As we move closer to you creating your first load one of the important things we need to discuss is the types of shot. There are a few materials used for shot for shotguns. They are Lead (which has several different types), Bismuth (a non toxic shot), Steel (a non toxic shot), and the pile driver of non toxic shot Hevi-Shot.


Now I am blessed enough to live in the state of Missouri which doesn't have crazy lead laws for hunting. Where I hunt in Wyoming, and Texas don't have the lead free shot only laws. I also do not do large amounts of Waterfowl hunting. So for me reloading anything other then lead really isn't cost effective, or useful to me as a box of 2 3/4" steel shot has  lasted me almost 2 years, and a box of 3" steel shot has lasted me over 3 years.

Now lead is a power house when hunting that also doesn't damage your barrel. Shooting large amounts of non toxic shot will eventually score your barrel, and it will continue getting worse which ruins your patterns.

Now when someone says lead shot there are 5 common different types of lead used for lead shot in shotgun. They are pure, chilled, dropped, magnum, and plated.

Pure Lead (Soft Shot) is used in making slugs, cheap target ammo, and really cheap hunting ammo. I would never recommend pure lead for hunting purposes other then when used in a slug. The reason being is pure lead deforms very easily which effects it's accuracy so what would have been an ethical shot on an animal with even chilled shot could very well mean a wounded animal that may or may not live, and you will never recover with pure lead. Pure lead doesn't pattern uniformly well either. Now if you are just reloading for a hobby, and only shooting clays as a hobby or past time where there is no concern on winning money then pure lead shot can be an okay choice for you.

Chilled Shot and Dropped Shot (Hard Shot) contains both alloys (usually antimony, and tin) to make it harder, and is cooled rapidly to increase its hardness by either dropping it in water (Dropped Shot) or cooling it with cold air (Chilled Shot). Now both of these are great shots that most people can use for years, and never need to change a thing about them. These are the metals used in your big box retailer hunting rounds, and higher end target ammo. 

Magnum Shot (Extra Hard Shot) now when it comes to magnum shot do not let the name confuse you. The Magnum Shot name has nothing to do with the velocity of the shot like rifles or handguns. Magnum shot is made with a mix of antimony, and tin. It normally has the same hardness rating as cast bullets for handguns including .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum. What this hardness does is it prevents the pellets from deforming during ignition, and as they travel down the barrel. The less your pellets deform, the less flyers you have in your pattern, and the tighter your pattern will hold at longer distances. Magnum shot is used in higher end lead hunting loads, and top of the line target loads. If you are serious about your hunting or bringing home the money at a trap or sporting clays shoot then you should consider magnum shot. Now a greater benefit of Magnum Shot with it being so hard to deform is you can really push it if you want to, and not suffer drastic consequences.

Plated Shot is hard or extra hard shot plated with copper or on some occasions you will see it plated with nickel. Plated shot is used in premium hunting loads, and the top grade target loads. The plating actually prevents just about all pellet deformation from ignition o when it leaves the barrel.

Now here is my personal experiences, and uses. I use strictly magnum shot across the board for hunting, and target. I am a meat hunter, and we hunt to survive so a wounded animal, or a missed shot due to the pattern not holding is food right out of my family's mouth. Also when I am shooting trap, handicap trap, and sporting clays I am shooting to win, and a lot of times win money. With magnum shot I am able to reach out a lot further then other guys I am shooting against to break clays, and I am also able to drop animals further out. Here is a testament to magnum shot. I have a high velocity hunting load I use on public hunting ground, and heavy foliage in Missouri. This load is launching 1 1/4 ounce #4 shot out of a 2 3/4" Federal hull at around 1,460fps. This load really reaches out when need be, and will punch thru brush and junk to hit the target. It took my years to develop, and perfect this load. Two years ago I finally had the load finalized, and took it out hunting one crisp cold November morning at Reifsnider State Forest. As usual squirrels, and crows were a ways off. I was hiking along a dried up creek bed. I looked up the hill to my left, and sitting on a downed tree was a big fat Fox squirrel. I lined up the fiber optic bead on my Remington 870 with the fat furry fella, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger. The squirrel fell over. Not even a single flinch. As I hiked up the hill to him he still had the nut in his mouth he was eating when I shot him. Paced out I made the shot at 63 yards, and shooting up a steep incline. In the next 45 minutes I bagged 4 more. Needless to say we had squirrel burritos that night, and fried squirrel the next day. Now to close that was not a shot I would condone just an average person taking. I spend hours at the range monthly, and sometimes even weekly. I hunt to survive, and have dropped small game at full speed crossing in front of me in horrible freezing rain, a doe Whitetail at 7 yards when she popped out of the ditch as I was walking to my blind, to a doe antelope at 230 yards in a 30mph crosswind. I know my skill, and have practiced my shots thousands of times, and still do. If you are not confident in your shot or ammo don't ever take a shot if you do not know if it will be an ethical kill. If you don't have much practice shooting or at an adequate range do not try taking long shots. Every hunters goal is supposed to be one shot, one kill, and short blood trails. Know your gun, ammo, and skill. Don't lie to yourself, and be honest on what you, and your firearm are capable of.



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