Hardest Bagged Shot

Dear Bruce,

In search of the “perfect” pattern I would like to use the hardest shot commercially available. After calling around to distributors within reasonable driving distance I have found several brands available; ( we’ll ignore the South American product for this discussion) Remington, Winchester, Lawrence and Western Tower.

My twisted logic would lead me to believe that the biggies (Winchester-Remington) would have the highest quality shot avail. Of course I’m assuming that they would make their very best shot avail. in bag form, which may or may not be in their best interests.

Anyways, I’m getting the impression from your side that Lawrence is the hardest stuff out there. Please lend any insight you have on this?

Thanks for a great column!

Dear Y…,

Recommending a brand of bagged shot is really hard to do. Much of the bagged shot is regional and not all the majors make their own shot. They are quick to buy from other sources when the need arises. You really need a shot hardness tester to know for sure. The hardening agent antimony costs over five times what lead costs. I guarantee you that is the first area where a shell manufacturer will cut back when he wants to save money. Unless you test each lot, the average shooter will never know when antimony has been dropped by 1 or 2%. It is like using margarine or butter in cooking. Most people can’t tell and the manufacturer (chef) knows that.

The hardness tester that I tried was made in Britain and consisted of a simple square steel plate, four 4″ columns at each corner attaching a top plate. The top plate had a short tube vertically placed through it. A heavy steel dowel fit inside the tube. The pellet to be tested was placed under the dowel. The dowel was raised to the witness mark and dropped. Before and after measurements on a percentage basis were taken of the pellet to determine amount of crush. Comparative percentages determined comparative hardness. Simple, cheap and effective. This type of tester was MUCH easier to work with than simply pinching dozens of pellets with long nose pliers. You are going to need a 10 thou mike too.

Of the tests that I made with the shot that I had on hand, my particular lots of Lawrence Brand Magnum shot tested out hardest.

Another way to make a practical test would be to assemble samples of the various pellets and identical reloads (ten each). All other things being equal, the lead that patterns the tightest is the hardest. Naturally, you would have to do some very careful pellet measuring and counting to make sure that samples were the same size of pellet.

Sounds like a lot of boring work, doesn’t it.

Best regards,

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

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