The development of the "short and fat" WSM and WSSM centerfire rifle ammunition lines has caught on and looks like it's here to stay. Heavy shotgun loads such as the Xtended Range Hi-Density Turkey Load have excited bird hunters. Now Winchester is taking aim at a new market, and I predict pleasing results at shooting parks, cowboy-action shoots and other venues where large amounts of shotgun shells are fired in short periods.
The fastest demographic growth in shooting sports is among women. Across the nation, ladies are taking an increased interest in hunting, target shooting, and participation in shotgun sports such as trap, skeet and sporting clays. While gun makers have long recognized this trend and developed lines of firearms suited to smaller-framed shooters such as women and youth, a persistent problem with smaller and lighter guns is that they have greater felt recoil than their heavier counterparts. Women and youth appreciate the feel and fast handling of lighter guns, but shooting a couple of boxes of 12-gauge shotgun shells, even in contemporary target loads, can leave some women and young shooters with a bruised shoulder at the end of the day. That's where Winchester WinLite™ Low-Recoil Shotgun Ammunition comes into play.
Winchester set out to develop a line of shotgun shells specifically aimed at recoil-sensitive and high-volume shooters. In doing so, it had to be careful not to diminish performance to the extent that shooters would have to adjust shooting style to compensate for anticipated reductions in ammunition velocity. In the end, the company succeeded. And in addition to significantly less recoil, the added benefit of noticeable noise reduction was achieved.
Let's compare the new WinLite 2-3/4" AA Low-Recoil shells with standard 12-gauge 2-3/4" Winchester AA shells. A standard No. 8-shot target shell with a payload of 1 oz. throws the shot from the barrel at around 1,260 feet per second. The WinLite shell load uses about 0.9 oz. of No. 8 shot and has a muzzle velocity of 980 feet per second. So if WinLite shot is slower in getting to the target, where's the payoff?
You have to remember that, though slower, WinLite is still shooting BBs at a speed that would cover three football fields in one second if it could shoot that far, or one football field in a third of a second. Now consider that the average clay target is significantly less than half that distance from a shooter when broken and you realize that 300 fps less may sound like a lot, but when talking about shotgun range targets, the pattern is still reaching the clays in a sixth of a second or less.
Winchester claims the recoil of WinLite is half that of standard AA loads. I shot several of both kinds of shells side by side from two types of Browning shotgun, a Hunter Elite semiauto and an over/under Cynergy. Sam Grothe, a fellow outdoor writer, did the same. We were pleased with the performance of the WinLite load, and neither of us had to adjust our shooting form to break clay pigeons, but we both estimated a reduction of about 40% in felt recoil during our unscientific test. That's still a substantial reduction in kick without sacrificing results. Winchester is also introducing WinLite in a buck shot version and a sabot slug version that they claim have 35% less recoil than standard buck shot and slug shells. Neither Grothe nor I have shot that ammunition, so we're unable verify that claim at this time.
If you shoot your shotgun a lot recreationally, give Winchester WinLite a try. Your scores shouldn't change and your shoulder will thank you.