Winchester Super Pheasant Diamond Grade: The Best Ever?

By Randy Wakeman

Winchester has been hard at work raising the bar of lead shotshell performance. Bob Brister commented years ago that “the only thing more expensive than the antimony is the alimony.” Antimony level has long been the key to lead shot hardness, but that exact antimony level of shot has been shrouded in mystery by various code names like “chilled, hard, extra-hard,” and so forth. The better lead target shotshells reach 5 – 6 % antimony, maximum, in #7-1/2 and #8 shot. That was until Winchester released their AA Diamond Grade loads. Number 4 to number 6 lead hunting loads are generally in the 3 to 4 percent antimony range.

Super Pheasant Diamond Grade doubles, or more than doubles, the antimony content of common game loads. Originally announced in January, 2022, it seems that they are becoming more available right now. There are three loads available that I know of, all in #5 shot: 12 gauge 2-3/4 inch 1-3/8 oz., 12 gauge 3 inch 1-5/8 oz., and 20 gauge 2-3/4 inch 1 oz.

The 20 gauge patterns well and will be of interest to the many folks that have 2-3/4 inch chambered 20 gauges (A-5 Light 20, Franchi 48 AL, Remington 1100, Citori Feather Superlight, etc.), that are looking for the most they can get out of a 1 oz. hunting load.

 Above: 41.5 yards, Trulock Precision Hunter Modified.

The 12 gauge 2-3/4 inch 1-3/8 oz. load has already produced the best patterns I've ever seen past 40 yards from a non-buffered shotshell, as shown above. Another bonus from adding the 8% antimony in addition to the dramatic hardness increase, is more pellets per ounce. Antimony has a density of 6.684 g/cc, so you do have a few more bonus pellets to work for you as compared to the standard 3-4% antimony field loads. For example, Fiocchi Golden Pheasant loads are 3.2% antimony.

The Super Pheasant Diamond Grade loads are no gimmick and no joke: it is the hardest lead shot ever offered to pheasant hunting enthusiasts by no small margin. It clearly elevates lead hunting loads to a noticeably higher level. This a very big win for Winchester and not at all a win for wild roosters.

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Copyright 2023 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.