By Tom Roster
Never in my more than 40 years of covering shotshells have I seen a greater number of new loads introduced than Kent Cartridge has brought out in 2018. It’s almost an explosion!
After last year introducing a new bismuth line featuring upgraded shot quality that I covered in the September/October 2017 issue, Kent now has added larger BB, No. 2 and No. 3 shot to different offerings in its Bismuth Waterfowl line. As part of that it has introduced a 3½", 1½-oz, 1,450-fps 12-gauge load in sizes BB, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. The company also has introduced a Bismuth Upland line that includes 2¾" and 3" 12-gauge, 2¾" 16-gauge, 2¾" and 3" 20-gauge and 2¾" 28-gauge loads principally in shot sizes No. 4, 5 and 6—all with average velocity levels about 100 fps slower than the Bismuth Waterfowl line.
Also for 2018 Kent wisely has elected to go after the highly popular and high-volume US dove hunting market by creating three new dove-load lines. Its Diamond Dove line consists of three 2¾" 12-gauge 11⁄8- to 1¼-oz lead loads at velocities from 1,250 to 1,350 fps, all with No. 7½ shot. Kent also now offers a Steel Dove line of 2¾" 12- and 20-gauge loads at 1,350 to 1,400 fps in size No. 6. And its new First Dove 12- and 20-gauge line, with light loads of No. 7½ steel at 1,300 fps, is aimed at beginning dove hunters and shooters looking for less recoil.
Kent has elected to become a commanding presence in lead and nontoxic trap, skeet and sporting clays loads. It is doing so by introducing four clay-target lines consisting of a whopping 33 SKUs.
The first is the Elite Target line, consisting of four 2¾" 12-gauge loads from 7⁄8 oz to 11⁄8 oz of No. 7½, 8 and 9 lead shot from 1,150 to 1,200 fps. There is also a new Elite Pro Target line aimed principally at sporting clays shooters. This line consists of seven 2¾" 12-gauge loads from 7⁄8 oz to 1¼ oz at relatively high velocities of 1,200 to 1,300 fps in shot sizes No. 7½, 8 and 8½ as well as a 7⁄8- and 1-ounce 2¾" 20-gauge load at 1,220 and 1,300 fps of No. 7½s and 8s. Included in this line are three 12-gauge No. 8 spreader loads from 1 to 1¼ oz at 1,200 to 1,300 fps.
Nothing is more important to the development of new and light-bodied shooters than low-recoil target loads. I am especially happy to see that Kent has started its Elite Low Recoil/Training line. One offering will be a 2½" 12-gauge ¾-oz load of lead No. 8s at 1,200 fps. The other will be a 2¾" 12-gauge 7⁄8-oz load of lead No. 8s at 1,200 fps.
Finally, Kent has introduced its Elite Steel Target line. So far this consists of a 2¾" 20-gauge 7⁄8-oz load of steel No. 7s at 1,215 fps and a 2¾" 12-gauge 1-oz load of steel No. 7s at 1,290 fps. From Kent engineering samples I now have quite extensive experience in shooting the 20-gauge Elite Steel load at clays. I assure you that not only is it low in recoil due to its light shot-charge weight and 1,215 fps velocity, but also the steel No. 7s in this load break targets nicely well out to 35 yards. I’ve said it before and I will keep reporting that, because of its excellent patterning qualities and non-deforming pellet form-factor, steel shot in the right size (No. 7 or 6) absolutely devastates clay targets.
Due to increasing demand, for 2018 Kent planned to introduce a new line of shotshells containing fiber wads and shotcups. Yes, you read that right. There is really no need to use plastic in shotcups, but that is fodder for another column. Kent planned to have three 2¾" 12-gauge loads from 1,150 to 1,300 fps of lead No. 7½s and 8s and one 2¾" 20-gauge 7⁄8-oz load at 1,200 fps in its new Elite Bio-Fiber line. These would be great for doves, quail and clay targets alike. For bigger game and where nontoxic shot is desired, there would be Kent’s new Elite Bio-Fiber bismuth line. It would consist of two 2¾" 12-gauge 11⁄8-oz loads of No. 4, 5 and 6 bismuth at either 1,250 or 1,400 fps. Last, there would be a 2¾" 12-gauge Elite Bio-Wad Steel load that contains 1 oz of No. 7s at 1,250 fps.
At press time I had not yet had a chance to test many of Kent’s new loads, but I plan to do so this fall and winter and report the results next spring or summer.