View Full Version : Waterfowl Shells - who makes good stuff

November 25, 2008, 09:39 AM
In my youth I was quite a duck and goose hunter, with my trusty Rem 870 wingmaster at my side and a belt full of LEAD I could down anything I could see. But as steel shot became the new norm I gave up the sport, having only a 2 3/4" chamber my old wingmaster couldn't kill a damn thing unless I was standing on top of it, with steel shells.
Now I've got a new 870 waterfowl gun (3.5" chamber) and a set of various chocks and I'm wanting to put a hurting into the local bird populations once more....mmm mmm tasty!

What loads should I be firing for medium/big ducks and geese and who makes a good shell at a half decent price?
I've heard the new heavier than lead alternatives are the best, but they cost way too much, its like $3 or $4 a shell!!!! There is a lot of "Black Cloud" on the shelves around here, how does that fare?, perhaps a box of 3.5" mag #2 for ducks and 3.5" mag BBB for geese? (I want maximum distance as most of my shots will be on the longer side, especially for geese, some ducks I might get closer too)

I've also heard that a full chock might not be the way to go with steel shot, should I step down to the next tightest chock?

November 25, 2008, 09:52 AM
"HEVI-SHOT" is one and here is another... I use neither as I do not waterfowl hunt but these claim to be top notch...
Good luck...

Dr. Strangelove
November 25, 2008, 11:18 AM
What do these "various chocks" that came with your new shotgun do? Keep your truck from rolling off into the water?:)

November 25, 2008, 12:38 PM
Never run a steel thru a choke that is marked FULL or LEAD without cotacting manufacturer to see if it is safe. There are FULL-STEEL but they are not as tight IIRC as a regular full choke. I would think more open chokes would be safe but having no experience in steel shot I would never consider what I say as "advise"...:o I don't wanna be responsible for dangerous info.

November 25, 2008, 01:06 PM
Quote "What do these "various chocks" that came with your new shotgun do? Keep your truck from rolling off into the water?" End Quote

Are you being a smart ass or do you really not know what a choke is? LOL:p

As for what they are, its the usual selection of Rem Chokes that come with an new Remington 870. Without looking I would guess, Imp, Mod, Full

Dr. Strangelove
November 25, 2008, 04:51 PM
Just having fun.:D

Spell-check is nice, but proofreading is your friend.;)

November 25, 2008, 05:28 PM
Yeah I poofreed eber post too make shure I downt have arrears....:D

November 25, 2008, 07:19 PM
I looked at the 3.5 inch Hevi Shot at Dick's and it was $42.95 for 10 rounds! Darned expensive quackers to me; I shoot the WW 2 3/4 inch Drylock steel myself. Kent Fasteel is supposed to be good, but I haven't seen the need to change brands. Just keep them away from humidity to avoid corrosion in the pellets.

nutty ned
November 25, 2008, 09:46 PM
medium/big ducks Winchester drylok 3",
1&1/4 oz #1 steel shot.

November 26, 2008, 10:04 AM
The Winchester Drylock is actually the only kind of Steel I've ever tried. I went from 40 yard shorts being sure things with lead to 25 yards being the usual max with the Drylocks when I made the switch to steal in my little 2 3/4" chamber......POed me big time.
Especially since the lead did a good job at medium and long range without too much meet distruction and the Drylocks failed to kill at long range yet caused ducks to expload on the rare close up shots. I guess that will still be a problem as long as I'm shooting steel but if I step up to 3" or 3.5" perhaps I will get some of my range back.
I have NEVER killed a goose with it, I blasted half a box of BBB shot out of my usual setup thinking I must be having a bad day and missing until I noticed some of the geese wobbling slightly or loosing a few feathers as the shot hit them...then I realized how truely useless 2 3/4" steel shells are at longer ranges.

November 26, 2008, 11:39 AM
Velocity is more important with steel in my opinion. This season I like Winchester's XPert line 3.5" 1.25 oz. #2 shot at 1625 FPS. (wear lots of clothes or use a good recoil pad though :eek:)

November 26, 2008, 11:46 AM
I'm really partial to Kent's line of Fast Steel. They make it in all lengths.. I'm partial to the 3" - 1 1/8 of either BB's, 2, or 3's. They claim 1550 fps but I chrono'd some of their stuff out of my 28" Browning Gold and it clocked at a Min of 1560 and a max of 1602 fps. I have not tried the 3.5" stuff since I do not own or use a 3.5" gun.

Death from Afar
November 26, 2008, 02:23 PM
I dont know if its still made, but I used the federal premium tungsten stuff ( i know it is expensive as sin, but it was free from a deceased estate) with great sucess. Awesome ammo, best non lead shot i have ever used, and vastly superior to poxy normal steel.

Dave McC
November 27, 2008, 07:39 AM
Hevishot is not quite as expensive as Pharmaceutical grade Cocaine, but it's up there.

It also, at least in 2 shot,kills geese as good as lead or better.

November 27, 2008, 10:16 AM
Call me old fashioned, but using 2-3/4", 1-1/4 oz, max dram steel in either BB or #2 is all I've ever used on geese and ducks hunting them in FL for pinners, widgeon, teal, ringbill, mottled, fulvous whistiling, the occaisional merganser, in WA state for Greater and Lesser Canadians, mallards, teal, widgeon, and on OK for specks, snows, mallards, widgeon, gadwall, and teal. I take my shots over the dekes, limit myself to shots inside 40 yards, refrain from skybusting and hate those who do, and I've had great success.

I've got a couple shotguns that can handle the 3" stuff, to include a nice over-under, but I like my old, beat up, 30% finish Ted Williams model 300. You can step on it, cover it in mud, use it as a boat paddle, throw deeks on top of it, have the dog step on it with its muddy feet, etc and not worry that they just desecrated a $1400 Benneli SBE.

No offense intended to SBE owners, just giving an example of POS, ugly-as-all-getup-and-only-spent-$80-on-it-but-works gun vs high dollar, pretty, and works gun.

November 27, 2008, 12:16 PM
If thats what you call old fashioned I'm not sure your old enough. LOL Real old fashioned is that beautiful substance called lead :rolleyes:
Besides being a better duck/goose killer it has the additional benefits of adding superior flavor to the meat if you miss a pellet when cleaning and being soft enough to only chip your teeth half as often as the harder steel pellets when you bite down on said missed pellet.

November 27, 2008, 12:52 PM
300Mag, I did shoot a lot of lead prior to the ban and probably have a few chips on the enamel from the unfound pellets (well, I guess I did find them, just too late!:p). In fact, I had a case of just purchased Active 2-3/4 lead when the ban went into effect. :mad:

That's my point, when everyone went to 3" to make up for the performance of steel, I just stayed at 2-3/4. Yeah, I cannot make those 60-70 yard shots, but then I found that I really never took those anyways and enjoyed the challenge of getting them in close with good decoy spreads and good calling. Even over big water and 200 deke spreads.

Call me crazy. I tried the 3" in my other guns, but just never saw the need for it. Nothing wrong with using it and I am definitely not bashing anyone who does. Just realize that its not mandatory or written in the "duck hunter's almanac" that "thou shalt use 3" steel minimum".

November 27, 2008, 01:49 PM
LOL, of course of course...to each thier own. But do you honestly make 40 yard shots Consistently with 2 3/4" #2 high velocity steel?
If so your old shotgun must pattern it considerably better than my old 870 wingmaster (full choke) I've only fired winchester drylocks but I couldn't get consistent hits/kills past 25-30 yards with them, even less on geese with BBB.

Ron T. B.
November 27, 2008, 05:44 PM
I am an avid waterfowler and hunt almost every weekend. I shoot both 2 3/4
and 3 inch. I cut open a few different brands of shells, here is what I found.

Federal Steel 11/8 # 2; the shot is round and uniform in size.

Kent Faststeel 11/16 #2 ; the shot is round and uniform in size.

Estate 3" 1/14 #2: the shot is round uniform in size, and shiny, the surface is very smooth, looks like small ball bearings.

Winchester Xpert HV 1/16 #2; the shot is mishapen, some were actually cup shapped. The size of the pellets varied widely. I have not patterned this shot, but you may be sure I have not purchased another box

November 27, 2008, 11:50 PM
Honestly? Yes, I can make those shots, but I've got a lot of time behind that gun. I used to take "Betsy" to the skeet range on base since I lived pretty close to it at Fairchild AFB and would go through several rounds/week. It seemed to transition over shooting the 1-1/8 oz lead on the range vs the 1-1/4 steel.

Now Ron there, he's got the place I'd almost call heaven. On my move from Fairchild to Cannon, I stopped in Portland OR to visit inlaws, then took I-5 south out of there. Northern-Central CA along I-5 had some absolutely ducky looking places. Almost ran off the road several times looking at flocks! If only it wasn't in Kalifornia:D!

November 28, 2008, 01:05 AM
"If thats what you call old fashioned I'm not sure your old enough. LOL Real old fashioned is that beautiful substance called lead"

I used to love hunting with lead. #2 for geese, #4 for duck. Unfortunately, here in the Atlantic flyway, it's illegal. Steel shot is not a choice for my S/S double. HeviShot, as expensive as it might be, is my only choice.

Much easier (and cheaper) to just roast a chicken. The political do-gooders have ruined hunting for me. :(

Dave McC
November 28, 2008, 09:14 AM
I started goose hunting as a participant in the 50s. There's still some lead 2s, short magnums, here in the shell stash.

Used to like the old Western load of 1 3/8 oz of 3s when I could find them. Had to settle for 2s most of the time.

Now, after asking a good dozen Eastern Shore Goose Guides on the best load, I use the Hevi 2s. They work for me, though they wreak havoc on my discretionary income.

November 28, 2008, 04:14 PM
Dave McC - Hevi #2 You must mean for geese? That stuff is supposed to hit as hard if not harder than lead. So you wouldn't need #2 for ducks as you do with steel....correct:confused:

Dave McC
November 28, 2008, 05:41 PM
Correct. Hevishot 2s was the UNANIMOUS choice of a dozen goose guides. My personal track record with it is very close to 100%. Even did a Scotch double with one round on giant Canadas.

For ducks, which I rarely do, I'd go with Hevi 4s or even Hevi 6s for teal.

There's other good choices these days, but for sheer effect Hevishot is hard to beat.

November 29, 2008, 12:38 AM
i am going to go looking for this hevishot sounds good never heard of it before but for ducks its number 1 to huh?

November 29, 2008, 12:57 AM
I just wish the cost of the better performing non-tox like hevi-shot would come down in cost!

November 29, 2008, 01:07 AM
how much does a box run?

Dave McC
November 29, 2008, 09:27 AM
With Hevishot be prepared for sticker shock. The stuff runs a few bucks per round.

The last guy who complained to me about the price was toting a SBEII, list price around $1500, IIRC. He could have an 870 and a truckload of Hevi loads for that.

November 29, 2008, 10:36 AM
Premium shot from Hevi-Shot or Federals premium line can run from 4-7 dollars PER SHELL. I just looked it up on Midway USA.

What about this new Hevi-Steel stuff, I wonder how it works. Its made by the same people that make Hevi-Shot and it claims to be 20% denser than regular steel and carry 44% more long range energy...plus it comes out the barrel at 1550fps. And it sells in boxes of 25 for the same price or less as the premium heavy stuff does in boxes of 10.

I wouldn't know what size shot to fire is the only thing. With steel its #2 for ducks and BBB for geese. With Heavy stuff its #4 ducks and #2 lead. I was thinking this stuff is somewhere in between so maybe BB for geese and 3 for ducks but those sizes aren't offered (its only available in B, 2, 4, 6)

Would B be big enough for geese, and would 4 be big enough for ducks...2 would seem heavy for ducks if its that much more lethal than steel)

November 29, 2008, 05:07 PM
With no experience on this new stuff, I agree with your thoughts for starting. Take a couple boxes out and try it. If those sizes don't work, try something new. I've gotta admit, hitting a teal with steel #2s really was a brutal proposition! Mallards, pinners, widgeon, canvasbacks, it seemed ok. With the smaller birds, the breast is only a little bit bigger than a .50 piece, so #2s really did a number on them if you got any through the breast.

December 3, 2008, 01:06 AM
Over the past 20+ years of hunting ducks with steel shot, probably 95% or more of my shells have been 2.75" shells. I think I have only purchased one box of Hevi-Steel, one box of Black Cloud, and all the rest have been plain-Jane steel. Always been too cheap to go for the premium stuff.

Most of my shooting is done over decoys, so my ranges are usually less than 35 yards. The first half of the season, I usually shoot 4's for ducks and 1's for geese. When I do my part, the shells will do their part. For late season mallards or pinnies, I go with 1's or 2's and for geese I go with 3" BB's. As for velocities, I have actually had better success with shells in the 1350fps range than with the 1550's, but that may have been a factor of the chokes not patterning the loads very well. I have been shooting factory IC choke out of a Browning BPS, but just bought a new Carlson's extended Mod choke that I am hoping will pattern the faster loads a little better.

Best thing you can do is pattern your gun. Some guns like the faster, bigger size shot, while other guns don't pattern the bigger shot as well. I noticed a big difference between the 3" 2's and the 3" BBs. Also noticed a big difference in patterns with different velocities.

December 3, 2008, 01:20 AM
Best thing you can do is pattern your gun. Some guns like the faster, bigger size shot, while other guns don't pattern the bigger shot as well. I noticed a big difference between the 3" 2's and the 3" BBs. Also noticed a big difference in patterns with different velocities.

Excellent thought! After all, what good is any shot if it doesn't pattern in your shotgun. I've never patterned for waterfowl, but I've never had a problem so its never occured to me.

December 5, 2008, 04:20 PM
300magman.... what are you using as a choke? If you are not using an extended one check into it. I have struggled with 1 shot kills for years I absolutely hated steel but the cost of other stuff was just too much. My waterfowl hunting was pretty limited the last 20 years due to my love of bow hunting which got sidetracked the last couple of years due to injury. I switched from 12 ga to 20ga (O/Us). Last year the 20ga served me as well as the 12 but I still had 1 shot kill problems. I purchased two extended chokes this year and gained at least 10 yards in range and had only 2 cripples all season using federal and Remington #2s. I never had a decent full choke pattern with steel so I shot modified and improved for years. The extended chokes (Carlson) put the full choke back in my arsenal. I will note that most of the birds were over decoys but several large Canada geese were dropped stone dead out to 40 yards. Some pretty good claims are being made of some of the more expensive chokes but these work fine for my purposes.

On another note I have been working away from BBs for waterfowl. Lighter, faster loads of #2s seem to be as, if not more effective on birds inside 40 yards.

December 5, 2008, 04:34 PM
I use the Kent Fasteel #2 in 3 1/2". Boxes usually run about $17 per 25 at Cabela's.