Non-toxic waterfowl loads were universally scorned by hunters when they were first introduced after the lead shot ban in 1991, and for good reason. For the most part they patterned and performed poorly. It didn't help that a lot of the people pushing non-toxic loads weren't exactly hunter friendly, either.
Fortunately, times and technology have changed. Not only have hunters learned to trust the limits of steel, manufacturers like Remington have dramatically improved the performance of non-toxic loads. These days, waterfowlers have lots of great options for loads to stuff in their guns. Even the low-end steel loads are effective duck killers if a shooter knows his limits. Here's a look at some of the best steel duck loads on the market.
There's fast, there's faster and then there's Remington Hypersonic
fast. Traveling at an incredible 1,700 feet per second, Remington's Hypersonic steel load will put more splash in your spread. The extra speed translates to an 8-inch lead at 40 yards, meaning you'll shoot more heads and fewer tails. A new wad design also concentrates patterns at longer distances.
Price: $ 20-30 per box
Utilizing Kent Cartridge's
proven Fasteel technology, TealSteel is designed specifically for hunters who savor those warm, late-summer days when swarming flocks of teal rocket past the decoys. Tealsteel, packed with No. 5 shot, is also perfect for hunting October wood ducks.
Price: $ 12
Rio's steel loads
are exactly what waterfowlers expect from a shotshell: Reliability, excellent performance and a price that won't make you think twice about pulling the trigger. Rio's new BlueSteel is no exception. It is available in 2 ¾, 3 and 3 ½-inch 12-gauge and 2 ¾ and 3-inch 20-guage. Shot sizes range from BBB to 5.
Price: $ 16
Who shot the banded mallard? Spectra Shot
just put an end to the arguing when they introduced colored shot packed in clear plastic hulls. Available in non-toxic yellow, blue, green and orange pellets, the color stays on the steel and won't come off. Spectra Shot is more than a novelty, though. At 1,400 fps, it kills ducks and geese stone dead.
Price: $ 24 per box of 25
HEVI-Shot Speed Ball
The newest offering from one of the most innovative shotshell manufacturers, HEVI-Shot
Speed Ball is a blend of copper-plated steel and the company's trademark HEVI-Shot. The shell's name comes from an elastomeric ball at the base of the wad cup, which creates safer chamber pressures for increased velocity. The gunpowder speeds the shot up to 1,650 fps.
Price: $ 28 per box
is heavier than steel and is made with sharp-edged pellets for maximum penetration and tissue damage to cut down on cripples. It's somewhat less expensive than the company's trademark HEVI Shot shells, and it tends to throw tighter patterns at longer ranges than standard steel.
Price: $ 26 to 38 per box
Federal Black Cloud
Federal's Black Cloud
shotshell is a perfect example of the innovation that's swept through the ammo industry in recent years. The patented Flitecontrol wad and Flitestopper steel pellets combine for fast, hard-hitting, bird-stopping patterns.
Price: $ 22 per box
Winchester Blind Side
Square pellets in a round hull? Yep, that's what Winchester
did when it developed Blind Side. Technically, the stacked pellets are square, but their corners are rounded. The pellets are designed to create more trauma and bring birds down faster.
Price: $ 30 per box of 25
Federal Speed Shok
Federal Speed Shok
is a no-frills ammo that gets the job done. What else does a duck or goose hunter need? How about a price that won't keep you from shooting your limit when the birds are flying? Federal's Speed Shok is a great working man's load that combines the basic features at an affordable price.
Price: $12 to 20 per box
Remington Hi Speed
Yeah, Remington Hi Speed steel
is probably considered to be the cheap stuff, but sometimes you have to use what your wallet allows. Besides, cheap doesn't always mean bad, and definitely not in this case. With velocities of up to 1,500 fps, Remington Hi Speed steel lives up to its name and is effective at knocking down birds within range.
Price: $ 12 per box