Kent Impact Tungsten Matrix
by: Tom Armbrust
What would wildfowl and upland hunters think of an exciting new non-toxic shotshell called Tungsten Matrix, that hosts up to 1-3/8 oz of shot in a 12 GA 2-3/4" shell, and 1-5/8 oz in a 3 inch case. Velocity levels are faster than traditional lead shot wildfowl loads, running up to 1400 FPS. Tungsten matrix pellets have a density of 10.8 grams/cubic centimeter, being greater than either Bismuth at 9.7 or Tungsten-Iron at 9.99 and only slightly less dense versus three percent Premium Antimony lead shot at 11.0. Steel shot is not even in the ballpark. Another big plus is excellent pattern density in the 30 inch circle at 40 yards and beyond. Ken Elliott, founding president of Kent Cartridge, had a magnificent Holland and Holland 0/U 12 GA magnum made to his specifications fitted with Briley extra full choke tubes. This shotgun registered numerous 90 percent plus shot pattern averages at 40 yards, with a number of different Kent Tungsten Matrix shot sizes. Let me tell you this is truly amazing shotshell pattern performance!
For more information on Briley tubes contact: Briley MFC Inc., 1230 Lumpkin, Houston, TX 77043, phone 800-331-5718.
Ken Elliott said, "I have been a fowler for more than 35 years. Many things have changed in that time. One thing remains as true today as did when I began, hunting, big shot, high velocity, tight patterns, and most important down range lethality were, and always will be the formula for success." These new Kent Tungsten Matrix loads exhibit all of the above mentioned virtues and are a real wildfowlers dream come true. These Kent Impact Tungsten Matrix loads were put to the acid-test by a large group of outdoor writers from around the US, Canada, and the UK on a duck hunting trip to Uruguay, South America in the region of Treinta Y Tres. This area is a huge expanse of agricultural land consisting of lakes, marshes, rice fields, and ducks, millions of ducks. L.P. Brezny, an outdoor writer and good friend from the Minneapolis area said, "Their group of hunters downed 178 ducks two hours into the first morning with darn near no lost crippled birds." Brez using a Bushnell Yardage Pro laser range finder documented long range stone dead kills out to 65 yards, using 2-3/4", 1-1/4 oz Size 5 Tungsten Matrix loads at 1400 FPS. Brez was very impressed with the most excellent wildfowl harvesting ability of these Tungsten Matrix shotshells on their trip, as many more ducks were brought to the bag in their next four days of shooting.
Prototype 10 GA and 12 GA 3-1/2 Tungsten Matrix loads pushing 1-7/8 - 2 oz of Size 1 shot at a velocity level rubbing 1300 FPS were put together for testing by my outfit "Ballistic Research". First these prototype loads were tested for velocity and pressure, then pattern tested at 40 and 60 yards before being taken afield. Timing of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Legalization of Kent's Tungsten Matrix shotshells on December 8, 1998 was quite good. This left a little time for the harvesting of six large race Canada geese in Illinois, and a number of big greenhead mallards in Arkansas. Again kills were crisp and clean right out to 60 yards. This big Size 1 pellet will be just the ticket for large Canada geese at long range. High pellet velocity and energy with these large pellets are the key to clean kills with excellent penetration on these big boys under adverse wildfowl conditions, such as high winds and very cold weather. This new pellet size should be a welcomed addition to Kent's lineup by the serious goose hunter in the future.
Another great feature of Tungsten Matrix shot is its complete safe usage in fine old double barreled shotguns, such as Parkers, Fox, L.C. Smith, and Winchester 21's, plus Browning Auto-5's and Winchester M-12 guns and also fine English double shotguns. Thin barrel walls and tight chokes pose no problems with this new shot as it is malleable like lead. If you take one of the pellets and squeeze it with pliers or hit it with a hammer, it flattens without fragmenting. It can also be cut with a knife blade making it entirely safe in any shotgun type or model. That can be used with lead shot. In fact, I was shooting this Tungsten Matrix shot in my W & C Scott 10 bore double, a vintage wildfowl gun over 100 years old, that has been nitro proofed at the London Proof House. A great feeling to be able to once again hunt with this fine old gun without fear of barrel damage or choke expansion. A fine and unique 8 bore Greener double has also been put through the paces at the pattern board with a heavy wildfowl Tungsten Matrix loading as follows:
Shell: 8 GA 3 1/4" Remington Plastic Industrial Unibody Primer: CCI-209 M Lot - D03C Powder: 46 OR Blue Dot Lot - 207 Wad: Gualandi plastic + .135 NC + 1.50" X 2.50" X .010 Plastic shot collar Shot: 2-1/4 oz 1 Tungsten Matrix 174 pellets Buffer: 30 GR fine high density plastic Velocity: 1216 FPS Pressure: 10760 PSI (742) bars 10080 LUP (3.6 tons per square inch) Roll Crimp: OL 3.070
Patterns at 40 yards through the big Greener averaged 80 percent or 138.2 hits in the 30 inch circle. Pellet hits in the 20 inch core ran 94 for 54.3 percent. At 60 yards 93 hits still stayed in the 30 inch circle, all but one of the pellets contained in the 20 inch core at 40 yards. Pattern test results would rival three percent Antimony lead shot pellets in this shotgun.
After a very satisfying day afield or a memorable time wildfowling, my mind wonders where these fine old double guns have hunted and who the owners before us were. As I clean and oil the bores with tender loving care admiring the beautiful contrast of the iron and steel bands of fine Damascus, and the great feel and fit of the oil finished and darkened walnut stock to my cheek. If only these grand old shotguns could talk to us divulging their interesting stories of long past hunts and grand bags.
I read with great interest, "The G-Gun, W.W. Greener's Greatest Shotgun", by Vic Venters in the May June 1999 issue of Shooting Sportsman. Pictures of these truly fine shotguns were something to behold. A pictured presentation 8 bore Greener really caught my eye. Plus Greener's address in England was listed in the article with a mention of Mr. Graham Greener. A fifth Generation Greener was now again turning out high quality shotguns in his home country, England. This prompted me to write a letter to Mr. Graham Greener on the details of my 8 bore shotgun, hoping that factory records would still exist on my gun. Keeping my fingers crossed I waited for a reply. I shall try now to give a brief description of my Greener double Serial Number 34750. A no frills box lock with treble wedge-fast cross bolt, hammerless non ejector gun. It has 36" best English Damascus barrels nitro proofed at 3.5 tons per square inch with 2-3/8 oz of shot as a maximum service charge. Chambers are 3.25 in length and bored for brass "Perfect" cases, as proof marks designate a .873 bore. Chokes are very tight measuring .799 with a parallel section length of .750. The rib is a full length concave engine turned design. The left barrel reads W.W. Greener Hay Market London, right barrel St. Mary's Square Birmingham England. Gun weight runs 14 pounds 5 ounces. The half pistol grip stock measures 2-3/4" x 1-5/8" x 14-1/2". In my letter to Greener my curiosity asks about the Chicago Exhibit 1893 stamping on the flats under the Birmingham proof mark. In short order a letter arrives from Graham Greener in England stating the above gun building was started on November 5, 1892 and finished on February 24, 1893. My hunch was correct. It was shown at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893. A plain gun cost 30 guineas. How elated I was to find out this fine old big bore shotgun was one of only two 8 bore shotguns displayed at the 1893 Chicago Exhibition. Along with 112 other Greener guns this information was sent to me by Douglas Tate of British Game Guns. Douglas was kind enough to send along a reprinted catalog of W. W. Greener's Exhibit at the Chicago Exhibition 1893, reprinted in Canada for Info Arm Champlain, NY USA 12919. So after some effort on my part regarding letters to Graham Greener in England and Douglas Tate in the states my long search of the puzzling Chicago Exhibition 1893 stamping on the Greener have been answered to my great delight. I truly have a very well documented rare big bore shotgun that is now 107 years old or should I say young. Hopefully I will be able to take this grand old shotgun on a goose hunt on Solway Firth in Scotland. As Alan Myers, the big bore shotgun specialist and gunmaker of Garstang England, will be my wildfowl guide and hunting partner. A long awaited dream that may finally come true!
Just to show our readers the similarities between Kent's Tungsten Matrix shot pellets and lead shot, a ballistic experiment was conducted. First 10 rounds of 12 GA 2-3/4" shells were sent to Ron Reiber at Hodgdon Powder Company with the following results:
Shell: 12 GA 2-3/4" Winchester AA Primer: Win-209 Powder: 35.5 GR Hodgdon HS-7 Wad: Winchester WAA12R Shot: 1-3/8 oz #3 Lead Hornaday Magnum Velocity: 1249 FPS Pressure: 10700 PSI Shot: 1-3/8 oz Number 3 Kent Tungsten Matrix Velocity: 1261 FPS Pressure: 11800 PSI
Next my 10 GA test barrel at Ballistic Research came up with the following results with this Kent Tungsten Matrix prototype 10 GA loading.
Shell: 10 GA 3 1/2" Federal Plastic Paperbase Wad (New) Primer: Federal Factory 202 (209-A) Powder: 45 GR Alliant Steel Lot-2 Wad: Alcan PGS + Winchester 7/16"
+ 1/4" + .135 NC + KWIK SERT
Buffer: 27 GR fine ground high density plastic Shot: 2 oz Number 2 Lead Lawrence Magnum Velocity: 1269 FPS Pressure: 10640 PSI Shot: 2 oz Number 1 Kent Tungsten Matrix Velocity: 1275 FPS Pressure: 10760 PSI
Hodgdon was again kind enough to check the above 10 GA Kent Tungsten Matrix load through their barrel with these results:
Velocity: 1266 FPS Pressure: 10683 PSI
Showing our two 10 GA test barrels were in very close agreement. It can also be noticed that the pressure differential between Kent Tungsten shot and lead pellets are not very far apart. In another 10 GA test developing Tungsten Matrix loads for my beautiful E. Lewis 10 bore with 34" steel full choked barrels, and 3-1/4" chambers. I found the 10 GA Winchester plastic No-Tox hulls ran 3.335 in length requiring just a slight bit of trimming. Loaded as follows:
Shell: 10 GA 3 5/16" Winchester Plastic Base Primer: Factory Win-209 Powder: 37 GR Hodgdon Longshot Wads: Ballistic Products X10X gas seal
+ Winchester 7/16" + 1/4" Fiber + KWIK SERT
Buffer: 25 GR Ballistic Products Original Shot: 2 oz Number 2 lead Lawrence Magnum Velocity: 1210 FPS EV 15 Pressure: 10440 PSI EV 700 9620 LUP EV 700 Shot: 2 oz Number 1 Kent Tungsten Matrix Velocity: 1220 FPS EV 16 Pressure: 11000 PSI EV 600 10130 LUP EV 800
Again note the pressure difference between the Kent Tungsten Matrix shot and lead shot using Longshot powder was 560 PSI in favor of the Tungsten Matrix. In the previous 12 GA test series, Tungsten Matrix shot showed a 1100 PSI increase or 10.5 percent vs. lead. In the other 10 GA comparison test Tungsten Matrix shot showed a very slight 120 PSI increase. Densities of the two different pellet types are almost identical. So apparently pellet setback deformation due to powder ignition forces and load start acceleration act very much in the same manner. This was seen in reviewing their respective time pressure curves of the two different pellet types.
Yet at a recent meeting with Stephen Dales, director of Kent Gamebore in the UK, at the shotshow in Las Vegas he warned me of indiscriminately substituting Kent Impact Tungsten Matrix shot in place of lead pellets. As they have seen increased pressures in certain pressure tests. Ian Charlton of Clay & Game Reloaders in the UK says, "The problem is that the compressibility of Impact Tungsten Matrix shot is different to that of lead. Of the converted gas energy produced by the propellant it is calculated that around 29 percent is absorbed in arranging the fluidity of lead shot; thus reducing the axial pressure directed at the shot. With Impact Tungsten Matrix shot I have calculated that only about 11 percent is absorbed, this leaves 18 percent which is dissipated into breech pressure." I will have to carry out more pressure test comparisons between the lead pellets and of the Impact shot. Propellant speed, primer strength, and wad column height will all be contributing factors in the pressure differential between these pellets. A word of caution-Please have your Impact Tungsten Matrix handloads checked for velocity and pressure if they were derived from lead shot data.
Our British sportsman will also very much benefit from these Kent shotshells. A press release from Roger Mitchell at Holland & Holland announced the signing of an exclusive agreement between Kent Gamebore and H & H. It explained how Impact Tungsten Matrix was specifically engineered to outperform lead and spoke of "very strong evidence of superior performance." Both companies share a strong commitment to conservation and the preservation of field sports. They also share a common commitment to the pursuit of excellence.
Now let us breakdown a Kent Tungsten Matrix shotshell and see what is inside. The 12 GA 3" shell is dark blue in color with gold lettering with a shell head height of .965, truly a high brass load. The hull is of two piece design, with a plastic base wad, and straight walled, manufactured by Cheddite.
Through on going ballistic tests at Kent's ammunition plant in Kearneysville, WV, formerly the Activ shotshells manufacturing facility, that was bought out by Kent Cartridge of America. It was determined that Cheddite's CX 2000 primer was a very good ballistic choice. In regards to proper ignition forge, velocity, and time pressure curve, in conjunction with Alliant's 380 series powders. This heavier primer mix is required to properly ignite this slow burn rate Alliant powder, especially under very cold conditions experienced by wildfowl hunters at times. This slow burn rate Alliant powder is required for maximum shotcharge velocity while keeping pressures under 11500 PSI. Powder charges averaged 32.85 GR on a ten round sample, with an extreme variation of 1.2 GR. Considering the large flake design of the Alliant 380 series propellant, this powder variation was in line. My pressure barrel at Ballistic Research recorded at velocity of 1306 FPS with a variation on 10 rounds of 37 FPS. Pressure averaged 11650 PSI with a variation of 1650 PSI. Kent's Tungsten Matrix load that Ballistic Research put through the paces, was a 12 GA 3" 1-5/8 oz Size 1 shot, load code (K123NT48-1) (Lot-lA1025-02). Pressure was recorded using a Piezo electronic transducer by PCB. These velocity and pressure readings are quite minimal representing a watchful eye being kept on uniform powder and shot charge weights, from Kent's loading machines. Many thanks to John D. Williams Jr. at Kent Cartridge America, for making these Tungsten Matrix shotshells top notch in regards to ballistic uniformity. He is a very busy man at the Kearneysville plant, running velocity and pressure tests on their shotshells, pattern tests, plus keeping a watchful eye on the loading machines and making adjustments if needed.
Baschieri & Pellagri (B&P) manufacture the one piece plastic shotcup wad. This wad fully contains the 1-5/8 oz shotcharge of Tungsten Matrix Size 1 shot. Counting an average 128 pellets per shell, with a shotcharge weight of 709 GR. Pellet variation on a ten round sample was 4 pellets or 21.6 GR. All shot and powder charges were checked on my Denver Instruments Accurate Load II Electronic Scale. The shotcup wad's weight was 46.7 GR on average. Shotcup overall length runs 1.850, with an over powder cup diameter of .730. Four full length shotcup slits run down to the shotcup's base. Shotcup petals are somewhat thicker than target load type wads, running about .045 at the base of the shotcup tapering to .032 at the front. The cushion section in this wad is very minimal, only about .050 in height between the over powder gas seal and shotcup base, connected by one center post.
Just to give the wildfowl hunter an idea of what extreme cold temperatures do to exterior ballistics and downrange patterns, Jim Heggeness and I conducted a test series at 0 degrees to compare results from a previous pattern test shot at 61 degrees. Using the same 12 GA 3-1/2" Browning Gold shotgun and Clearview Terminator choke tube with .040 constriction, and a prototype 12 GA 3-1/2", 1-7/8 oz load of Kent Size 1 Tungsten Matrix pellets. These extreme cold weather conditions reduced patterns by 8.3 percent in the 30 inch circle, and the 20 inch core by 13.4 percent, a sizeable loss. Yet the Alliant 380 series powder, still showed a very positive burn with little unburnt residue left in the bore. Other non-toxic shotshells including the old lead shot wildfowl loads have suffered much higher velocity and pattern degradation under these severe cold test conditions. Due in part to the plastic gas seal over the powder wad becoming brittle due to the cold, then shattering on powder ignition. Not so with these Kent loads as their component system was run through very rigid ballistic tests at subzero temps. They passed with flying colors. Kent is now working on an all paper wad column that is completely biodegradable to reduce the problem of plastic wad litter. In this way we hunters show other non hunters we are environment friendly.
One comment on Kent's Tungsten Matrix shot quality is in order. Their shot making process is priority information, but it must be pushed together in a mold under tremendous heat and pressure as a tiny circumference belt is visible around the pellet. Taking a random sample of ten Size 1 Tungsten Matrix pellets I checked them for weight, averaging 5.45 grains each or 80 to the ounce. Extreme pellet variation was only 0.2 grain. This very minimal weight variation per pellet reflects the utmost care and precision that is put into the manufacturing process of these pellets. Lead pellets, Tungsten Iron, Tungsten Polymer, Bismuth, and steel, were all carefully weighed in the same way, individual pellet variation in some cases was excessive, up to 1.3 grains in BB size pellets.
These Kent Tungsten Matrix loads did employ 12.3 grains of a tiny round polybead type buffer. Since the tungsten pellets are only slightly harder than soft lead shot as was demonstrated in my crude squeeze test with needle nose pliers. Pellet deformation can be reduced by addition of a quality shot buffer. John Williams shot many patterns at Kent Cartridge finding out that too much polybead buffer was counter productive in producing the tightest possible patterns. Another plus for this tiny round polybead buffer was its ability to flow right down to the bottom of the shotcharge, even with the smaller pellet sizes. Fluff type fine ground plastic shot buffers also worked very well in creating long range dense center patterns at 40 yards and beyond, but this type of shot buffer creates a problem from a manufacturing standpoint. Kent's shotshell loading machines would need the addition of a vibration device to help settle this light fluff type buffer material all the way down between the shotcharge intersessities.
Jim Heggeness, my partner in "Ballistic Research" from Fargo, ND, developed this prototype 12 GA 3-1/2" long range wildfowl load. His pattern test series to date has recorded the highest pattern density at 40 and 60 yards. He was shooting a 12 GA 3-1/2" Browning Gold shotgun with 28 inch barrel, the gun's bore measures 0.744. His choke tube was a Clearview Labisky Terminator with .040 constriction and a parallel section length of .650.
This choke tube is available from Clearview Products Inc., 3021 N Portland, Oklahoma City, OK 73107, phone 405-943-5753. Ask for Larry Nailon. Wallace Labisky, 1323 4th Avenue SE, Aberdeen, SD 57401, phone 605-225-7906, designed and developed this choke tube. The load components of the above listed high pattern density shotshells are listed below:
Shell: 12 GA 3-1/2" Winchester plastic two piece straight walled (new) Primer: Factory primed Win- 209 Powder: 40 GR Alliant 380 Series Wads: Winchester paper umbrella cup over powder
+ (2) 3/8" + .135 NC + Teflon shot wrapper
Shot: 1-7/8 oz Kent Tungsten Matrix (148 pellets) Buffer: 27 GR high density fine ground plastic Velocity: 1275 FPS
This load averaged 138.8 pellet hits in the 30 inch circle at 40 yards for 93.8 percent. The 20 inch core caught 109.6 hits for 74.1 percent. Backing up to the 60 yard stake the 30 inch circle contained 95.4 hits for 64.5 percent. Pattern loss from 40 to 60 yards was 29.3 percent or a loss of 7.3 percent, for each additional 5 yards of range from 40 to 60 yards. For years the old full choke standard meant putting 70 percent or more of your shotcharge in a 30 inch circle at 40 yards. Well now Jim's gun, choke, load, combo, just missed this old 40 yard standard out to a full 60 yards. Truly most excellent pattern performance at this long range! Some may call 60 yard shooting sky busting, but this gun choke load combo has plenty of pattern density, pellet velocity, and energy to spare at 60 yards. Velocity at 60 yards would run 659 FPS and per pellet energy would run 5.6 ft Ibs. Total pellet energy contained in the 30 inch circle was still high at 534 ft Ibs. Long range mallards, large size Canada geese, blues, snows, and white fronts are no match for this Kent Tungsten Matrix Size I shot at long range. Size 3 Tungsten Matrix is still another long range pellet with velocity and energy to spare welcomed by the duck hunter. Late in the season big mallards have put on extra fat for the winter plus a heavy cold weather underwear of down." Downrange velocity, penetration, and energy become a concern at longer ranges. This is where the Size 3 pellet really shines. My old Parker 12 GA VHE with 32" full choke barrels really did a number on tall mallards in Arkansas. At distances of 60 to 65 yards five big green heads were dumped stone dead with just seven rounds, now that's performance. My load was the Kent Impact 12 GA 2-3/4 load, pushing 1-3/8 oz of 3 shot to 1375 FPS. All birds had three to five pellet hits in the body. Here are some down range numbers at 60 yards for size 3 Tungsten Matrix shot: velocity 610 FPS Energy 3.2 ft Ibs. Readers, downrange velocity and energy data is included for the various non-toxic shot pellets and lead shot so you can compare the effectiveness of different pellets out to maximum range. Determined by the hunters own ability and his or her gun, choke, load combo's efficiency. My many thanks to Jim Heggeness for preparing these downrange velocity and energy tables. Fellows please take the time to pattern test your shotgun, choke, and load combination at 60 yards before you attempt to take wildfowl at this long range. An hour spent at the pattern board, will be worth many hours spent in the hunting field to find out what really works best in your scatter gun.
My wildfowling adventures have covered a span of 32 years and my mind goes back in time to many fond memories. The pursuit of ducks and geese in my family covers four generations. The future looks very bright in terms of conservation success stories; plus the on going research and development of new non-toxic shotshell ammunition and shotguns. They will help us harvest our precious God given wildfowl resources, in the most humane possible way without fear of crippling or lost game birds due to inferior shotshells. Remember as hunters and true sportsmen, it is our duty to go afield putting our best boot forward to help preserve our wildfowl resources to the best of our ability for the next generation. I would like to thank Ken Elliott, founding president of Kent Cartridge, for his determination as a true wildfowl hunter in every sense of the word, for these new most excellent and exciting wildfowling non-toxic shotshells. The reason Ken was such an asset to this outfit was that he thought and breathed nothing but the pursuit of game birds in the field and on the marsh. He just wouldn't consider anything less than the best! I for one, am very glad for that as a hunter.
For further information regarding Kent Cartridge Canada shotshells, contact: Dan Banting, 50 Bullock Drive, Unit 5, Markham, Ontario Canada L3P 3P2, phone 800-844-1880. In the US your contact at the Kent Ammunition plant is Kent Cartridge America, Linda Barnhart, PO Box 849, Kearneysville, WV 25430, phone 1-888-311-KENT or www.kentgamebore.com.
I am darn sure that if you take these new Kent Impact Tungsten Matrix loads afield you will not be disappointed.