January 1998

Steel 3-inch Magnum Loads Our Pick For Waterfowl Hunting

Federal Tungsten shotshells performed better than those of the same manufacturer’s steel loads, but they were a lot more expensive. The Bismuth No-Tox shot was too fragile.

This year hunters have a choice of two new non-toxic waterfowl loads other than steel. They are bismuth and tungsten. Both solve some of the problems encountered with steel, but neither are as good as lead. They may not even be as good as steel. To determine just how good the new loads were, we tested them in the popular 12 gauge 3-inch magnum load.

The main problem with steel shot is that it’s not dense enough. At least, it’s not as dense as lead shot and thus its downrange velocity falls off faster than lead. This results in just a little more wind drift. With a 14.5 mile per hour cross-wind, steel shot will drift 25.8 inches; lead will drift only 22.5 inches. The loss of downrange velo...

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