Hornady Heavy Magnum´┐Ż Turkey Shotshells

By Randy Wakeman

New from Hornady for 2012 is their Heavy Magnum series of turkey loads. It is a three inch 12 gauge shotshell with 1-1/2 oz. of your choice of #4, 5, or #6 nickel plated shot. What's the deal?


The idea is this: the most popular hunting choke designation, by far, is Modified. In fact, of the repeating shotguns sold that come with only one choke tube, invariably it is a modified marked tube. A modified tube with a lead load often is insufficient to form a pattern tight enough for turkey at the most common ranges wild turkey are taken at, 25 ´┐Ż 35 yards. For example, if you are spring turkey hunting out of a blind, you might set up your hen decoys at 25 yards. A typical shot on a called in gobbler could be 20 ´┐Ż 30 yards. A typical wingshooting load, your favorite 1-1/4 oz. pheasant load, may not have adequate pattern density.

Hornady suggests that you can use your same gun and same IC or Mod choke, sub in their new Heavy Magnum shell and you'll have a tighter pattern with no other changes. This is due to the Hornady ´┐ŻVersa-Tite´┐Ż version of the FliteControl wad and their extra-heavy nic kel-plated shot, said to be the heaviest nickel plating in the industry. Does it work? Well, I set out to find out.


To make this a reasonable comparison, I used a Benelli Vinci with a Trulock Precision Hunter ´┐ŻModified´┐Ż choke tube. I compared the 1-1/2 oz. Hornady load of #5 shot with another 1-1/2 oz. load, B & P Baby Magnum #5, shells that also considered premier loads albeit it for wingshooting. So, the payloads were the same. I set up patterning targets at a laser-verified 40 yards. So, same range, same ambient conditions, same shotgun, same choke tube, the Hornady compared to shells with the same shot size and payload.


The verdict? Yes, the Hornady ´┐ŻHeavy Magnum´┐Ż shell clearly does tighten patterns significantly, approximating Extra Full performance from a light modified genre choke tube. Bottom line, it works just as promised. Whether this is your choice or not is going to be a matter of your hunting ranges. If, for example, you have decoys set up at 25 yards and your typical shot is the 20 ´┐Ż 30 yard window, you'll likely be in good shape. You'll still have to pattern in your own gun to confirm this.


However, for 40 yard and out shooting, you will likely be better off with higher density than lead loads, albeit at a higher cost, and extreme constriction chokes. Another use that makes good sense is late season style wild pheasants. Let's assume you are using a repeater, typically hunting with an IC choke. Frontloading with your standard pheasant load, following with a Hornady Heavy Magnum gives you the benefit of two clearly different pattern densities with one choke tube. Hornady promises significantly denser patterns with this lead shell compared to an equivalent, standard lead shotshell out of an IC to Mod choke tube and Hornady delivers on that promise.

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Copyright 2012, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.