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GUNS Magazine April 2010 - Page 16
SHOTGUNNER • HOLT BODINSON • SHOTSHEll INNOVATIONS Faster, faster, faster. othing has driven innovations in shotshell technology and N shotgun design faster than the advent of steel shot. When the US Fish & Wildlife Service banned lead shot in 1991 for migratory waterfowl hunting, many thought the world had come to an end, but look what’s happened since then. We’re blessed with new and more lethal pellet designs, a smorgasbord of lead-free pellet alloys, higher velocities in lead and non-lead ammunition as well as screw-in chokes, lengthened forcing cones and back-bored barrels for our shotguns. But nothing prepared me for what the engineers at Remington have cooked up for 2010. Remington’s new steel shotshell is so revolutionary in design, we were actually sworn to secrecy until the end of 2009, thus giving Remington a bit of a marketing lead over their competitors and giving their engineers and corporate attorneys time to refine the product and its patents. Being 30 percent lighter than lead, steel shot needs velocity to make up for what it lacks in density. As the engineers like to put it, “speed kills.” The fastest steel load I’m aware of is Winchester’s 3-1/2" 12-gauge shell packing 1-1/4 ounces of shot at 1,625 fps, but the tradeoff is its light shot charge. Typically, a 12-gauge 3-1/2" shell is loaded with 1-3/8 to 1-5/8 ounces of steel shot. Hypersonic Wad The challenge in shotshell ballistics has been to push up shot charges and velocities while staying within SAAMI pressure limits. The answer to date has been to reduce the payload. Not any more. Remington has found a way to keep the payload heavy and to push it to an unheard of velocity of 1,700 fps. Meet the “HyperSonic” wad. The 1-piece HyperSonic wad incorporates a short, hollow tube at its base, called the “Ignition Chamber.” As the wad is seated over the powder charge, a small amount of powder is forced inside the tube. When fully seated, the mouth of the tube is then positioned in direct contact with the primer flash hole. When the primer fires, the small amount of powder in the ignition chamber is the first part of the powder train to be ignited. This small captive charge drives the wad and its payload forward in the barrel milliseconds before Winchester’s buck-and-ball shell places three 00buckontopofa1-ounceslug.Itshould provedevastatingatcloserange. the full impact of the main charge kicks in. Think of the ignition chamber as a miniature booster rocket that jump starts the payload. Rocket Booster? As the wad is boosted out of the shell, the increasing internal volume behind the wad permits the primary powder charge to burn fully without generating excessive pressure. Finally, the wad breaks away from the shot column as the “Stress Concentrator” holes around the base of the wad fracture the sidewalls. The result is the 1,700 fps HyperSonic shotshell—actually 10 different 3" and 3-1/2" 12-gauge loads will all make their debut in the second quarter of 2010. There are six 3" loads featuring either 1-1/8 or 1-1/4 ounces of BB, 1-, 2- and 4-size steel shot and three 3-1/2" loads packing 1-3/8 ounces of BB, 2- or 4-size shot. The interesting part of this new lineup is all the loads are adjusted to a muzzle velocity of 1,700 fps. What are the advantages of 1,700 fps? The delivered pattern energy is approximately 16-percent greater than existing steel loads, shortening your leads by about 11 percent, which works out to approximately 8" at 40 yards. Speed kills. An interesting sidelight to the presentation by Remington engineers was the HyperSonic technology was so new no shells had been shoulder fired from a regular shotgun. Hmm, the HyperSonic technology and the powder being used may help to moderate Remington’s Ignition Chamber booster is the secret to achieving1,700fpswithheavierchargesofshot. 16 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2010