Dealing with Steel Shot Part One: Your 12 gauge is Now a 28 gauge



Many might question the notion that 12 gauge shotguns, used with steel shot, are essentially 28 gauges with the standard 3/4 oz. payload. Ballistics don't lie, however. See:

The ballistic coefficient of #6 spherical lead is 0.0231. To get that from a steel pellet, you need to go to #2 or larger. For discussion, the ballistic coefficient of #2 steel is 0.0223, still not as good as #6 lead: #1 steel, however, is actually better than #6 lead at 0.0238.

A 3/4 oz. payload of #6 lead is, based on 218 pellets per ounce, about 163 pellets. Number two steel has about 125 pellets per ounce. That yields in the area of 156 pellets or so. So, yes, the ballistic equivalent of a 1-1/4 oz. 12 gauge #2 steel load is a 3/4 oz. 28 gauge load of #6 shot, although #6 buffered shot has a slightly better ballistic coefficient and a 1-1/4 oz. payload of #2 steel has a few less pellets as well. Exterior Ballistics have no bias, they are just facts, facts that are stubborn things.

There is no debate that #6 shot out of a 28 gauge takes pheasants and ducks, within range. It does every year, although for the Brazilian teal and RosyBill you might find yourself in Argentina. I did. Nevertheless, it is a settled matter of established ballistic fact that there is little difference between 3/4 oz. of #6 buffered lead and 1-1/4 oz. of #2 steel launched at the same velocity.

The solution was discovered and made available years ago: Kent Tungsten-Matrix, Nice Shot, and other tungsten-based shot materials that have similar sectional densities and ballistic co-efficients, translating directly into similar exterior ballistics as lead shot. The cost, to the great delight of the anti-hunting crowd, is currently high.

Steel shot invariably reduces range, there is no getting around it. There is nothing that can compensate for its miserably low density. There are some effective countermeasures to get the most out of steel shot, though, as will be explored in part two. None are complete remedies, not even close, but if we start from the known standard that your 12 gauge with steel can be no more effective than a 28 gauge with buffered, spherical lead, there is hope.


Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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