What Type of Shotgun Pellets Are Allowed For Waterfowl Hunting in the US?

Hunters used lead shot for decades until thirty years ago when it became mandatory that non-toxic shot be used during waterfowl hunting.

Steel shot remains the premier choice among waterfowlers. At 7.8 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc), its high density delivers impressive bird-slaying impact energy. Hevi shot and Kent bismuth are two alternatives that offer comparable weight, velocity, pattern penetration and pattern density as steel shots.

Steel Pellets

Steel shot pellets offer an economical alternative to lead shots and make up most sales of non-toxic shot. But these shots do present their own set of difficulties: unlike lead, steel does not retain as much energy or velocity at longer ranges and thus result in less effective patterns when used with older fixed chokes or modern tight-choke scatterguns; in addition, their less malleability means they could potentially bulge and damage barrels when shot through tight chokes or tight choke modern scatterguns.

Steel pellets offer many advantages for waterfowl hunting despite these obstacles, including lower costs and greater accuracy and effectiveness than lead. Requiring less shells per kill, they require less practice before becoming proficient shooters; yet ultimately saving more in the long run than their lead counterparts.

Mr. Dan officially announced in the final days of Obama Administration that lead shot is no longer permitted to hunt ducks, coots, geese and other waterfowl on public lands and waters; hunters must instead use nontoxic ammunition that must fit within T-size limitations for those species.

Due to lead’s harmful health impacts on waterfowl and humans who consume them, in addition to poisoning other animals and plants. Due to this fact, Fish and Wildlife Service has banned lead ammunition on its lands and waters; instead they have permitted hunters to utilize nontoxic shotgun pellets only.

To maximize steel shotgun pellets, choose a high-quality load with an optimal combination of velocity, payload and recoil. Kent Cartridge offers several waterfowl loads in 12- and 20-gauge that offer this optimal balance; load (E) provides more pellets while still having similar velocity rates;

Steel shot boasts an advantageous shape which allows it to string out less quickly at longer ranges than lead shot, helping hunters avoid misfires when hunting prairie potholes or open fields.

Tungsten Pellets

To legally hunt migratory game birds such as ducks and geese, hunters must use non-toxic shot. Typically made of steel, tungsten, or bismuth; many states enact regulations mandating hunters use USFWS-approved non-toxic shot. High density shot is the optimal option, since its pellets penetrate more deeply into targets than conventional low density shots.

Steel shot is the most commonly sold non-toxic shot and accounts for most sales. However, it should be kept in mind that these pellets do not sink as quickly, potentially endangering wildlife if left in the mud or water for extended periods. Furthermore, any injured birds or geese who consume steel pellets could become poisoned from ingestion of these shots.

Tungsten shotshells offer an alternative non-toxic solution, and can be found in many shotgun shells. Tungsten’s density and hardness allow it to be fired without damaging older guns with standard chokes – not to mention being less costly than steel shot, though still more costly than lead.

Tungsten carbide is the most frequently used form of tungsten used for shotshells. This form consists of sintered tungsten carbide with a cobalt binder, with an approximate density twice that of steel shot and exceptional durability; being capable of withstanding high pressure without losing shape makes this material an excellent choice for waterfowl hunting, as it will maintain its integrity over time.

Wind drift can be one of the greatest challenges faced by waterfowl hunters, affecting shot patterns and making flooded timber or prairie potholes especially challenging to overcome. High-density shot can better withstand wind than conventional shot and penetrate further into targets than its counterpart.

Choose steel, tungsten or bismuth shotgun pellets for improved shooting performance. Their precision and effectiveness means fewer shells are necessary to kill waterfowl cleanly while they also lessen environmental contamination risks. While these non-toxic shotgun pellets might cost more initially, their long-term savings make their purchase worthwhile as you will reduce shell purchases over time.

Bismuth Pellets

Waterfowl hunting requires selecting the appropriate pellet type and payload, which depends on a number of factors including species being hunted, location, site setup and type of shotgun used. With many options now available to shooters–some of which even work through old double-barrel fixed choke shotguns without damaging either barrel or muzzle–selection should not be left up to chance.

Steel pellets remain a top choice among waterfowl hunters, offering equal weight, pattern and penetration as lead shots without the toxic metals that could harm birds. Furthermore, they’re easy to clean up after killings – though more costly.

Tungsten and bismuth shotgun pellets are among the latest additions to the non-toxic shot market. While more costly than steel shot, these non-toxic shotgun pellets provide superior weight, pattern, penetration performance. Older shotguns can use these shots safely to shoot birds such as ducks and geese.

These two forms of shot differ significantly, with tungsten being harder than steel while bismuth being softer. Bismuth is 22% denser than steel, enabling hunters to use smaller payloads while still providing equal energy production – an example being HEVI-Shot which produces premium, non-toxic shot.

Another advantage of steel shot is that its malleability makes it less likely to cause additional damage upon impact and reduce the chance of further suffering inflicted upon waterfowl after death.

Non-toxic shotgun pellets are more precise and effective than lead shot, requiring fewer shells to kill waterfowl cleanly – this reduces environmental pollution caused by lead shot used in conventional loads. Furthermore, non-toxic pellets don’t suffer as much from wind drift, improving accuracy and efficiency – thus being more humane for wildlife as recommended by conservation groups.

Lead Pellets

The fall waterfowling season began in September and will run through December. Unfortunately, sporting goods stores have seen their supply disrupted due to COVID-21 outbreak; therefore shotgun shell choices are more limited than ever and selecting suitable pellets can be even more daunting; further complicating matters is the fact that certain types aren’t authorized with traditional waterfowl hunting loads.

Traditional shotgun shells containing lead shot were banned for duck and goose hunting in 1991 after studies demonstrated its danger to waterfowl migration patterns. After hunting sessions ended, waterfowl would often consume lead pellets that fell or accumulated on the ground from falling shotgun shells, slowly poisoning themselves over time and killing millions of waterfowl over time. Thus the ban proved an excellent measure to save millions of waterfowl from death by slow, painful death.

Due to the lead shot ban, manufacturers have developed non-toxic alternatives to traditional lead pellets that are safe and effective for waterfowl hunting. Steel shot has become one of the most widely-used non-lead shot alternatives; it comes in various sizes and brands and typically produces inconsistent patterns that lack penetration or deform upon impact, and may clog choke tubes, decreasing accuracy and lethality. Over time however, improvements have allowed manufacturers to offer more consistent and effective loads than in the 1990s.

Tungsten alloy shot can also provide waterfowl hunters with another viable option to hunt waterfowl: Tungsten alloy shot features a core of lead encased by harder metals such as tin or copper, making for more compact, consistent shapes than pure lead while improving penetration and penetration rates. Furthermore, its composition makes the shot less likely to deform during impact while remaining more durable compared with pure lead; however it may be more expensive.

Bismuth shot offers an ideal combination of weight, velocity, pattern and penetration that makes it highly effective at taking waterfowl. Furthermore, it comes in various sizes to fit most older shotguns, yet may cause friction wear to barrel and muzzle components; to protect this investment from unnecessary friction wear it is advised that these shells be used with open or modified choke tubes to minimize potential damage.

About the Author