Best 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell for Duck Hunting

Unsure about which is the best 12 gauge shotgun shell for duck hunting?

We’ve shot tens of thousands of shells and burned a few $$$ in search of the best shell for duck hunting (waterfowl load), so you didn’t have to…

In this short article, I’ll share the best shells we found, and you can decide which ones are right for you…

You can’t go wrong with any of these 12 gauge shells.

Best Shot Size For Ducks

The best shot size for ducks is a four shot. This is because ducks are larger than other waterfowl, so they require a larger shot. Steel shot is the best type of shot to use for duck hunting, as it is less likely to ricochet than other types of shot. The shotgun shell should be filled with steel shot and should be no more than 40 yards from the duck blind.

2 ¾ vs. 3 Inch Shells for Ducks

When it comes to duck hunting, there is considerable debate among hunters about what size shell to use. The two most popular sizes are 2 ¾-inch and 3-inch shells. Both have their pros and cons.

The biggest difference between the two is the payload. A 3-inch shell can hold more shots than a 2 ¾-inch shell. This means that you can put more pellets in each shell, which is ideal for waterfowl hunting. However, 3-inch shells are also much more expensive than 2 ¾-inch shells.

Another difference is the shot size. A 3-inch shell can typically accommodate a larger shot size than a 2 ¾-inch shell. This is important to consider because the more significant the shot size, the more damage it will do to the duck. Consult the shotgun pellet size chart for more detailed info.

Finally, there is the issue of choking. Choke refers to how tightly the pellets are packed together in the shell. A 3-inch shell typically has a tighter choke than a 2 ¾-inch shell. This means that the pellets will spread out less when they are fired, making them more accurate.

Best 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell for Duck Hunting

Small Ducks and Pheasants

Small ducks and pheasants can be killed with a 12 gauge shotgun using a bismuth shot. The payload of a bismuth shot is small, but it is very effective at close range. The hunter can shoot 6 shots in quick succession with this gun. The muzzle velocity of the bismuth shot is very high, making it ideal for hunting waterfowl. Kent Tungsten Matrix shot is another type of shot that can be used to kill small ducks and pheasants. This type of shot is made of tungsten and has a much higher density than bismuth shot. As a result, it has a higher velocity and is more effective at long range and probably the best 12 gauge shotgun shell for duck hunting.

Medium-sized waterfowl

Medium-sized waterfowl, such as ducks, require a shot size of lead shot that is larger than what a hunter would use for smaller game. The 12 gauge shotshell is the most common type of shotshell used for waterfowl hunting. It has a payload of pellets that can be fired from a shotgun at a muzzle velocity of around 1,200 feet per second.

Swans, Large Ducks, and Geese

Swans, large ducks, and geese are all waterfowl, but they vary in size. Swans are the largest, followed by large ducks and then geese. All three birds have a hard shell that protects their bodies, but the size of the shell varies. Swans have the largest shells, followed by large ducks and then geese.

Shot size is another factor that distinguishes these birds. A 12 gauge shotgun is the largest and is typically used for hunting swans. A 20-gauge shotgun is smaller and is typically used for hunting ducks and geese. BBs are the smallest pellets and are typically used for plinking or target practice.

Payload, muzzle velocity, and range are also important factors to consider when choosing a shotshell. The payload is the amount of shot in the shell, measured in ounces. The muzzle velocity is the speed at which the pellets leave the barrel, measured in feet per second. The range is the distance at which the pellets will travel before losing velocity, measured in yards.

Best Duck Hunting Shells & Ammo

Duck hunting is a popular sport, and choosing the right ammo is essential. The most common gauges for duck hunting are 12 gauge and 20 gauge. The best duck hunting ammo will depend on the hunter and the shotgun they are using. Factors to consider include velocity, pellet size, and choke. The duck blind or waterfowl area can also affect what type of shotgun shell works best. Ultimately, it is up to the shooter to decide what works best for them.

Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend – Best Shells For Duck Hunting

HEVI-shot - best 12 Gauge Shotgun shell for duck hunting

Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend is a type of shotgun ammunition that is available in 12 and 20-gauge sizes. The shells are loaded with shot size pellets that are designed to deliver high muzzle velocity and consistent patterns.

Black Cloud TSS

federal - best 12 Gauge Shotgun shell for duck hunting

The Federal Black Cloud TSS is a waterfowl hunting pellet that is designed to kill ducks and geese. It is a 12 gauge, 20 gauge, or per shell pellet that is loaded into a shotgun. The pellet is fired from the muzzle of the shotgun and the wad propels the pellet towards the target. The Black Cloud TSS has a devastating effect on waterfowl and can kill up to 50 ducks or geese per shell.

Apex Ammunition WS TSS/S3 Waterfowl – Best Duck Hunting Shot


Apex Ammunition’s WS TSS/S3 Waterfowl load is a great choice for duck hunters. The tungsten shotshell provides excellent patterning at 40 yards, and the 12-gauge shot size is perfect for large ducks and geese. The bb shot size is also great for teal and other small waterfowl. Hunters may also find this ammo a good choice for goose hunting.

Remington Wingmaster HD

wingmaster shot shells

The Remington Wingmaster HD is a 12 gauge shotgun that uses tungsten pellets. It is designed for waterfowl hunting and can also be used for ducks. The shotgun has a 3-inch chamber and can fire BBs, 3-inch shells, and 20-gauge shells.

Winchester DryLok


Winchester’s DryLok shotgun shells are some of the best on the market for duck hunting. They are designed to provide excellent performance in all types of weather conditions, and they are available in both 20 gauge and 12 gauge versions. The DryLok technology ensures that your shells will not get wet or deteriorate in any way, even if they are left out in the rain or snow. Winchester’s Duck and Goose loads are specifically designed for waterfowl hunting, offering great results in both ducks and geese. The steel loads are also perfect for hunting in cold weather, as they will not freeze up like lead loads can.

What Are Some of the Best Shotguns for Waterfowl Hunting?

When it comes to waterfowl hunting, having the right equipment is crucial. If you’re looking for reliable waterfowl hunting shotgun recommendations, there are several top choices to consider. The Benelli Super Black Eagle III, Winchester SX4, and Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus are among the best shotguns known for their reliability, durability, and excellent performance in wet and challenging hunting conditions. These shotguns are specifically designed to handle the demands of waterfowl hunting, offering features such as weather-resistant finishes, reliable cycling, and exceptional recoil reduction. Choose a waterfowl hunting shotgun that suits your preferences and needs, ensuring an enjoyable and successful hunting experience.

Kent Tungsten-Matrix

Kent Tungsten-Matrix is a new type of shotgun pellet that is said to be more effective at taking down ducks and pheasants than traditional lead pellets. The shell pellets are made of tungsten, which is denser than lead, and are designed to penetrate deeper into a bird’s body. Kent claims that their Tungsten-Matrix shots will retain more energy than lead pellets, making them more effective at taking down waterfowl. The shell pellets are available in 12- and 20-gauge sizes and come in both duck and goose chokes.

When it comes to choosing the right load and shot size when waterfowling, there are huge differences between shooting incoming early season teal and pass shooting wary geese in January.

When it comes to choosing the right load and shot size when waterfowling, there are huge differences between shooting incoming early season teal and pass shooting wary geese in January. Shot size, waterfowl, goose, duck, and Winchester shell selection all play a critical role in the success of the hunter. Waterfowlers must take into account the size of the bird they are pursuing, as well as the range at which they will be shooting.

Teal are small, fast-flying birds typically pursued early in the season. Because of their small size, hunters must use a smaller shot size, such as a BB or #6. Chokes can be more open when shooting at teal, as they do not need to be tightly concentrated to take down the bird. A 12-gauge shotgun is typically used when hunting teal. Drylok or high-velocity shells loaded with a wad designed specifically for teal can provide the shooter with tight patterns and high velocity.

What are the best 12 gauge shotgun shells for duck hunting?


The best 12-guage shotgun shells for duck hunting are Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend by HEVI-SHOT

What is the best shot size for duck hunting?

12 gauge shotgun shell

The best shot size for duck hunting is typically #2 or #4.

What is the best shot for ducks?

The best shot for ducks is typically a non-toxic shotgun shell with a shot size of #2 or #4.

What type of shotgun pellets are allowed for waterfowl hunting in the U.S.?

Steel, bismuth, and tungsten alloy shotgun pellets are allowed for waterfowl hunting in the U.S.

What gauge shotgun for duck hunting?

A 12-gauge shotgun is commonly recommended for duck hunting due to its versatility and ability to handle a wide range of ammunition types.

What size bismuth shot for ducks?

The recommended size for bismuth shot for ducks is #2 or #4.