Hardware: HEVI-Shot Non-Toxic Shotshells

posted on November 7, 2022
Hardware HEVI Shot Non Toxic Shotshells Lead

Oregon-based HEVI-Shot has been producing top-of-the-line non-toxic shotshell hunting loads for the past 22 years. It doesn’t make centerfire or rimfire ammo (yet…) and it doesn’t load anything with lead. So, for shotgunners looking for options for hunts in lead-restricted areas: HEVI-Shot is it.

In 2000, HEVI-Shot started up with the goal of making waterfowl ammo that outperformed steel. To do this, engineers spent more than a year developing their very own alloy mixture using tungsten and other metals. The result was a very heavy pellet far superior to steel, but also outperforming lead due to its amazing density. And the rest, as they say, is history. Yet along the way, HEVI-Shot also started crafting its own bismuth pellets for which the company might be best known.

In 2022, the company reevaluated its catalog of offerings, discontinuing many of its convoluted product names and condensing its list of products to be simple and streamlined. But that doesn’t mean HEVI-Shot’s current product list is small. It’s still huge—about 110 different offerings—and can be confusing to comprehend. So we broke it down for you.

Pellets And Stacks
The first key to understanding HEVI-Shot’s overall product line is grasping its overall strategy of pellet materials and stacked payloads.

HEVI-Shot only loads non-toxic pellet materials: steel, bismuth or tungsten. Of these three shot materials, steel has the lightest density of 7.8 g/cc. Bismuth is next at 9.6 g/cc, and HEVI-Shot tungsten is the heaviest at 12 g/cc. HEVI-Shot also loads a full line of turkey-hunting ammo using Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) pellets which have a density of 18 g/cc.

Regarding lethality, it’s considered to be the same order: steel, bismuth then tungsten and TSS. Again, HEVI-Shot does not load any product containing lead pellets. But for comparison’s sake, the density of lead is 11.2 g/cc, which falls between bismuth and tungsten.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Hammer shot shell cutaway illustration.

A denser (heavier) material will carry its velocity and penetration energy longer. This means it will hit harder (faster) plus carry its lethality (in foot-pounds) out to greater distances.

Think about it, if you had a whiffle ball, a tennis ball and a baseball thrown at you at the same speed, which one would hurt the most?

Density also relates to shot size. A 1-centimeter cube of steel weighs a lot less than a 1-centimeter cube of bismuth or tungsten. Because bismuth is 22 percent denser than steel, hunters can choose a shot size one size smaller than steel yet still have the same or better lethality. Using tungsten, hunters can choose go three sizes smaller with the same results.

The size of the projectile effects penetration. If weight and velocity are equal, a smaller projectile will penetrate deeper. It is the same when shooting large No. 2 shot compared to the tiny size of No. 9 shot.

The size of shot also affects pellet count. In a 3-inch shotshell hull, you can fit a lot more pellets of tiny No. 9’s than you can larger No. 2’s.

So, if you choose a shotshell that features a material that is denser than another material, you will benefit by having more downrange energy, deeper penetration and/or higher pellet counts, which leads to fuller patterns with more hits on target at longer distances.

Beyond that, HEVI-Shot shells are loaded with either straight, 100 percent single-material payloads or improved performance stacked payloads with multiple shot types, like a layer of steel pellets and a layer of bismuth pellets, loaded in the same shell.

HEVI-Shot’s three shot materials and two payload types all have a specific purpose in HEVI-Shot’s product line: Steel satisfies customers looking for a good option that is less expensive yet is effective at close and medium distances. A load that has both steel and bismuth is a better solution because stacked loads increase the shell’s overall lethal effectiveness while adding only a modest price increase. Bismuth is slightly more expensive than steel, but its performance is closer to that of lead loads, so a load with 100 percent bismuth is an even better solution. And finally, tungsten comes with a larger price tag yet is the most effective at long distances compared to anything else, so tungsten loads are HEVI-Shot’s best solution.

Selected For The Game
HEVI-Shot organizes its offerings via four hunting activities; waterfowl, upland, turkey and predator. Within each of those, HEVI-Shot offers its customers good-better-best solutions to choose from based on their need, preference or budget. HEVI-Shot offers only the most popular loadings with specific attributes for each type of wild game, making it easier for customers to know what to select.

HEVI-Bismuth Waterfowl 12-gauge ammunition.

HEVI-Steel is offered in 23 popular loads for waterfowl in a long list of sizes and speeds. HEVI-Teal is offered in just three options—all in shot size No. 6. Both are good, all-steel solutions.

HEVI-Metal Longer Range and HEVI-Hammer feature stacked bismuth/steel payloads. HEVI-Metal is the more robust of the two, and is available in 20 different loads all stacked with a 30 percent bismuth payload atop 70 percent steel. It also features two shot sizes, its bismuth pellets are one size smaller than its steel pellets, so there are more pellets in its payload. HEVI-Hammer is available in five popular loads, and it’s stacked with just 15 percent bismuth over 85 percent steel.

HEVI-Shot XII 20-gauge waterfowl ammunition.

HEVI-Bismuth Waterfowl is an even better choice because it’s loaded with all bismuth, and it’s offered in 23 different loadings. It’s also softer than steel and tungsten, meaning it can safely be used in classic or older, fixed-choke shotguns.

HEVI-XII is the company’s best solution for waterfowl. Its dense tungsten alloy weighs 12 g/cc, hence the name XII.

HEVI-Shot HEVI-Hammer Upland 12-gauge shotshells.

HEVI-Hammer Upland is offered in shot size No. 3 or 5. HEVI-Hammer Dove is offered only in shot size No. 7. Both products have stacked payloads, 15 percent bismuth over 85 percent steel.

HEVI-Bismuth Upland is offered in only the two loads that pheasant hunters choose the most: 2¾-inch, No. 5 in 12- or 20-gauge.

HEVI-18 Turkey Tungsten Super Shot shot shells.

HEVI-Metal Turkey is offered in shot size No. 4 or 5. These loads feature stacked payloads with bismuth on top of steel (30 percent over 70 percent). Turkeys are large birds, so payloads are heavier in ounces than HEVI-Metal for waterfowl.

Magnum Blend is a 12 g/cc tungsten load that features a mix of three different shot sizes—No. 5, 6 and 7—all in one load, making it HEVI-Shot’s best solution. This blend offers a more powerful, versatile payload with a higher pellet count compared to a traditional No. 5 or No. 6 copper-plated lead turkey load.

HEVI-18 Turkey is the company’s new best-of-the best option. It features Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) pellets that deliver the ultimate in density (18 g/cc) in shot size 7 or 9. TSS is now widely known as being the most lethal pellet material on the planet, so it’s no surprise that HEVI-Shot loads it.

HEVI-Shot Dead Coyote predator buck shot shot shells.

HEVI-Shot only offers its aptly named Dead Coyote predator loads, featuring 12 g/cc tungsten pellets, in 12-gauge shot sizes of 00 Buck or T. Both are certainly deadly out to 70 yards.

Whichever non-toxic HEVI-Shot shell is loaded in a shotgun’s chamber, it surely won’t disappoint. 


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