Members: 41
Latest Activity: Oct 10, 2013

Steel Shot VS Lead Shot

Steel Shot "vs" Lead Shot
(1) Steel shot is harder than lead shot. (Advantage)

(2) Steel shot is lighter than lead shot. (Disadvantage)

These are the (two very important factors) that you have to understand and consider when properly switching from lead to steel.

(1) Steel shot is 3 times harder than lead shot:

(A) Hardness:
Lets first examine the steel shot advantage by firing a shell and observe all that takes place within the barrel of a shotgun.
(1) Upon ignition the shot pellets are compressed against each other deforming some lead pellets (not steel),
(2) then entering the forcing cone, compression takes place further deforming some more lead pellets (not steel),
(3) the next compression takes place in the choke further deforming even more lead pellets (not steel).

(B) Pattern Performance:
Steel shot is very hard so it stays round and flies truer to the target. At 40 yards, a much higher percentage of steel pellets will be on target than lead loads. At 60 yards, steel shot will yield an even higher pattern percentage as well.

(C) Shot String:
Lead shot, which is easily deformed upon firing, develops a relatively long, large-diameter shot string. Steel shot however because it is three times harder than lead, stays round, and develops a shot string that is 50-60% shorter and 60-70% narrower than lead.

(D) Velocity:
The reason that most lead shot hunting game loads average around 1350 fps on the high velocity side down to 1150 fps on the low velocity side is the fact that lead shot will deform easily and blow patterns.

Steel shot has a very distinct advantage here, it is very hard and the pellets or shot will not deform at all so the velocity can increase without shot deformation and blowing patterns. Steel shot hunting loads average 1500 fps on the high velocity side and down to 1265 on the low velocity side.

Overview: Steel shot does not deform from the time ignition starts in a shotshell until all the shot has come to rest in a piece of game, therefore steel shot (as a whole in percentage) penetrates deeper than lead shot.

Note: Penetration factor is based on the remaining round pellets that are left which will penetrate deeper than dented or deformed pellets.

(2) Steel shot is lighter than lead:

(A) Pellet Diameter and Weight:
Because all shot sizes are determined by the pellet diameter and not by weight, steel shot is disadvantaged in down range performance when compared to lead shot.

To convert to steel you must make the conversion in pellet weight and not in size. If you take two pellets of the same weight and fire them downrange there is NO DIFFERENCE in their energy level until they reach 60 - 75 yards, then the larger diameter will start to give way to its smaller diameter counterpart and this is clearly maximum effective hunting distance.

(B) Pellet Counts:
Shot size in diameter measure in steel and lead are the same and steel weighs less than lead, so, it takes more steel pellets to make up a charge weight equal to lead pellets of the same shot size.

(C) Lead Shot to Steel Shot Conversion Chart:

(D) Choke Tubes and Ounces Of Shot:
This again has to be adjusted as well, if a steel shot pattern is 60% to 70% narrower then this automatically tells you the pattern is to tight so the logical choice is lower ounces of shot and a more open choke are needed.

The most effective combinations of choke and ounces of shot in all our tests revealed that 1 and 1/8 ounces of smaller shot (BB and down) fired at 1350 fps. through a stainless steel improved cylinder choke gave well above standard hunting pattern percentages.

Overview: Steel shot has proven to us that when the conversion is made right, that it is more than acceptable for field hunting use out to and beyond 40 yards.

Lethal Penetration Study: Tom Roster, working in conjunction with the Cooperative Nontoxic Shot Education Program (CONSEP) has put together a database on the performance of lead shot vs. steel shot. In this study is an X-ray analysis of over 16,000 ducks and geese.

A fact revealed by this study: A steel pellet, with an energy level equivalent to that of a lead pellet, provides 5% to 10% deeper penetration.

Courtesy of Cabela's

Discussion Forum

What size shot & brand name do you use for duck & goose hunting?

Started by Peter Emberley. Last reply by kenneth Griffiths Oct 10, 2013. 1 Reply

I just started using BC # 3, 3" high velocity and have had great success.Continue


Started by Peter Emberley. Last reply by kenneth Griffiths Feb 5, 2012. 1 Reply

What  shells, shot sizes and guages do you use for hunting? For example I like to use  Winchester # 6 2.75 12 guage for rabbits and grouse. Some times I use a 20 gauge # 6 Rio 2.75.…Continue

Shotgun shells for Duck hunting

Started by Tim Goodyear. Last reply by albert linegar Dec 19, 2011. 6 Replies

What kind of shotgun shells do you guys use for duck hunting? What brand?Shot size?Continue

Shotshell Reloading

Started by Rich Reeves. Last reply by albert linegar Nov 6, 2011. 9 Replies

Anyone reloading shotshells? Looks like a great way to save $$ in the long term, make an ideal Waterfowl shot and help the enviornment. I have no idea how much it would cost to get started but I do…Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Jeremy Kelly on April 8, 2012 at 8:56pm

just had my .223 out for an eveing of target shooting, shot a box of winchester value pack thought id let people know deadly accurate but not much good for reloading 25% of the shells split after being fired and id say another 25% would split after being reloaded and fired again

Comment by albert linegar on September 6, 2011 at 11:08pm

  Thank you for the info Brandon, but I think it is my expectations that were off more so than the ammo I was using, trying to shoot a hole in a loony at 200 yds. so to speak . I since discovered that I can hit a 3" circle at 200yds quite easily. The loony, however is out lol.


PS. It's great to see young people joining the site have lots of fun.

Comment by brandon purcell on September 6, 2011 at 3:35pm

albert i beeing only 16 know not much of ammo and guns but last year dad was in moose hunting he uses a 30-06 , he was using federal  and he was talkin to people in there they said they would never use any othr ammo


Comment by albert linegar on August 15, 2011 at 9:47pm

Does anyone use Winchester 180gr. cxp2  power point ammo. in  30.06 sprg. and if so do you find them consistent  or not in accuracy.


Comment by Peter Emberley on October 6, 2010 at 2:55pm
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Comment by Lee C Snook on September 27, 2010 at 12:56pm
for a good choke tube i like the wad wizard great for the lone shots with steel it will surprise you! better pattern than black cloud i also tried the new Remington hypersonic steel 3" 11/4 BB @1700fps kills geese at 50+ yards as if you where shooting them at 25 yards well worth $24.00 a box+ tax oh i am using a Win SX3 for 21/2 years with no problems
Comment by Stefan Davis on August 16, 2010 at 9:39am
Robert - I'm not a pro duck hunter or anything, but I've killed my share over the last few years and Kent is all I use. Works well with my gun, patterns consistently, never tried a shell that didn't work, and it takes birds out of the air. They're decently priced (you'll notice that they don't offer discounts like Federal/Remington because the Kent products are sold at their lowest possible price) and they knock the birds down when I do my part. I recommend them highly.

Alex - I used my uncle's Browning Silver for almost all of last season and I have nothing but good things to say. Swings through beautifully, has near-perfect weight balance, and never had a problem with a mis-fire or a jam in the action. His had the fancy walnut stock and blue barrel so the aesthetics made the gun even more appealing (although I used my old Mossberg when we were on the saltwater because I didn't want to take the chance of using it and forgetting to clean it, haha.) That was only a season worth though, and the gun was only a year old, but I've yet to hear any bad things about them. The new Maxus is pretty slick too though and aren't too much more expensive than the Silver; have you checked those out?
Comment by Peter Emberley on August 15, 2010 at 10:55pm
I have not used it, however I have heard great things about it. Kent is one of our sponcers. They want us to demo a few rounds and give a honest report. So if I like it, I will let you know. If I don't like it, I will let you know. It will be an honest and unbiased opinion.
Comment by Robert Sullivan on August 15, 2010 at 10:16pm
What is everyone's opinion on Kent Fast Steel? I've used Blackcloud before but was thinking about trying fast steel this fall...
Comment by alex march on May 17, 2010 at 9:21pm
i am looking at a browning silver 12gauge 3.5 in duck blind camo to buy,does anyone know if its a good gun.i bought a sx3 classic last summer and the handpeice started rubbibg the barrel and winchester will replace the handpeice which wasnt cut straight but wont replace the barrel which has a rub on it so im gettin my money back from the dealer i bought it from which he tought was respectable

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