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Hard-Hitter for Long Ranges

Hard-Hitter for Long Ranges

Federal's Heavyweight Coyote has waterfowling applications.

While I was field-testing ammunition on coyotes in Wyoming, ammunition specialist Tim Brandt of Federal/ATK offered a firsthand look at the new Heavyweight Coyote shotshell. The loads were so hot off the press they had not even been loaded as prototypes yet.

Federal's Heavyweight Coyote holds tight patterns at long distances.

Federal's ballistic engineers combined the company's turkey loads with Black Cloud shotshells to create the Heavyweight Coyote. The load packs a hard punch using a sabot-style, ultra-long range Flitecontrol Wad System to hold Heavyweight Ultra High Density shot, powered by a stiff charge of magnum powder. The innovative load hits hard downrange and gets to the intended target fast.

Pattern Tests With New Tubes
To test the load, Brandt helped me obtain Patternmaster's new choke designed specifically for Black Cloud and its Flitecontrol wad system. Waterfowl hunters know wad stop or crimper-style chokes should not be used with the Flitecontrol system, so Black Cloud waterfowl loads, Heavyweight turkey loads, and now the Heavyweight coyote loads were previously to be excluded from Patternmaster, Wad Wizard and Dead Ringer waterfowl choke systems.

However, Patternmaster redesigned its studded tube just for Federal's Flitecontrol System by removing the studs and adding .39 constriction, making it close to a full-choke design.

As the extended long tube was compressed from a .724-inch 12-gauge bore, the new design increased the parallel section a bit, which created a tack-driving tube that sends Flitecontrol loads of any type downrange with unmatched accuracy.

With .18 density, Heavyweight pellets are among the heaviest offered for a hunting shotshell.

When I fired the first load, I pasted a 100 percent, 40-yard pattern, with all of the shot inside of a 14-inch circle. Shooting at a mallard silhouette Champion Targets had printed at the target's center, I all but missed the duck's body, but plastered six holes in the duck's head and took out both wings in the process. The pattern target has a full 30-inch ring, 20-inch core and nice photo of a flying mallard to give a solid indication of your pattern performance.


Just before the conclusion of my Heavyweight Coyote load review, Carlson's Chokes manufactured a new Black Cloud model that fit my Winchester Super X3. I wanted to test the effectiveness of Carlson's tube against the previously tested Patternmaster's Black Cloud tube. Setting up targets at 40 and 50 yards, I shot a bench-rest pattern of 100 percent at 40 yards two out of three times, and 81 percent at 50 yards downrange. With most of the Heavyweight payload -- 50 to 65 percent -- plastered in the inner 20-inch core ring of the pattern target from the 40-yard test, and almost the same count at 50 yards, I am convinced the load is a solid goose killer.

Lethal Energy
Federal states that when the load is applied to a correct Black Cloud system choke, it will put 100 percent of its payload inside of the 30-inch circle at 40 yards, and more than 80 percent at 60 yards. My testing has clearly shown Federal's statement is right on the mark.

Heavyweight is about .18 density, making it among the heaviest pellets in use for hunting. In BB shot size, the ballistics are impressive in terms of sustained energy/velocity at unbelievable ranges. At 40 yards, this payload will deliver 23.4 foot-pounds of individual pellet energy. That's getting close to a 30-30 Winchester at point-blank range, when the total footprint or mass pellet strikes are considered.

At 60 yards, the energy still holds up at 17.9 foot-pounds per individual pellet. When combined with a seven-pellet hit -- which is not out of the realm of possibility -- the total footprint in terms of shock is 125.3 foot-pounds of energy against the bird's body, which equates to a 125-pound rock being dropped on the bird from an altitude of one foot.

About five years ago, when Heavyweight first appeared as a No. 4 shot size, I gunned western South Dakota prairie turkeys with this basic load. I cleanly killed an adult tom at 55 yards, and a second tom the same day at 62 yards. Both were shot using a Beretta Xtrema and a Beretta modified waterfowl choke.

At the time, the results were almost beyond belief. To date, I have shot more than 70 trophy toms. It is one of the best loads in terms of dusting turkeys.

The new Heavyweight Coyote load being offered in about a BB (.19) caliber pellet size should prove deadly on snow geese, Canadas or even a swan.

Federal/ATK indicates the load should be considered a coyote killer first, but goose hunters will have their eyes on this heavy-hitting package for late-season giant Canadas or swans. After my unbelievably effective turkey hunt, I approached Federal and indicated this new shot material and payload delivery system needed to go into a waterfowl load. Federal agreed, but at the time, Heavyweight had not as yet been approved for use on waterfowl. Now, even though the load is marketed as a coyote killer, it is a legal waterfowl load based on current U.S. government non-toxic load requirements.

Unique Payload System
Federal has built a payload matched to the Flitecontrol system different from anything I have ever witnessed in a commercial shotshell load. Starting with a 13„8-ounce payload of Heavyweight BB shot (prototype), the load is buffered with a poly type buffer and a second filler of an undetermined origin. I think I know what it is, but I don't think Federal/ATK would be interested in me running my mouth about the product. I was testing prototype rounds, but the final production loads were altered for the better. They have since been finalized and carry a 11„2-ounce payload of BB Heavyweight.

Strong Recoil
As far as recoil, watch out. I generally don't write about recoil much, as it just goes hand in hand with shooting and shotguns. However, in this case, the 1½-ounce payload of Heavyweight tungsten with a 35 percent greater density than lead tends to become a real pile driver as it starts its run down the barrel.

Warm Targets
Snow goose hunting can get a bit range-intensive at times. Shooting my Remington 870 Express mounting the Black Cloud Patternmaster system, and a Black Cloud-choked Winchester Super X3, I tagged eight long-range birds over several days with the new Heavyweight product. The birds never knew what hit them. In my opinion, it is a guide's load because it fits well for the guide at the end of a set of pits who is required to take out wounded birds. If you have hunted much in decoy spreads, you clearly know the drill.

While this new direction in smooth bore non-toxic ammunition is effective at every turn, it carries a stiff price tag. High-end wads, fillers, powder and very special shot make up this luxurious shotshell design. But if you're a good wing shot and plan to gun passing honkers at long ranges, Federal Heavyweight Coyote is for you. Federal's Heavyweight Coyote is the most powerful, energy-carrying 12-gauge load available on the market today.

L.P. Brezny is a ballistics expert from Piedmont, S.D.

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