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#12069257 - 06/03/17 Non toxic shot  
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websterparish47 Offline
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I guess I was asleep at the wheel when this stuff can out. Know a little about "steel" shot but this other stuff is new to me and I can't find much back ground data on it. Seems Titanium is slightly heavier than lead and lethal at lead velocites while heavy shot is a little lighter than lead and requires more velocity to equal leads lethality. Have I got that right? Are shot sizes the same regardless of shot make up? Educate me.

CMG 300 BP
#12069453 - 06/03/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Steel is considerably faster than lead. It slows down soon also because of less density. I was on the bandwagon when it first came out and in some areas it was the law. So I used different loads and found steel to be effective only in a larger size BB. I was a #4 Lead fan for ducks and a #2 Lead fan for geese, but I found the best steel BB's for ducks was #BB and for Geese BBB. I have tried a lot of the newer shot sizes, but lead is my favorite and steel is second. The cost of some of the new shot turned me off when I could buy a Box of 25 lead or steel for the same price as a box of 10 Hevi-Shot. As far as lethality goes, that is a different subject altogether. Now you are into Gauge, Choke, 2-3/4", 3", 3-1/2" and most of all what kind of a hunter are you. Do you skybust Geese? Do you Arkansas Ducks in your decoys? Do you field hunt over a pointing dog or a flushing dog or no dog. All these factors add up to "Lethality"
Now I hope you will get more info from those who are more knowledgeable about Tungsten and Hevi-shot or any of the newer products. I will stick to lead where legal and steel where it's required.


Better to be over the hill than under it.
#12069527 - 06/03/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Thanks for your response.

I'm out of the duck hunting now. Haven't hunted them since non toxic became the law.(except for a single hunt about 5 years ago) Have never hunted geese. I still have an interest in shot shells and reloading. 12ga is my all around gun and although it has a three inch chamber I've only purchased one box of three inch shells and that was for turkeys.

For your interest, Dad called the decoyed ducks in and landed them. No one was allowed to shoot until the ducks were flushed.

#12069959 - 06/03/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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erich Offline
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I believe you are referring to tungsten instead of titanium. There are many non-toxics available and I will try and give you a quick synopsis of what is available.

1. Steel, the most cost effective non-toxic shot and is quite effective within it's limitation, it loses energy fast due to the fact it is light, lighter than lead but it works well for decoying ducks. I use #3 and #4 as I shoot just decoying ducks. I'm old and hunted ducks for a number of years like nearly 30 years with lead and my goto load was 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2's early and 5's late in the season. Steel is hard and need barrels that are steel rated or very open fixed chokes.

2. Tungsten and tungsten related alloys, Hevi Shot, ITX-13, Hevi-13, Hevi-18 and TSS, all are close to lead in weight or heavier, they hold energy very well and like steel they need special wads and powder to load and are even harder than steel and again for shotguns designed for steel, they are also very expensive but effective for pass shooting and on large geese.

3. Soft non-toxics such as Bismuth, ITX-10, Tungsten-Matrix(powdered tungsten with a polymer binder to keep it soft) they are heavier than steel and very close to lead in weight again expensive BUT unlike steel and tungsten based shot these can be fired through old shotgun with fixed chokes, thin soft steel barrels even Damascus with the appropriate loaI shoot the soft non-toxics just because of my love for old sxs shotguns, if I shot a modern shotgun steel would work fine for me.


After the first shot the rest are just noise.
#12070320 - 06/03/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Yes, I meant tungsten, thank you. You've given me a much better idea of the various non toxic. Thank you for your time and effort.

#12084640 - 06/11/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Great summary from erich.

In a modern shotgun, the #2 category of shot is where it's at. From ducks/pheasants to geese and turkeys, everything is better about Tungsten Super Shot.

#12094786 - 06/16/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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I am by no means an expert or have even used all the different flavors of the "unleaded." But being an occasional watefowler and with more and more public land allowing non-toxics only even for upland hunting, I've sorted through a few of them. In spite of the price I've settled on Kent tungsten-matrix because it's density is 10.60 gms/cc compared to lead at 11.10 so it's very close and I can rely on five decades of brain-memory, shot judgement because it flies and kills like lead as far as I can tell. Not insignificantly, I have two SxS with fixed chokes so I can use them with this shot without worry of scored or bulged barrels.

I also found Bismuth to work quite well on ducks and pheasants but would do a mental, acceptable, range-reset to 90% of what it would be with lead.

My most unpleasant memory involving early (for me anyway) then appropriate-sized, steel shot was pass shooting geese in the 90's with steel where even at 35-40 yards we saw hits and even heard hits that geese "flew through" or coasted off hundreds of yards before hitting the ground. Granted, no doubt steel shotshells have come a long ways in two decades but because of the two guns mentioned above and even in several autoloaders I refuse to use it in the gunning I do.

Last edited by George_De_Vries_3rd; 06/16/17.
#12099278 - 06/19/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: George_De_Vries_3rd]  
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" I can rely on five decades of muscle memory"

That was exactly the point I was trying to make on another thread where I got flamed pretty good. My lack of knowledge on current non toxics left me helpless to respond. I've seen non toxics advertised with MV of 1500 to 1700fps. I can't see how lead wouldn't be affected.

Last edited by websterparish47; 06/19/17.
#12104233 - 06/21/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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I've played some with bismuth and ITX in my old guns and been well pleased with it. I tend to hunt small water with only a handful of decoys and keep my shots close, regardless of the gun and ammo choice. Bismuth 6s on close in, decoyed ducks is very effective but I haven't tried any long shots with it. I tried 6s because that season none of the suppliers had 4s or 5s in stock. I have a good supply of ITX 2s, 4s and 6s to load this year and am going to order some bismuth 4s as well. The ITX 4's really crush ducks well. I found its performance very similar to lead 4s though I know it's a bit lighter. Of course it's been 30+ years since I've fired a round of lead at waterfowl so my memory might be suspect on that. I haven't used the ITX 2s or 6s yet.

I like that either will get my old guns back in service, even if it's just for a couple of hunts. I have my Browning Sweet 16, a Lefever 12 gauge, a Thomas Bland 2 1/2" 12, an Ithaca Lewis 10 gauge 2 7/8" and my Dad's Ithaca 37 20 gauge. While I don't get each of them out every year for a hunt, it's nice to know I can grab anyone of them and put them to work in the duck blind.


"a large number of red blooded Americans have been striving to make us a Nation of Rifleman. We have succeeded. May we ever remain thus, for the privilege to bear, and the ability to use weapons is the greatest guarantee of Liberty." Townsend Whelen
#12116157 - 06/28/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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I've used Hevi-Shot (Tungsten) since about 2002. Very lethal stuff.

Having shot my first duck about 1965 or so, I have used lead, steel and now Hevi-Shot. In my experience, HS is noticeably better than same size lead, so I step down one shot size from lead. HS 6 will kill Mallards very well out to about 45yds, and when using HS 4's, it usually penetrates through Mallards at 45yds, and kills geese in excess of 50yds cleanly.

When I run out of HS, I'll try some ITX shot from Ballistic Products.

#12255380 - 09/06/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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If you decide to get back into Waterfowl hunting. Just buy a dedicated steel shot gun. then pick one load to shoot in it. I would suggest a Remington 3" 1 1/4oz load of #2 steel. Then shoot it for all waterfowl. Do not get caught up in all the BS hype about whats better. Stuff that 3" remington shell in a cheap 870 Express with a Imp Cyl Choke screwed in and kill birds. If your over big water or Pass shooting. Screw in the Modified. It is realy that simple.


The anti American Constitutional party. Wants to dismantle your rights, limiting every aspect of your constitutional rights. Death by 1000 cuts is the tactic. Each cut bleeds your constitutional rights so they can control you. Control is the goal.
#12256139 - 09/07/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Good info in this thread! Might try jump shooting/small pond duck hunting and nice to know real life experience with loads and chokes.

#12270452 - 09/14/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: baltz526]  
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Originally Posted by baltz526
If you decide to get back into Waterfowl hunting. Just buy a dedicated steel shot gun. then pick one load to shoot in it. I would suggest a Remington 3" 1 1/4oz load of #2 steel. Then shoot it for all waterfowl. Do not get caught up in all the BS hype about whats better. Stuff that 3" remington shell in a cheap 870 Express with a Imp Cyl Choke screwed in and kill birds. If your over big water or Pass shooting. Screw in the Modified. It is realy that simple.


There's a lot of truth in the above comment. I'm big into loading various non-toxic shots from Hevi, HW15, 18g/cc Tungsten, and 19g/cc Tungsten, but when it comes to Woodies or Mallards in timber, pit blinds with big ducks or specks on the menu, or decoyed geese, the Remington 1-1/4oz #2 steel(Or similar #2 loads) will kill effectively and has been doing so successfully for decades.

#12279017 - 09/18/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Steel works for a lot of applications, but I've been shooting various other kinds of non-toxic shot on everything from jumped ducks on creeks to pass-shooting geese for over 20 years now. If you believe steel will work as well as hard tungsten shot at all ranges, good luck.

I've also used a lot of bismuth (and similar weight/density "double-gun safe" shot) over that same time period, and have yet to detect any difference in effective range from lead shot. While bismuth is a little lighter, it makes up for it in a little more pattern density, if the weight/size of the shot charge is the same.


John

"Gunwriters, as you know, aren't as informed as their readers are and if it wasn't for the readers, there would be no need for writers..."--Shrapnel, May 2015
#12279453 - 09/18/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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I started guiding for geese in the late 80's when steel became mandatory. It was pretty poor back then- almost as poor as the shooting ability of the clients- so one learned how to decoy and call to bring birds in close. Wings out and feet stretched to land made for a big easy target at 25 yards. T and F sizes were the rage and they worked much better up close than at a distance as so many believed back then. This was with 3" 12 ga guns or a 10 ga auto. The service I worked for was given the Mossberg 835 and Federal 3.5" shells to test before it went to market but I didn't care for the recoil. At the ranges we were shooting birds, I saw no need for a larger payload. We were split down the middle on this new load, some liked it, others didn't.

I began reloading steel shortly after and was able to get some in the 1450 fps range. Loaded with 2 for ducks and BB For geese it was an improvement over factory. When Winchester came out with their Supreme line I stopped loading steel. I have found a steel 3" 12 ga load traveling 1375-1450 with a appropriate shot size will do about anything I need for waterfowl. 15 years guiding and a like time span hunting heavily for myself has me trusting these loads. In the 10 and 12 ga I am satisfied with steel as it works for me whether shooting early season teal in Iowa, snows in Canada or Texas, or giant Canada's in Rochester in December.

Much of this probably has to do with my experience with a scattergun- I have shot sporting clays competition for better than 3 decades as well as skeet and trap for longer. Not to count shooting pigeons, starlings, English sparrows, and other hunting. Put better than 10,000 rounds down range for a couple of decades and one can put the pellets where they are needed or know why just as an experienced rifleman can call his shots. It is also why I like that moderate velocity- leads look the same as with my lead target loads and recoil is not a problem. The latter can be important when laying in fields on a good day. 3+ boxes in a morning can happen if the snows cooperate.

Now, in the smaller bores there is no denying the other non-toxics rule the roost. I use steel if I have no alternative but treat it as if it is the 80s. The only exception is for doves and other small birds for which steel is adequate. I also prefer the other non-toxics in the 2 3/4" 12 ga as payload can be tight with the larger shot sizes.

#12281180 - 09/19/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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woodsmaster,

For your needs steel works fine, but in my experience even the best of today's steel loads don't work for the average guy.

That's not me, since I shoot a shotgun a lot, though far more on wild birds than clays, including pretty frequent trips to places where more wild birds, from doves to waterfowl, are shot than most American hunters can legally take.

But my profession involves providing advice to average shooters. To do that I try everything myself, and also shoot alongside average shooters a lot. My wife and I regularly try most of the available factory non-toxic loads, including steel, often in places where guides see a lot of waterfowl shot. A couple years ago we were trying several new loads, including steel, softer shot for doubles and harder shot for tougher chokes. Our guide, a guy we'd shot with before, didn't know what we were using the first morning, but after half an hour and 3-4 flocks of geese, said, "You're not shooting steel, are you?" He deduced this from the high percentage of birds that dropped dead from one shot, rather than requiring two as most steel-shooters needed--if they hit the bird on the first shot.

The other factor is that the average waterfowl hunter doesn't buy the best steel loads, and in fact wouldn't know what they are--or won't pay for them. Maybe most wouldn't do better if they bought higher-density non-toxics, but in my observation when they do, they use fewer shots to bag more birds. The cost-per-bird is higher, but the satisfaction ratio is far higher.

The reason is that smaller-size, higher-density shot results in more holes in birds, with plenty of penetration, especially beyond the range where steel's most effective, common with average hunters even if they're not "sky busters." Of course, they still have to hit the birds, but when they do the results are noticeably more sudden and certain.


John

"Gunwriters, as you know, aren't as informed as their readers are and if it wasn't for the readers, there would be no need for writers..."--Shrapnel, May 2015
#12294783 - 09/25/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Wish we could get some depleted uranium. Compared to lead, that is some heavy stuff. About 70% greater density than lead.


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#12294787 - 09/25/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: 1minute]  
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Is it non-toxic?

#12299580 - 09/28/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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There's no question that various non-toxic higher density loads are far better than steel, but it's a simple fact they're not needed to be very successful in capable hands. 12 & 10ga steel works just fine at normal ranges. If $500+ for 250rds of higher density NT are no issue, then by all means run high density. For those that may shoot 1000rds+ a season on waterfowl, it's simply not affordable and steel works just fine.

If you really want to have a ball of fun with superior performance to that of steel, check into 18g shot loaded in 28 and 20ga. For approximately the same cost of higher density waterfowl 12ga loads, one can have a much more lethal load without the high recoil.

#12299952 - 09/28/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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Soft non-toxics come into their own when you want to shoot the old timers I love duck hunting with my old hammer guns, new pumps and semi autos just don't feel right.

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Last edited by erich; 09/28/17.

After the first shot the rest are just noise.
#12300525 - 09/28/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: Mule Deer]  
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[quote=Mule Deer Of course, they still have to hit the birds[/quote]

And that is the crux of the matter. The shot type is a hardware fix for a software problem. If the shooter cannot hit the bird, it does not matter what is used. In the days of lead shot a number of birds were lost for the same reasons as they are lost today- mainly poor shooting. I believe it was Bob Brister who initially brought this up but It could have been Tom Roster. If one has the skill and knowledge to consistantly put the densest part of the pattern on the bird and an appropriate size shot and choke is used for the range, then the bird will be killed.

The issue, in my eyes, is the typical shooter can't consistently hit the bird with the densest part of the pattern. That is borne out but the number of broken winged birds and "gut shot" birds that one sees brought down by typical shooters regardless of range. Centeing the pattern on the bird will lead to the half dozen or so pellets hitting the bird and providing they are in the front half, the bird will be killed.

I push competition as the scorecard doesn't lie and one can't fudge their results with a selective memory. To make honest progress honesty is needed in marking results and that is best done on paper. Plus, a competitive event provides access to more accomplished shooters who may be able to provide help in overcoming problems. One is not likely to get this shooting a couple rounds of trap or "pasture clays" with their buddies.

I agree that many shooters do not pick the best shells for the purpose but that has always been the case and always will. The most expensive shells are not necessarily the best nor are the lesser priced ones poor. It takes some time and money at the patterning board as well as use on game to determine what will work well. The heavier than steel shot do indeed leave a more visible affect when they hit the target but do not necessarily kill better. I have seen their effects from my own use as well as watching many more rounds fired by others. I use the other options over steel in everything less then 12 ga due to payload and velocity but for the 12 and 10 ga I am satisfied with steel.

I hope this doesn't sound snarky, if so I didn't mean to be so. I just approach this problem from a different direction. I think skill trumps equipment in the overall scheme of things though you would be hard pressed to believe this if you looked through my shooting equipment. I also hope it is not too disjointed as I am trying to get this done at work and duty keeps pulling me away.

#12303364 - 09/30/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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woodsmaster,

Thanks for your response. Here's how I came to my conclusions.

I knew Bob Brister very well. I first met him in the 1980's, when we were working for the same magazine, and we ended up doing a lot of shotgunning together, both of targets and birds, as well as a lot of cussing and discussing shotguns. When we met I'd already read his classic book on shotguns more than once, and he very graciously signed it for me.

One of the occasions when we hunted together occurred in 1996, when Federal was about to introduce its first "hard tungsten" factory loads. I'd already been shooting bismuth in the field for a while, to find out what it was all about, so wasn't unfamiliar with alternatives to steel shot, but to really give the new tungsten shot a valid field-trial Federal took me, Bob, and two other gun writers to Argentina, where we could shoot a LOT more waterfowl than in the U.S. In fact Federal flew 105 cases of ammo down, not all tungsten but some lead, for testing on the abundant upland birds down there. Among the results of the extensive field-testing were some strong suggestions from Bob to the Federal guys, made one evening toward the end of the hunt, about the basics of shot and killing birds.

At any rate, I've done a lot of similar tests since, though unfortunately not with Bob, because he got too old to travel much anymore, and then passed away. Aside from returning to Argentina, I've tested new kinds of shotshells (and shotguns) extensively in South Africa (which if anything has better hunting than Argentina) and in Canada, where the limits aren't as large as Argentina but often more than in the U.S.--with the exception of snow geese, which I've also hunted during spring in the Midwest.

On one of the snow-goose shoots I was working with bismuth in a 3-1/2" 12-gauge, and since the geese were hard to decoy close (as they often are, due to being shot at a lot) most were taken at longer ranges. My wife and I got to take all the geese home, partly because she's a game cookbook writer and needs lots of wild specimens for working up recipes, and partly because nobody else wanted any. (Apparently not many people know how to cook snow geese.) Now, one other shooter in our group tended to claim he killed almost any goose that fell in the direction he was shooting, but when we got home and processed all the birds, we found the vast majority were killed with bismuth--including one I'd marked, because that other guy claimed he'd killed it. He was shooting steel, like everybody except my wife and I.

The last such field-test occurred two years ago in Alberta, where my wife and I hunt frequently, both for cookbook birds and testing the latest non-toxic loads. On that trip there were two main shotgun goals, new non-steel loads in her 20-gauge and softer non-steel loads in my Spanish 10-gauge double, including both handloads and factory with bismuth and soft ITX shot. We hunted with an outfitter we've known since the early 1990's, and shared the blind with a pair of brothers from Calgary, who've also hunted with the outfitter several times. They're good shots but only used steel. The very first day we got a good supply of birds to take home, so after that I started experimenting with the 10 more. Eventually I ended up waiting until after everybody else shot at a flock of decoyed birds, then unlimbered the 10. This obviously resulted in longer shots at birds going away, either quartering or directly, yet I ended up dropping ducks and geese at ranges the guys using steel wouldn't even attempt.

We were not just shooting greater Canadas, but lessers, white-fronted geese and occasional snows, along with some ducks. The denser patterns of the smaller, heavier shot in the 10 made a very noticeable difference. This is one aspect of wingshooting many hunters don't understand: Bigger birds are actually easier to kill with less-dense patterns, because more shot is likely to hit bigger birds. I've seen this again and again not just when hunting waterfowl, but bigger upland birds, especially sage grouse with a 20 or 28-gauge.

So yes, my experience is different than yours, and the reasons I've found heavier non-toxics to kill birds better are the same outlined by Bob Brister when he talked to the guys are Federal over 20 years ago. He knew a lot of about shot not just from studying it or shooting clays, but because he made a large part of his early living shooting live birds in competitions, both waterfowl and pigeons. (In fact he built a big house in Houston mostly on the proceeds from his live pigeon shooting.) While he also did well in clay-bird shoots (he was one of the major figures in bringing Sporting Clays to the U.S.) he always preferred shooting birds, and shooting birds is different than shooting clays. First you have to drop them, not just break them, and that requires penetration--especially on going-away birds. Plus, as he often pointed out, clays are easier to hit because they're more predictable, and slow down after being thrown.

His major points in selecting loads for birds were:
1) Use shot hard enough to retain its shape, rather than flatten or break up, which not only produces better patterns but increases penetration.
2) Use shot dense enough to penetrate well.
3) Use loads with enough pellets to result in sufficiently dense patterns to make hitting vital areas more likely.

All of Bob's list is why various kinds of heavier non-toxic shot kill birds better than steel. You can use smaller shot for a denser pattern, yet retains its velocity better at longer range, and penetrates even deeper. More deep-penetrating shot in a bird results in more quick kills.

Steel works very well within its range, especially modern high-velocity steel loads in larger shot sizes, partly because it's hard, conforming to (1). I once astonished some pheasant-hunting companions when hunting a creek here in Montana. Late in the season it was common to also jump mallards, so I used steel shot, and in a light 20-gauge, because shots were likely to be quick and relatively close, usually not more than 30-35 yards. The steel crumpled both roosters and mallards, and eventually the other folks had to ask what I was using in "that little 20." They were flabbergasted when they found it was steel.

But the light weight of steel pellets still creates a ballistic wall beyond a certain range, both in velocity and penetration. They slow down faster, and in the term often used by rifle hunters, they lack "sectional density," the relationship between frontal area and weight, which helps penetration. Yes, steel works fine in the 12 and 10 gauges at typical goose ranges, but when ranges become marginal for steel, whether due to its lower velocity or thinner patterns, the other non-toxics work noticeably better. It's basic physics, which is exactly what Bob Brister pointed out that evening in Argentina long ago.





John

"Gunwriters, as you know, aren't as informed as their readers are and if it wasn't for the readers, there would be no need for writers..."--Shrapnel, May 2015
#12311422 - 10/04/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: websterparish47]  
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John,

Have you tried 18 or 19g shot yet?

It's a bit overkill in 10 and 12, but it's an eye opener in smaller gauges. ITX, Hevi, or other available HD NTs don't even come close.

#12313805 - 10/05/17 Re: Non toxic shot [Re: Reloader7RM]  
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 42,519
Mule Deer Online content
Campfire Oracle
Mule Deer  Online Content
Campfire Oracle

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 42,519
Banana Belt, Montana
I've tried it a little in 20-gauge, but so far very little. The basic principle, of course, is good!


John

"Gunwriters, as you know, aren't as informed as their readers are and if it wasn't for the readers, there would be no need for writers..."--Shrapnel, May 2015
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