“Chilled” vs. “Magnum” Shot


I bought a bag of chilled shot and a bag of magnum shot, my buddy said that the chilled shot is bad to use in a trap load, will I notice much of a difference being new to trap shooting and reloading, also thought about mixing them to get a better shot pattern?



I think that your buddy is a bit too pessimistic. It’s really just a matter of degree. In the common trap sizes of #8s and #7-1/2s, “magnum” shot usually has 6% antimony, while “chilled” shot has about 2%. Antimony is the basic hardening alloy used in lead shot. It is more expensive than lead, so shotmakers want to economize on it when possible. That’s why “magnum” shot cost more than “chilled”. Silly names, by the way.

The larger the shot, the less antimony is needed to harden it because large shot is harder due to its form factor. That’s why you don’t need much antimony in buckshot and the like.

So, what’s the difference. Hard shot suffers less deformation when damaged by setback on ignition and by scrubbing down the barrel.

How much less deformation? Does it matter? I don’t know exactly as some of the answer depends on how hot your reloads are. But in my tests comparing Remington Gun Club ammo with low antimony shot vs Remington STS ammo with the hard stuff, the effective difference was that a Full choke pattern with the STS would be opened up to about an Improved Modified pattern with the softer Gun Club ammo. That’s about a 10% more open pattern comparing 75% to 65%.

Differently choked guns and different shells might produce something slightly different, but you get the idea. Softer shot will open your pattern slightly. By the way, I shoot a lot of reclaimed shot and find that our reclaimed shot in my reloads shoots about the same percentage patterns as new Remington Gun Clubs. That said, our local reclaimed shot is excellent quality.

Bottom line: If you are worried about the slightly more open patterns of softer chilled shot, just choke up a bit if you can. You aren’t shooting from the back fence yet, so it really shouldn’t matter. Once you get back to the 26, you’ll want all the choke and the best quality shot. But up closer, it really isn’t a deal breaker.

Of course, (dare I suggest this), you could buy a bag of each and test them yourself. Patterning is so much fun.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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