September 23, 2021
By Chris Ingram
As a well-established and longstanding iconic brand in the shotshell marketplace, Kent Cartridge has stood strong over the test of time and continues to garner the attention of wingshooters worldwide. Established in the wake of the lead shot ban of the early 1990s, the company was created by hunters for hunters to produce high-quality, affordable, and reliable shotgun shells for duck and goose hunting. Its founders—and those now esteemed with carrying the torch—represent the spirit of ingenuity and resiliency that beats at the heart and soul of waterfowl hunters everywhere.
Born from Necessity
Despite my own personal motto of reminding myself that “these are the good ole days”, many old-time waterfowl hunters speak with fervor about the “golden age” of waterfowl hunting when lead shot burned through the barrel of every duck hunter and was celebrated for its lethal impact on birds. Just as most good things come to an end, lead shot was formally banned in waterfowl hunting in 1991, forcing hunters to scramble to find suitable alternatives that carried comparable ballistic properties.
Steel was introduced to the wetlands and agricultural fields across North America, but it wasn’t quite hitting the mark, falling short to its predecessor in both physical properties and ballistic performance. At the same time, tungsten powder was beginning to make its entrance as a safe, non-toxic alternative to lead. Deeply ingrained in the fabric of North American waterfowling and coming from both Canada and the U.S.A., the founders of Kent Cartridge were simple, humble outdoorsmen with limited resources and no technical manufacturing experience or formal business training. In true entrepreneurial form, they transformed themselves from visionaries to innovators and built a company that set out to fill a void in the market and began working on a line of shotshells that were designed to consistently, reliably, and cleanly deliver results. They strived to create a product that was clean-killing, effective and efficient—a company mission that still exists in the DNA of the company and its products to this day.
Jeff Barry, Kent’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, tells the story of how Kent Cartridge made their game-changing entry into the shotshell marketplace. “One of the founders at Kent knew about research taking place at Penn State University where tungsten powder was mixed with polymer to create alloys of various densities and malleability. With both tungsten and polymer being non-toxic, the founders of Kent believed they could turn this new technology into a viable product, especially when this new alloy was designed to mimic the physical and ballistic properties of lead that waterfowl hunters needed.”
As pioneers of modern shotshell technology, Kent became the first manufacturer to form a tungsten pellet that mimicked the desirable attributes of lead. This revolution and innovation led to Kent’s first shotshell offering and would later become their legacy product, Tungsten Matrix. This superior offering continues to be recognized for its incredible malleability and lethality up and down the flyways. Other tungsten products typically use a blend of nickel and iron as a binder to create alloys of various densities, but Kent’s Tungsten Matrix remains the only non-toxic shot product that properly mimics the physical and ballistic properties of lead. Now you can relive the glory days and safely send modern loads down your grandad’s A-5.
Some Things Change but the Best Parts Remain
By now you’ve probably noticed Kent has undergone a little facelift. And while things on the outside may look a little different, what’s at the core of the company’s mission and the internals of its products have remained unchanged. All products are sourced from the highest-quality materials. Kent provides premium clean-burning, custom blended, double-based smokeless powders to maximize performance and velocities—even in the punishing extreme temperatures where waterfowlers take delight. With superior patter performance in mind, Kent adheres to stringent controls and quality standards to ensure shot pellet consistency (sphericity and size). What’s more, Kent is headquartered, labored, and loaded in Kearneysville, West Virginia, where all production, testing, research, and development occurs 100 percent on North American soil. Rest proudly assured, your well-earned paychecks are spent properly on payloads that support ingenuity and preserve our most coveted tradition.
After success with Tungsten Matrix, Kent made another big splash when they released their Fasteel shotshell to the marketplace in 1998. The legendary flagship product was reborn and enhanced as Fasteel 2.0 Precision Plated Steel which launched in 2019. Barry adds, “The addition of a nickel-plated head and zinc-plated shot now offers superior corrosion resistance, and a specially designed high-performance base wad is integrated into the hull of each shell to help with cycling and to be more forgiving to an increasing amount of autoloading shotguns.” Setting themselves apart, Kent offers Fasteel 2.0 in three different 12-gauge 3-inch payload options with shot sizes ranging from BBB to #6 shot.
For you non-toxic alternative fans or versatile waterfowl/upland enthusiasts, the often imitated, never duplicated, high-density premium Kent Bismuth will likely find its way in your blind bag this season. At 9.6 g/cc and 24 percent denser than steel, Kent Bismuth cuts the wind and produces a bone-crushing, down-range pattern that is sure to decrease your cripple cleanup count. With a softness close to lead, this is a load you can safely shoot in any vintage gun with any choke. Barry reiterates the care and attention to detail in this proprietary product. “We manufacturers our own bismuth pellets to ensure a controlled and consistent output of uniform spheres with high-structural integrity. While our 12-gauge 3-inch #4 shot continues to be our best seller, Kent Bismuth is available in #3, #4, and #5 shot in 3 and 3 ½ -inch loads in both 12- and 20-gauge configurations.”
Barry makes it a special point to highlight Kent’s TealSteel Precision Steel line to spotlight the company’s consumer-driven and innovation-minded mission to identify and deliver shotgun shells at the specific requests of the demanding waterfowl hunter. The purposefully built TealSteel carries smaller pellets and a slightly reduced charge to deliver a lethal pattern while being more forgiving to thinly clothed early season rice rocket hunters. This softer-shooting load is available in 12- and 20-gauge 3-inch #5 and #6 shot and contains over 300 pellets in each shell, resulting in a denser, more forgiving pattern.
Eyes on the Prize
Whether you are a new gun owner, greenhead greenhorn, or a salty flyway veteran, Kent makes a shotshell for you and your style of hunting. Even in these difficult times with an unprecedented demand on ammunition manufacturers when shotshells are harder to find, Kent is working around the clock to produce products to meet hunter demands. Kent promises to continue to innovate and develop specially designed products for the unique needs of hunters and shooters of all types. Foraging ahead on a path paved in proven performance, Kent continues to evolve and consistently sets a benchmark in the shotgun ammo category. Pick up a box of Kent shotshells at your local gun shop or sporting goods retailer to experience the difference of a premium product at an affordable price point. When quality matters and performance counts, you can trust Kent to make every shot count.