Choosing the best snow goose ammo can be overwhelming due to the wide range of options available these days. Many ammo manufacturers have loads designed specifically for snows, like Federal Black Cloud. But are these loads what you should be shooting on your next snow goose hunt?
The short answer is NO, not really. Most are gimmick loads for spring snow goose hunts that will do alright in a pinch, but are the not the best. For a snow goose load to be the best, it has to perform across a wide range of conditions, bring knock down power, and be able to pattern tightly at long distances. The best snow goose loads are the 10 gauge 3 ½ inch 1 3/4oz. load of #2 Hevishot and the 12 gauge 3 inch 1 3/8oz. Heavyweight #4’s. These loads are the perfect mix of ballistics and density that crush decoying snow geese out to 70 yards. If you’ve shot these load you already know, and if you haven’t, feel free to go on believing what you’re using even comes close.
In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the top snow goose ammo currently available and discuss what makes them so effective.
Best Steel Shot Ammo for Snow Geese
Steel shot is the most popular ammo shot at geese on any given year. Why? Because it’s CHEAP! Very rarely will you find the cheapest of anything being the best in its class. Well, steel shot is far from the best snow goose load, but it will harvest birds cleanly if patterned correctly and birds are within range when the shot is called. These are some of the top steel snow goose loads I’ve had the most success with.
- 12/10ga 1 ½ oz. #BB or BBB at 1600FPS (Made by Sporting Ammo)
- 10ga 1 ¾ oz. #BB at 1265FPS (Remington)
- 12ga 1 9/16 oz. #BBB at 1300 FPS (Kent) (Click Here to See This Load at Cabelas)
Typical steel shot sizes for geese range from #2 all the way up to F-shot. The best all-around steel pellet size in my opinion is BBB. It allows for a good pattern density (62 pellets/oz.) and the knock down power for shots past 50 yards. If a situation arises, like e-caller season in a hot field, then you could drop down to #1 shot for added pattern density up close. Likewise, if you are going to be pass shooting, a well patterned load of T-shot is hard to beat.
The best steel shot ammo currently is a 1 ½ oz. load traveling at 1600 fps. This load is a great combination of payload and speed. To find out how many pellets are in the loads you’re shooting, check out our pellet count table here.
Best Long Range Ammo for Snow Geese
The alternative to steel shot is Hevishot and other tungsten based ammo. Tungsten loads, due to their long range effectiveness, are the best snow goose rounds available today. Typical Hevishot density is 12 g/cc and Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) is 18 g/cc. For comparison, steel shot density is 7.3 g/cc. What does this mean? Tungsten based pellets are heavier and can retain energy at further distances than steel shot. This additional energy means better pellet pass through and vital hits at 50 yards or more.
Something that tungsten ammo also does well is it allows you to increase your pattern density by dropping pellet sizes. If you normally shoot #2 steel shot, you can get the same ballistics out of a #5-6 tungsten pellet. This means an increase of 120 pellets or more. With the ability of tungsten pellets to retain their energy longer and the increase gained in pattern density from reducing pellet size, tungsten shot produces some of the best ammo for hunting snow geese.
The following is a list of shot types and their densities.
- Steel……………………7.3 (g/cc)
- Hevi Duck… …………..9.7
- Nice Shot…………………10.2
- Winchester Ext. Range…12
- Remington HD……………12
- Hevi Goose………………12
- Hevi 13……………………13
- Federal Heavyweight….15
When it comes to goose hunting, shot that is denser than steel is preferred. There’s no arguing this. Will steel do the job? Of course, but Hevi-shot will do it 10 times better and reduce cripples. This means more birds in the bag, less time chasing cripples, and the ability to fold up birds at longer ranges. If you have shot tungsten based ammo at geese, you know what I’m talking about.
Tungsten loads also allow you to reduce your shot size to increase you pattern density. This makes even Hevishot #4 a viable load for decoying geese due to the energy retained at longer distances. Steel loads just can’t match it.
I realize cost is a big factor in determining which loads most people choose. Very few want to spend $20-30 for 10 shells. The off season is the perfect time to look for discounted ammo deals on websites to pick these kinds of shells up more affordably. Additionally, learning to load your own shells can also reduce the cost by ordering your loose tungsten shot in bulk.
Best Tungsten Loads for Snow Geese
- 10 ga Hevishot load of 1 3/4oz #2’s @ 1300fps (Click to See This Load at Cabelas)
- 12ga TSS 1 1/4oz. load of #5-7’s
- 12 ga Heavyweight 1 3/8 oz. #4’s
- 12ga Hevishot 3 inch 1 3/4oz. #4’s
Federal has since discontinued the waterfowl version of their Heavyweight line of shot, but it can still be found in their Turkey loads.
Pick the Best Ammo for the Hunting Situation
Ammunition is only as good as the conditions you’re hunting in. Decoy shooting up close vs. long distance pass shooting are two different hunting methods requiring different approaches. Hunting in a strong wind where shot drift occurs is a problem and usually happens with lighter density loads like steel. Hevishot and other tungsten loads are less affected by the negative effects of bad weather and high winds.
Your hunting situation will define what load is ideal. However, the only way to know if a load is ideal for your situation is to pattern it. Each gun is different. One load patterning great in your Benelli will not necessarily give good patterns in your Remington. Patterning is one of the most important aspects in finding a great load for a given situation.
Test different chokes tubes to find which patterns best with your gun. I’ve had good luck with Briley and Terror Chokes, but Patternmaster is also one that works good as well. Here’s a list of my top choke tubes for waterfowl and the results you can expect from each.
Snow geese can be challenging birds to hunt, and having the wrong ammo can make the hunt even worse. The best snow goose ammo is tungsten based and capable of clean kills between 50-70 yards. Steel just can’t do it consistently.
My favorite load for snow geese is a 10ga 1 3/4oz load of Hevishot #2’s. This load is effective beyond 70 yards and will absolutely CRUSH snow geese. This load results in cleaner kills, less time chasing cripples, and more time in the blind hunting.
TSS is a relative newcomer, but it’s ballistically superior to even Hevishot. I’ve had a chance to reload some TSS shells and have been impressed with their performance, but I just haven’t gotten comfortable with it as a go to load. It’s more expensive ($50lb for bulk shot) and it patterns extremely tight. I have no doubts that with some tweaking it could be the best snow goose load around, I just haven’t been able to test it enough to be comfortable with it.
You won’t find steel shot in the best snow goose load, but if you must go with steel, try for the 1 ½ oz load of BB or BBB going 1600FPS.
John is our resident expert on the outdoors. He writes about outdoor gear, camping, traveling, and anything outdoors related. He has over 20 years experience camping and hiking the backwoods of Montana and has traveled extensively all over the world.