By Phil Bourjaily and Chris Jennings

Winchester Blind Side 2

Winchester Blind Side 2 refines the original hexagonal shot concept with six-sided pellets that are rounder but still stack efficiently, providing heavier payloads that hit harder than round shot. The new, more aerodynamic shape, packed in Winchesters proven Drylok wad, patterns more efficiently than the original version. Winchester offers Blind Side 2 in 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge loads with 1 5/8 ounces of BBs or 2s; 3-inch 12-gauge loads with 1 3/8 ounces of BBs, 2s, or 3s; and 3-inch 20-gauge loads with 1 1/16 ounces of 2s.

Hevi-Shot Hevi-XII

Hevi-Shot brings back the pellet that revolutionized nontoxic ammunition with Hevi-XII, named for the pellets 12-gram-per-cubic-centimeter density. The first denser-than-lead pellet is not only back, its packed in 25-round boxes that help bring the price down. The lineup includes 3-inch 12-gauge loads with either 1 1/8 ounces of 2, 4, or 6 shot or 1 1/4 ounces of 4 or 6 shot; 3-inch 20-gauge loads with 7/8 or 1 1/4 ounces of 4 or 6 shot; and 3-inch 28-gauge loads with 1 ounce of 4 or 6 shot.

Boss Shotshells 3-inch 28-GaugeCopper-Plated Bismuth

Boss Shotshells entered the waterfowling ammunition market a few years ago, and the companys copper-plated bismuth loads have already built a loyal following among hunters looking for nontoxic alternatives. This year, Boss has added a 3-inch, 28-gauge option to its lineup, which is designed specifically for waterfowlers who enjoy teal hunting and decoying birds at close range. A variety of Boss loads are also available in 10-, 12-, 16-, and 20-gauge, as well as .410 bore selections, and can be ordered directly from the manufacturer.

Browning Wicked Blend

Brownings Wicked Blend packs payloads of 70 percent steel and 30 percent bismuth in complementary shot sizes. The shot is loaded into the Wicked Wad, a rear-braking shotcup designed to hold the pellets together as they exit the muzzle and then release them cleanly. Wicked Blends 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge loads carry a 1 1/2-ounce blend of steel BBs and bismuth 1s, or steel 2s and bismuth 4s. The 3-inch 12-gauge loads deliver 1 1/4 ounces of steel BBs and bismuth 1s, or steel 2s and bismuth 4s. There are also 3-inch 1-ounce 20-gauge loads of steel 2s and bismuth 4s.

Federal Black Cloud FSSteel

Since its introduction in 2010, Federals Black Cloud ammunition has become a waterfowlers standby. This combination of round shot mixed with ridged Flitestopper pellets packed in the Flitecontrol wad creates a load that patterns well at normal ranges and hits hard. The lineup has grown to include 10-gauge 3 1/2-inch loads of BB and 2 shot; 12-gauge loads in shot sizes from BBB to 4; and 3-inch 20-gauge loads of 1, 2, 3, or 4 shot.

Winchester Bismuth

By cushioning bismuth pellets with a micro-bead buffer compound, Winchester engineers were able to prevent the brittle pellets from shattering and flaking. These loads set new standards in bismuth performance, patterning up to 90 percent at 40 yards. The buffered bismuth comes in 3-inch 12-gauge loads with 1 3/8 ounces of 1 or 4 shot, and 3-inch 20-gauge loads with 1 1/4 ounces of 4 shot.

Kent Cartridge TealSteel

Small shot increases your chances of connecting with tiny, acrobatic blue-winged and green-winged teal. While some hunters make do with target loads for teal season, Kents TealSteel contains hefty payloads of their high-quality Precision Steel shot for good patterns plus powders blended to deliver sufficient velocity with minimal kick. Hunters can choose between 3-inch 12-gauge 1 1/4-ounce loads of 5 or 6 shot, or 3-inch 20-gauge 1-ounce loads of 6 shot.

Remington Premier Bismuth

Remington is the latest ammo maker to offer bismuth shotshells. The new ammo delivers a payload of Hevi-Bismuth pellets with a density of 9.64 grams per cubic centimeter and is available in various shotshell lengths and shot sizes in 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge, as well as .410 bore.


Apex combines 1 1/16 ounces of steel shot with 1/4 ounce of TSS in a 3-inch 12-gauge hull to add punch and pellet count to duck and goose loads. Because all the shells are essentially custom loaded, you can order various shot size combinations, choosing among BB, 2, and 4 steel shot and 7 1/2 or 9 TSS. There is also a 3-inch 20-gauge option containing 1 1/16 ounces of steel 4 shot mixed with 7 1/2 or
9 TSS pellets.