Pellet Count: A Big Reason Federal TSS Turkey Loads Are So Deadly

What do you look for when patterning your turkey gun? It starts with pellet count on target, and these next-gen turkey loads deliver like never before.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

What do you look for when patterning your turkey gun? It starts with pellet count on target, and these next-gen turkey loads deliver like never before.


If you’re a turkey hunter and somehow missed it, last fall we published one of the most-comprehensive shotgun patterning videos ever filmed. Why is that significant? Just about every turkey expert on the planet recommends patterning your gun/load combination before a hunt, because they know this simple practice can make you a much deadlier turkey hunter in field.

 How To Pattern Your Turkey Gun: Advice From A Pro

What you’re looking for, at whatever range you pattern, is the density of pellets in the turkey kill zone, which is why the newest tungsten super shot (TSS) loads are so deadly. And already, this new technology has expanded for 2019. A great example is the well-rounded lineup from Federal. In the past two years, Federal has completely overhauled its lineup of Premium, high-performance turkey loads in three different, distinct product families.

In 2018, the company revamped its turkey shotshell lineup with a long list of new products that were proven to offer performance benefits beyond what most hunters had ever seen. That meant all previously available turkey products from Federal had been replaced by several loads in three product families, including Grand Slam, 3rd Degree and HEAVYWEIGHT TSS. Most recently, Federal added to the HEAVYWEIGHT TSS line up by adding new duplex loads which blend two different sizes of shot to increase overall pellet count. The result is more shot striking the target.

Federal’s new turkey loads are wildly popular with die-hard turkey hunters worldwide, but with the long list of choices available, it’s necessary to understand all the options.

HeavyweightTSS 900Straight TSS Loads. Shotshells loaded with Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) represent a big upgrade from anything previously available, letting hunters kill gobblers farther than they ever thought possible. Payloads of No. 7 or 9 TSS shot provide high pellet counts—in many cases, more than double compared to lead loads of the same weight. The shot’s 18 gram per cubic centimeter density provides optimum energy and the highest velocities at long ranges.

5 Ways To Locate More Spring Gobblers With ScoutLook

Straight payload offerings include 3-inch 12-gauge loads with 1 3/4 ounces of all No. 7 or No. 9 TSS shot, 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge loads with 2 1/4 ounces of all No. 7 or No. 9 shot, a 3-inch 20-gauge load with 1 1/2 ounces of all No. 7 or No. 9 shot, and a 3-inch .410 load with 13/16 ounce of all No. 9 shot. There’s also a lower-recoil 20-gauge option with 1 ½ ounces of all No. 9 shot pushed at 1,000 fps. The shells come in five-count packs.

The .410 offering might surprise some folks, but Shotshell Product Line Manager Dan Compton said it shouldn’t, as TSS pellets’ incredible density are perfect for sub-gauge shotshells.

“TSS pellets make hunting turkeys with a .410 a very viable option,” he said. “It provides the performance of conventional 12-gauge loads with a significant drop in recoil.” TSS12gaBox 900New TSS Blended Loads. New for 2019, blended, duplex shotshells combine No. 7 and No. 9, or No. 8 and No. 10 Tungsten Super Shot into new loads that deliver the extremely high pellet-count patterns some turkey hunters are constantly striving for. In fact, some of the new payloads topping 1,000 pellets in one shell. The two new 12-gauge, 3-1/2 inch TSS Blended options are a 2-1/2 ounce No. 7/9 mix or a 2-1/2 ounce No. 8/10 mix, each at an MSRP of $63.95. The two options of 20 gauge 3 inch loads include a 1-5/8 ounce No. 7/9 mix or a 1-5/8 ounce No. 8/10 mix at an MSRP of $46.95. The shells come in five-count packs. 3rdDegree9003rd Degree with HEAVYWEIGHT TSS. Turkey hunters are already familiar with the proven concept and performance of 3rd Degree, which uses a three-stage payload that makes you far less likely to miss close turkeys but can still kill birds at 40 to 50 yards with appropriate chokes. Now this revolutionary shell is even better.

ScoutLook’s Ultimate Turkey Hunting Gear Guide [2019]

New 3rd Degree payloads are comprised of 40 percent No. 7 HEAVYWEIGHT TSS shot, 20 percent No. 6 FLITESTOPPER lead and 40 percent No. 5 Premium lead. The No. 6 lead pellets form a forgiving close-range pattern, the copper-plated No. 5 lead delivers lethal performance at mid-ranges, and the No. 7 TSS pellets allow dense, lethal patterns at 40-plus yards. And the new FLITECONTROL FLEX wad works with ported and non-ported chokes to maximize the characteristics of each shot type, opening from the rear and staying with the shot column longer than conventional wads to deliver full, consistent patterns.Markturk2 9003rd Degree HEAVYWEIGHT TSS loads include a 1 1/2-ounce, 3-inch 20-gauge; a 1 ¾-ounce, 3-inch 12-gauge; and a 2-ounce, 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge—all with 5, 6 and 7 shot. The shells come in five-count packs.



HuntStand is the #1 hunting and land management app in the country. It combines advanced mapping tools with powerful map layers to allow users to create and share the best hunting maps possible.