Patterning Steel

Dear Technoid:

My buddies and I are trying to pattern our hunting guns for a trip to Texas for some geese. I have a Remington 870 & want to pattern my mod & full chokes to see the difference in steel shot sizes as well as the performance of other non-toxic shot.

Will each manufacturer actually shoot different or will just the shot size make a difference or both?

Is there a place that I can go and look up how many pellets of steel shot of a certain size actually make up a certain weight load?

Any & all information would be helpful.


Dear John,

Yes, different makers may well pattern differently. I would start with Federal, then try Winchester and then Remington. No need to buy all three. Do the first and if you like it, stop there. If not, buy the second. That stuff gets expensive.

As to pellet counts, NEVER rely on the charts. Each maker sizes his shot slightly differently. Cut three of the shells apart, count the pellets and average the results. That’s the only way to do it right. If you work with inaccurate total pellet counts, it throws your percentages off across the board.

The “Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook, latest Edition” has a few pages of very good information on steel shot, pellet count per ounce of the various sizes and also the number of hits of various pellet sizes within a 30″ circle needed to bring down game at various distances. They also have extensive reloading recipes for steel. Also, Ballistic Products in Corcoran, MN specializes in reloading material for non-toxic shot. Their printed material may be of interest to you.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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