By Josh Boyd
There is no doubt that shotshell technology has advanced immensely in the last decade. These advancements have increased the effective range of our favorite shotguns and assisted us in cleanly taking game at far greater distances than we ever previously thought possible. During this time of unyielding technological advance, several specialty shotshells have come to market with promises of utterly outstanding performance, and absolute superiority.
One such product that has recently received a significant amount of publicity is Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells. These shotshells are advertised as being revolutionary to .410 shotgun performance, leading to an exponential increase in range, and validating the .410 as a legitimate turkey gun.
These are some rather large claims, that undoubtedly draw concerns from skeptics. I, too, was quite skeptical toward Federal’s claims when I purchased a box of these shotshells a year ago to pattern them for my son, before his first turkey season.
I put Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells to the test to find out for myself what all of the buzz was about. After two years of testing, here is what I have found.
What Is Federal Premium .410 TSS?
Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells utilize a specialty FliteControl Flex wad to carry a tungsten-alloy payload from the barrel, and downrange. Federal claims that the use of this proprietary wad, “provides extremely tight, consistent patterns through standard and ported turkey chokes.”
The tungsten-alloy contained within Federal’s .410 TSS loads is said to be 22 percent denser material than standard tungsten, and 56 percent denser than lead. The use of this shot is intended to promote better downrange kinetic energy transfer when the payload strikes its intended target.
Federal also took a unique approach when selecting shot size for their .410 TSS shotshell, opting for the use of No. 9 shot. This is done in a bid to create an extremely dense pattern, by sending the maximum amount of shot downrange.
The concept behind Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells is to increase the lethality of the .410 shotgun at extended ranges, making it a viable option for use when turkey hunting. Doing so is a three-part process that entails controlling shot density through the use of specialty wadding, creating a high enough pellet count to maintain consistent coverage of any downrange target, and utilizing heavier than lead shot to promote better penetration.
How Did It Pattern?
I initially purchased a box of Federal Premium Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells in the spring of 2019. That year was to be the first turkey season for my son, who was eight years old at the time. As recoil was most certainly an issue for him, I set out to find a shotgun that he could use without flinching or pulling his shot.
I initially dismissed the .410 as being inadequate to kill a turkey at any real distance, but further research described, at length, the effectiveness of these shotshells. I decided that I at least wanted to pattern them to see what the fuss was about.
I initially started my pattern work at 20 yards, honestly unsure if even this was too far. Using a Hatfield .410, I leveled for the shot and squeezed the trigger. Because the shot size was so small, I had to be fairly close to observe the pattern. However, when I did, I was blown away. The shot had blanketed an area approximately the size of a pie plate, leaving no sizable gaps in the pattern whatsoever.
More than a little intrigued, I repeated the process at 30 yards, then again at 40. What I observed left me stunned and excited. At 30 yards, very little difference could be observed against the previous 20-yard pattern. Furthermore, the 40-yard pattern, although substantially less dense than that at 30 yards, was viable for killing a turkey cleanly and ethically.
Before this turkey season, I purchased my son a Stevens .410. In the days leading up to opening morning, I again patterned these shells, this time in the newly acquired Stevens. The results were virtually identical to my previous efforts, if not even slightly more impressive.
In the Field Performance
Just because a pattern looks good on paper, does not mean that it retains the downrange energy to cleanly and efficiently take a turkey. For this reason, I limited my son to shooting no further than 20 yards during his first season. On the opening morning of Kentucky’s youth season, my son had the fortune of being able to put Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells to work.
He aimed and fired on a jake that had just dropped from strut. Upon the roar of the shotgun, the jake hit the ground, never to so much as flop. Upon exiting the blind, I paced off the distance of his shot. The turkey had been standing approximately 18 yards away when taken. By studying the head and neck area of this turkey, it was obvious that a lack of penetration was no issue.
I again witnessed Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells at work during our season opener in Kentucky this year. My wife opted to take the Stevens .410 with her during our opening morning hunt. She was able to cleanly take a tom at 28 yards, dropping him in place. Upon further examination, this turkey, much like the one from the year before, had received a substantial amount of shot to the head and neck region.
I will be the first to admit that I was doubtful in the true efficiency of Federal Premium’s Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells before giving them their fair chance. The idea of a .410 shotgun being suitable for turkey hunting out to a distance of 40 yards seemed quite unfathomable.
However, after multiple shots on the old pattern board, and two turkeys to show, I can honestly say that Federal has more than backed their claims, in my opinion. I would highly recommend Federal Premium Heavyweight .410 TSS Shotshells to anyone looking for relief from the savage recoil that can be quite common of many bigger-bore turkey loads.