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For Dove, Quail And Clays
Winchester Shoots For Economy With New Steel Load

Friday, June 20, 2008



Photo: Winchester
Winchester designed its new Xpert Game and Target steel loads come in both 12- and 20-gauge, sizes 6 and 7.

Winchester created its newest steel shotgun load with dove and quail hunters in mind. But with new regulations requiring the use of non-toxic ammo popping up all the time and the price of lead bouncing around like a pinball, the company decided to go after clay-target shooters, as well.

So it jacked up the velocity and created a wad that would provide better protection for gun barrels against the extreme hardness of the steel pellets.

The Winchester Xpert Game and Target steel loads are offered in both 12- and 20-gauge, sizes 6 and 7. Target shooters and hunters too, for that matter will be excited to learn that the company's objective is for a retail price point below that of equivalent lead ammo.

"This is designed to be an economically priced product because dove hunters and target shooters go through a lot of shells," said Brad Criner, Winchester's shotshell and rimfire product manager. "It's just getting out into the market so we don't have a figure that can be put in writing (also, the company can't dictate prices to shop owners), but we're trying to keep it below lead prices."

A Look at the Numbers

The Xpert Game and Target 12-gauge ammo delivers a 1-ounce payload, and the 20-gauge carries 3/4 of an ounce. The velocity is a very respectable 1,325 feet per second. That's up 25 fps over the original design.

Steel shot isn't nearly as dense as lead, but the flipside of that is an increased pellet count. For example, the 1-ounce Xpert Game and Targets in size 7 project 420 pellets, compared to 300 for the same size load in lead.

The shot string is shorter than a lead load produces, but Criner said the pattern is tighter even more so with the inclusions of the new wad because there's not as much pellet deformation as there is with lead.

He said the loads are being used this week in the FITASC competition at a major sporting-clays shoot in Southern California.

"The preliminary reports we've gotten have been excellent," he said. "They've done well on the trap field.

"It's a good, fast load that'll deliver a tight pattern to the targets."

Notable

> Criner said all the major gun companies have determined that the Xpert Game and Target loads are safe for use with their products. Some aftermarket choke tubes may not accommodate it, however, so shooters should check with the manufacturer of the tubes.

> He said the size 6 load might be most appropriate for dove and quail and size 7 the best choice for targets, but hunters and shooters can determine their own preferences through experimentation.

> For more about Winchester, click here to visit the company's website.


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