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BikerRN's picture
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Ammo Question

Being as the last time I used a shotgun to hunt duck was back before lead shot was outlawed I'm sort of stumped and need the help of some forum members.

Back in the "good ol' days" I seem to recall a 2 3/4" 12 Guage being just fine. Nowdays all I see are 3" and 3 1/2" 12 Guages, and Lord help me on ammo. I realize that some folks favor moving to a larger pellet when using steel shot, but how large is large enough? #2 for ducks? 

When I went to my "Big Boy Toy Store" today, with the intention of buying a couple of boxes of duck hunting specific ammunition I was sort of dumbfounded. That's a condition I find myself in frequently it seems, and now am asking for help, or at least assurance that I bought the right ammo.

I picked up two boxes of steel 12 Guage 3" #2 shot. Did I make the right choice?

 

Biker

SGM
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Ammo

Asking about ammo can get almost as heated as asking about what is the best gun to use or buy as opinions vary :yes:. IMO any name brand "Federal, Remmington, Winchester etc." 12g ammo in 3 inch and #2 shot is plenty to bring home some ducks for dinner. As with and ammo and especially a shot gun, the range is limited so know your range and you will be fine. Good luck. 

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I will start off by sayiong

I will start off by sayiong that 3inch #2's will work fine for ducks.  I shoot #2's on all my waterfowl hunts.  I reload 3.5" #2's for my 10 gauge, but I but shells from the store for my 12 gauge.  last year I was using 2 3/4 inch #2's for geese out of my autoloader and for whatever reason I was knocking the geese dead at 30 yards.   Most of my geese are shot at 10 yards or less but once in a while you take a longer one.  I know alot of guys that still shoot the big stuff like BB and BBB, but I find that the smaller stuff works just finer and it puts more payload out in the sky better your chances of bringing that bird down.

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You'll be just fine

You'll be just fine.  In my humble opinion #2 shot is a little more than you need for ducks.  It will kill them for sure, but I generally use #2 for geese and something smaller for ducks.  Good luck, go get them and let us know how you make out! 

 

BikerRN's picture
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Thanks guys. #2 seemed a

Thanks guys.

#2 seemed a little large to me, but like I said, "it's been a long time. One guy I was talking to prefers to use something smaller being that he'll also shoot rabbits and quail while out chasing the cowponds.

 

Biker

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You will find that if you

You will find that if you haven't hunted ducks or geese since the lead ban went into effect that steel shot does not carry as far as lead.  Now if you are shooting one of the other types of shot that is heaver than steel then #4 or #6 may work for ducks.  I have found that for hunting ducks with my 10 gage that #2 works fine but if I am after geese then I will switch over to T shot. 

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I have another

I have another question/concern for you.  You didn't mention, but are you still planning on using that older, 2 3/4" chambered shotgun to hunt with?  Or, did you buy a new one?

The reason I am asking is because in most cases, you should not shoot steel shot out of old barrels.  Back in the day, since steel shot was not used, they didn't bother to test how barrels would stadn up to repeated shots.  Steel is harder than alot of those. 

Case in point, my old Wingmasters.  I have 2 of them, both probably 30 years old, give or take.  I was told that there was no way I should be shooting steel in them, if I wanted them to hold up.  Of course, maybe it does not matter for just a time or two, but not sure.

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maybe but maybe not

I have heard this too, but I've never actually seen it play out.  I mean are you actually going to wear through a barrel by putting steel shot through it?  

::confused2 

The effect is like running a wad of steel wool down the bore.  Yes it leaves a mark but really no damage to speak of. But what if you fire hundreds of these loads?  I'd still say that it was no big deal.  So I would only worry about it if you are the sort of hardcore waterfowler who is going to run through cases of ammunition every season.  If you are putting a dozen shells through your guns each year I doubt that you need to worry about it in your lifetime.  But if you are waterfowling every day and running a box of shells loaded with steel shot through your gun every day of the season then - first off I am jealous of your hunting opportunities - but second - you will likely wear out the other parts of the shotgun before you scrub your way through the barrel with steel shot.

This is just my OPINION.  If anyone who has actual experience that trumps my observations from my very limited number of years waterfowling with steel shot - please weigh in and I will defer to you - but this is how I see the issue.

Mike

JJD
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Not a wear issue

Mike, the problem is not so much wear on the barrel as it is pressure.
Wads on modern steel shells encase all the shot till it is a minimum of several yds past the end of the barrel, so wear is essentially a non issue. The shot itself never makes contact with the barrel. Pressure can be an issue. Lead is compressible, steel is not. That being said, the forcing cone of the barrel, that part of the barrel just past the chamber that starts compressing the shot Colum before it arrives at the choke is a limiting factor. Some of the older barrels who’s forcing cone was built for lead shot, compressed more rapidly. Where steel does not compress as readily, a barrel of such configuration could bulge and weaken in that area. The forcing cones of most shotguns built over the past 20 yrs or so will accommodate the compressibility characteristics of steel shot. Now where the new water fowl legal alloys (Heavy Shot, Tungsten Matrix and other spendy stuff) fit in into this picture I don’t know. To be on the safe side, I’d contact the firearms manufacture.

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Thank you

JJD wrote:
Mike, the problem is not so much wear on the barrel as it is pressure. Wads on modern steel shells encase all the shot till it is a minimum of several yds past the end of the barrel, so wear is essentially a non issue. The shot itself never makes contact with the barrel. Pressure can be an issue. Lead is compressible, steel is not. That being said, the forcing cone of the barrel, that part of the barrel just past the chamber that starts compressing the shot Colum before it arrives at the choke is a limiting factor. Some of the older barrels who’s forcing cone was built for lead shot, compressed more rapidly. Where steel does not compress as readily, a barrel of such configuration could bulge and weaken in that area. The forcing cones of most shotguns built over the past 20 yrs or so will accommodate the compressibility characteristics of steel shot. Now where the new water fowl legal alloys (Heavy Shot, Tungsten Matrix and other spendy stuff) fit in into this picture I don’t know. To be on the safe side, I’d contact the firearms manufacture.

 

Now that makes more sense.  Thanks for the explanation JJD. Thumbs up

BikerRN's picture
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Thank You

Ca_Vermonster wrote:

I have another question/concern for you.  You didn't mention, but are you still planning on using that older, 2 3/4" chambered shotgun to hunt with?  Or, did you buy a new one?

The reason I am asking is because in most cases, you should not shoot steel shot out of old barrels.  Back in the day, since steel shot was not used, they didn't bother to test how barrels would stadn up to repeated shots.  Steel is harder than alot of those. 

Case in point, my old Wingmasters.  I have 2 of them, both probably 30 years old, give or take.  I was told that there was no way I should be shooting steel in them, if I wanted them to hold up.  Of course, maybe it does not matter for just a time or two, but not sure.

 

Thank you for mentioning this.

I wasn't specifically looking for a longer chamber but did manage to luck in to a new 3" 12 Guage at a decent price. I'm still thinking in 2 3/4" while the world has moved on to 3" and larger. I guess I'm just behind the times and will have to catch up, as usual.  Thumbs up

They don't call me Pokey for nuttin'.

 

Biker

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