New Waterfowl Loads & Chokes for 2014

New Waterfowl Loads & Chokes for 2014

Many of us were around for the conversion from lead to non-toxic shot. A lot has changed since then, but much of what we see in waterfowl loads today is still influenced by that significant change as manufacturers incorporate the latest technology into building a suitable substitute for good old killer lead loads. What little ground they can't make up in the breech, is covered at the muzzle with choke tubes. The move from lead to steel also transformed the chokes, too.

There's probably a guy in your blind with a bag full of shot-constricting tubes, searching for that elusive perfect pattern. It's an ongoing challenge made more difficult by the development of steel: Blindside hex shot, Hevi-Shot's fodder, which isn't perfectly round, and high-velocity loads all challenge the choke guys.

But with the right combination, steel is sometimes just as effective as those heavy lead loads...sometimes. Hey, just like the advent of anything new, it's a process.

Angle Porting | Xtreme Range

Angle Porting customizes shotgun barrels, so they know what it takes to maximize performance. The same technology and design are applied to their chokes. The Xtreme Range is engineered for modern flight-control wads and compatible with steel, Hevi-Shot and other non-toxics, delivering a better knock-down pattern at longer distances. Available in 12-gauge for Benelli, Beretta, Browning and Remington only.

Price: $90

Black Cloud | Close Range

Specifically engineered to kill in-your-face ducks, Close Range achieves optimal pattern density on targets 20 to 30 yards away. The FLITESTOPPER steel shot sits in a new FLITECONTROL wad (don't use those ported chokes with Black Cloud!) optimized for this platform. Each shell is crimp and primer-sealed to ensure reliability.

Price: $28

Carlson's | Waterfowl 2-Pack

Both Mid- and Long-Range chokes are made from 1704 heat-treated stainless steel and feature a 25 percent longer parallel section for more consistent, denser patterns. Each tube is knurled on the end for quick and easy removal, laser-marked on the end and body with constriction and size for easy reference and backed by Carlson's lifetime warranty.

Price: $80 | www.choketube.com

Fiocchi | Tundra

Fiocchi found the right combination of materials (tungsten, stainless steel, a binder and graphite coating) to produce a non-toxic that deforms and hits like lead. The round pellets fly true, then deform on contact to impart more kinetic energy. Loads can be used with all chokes and won't damage your barrel.

Price: $27 (10 shells)

Flambeau | Fowl Max

Designed in partnership with MAD, the Flambeau Fowl Max tube features a vertical porting design that — believe it or not — is engineered to strategically initiate wad/shot separation, and is said to hold unearthly tight patterns at extreme ranges. The ports harness physics to impart a uniquely beneficial influence on projectile flight, which in duck hunting terms means 'it kills stuff. '

Price: $102

Foiles | Strait Heat

The first prototypes of the Foiles Strait Heat grouped a 36-inch circle at 40 yards. That wasn't good enough for the Foiles team, so they refined it down to shooting a 30-32-inch circle at that range. Strait Heat chokes feature heat-treated, alloy-steel construction and an innovative ported, wad-catching design. Available for 20, 12 and 10 gauges.

Price: $60-$65

Hevi-Shot | Hevi-Steel

Hevi-Shot's non-round pellets proved so effective they have even been adopted by the turkey hunting crowd. But the rising price of tungsten prompted some folks to save their heavy hitters only for special trips. Hevi-Shot responded first with hybrid Speed Ball. This year, they've introduced Hevi-Steel, an affordable alternative for 'fowlers who hunt every day of the season. It boasts over 26 percent more pellets on-target than some competitors. Available in 12-gauge, 2¾, 3- and 3½-inch and 20-gauge 3-inch loads.

Price: $15-$18

Hevi-Shot | Hevi-Choke

Designed specifically for Hevi-Shot at first, engineers then patterned thousands of loads to cater these chokes to each gun family. They've also added Beretta A400 and Browning A-5 versions, along with a full line of non-ported tubes. Mid- and Extended-range tubes are available in 20- and 12-gauge.

Price: $60-$100

Hevi-Shot | Hevi-Target

Every bird hunter needs an offseason hobby. At the top of our list is becoming a better shot, and we're prepared to put the smack down on the greenheads this season thanks to countless rounds of sporting clays with Hevi-Target. The light 1-ounce loads are easy on the shoulder, so you can shoot until the range boss kicks you out.

Price: $8

Kent | TealSteel

Back in the day, we always carried a pocketful of 7½ lead shot in case green-wings turned up on a mallard shoot. , you can't do that anymore, but TealSteel has filled that void nicely. Available in 5 or 6 shot, It provides a much more practical option for those early-season hunts for greens, blues or the coveted cinnamon. It also gives rail and snipe hunters a non-toxic option.

Price: $13.99

Kick's | High Flyer

Kick's High Flyer chokes are designed to increase patterns while reducing muzzle jump and felt recoil. Your shooting will benefit from the sharp angle of the inside forward lip as it grabs, stabilizes and slows the wad for faster separation from the shot column. Manufactured from 17-4PH stainless steel and CNC-machined, High Flyer chokes don't require a wrench for installation or removal.

Price: $70

Mag-Na-Port | Pro-Port

You provide the barrel and Mag-Na-Port uses their Electrical Discharge Machining process of removing metal, creating eleven compound ellipsoidal ports into each side, behind the choke tube or constricted area in a series of two rows. The end result of venting gases is a 15 to 20 percent reduction in recoil and an average of 60 to 80 percent reduction in muzzle rise.

Price: $95-$150

Patternmaster | Anaconda

Patternmaster engineered its Anaconda using gas-over-constriction technology. Coil Zone forces gases into channels creating a counter-spin between the load and coils, applying resistance to the wad and forcing a tighter pattern when the load exits the barrel. Anacondas are made with aircraft-quality Carpenter Custom 630 stainless steel and dressed in military-grade, olive drab powder coating.

Price: $50

Remington | HyperSonic

High-velocity steel trims down leads, and that distance is now even shorter with HyperSonic. The loads provide up to 16 percent more kinetic energy than conventional high-velocity steel through a newly-designed, proprietary Xelerator wad, featuring a unique ignition chamber that allows for safer pressures. Remington added 20- and 10-gauge to the line this year.

Price: $24-$36

Rio | Bismuth

Because it has many of the same properties as lead, especially in terms of density and hardness, Bismuth is a popular non-toxic alternative. It retains a comfortable balance between speed and pressure at a reasonable price. The wads are manufactured by precision injection molding of a unique low-density polyethylene for symmetry, consistency and reliability.

Price: $18-$25

Spectra Shot

Our gut reaction the first time we saw Spectra's colored pellets was 'huh? ' But the way duck hunters squabble over banded birds it's easy to see the niche. Using different colored pellets eliminates the question. And we are pleased to say this stuff hits birds hard. The non-toxic pellets are coated through a patented process so they won't mar your bore.

Price: $23

Tru-Glo | Titan

Screw in the Titan, then Tru-Glo's patented technology lets you twist and click to quickly change settings from cylinder to XX full. Choke settings are laser engraved so there's no mistaking your selection. The Titan accepts all waterfowl loads, including steel and Hevi-Shot and is available in 12-gauge for most models and 20-gauge for Remington guns.

Price: $136

Trulock | Waterfowl 3-Pack

Conditions can change during the course of a single hunt. That's why Trulock came out with a 3-pack of Close-, Mid- and Long-range chokes. Made from high-strength, rust-resistant 17/4 PH stainless steel, all three are rated for all non-toxic shot types and available to fit most popular shotguns. They feature a no-glare black oxide finish, an extended, knurled end for quick removal.

Price: $120

Winchester | Blind Side

Citius, Altius, Fortius (Latin for faster, higher, stronger) is the Olympic motto but might as well apply to Blind Side. Higher velocities (Blind Side has a 1,675 fps offering to compliment the 1,400) means faster shot strings and shorter leads. The lethal Hex shot allow for up to 15 percent more pellets per shell, and hits like a pile of bricks. And this popular line got stronger this year with several new loads including 12 gauge, 3½-inch 5 shot, 3-inch BBs and 20-gauge, 3-inch in 3 and 6 shot.

Price: $20-$26

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