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One thing I learned, kind of the hard way, it depends on choke.

Early season 5 or 6 shot with IC choke, lead; 4 shot steel.
Late season 4 shot with mod or IM; 2 shot with a mod choke for steel.
I have had luck using 3" 2 shot with steel on public land.

I used to use strictly 4 shot, but early in the season with a good dog I had trouble blowing the birds apart when they hold tight so now I use fiochi 6 in the early season.

I wouldn't call this gospel because it depends a lot on the shooter, what works for me might not work for some one else.
 

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My father in law and i have always used Estate High Velocity shells.

I use anything in 6, 5, or 4 shot out of my 12 gauge. Sometimes it all depends on what I grab out of my vest or find on the floor of my pickup before a push. :lol:

2 3/4 inches with 3 3/4 Drams.

We used to get those at Capitol Tool in Mandan for 5 bucks a box and now they have gone up to 9.99 a box. Am I glad I stocked up last year and still had about 3 boxes.

We usually do pretty well with the cheap ammo! :D
 

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In 20 and 12 double guns, my wife and I shoot 5 or 6 lead early season IC/MOD and MOD/Full late season with 4 lead. For non toxis, 4 steel in the 20 and 3 steel in the 12 with steel choke tubes.
 

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I usually use Estate High Velocity shells in #5 shot early then #4s with a tighter choke later. I'm thinking about just using Winchester Expert steel shot in 3" #3s this year. They are cheeper then most pheasant loads, and I wouldn't have to switch shells around when I hunt WMAs. I'll already have at least a case for ducks anyway.
 

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The essential considerations for choosing a shotshell are penetration and density. The density can be affected w/ screw in chokes if you have them but the penetration is a function of the pellet size and the distance you intend to shoot.

I can't put my hands on the reference right now but I've read and proven to myself that #6 shot provides effective penetration on a pheasant out to about 45 yds. This is a pretty long shot for most hunters. #5 shot provides adequate penetration out well past 80 yds. w/ normal velocities of 1,250 fps or so.

The only time I go to #4 is if I can't find #5s or if the weather is brutally cold and long shots are expected. (cold air is dense enough to slow the shot thus reducing penetration).

My personal favorite for hunting and Spaniel field trial gunning is B&P 1 1/5 oz #5s. They cleanly kill anything I can hit, the shot string is short, and the recoil is negligible.
 

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my favorite shells by far are the federal ultra pheasant copper plated lead. 2 3/4 1 3/8 oz inch 6 shot early in the year and four shot later on. i like to shoot the ic for the first 4 weeks then move on to the full choke. its a little iffy but those roosters that are at 45 50 yards drop nicely even with 6 shot and im gonna be goin to buy a case from scheels this week since theyre on sale.
 
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