First Look: Winchester Rooster XR

by
posted on December 11, 2014

The pheasant ammunition market is currently dominated by high-velocity payloads. The faster, the deadlier, consumers seem convinced. And yet this philosophy ignores a certain truth: When lead pellets are accelerated to the extreme—1450 fps at the muzzle and beyond—at least a portion of the pellets at the base of the shot column are likely to be crushed, resulting in fliers and poor overall patterns.

However, Winchester's intriguing Rooster XR 12-gauge shotshell all but eliminates that tendency, thanks to arguably the most innovative shot-protecting invention since the cushioned wad. Here are five reasons it's a real breakthrough.

1. "Shot-Lok" Resin
If you cut open a Rooster XR shotshell, you'll find that the pellets appear to be suspended in a piece of hard candy. The "candy" is a proprietary resin, which eliminates air space between pellets. Thus the pellets do not smash into one another as the powder ignites, preserving pellet integrity and largely eliminating fliers.

2. Comfortable Recoil
Rooster XR's velocity of 1300 fps is a refreshing alternative to today's teeth-rattling, ultra-high-velocity pheasant loads. It's plenty fast to drop birds (more on that in item No. 3) and quite comfortable to shoot.

3. Phenomenal Long-Range Patterns
Given that Rooster XR payloads exit the barrel with nearly nonexistent pellet deformation, the pellets fly true and patterns remain tight and uniform well beyond 30 yards. Employing a modified choke, I tested several 2¾-inch, 1¼ ounces of No. 5 Rooster XR shotshells at distances ranging from 20-50 yards. In short, they resulted in likely the most evenly distributed, flier-free patterns I've ever seen.

Such pattern density promotes clean kills, and certainly I found this to be the case while shooting Rooster XR during a hunt with R&R Pheasant Hunting in Seneca, S.D. Many birds were dropped stone dead at the brink of my ethical distance line.

4. World-Record Performance
It's worth noting that the same resin technology is incorporated into Winchester's well-received Long Beard XR. In November, it set a NWTF Still Target Competition Record, placing 54 pellets in a 3-inch circle.

5. Responsive to Choke
That is not to suggest Rooster XR necessarily patterns tightly unless so choked. I speculated to the contrary, as I assumed the resin might perform like a slug—causing the pellets to exit the barrel as one whole, ultra-tight unit. However, the force of powder ignition fractures the resin, creating a rather traditional buffer substance. Thus the pellets are subject to conventional rules of choke constriction.

Shells are available in 3-inch, 1½ ounce or 2¾-inch, 1¼ ounce payloads of Nos. 4, 5 or 6 shot. Suggested retail price is $20-$25 per 15-round box.

Latest

Review Ruger Super Wrangler Lead
Review Ruger Super Wrangler Lead

Review: Ruger Super Wrangler

The Super Wrangler is reliable, accurate and affordable. It may well be this generation’s best of the best for a “woods” gun and is an excellent rimfire handgun choice for any hunter.

Traditions Launches Outfitter G3 in 360 Buckhammer

Traditions Firearms has announced the release of its Outfitter G3 single-shot rifle line in 360 Buckhammer. This caliber will be available in both the standard and all new Pro Series models.

Head to Head: .375 H&H Magnum vs. .416 Rigby

The .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Rigby are both capable of taking the entire spectrum of game animals, in any climate, on any continent. But which is the better choice for the hunter? We investigate.

New for 2024: Heritage Manufacturing Heritage 92 Line

Heritage Manufacturing has launched its line of Heritage 92 lever-action rifles. Rooted in tradition, the Heritage 92 series is designed to pay homage to the iconic firearms of yesteryear while delivering the precision and performance demanded by today's enthusiasts.

Accessing Peak Performance

On a West Texas hunt, where shots can go long, a capable rifle is only part of the equation. Success requires peak performance from the shooter, too.

Factory Test: QuietKat Debuts Apex HD and XD Model E-Bikes

Associate Editor David Herman got an exclusive preview of the new generation of Apex e-bikes from QuietKat, during a tour of the company's Eagle, Colorado headquarters. Read on for exactly what makes these new models tick.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.