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Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense Shotshells
By Mark Wynn
The "World's Briefest Shotgun Ammo Review" might go something like this:
If you had effective home defense shotgun ammo based on decades of testing and experience, would you try a new load that costs three times as much?
This article is The Test That Never Was. In September 2009, Remington announced its new HD (High Density) Ultimate Home Defense Loads in either BB or shot sized 2 and 4 (duplex load). As a shooting enthusiast, not an expert, I was all excited and recommended that The Box o' Truth and Guns & Shooting Online test them, particularly the 2x4 load.
Old Painless on theboxotruth.com patiently reminded me that I was making the common mistake of confusing the smaller No. 2 and No. 4 BIRDSHOT with No. 2 and No. 4 BUCKSHOT that pellet for pellet is about twice as large. Birdshot repeatedly has been shown to be less effective in home defense because of insufficient soft tissue penetration, i.e., less than 12 inches in comparable masses such as gelatin or water equivalent.
Managing Editor Chuck Hawks here at Guns & Shooting Online pointed out that the Remington HD (High Density) Ultimate Home Defense load specifications are nearly identical with its popular Wingmaster non-toxic (i.e., non-lead) hunting shotshells. The Wingmaster shotshells were developed to comply with federal restrictions against using lead shot for waterfowl hunting.
The two HDUHD loads come in 2 3/4-inch shells. Only two Wingmaster HD loads of 4 or 6 birdshot are 2 3/4 inch; the other 17 loads are 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch in BB, 2, 4, or 6 birdshot. Thus, the most comparable Defense and Wingmaster shotshells are 12-gauge, 2 3/4-inch, 1 1/4-oz tungsten-bronze-iron with the Defense MV at 1250 fps and the Wingmaster MV at 1325 fps.
We need to ponder birdshot and buckshot size differences in charts like those in most ammo catalogs. One pellet of the same number birdshot is smaller than the same number buckshot, e.g., No. 2 birdshot nominal diameter is 3.81 mm compared to No. 2 buckshot at 6.9 mm. That means more birdshot pellets per ounce, e.g., No. 2 birdshot has about 87 in lead or 125 in steel compared to No. 2 buckshot's 15 lead pellets.
The largest shot counterparts are named quite differently, but the relative disparity is about the same, e.g., birdshot BB is 4.57 mm nominal diameter with 50 lead pellets or 72 steel pellets per ounce compared to buckshot 00 in 8.4 mm and 8 pellets per ounce, or buckshot No. 1 in 7.6 mm and 10 pellets per ounce.
So ounce for ounce, birdshot has more pellets and smaller pellets than buckshot. Meaning that the fewer and larger buckshot pellets generally have more impact and penetration.
A Remington HD Defense pamphlet reports, “HD (high density) pellets are heavier than standard lead and retain more energy for massive terminal stopping power. Short-range patterns in smoothbore barrels are very tight for one-shot confidence . . . BB for highest energy, 2x4 Duplex for most pellets on target. The advantage of the Duplex load of 2x4s: Higher pattern density versus a straight load of #2 (more pellets), higher pattern energy versus a straight load of #4 (due to the inclusion of the #2 shot).”
A Remington Wingmaster HD pamphlet asserts, “Wingmaster HD puts a greater number of pellets on game at longer ranges, with equal pellet energy and deeper penetration than any other similar density non-toxic material. At a density of 12.0 grams/cc, Wingmaster HD's non-toxic tungsten/bronze/iron composition is 10% denser than lead and a whopping 56% denser than steel, which dramatically enhances per-pellet energy and extended-range penetration.”
If you are curious, you can spend about $30 for 10 HD Ultimate Home Defense shells, pattern them and see how many water jugs they break, or even cut a shell open and count the pellets to compare with holes in the pattern at x yardage. Then compare with your present home defense shotshell.
Why go to all that expense and bother? Home defense loads are usually patterned at 7 to 10 yards and virtually all shot shell loads produce very tight patterns at such close ranges. Tests of existing home defense loads such as 00 or No. 1 buckshot show tight patterns that should stop attackers at those ranges no matter what choke is used. Best guess for HD Ultimate HD alloy shot penetration is somewhere between lead birdshot and lead buckshot. At 7 to 10 yards or so, virtually all the pellets of any shotshell are going to hit a target within several inches radius.
The main virtue of the Remington Wingmaster tungsten-bronze-iron shotshell, which is so much like its Defense cousin, is said to be long-range lethality to 60 yards and beyond, the opposite of close-range home defense. If you are happy with your time-proven home defense lead buckshot at around $1 a round or less, are you curious enough to try the latest tungsten-bronze-iron birdshot for around $3 a shell?
If HDUHD birdshot cost less than proven lead buckshot and seemed as if it would penetrate better, experts would have been testing it long before receiving my suggestion. I wondered otherwise until plowing through the details. As it is, HDUHD seems to be another solution in search of a problem.
Copyright 2009 by Mark Wynn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.