Does Bass Pro Have a Winner: Herter’s 8 Pellet Low Recoil Buckshot

This isn’t the first Herter’s load I have tested. Having a Bass Pro local makes it pretty easy to keep up with their offerings.

Herter’s, if you are not familiar is a house brand for Cabelas and Bass Pro. My understanding is that it has been around for a while, but not always manufactured by the same people. Right now it appears to be manufactured by Winchester. Certainly the 00 buck loads anyway.

Herter’s 8 pellet 00 buckshot load retails for about $10.00 per box of 15 shells. Velocity is listed at 1,145fps, about standard for a low recoil buckshot load. It is a buffered load, with plain lead pellets, and uses the same wad that Winchester uses in their Super X, Defender, and other buckshot loads.

A Herter’s 8 pellet shell cut open to see how it is made. Note the wad design, confirming that this is a Winchester load.

Generally speaking 8 pellet loads will out perform 9 pellet loads because the pellets are stacked differently and fit down the bore better. Being a buffered and low recoil load should help with pattern performance too. Really the only thing left that might give this load a better chance is to use copper plated shot, but that would likely up the cost significantly.

For testing performance I used the same 18.5” Mossberg 590A1 as for other load testing and only changed the chokes. I fired two rounds through each choke. All shots were fired at 15 yards because I only had a limited number of shells to work with.

I found the performance to be a bit disappointed out of a cylinder bore choke. It covered a full sheet of standard printing paper (8.5”x11”) with a one pellet clearly off the paper by a couple inches and one just barely on the paper. The pattern density is also poor, with some rather large gaps near the center of the pattern.

We get our first flier with the Light Modified choke. This choke is a 0.015 constriction. The Improved Cylinder choke while not producing as dense of a pattern did not cause any unpredictable fliers.

Where the load seemed to shine the most was when I applied a moderate amount of choke. With an improved cylinder (IC) choke the pattern improved significantly. Both in terms of size and density. I used this load for the patterning exercise in the Rangemaster Shotgun IDC with an IC choke and all of my pellets stayed within an 8″ circle. I think this level of performance would be pretty consistent over a larger number of rounds.

As choke constriction increased, I started to get fliers, although some are not very significant. This is a pretty standard indicator of being over choked. Some pellets are getting deformed as they squeeze through the choke and it causes the fliers. Pretty much every buckshot load does this eventually. The line is usually somewhere around a modified choke.

The Boar Blaster choke produced a surprisingly dense pattern compared to the standard full choke.

The one exception to this seemed to be the Trulock Boar Blaster choke. It is an interesting choke design as it has several steps in the choke which is supposed to strip the wad off the shot load before it reaches full constriction. The pattern from this choke seemed to match the lighter chokes, which is interesting. It didn’t really improve performance much relative to the IC or LM chokes, but beat the standard full choke. Would be interesting to see how this translated at 25 yards or further, but a limited amount of available ammunition kept that from happening.

Since I can run this load through chokes, I will probably pick up some more of it. It is cheap (comparatively speaking), light recoil, and gives decent performance through a choke. At least out to 15 yards. I fired a total of 30 rounds between this patterning session and the Rangemaster class. I did not have any function issues over those 30 rounds, but that is a pretty small sample size.

If I was stuck with a cylinder bore gun I might still stash some of this back just because it is cheap compared to everything else right now. I would be looking for something better though. Plenty of loads will outshoot this out of a cylinder bore gun at 15 yards.

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