Waterfowl Loads: Spectra Shot Review

Waterfowl Loads: Spectra Shot Review

Spectra ShotThe debate over who makes the best waterfowl load is never-ending. And when Spectra Shot enters the conversation, the most common reaction from veteran hunters is "oh, that's the colored stuff, right?" And if you've never shot Spectra, you might think the affordable color-coated shot a little odd, but let me tell you, these loads are devastating on birds.

WILDFOWL editors reported that on an early-season hunt in Saskatchewan, the 12-gauge hulls were hell on Canada geese. Randy Hill of Hard Core Decoys, killed several honkers at an honest 70 yards with 3-inch, No. 2s. The big birds fell belly-up into the cut peas, feet paddling in the wind.

So even though I wouldn't have the chance to try the loads on ducks (waterfowl season had not yet arrived in my neck of the woods), I was excited to test Spectra's new 20-gauge offering. I was able to static test the loads and get in a few close-to-home dove shoots. I also have extensive knowledge of Polywad Inc., the company that engineers Spectra.

The loads I received were 3-inch, No. 4s with a 191 pellet count and 1-ounce payload. Test loads contained a single unitized gas seal and protective wad body that ran the full length of the plastic hull. Polywad loads a massive number of prototypes for the industry, and are a state-of-the-art customized load operation.



I shot the Spectra non-toxics on my home test range in the Black Hills of South Dakota at 3,000 feet of elevation. They printed an average of 80 percent with a full choke, and 63 percent with a modified tube at 40 yards with Mossberg's Silver Reserve side-by-side. Patterns were uniform and retained an even spread.

The full choke pulled in a central core that indicated some added range if required. The steel shot was doing exactly what it was designed to do — staying round, flying tight, and producing enough energy (1,350 fps at the muzzle) to get the job done. With a terminal velocity of 620 fps at 40 yards, penetration was adequate, but pushing No. 4 steel beyond this distance with a muzzle velocity under 1,400 fps could prove risky. At 2.04 feet/pounds of penetration, the load has sustainable knock-down power.

Western South Dakota was overrun by Eurasian-collared doves five or six years ago and they have taken hold. Since the non-native species are about the size of a pigeon, and at least as tough, it was a perfect opportunity to test Spectra. Over the course of a three-day shoot, I dispatched a few of the monster doves, going through 62 rounds of ammunition. Recoil was light to moderate, easy for a small-framed youth or woman to control.

Now for something different: If you want to see exactly how this colored shot patterns, go to YouTube and search for "Spectra Shot night shooting." Spectra used black lights, making the colored BBs glow, and the video shows how a column of shot runs in a string downrange, versus a large circle, or cone of pellets.


The pellets fly like a long stick of shot, and scatter in all directions when they hit a clay bird. The shot column becomes thicker or wider as the range extends, and my belief is when the energy falls below 600 fps, the string starts to fall apart, causing more cripples.

Even with a number of tracer shooting aids offered in the industry today, this black-light system is outstanding because you can see the performance of the shot. Now we just need to get more trap and skeet ranges to roll out night shooting. Spectra's ability to glow in the dark could set off a major controversy (a good thing), showing what different types of  shot are doing in flight.

Spectra Shot CartridgesI remember back in the 1980s when ballistics experts were trying everything, including painting individual pellets different colors to see which pellets in the wad's payload control system reached the target first.


I have taken some heat for my views on the subject at times, but to say nothing would solve nothing. So I have included a quote from an Internet chat board regarding Spectra Shot's ability to glow in the dark. Though I almost never visit these sites, this shooter about says it all.

"The skeet shot boasts glow-in-the dark capabilities under black light. The illuminated fluorescent shot makes shot placement visible to the naked eye, revolutionizing skeet shooting and drastically reducing the discouraging learning curve inherent in the sport".

Pattern Board

Test 1: Modified choke at 40 yards

Shot             Pattern

1                    58%

2                    69%

3                    61%

4                    48%

Average:       63%

Test 2: Full Choke at 40 yards

Shot              Pattern

1                     71%

2                     83%

3                     87%

4                     69%

Average:        80 %

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

This video is a classic! Take a front row seat with Carson as he hunted back in college. The clips are all either filmed with a GoPro or cell phone!

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Franchi 12-Gauge Affinity Semiauto Shotgun

Craig Boddington and Eric Poole take a look at the new modern Franchi Affinity shotgun.

Picking a Puppy

Picking a Puppy

Wildfowl contributor Mark Romanack shares advice about choosing your next retriever.

Swedish Duck Hunt

Swedish Duck Hunt

Kevin Steele takes part in a family driven duck hunt in Sweden.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Jim Orth needed'a simple blind for hunting Lake St. Clair. A staffing recruiter and outfitter from How-To

Building a Duck Boat Blind on a Budget

Mike Marsh - May 10, 2016

Jim Orth needed'a simple blind for hunting Lake St. Clair. A staffing recruiter and outfitter...

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season. Shotguns

Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018

John Taylor - September 25, 2018

Author John M. Taylor has broken down the top waterfowl shotguns for the 2018 season.

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full line-up of women's waterfowl hunting gear for 2019. From warm and moisture wicking base layers to water and windproof outer layers, this is a complete system for women who love to chase fall and wintertime ducks and geese across the four flyways! Clothing & Waders

New SITKA Women's Waterfowl Lineup for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

SITKA Gear waterfowl product manager Jim Saubier shows off the Bozeman, Montana company's full...

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call. Calls

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Lynn Burkhead - January 28, 2019

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Little guns and fast loads seem to be the direction in advanced shotshell designs for 2013. Ammo

Hevi-Shot Speed Ball Review

L.P. Brezny - November 26, 2013

Little guns and fast loads seem to be the direction in advanced shotshell designs for 2013.

Waterfowlers are far more concerned with function than form, except maybe the Ammo

Killer Waterfowl Loads and Chokes for 2015

Bob Humphrey - August 26, 2015

Waterfowlers are far more concerned with function than form, except maybe the "form" in

Many of us were around for the conversion from lead to non-toxic shot. A lot has changed since Ammo

New Waterfowl Loads & Chokes for 2014

Bob Humphrey - August 13, 2014

Many of us were around for the conversion from lead to non-toxic shot. A lot has changed since

Black Cloud shotshells from Federal have always been bird killers. But using them came with a few Ammo

Federal's New and Improved Black Cloud Shotshells

John Taylor - June 21, 2017

Black Cloud shotshells from Federal have always been bird killers. But using them came with a...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Wildfowl subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now