Heavier Than Lead Standout: 20-ga. HeviShot
Sheetz, Brian C
The tractor tugged our rickety wooden trailer-laden with hunters from the United States and cases of shotshells-along a muddy lane bounded by dikes dotted with knee-high termite mounds and, farther out, stands of eucalyptus trees. Flooded rice fields glimmered against the silhouettes of feeding emus, geese, ibis, pigeons and pink flamingoes. The ducks had already taken to the air-rosy-billed pochard and Brazilian, silver and speckled teal all rising and falling in such numbers as to blot out the first strains of dawn.
The morning’s commute to the duck blinds in Uruguay came during a week-long waterfowling odyssey with Trek Safaris outfitter Edwardo Gonzales for the first-ever field trials of Remington’s new HeviShot in 20 gauge. The new non-toxic payload had already begun to rewrite the “rules” of shot and choke selection in 12 ga.-a logical choice for its introduction given the 12’s supremacy among American shotgunners. New, though, were the company’s 20-ga. HeviShot offerings, which now include: the 3”, 1 1/8-oz. Premier Nitro Magnum Waterfowl Load at 1300 f.p.s. in either No. 4s and 6s and the 3”, 1 1/8 oz. Extra Long Range Field Buffered Load also at 1300 f.p.s. in No. 4s, 6s or 7 ½s.
So, with more than 5,000 miles between ourselves and U.S. bag limits, we were free to compare both 12- and 20-ga. HeviShot against steel and lead through daily shooting sessions that each equaled many seasons of stateside waterfowling experience.
Firearms included both the new Remington Model 332 over-under 12 ga. and the company’s veteran 11-87 semi-automatic 20 ga. Despite the 332’s fine handling qualities, however, I’d had enough of a pounding from it by the end of day two. From then on, including several afternoon upland hunting sessions for the quail-like perdiz, I primarily shot the 20-ga. 11-87. Predictably, it was easier on my shoulder and allowed me to concentrate more on my swing. Not so predictably, its HeviShot loads afforded as many kills on waterfowl-at as great a range-as I had made with any of the 12-ga. loadings. Moreover, some of the shots were of even greater difficulty.
Virtually without exception, the Uruguay hunters using HeviShot chose more open chokes-improved cylinder rather than modified, for instance. According to Remington Press Relations Specialist Eddie Stevenson, “Because HeviShot is hard, not malleable, and has dense pellets, it doesn’t necessarily require the same constriction as other shot types.” The hunters also chose smaller shot-all other considerations such as gun make and barrel length being the same-preferring No. 6s versus No. 4s, for instance. Most of the other hunters also found they could hit as well and, in many cases, as far with 20-ga. guns as they could with their trusty twelves.
The bottom line is that the 20-ga. Hevi-Shot facilitated better overall shooting with the smaller-gauge gun-something typically achieved only after years of practice and subsequent graduation downward through the gauges. By mid-morning of the second day, one veteran gunwriter whooped, “I’ll never shoot a 12 gauge again!” That may eventually be HeviShot’s ultimate claim to fame. It may one day be known as the catalyst that helped the 20 gauge establish itself as the new “American standard.”
-BRIAN C. SHEETZ
Copyright National Rifle Association of America Dec 2003
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