New Winchester Long Beard XR™ Turkey Hunting Shotgun Shell

By Steve Hickoff writes Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Winchester introduced the new Long Beard XR™ turkey hunting shotgun shell today.

Long Beard XR includes Shot-Lok Technology — a hardened resin that completely encapsulates the lead pellets. Shot-Lok actually eliminates air space around the pellets, preventing movement, which ultimately leads to virtually no pellet deformation.

Back in May, during the final days of Wyoming's spring turkey season, I shot the prototype Long Beard XR™ load. Let's just say I was impressed. Here's why.

I'm an old-school turkey hunter. Once a spring gobbler or fall turkey steps inside 40 yards, it's boom-down time. My range preference? 25-35 yards. The iffy part, as all turkey hunters know, is judging distance, especially with quick setups.

Our Wyoming patterning session included shooting targets at the 40-yard mark. All of the writers and editors on hand were using loaner shotguns, equipped with various sighting systems, for the first time. Some guns were on; some weren't. By the end of it all of us were putting gobbler-killing charges down range. This consistency said one thing: if the 40-yard distance is misjudged in the moment of truth, and maybe a bird stands at several yards more, the load should do the job (remember, this is still a scattergun deal). The evidence:

Here's what one of my 40-yard patterning targets looked like while shooting the prototype Winchester Long Beard XR load this past spring. (Steve Hickoff photo)

Want a dose of insider load technology? As the shot is charged, the resin fractures, forming a micro-buffer as the shot pattern leaves the gun barrel — the pellets remain round and fly straighter and tighter resulting in highly consistent payloads and devastating knockdown at longer ranges.

According to Winchester, advantages of Shot-Lok Technology include —
·      Protects shot during in-bore acceleration
·      Shot launches from barrel near perfectly round for extremely tight long-range patterns
·      Twice the number of pellets in a 10” circle out to 60 yards
·      10% greater penetration over standard lead loads beyond 50 yards
·      Devastating terminal on-target performances

Winchester Long Beard XR™ will be offered in the following specifications . . .

  • Gauge: 12
  • Shell Length: 3 1/2"
  • Oz. Shot: 2
  • Velocity: 1200
  • Shot Sizes: 4,5,6
  • Rds./Box: 10

All hunters would likely agree inside 40 yards numerous turkey loads on the market do the job.

While I personally have never shot a turkey over 47 yards (after missing at five steps), company assertions of "10% greater penetration over standard lead loads beyond 50 yards" and "twice the number of pellets in a 10” circle out to 60 yards" have, I'm told, been justified by more testing than Winchester has ever done with a new product. I'm cool with that.

My advice to all turkey hunters, especially those just getting into our great tradition? Shoot this and other turkey loads with your shotgun of choice. Know how your firearm will perform with your shell selection.

And you're probably wondering what the new load will cost. Prior to today's official announcement, Winchester representatives told me this week the projected price point for Long Beard XR™ should be around $19.95 per box, or in the low $20 range (roughly $2 per shell). As a result it'll prove cheaper than some of the other more expensive turkey loads out there right now. The marketing idea? The Long Beard XR™ should outperform or equal what the other turkey shells can do.

Will they offer a 2 3/4-inch Long Beard XR™ load? Maybe 20-gauge shells? Not yet, I was told. For us 12-gauge gunners though, needs have been clearly met. Go here for more information about Winchester Ammunition and all Winchester products.  

Questions: Will you try the new Winchester Long Beard XR™ or stick with your current turkey load? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on the best shotgun range for killing a wild turkey? Comment below.

Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.