Steel In A Model 12

Dear Technoid,

Can i shoot steel shot out of a 1960’s vintage Winchester model 12 full choke. It is in very good condition.


Dear Rick,

Steel in a full choked M12? I definitely wouldn’t do it.

If you need non-toxic and don’t want to use the excellent new bismuth or Tungsten-Polymer or Tungsten Matrix shells, you could have your full choke opened to about .015″ (Light Modified) and probably get away with steel. Or you could send the barrel to Briley and have it screw choked with steel proof chokes for under $200. Or you could buy an 870 and save the M12 for other stuff.

The new “soft” non-toxics are great shells. The latest issue of “Shooting Sportsman Magazine” has an article I did on Federal’s Tungsten Polymer loads when I used them on South Dakota pheasant last year. They performed exactly the way lead does and were far, far superior to any steel I have ever used. Unfortunately, the Tungsten Polymer shells cost $2 each. Bismuth is a bit cheaper and still performs better than steel. Sometimes I feel that a fistful of gravel performs better than steel. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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2 Responses to Steel In A Model 12

  1. RC says:

    Personally, I feel it’s one hell of a note that the Winchester Model 12, one of the finest pumps, if not the very best, has been made obsolete with steel shot. Mine has a 32 inch full choke barrel and having measured the distance, have killed game at one hundred yards. How many new modern shotguns can do that? And this crap – that’s just what it is, crap – having to use steel shot is a bunch of BS. Nearly all my life I ate ducks, geese, rabbits and whatever game one wants to mention that had been taken with lead shot.


    • Shoal Creek says:

      The steel shot isn’t meant to protect you. The excuse is that water fowl sometimes accidentally ingest lead shot that is near their food source and then die of lead poisining.


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