Wadless Loads For Small Smoothbores

Wadless Loads For Small Smoothbores

New non-toxic offering fits 28-gauges.

Polywad has hit on a relatively new idea in shotshell development. In recent issues, I have probed other product ideas under development with Polywad. Well, here is another innovation. If the company doesn't market it themselves, I am sure another company will buy into the concept. In fact, I have been told a deal is in the works, and a new company coming into the non-toxic world is considering picking up the green loads.

Polywad GreenLite.

At the time of this review, few sources for non-toxic ammunition were available for the 28-gauge shotgun. Please, don't misunderstand. I do not consider the 28-gauge a waterfowl hunter's No. 1 choice in any way, but sometimes, a hunter who owns a sweet little 28 wants to sit back, wait for an in-your-face bird over the decoys and shoot it with the sub-gauge offering.


Most 28-gauges are of high value, so shooters pay close attention to what goes down those expensive bores. With that in mind, I think Polywad might have an edge with GreenLite 28-gauge loads.



Polywad has been developing this new shotshell for several years. The basic load (in either 28- or 20-gauge) doesn't contain a wad. When I took a round apart, I found a small, very soft paper cup that held the shot, followed by a very generous amount of buffer of a fine ground poly type. After that, I located the powder charge that sits directly under the polymer-buffering agent. I did not locate any over-powder card or plastic wad.

The load is contradictory to all modern methods of shotshell load construction. However, Jay Meneffe, the president of Polywad, never leaves a stone unturned when creating a new product.


The GreenLite 28-gauge loads have no gas seal and use only a filler material against the charge.

When the first loads arrived for testing, I tossed five live 20-gauge rounds into the bed of my pickup. That was their home for the next week as I traveled on South Dakota's dirt roads. I was trying to coax the powder to migrate into the buffer, because no wad separates them. After hauling the shotshells around, I shot them over my chronograph screens and noted no difference from test loads shot fresh from the package box. In other words, there was no migration of propellant.


As a propellant, I could have been looking at Alliant Green Dot, as it did retain a small green flake identifier in the dark black powder mix.

In terms of payload, the 28-gauge shotshells I received for review contained ½ ounce of No. 7 steel shot at 220 pellets per load. The velocity printed on the box showed 1,000 miles per hour, and a run through the chronograph screens would be required to get an fps database started.

In the 20-gauge shotshell, the 23⁄4-inch hull contained a ¾-ounce payload and 240 No. 7 pellets. Both loads are designed to maintain low recoil and be easy on the shooter when tackling clays or small-game gunning. Youth shooters and ladies appreciate gentler recoil.

The chronograph screens recorded a string of test shots for the 28-gauge loads that measured an average of 1,581 fps. It is a fast load in terms of muzzle velocity, but with No. 7 pellets, speed is not only a positive feature of the load, it is required to bring down game birds.

While shooting the 20-gauge rounds over the speed screens, the muzzle velocity was much the same as in 28-gauge. Pellets left the barrel at an average 1,567 fps. In both cases, the 28-gauge and 20-gauge held an ES (extreme spread) from shot-to-shot velocity of 28 fps to 48 fps. In terms of ballistics results, the ES is tight, indicating the wadless and gas seal free loads maintain muzzle velocity and energy.

Pattern Tests
I test-fired the 20-gauge shotshells with a Remington 870 Express and a modified Rem choke tube. The test range was 30 yards. The No. 7 steel doesn't retain enough pellet speed down range to do much more than wound game beyond 35 yards (see chart below for energy and pellet velocity at varied ranges).

At 30 yards against a 30-inch circle, the shells returned 97 percent through 100 percent in a five-round test string, with an average of 97.5 percent.

The 28-gauge patterns also held to nearly 100 percent fired through my Franchi stack barrel with a modified choke in the upper barrel. Five rounds indicated an average pattern of 96 percent, with one shell at 100 percent in the test group.

Just to see the difference, I shot two patterns for each gauge at 40 yards. The prints were great -- 80-plus percent -- but knowing the loads are not designed for the far side of a decoy spread, I didn't press the issue.

These loads are designed for hunters who want a close, clean kill shot with a higher-end gun. In other words, it's about the gun and the hunt versus filling the game bag. However, development of a 12-gauge load for small ducks and general upland applications is underway.

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