My father used to tell me, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But that's not to say you can't make it a little better. That's exactly what the shooting industry continues to do.
With improved shot technology, good ol' lead hammers than harder than ever.
Some non-toxic loads closely mimic the performance of lead, which is becoming a necessity for hunters in some states (see California). Meanwhile, shooters are looking for chokes that maximize penetration at the target while minimizing recoil. Check out some of the newest items for both ends of the barrel.
Following are the best upland loads & chokes for 2016.
Federal Ammunition | Game-Shok
Designed for upland hunters who enjoy the light weight and easy-handling characteristics of a 28 but still want the knock-down power of larger gauges, Game-Shok loads push a 1-ounce payload of hard, uniform 5, 6 or 7.5 lead shot at 1,220 fps while also producing consistent, reliable patterns.
Winchester | Super X
Winchester has expanded its popular Super X with two new loadings for those who prefer the mild recoil and smaller size of the 28-gauge. Both are chambered in 2¾-inch rounds with ¾ ounces of 5 or 6 shot that will deliver speeds of 1,295 fps.
HEVI-Shot | Hevi-Steel
Hevi-Steel was expanded to 28-gauge last year, and is being loaded in 10-gauge this fall. The 3½", 1¾-ounce loads are available in BBB, BB, 2, 3, and 4, running 1,350 fps out the muzzle — ample knockdown power for the biggest birds.
Remington | American Clay & Field Reloadable Sport
The new American Clay & Field Reloadable Sport Loads are made with high antimony lead shot for hard-hitting, consistent, tight patterns at all ranges. STS primers make for consistent muzzle velocities, and Power Piston wads cushion the shot for less deformation.
Kent | Velocity
A combination of steel and photodegradable wads in Kent's Velocity Steel Game & Target provide an environmentally friendly and economical alternative for busting feathers or clays. Available in 20- or 12-gauge in No. 7 shot.
B&P | Magnum Steel
Baschieri & Pellagri has a 130-year legacy of producing premium ammunition and components. And their Magnum Steel shotshells are no exception. Engineered to deliver tight and effective patterns for quick and efficient kills, the line includes five different options in 12- and 20-gauge.
Browning | BXD Upland
You recognize the Browning name but might be a little surprised to learn they are making ammo again. BXD allows for maximum downrange energy and deeper penetration. Nickel-plated, this load maintains velocity at longer distances, delivering tighter patterns. Available in 12- and 20-gauge.
Rio | Bismuth
Softer than steel, Bismuth offers a safe, non-toxic option for shooters of classic guns that can't tolerate steel shot, but still want similar pattern density. Available in 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauges and .410 bore in both 2¾- and 3-inch versions.
Carlson's | Rooster XR
Manufactured from 17-4 stainless steel, Carlson's Rooster XR features Triple Shot Technology (TST), a series of three graduated rings in the parallel section that allow a more gradual transition from bore to final constriction.
This provides decreased pellet deformation, a shortened shot string and fewer flyers. They come in either Early Season (LM) or Late Season (IM) constrictions to accommodate a range of hunting situations.
Trulock | Precision Hunter
Precision Hunter chokes are custom-built extended tubes that produce tighter, more consistent patterns with fewer "holes" than flush-mounted tubes for more accurate, long-range shooting and increased muzzle velocity.
They're manufactured from 17-4 PH-grade stainless steel, CNC-machined from solid bar stock, heat-treated to resist wear, knurled for easy installation and removal and finished in black oxide.
Patternmaster | Anaconda SSS
PM engineered this Shooting Sport Series version of their Anaconda Gas-Over-Constriction line using left-twisting Coil Zone technology, which forces gasses into channels creating a counter-spin between the load and coils, applying resistance to the wad and forcing a tighter pattern when the load exits the barrel.
SSS tubes are made with aircraft-quality Carpenter Custom 630 stainless steel and are available in a full range of constrictions for a variety of gun models.
Briley | Dove Duster
The extended DD provides a gradual constriction for less pellet deformation and more uniform patterns. Made of 17-4 stainless with black oxide finish, it's available for many shotguns.
HEVI-Shot | HEVI-Choke
These chokes will kill any manner of fowl. The combo pack gives you more flexibility for alternating between waterfowl and upland loads, and includes one Mid-Range (out to 40 yards) and one Extended-Range (past 40 yards) tube. The knurled ends allow for easy, tool-less changes in the field.
Kick's | High Flyer
Extended and angle-ported, the High Flyer is designed for duck hunters but can kill a South Dakota rooster just the same. Their conical parallel design improves patterns and diagonal ports reduce felt recoil and muzzle jump for faster, more accurate follow-up shots.
They're manufactured from 17-4 stainless steel with a black finish, can be swapped out by hand and are offered in four sizes: IC, M, F and XF.
Mojo | Fatal Shot
The Fatal Shot line is the result of a partnership between MOJO and Rob Roberts Custom Gunworks. They were computer-designed and field-tested to achieve optimum performance, hold patterns longer and produce a more consistent point of impact. A convenient grip allows for tool-less interchanging between a complete set of short, midrange or longrange chokes.
MAG-NA-PORT | Pro-Port
You provide the barrel and Mag-Na-port uses their surgically-precise EDM process of removing metal to create eleven compound ellipsoidal ports into each side of the muzzle to vent gases up and out, resulting in a reduction in perceived recoil and muzzle lift.