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Old September 19, 2013, 10:03 PM   #1
Texascoonhunter
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Question: Shooting Steel Shot in Shotgun

I have always used lead shot in my shotgun. But because of new laws prohibiting lead shot in federal refuge considered low lands, I have to shoot steel shot while squirrel hunting. In a discussion with a friend, he stated that shooting steel shot in a full choke barrel will damage the barrel and may even cause the end to split or worse. I had not considered this as a possibility but I thought I would present this to the members here and get some other experiences and personal knowledge. I appreciate all replies.

Thanks in advance.
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Old September 20, 2013, 01:38 AM   #2
Tejicano
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I admit that I am not as big into shotguns as I am into other firearms but don't the steel shot round have a nylon cup/wad like the lead ones do? Wouldn't that cup give the load enough ability to deform? I don't think that lead shot actually deforms while traveling through a choked bore does it?

Sorry to throw a bunch of questions into this but that's what my engineering mind comes up with.
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Old September 20, 2013, 01:52 AM   #3
steveno
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shooting steel shot in a full choke is not a good idea. lead shot though the full choke will cause the shot to deform going through the choke. steel shot isn't going to deform so you are going to overstress the choke area over time. now the thing to think about is how old is your shotgun? if you shotgun is less than 30 years old it will probably be ok in the short term but I wouldn't give it a steady diet of it with the full choke. if you are using a shotgun over 40 years old I wouldn't shoot steel shot in it at all.
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Old September 20, 2013, 05:25 AM   #4
Salmoneye
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Ring bulging a soft steel tightly choked barrel was a real possibility when steel was first mandated for waterfowl...Modified and more open chokes did not seem to have as hard a time with the 'new' steel loads...

Since that time shot cups have become thicker, and barrels have become 'harder' and thicker at the muzzle end, with many coming with removable choke tubes...

Bottom line for me is that if this is a family heirloom, or has sentimental value, "I" would not fire steel through a full choke...

If this is something like a run of the mill 870, or an NEF single shot made in the last 20 years, "I" would not think twice about firing steel through a full choke...

I have a 70's Springfield 511 that is choked Mod and Full that I regularly shoot steel through for ducks and geese...The thing is built like a tank and the steel at the muzzle is very thick...I have a Richland 711 (Spanish import) that I ONLY shoot bismuth through as the steel is soft, and the gun belonged to Dad...

I am NOT recommending anyone do as I do, just relaying my experiences...

If you value that gun, then by all means just go buy a used NEF single shot choked Mod, and have at the squirrels...
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Old September 20, 2013, 07:38 AM   #5
Doyle
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You also need to be aware that steel shot patterns one level "tighter" than lead. When fired thru a modified choke, steel will pattern about the same way that lead patterns thru a full choke. One more reason for backing off on the choke.
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Old September 20, 2013, 08:57 AM   #6
Vurtle
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I use a factory full choke on my 870 and it reads lead or steel on the side of the choke.
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Old September 20, 2013, 09:23 AM   #7
BigD_in_FL
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It will all depend on what gun you are talking about. GENERALLY speaking, most advice is not to use tighter than Mod for several reasons - barrel bulge/bursting and poor pattern performance. A full choke with steel can actually give you more like an IC pattern as the pattern can have a doughnut shape with flyers. I would try an IC or M on the pattern plate with the ammo you intend to use to see what you get.
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Old September 20, 2013, 10:46 AM   #8
big al hunter
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Assuming that your shotgun is older, and does not have removable chokes. Use one of the softer nontoxic shots like bismuth. It actually performs similar to lead. But it is expensive.
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Old September 20, 2013, 11:34 AM   #9
buckhorn_cortez
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Steel shot is contained in a wad until it exits the muzzle. The first place the wad/shot are constricted is at the forcing cone - not at the choke. Steel shot is loaded to the same chamber pressures as lead shot loads.

However - steel shot can apply higher radial loads to the barrel as it does not deform like lead shot. If the barrel can withstand the radial load (rated for steel shot) then it is safe to shoot steel shot in the barrel. If not, then you can bulge the barrel at either the forcing cone OR the choke.

Also, large shot (lead or steel - larger than #5 shot) creates higher radial loads. Magnum shells create higher radial loads.

If you don't know if the gun barrel is rated for steel shot or not, then either contact the manufacturer for advice on using steel shot; or as, previously suggested, use an alternative to steel shot.
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Old September 20, 2013, 01:19 PM   #10
BigJimP
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Steel does not compress like lead shot...as it goes into the choke area of the shotgun.....so I would never shoot a choke tighter than a "Modified" for Steel - regardless of the age of the gun / and I think you're risking damaging the barrel if you do.

In every Browning shotgun changeable screw in choke I've seen....the chokes marked as "Modified" chokes read...."Mod for Lead - and Full for Steel"....so shooting the Modified choke with a Steel load, gives you a "Full" choke pattern with steel / that's all you need.
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Old September 20, 2013, 03:11 PM   #11
Virginian-in-LA
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Steel behaves exactly like lead through the choke. It's just harder and less likely to compress. You will get slightly better patterns because of the harder pellets. I have shot, and patterned, many steel loads thru full choke tubes. As with lead, in the larger shot sizes an Improved Modified will often give a tighter pattern. I have never seen a blown pattern. The current shotcups are worlds better than the early ones. About zero chance of scoring a barrel. I also shot a lot of steel through a Richland Model 711 10 gauge Magnum choked Full and Full. It never suffered any damage, but I knew there was some risk involved. There is nothing like a 10 for big birds with steel. After tungsten came along, I went back to the 3" 12 gauge.

Last edited by Virginian-in-LA; September 20, 2013 at 03:17 PM.
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Old September 20, 2013, 04:05 PM   #12
Texascoonhunter
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Steel shot

To all who made post on this question, I want to Thank ALL of you very much. As stated in my original post I have always shot lead. I had no idea as to how steel would act in a full choke. Thanks to all of you, I have now changes out my barrel from the 30" full to the 28" Mod. I check my 30" full choke barrel and did not detect any damage but that is a visual check only. Again "THANKS"
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Old September 22, 2013, 11:40 AM   #13
Dreaming100Straight
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Go back and read what buckhorn cortez said, as well as others about needing to be rated for steel. It may help if you said what model gun you have and its year of manufacture.

Even if your barrel is a modified, it still has to be rated for steel shot. The fact that your barrels have fixed chokes suggests to me that they are older and are likely not to be rated for steel.

That you shot X number of rounds without noticeable damage does not mean you won't bulge a barrel with the next shot.
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