I posted this over on ar15.com, but I figured you guys would appreciate it as well.
Since AR15fan's excellent post has been lost to the archives, I decided to post more information about the Winchester "Military" 00 Buckshot that is on the market.
Many retailers talk about how great this buckshot is because "Its Mil-Spec so it has to be good". Since the proof is in the pudding.... lets find out.
The 2 loads I'm comparing this buckshot to is the cheap Winchester Super-X 00 buckshot that can be found virtually everywhere that sells shotgun shells, and the great Federal Vital-Shok. The Winchester Super-X is very cheap as you can usually find the 15 round Value-Packs at Wal-Mart for $10. The Federal Vital-Shok is Federal's top-of-the-line 00 buckshot, and it shows in quality & price. A box of Vital-Shok usually runs about $5.60-$7.00 a box locally.
As we see here, all the loads have the familiar star crimp. The Winchester shells look exactly the same except for coloration. You will also notice that the Vital-Shok shell has a dip in the crimp. This is because it was kept in a loaded 870 for about a year. Shells will deform in your magazine tube, so be sure to switch them out occasionally (I usually change out every year).
Now on the the main course:
We will start with the Federal Vital-Shok 00 Buckshot
The Vital-Shok is very well made. It has a plastic shot cup, plastic wad, sand-like buffering, and the pellets are copper plated. Before the Flite-Control wad came about, this has always been the best patterning 00 buckshot in every shotgun I've owned. This is a quality load because it has about everything you can do to get a tight pattern with buckshot.
I'm also using Bob Brister's method of using a pair of Channelocks to test how hard the lead really is. (More on this later in the thread).
Now lets see how the Winchester Military 00 Buckshot compares:
Not good at all. There is buffering (much larger than the Federal), but it has unplated shot & no shot cup. Just a couple of cardboard wads, and a plastic disk covering the powder. This will lead to horrible patterns compared to a premium load like the Vital-Shok. Very disappointing, and really not all that "High-Speed, Low-Drag". Its also made very cheaply, which means its not worth the premium some retailers are selling it at.
Now lets compare it (and the Vital-Shok) to the common Winchester Super-X 00 Buckshot:
Wow........ its made EXACTLY like the Military 00 buckshot except not in OD green. Literally, its exactly the same on the inside. The uber-cool Military 00 buckshot has the same internal components as the plain jane Super-X 00 buckshot which is dirt cheap and available all year around.
Well, lets check Brister's method of checking how hard the pellets really are:
The Super-X & Military Buckshot are pretty soft. The Federal is very hard, and patterns will be much smaller compared to unplated buckshot.
So surprisingly it appears that the Military buckshot is literally Super-X buckshot with a OD shell body, and blackened brass. I could have sworn that the Super-X line used to have a plastic shot cup a few years ago, but it appears Winchester has cheapened it even further. If you are wanting a cheap 00 buckshot load, I'd look at the Remington Express 00 buckshot since Remington still uses the Power-Plus Wad. I've usually had better patterns with it over the Super-X over the years.The Bottom Line
* The cool Military buckshot is literally Super-X that you can buy at your local sporting goods store throughout the year. Same components & same construction. If you are paying a penny more for the Military buckshot, you are being ripped off.