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Waterfowl opens this weekend, and as I was buying my license I heard an interesting discussion. One gent was claiming steel shot has a greater range out of an modified choke than a full choke because the shot is not as constricted. I have alway's used full chokes for waterfowl, but usually use bismuth as steel tears up the older Browning barrels and bismuth has more range. But I have used steel in my Winchester 1200 and I am wondering if this argument has any validity. Anyone care to comment?
 

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not a clue. Any hunting I've done has never been kosher, so I'd never pay the extra $ for steel shot anyway.
 

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Full chokes work on small lead shot because of the deformation of the shot as it is fired and constricted through the choke. Sttel shot won't deform, so a more open choke would probably be a good idea. Not sure of the bismuth or other "non-toxic" shot materials.
 

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Terry G said:
One gent was claiming steel shot has a greater range out of an modified choke than a full choke because the shot is not as constricted.
In practice, steel shot shoots about one choke tighter than lead. In other words, an improved cylinder pattern with steel shot will approximate lead shot from a medium choke. This is due to the lead being deformed, whereas steel is not.

If shot pellets are deformed, they will randomly spread out, thinning the pattern. However, with steel the shot can be too constricted, causing a "billiard ball" effect, wherein the shot bunches up as it passes through the choke. This may result in wide, thin patterns.

Since choke is a vague term at best, I recommend that you pattern the desired shot. You may find that full is indeed too tight and gives blown patterns.

The range thing has to do with the formation of a subsonic bow wave abound most of the pellets in flight. This bow wave thing is why geese fly in a "V". Pellets which wander outside of the wave slow more readily and soon become useless.

Remember: Even, consistent patterns give the maximum effective range.
 

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Steel shot, unlike lead, "bridges" when passing through the choke. It's essentially non-compressable and actually forms temporary plugs in the barrel. When the plug breaks down, some fliers result. A very tight choke can really produce some poor patterns. There are some techniques available to a handloader to alleviate the bridging, but nothing (that I know of) can completely eliminate it. The bridging is the reason that most 3 1/2" shells (loaded with steel) pattern poorly, percentage wise - longer shot column, bigger/more plugs, more fliers.

DC
 
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