Hardcore waterfowlers need guns and gear that will perform in harsh conditions but also require ammunition that will hold up its end of the smackdown as well. Guns.com has selected our top three brands of ammunition for duck hunters.
Whether birders choose to go for the highest end metallurgy in shot or opt for plain old steel, take a look at our recommendations to make memories in blinds and boats this season.
Federal Premium Black Cloud TSS and Speed Shok
Federal’s Black Cloud ammo has been helping fill bag limits of birds for years but now, loaded with modern tungsten, Black Cloud Tungsten Super Shot is better than ever. The new Black Cloud TSS is loaded with 60-percent TSS shot and 40-percent FliteStopper Steel shot inside the FliteControl Flex wad. Effective patterns range beyond 50-yards and tungsten has been proven to hit harder, penetrate deeper, and hold more density than both lead and steel shot.
That performance comes at a price, though, at $30.99 but if reaching high-flying birds is your forte, this is what you need.
Sometimes hunters desire high volume shooting and cost-effective hunting ammo, and none fits the bill better than Federal’s Speed Shok lineup These steel-shot waterfowling loads are available in 10-, 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge, each with a variety of shot sizes tailored for your birding needs.
The new Speed Shok uses a lead-free primer and cleaner-burning powder. The Speed Shok retails for $11.99.
Hevi Shot and Steel
Hevi Shot Duck is purpose-built for taking small-bodied, fast-moving waterfowl. For those unfamiliar with Hevi-Shot in general, it’s a non-toxic alternative to steel comprised of an alloy of tungsten, nickel, and iron. Like Federal TSS, Hevi-Shot has much greater density and knockdown power than standard steel or lead loads.
Hevi-Duck also boasts a large range of options, available in .410 bore, 28-, 20-, 16- and 12-gauges with multiple loads and shot sizes available. Prices vary, but the average 12-gauge load comes to around $45.99.
Hevi-Steel advertises their loads as flying faster than many steel competitors, with loads running 1,500 FPS versus a more common 1,450 FPS. Hevi also opts for a cleaner-burning powder than many and has offerings in all the popular gauges—10-, 12-, 20-, and 28-gauges with shot sizes optimal for all sorts of waterfowling. Much like Federal’s Speed Shok, Hevi-Steel is a more affordable option priced around $15.99.
While some types of modern shot, including plain old steel, can be hard on older shotgun barrels Bismuth is softer than steel. Advertised as safe in any choke and for most older barrels as well, Bismuth is non-toxic yet still 24-percent denser than steel. What this equates to is more knock-down power and a larger range than standard steel waterfowl loads.
Kent’s Bismuth is limited in selection and comes in only 12- and 20- gauge options. Prices are higher than steel, but still significantly more cost-effective than tungsten alloys, retailing around $38.99.
Fasteel 2.0 does things a bit differently than other competitors utilizing Precision Plated Steel shot — essentially steel shot coated with zinc. The blended powders are intended to help minimize felt recoil from heavy waterfowl loads. Available in both 12- and 20-gauges, with several shot sizes and shell options in each, Fasteel 2.0 prices hover around $13.99.
Ammunition options are plenty for duck hunters, whether opting for a premium shot like tungsten or bismuth or selecting a more wallet-friendly variant. Regardless of your choice of duck ammunition this season, may you find success on passing birds and the camaraderie of the duck blinds and fields.