American Hunter - December 2012 - 68

hw

By Bryce M. Towsley, Field Editor

E

very year I age, I increase the
danger of becoming the annoying uncle at family gatherings-
the one who always goes on
and on about the good old days
and how much better everything was back
then. I tell folks I started waterfowl hunting
long before lead shot was banned. I understand there is now a generation of hunters
who have never experienced shooting
waterfowl with anything except non-tox
shot, so they probably don't understand.
But the truth is, lead is superior. Trust me,
it's better for killing ducks and geese.
But, like disco and leisure suits, lead
shot for waterfowl is gone, and we need
to deal with what remains.
While there are some very effective
waterfowl loads using tungsten alloys,
high cost prevents them from becoming
the top-selling choice. Other elements
would work very well but have unique
problems. Gold would make an excellent
choice for shotgun pellets, but a ½-ounce
load would cost about , per shot. So

steel shot still holds the No.  spot. And as
a  of a major ammo maker once told
me, "Until they discover a new element,
that's not going to change."
However, today's steel shot is a vast
improvement over the early stuff. Wads,
buffering and other advances have made
sure that more pellets hit the birds. But
the problem with steel shot has always
been one of retained energy at impact.
That's because steel is much lighter
than lead. The specific gravity () of a
pellet's material determines the weight of
a given pellet size. Lead has an  of .
while steel is .. What that means is a No.
 pellet made from lead weighs . grains,
while a No.  steel pellet weighs only
. grains. When the identically shaped
pellets are launched at the same muzzle
velocity the lead pellet has more energy.
For example, at  fps a No.  lead pellet
has . ft.-lbs. of energy while a No. 
steel pellet has only .. This discrepancy
is compounded as the distance increases
  ❘

because the lighter steel pellet loses velocity faster over a given distance than the
heavier lead pellet. Think of a Wiffle Ball
and a baseball of equal diameter thrown
at the same speed. The baseball will go
farther and hit harder. The heavier projectile fights wind resistance better.
At  yards, the difference in energy
levels is even more substantial. The lead
pellet has . ft.-lbs. while the steel retains
 ft.-lbs., just  percent of the energy of
the lead pellet.
To overcome this problem, ballisticians tried to boost the energy by increasing velocity. Energy is tied exponentially
to velocity, so even a modest boost in
muzzle velocity can increase energy by
a large margin. The trouble is that with
the limits of technology, something had
to give. To increase velocity,
engineers had to reduce
the shot charge weight.
That meant fewer pellets in
the shell and fewer strikes
on the bird. Sure, one pellet
might hit the brain, but the
concept of a shotshell is to use multiple
hits. So reduced pellet counts introduce
problems that are just as troublesome as
low pellet energy. Obviously, the way to
fix this is to keep pellet counts high, but
increase the velocity. Big Green managed
to do exactly that.
Remington's new Hypersonic Steel
shotshell loads claim a muzzle velocity
() of  fps (-gauge) while still
retaining the traditional shot charge
weights. That means a No.  steel pellet
now exits the muzzle with . ft.-lbs. of
energy. At  yards it retains . ft. lbs.
In comparison, Remington's Nitro
Steel High Velocity shot load has an
advertised  of  fps. That means
a No.  pellet has . ft.-lbs. of energy
at the muzzle and . at  yards. So the
Hypersonic Steel ammo has an increase
of  percent in muzzle energy and a 
percent advantage at  yards.
Remington says the way it achieves
this higher velocity is by using a new wad
system called the Xelerator. The wad has
a cup on the end that fits over the primer
area and blocks it from the main part of

 ❘ .

Photos: Peter Fountain

Remington Hypersonic


http://www.americanhunter.org

American Hunter - December 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2012

American Hunter - December 2012 - 1
American Hunter - December 2012 - 2
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