Best New Shotgun Loads for 2015

Best New Shotgun Loads for 2015

Hunters are always looking for an edge, some sort of advantage to help knock down more game with fewer shots. Thankfully, shotshell manufacturers are hunters, too. That's why they are constantly working on new, improved loads that hit harder and perform better.

This year's SHOT Show saw a host of new loads designed to help you bring home more game. Whether you hunt upland birds, waterfowl or even whitetails, there was something new to stuff into your favorite gun. Here's a look at the latest shotshell offerings.

Federal | 3rd Degree Turkey Loads

Can't decide which shot size to use in your favorite turkey gun? Federal made your life a little easier with the introduction of the 3rd Degree turkey load. It includes a layer each of Federal Heavyweight No. 7, 6 and 5 pellets packed in such a way to offer maximum knock-down power at extended ranges. Available in 3- and 3 ½-inch 12-gauge loads, they travel at 1,250 fps. If that's not enough to convince you to try these new loads, a portion of the proceeds of each box goes toward the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Price: $21.95-$24.95 for a 5-count box

Hornady | American Whitetail Rifled Slug

Hornady's American Whitetail line-up just grew with the addition of a rifled slug made for smoothbore shotguns. With a muzzle velocity of 1,600 fps and 2,848 foot-pounds of energy, these loads are ideal for hunters limited to shotguns for deer hunting. Sighted in with a 100-yard zero, the slug drops just 11.4 inches at 150 yards. The 1-ounce, hollow-point, Foster-style slug is only available in 12-gauge.

Price: $10.51-$14.20

Kent | Ultimate Fast Lead 20-gauge 3-inch

Kent's Ultimate Fast Lead has been around for several years, but up until this year, there were no 3-inch loads for 20-gauge shotguns. That's changed. Starting this year, the company will offer Ultimate Fast Lead in 3-inch, 20-gauge shells loaded with 1¼ ounces of either No. 5 or 6 Diamond Shot. The load travels at 1,300 fps. Be patient, though. The loads are so new, they have not been released yet. Kent doesn't even have an official photo of the box yet, but it will reportedly look identical to the 12-gauge Ultimate Fast Lead packaging.

Price: $12.49

Remington | Nitro Steel

Remington took its popular waterfowl load and made it even better. The new Nitro Steel has increased energy and more velocity without any additional recoil. If that's not enough, the engineers at Remington added zinc-plated pellets for corrosion resistance, along with a waterproof primer and crimp to prevent moisture from entering shells under the most extreme conditions. Available in 10, 12, 16 and 20 gauges and in loads ranging from BBB to No. 4 shot, waterfowlers of all stripes will find a load to their liking.

Price: $20.99-$28.99

Rio | Bismuth

Rio recently entered the non-toxic shotshell market with the introduction of Bismuth shot. It's perfect for vintage shotgun fans who fear barrel damage from harder steel pellets. In fact, bismuth is 86 percent less dense than lead, offering ideal penetration and knock-down power. Rio offers a variety of shot sizes (No. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) in 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauges and even .410. Velocities range from 1,175 fps in .410 to 1,400 fps in 3-inch 12-gauge loads.

Price: $18.99-$26.99

Winchester | AA Steel

Although Winchester's new AA steel target loads may be geared toward the sporting clay, skeet and trap market, there is a growing number of non-toxic shot-only hunting areas. As such, shooters looking for the perfect non-toxic dove, quail or even rabbit load would be wise to check out AA steel loads. These loads are available in 2¾-inch, 12-gauge 7½ or 8-shot and are packed with 1 ounce of shot.

Price: $94.99-$119.99 per case

Winchester | Blind Side Magnum Pheasant

Made with the same lethal, non-toxic pellets as Winchester's popular Blind Side waterfowl loads, the Magnum Pheasant load is the ideal choice for the countless mandatory non-toxic hunting areas scattered throughout pheasant country. The hexahedron-shaped pellets are stacked in the wad cup, allowing up to 15 percent more shot and additional powder in each load. Available in 2¾ and 3-inch loads, both options are packed with 1 3/8-ounce of No. 5 shot.

Price: $199.99-$219.99 per case

Winchester | Rooster XR

Late-season roosters can be cagey birds. Winchester's Rooster XR can bring down those pheasants that refuse to hold tight or that have an extra layer of late-season fat. These hard-hitting loads aren't just for late season, though. They'll knock down birds from opening day to the final sunset. Made with Winchester's patented Shot-Lok technology, which prevents misshaped pellets and poor patterns, Rooster XR is available in 12-gauge 2¾ and 3-inch shells in No. 4, 5 or 6 shot. It travels at a capable 1,300 feet per second. Available in 15-round boxes.

Price: $21.99-$23.99

Winchester | Long Beard XR

Is there anything more frustrating than a gobbler that hangs up just beyond range? Thanks to Winchester's new Shot-Lok technology, that range just got extended a few more yards. This load sends twice as many pellets into a 10-inch circle at 60 yards as traditional lead turkey loads. Long Beard XR is available in 3- and 3½-inch 12-gauge loads in No. 4, 5 or 6 shot. The 3-inch shell has 1¾ ounces of shot and moves at 1,200 fps. Ten rounds per box.

Price: $18.99-$22.99

Recommended for You

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size. North America Big Game

How to Field Judge Bears

Jospeh Von Benedikt

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size.

These four hunts will test your endurance. North America Big Game

North America's Toughest Black Bear Hunts

Brad Fitzpatrick

These four hunts will test your endurance.

The most modern ammo and gear increase the odds of bagging a tricky tom this spring. Other Game

Today's Updated Turkey Hunting Gear

Joe Arterburn

The most modern ammo and gear increase the odds of bagging a tricky tom this spring.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 11: Wheelgun Buffalo

Host Craig Boddington lays claim to hunting more than 100 Cape Buffalo over the course of his 40 plus year career, but he never took one with a handgun. That changed in South Africa when Craig faced down "black death" with a magnum wheelgun.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study. Ammo

Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber?

Mike Schoby

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study.

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the Hunting

The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most...

See More Stories

More Ammo

With new loads like Federal Premium's Heavyweight TSS in #9 shot, the right .410 shotgun can Ammo

Old School .410 Bore Shotgun Offers New Spring Turkey Hunting Options

PH Online Editors - February 21, 2018

With new loads like Federal Premium's Heavyweight TSS in #9 shot, the right .410 shotgun can

When OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with JJ Reich of Federal Premium Ammunition at Ammo

.224 Valkyrie Offers Predator and Deer Hunters New Long-Range Option

Lynn Burkhead - January 24, 2018

When OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with JJ Reich of Federal Premium...

It was time to talk turkey when OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with Rafe Nielson of Winchester Ammo

New for 2018: Winchester SXP Long Beard 20-Gauge Turkey Shotgun

Lynn Burkhead - January 24, 2018

It was time to talk turkey when OSG senior digital editor Lynn Burkhead visited with Rafe...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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