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  1. #1
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    Old Shotgun For Migratory Birds

    I want to use an old 12 gauge for Migratory Birds this upcoming hunting season.

    Now I know steel shot is hard on the chokes of older shotguns. Is there some sort of shot shells available for older shotguns that is legal for migratory birds and will not hurt the chokes of my older shotgun?

    I do not want get the chokes modernized by a gunsmith or buy another modern 12 gauge shotgun all I want to know is if there is some sort of metal shot shells I can buy that will be legal to use for ducks and geese and not harm my older shotgun?

    I have heard of a metal used in shot shells called Bismuth that is legal for migratory birds but I don't know if it easy on the shotgun or just closer to the weight of lead?

    I wont be shooting the shotgun lots, just once and a while when I happen to see ducks and or geese when I am walking trails for grouse and come across a pond or lake etc. In other words how much steel shot does it take to damage the shotguns chokes?

  2. #2
    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    What choke do you have? Steel is lighter than lead and requires a larger shot size to achieve similar results. (I use BBB for geese where I used to use #2 lead) And the steel is much harder than lead, which reduces the ability of the shot to compress when squeezed through the choke. For these reasons, a modified choke is usually the tightest recommended for steel. Many older 'goose' guns were full choke, and therefore not recommended for steel, which has led to the generalization that steel can't be used in older firearms.

    Bismuth is far heavier than steel, and therefore a smaller shot size can be used giving performance much closer to the old lead loads. Last I looked it was fairly pricey stuff though.
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  3. #3
    Resident Combine Pilot JustBen's Avatar
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    Kent makes Tungsten Matrix shells that’s be perfect. But they’re pricey. $35 for ten for the ones I bought. But every once in a while I like to get a duck or two with the old SxS.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustBen View Post
    Kent makes Tungsten Matrix shells that’s be perfect. But they’re pricey. $35 for ten for the ones I bought. But every once in a while I like to get a duck or two with the old SxS.
    That's exactly what I meant I am not going to go full bore duck hunting, just once and a while when I run into one.

  5. #5
    Senior Member R&R Rancher's Avatar
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    Your plan sounds good, the only thing I would do is check local hunting regulations. I've seen some places where if you are hunting waterfowl and you get caught with lead shot in your possession, even though you were not using or intending to use it, results in a fine. Harvesting a duck and then carrying on with lead for small game could get you in trouble.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member GTW's Avatar
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    Here's an excerpt from Chuck Hawks regarding Kent Tungsten Matrix as info:

    Kent Tungsten-Matrix Shot Shells: No-Tox, No Barrel Damage
    By Randy Wakeman


    The tested shotshells were Kent Cartridge Tungsten Matrix loads in 20 and 12 gauges. The test guns were a Beretta Urika 2 Gold 12 gauge and a Browning Silver Hunter 20 gauge. The Beretta used a 28 inch barrel for the patterning work, while the Browning has a 26 inch barrel.

    The Kent TM 12 gauge load is 1-3/8 oz. of #5 tungsten-matrix shot in a 2-3/4 in. unfolded length hull at 1375 fps. The Kent TM 20 gauge load is 1-1/8 oz. of #5 tungsten-polymer shot loaded in 3 inch hulls at 1360 fps. Both factory choke tubes and Trulock Precision Hunter tubes were used in each test gun.

    There is a very good reason to consider these loads: they are safe to use in older, fixed choke guns and perhaps a bit safer to use in modern shotguns as well. Although improvements in wad design have reduced the initial scratching and scoring attributed to early steel shot loads, it remains either a possibility or just a matter of time depending on who you tend to believe. Regulations require no-tox for waterfowl, but often (as is the case here in Illinois on public land) you’ll need no-tox to hunt pheasants as well. Regardless of the fact that the majority of lead in our environment comes from car batteries, television sets, computer monitors and poor mining / smelting practices, the hunting and shooting sports industry has been singled out (despite the total lack of any evidence that pheasants try to chew on lead shot). We can all hope for a sudden injection of common-sense, but lacking that “No-Tox” is here to stay despite its problems of rust, ricochet and dental damage, as well as its toxic cost.

    Kent Tungsten-Matrix is heavier than steel and heavier than bismuth. It is effectively very close to lead at 10.6 g/cc and both patterns and kills like lead, a very good thing.

    We noticed that the Kent TM shells don’t mind tighter constriction chokes. In fact, we feel that going at least a half notch to one full notch of constriction tighter than normal (improved modified or full) would give most shooters what they would like to see as “improved modified” performance levels at 40 yards: approximately 65% patterns with good distribution. Our best patterns, with both the Browning 20 gauge and the Beretta 12, were with Trulock Precision Hunter “Full” extended choke tubes that got us into the 75-80% range.

    We also further tested the Kent Tungsten Matrix 1-1/4 oz. 16 gauge shells in #5 shot, rated at a peppy 1265 fps out of a Browning A-5 Sweet Sixteen with Invector tubes. Again, we were impressed, the Kent Tungsten Matrix no-tox loads proving to be the equal of any 16 gauge shells on the market.

    Congratulations to Kent Cartridge for offering a superior product. Kent calls their tungsten-polymer shot the “one true alternative to lead.” From what we have seen, Kent has got it right. You can bet we will be hunting with some Kent loads this fall; this stuff is too good not to use to achieve “wild pheasant and wild rice under glass.” Dining reports to follow.
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    JustBen (03-14-2018)

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by R&R Rancher View Post
    Your plan sounds good, the only thing I would do is check local hunting regulations. I've seen some places where if you are hunting waterfowl and you get caught with lead shot in your possession, even though you were not using or intending to use it, results in a fine. Harvesting a duck and then carrying on with lead for small game could get you in trouble.
    I had not thought of this. Would a Ministry Officer not check the loads you were carrying? I'm very curious because I indeed do what you describe - I carry some heavy 3" goose loads (steel) on my belt, along with some #4 lead 2 3/4" for grouse. I seldom go for waterfowl, but I'm always up for targets of opportunity. I've never tried, but I don't think #4 would bring a goose down, lol - those things are the A-10 Warthogs of the sky.

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  9. #8
    Resident Combine Pilot JustBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polish_Sausage View Post
    I had not thought of this. Would a Ministry Officer not check the loads you were carrying? I'm very curious because I indeed do what you describe - I carry some heavy 3" goose loads (steel) on my belt, along with some #4 lead 2 3/4" for grouse. I seldom go for waterfowl, but I'm always up for targets of opportunity. I've never tried, but I don't think #4 would bring a goose down, lol - those things are the A-10 Warthogs of the sky.

    PS
    I believe it’s actually federal law. If you’re shooting migratory birds, do not carry lead.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Grimlock's Avatar
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    #4 lead is a little light, but will work on geese. If you're used to steel remember that it sucks hard compared to lead. They're way heavy for grouse. My grandfather went to bismuth for his decidedly pre-steel shot gun. It is a really bad idea to even be carrying lead when you're hunting waterfowl. Just get a box of 5 or 6 steel.

  11. #10
    Moderator kennymo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimlock View Post
    #4 lead is a little light, but will work on geese. If you're used to steel remember that it sucks hard compared to lead. They're way heavy for grouse. My grandfather went to bismuth for his decidedly pre-steel shot gun. It is a really bad idea to even be carrying lead when you're hunting waterfowl. Just get a box of 5 or 6 steel.
    I used to use #4 for duck, it would take a goose at somewhat less distance than the #2 I usually reserved for them.
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