Turkey Hunting: New Federal Premium Turkey Loads for 2018

By author of Turkey Blog with Steve Hickoff

Have You Seen These Turkey Hunting Shotshells?

Federal Premium has revamped its turkey hunting loads, offering three shotshell upgrades for the coming spring turkey season. Check out these ammo options in our photo turkey blog.

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Tungsten Super Shot (TSS)

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1 | Tungsten Super Shot (TSS)

First up, Federal Premium's Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) offering . . .

TSS is an incredibly dense shot that has taken the handloading world by storm in recent years, and it’s an integral part of Federal Premium’s HEAVYWEIGHT TSS and 3rd Degree loads. The material is more than 20 percent denser than Federal Premium’s previous HEAVYWEIGHT shot, which has a density of about 15 grams per cubic centimeter. Further, it’s 56 percent denser than lead.

“TSS is an alloy comprised primarily of tungsten,” Federal Premium's shotshell engineer Adam Moser said. “It has a density of 18 grams per cubic centimeter and is harder than steel. The increased density retains velocity, and the hardness prevents pellet deformation, which improves pattern efficiency and penetration.”

Dan Compton, Federal Premium's shotshell product line manager, explained the physics behind the material’s effectiveness.

“An object with higher density will maintain its energy longer in flight than a less-dense object,” he said. “In pellets, the increased density will extend the lethal range of the payload. Denser pellets fly farther and penetrate deeper.”

But the advantages don’t stop there. Because of its increased density, you can use a smaller TSS pellet to deliver the same amount of energy of much larger lead shot.

“A No. 9 HEAVYWEIGHT TSS pellet carries at least as much penetration energy as a No. 5 lead pellet at all ranges,” Compton said. “This means you can greatly increase the pellet count of a payload by using a smaller shot size, but penetrate as much or more because of the increased density. Overall pattern densities are increased, so there are more hits on the target.”

Moser said a 13/16-ounce load of No. 9 TSS has about 295 pellets, and a 1 1/8-ounce load carries about 408 pellets. For comparison, a 2-ounce load of No. 4 lead has only about 270 pellets.

Heavier TSS payloads carry more astonishing, approximate numbers. A 1 1/2-ounce load of No. 7 TSS has 282 pellets, and 1 3/4- and 2 1/4-ounce loads have 330 and 423 pellets, respectively. With No. 9 shot, a 1 3/4-ounce load has 635 pellets, and a 2 1/4-ounce load features a whopping 814 pellets.

Of course, such swarms of shot result in improved patterns. Testing conducted at Federal Premium’s factory proved a 3-inch 12-gauge load with 1 3/4 ounces of No. 5 lead shot will place about 100 to 130 pellets in a 10-inch circle at 40 yards. However, a 3-inch 12-gauge load with 1 3/4 ounces of No. 7 TSS shot will put about 200 hits in a 10-inch circle at 40 steps, and an equivalent load of No. 9 TSS shot will tally about 350 hits.

Plus, downrange penetration is far better with TSS compared to larger lead pellets.

“By comparison, No. 7 and No. 9 TSS pellets retain more downrange velocity than a No. 5 lead pellet with the same muzzle velocity,” Moser said. “Greater downrange velocity, increased density and the smaller surface area of TSS pellets lead to more penetration energy at all ranges.”

Important note, directly from the company: The Heavyweight TSS .410 load does not feature the full-length FLITECONTROL FLEX wad. Instead, it uses a specialized (also full-length) wad designed to prevent direct contact of TSS with the barrel.




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Grand Slam

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2 | Grand Slam

New Grand Slam shotshells extend the range and lethality of conventional turkey payloads, putting as many pellets as possible in a 10-inch circle without breaking the bank. Federal Premium engineers wanted a shell that performed comparably to other high-end lead offerings while maintaining the former Mag-Shok price point.

Grand Slam shells use high-quality copper-plated lead pellets that produce dense patterns and ample energy. The shot is delivered via the FLITECONTROL FLEX wad, which opens from the rear and allows a controlled release of the load, resulting in thick, even patterns through standard and ported chokes. Also, buffering prevents pellet deformation for more consistent patterns.

Grand Slam is available in 10-count packs. Offerings include a 3-inch 20-gauge load with 1 5/16 ounces of No. 5 shot; a 3 1/2-inch 10-gauge load with 2 ounces of No. 4 or 5 shot; a 2 3/4-inch 12-gauge load with 1 1/2 ounces of No. 5 shot; a 3-inch 12-gauge load with 1 3/4 ounces of 4, 5 or 6 shot; and a 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge load with 2 ounces of 4, 5 or 6 shot.

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Spur Tape

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3 | Spur Tape

Other components include . . .

Grand Slam and HEAVYWEIGHT TSS loads also use buffered shot and a roll crimp to further boost effectiveness.

“Buffer evenly distributes the ignition force throughout the payload, allowing for uniform separation of the shot at muzzle exit,” said Federal Premium Shotshell Engineer Adam Moser. “Buffering lead shot also helps reduce pellet deformation caused by ignition forces.”

Prototype Rendering of Federal Premium New Grand Slam 12-gauge, showing new buffer, over-shot disc and roll crimp.

The roll crimp, meanwhile, provides uniform compression of the buffered payload, which generates consistent ballistics and better pattern efficiency, Moser added. Combined with a clear plastic card wad, it also ensures that the entire buffer remains sealed inside the cartridge.

All of the new 12- and 20-gauge loads also feature improved hull printing with a special touch any turkey hunter will appreciate when admiring a gobbler they’ve just shot.

“There is a small tape measure graphic, in 1/8-inch increments, printed on the hull,” he said. “Hunters can measure their spurs in the field with the hull to photograph and show their friends and share on social media.”

Moser added that Federal Premium has also invested in improved shell-printing technology that offers much cleaner, crisper and longer-lasting printing, so it’s easier to identify your shotshells. 


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3rd Degree with TSS

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4 | 3rd Degree with TSS

3rd Degree with HEAVYWEIGHT TSS is yet another offering for this coming season . . .

Turkey hunters are already familiar with the proven concept and performance of 3rd Degree, which uses a three-stage payload that makes you far less likely to miss close turkeys but can still kill birds at 40 to 50 yards with appropriate chokes. Now this revolutionary shell is even better.

New 3rd Degree payloads are comprised of 40 percent No. 7 HEAVYWEIGHT TSS shot, 20 percent No. 6 FLITESTOPPER lead and 40 percent No. 5 Premium lead. The No. 6 lead pellets form a forgiving close-range pattern, the copper-plated No. 5 lead delivers lethal performance at mid-ranges, and the No. 7 TSS pellets allow dense, lethal patterns at 40-plus yards. And the new FLITECONTROL FLEX wad works with ported and non-ported chokes to maximize the characteristics of each shot type, opening from the rear and staying with the shot column longer than conventional wads to deliver full, consistent patterns.

3rd Degree HEAVYWEIGHT TSS shells are available in five-count packs, with a portion of sales going to the NWTF. Loads include a 1 7/16-ounce, 3-inch 20-gauge; a 1 ¾-ounce, 3-inch 12-gauge; and a 2-ounce, 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge — all with 5, 6 and 7 shot.

The company also recently told us the payload for the 20-gauge 3rd Degree increased from 1 7/16-ounce to 1 ½-ounce. 

Editor's note: Shotshell text specifics are from Federal Premium news release materials. As always, pattern your turkey hunting shotgun with a variety of shotgun loads to find the best fit for you. And of course check turkey hunting regulations in your state for legal shot sizes.

All images are courtesy of Federal Premium.

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