blued stainless "Precision Hunter" "Modified" extended tube, a fabulous performer in many, many guns (please note that Trulock extended "Sporting Clays" choke tubes are the same article, sans the black oxide finish). George makes his tubes so well, though this gun has been shot extremely hard with a wide variety of loads, it appears as new-- no blow-back through the threads, squeaky clean on the inside. You can rely on Trulock tubes with complete confidence; I know I do. This Precision Hunter tube is marked as "MOD .713," has an exit inside diameter of the same, giving an effective installed constriction of nineteen thousandths of one inch. Chokes are not constriction based, they are performance based-- Trulock choke tubes have shown that again and again.

The shell fired redundantly at a Leica-verified 40 yards onto 22 inch x 28 inch posterboards is the Winchester Xtended Range Hi-Density 12 gauge, 2-3/4 inch hull, 1225 fps, pushing 1-1/2 ounces of #5 no-tox Xtended Range High density shot (Load #STSX125). Heavier than elemental lead by approximately ten percent, this shot has a density of 12 gr. / cc. More to the point, the pellet count of this #5 shot is about 159 pellets to the ounce. For practical purposes, this load has about 238 pellets to work with.

This combination has produced some of most astonishing patterns I've ever seen in my lifetime; putting well over 80% (and more) of its payload into the 22 x 28 posterboard-- 195 pellets and higher. Importantly, these patterns are remarkably evenly distributed-as close to the mythical "even pattern" as I've ever seen.

Despite the pellet count that is obviously more than sufficient to properly populate a pattern at range, you have pellet penetration in the arena of #3 or #4 lead. Ideal for late season pheasants, waterfowl, and turkey-sufficient for snow geese as well. You might want to consider going to #4 shot for Canadians, but it is hard for me to conceive of anything flying that this product will not drop. Winchester offers their STSX1234 (3 in. hull, 1-3/4 oz. of #4 HD shot) that should please those who want instant lethality on Canadians, with performance likely to exceed #2 lead.

This is a level of performance that I've never seen; my congratulations to Olin-Winchester and George Trulock for making such a terrific combination available. It is the best I've ever seen, by no small margin, if not the best that has ever been.

Autopsy results and fine dining reports are soon to follow.

Copyright 2007 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.




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