Reclaimed Shot

Dear Technoid:

I am starting to reload shells, some guys say that using reclaimed shot is a no no, while others say that at the 16 yard line it makes no difference I would like to hear your take on the matter.

Jim H.


That is a hard question to answer because reclaimed shot varies widely in quality. Good quality reclaimed shot will work perfectly for 16 yard trap. If it is pretty bad quality, it’s worth a try, but you might want to use one choke tighter than usual.

How do you tell good from bad quality reclaimed shot? The good stuff should look like new shot with a few flat spots on the pellets. Color and finish should be pretty much as new if the shot was properly tumbled and graphited. It may be a little less shiny than standard factory shot, but not too much. The size of the reclaimed shot depends on where it was mined. If it came from a trap field, it will be mostly #8s and #7-1/2s. The shot should hold its size unless it was heavily oxidized by being in acidic soil or being in the ground a long time before mining. Lead oxidizes after prolonged exposure and the oxidization is ground off during the tumbling process when being cleaned. That can reduce the size of the pellet.

I use reclaimed shot almost exclusively and am very pleased with it. I bought it at $1/lb two years ago at the height of lead prices. Today, (March 2015) with the price of lead on the world market having fallen substantially, one might expect the price of bagged blead shot to fall soon from it’s current price of $40~$50/bag. We’ll see.

When looking at reclaimied shot and considering all those little flat spots the pellets have on them, remember that those dents occurred in the barrel during the first time the shot was used. That’s what factory shot looks like when it comes out of the barrel. It doesn’t get dented hitting the ground.

For me, in my patterning tests, I got about the same patterns from new factory bagged “chilled” (2% low antimony shot) as I did from my reclaimed shot. These patterns were about one choke more open than I got with “high antimony” (6% antimony) bagged shot or with good quality factory loads.

For many people, the general rule of thumb is to tighten up the choke one degree (as from Mod to Full) when using reclaimed shot compared to the best factory shells. But it pays to experiment.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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