I am a skeptic by nature. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. But when it comes to ammo, I admit I've gotten sucked in to the hype from time to time.
To finally clear the air, I decided to shoot ammo head to head — premium against standard, both rifle and shotgun ammunition. The results were eye opening, even to a cynic like me.
I am the luckiest guy in the world — I get to shoot guns and sometimes I get paid to do so. When I decided to shoot premium rifle ammo against standard ammo I was a bit jaded. I just knew the premium would be much more accurate.
The first three shots loaded with one of the premium ammo produced a tight cloverleaf. I loaded three more shells in the magazine and settled in behind the stock. The three shots produced nearly exact results.
I continued until all the boxes were empty. A hundred dollars or so later and I learned that the premium ammo didn't shoot any faster or more accurate than the standard ammo. Then what gives? What are we paying for?
Premium rifle ammunition delivers choices — choices that before now were only available to handloaders. Nosler Partition and Barnes TSX and host of others names synonymous with maximum controlled expansion are now available to all shooters, but these choices come at a price. Yes, a premium.
Are the high dollar bullets worth the price? That depends on each situation. Nearly any decent bullet will take down a whitetail, but how about a trophy bull elk? And, would you risk having it decided with the cheapest box of shells? Not for me, thanks!
For waterfowl ammo, there is so much to choose from: high density shot, diamond shaped wads, pellets with bands, hexagon-shaped pellets and Ultra Speed. Which one helps bring down more birds? After a grueling 500 round test of 2 3/4, 3 and 3 1/2 inch (Ouch!), I found some surprising results.
The inexpensive steel ammo performed as well as the hi-density ammo in standard off the shelf shotguns. But these results were a bit skewed.
I am a self-admitted gear guy. If I can get a custom choke tube I will shoot it over a stock choke tube. If I can get a back bored barrel I will choose it over a non-back bored barrel. I had one available, so I shot a tricked out Winchester Super X3 complete with a custom choke alongside the stock shotguns. The tricked out shotgun shot every load well, but the Winchester Blind Side complete with hexagon shaped pellets put more pellets on target than the others; sprinkling about five percent more pellets into a 30 inch circle than its closest competitor.
Based on my findings, I learned that using premium ammo alone may or may not lead to bagging more game; however, knowing that I am shooting with an accurate well-constructed bullet or a shot shell that patterns well will give me confidence to take and make the shot when it counts and that is enough — hype or otherwise.