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Best Waterfowl Hunting Shotgun Ammo Loads for 2022

The new year brings several new shotshell selections as other tried-and-true ammunition continues to remain as popular payloads.

Best Waterfowl Hunting Shotgun Ammo Loads for 2022

The good old days are here indeed. There has never been a better time for hunters to choose from steel, bismuth, or tungsten ammo, as well as a wide range of blended, stacked, and other specialty loads. (Photo By: Chris Ingram)

Listen to Wildfowl Podcast Episode 33 - 2022 Giant Gear Issue Series - Chokes & Loads with Apex Ammo!

wildfowl podcast episode 33

APEX Ammunition | Waterfowl TSS/S3 Steel Blend 

Apex Ammunition waterfowl TSS/S3 steel blend

New for ’22, APEX Ammunition is pleased to now offer #7.5 TSS shot in its Waterfowl TSS/S3 Steel Blend shotshells. The duck-crunching duplex TSS/S3 steel loads have become a popular favorite of ‘fowlers. The unique combination of 18.1 g/cc #7.5 Tungsten Super Shot with APEX’s Zinc-plated steel shot (available in sizes #2, #4, or BB in 12-gauge and size #4 in 20-gauge) creates a powerful equation for termination. The zinc coating on the premium-grade, perfectly uniform APEX steel shot ensures optimum patterning in a steel load, and when paired with ultra-high density, hard-hitting TSS, helps deliver significantly more knockdown power and a reduction in cripple count. These blended loads feature clean-burning powder and a durable one-piece, Tungsten-grade wad precisely split to maximize barrel protection and deliver the tightest pattern possible.  

$50/box of 25 | apexammunition.com

Winchester | Bismuth

Winchester Bismuth ammo

Bismuth is the latest buzzword to exite waterfowl hunters across the flyways. With a density and lethality comparable to lead, this murderous metal is changing the way we hunt. And while you're likely going to pay a premium price for all Bismuth loads, they're not all created equal. The folks at Winchester have extensively engineered a far superior Bismuth shell that is going to be the deadly demise of many fowl this season. The secret sauce in the formula that sets this product far above its competition is two-fold. First, each shell has a cushioning buffer that protects the pellets as they accelerate down the barrel and exit the muzzle. Second, a tin plating preserves the round shape of each pellet from ignition to terminal impact. Both of these attributes directly result in a tighter and more uniform down-range pattern, with no fracturing or flecking of pellets, compared to non-buffered and non-plated Bismuth loads. Available in 12- and 20-gauge configurations, Winchester Bismuth's mind-blowing performance speaks for itself and is sure to be the biggest craze in every duck blind and goose pit this year.

$40-$50/box of 25 | winchester.com

Remington | NITRO-STEEL

remington nitro-steel ammo

Big Green ammo is back baby, and Remington is making their renewed presence well-known with the resurgence of their iconic products, including NITRO-STEEL. This fast-flying load produces a hard-hitting headache for birds coming out with a 1,450 feet per second muzzle velocity. The 100 percent round, zinc-plated steel pellets fly straight and uniformly with deadly down-range patterning. This proprietary blend of components is safe in aftermarket ported and wad-stripping chokes to put more dead birds on deck. NITRO-STEEL is available for 10-, 12-, 16-, and 20-gauges in shot size ranging from T Shot to #4. The best part, Remington is now offering select 12-gauge NITRO-STEEL sales on their website in a new direct-to-consumer channel, saving you a pile of greenbacks for stacking more greenheads this season.

$30-$45/box of 25 | remington.com

Federal Premium | Black Cloud TSS 20-Gauge

Federal Premium Ammunition Black Cloud TSS 20-gauge

There's a solid but straightforward reason we keep pointing 20-gauge shooters toward Federal's Black Cloud TSS 20-Gauge — it works. The big story with this time-tested load is the FliteControl Flex wad, which promises ultra-tight patterns through ported and standard chokes. Next comes the mixture of 40 percent FliteStopper steel pellets and 60 percent TSS — a nasty blend that hits hard and causes severe trauma. Topping off each load is a high-performance primer.   

$45/box of 10 | federalpremium.com


HEVI-Shot | HEVI-XII 

HEVI-Shot Hevi-XII shotshells

The new HEVI-XII is a super-lethal waterfowl hunting load. Why? The secret sauce is that tungsten is several times denser than steel, bismuth, and even lead. And when you can choose a shot size two to three times smaller than a comparable steel load and maintain down-range energy with more pellets, this equates to a tighter, harder-hitting pattern with deeper wound channels and cleaner, quicker kills. Offered in a larger count box of 25 shells, you’re going to get more bang for your buck. This hot and heavy load is available in 12-, 20- and, interestingly, 28-gauge, in #2 (12-gauge only) #4 and #6.

$50 and up/box of 25 | hevishot.com

Winchester | Blind Side 2

winchester blind side 2 shotgun ammo

Some things are indeed better a second time around. Improving upon the demonstrated success of its predecessor, Winchester Ammunition has enhanced their innovative Hex shot shape, which is now more rounded and more aerodynamic to perform like a straight-shooting round pellet. This tactfully engineered hexagonal shape now brings even greater tissue trauma over round pellets through a tumbling action upon impact that transfers more energy into a target. Additional upgrades include the patented four-petal Drylok wad system that keeps water and moisture out to secure reliable ignition and improved choke response for when the moment matters. A new nickel-plated head provides even more corrosion resistance and gives gunners a smoother gripping surface for grabbing shells when the extreme elements take a turn for the worse. Packed in 3-inch 20-gauge and 3- and 3 ½-inch 12-gauge configurations of BB to #2 shot, Blind Side 2 is ready to keep you hammering honkers and dusting ducks all season long.

$25-$35 | winchester.com


MIGRA | Timber Plus 3/6 

MIGRA Timber Plus 3/6 shotshells

MIGRA’s new 3-inch, 12- and 20-gauge Timber Plus is a flat-out must-have for stack load shooters. As opposed to blended, mixed, or duplex loads, MIGRA’s layered pellet placement process ensures staked load superiority to maximize bulk density with concentrated shot strings and higher kill ratios. A death sentence for ducks and geese, each Timber Plus 3/6 shell includes a destructive duo of #3 steel and #6 tin-plated bismuth for delivering fatal, feather-folding finales. This unique, patent-pending payload contains a distinct wad design that maintains 30 percent more pattern retention at greater distances. Each carefully constructed load brings consistent performance, so get ready for increased pattern tightness and uniformity at longer ranges, shot after shot, day in and day out.

$28/box of 25 | migraammunitions.com

BOSS Shotshells | 28-Gauge 3-Inch Copper-Plated Bismuth

BOSS Shotshells 28-gauge 3-inch copper-plated bismuth

If you have a 28-gauge that will handle 3-inch loads, feed it Boss’ 28 GA 3” Mag copper plated bismuth #4s. Designed to perform no matter the conditions and provide uniformed pattern density, this load is the bee’s knees of 28-gauge duck loads. The 1-1/16 ounces of shot leaves the barrel at 1,350 fps, and when paired up with the custom hull and ultra-hot primer, you have everything you need and nothing you don’t. The load is easy on the shoulder, and hard to beat. 

$32/box of 20 | bossshotshells.com




Kent Cartridge | Fasteel 2.0

Kent Cartridge Fasteel 2.0 ammunition shotshells

Some things in life just get the job done. Kent’s Fasteel has a vast and loyal following for a reason. Easy on the wallet but hard on migrating ‘fowl, Fasteel 2.0 gives waterfowlers a load and shot size for every situation. Available in 12- and 20-gauge, Fasteel 2.0 hulls are fitted with high-performance base-wads that promise no-fail function in semi-auto shotguns. Highly uniformed, the Precision Steel pellets provide exceptional patterns, and the zinc-plated shot and nickel heads resist corrosion inside and out. Stamped with CX2000 Primers, ignition is immediate, and busting beaks is imminent.  

$25-$35/box of 25 | kentcartridge.com

Remington | Premier Bismuth

Remington Premier Bismuth shotgun ammo

If you love Big Green like we do, you are gonna want to try their brand new bismuth high-density duck slayer for 2022. Loaded with familiar and lethal HEVI-BISMUTH, this dense, lead-free shot will hit much harder than steel and with far more downrange energy. Built in America with top-tier Remington components, this load is safe for vintage shotguns and is available in all gauges, even .410. 

MSRP TBD | remington.com

Browning | Wicked Blend

Browning wicked blend shotshells

This is a duck killing load that we love. Browning's Wicked lineup has put lots of duck and goose meat in the freezer and provided countless memories for waterfowl enthusiasts spanning the globe. The top of the Wicked heap is Wicked Blend. Sporting a stacked payload of 30 percent bismuth and 70 percent steel, this load ensures dense patterns, maximum energy, and deep penetration. Waterfowl wrecking mixtures include 12-gauge 3 ½-inch and 3-inch BB & #1, #2 & #4, and 3-inch 20-gauge #2 & #4. 

$30-$40/box of 25 | browningammo.com

Fiocchi | Golden Waterfowl Bismuth 

Fiocchi Golden Waterfowl Bismuth shotshells

Go for gold with this premium, high-performance, waterfowl load from Fiocchi. The precision-loaded, moisture-resistant Golden Waterfowl Bismuth shotshell effectively pairs high-velocity target trajectory with deadly, dense, down-range patterns making for bone-crushing hits and fewer follow-ups on winged and crippled birds. This lights-out load comes in a 10-pack of 3-inch #4 shot in both 20- and 28-gauge as well as a 12-gauge option in #2-#6 shot.

$25/box of 10 | fioccchiusa.com

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