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 Post subject: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:19 pm 
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I know I'm setting myself up for a million answers, but I'm trying to get a feel for the best non tox 20ga load to fling at ducks. I'm buying a new 20ga for the upcoming season and it looks like mainly ducks, but plenty of geese thrown in too. 20ga is new to me, so I don't know what to expect. I figure I should be in the #4 range for shot size. Kent Fasteel looks like a good option. Cabelas lists 3'' #4 7/8oz for 129.99/10 boxes. Sounds like the way to go, but the 7/8oz scares me a little. Are there many loads out there over 1oz or are sub-one ounce loads typical for the 20ga?

Let's have it!


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:10 pm 
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If you are going to use a 20-gauge for ducks, 1) hold your shooting to 40 yard max, 2) select the proper pellet size for the duck size, 3) choke it properly for the shot distance, and 4) if you can put the pattern where it counts the duck will be dead.

Here are some pattern numbers from my 20-gauge with the loads/chokes I usually use for decoying ducks to give you an idea of the kind of patterns you might get but you will need to pattern your gun/choke/load to check their performance since they may vary from mine.

20-gauge Browning Citori w/ 28" Invector-Plus barrels and Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON NITRO-STEEL LOAD
1 oz #4 steel (191 pellets) @ 1,330 fps
30 YARDS – SK / 134 (70%)
40 YARDS – IM / 147 (77%)

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON NITRO-STEEL LOAD
1 oz #3 steel (152 pellets) @ 1,330 fps
30 YARDS – SK / 122 (80%)
40 YARDS – IM / 114 (75%)

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON NITRO-STEEL LOAD
1 oz #2 steel (118 pellets) @ 1,330 fps
30 YARDS – SK / 101 (86%)
40 YARDS – IM / 99 (84%)

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON WINGMASTER HEAVY-DENSITY LOAD
1 1/8 oz #6 HD (212 pellets) @ 1,300 fps
30 YARDS – SK / 163 (77%)
40 YARDS – IM / 173 (82%)

For small or close puddle ducks over decoys the #4 steel is hard to beat.

The #3 steel pellet/load is a great all-around duck pellet/load.

When it's mallard only shooting steel #2s are a good choice.

The HD #6 loads do pattern good and increases pattern counts over the steel loads but for me I don't think they are worth the extra cost for ducks. When you are talking about killin’ decoying ducks, the above steel loads will handle that duty just fine.

Now for geese, get'em close (over-the-decoys) and go with the #2 steel load or move to a HD #4 load.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:51 pm 
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For my money there is no substitute for the new Remington Wingmaster HD loads. #6 shot is more than enough. Last fall I limited out twice with these (my first two 6 bird daily bags since they raise the limit here in MN), on one occasion taking a giant canada goose with a 30 yard head shot that left him upside down in the water not even twitching. The 12 gauge loads were such stupendous overkill at all ranges on all birds that I decided it was finally time to make the switch to 20 gauge.

I had been dreaming of going to the lighter, slimmer, easier to carry 20 gauge since I started waterfowling in 2004. But until now there has not been a load I felt enough confidence in to say that there was no shot I could not make with a 20 gauge that I might have been able to make with a 12. But in February I traded in my trusty Beretta Pintail for a CZ Redhead Deluxe in 20 gauge and bought several boxes of Wingmaster HD.

Last night I pattern tested the 1 1/8 oz load of #6. Preliminary results (I need to measure the 30" circles and count the holes before statistics will be available) show Mod choke at 40 yards produces a pattern that is very even and easily tight enough. I may not even bother with 3" shells with this shot type. I hear the little 1 oz loads pattern even better than the 1 1/8 oz loads I patterned last night.

The cheapest place to get these loads is on ableammo.com where 100 rounds of the 3" load will cost you $174.40 + shipping - the 1 oz loads are even cheaper, about $155/case. 100 rounds is more than I will use in a year, so you know I'll be spending more on gasoline than on ammo. Steel shot may make you feel thrifty, but it saves only pennies on each dollar you spend on duck hunting. For the extra $50/year why not shoot something that'll bring home the meat every time? (Always assuming you can shoot, of course.)



-Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:07 pm 
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Researcher my Mod choke did very well at 40 yards with that load. I didn't show the Mod choke above since I was trying to show the comparison to the chokes I normally use for the steel duck loads, SK/IM.

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON WINGMASTER HEAVY-DENSITY LOAD
1 1/8 oz #6 HD (212 pellets) @ 1,300 fps
40 YARDS – M / 164 (77%)

I agree that the HD pellets are very good but at decoying ranges steel loads are just fine for duck killin'.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:18 am 
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If you can afford it use the other than steel non tox. If it is steel I will not go with the 7/8 payload. I like the 1 ounce 3 shot loads if I can find them. 2's are a better load in my opinion than the 4's they carry more energy.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:32 am 
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Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/8 oz. # 5 1360 fps is generally one of the best.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:49 am 
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I can shoot, but the cost of HD is pretty nuts when you consider the limits here. 25/day ducks, 15/day geese, no possession limits. No guarantees on being able to shoot that many, but the amount of ducks here is supposed to be absolutely staggering. And given that ammo will be my #1 cost, I am trying to keep it down. I would probably pay $220-$250/case for the Wingmaster HD stuff. The boat launch is a 2 minute walk, and there's literally millions of places to hunt within a short boat ride. This ain't your typical duck hunt location, haha


Last edited by PGK on Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:16 pm 
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For teal season I use #6 or #4 Fast Steel 7/8oz @ 1500fps. Speed kills!

We load 1oz Hevishot and it runs at about 1300fps. #6 for mallards and #4 for geese.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:31 pm 
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The best 20 gauge load I've found is Tungsten Super Shot

But you'll pay for it too .... I shoot #8 shot in the early season when teal and woodies are the order of the day. Also comes in #7 and #5. I've never shot the 5's in the 20 gauge, but the 12 gauge loads of 5's crush the geese like nothing I've ever shot before.

Patterns very nice if you follow the loading directions and choke recommendations.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:54 pm 
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I like Hevi•Shot® the best in #2, 4, and 6 shot in my two 20ga guns. It is great stuff, albeit expensive. When using steel I find Kent® and Federal® Black Cloud™ to be the best.

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:44 am 
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Joe Hunter wrote:
Researcher my Mod choke did very well at 40 yards with that load...

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON WINGMASTER HEAVY-DENSITY LOAD
1 1/8 oz #6 HD (212 pellets) @ 1,300 fps
40 YARDS – M / 164 (77%)

I must be doing something wrong, my Mod choke was throwing 85% patterns with that load. :shock: I believe I'll try the IC next time I go out!

RandyWakeman wrote:
Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/8 oz. # 5 1360 fps is generally one of the best.

For $5 less per box I can get the Winchester XE 1-1/8 oz #5 1225 fps load. These averaged around 80% patterns through my Mod choke this week, something I never could get the TMs to do in the 20 gauge (although 70% through Imp Mod is an excellent pattern, especially with the #6 "upland" load). I think I'll prefer the Winchester load for follow-up shots in spite of its slower velocity because the shot is denser, and patterns tighter. I read somewhere that you cut a pheasant in half with this load because you hadn't had time to pattern it and ran it through too much choke in the field! That article sorta sold me on picking up a couple boxes. :lol:



-Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:17 am 
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Researcher wrote:
Joe Hunter wrote:
Researcher my Mod choke did very well at 40 yards with that load...

20 GA 3" – REMINGTON WINGMASTER HEAVY-DENSITY LOAD
1 1/8 oz #6 HD (212 pellets) @ 1,300 fps
40 YARDS – M / 164 (77%)

I must be doing something wrong, my Mod choke was throwing 85% patterns with that load. :shock: I believe I'll try the IC next time I go out!

RandyWakeman wrote:
Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/8 oz. # 5 1360 fps is generally one of the best.

For $5 less per box I can get the Winchester XE 1-1/8 oz #5 1225 fps load. These averaged around 80% patterns through my Mod choke this week, something I never could get the TMs to do in the 20 gauge (although 70% through Imp Mod is an excellent pattern, especially with the #6 "upland" load). I think I'll prefer the Winchester load for follow-up shots in spite of its slower velocity because the shot is denser, and patterns tighter. I read somewhere that you cut a pheasant in half with this load because you hadn't had time to pattern it and ran it through too much choke in the field! That article sorta sold me on picking up a couple boxes. :lol:



-Dave

The main thing to remember about choking a steel load, is that generally speaking, you have to open the choke up as opposed to tightening , to get a tighter pattern.
This is because steel does not compress or create more lubricity when like lead does when it is constricted.
what happens is the shot pellets bang off each other and bounce way from each other as they exit the barrel , so to speak.
This is the chaotic effect that is spoken of in several books - ballistic products discusses it in length in their manuals.
I generally shoot chokes as open as skt1 and 2, or impcyl for my duck and goose loads with tremendous success on
our big local Canadas and ducks that we hunt here.

I have used Winchester 3"-2's , Federal Premium 2 3/4"-4's, and Fasteel 3" 2's for factory ammo, and the Federals were a big surprise to me, as they were a lighter charge but killed almost as well as the Fasteel! :shock: .
I would not hesitate to use the Federals gain, however.
Last year was the first year I loaded nice Shot however, and although I used it only a little only in the 28 gauge, a long double on Buffleheads , a 30 pace crossing shot on a teal, and a big Canada at about 29 paces told me what my pattern board first revealed!
I was stunned , to say the least , with how the Nice shot patterned with the modified choke in my 28.

However, i still have a lot of factory Fasteel, and will also use that.
This pic was taken after a late morning's hunt a few years back.
I used Winchester and Federal on these birds
The gun is a FAIR 20 gauge Safari with IC/mod chokes and 27" barrels ( could not convince myself at the time to open them up more! :lol: ).
BTW, the 20 is all In ave used for waterfowl for more than a few years!
Image
Davide

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:13 pm 
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Davide,

What size Niceshot do you load in that 28? I went with a 20 mainly because of the availability of a huge variety of factory loaded ammo, particularly the Wingmaster HD. My brother is now looking at acquiring a 28, or a 20, and wants to reload light recoil loads for his 5' 2" wife to use, but not just for clays and birds, he's also interested in buckshot recipes. I've been advising him to go with the 20 gauge, even though I'd prefer 16 and 28 if lead were still legal in most of the areas we shoot...



-Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:53 pm 
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I used 4's , 2's, and 6's in Nice Shot, but prefer the 4's .
BPI Multi hull or Cheddite with 7/8oz of 4's, and 30 grains of H10 with a BI HV28 wad.
Pressure is under 10,000 and the advertized velocity is about 1,320FPS.
You can go straight across Nice shot for lead as long as you are not over 1,5000PSI for pressure.
if you check their website it states it there.

My Bobwhite has shorter barrels however, so that will not be what mine is clocking at.
Davide

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Researcher -- As you know, that's why we pattern. You don't know what they are doing until you put them on paper! 85% at 40 yards IS pretty snug with a Mod. Is it a factory flush choke and do you know its constriction?

David -- Nice photo.


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:47 pm 
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So overall, Davide, if you could only have one shell, what would it be?


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:05 pm 
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[quote="PGK"]So overall, Davide, if you could only have one shell, what would it be?[/quote]

Well, for factory ammo, I'd use the Kent Fasteel 2's.
Davide

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:39 pm 
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Thanks, I'm leaning that way just because I'm forced to go with factory. Getting components (especially shot) up here would be impossible, maybe down the road I will look at loading. I will hopefully be set up to load for my 410 inside six months, but even that seems unlikely, given the difficulty in getting components.


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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:03 pm 
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PGK wrote:
Thanks, I'm leaning that way just because I'm forced to go with factory. Getting components (especially shot) [b]up here[/b] would be impossible, maybe down the road I will look at loading. I will hopefully be set up to load for my 410 inside six months, but even that seems unlikely, given the difficulty in getting components.
Where are you located that getting components is so difficult?

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 Post subject: Re: Best 20ga waterfowl load
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:50 am 
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Researcher wrote:
I must be doing something wrong, my Mod choke was throwing 85% patterns with that load. :shock: I believe I'll try the IC next time I go out!

Nope, I have found that Hevi Shot patterns about as tight as steel, sometimes tighter. I got 83% out of my Modified choke and 92% with my IM using 1-1/2 oz Hevi Shot Goose #2. (disclaimer, only one shot each - they're a bit pricey!) Surprised the heck out of me.

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