Winchester LongBeard XR 12-gauge turkey shotshells

Winchester LongBeard XR
Winchester's LongBeard XR 12-gauge shotshell has been specifically conceived for turkey hunting

The world famous, U.S.-based Winchester Ammunition firm − an Olin Corporation brand − conceived these shotshells chiefly for the U.S. market, or for the north American market at large to say the most, and even more specifically for wild turkey hunting.

There's no such prey in Europe, but on "this side" of the Atlantic, these shotshells may find a niche between pheasant hunters.

We are of course talking about the Winchester LongBeard XR 12-gauge shotshells; first announced late in 2013 and subsequently showcased at the 2014 SHOT Show, they only started to be available in significant quantities only much more recently, chiefly due to the well-known ammo shortage that hit American gun stores in the past twelve to eighteen months.

Winchester LongBeard XR
Winchester's LongBeard XR shotshell features the new-to-the-world Shot-Lok™ technology, designed to launch nearly perfect rounds from the barrel, for extremely tight long-range patterns

The Winchester Ammunition company developed the LongBeard XR turkey loads following a careful evaluation of the demands and preferences of turkey hunters, and their most commonly used guns and ammunition types.

What first caught the eye was that forty yards (about 36,5 metres) was the standard by which all turkey loads were measured for decades now: achieving a good pellet concentration on target and a clean kill at longer ranges was deemed extremely difficult, if not outright impossible in many circumstances.

Winchester Ammunition decided thus to "raise the stakes", offering a brand new turkey load that would provide a tighter pattern, higher penetration and superior stopping power at longer ranges than any other turkey shotshell on the market.

The Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells reached the intended performance achievement goal through the implementation of the patented Shot-Lok™ technology: the no.4, no.5 or no.6 pellets are lodged in a hardened resin capsule within the wad. The Shot-Lok™ capsule eliminates air space around the pellets preventing movement, which ultimately leads to virtually no pellet deformation. 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. As a result, the Winchester LongBeard XR turkey load will provide double the concentration of pellets in a 10" (25,4 centimetres) out to 60 years (over 64 metres) if compared to its most direct competitors.

Winchester LongBeard XR
Compared to its most direct competitors, thanks to the Shot-Lok™ technology, the Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells deliver double the amount of undeformed pellets on target at 70yds/64mt max.

Even more: at a range exceeding 50 yards (45,72 metres), the combination of a higher concentration of pellets and a lower level of deformation thereof will provide 10% more penetration over traditional lead turkey loads.

Simply put, the Winchester  LongBeard XR shotshells offer the knockdown power of popular heavier-than-lead loads at a fraction of the cost: a turkey-slamming game changer for hunters looking to push the limits.

As of today, the Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells are available only in 12-gauge, in 76mm/3" (a.k.a. "Magnum") and 89mm/3.5" chamberings (known in Europe as the "Supermagnum"); the difference between the two variants are all in the overall lenght and shot weight.

The 76mm/3" version comes with a 1.¾ ounces (49.61 grams) loads, while the 89mm/3.5" version comes with a 2 ounces (56,70 grams approx.) loads, in all the three available sizes.

In both cases, the Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells reach a 1200 feet-per-second (365,76 metres-per-second) muzzle velocity: a higher shot weight doesn't implies a decrease in performance.

Winchester LongBeard XR
The Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells are sold in 10-pieces boxes, and are available in 3" or 3,5" versions

The Winchester LongBeard XR shotshells are currently on sale in the United States at a street price ranging between $18.99 and $22.99 per ten-shells boxes; there is no word about distribution outside of the United States so far.

In most Countries, though, the market potential of the Winchester LongBeard XR shells would be severely hampered by the lack of their main intended target − wild turkeys. As a matter of fact, the shot concentration, penetration and stopping power may be overkill for standard small-size birds, and being the LongBeard XR shotshells lead-based, they'd be forbidden for waterfowl in several jurisdictions.

Winchester LongBeard XR
Will the Winchester LongBeard XR become the standard by which all other turkey loads will be judged? Time will tell!