Steel Pellet Size and Ranges based on Elevation

hamernhonkers

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@hamernhonkers , yes, you definitely hit it right on the head. A lot of my hunting is in the GSL area. Is this program you are mentioning called KPY Shotshell Ballistics? I didn't know the man who made it was from Utah County, that is very interesting. I will have to look into getting this or the program @Ravenanme mentioned in his post. I appreciate everyone's comments and thoughts on this, I appreciate it greatly. I was curious about this topic just to understand my overall effective ranges with each pellet size to keep in mind for some of the hunting scenarios I regularly face. I did find it funny to see some of Ned's posts talking about this and his along with others sparked my curiosity about overall effective ranges. Thank you all for your input and help with this topic, I appreciate it greatly!
That is correct, KPY. It's not gospel and exact but it has all shot types and you can adjust for elevation, temp, speed, gel penetration, etc. Great program to play with and use as a guide and a great guy who developed it. Worth the spend in my opinion.

Truly great country you get to hunt up there. My daughter and I hunted PSG in November and killed our swans there. Always love my trips up to your neck of the marsh.
 

Gene

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At different times during the development of steel shot the Federal Government got with different states and I think DU and did a lot of live bird testing with steel shot. 80s and 90s so it is old info. Pretty much every sporting magazine was publishing the findings. This was long before any other type of shot material was thought of. Shells/ammo has improved a lot from those early days. I was doing my own testing before steel was mandated but I kept using lead until the last day. In my area Mendota refuge was the last to allow lead. Later on I was on the testing team for the Bismuth shot. It was vastly better than steel! I had a patterning board in my front yard and tested all the new steel ammo as it hit the market until I finally found a shell that worked well and killed ducks within the limits of my shooting ability. Then I bought several cases of it when it would come up on sale. All the testing and charts published didn't mean squat to me, I found what worked for me and what patterned in my guns. I found two brands and sizes of shot that I liked. I'm still using the same ammo today and it still works. I would suggest you get a few shells for other hunters and do the same thing. One fellow that I hunt with loves the Fast Steel, the pattern I get from it is blown at 35 yards so I don't care for it. Published data will only give you a starting point.
 

derbyacresbob

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Patterns determine effective range of a shotgun.
If patterns always determined the effective range of shotguns, Trap shooters and Sporting Clays shooters would all be shooting lead #9 shot and more duck hunters would be shooting steel #7 shot instead of steel #3 shot.

A great pattern doesn't mean much if the shot is not big enough to get the penetration needed to penetrate into the vitals of the birds you are shooting at.

Many shot types and sizes the pattern will fail before the energy or penetration does. I would rather have a decent pattern with plenty of penetration than a great pattern without enough penetration.
 

Ravenanme

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At different times during the development of steel shot the Federal Government got with different states and I think DU and did a lot of live bird testing with steel shot. 80s and 90s so it is old info. Pretty much every sporting magazine was publishing the findings. This was long before any other type of shot material was thought of. Shells/ammo has improved a lot from those early days. I was doing my own testing before steel was mandated but I kept using lead until the last day. In my area Mendota refuge was the last to allow lead. Later on I was on the testing team for the Bismuth shot. It was vastly better than steel! I had a patterning board in my front yard and tested all the new steel ammo as it hit the market until I finally found a shell that worked well and killed ducks within the limits of my shooting ability. Then I bought several cases of it when it would come up on sale. All the testing and charts published didn't mean squat to me, I found what worked for me and what patterned in my guns. I found two brands and sizes of shot that I liked. I'm still using the same ammo today and it still works. I would suggest you get a few shells for other hunters and do the same thing. One fellow that I hunt with loves the Fast Steel, the pattern I get from it is blown at 35 yards so I don't care for it. Published data will only give you a starting point.
Steel Shot testing was going on WAY before you started and only a few Ballistic people would get enough to test , in different shot sizes !
I don't recall seeing you out testing ? Several trips down from Klamath Falls , Tom Roster would hunt with us as he was the research person
the US F&W and Remington and Federal sponsored to help design Steel Shot loads that became effective for All sizes of birds hunted !
Read (Consep) , it will help you in getting the story straight !
I would like to meet you someday ?
 

Ravenanme

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That's a fact Bob , back in those days of testing steel loads , there were times standard size steel pellets ( like lead ) that we were accustom to
using at the same velocities (1250 / 1300 fps) wouldn't have enough penetration past 25/30 yds to immobilize a bird with body hits ! It wasn't
until pellet sizes increased along with velocities closer to 1375/1400 fps did it improve their performance !
It also was interesting when we found those Tight fixed choked guns we were shooting were a handicap , going to IC or Mod was a big improvement
with shooting steel shot . It's hard to believe , that was over 50 years ago , oh how steel loads have improved with the help of some reloaders !
With the manufacturing of better (rounder polished) steel shot along with higher velocities , steel is our cheapest payload today !
 

Joe Hunter

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For those interested in some of that history, here are the sightings for some of those "tests" for those willing to look them up.

Anderson, W.L., 1979. Effectiveness of steel shot for dispatching crippled waterfowl. Ill. Dept. of Cons., Surveys & Invests. Sec.

Anderson, W.L., 1979. Hunting efficiency and crippling losses of waterfowl on public areas in Illinois: 1978 vs pre-steel shot years. Ill. Dept. of Cons., Surveys & Invests. Sec.

Anderson, W.L. and F. Roetker, 1978. Effectiveness of steel shot for hunting interior Canada geese. Ill. Dept. of Cons., Mig. Bird Sec. Periodic Rept. No. 20.

Anderson, W.L. and G.C. Sanderson, 1979. Effectiveness of steel shot in 3-inch 12 gauge shells for hunting Canada geese. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 7(4): 213-220.

Anderson, W.L. and D.D. Tornburg, 1987. The effectiveness, hunter preference, and safety of large steel shot for hunting Canada geese in Illinois. Ill. Dept. of Cons., Mig. Bird Sec. Periodic Rept. No. 55.

Andrews, R. and J.R. Longcore, 1969. The killing efficiency of soft iron shot. Tran. N. Amer. Conf. 34:337-345.

Bockstruck, H., 1980. Steel Shot – What Choke? Win. Group, Cons. Dept., News from Nilo #147.

Gabig, J. and J. Mitchel, 1982. A review of several studies that tested the effectiveness of steel vs lead shot for the hunting and taking of waterfowl. Neb. Game and Parks Coms.

Herbert, C.E., V.L. Wright, P.J. Zwank, J.D. Newsom and R.L. Kasul, 1982. Relative effectiveness of No. 4 steel and No. 6 lead shot for hunting ducks – The Lacassine Study. Louis. Coop. Wildl. Res. Unit.

Humburg, D.D., S.L. Sheriff, P.H. Geissler and T. Roster, 1982. Shotshell and shooter effectiveness: lead vs steel shot for duck hunting. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 10:121-126.

Kozicky, E. and J.B. Madson, 1973. Nilo shotshell efficiency on experimental mallard ducks, 1972-73. Proc. Ann. Int. Assoc. Game Fish Cons. Comm. 63:100-117.

Mikula, E., G.F. Martz and L.A. Ryel, 1977. A comparison for lead and steel shot for waterfowl hunting. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 5(1): 3-8.

Nicklaus, R.H., 1976. Effects of lead and steel shot on shooting flighted mallards. Wildl. Monogr. 51: 21-29.

Smith, R.I. and T. Roster, 1979. Steel vs lead: results from the latest test. USFWS Memo. Nov. 6, 9 pp. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-06-27-sp-20586-story.html
 

Tuleman

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If patterns always determined the effective range of shotguns, Trap shooters and Sporting Clays shooters would all be shooting lead #9 shot and more duck hunters would be shooting steel #7 shot instead of steel #3 shot.
A great pattern doesn't mean much if the shot is not big enough to get the penetration needed to penetrate into the vitals of the birds you are shooting at.
Many shot types and sizes the pattern will fail before the energy or penetration does. I would rather have a decent pattern with plenty of penetration than a great pattern without enough penetration.
I don't disagreed with you, necessarily.
What I'm trying to say is that if you have an effective pattern with #3 shot, going up to #1 won't automatically give you more range....all else being equal.
Shot size is a compromise between penetration and pattern density. I think we can agree on that.
Yes, you are right: usually you will run out of pattern density before you run out of penetration. That's why it's more critical to focus on pattern density than individual shot energy. Just about any shot size, commercially-available in waterfowl loads, will suffice for the specie you are pursuing.

I'd take a decent (adequate) pattern with plenty of shot energy, as well. But going up in shot size from that situation will not give you more effective range.
 

Ravenanme

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I shoot a lot of Both Steel shot #1's and #3's in 12 ga guns and can say , for me , #3's will reach farther than most shooters ability !
With 183 pellets in a 1 1/8 oz load it's easy to shoot loads close to 1500 fps . Using the 600 fps rule they will penetrate 1.28" at 51 yds
that in itself shows how lethal # 3's can be ! I use a LM (.015) constriction with this size pellet and can tell you , inside of 45 yds , it's
very forgiving and deadly on Ducks of All sizes . #1's are also a very adequate pellet size as with a velocity of 1425 fps a 1 1/4 oz load
having 130 pellets , through a IM (.025) choke will give you , again using the 600 fps rule , about the same penetration at 51/52 yds !
The difference is #1's having more frontal area , hit harder and make a larger wound channel along with breaking big bones so they
cause more trauma / shock to the bird ! #1's are also Less affected by the wind so the pattern stays together longer !
At 40 yds both shot sizes , very rarely , hit lethal areas of the bird with more than 4 / 5 pellet strikes so , we have to give frontal area
to #1's the advantage !
 

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