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Turkey hunters can be picky about their gear. Picky about their camouflage. Picky about the choke in their shotgun they’ve probably used used for years. Definitely about their calls, because that striker on that slate doesn’t sound as good as the striker they’ve babied for years. Vests? Don’t even get started down that road.

Mention ammunition to 25 turkey hunters, too, and you’ll probably get 25 opinions. From which shot size is best — No. 5, or No. 6 — to brands, of course, and then factor in distance and choke. Not to mention the preference for shotgun brands and barrel length. It’s a lusty, long debate that will never end. Don’t forget price, either, since many hunters include their budget considerations.

Handloading has been instrumental in the evolution of hunting and shooting ammunition. From the earliest days of muskets and Kentucky longrifles, shooters have wondered whether they could get better accuracy, more distance or both by tinkering with powder, bullets or pellets, cases, barrel length and twist, or whatever else they could imagine. Some things worked, some didn’t.

Some turkey hunting handloaders have done the same with their shotgun shells. A little of this, a little of that and a trip to the range for testing. They repeated the process until, as is common with wildcatters and handloads, they achieved the distance, pattern spread and accuracy desired to put a longbeard on the ground. Some of these handloads grew in popularity among the turkey fraternity, eventually escaping from the secretive underground and into the mainstream.

What You Can Find Now

Ammunition companies jumped into the fray, of course, to produce their own souped-up turkey loads. Federal Premium did so with its HEAVYWEIGHT Tungsten Super Shot. Tungsten is more than 56 percent denser than lead and is harder than steel, so it retains more downrange velocity for lethal impact on turkeys.

Scroll over and click the image below to explore each unique component of Federal Premium’s new HEAVYWEIGHT Tungsten Super Shot.


  • Opens from the rear for controlled release of the payload.
  • Now shoots through ported or non-ported chokes.
  • The full-length wad also prevents direct contact of the extra-hard pellets and the bore, protecting the barrel.

HEAVYWEIGHT Tungsten Super Shot

  • As much as twice the pellet count of lead No. 5 loads of the same weight
  • 22% denser material than standard tungsten
  • 56% percent denser than lead

Rear-opening petals

Petals open in the rear to create an air brake. This separates the wad and shot at the perfect time and leads to consistent, dense patterns.


  • Opens from the rear for controlled release of the payload.
  • Now shoots through ported or non-ported chokes.
  • The full-length wad also prevents direct contact of the extra-hard pellets and the bore, protecting the barrel.

Imagine throwing a handful of sand and a handful of pebbles at a sheet of paper 10 feet away. The sand will splatter but the pebbles will penetrate. They’re both rocks, but the pebbles are bigger and denser. Tungsten works in the same manner at 40 or more yards with turkeys, with one notable difference: smaller sizes, such as No. 9 HEAVYWEIGHT TSS, has as much or more penetration as No. 5 lead at any distance.

And because Federal’s HEAVYWEIGHT TSS in these smaller sizes delivers lethal downrange power, you’ll get more pellets in a shell than with lead. The 13/16-ounce load of No. 9 TSS has about 295 pellets and the 1 1/8-ounce load has about 408 pellets. Compare those to a 2-ounce load of No. 4 lead, a longtime turkey hunter favorite, which has only about 270 pellets.

Want more comparison? The No. 7 TSS in the 2 1/4-ounce load has about 423 tungsten pellets. Jump to the No. 9 TSS and you’ll get a whopping 635 pellets in the 1 3/4-ounce load and a mind-boggling 814 pellets in the 2 1/4-ounce load. With all of these HEAVYWEIGHT TSS loads, those increased pellet amounts carry the velocity needed to put a turkey on the ground with impressive patterns in the vital head, neck and upper body areas.

Field Test: Big, Consistent Patterns

The new HEAVYWEIGHT TSS loads are available in 12- and 20-gauge and .410 bore in seven configurations of 3- and 3 1/2-inch shells. Although the 20-gauge has gained popularity in recent years with improved ammunition options and the .410 now offers another great option, the 12-gauge remains the most popular among turkey hunters throughout the United States.

The writer didn’t count all the pellet holes because that would’ve taken quite a bit of time. But it’s easy enough to see that hundreds of pellets slammed the target.

The 3-inch 12-gauge load in No. 7 shot is the one I tested to get a glimpse at the pattern. I used a Remington 1187 with a Trulock .660 turkey choke designed for tungsten ammunition. My personal range for turkeys is within 30 yards, although it’s true this stuff works great at 50.

With my target at 30 yards, the patterns thrown were incredibly impressive. I can’t say that I counted all the pellet holes in the target because that would’ve taken quite a bit of time. It was easy to see, however, that hundreds of pellets slammed the target. They covered the turkey diagram from the head to mid-body and outside of it. One of my shots was a flinch — no excuses, I just yanked it. Even so, with the center mass in front of the target bird’s body by a few inches, enough pellets still covered the head and neck for what I believe would’ve been a lethal shot.

The reason for these patterns is the TSS load’s improved FLITECONTROL FLEX wad. It now shoots through ported or non-ported chokes. That was an issue for turkey hunters in the past that Federal  fixed.These wads span the length of the shell and contain the tungsten pellets and buffer, preventing the pellets from scarring barrels before exiting the muzzle. Upon exit, the wads help maintain pellet flight until they escape it and open to create a swarming pattern.

Turkey hunters may be particular about their gear, shotguns and ammo. But Federal’s HEAVYWEIGHT TSS definitely should be a consideration for their target testing and field use when heading afield this season.

If you’d like more information on Federal Premium’s HEAVYWEIGHT Tungsten Super Shot, go here. 

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