Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kent Fasteel® Waterfowl Ammo Review

Last week I wrote about an upcoming trip to Oregon where myself, The Hunting Partner, His Uncle, and The Friend went for the northern Pacific Flyway opening season for waterfowl. I’ll have more about that recent adventure in a couple of days. In the meantime I wanted to give a review of the waterfowl load that accompanied us on our trip, Kent Fasteel®.

Last year I switched waterfowl ammunition because, quite frankly, I was looking for a more affordable option. The price of everything in life seems like it is rising, including almost all aspects of hunting. Ammo is no exception with increased worldwide demand for raw materials such as steel reducing supplies and increasing manufacturing costs.

My goal was to try and save a few pennies but not sacrifice stopping power, patterning, or see increased cripples. I am very fortunate to be able to get out and do a lot of shooting during duck season. But I’m just a regular Joe with a regular job, so the cost of buying more than a case of my former shot shell of choice - Federal Premium Ultra Shok® - was one area I looked to cut back. I cannot afford to shoot designer or high end loads, so finding a more economical steel product became my mission.

The Hunting Partner introduced me to Kent Fasteel® precision steel waterfowl ammunition last year. He and I had talked about our ammo choices now and then while in the duck blind, but honestly, I had a mediocre perception of Kent. I had always thought of their products as having a reputation of being cheap. As steel ammo goes, I define “cheap” as shot shells full of odd-shaped steel pellets instead of uniform round ‘BBs’; misfires in the chamber; fouling in the barrel; and poor patterning. My perception was that Kent was all of those things.

Boy was I wrong. Two years ago, as the duck season was in its final days, and I ran out of ammo during a particularly frustrating hunt. I couldn’t hit a thing and I had burned through my last shells. The birds were still flying and a trip to the sporting goods store at that particular moment was highly inconvenient.

I reluctantly asked The Hunting Partner if I could borrow a box of his Kent Fasteel® to finish out the day. And I must say I quickly had an attitude adjustment. I finished out my limit going 4 for 4 and scratched my head wondering what lay beneath this wondrous smooth bore candy.

Kent offers Fasteel® in a large number of combinations for 3 ½, 3, and 2 ¾ inch 12 gauge loads. Their offerings for 20 gauge are limited to just three shot sizes. Kent patterns extremely well in most shotguns with uniform BB conformance and a consistent 70+ pellets (#3’s) striking the paper target kill zone at 35 yards.

For those of you who hunt with steel know, the bottom line is that speed kills. And Kent delivers here as well with most loads exiting the barrel at 1500-1560 fps. Only the larger payloads slow to a sluggish 1300 fps. (Ah, I remember the days when we thought 1300 fps was screamining fast!).

Fasteel® is the premium steel waterfowl product from Kent, however they do provide an economy line as well – All Purpose Precision Steel. This line is marketed for the “value conscious shooter”. If that doesn’t say Plain Jane I don’t know what would. I don’t know why you would want to step down from the Fasteel® line because it is very economical itself.

A quick comparison at my local sporting goods store revealed that Kent Fasteel® achieved the cost savings I was looking for over the previous Federal loads I had been shooting. The difference was significant with most of the Kent loads offered for $13.99/box (less 5% for buying a full case) compared to the Federal shells at $21.99/box. Over the course of a season that can add up to a couple hundred dollars – or three tanks of gas for my truck, which is how I now measure most cost savings these days.

During last week’s Oregon adventure I put two boxes of Kent Fasteel® 3 inch, 1 1/8 oz, #3 shot shells through the paces and once again they delivered flawlessly. The loads performed on command with duck after duck falling lifeless into the water without so much as a flinch. Max, The Dog, looked appreciative for not having to chase any swimmers half way across the lake. And I was equally thrilled that no birds were sailed or lost.

All-in-all, Kent Fasteel® is a great waterfowl load for the cost conscious duck and goose hunter. Give it a try and let me know what you think.


Blessed said...

I'm glad the Kent Fasteel® works for you - it jams in our Mossberg pumps but a friend of ours who shoots a semi-auto doesn't have any trouble with it. We finally figured out that the Kent 3" shells are slightly longer than the Federal 3" shells.

I know Hevi-Shot is more expensive but our harvest and clean kill rates have increased so much since we switched to Hevi-Shot that it is worth the investment for us.

Terry Scoville said...

Well Jon, I have been of the same mind set as you regarding Kent. I shoot a Beretta 20 ga. and use Federal Premium, 3" 1 oz loads and they work well for me. I too can not afford the Bismuth or designer loads. Thanks for your review, I will buy a box and give it a try this year.

sportingdays said...

Almost every California duck hunter I know uses Kent Fasteel and has for some time. The performance has improved considerably from when it first came out and seems to get better every year.

I've used Kent's nontoxic Tungsten Matrix on occasion, too, and it absolutely crushes ducks. It's super pricey so I typically use it on wild pheasants on the wildlife refuges where you just don't get that many shooting opportunities and a box of 10 shells may last an entire pheasant season. But when you do get the opportunities, Tungsten Matrix anchors the birds.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

As a California duck hunter, I second Sportingdays' comment. Kent Faststeel is my ammo of choice, and I shoot 20-gauge No. 2s all season long.

Welcome to the club!

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

Great Blog, about 95% of the ammo I run through my Xtrema2 is the Fasteel 3.5 inch in either 2 or 3 shot... I got turned onto it because of the 1625 fps and need all the velocity I can get for many the common eider... So after many cases of those, my father and brother-in-law run them through their Mossberg 935's... However, I did not enjoy running them through my Nova Pump... I suppose the autoloader has made me a little soft... Look forward to a continued dialogue in the future...

Downeast Duck Hunter