Changing chokes and pellet sizes

Should I change chokes when using non-toxic shot?

If you are using bismuth or tungsten polymer, the answer is NO as they pattern and perform the same as lead. If you wish to achieve the same patterns as lead when using steel, then you should open your choke a quarter of a constriction e.g. If you have a shotgun with interchangeable chokes and you shoot a full choke with lead, then you shoot an improved modified (3/4) with steel. For further information on using steel shot in tightly choked guns, refer to Fact Sheet "Possible effects to guns".

Should I change shot size when using non-toxic shot?

If you are using bismuth or tungsten polymer, the answer is NO as the pellets weigh about the same as lead. If you are using steel, then you should go up two pellet sizes to obtain the same ballistic performance and the same kinetic energy per pellet.

Do I have to change my leads (forward allowance) when shooting steel?

No! A lot of hunters think that because steel shot is lighter and leaves the muzzle faster that there is a significant difference in forward allowance between steel and lead shot at short ranges. And then because steel slows down quicker they think there is a substantial difference in the forward allowance at longer ranges. This is not true. In reality, the average velocity to the target whether you're shooting steel or lead shot is almost the same.

Let's look at what happens when we compare Steel 2's vs Lead 4's. At twenty yards, steel moves to the target quicker than lead, but only 18/10,000's of a second. At approximately forty yards, lead is faster to the target but only by 3/10,000's of a second. At 60 yards, again lead is faster but only by 1/100th of a second. If you were to shoot at a duck at 54 metres travelling at 60kph at a 90-degree angle, the forward allowance- difference between steel and lead is only 20 cm (eight inches), lead being faster.

The forward allowance differences between steel and lead is so insignificant that if the hunter becomes forward allowance conscious it could change the way he shoots and cause him to become erratic in his shooting technique. If this happens, he will miss often and lose confidence in his ability and his equipment. Hitting a moving target with a shotgun is all about consistent technique and confidence. If a hunter goes up two pellet sizes and opens his choke by a quarter constriction then all he has to do is shoot like he normally does.

What shot weights will be available in steel?

Several companies import steel shotshells into Australia. There are a full range of shot weights available including 28gm, 32gm and 36gm in various sizes from No.6 upwards to No.0.

Read the Shotgunning Education Handbook for more details.