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Old July 10, 2011, 10:58 PM   #1
Nick9130White
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Shotgun "shot" size help.

I'm confused about how this works.
I've been told to shoot 4 shot when shooting ducks with decoys, but i dont understand why. Does 4 shot have more spread then a 3 shot or even a 2 shot? or is it the opposite, 4 shot has less spread then a 2 shot.
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Old July 10, 2011, 11:05 PM   #2
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Shot size has less to do with pattern size than the choke of the gun used to launch it.

What it does affect is pattern density: Smaller sizes (lager numbers- i.e. #8 shot is smaller than #4)allow you to have have more pellets than larger sizes, so there will be less space between them in the pattern. Larger shot has more energy at a given velocity and carries farther....... but the pattern gets some pretty large holes in it if you go too big....
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Old July 11, 2011, 12:27 AM   #3
Nick9130White
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So #2 shot would b e to much?
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Old July 11, 2011, 07:14 AM   #4
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So #2 shot would b e to much?
I don't hunt ducks ....... (doves and turkeys) ..... but the answer would be to ask for recommendations from someone, and then "pattern" your gun with the recommended load/choke at the max range you intend to take your game at.

My dad used to use #2 shot and a full choke for geese, but that was lead shot, and steel is required now for waterfowl. I don't remember what he used for ducks, for sure.
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Old July 11, 2011, 07:52 AM   #5
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Shot size is all about tradeoff's between pattern density and shot size.

For example, there are a lot more #9 shot in a target load than there are buckshot in a buckshot load. So, at any given range, with everything else being equal, the #9 shot will give you better target density than the buckshot.

However, all things are never equal. Choke size, target size, your particular shotgun will pattern differently than the next. It's never about spread (whatever that is). What's important is how many shot you can put into the target and is the shot large enough to kill the target. You've got to match the shot size to the game sought, and the pattern density has to be enough to put multiple hits on the target.

Back in the day I used lead #6 for decoying ducks and lead #4 for decoying geese. Then the gummint made us switch to steel shot and I had problems knocking down ducks with steel #6 for a variety of reasons. Steel isn't as heavy as lead, steel patterns differently than lead, steel doesn't penetrate as well as lead, etc, etc. So, I had to change my way of thinking about how shotguns operate against wildfowl.

The best idea is to take your shotgun to an open field and pattern it with several loads. Take a big piece of paper, trace a duck outline on it, and shoot it at 40 yards. Count the hits. Do this several times with different loads and you'll learn what your shotgun likes.
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:25 AM   #6
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I've never duck hunted but I have used a shotgun and buckshot to deer hunt all my life. Depending on where I'm going to be in my stand decides whether I use 00 buck or #1 buck. If the woods are dense with few shooting lanes I'll use #1. It has more slightly smaller pellets. This allows more pellets to find their way through thicker brush. In an open area I use 00. It has bigger pellets and more energy. Both shots group about the same from my gun. I can place every pellets in a pie plate from 40 steps. It took some time and money shooting alot of different brands and using different chokes. From #4 buck to 3" 000 buck. Full to improve cylinder. You must do the work.
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:53 AM   #7
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"Larger shot has more energy at a given velocity and carries farther....... but the pattern gets some pretty large holes in it if you go too big.... "

Exactly. Small shot gives better patterns over decoys, but small shot is lighter and doesn't fly as far or hit as hard when it does get there.

The obvious extreme is the #12 shot used in rimfire and centerfire snake shot shells. It doesn't go anywhere to speak of and won't tear up the inside of a barn.
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Old July 11, 2011, 09:08 AM   #8
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The larger the number, the smaller each pellet is. With larger shot each pellet will have more energy and will penetrate game better, but larger shot means less pellets in your shell. It is trade off.

Generally speaking the pattern will be about the same size regardless of shot size. The pattern of #2's will have fewer pellets in it and the #4's will have more. With larger game, you need larger shot to make a clean kill. The denser patterns with smaller shot means more pellets hitting the target.
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Old July 11, 2011, 09:18 AM   #9
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Choke constriction dictates pattern density.

Whether #2 (I'm assuming steel) for ducks in your area is a good choice depends on" choke of your gun and how well your gun likes that load and how far are these ducks you're shooting.

I stopped duck hunting when lead was disallowed, back then I used #4 for ducks and #2 for geese (lead shot).

Friends who still duck and goose hunt have gone up in sizes when using steel, into the T ranges
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Old July 11, 2011, 01:54 PM   #10
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So let me get this straight, the bigger the number the smaller the pellets but not as much power. So I'd have more pellets on paper at a specific distance.

But the smaller the number, the bigger the pellets, the less range it has but it makes up for it in power?
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Old July 11, 2011, 03:35 PM   #11
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Power does not just go by shot size, a 12ga 1 1/2oz load travels about 250fps slower then a hot 1 1/4 or 1 3/8oz load, foot pounds of energy is speed times weight. Alot of duck and goose hunters use smaller shot and go for the head shot, but a more dense pattern, some use larger shot and go for body shots.
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Old July 11, 2011, 05:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
So let me get this straight, the bigger the number the smaller the pellets but not as much power. So I'd have more pellets on paper at a specific distance.
You'll have more pellets on paper, but the question becomes, are the pellets heavy enough (do they have enough retained energy) to penetrate? It's a trade-off. Experience will tell you what you need and the only way to gain experience is to get out in the field and start hunting ducks.

In the mean time, buy some of these and go have a ball. With experience, you'll adjust your shot size depending on conditions and local variances in duck movement.
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Old July 11, 2011, 05:27 PM   #13
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Think of it this way. What is going to hurt worse, given that each rock thrown at 50 yards at the same launch speed. A one ouncer or a one pounder? The one ounce may not even break skin, while the one pound cracks your skull.
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Old July 11, 2011, 05:49 PM   #14
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The larger the number the smaller the shot - while you'll have more pellets, the smaller shot will dissipate their energy faster and thus slow down more quickly

Here's a chart explaining size and approximate number per ounce

http://www.shotgunworld.com/ammo_s082000.html
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Old July 11, 2011, 07:53 PM   #15
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I think I got it now. Thank you for the help.
Also, what's the best choke for steel 2 shot? Will modified be fine?
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:07 PM   #16
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Think of it this way. What is going to hurt worse, given that each rock thrown at 50 yards at the same launch speed. A one ouncer or a one pounder? The one ounce may not even break skin, while the one pound cracks your skull.
Aye, ........BUT ......

We are talking of shotgunning, specifically wingshooting, so would it be better to throw the equivalent of, say, 40 1 0z. rocks at a fragile, difficult to hit target, or 4 one pounders? A 1 pound miss does not count for anything, while a 1 ounce hit (or better yet several one ounce hits) can knock a bird down ...


... and yes I realize shot, even lead shot is nowhere near an oz........ I was sticking with Klawman's analogy.


Quote:
what's the best choke for steel 2 shot? Will modified be fine?

Try it.

Pattern it on a 4'x4' peice of cardboard with a flying duck drewn on it, placed at the range you expect to shoot. You should have several pellets hit vital spots ........ if you have duck sized gaps..... you need a tighter choke or more pellets or shorter range expectations....
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:29 PM   #17
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You are correct, JimBob, and I was only trying to illustrate that a larger missle moving at the same speed has more energy. I was not suggesting that anyone fire one pound or one ounce pieces of shot.

I am not a hunter, but when patterning are you only looking to see that a single pellet hits the duck drawn or enough pellets to bring one down, if more than one is usually needed?
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:44 PM   #18
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Will modified be fine?
You're missing the point. The nature of your target and general distance will determine your pellet type and size. Choke selection is based on your distance to target. The farther the target, the more constriction you'll want. Your modified choke might be fine, but then it could be too much, or too little depending on field conditions. It's why double barrel guns have double or selective triggers -- so you can quickly select which choke to use.

You can learn the concept form what's typically used in clay target shooting: The targets are generally the same and require the same energy to score a hit.
  • In Skeet, the targets are close crossing shots. With close targets, small pellets (#9s) will maintain enough energy to vaporize the them. The object is to get a lot of pellets in the vicinity of the target to maximize you chances of a hit. Small pellets and loose chokes give the best scores in Skeet.
  • At the trap range, you'll have a departing target, instead of Skeet's crossing shot. You'll be shooting at a greater distance but you'll have more time on target. The increased distance requires larger pellets to maintain enough energy to break the target. Skeet loads may just tickle trap targets. Trap shooters typically use #7-1/2s (the largest allowed by the rules). Also, in trap, to make things interesting, the distance to the trap varies from 16 to 27 yards. While the same size shot is used, as you move farther from the trap, you'll use a more constrictive choke.
The selection of shot size and choke is learned with experience (yours and others). For a new shooter, or an experienced shooter in a new shooting environment, seek selection recommendations from the locals. Remember, the opinions expressed here are based on the individual member's shooting environment, yours may differ considerably.
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Old July 11, 2011, 08:47 PM   #19
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This is awefully confusing but I think I'm getting it now.
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Old July 11, 2011, 09:02 PM   #20
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This is awefully confusing but I think I'm getting it now.
Welcome to shotgunning.
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Old July 11, 2011, 09:42 PM   #21
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I was not suggesting that anyone fire one pound or one ounce pieces of shot.
....as I took care to point out in my post, I understood it was an analogy ...... would not want to confuse folks.....

Quote:
I am not a hunter, but when patterning are you only looking to see that a single pellet hits the duck drawn or enough pellets to bring one down, if more than one is usually needed?
I am looking to make sure there are not large gaps in the pattern, and there will be multiple hits in vital areas ....... most birds are not hard to kill with birdshot (turkeys being an exception-their feathers make pretty good armor, don't ask me how I know.....) all you need to have is a pattern dense enough that the vital areas you are trying to hit gets several pellets........

I don't hunt ducks, I hunt doves and turkeys ..... when patterning for doves, I want the largest pattern possible that leaves no more than about 2" between pellets at 30 yards....... for turkeys, I want a much tighter pattern ..... say, not more than 1" at 40 yards...... and any pellet outside of a 6 or 8 inch circle is wasted....... I am aiming just below the turkey's head and want to break his neck with a pellet or two.....
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Old July 11, 2011, 09:46 PM   #22
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This is awefully confusing but I think I'm getting it now.
Quote:
Welcome to shotgunning.
Shotgunning is not confusing..... it is the most natural of the shooting sports..... it is instictive: pointing as opposed to aiming. Overthink it and it gets hard.

Get some good guidance from guys you are hunting with ...... show up at a Trap club- there are plenty of folks that would be more than happy to give you some pointers.

Trap is fun, though the birds are not all palatable.
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Old July 11, 2011, 10:33 PM   #23
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I used to hunt geese and duck. The reason you would use a 4 shot "over decoys" is the shots are generally closer in and with the duck coming in at slower speeds or even preparing to "sit" for landing. I would use number 2 shot for "pass shooting" where the distance was significantly futher often meaning at much higher elevation. As others have stated you will get more distance with heavier shot (number 2 shot) and a denser pattern due to the great number of shot with the larger numbered shot; i.e., number 4 shot.
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Old July 11, 2011, 10:40 PM   #24
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Thank you for the welcome 8-)

Shotgunning isn't confusing it's just the 2,3,4 shot choke size, all that.
This will be my second season of duck hunting, and by god, I'm counting the seconds.
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Old July 12, 2011, 01:23 PM   #25
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Good Day OP,

Ok, you stated that you were told to use #4 Steel over decoys. Why? I'll tell you why. Most decoy spreads are no more than 15-20 yard out from your position. Therefore, your shot range will not be that far and shot pattern density is more important. When making your decoy spread, the spread should have an opening in the "MIDDLE" where said incoming ducks will want to go, ie, the kill zone.

Will #2 steel work? Yes, but you'll have fewer pellets to achieve crippling/kill shots than with #4 shot. The shot selection would also dictate if you are hunting for a specific type of duck? For larger decoying ducks like Mallards, I would suggest 3inch #2's. However, if you will be hunting a wide variety, 3in #4's will cover a larger area for those faster, smaller ducks, like blue/green teal. For these birds, you don't need heavy hard hitting(#2's) so much as, smaller shotsize and denser pattern (#4's).

As for choke, Modified or improved Modified would fit well with either shot size but given your type of hunting, IM should work well. As some have mentioned, patterning your shotgun with the loads and chokes suggested will give you the best, full spectrum of information to make the best decision for your specific situation. I also suggest spending time on a trap/skeet range using the type of loads you plan on using for hunting, as each kind/type of shell has differnt characteristics and therefore lead will change and vary given different weathers conditions.

Feel free to ask for clarification on anything I wrote.

BC
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