You guys use a lot of steel loads I have never shot it. I know what I've read but there is nothing like actual experience. 12 guage over pointers most shots 30 yards or less. Have you ever tried bismuth?
I wouldn't waste my money on Bismuth. You can use lead shot in 5s and 6s, 2 3/4" on private land. I know some guys swear by the 7 1/2s but I've seen a couple of guys that use that have a lot cripples that run off. All others, I use 2 3/4" Federal Classics in 2s, 3s and 4s. Later in year when flushes are wilder and further out go to the 3".
All my shotguns were made before steel shot was required so I either have to use bismuth, buy a gun or get a new barrell for my old Ithica model 37. Have any of you tried the Hasting wad lock barrell with the land and groves in it. I've been looking in the catalogs for a steel shot compatible barrell for the old 37 because I can shoot it pretty well.
I have used #5 bismuth for pheasants and it worked just fine. Very close to lead. If you decide to use steel you probably want to stay with a #2 or #3. There was a study a couple years ago in ND about the performance of steel pellet size on pheasant. Compared 2, 4,and 6's. Results showed that #2's were the most effective size bar far. If I recall correctly the reason was that the larger pellets did not ball up with feathers like the smaller ones, so you had better penetration. Although they did not test the #3's they figured they would perform similar to the #2's.
I like 1 1/4 oz of 4 shot either at 1300 to 1425 works great, make sure you are shooting IC or C because steel throws a tighter pattern.
you can order barrels with changeable chokes from Ithaca.
the other option is Kent matrix in 5 shot works great and you can use your lead gun and it patterns like lead. contact Ithaca because if your gun is Mod or more open you might be able to shoot steel through it, I would call or email them.
The only problem with shooting steel through mod is the extra tight pattern.
Traditonal, I've been very pleased with the Fiochi GF (nickle plate) in 5's. Grouse, pheas, near, far, early, late, seems like this one's pretty versitile.
On steel, #2 or #3. could think about going 3', as you'll loose pellet numbers by dropping shot size. Steel being lighter and carrying less energy, the bigger shot is reccomended. Since many pheas shots are 'hinders" requiring you to get through the "sanbag" (gizzard) the study that was refered to says you need a little more regid pattern densities for pheas than waterfowl.
I don't shoot steel on upland unless I happen to be some place where it's required, so I don't have a good base-line. The guys I know that have switched to steel for all, say they like the results in upland and feel they get better penetration because it doesn't deform like lead and therefore tends to pick up less feathers and more often penetrates deeper and/or passes all the way through. Makes sense, but I haven't shot it enough to form my own opinion.
I'm just about to order some bismuth and reload a bunch of 1 1/8 ounce loads at about 1200 fps I was going to by 5's if I can find it otherwise 6's. These are for my double which is choked cylinder and lite modified. Most of the birds I shoot are 25 yds or less. My Ithica was purchased in 1966 so I question wether it could mandle steel I do have a Imp Cylinder barrel for it that I bought in 69. Is the steel issue just related to choke or is the metalugy different in old guns like mine?
LEAD!! I always hear people compare bismuth and tungsten to LEAD. In reality nothing will knock a bird down with as much authority as LEAD. I have never used hevi-shot but it sounds interesting. It also costs an arm and a leg though. I asked a gentleman at scheels why the price of lead has increased so much in the past couple of years?? His answer was that not many people are buying lead anymore. So at that point, "I asks myself why then are they sold out of lead 3" 4s and 2s. PERPLEXING?? Steel is good for two things: 1. shooting holes in the sky 2.wounding birds
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