It was a warm June day in Bridgeport, Conn., four months a way from any legal duck hunting. Nevertheless, the Remington Arms Co. managed to prove, by a series of tests that packed much of the misery of half a dozen duck seasons into one morning, that a steel and plastic shotgun shell it had just developed was going to be the finest made for waterfowl shooting. In fact, the new shell, which goes on sale this week under the Remington and Peters labels as the Premium Grade SP, may well be the strongest, safest, most stable ever produced for any kind of shotgun shooting.
For the past 80 years the most popular shotgun shell casings have been made of brass and wax-impregnated cardboard. The best of them have not stood up very well in real duck weather. Soaked by rain or salt water, they often swell so that they will not fit into a gun. And on the coldest days they may crack when fired, causing a dangerous flash-back.
In Remington's tests mixed groups of shells were quick-frozen and then fired. The brass-and-cardboard shells cracked. The new shells functioned perfectly. Then a handful of shells were pulled out of a bucket after a 24-hour soaking. The old ones would not fit in a gun chamber; the SPs fitted easily and fired with no loss of power. Other groups of shells were then boiled, humidified, whirled in a Bendix, tortured in a vise, dry-heated and finally given an hour's battering in a cement mixer. After every test the old shells had either disintegrated or were, at best, unusable. All the SPs were in first-rate firing condition.
The secret of strength in the new shell—and it will remain a secret until Remington gets its patents—is primarily in the special polyethylene body. Polyethylene and other plastics had been tried for shell bodies before; but they never held up. Now Remington has developed a way of treating polyethylene so that it is almost impervious to abuse. The shell head, made of steel and plated with copper and brass, is also stronger than any other head yet developed. Together, the plastic body and steel head form a shell case which permits the SP to be stored indefinitely and fired in any weather with no loss of efficiency or safety.
For this kind of premium performance Remington is asking a premium price—about 50¢ a box more than ordinary shells. Eventually, Remington plans to turn out SPs in all gauges and all loads, but this year's production will be strictly for field shooters: 12 gauge, numbers 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7½, an adequate spread of shot sizes for any duck or goose.