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BobT

Lead vs. Steel

12 posts in this topic

A friend of mine will not use steel shot in his older shotguns. He claims that using it one time caused his gun barrel to fracture on an older gun he had.

Is this a possible issue with using steel shot in older shotguns or was his situation merely coincidence?

Do manufacturers tend to load steel shot hotter to increase velocities and if so could this have been his problem? My first inclination is to say no due to liability issues but maybe I'm not accurate.

Bob

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I have heard that steel shot can ruin older shotguns. Steel is much harder than lead and the older shotgun barrels were not designed to shoot steel. You also have to make sure your choke tubes can handle steel.

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Bob, a lot of older shotguns with fixed chokes should not have steel shot fired through them. Steel is so much harder than lead and as the shot expands through the choke steel will actually buldge, or split the barrell. Your friends situation is far from coincidence. This happened fairly regularly, especially when steel shot was first mandated.

There are non toxic shots that are not as hard as steel, that will not damage the older barrels, as badly.

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Do the manufacturer's specify on the barrel if it is suitable for using steel? If not, how do you know if it is safe?

Bob

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Older guns would not have a steel shot warning because steel shot was not around when they were made.

I was attempt to contact the manufacturer. Older guns with fixed full choke barrels - I would not use with steel shot.

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Bob, I recently bought a new Winchester 1300 and it had a tag on it that said," Choke tube safe for steel shot."

Do all manufactures of new guns put the same tags on??? I don't know. I'd love to go buy a new shotgun every week and find out, however. grin.gif

I think it's safe to assume that a fixed choke barrell, made prior to, say, 1985 or so, is a barrel that shouldn't see steel.

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Talked to a gunsmith. Said older guns with fixed chokes- IM or full chokes shouldnt shoot steel thru them.Should be mod. or less. New guns with changeable chokes are generally all right with steel, but you probably dont want to use the full choke in them with steel.

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I have a Rem 1187 and the full choke tube says lead or steel so I shoot both out of it without any noticable problems.

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Please don't shoot steel through a older full choke shotgun. If you do you will end up with a bulged...or even worse barrel like I have! Thanks to my brother shooting steel mags through my Dad's old 870 full choke it's bulged!

Remington actually had a program back around 1990 where they would pay you $$ towards the purchase of a new steel safe barrel. I ended up with 2 $20 checks from them for my two old 870's. Of course signing the form and cashing the check relieved Rem from any lawsuits pertaining to blown barrels.

If I remember right when steel came out they were all mag loads for waterfowl???

Not sure when barrels changed but my early '90's 870 Express Mag with Rem-Chokes is steel safe.

I have also heard not to shoot any steel through anything tighter than modified choke new or old!

Good Luck,

Ferny

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If I remember correctly steel shot was mandated in MN in the very late 1980's. If your gun was manufactured in the 1990's or later you shouldn't have an issue. If its older than that it pays to ask a gunsmith their opinion on it.

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It's really a simple fix. Your local gun smith will reem your fixed full choke barrel out to a modified for about $50. Or, he can simply put a choke system in for about $100.

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Steel patterns very poorly out of a full choke. No matter how new/old your shotgun is you simply shouldn't shoot steel with a full choke. Spend some time with a patterning board and you'll see for yourself.

The Federal Cartridge website explains how to do it:

http://www.federalcartridge.com

The following steps show hunters how to pattern their shotguns:

Select an area that provides a safe backdrop.

Wear a good pair of shooting glasses and hearing protection.

Set up patterning paper at least 40 inches square and mark an aiming point near the center of the paper.

Select the shotgun/load combination to be tested and measure the distance from the patterning paper that approximates the typical range that load will be used at while hunting.

Shoot at least five test patterns, each on a separate pattern sheet.

Outline a 30-inch circle around the densest portion of the pattern.

Check the pattern for evenness and uniformity.

Determine if the pattern is dense enough for the game you are hunting. Remember, small game requires dense patterns with small shot and larger game needs bigger pellets with a less dense pattern.

If you really want to know what’s going on you have to find out how many pellets are in the specific shell you are using. You can then take the number of holes you get in your 30 inch square and come up with your percentage.

I recommend that you do this with a couple different chokes. Do it at 30 yards and then at 40 yards and you’ll be stunned at the difference. When I did it I realized that steel in a full choke simply didn’t work, and that steel out past 35 yards was getting pretty iffy.

The final benefit is that you will learn how you and your shotgun ‘hit the target.’ A friend learned that he consistently was about 3 inches high and to the left with his brand new and very expensive over/under.

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