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Top Waterfowl Shotgun Ammo Loads of 2021

From trusted steel shotshells to newer non-toxic offerings, here are our top picks to load up on this season.

Top Waterfowl Shotgun Ammo Loads of 2021

Check out these top-performing shotgun loads as you hit the swamps and pits this season. (Photo Courtesy of Kent Cartridge)

Federal Black Cloud – TSS 20-Gauge 

Federal Premium Ammunition Black Cloud TSS

While we cringed to spend a TSS shotshell on a cripple, it is our job to field test. And while guys were spraying steel at a fleeing honker swimming away, we stepped up and smashed it dead at distance to demonstrate the lethatlity of this load. We also center-punched honkers with it on New Year’s Day. A deadly load on duck and goose missions, Federal’s Black Cloud TSS 20 Gauge features a mixed brew of #9 18 g/cc TSS and #3 FLITESTOPPER Steel. More than 50 percent denser than lead, TSS pellets maintain velocity and shred anything in their path. Adding icing to this already perfect cake is the FLITECONTROL Flex wad—a wad that opens from the rear and effectively controls the payload release. The result is a pattern no web-footed flyer can escape.  

$46 box of 10 | federalpremium.com

Winchester – Blind Side

Winchester Blind Side

Let us simply say that this stuff is underrated. It’s all about the stack when it comes to Winchester’s Blind Side. A favorite among throngs of waterfowlers, this load stacks the deck with Hex Steel Shot cupped in a Diamond Cut Wad. The result of this design is a dense pattern that puts more pellets on target, a boosted kill zone, and increased trauma. The Hex shot is six-sided, which means it carves extensive wound channels and puts birds down for the count. Winchester’s Drylok Super Steel System will stand up to the harshest, wettest conditions on earth, meaning your Blind Side will always go boom when you pull the trigger. Blind Side is available in 12- and 20-gauge in various lengths and shot sizes.

$20-$26 box of 25 | winchester.com


Kent - Bismuth Waterfowl

Kent Bismuth Waterfowl

Do you remember the good old days of waterfowling? You know, when lead was legal? Don’t fret. This season, with Kent Bismuth Waterfowl, you can drop down a pair of shot sizes and still melt quackers and honkers. Kent’s 9.6g/cc density Bismuth boosts velocity, ups energy and reduces wind drift. Perfect for the field and the duck the blind, these new loads increase pellet count and pattern density 25 percent over larger steel shot. Plus, bismuth is plated with tin to reduce fracture. Shot sizes of 3, 4 and 5 can be had for 12- and 20-gauge shooters.

$46-$56 box of 25 | kentcartridge.com

Fiocchi – Golden Goose

Fiocchi Ammunition Golden Goose

A tried-and-true killer, the Golden Goose from the innovative minds at Fiocchi blends zinc-plated steel with heavy-duty wads, no-fail primers and premium powder to give you a stone-cold goose killer. Over the years, Fiocchi has been relentless in their testing of this load, and serious waterfowlers herald it as one that ups accuracy, ensures dense patterns and is branded with a muzzle velocity of 1,430 fps. The Golden Goose is offered in 12-gauge 3 ½-inch loads in many shot sizes.

$16 box of 25 | fiocchiusa.com


Hevi-Shot – Hevi-Bismuth 

Hevi-Shot Bismuth

When Hevi-Shot does something, they do it right. For this reason, this shotshell manufacturer has amassed a cult-like following, and many members choose Hevi-Bismuth for their waterfowl hunts. Offered in 10, 12, 16 and 20-gauge, as well as .410, these 22-percent-denser-than steel loads deliver incredible downrange lethality in a price that doesn’t break the bank. Safe for old fixed-choke models and fine classic doubles, this load is worth a place in the gear bag.  

$40-$50 box of 25 | hevishot.com




Browning – Wicked Blend

Browning Ammunition Wicked Blend

Raising the bar in ammunition performance, once again, is Browning. New for 2021, Wicked Blend shotshells merge bismuth with steel to give waterfowlers a migration-canceling load. Browning’s proven premium-plated steel makes up 70 percent of the shot payload, and the remaining 30 percent is precision-rounded bismuth. Due to its heavy nature, Bismuth allowed Wicked Blend makers to go smaller on the shot size and still get maximum performance. Another bonus is the smaller bismuth pellets penetrate deeper, driving through feathers and crushing bone. Wicked Blend is available in several 12-gauge options and a 20-gauge #2 steel and #4 bismuth mixture.

$30-$35 box of 25 | browningammo.com

Apex – S3 Steel

Apex Ammunition S3 Steel

A name that strikes fear into the hearts of migrating fowl, Apex Ammunition is known for creating hand-built loads that ensure consistency and downrange devastation. While steel has its limitations, S3 Steel combines perfectly uniformed pellets with the same wad design used in the manufacturer’s legendary Turkey TSS. The one-piece wad is precisely split to boost the pattern and provide barrel protection. The steel payload is premium plated, and the clean-burning powder performs even in frigid temps. S3 Steel is available in 3-inch 12- and 20-gauge options in shot sizes of BB, 2 and 4.

$21 box of 25 | apexmunition.com

BOSS Shotshells – 16-Gauge Copper-Plated Bismuth

BOSS Shotshells 16-gauge

An excellent addition for your Sweet 16, this 2 3/4-inch purple-hulled duck wrecker is loaded with #5 copper plated bismuth. The custom hull and ultra-hot primer were engineered to perform in the nastiest of conditions. Easy on the shoulder, the one-ounce payload screams from the muzzle at 1,350 fps. Each purple death pill contains a pellet count of 197. Boss also offers 16 GA Copper Plated Bismuth in loads of #3 and #7.

$28 box of 20 | bossshotshells.com

Kent – Fasteel 2.0

Kent Fasteel 2.0

Some things in life just get the job done. Fasteel has a vast and loyal following for a reason. Easy on the wallet and hard on migrating fowl, Kent’s Fasteel 2.0 gives waterfowlers a load and shot size for any situation. Available in 12- and 20-gauge, Fasteel 2.0 hulls are fitted with high-performance base-wads that promise no-fail function in semi-auto shotguns. Highly uniformed, the Precision Steel provides exceptional patterns, and the zinc-plated shot and nickel heads resist corrosion. Stamped with CX2000 Primers, ignition is immediate.

$20-$32 box of 25 | kentcartridge.com

Tungsten Super Slam – TSS Shot

Tiungsten Super Slam TSS

With loads created for small ducks up to massive honkers, ammo options from tungsten mastermind, Tungsten Super Slam, are worthy loads for your favorite waterfowl wrecker. This load is easy on the shoulder and hard on thick-bodied geese at 2/3-inches long and with a one-ounce payload of #7 TSS. Each shotshell is loaded with 183 pellets that leave the muzzle at 1,200 fps.

$50; box of 10 | tssshot.com

Kent – TealSteel

Kent TealSteel

Who doesn’t love a fast-paced early-season teal whack? Most teal fall in the 14 to 16-inch size range and rarely push the scale much over a pound. They are movers and shakers and make difficult targets. Loaded to optimal velocities and fitted with a tightly packed maximum pellet count, these 3-inch shotshells ensure reliable performance and high pattern densities. Available in 12- and 20-gauge options and #5 and #6 shot, TealSteel uses quality CX2000 Primers and Double Base Powder.

$15 box of 25 | kentcartridge.com


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