Factory Loads And Hard Shot

Dear Technoid,

I’m back for yet another impossible or at least difficult question for you to answer primarily due to your exalted position in the world of all things shotgun. Can you share what you know about which factory loads that use hard shot? My informal patterning indicates Winchester AA and Remington STS but that is about it as far as I can tell.

Thanks in advance.

s/f Steve


You are going to make me use my imagination more than usual. I mean, I’ve got to invent the stuff I don’t know, right?

I’m sure that Federal Gold Medal shells will have 6% antimony shot, like the STS and top end AA shells. After that, I’d have to guess. Antimony is the hardening alloy used to make “magnum” or “hard” shot. Antimony content in target shot varies from a maximum of about 6% to a minimum of about 2%. Antimony is more expensive than lead, so more antimony makes the shot cost more, so shot makers chintz where they can to keep prices down.

But it gets trickier. Shot hardness is also based on size. Larger shot needs less antimony than finer shot because the size alone can give it hardness, or at least the resistance to distortion which is what hardness is all about. Large shot, like #2 resists deformation due to its size, not so much its antimony content. Small shot, like #8 and #7-1/2 really does benefit from additional antimony. #9 is the oxymoron in that it might benefit from more antimony, but it is used at such short distances that shot distortion doesn’t matter so it doesn’t rate as much antimony.

I once tested Remington STS #8s against Remington Gun Club #8s and found the latter to have softer shot and pattern more open. With a particular choke the STS would give me about a Modified pattern, while the Gun Club was a bit snugger than IC. The difference was softer shot resulting in more distorted shot resulting in a wider pattern. At that time, I was told Remington STS #8s had 6% antimony and the Gun Clubs has 2%. That was a while ago and things may have changed today. That said, antimony content changes at the whim on the manufacturer. It’s not listed anywhere, so they can do what they want to.

I can’t check antimony content of shot, but I can check shot hardness. I have a little crusher a very kind person once gave to me. It drops a small weight onto a shot pellet and you measure the flattening and compare it to other pellets. This will tell you whether shot of similar sizes is harder or softer then other shot, but it won’t tell you the antimony content.

One thing’s for sure. The phrase “Magnum shot” doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve seen a lot of imported bagged shot which claimed to be “magnum”, but was pretty soft.

Now you know more than I do.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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1 Response to Factory Loads And Hard Shot

  1. Jay says:

    Bruce mentions the essence of the issue with the test of Gun Club vs. STS. Hard shot may give about 1/2 to 1 choke tighter paterns. Plus, large shot benefits little from hardness. Hard shot essentially benefits only live pigeon shooters, trap shooters and helps on some sporting presentations. These shooters cannot use larger than #7.5 shot. For birds, if you need a Full pattern you need big shot and hardness becomes largely irrelevant.


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