Just last week, this column covered the need for sights on a turkey hunting shotgun. The premise for that need is the fact that today’s chokes and loads deliver patterns so tight at close range (20 yards and in) that there is little to no margin for error. Inside 10 yards you’re working with a golf ball-sized pattern.
I’ve been pitching sights for a number of years, especially since a hunt in Kentucky during which the guys from Down ‘n Dirty Calls pulled a big tom within eight yards of where I was sitting. Shot with a three-inch 12 gauge Federal Mag-Shok Heavyweight turkey load, the bird was stoned and barely flopped. But under close examination, I found the shot removed a perfect crescent from the top third of the tom’s head. I very nearly missed!
Well, it turns out Federal as been listening to lots of us with similar experiences. Their response is the new 3rd Degree turkey load.
Taking a page from the playbook of Federal’s successful Black Cloud Close Range waterfowl load, part of 3rd Degree’s payload is designed to quickly open no matter how tight the choke. The load also uses a dose of copper-plated lead for 20- to 40-yard shots. For hung up birds, it contains ultra-dense Heavyweight Shot to deliver long-range punch. The carefully stacked payload is maximized by Federal’s Flitecontrol wad, which stays with the shot column longer for reliable patterns.
The leading section of the 3rd Degree’s payload—20 percent of the total pellet count—is made up of #6 nickel-plated Flitestopper lead pellets. These pellets have a Saturn-like ring around their middles increasing damage on target and dispersing them more quickly. The Flitestopper pellets are at the front of the payload so they leave the wad first to disperse quickly and create a larger effective pattern inside of 20 yards.
Loaded behind the Flitestopper pellets and comprising 40 percent of the 3rd Degree payload is a layer of Premium copper-plated #5 lead shot, which creates a dense, even pattern at moderate ranges. This is the same shot that powers the popular Federal Premium Mag-Shok turkey line.
The final 40 percent of 3rd Degree’s payload is #7 Heavyweight pellets. The tungsten-iron material’s density (35 percent denser than lead) gives the shot more retained energy than #5 lead at 40 yards and beyond.
3rd Degree is available in three-inch, 1-3/4-ounce and 3-1/2-inch, two-ounce loads that have MSRPs of $21.95 and $24.95 for a five-shell box.
I’ve not had the chance to get out to shoot my first box of 3rd Degree, but at SHOT Show I did see a preserved gelatin block into which the load was fired. It is an eye-catching demonstration of how the load works. The Flitestopper shot is there about six inches in with a bit more spread. Next at 10 inches or so in are the bulk of the #5 pellets, and finally a foot or more in are the Heavyweight #7s.
Will I be getting rid of the sighting system on my turkey gun? Absolutely not! But in combination with Federal’s 3rd Degree, I can hunt with even more confidence of not missing those exciting birds that crawl in my lap!
SHOT Show also revealed news from ThermaCELL. Coming up in the next couple of months you’ll see a brand new, honest-to-goodness camping lantern incorporating ThermaCELL technology. This one features adjustable LED lighting, with which you could even fillet fish in a dark camp! And a bit farther down the road, there will be more product additions hunters will find even more convenient!
These insights brought to you by Federal Premium Ammunition, ThermaCELL, Camp Chef, and the Quebec Outfitters Federation.