By Phil Bourjaily
When it comes to shotshells, lethality is the mother of invention. The ban on lead shot, now ancient history, spurred manufacturers to rethink shotshells as they struggled to make nontoxic pellets that performed as effectively as lead. Their efforts over the past 25 years have resulted in a number of innovations, including a new cartridge—the 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge—as well as denser, harder pellets made of various materials propelled at ever-increasing speeds. This dizzying array of new and better shotshells means that choosing a duck load isn't as easy as deciding between 2s and 4s anymore.
Here's a quick guide to 10 of the leading waterfowl cartridges to help you pick the right one for your hunting needs.