Shotshell performance has been boosted so much in the past decade that the shot-gunner can hardly blame his ammunition if he shoots badly. In 1954 Winchester-Western brought out the short magnum, a standard-sized, 2¾-inch shell with considerably more power and pellets than ever before. And two years ago Remington Arms Co. developed the Premium Grade SP. This shell, which has a polyethylene body and a steel head, can be stored indefinitely and fired in any weather (it is impervious to water) without loss of efficiency or safety.
The latest development in shotshell performance is Winchester-Western's Mark 5, introduced two weeks ago. The Mark 5 has a unique polyethylene collar that gives regular and magnum shells a boost in performance nearly equal to an additional quarter ounce of shot without any increase in recoil.
The collar is simply an opaque strip of pliable plastic, about the size of a Band-Aid, that is wrapped around the pellets in the shell. It functions as a shield to protect or insulate the pellets against the initial force generated when the shell is fired. As the pellets (or shot column) proceed down the barrel, the collar also cuts down much of the flattening caused by the abrasive action of the barrel wall and it keeps the barrel cleaner by reducing leading. When the pellets leave the barrel, the collar keeps them together in a compact mass for an extra instant—just long enough to insure a straighter and truer pattern than ever before. The collar, which is slit down one side, then falls away.
Sportsmen who use a full-choke shotgun to shoot ducks, geese and trap will find that the collar increases the density of the shot pattern (measured by the number of pellets counted inside a 30-inch circle) up to 10% within the shell's range. It also increases the shell's effective, or killing, range by shortening the shot string (the length of the shot column, from first to last pellet, during flight), thus allowing more pellets to hit the target. The tighter patterns made possible by the collar will especially benefit trapshooters who fire at clay targets from handicap distances. Even upland shooters who generally prefer guns with less choke (they allow a more widely spread shot pattern) for grouse, quail and woodcock will find that the collar reduces irregularities in their patterns.
The Mark 5 shotshell is available in standard 12-gauge; 12-, 16-and 20-gauge magnums; and heavy 12 gauge trap loads, at no extra cost to the shooter.