Late in 2013, Winchester introduced its “high-visibility” AA TrAAcker shotshell featuring an innovative new wad design that “tracks” the center of its pattern, providing a visual cue to let you know why you’re missing your target. Over the years I’ve shot with many a shotgunner who claimed to be able to call a shooter’s misses and actually with a few who were pretty good at it. Personally, I’ve never been very successful in that endeavor, so a shotshell that provides this insight a really good thing.
How Winchester accomplished this was a new wad design with a hollow center core that captures 0.13 ounces of its 1.13-ounce payload, coupled with longer-than-normal, helical-notched petals designed to spin and stabilize the wad, much like the fletching on an arrow. With its added ballast and aerodynamics, the wad flies straight and stays within the center of the shot string throughout its effective flight range. I’m guessing a lot of research and development went into this new wad’s final design. For now, Winchester is offering its new TrAAcker shells in two different 2¾-inch 12 gauge loadings: one with 1.13 ounces of #8 shot at 1,145 fps and another loading of 1.13 ounces of #7½ shot at a rated 1,250 fps. The newly designed wads come in two colors: fluorescent orange for best visibility on overcast days or dark backgrounds, and black for shooting when skies are bright and clear. Hulls come bright orange when housing a fluorescent orange wad and gray when containing a black one.
For testing, I took a box of the heavily loaded “super-handicap” rounds in orange and a box of the lighter loads in gray cases out to my local gun club for a Sunday sporting clay shoot. I shoot pretty much every Sunday with the same group of guys and thought that testing these shells with this group would get me some honest, well-experienced feedback. So, we shot both shells into the bright blue sky and down into a canyon where the background was much darker and more subdued. Sure enough, the black wads, when shot against a clear blue sky, were easy to see and track, as were the blaze-orange wads when fired downhill into our local little canyon at selective stationary targets. Next, we tried shots at varying straightaway and crossing clays, both from the left and from the right. We deliberately missed targets by shooting in front of and behind them just to see if the wads were visibly providing the right information to the shooter. What we found during this limited testing was that the Winchester wads, indeed, provided accurate feedback as to where the shot string was when it either encountered the target or missed it. Not every shot was seen by all, as occasionally—for whatever reason—some of us could see the wad while others could not. But, when observed, the wad flight was always consistent with where the shooter was holding when the shot was loosed. What was obvious to us was that to fully utilize these shells, you need a spotter or two, as the wads are not readily visible to the shooter—as it should be—because he or she should be concentrating on the target when shooting and not looking around for the wad.
Winchester rates its “light” loadings at 1,145 fps and its “super-handicap” load at 1,250 fps. To test this I fired several of each over my chronograph, positioned from 10 feet away, out of my 32-inch-barreled Browning over/under. From this long-tubed gun, the light Winchester loadings averaged a somewhat speedy 1,179 fps, while the hotter handicap shells averaged 1,277 fps. A second session on the chronograph with my short-barreled Model 97 recorded velocities of 1,117 fps for the light load and 1,228 fps for the stouter one.
Priced to sell for about $1.50 over Winchester’s standard AA loadings, these TrAAcker shells should help identify your “occasional” unexplained misses. Will these make you that perfect wing shot? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. But it sure can’t hurt to know where you’re missing.
Cooler Cowboy Socks
Okay, I’m no Mr. Wizard, but it doesn’t take much time on the internet to substantiate the claim that copper has been known for centuries to have disinfecting powers and has been used throughout the world since that discovery to help eliminate the growth of bacteria and fungi. In recent years, the benefits of copper have been introduced by the textile industry through its infusion into clothing and fabrics, and one of the most popular and widely used copper-infused articles of clothing available today is the sock.
For the past couple of decades, a company called Revi Technical Wear located in Greensboro, North Carolina, has been producing durable, breathable active wear for cyclists, the motorsports and competitive pistol shooters. A few years back, Revi’s founder, Jimmy Murray, aka “Six-String Jimmy,” discovered Cowboy Action Shooting and expanded his line of products to include a whole plethora of cowboy clothing and accoutrements carried under the J. Hornaday moniker, a division of Revi Technical Wear.
One of his more recent introductions is the copper-infused Cooler Cowboy Sock, which is designed from the ground up to provide more comfort and better performance than your Dad’s boot sock. Made from a combination of 82-percent Coolmax, a moisture-wicking, polyester fabric engineered to improve breathability; 16-percent nylon infused with copperas oxide for durability and elasticity; and 2-percent Lycra for resistance to pilling and its natural moisture-wicking abilities. The result is a cutting-edge sock designed to provide the best fit, wicking and padding for all-day boot comfort. They come with a longer “stay-up top,” an ultra-padded foot bed and strategic air vents placed throughout the sock for breathability, and the entire foot bed is infused with copper, so after a long day of protecting the brand your feet will feel fresh and dry and the rest of the boys (or girls) will let you take your boots off in the bunkhouse.
Try the Cooler Cowboy Socks from J. Hornaday Dry Goods and enjoy not only a cooler, more comfortable boot experience, but also the benefits of copper as well. ✪
For More Information:
J. Hornaday Dry Goods
This article originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of GUNS OF THE OLD WEST®, print and digital subscriptions to GUNS OF THE OLD WEST are available here.