Winchester Supreme HD Shotshells in 20 Gauge: How Good are They?

By Randy Wakeman

After the spectacular performance of the no-tox Winchester 12 gauge HD loads on paper and on game, I was highly motivated to try the 20 gauge version. The tested ammunition is Winchester�s �Supreme Elite Xtended Range Hi Density Turkey Load� 20 gauge, 3 inch, 1225 fps, 1-1/8 oz., #5 shot. That�s quite a mouthful to say, much less type. I will refer to this as Winchester HD 20 gauge for the sake of brevity, if not sanity.

They were sold out for a time, but I finally got my hands on some. Anxious to try it in the field, I used it the very next morning, ignoring my own advice by not patterning it before hunting. It isn�t easy to do pattern testing at four in the morning! Yes, it sure kills pheasants. Too well in fact, as it literally blew my first bird in half at 30 yards. I was using a Browning B-80 with a Trulock Precision Hunter �Modified� choke. It takes scant little constriction to get extremely dense patterns with this shell, as the pattern board belatedly confirmed.

Backing off the constriction a notch gave me a more usable pattern, again with Trulock Precision Hunter tubes, this time an �Improved Cylinder.� Though scant little constriction was used, this IC tube averaged better than full choke performance at 40 yards. Specifically, 133 out of the 179 pellets in a 30 inch circle for a pattern percentage of 74.3%. It was hard to find a spot on the boards where you could place your hand and not cover at least 10 holes. It produced remarkably even patterns for me, just as it did in 12 gauge format.

Back out in the field the next day, we tried it again. Superb performance at 37 yards, simultaneously impressing Rocky the Wonder Dog and obtaining dinner.

Pheasant taken by Win. 20 gauge HD load
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

Still, there is room for improvement. As Winchester�s HD shot is about 10% heavier then lead, you sacrifice some pellet count while getting penetration ability exceeding #5 lead shot. More than is needed for pheasant, ducks, or the head of a turkey.

The Winchester HD 20 gauge shell will be even more useful when available in #6 shot, increasing the pellet count while retaining more than enough penetration for shooting pheasants and decoying ducks. Likewise, the more pellets the better for turkey. The #5 shot load that is the subject of this review patterns as well as any 1-1/8 oz. load there is, but for the applications most suitable for a 20 gauge gun, #6 HD shot will allow this shell to shine even brighter.

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Copyright 2007, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.