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 Post subject: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:17 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:47 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Washington
Hi all,
First post for me. I took 40 years off from hunting (career, kids, life, etc.) and just got back into it last year. I had a fairly suscessful 2019 fall hunting grouse with a Beretta Outlander 12 GA, but man I got tired of hauling that thing around, so I bought a used Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge with 26" barrels. I've only shot at skeet with the 20 so far. Couldn't hit a thing with it for the first hour, but then started to get dialed in and got fairly consistant hits by the end of my first session. I'm thinking about the upcoming grouse season in Washington and I'm looking for ammo advice. I would prefer to shoot steel shot for environmental reasons and to keep from eating lead :D Any suggestions on manufactures, shot, load, etc. would be appreciated. From what I have read #6 - 7.5 shot is preferred in lead. I'm not totally apposed to shooting lead shot, and so would appreciate input on lead vs steel.




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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:58 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 pm
Posts: 2491
Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
Fit & Try....especially as regards response to choke.

I shot steel 7s in a 12 one trip, just to see and in case I ever was forced to use it.
Worked...ok...on fragile birds like ruffed grouse and woodcock taken close-ish.
Distance introduces issues, imho.

Steel will work...ok...on most anything if pointed and triggered correctly and at the correct range.
However, expecting real world to be set aside, odds on, in order to imagine gains to the environment or in imagining the human gut to be healthier from less opportunity to experience a #8 or so passing thru is....optimistic and a bit fanciful re upland game birds. :roll:

While you can find steel 6s(ie 8s on a good day) in a 20, believe I would go with a 12 gauge...and pattern, while being judicious with the trigger.
Birds, especially ruffed grouse, deserve the respect to be put first rather than placed behind the sketchy science of lead shot in the uplands.

Of course, other non-tox options exist and in a better mimic of lead...plus, there may still be copper loads available, don't know.
Solid copper is shiny....much like a ball of tin foil to a kitty.

Good luck...all 'round.

*check british and european shotshell options for latest in non-tox varieties, again imho.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:46 am 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:03 pm
Posts: 189
I have been using steel shot for all my upland bird hunting for several years now. I do most of my bird hunting with 20 gauge doubles. I have a Beretta 20 gauge Onyx and 2 other 20 gauge Beretta 686 models. I use steel for pheasants, grouse, woodcock and chukars. The conventional wisdom is when using steel you should use larger shot size than you would with lead. Also, I usually use only 2.75 size shells for all my hunting. For pheasants, I use size 4 shot. For grouse, chukars and woodcock I use size 6 or 7 size shot. The reason for the larger shot size is that steel not being as heavy as lead it does not have the same knock down force as lead. This is especially an issue with longer shots. However, with grouse hunting most shots are 25 yards or less so that is not an issue. Even with pheasants, I hunt with a pointing dog and keep my shots within 30 yards. I have not had a problem with clean kills with the steel shot. As to manufactures, most of the major brands have smaller size steel in 2.75 inch shells. Federal, Kent and Remington currently offer steel in 6 or 7 shot size steel. I also have some Winchester Super X in 6 and 7 but bought those a few years ago so don't know if they are currently available.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:14 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:52 am
Posts: 5626
As DoublesForever recommends, 6 steel shot is your best bet for grouse. You might even consider 5 shot if hunting blue, Franklin, or other mountain grouse as one often has opportunities at greater ranges than is often the case with ruffed grouse. Or, they hold pretty tight and one can knock them off with a well placed rock or stick if one does not have a pistol or 22 rifle handy. At least that has been my experience on mountain grouse.

I also tend to lean towards larger/heavier pellets as they tend to exit the bird which lessens the odds of biting down on a pellet. There may be some pellets left in the meat at times but with fewer pellets to track down, the risk is diminished. Steel is a lot rougher on the teeth than lead unless one indiscrimately chomps on the meat in which case any pellet type is going to be problematic. A pellet or two making their way into and through the digestive tract is not going to be an issue for the vast majority of people either. If it is, then that person is going to have many other sources of greater risk to worry about.

As for pellets in the environment, 300-400 pellets spread out over an acre or more of ground is not going to do much to the environment. These are not enriched, radioactive plutonium pellets but plain old, mostly inert lead. The vastly greater quantities of lead dumped on the ground at trap and skeet ranges, often for decades, have not been proven to be issues so an occasional 20 ga load of pellets is not even going to be noticed.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:06 pm 
Limited Edition

Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:47 pm
Posts: 319
Location: N. IL
I prefer to use lead over steel where it is legal. I do not worry about swallowing lead since I do not have a gizzard. For ruffled grouse my go to load is high brass #6 lead in 12 or 20 gauge. I hunt over flushing dogs. I have hunted with guys who shoot 7.5 lead, but I prefer #6.

The rule of thumb has always been 2 shot sizes larger when switching from lead to steel shot. I embrace 3 shot sizes larger for my hunting. If I was using 20 gauge steel for grouse I would shoot 3" loads with 7/8 - 1 ounce of shot in #3, 4, or 5.

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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:58 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:11 am
Posts: 4209
Location: Western Tampa, FL
noweil wrote:
I prefer to use lead over steel where it is legal. I do not worry about swallowing lead since I do not have a gizzard. For ruffled grouse my go to load is high brass #6 lead in 12 or 20 gauge. I hunt over flushing dogs. I have hunted with guys who shoot 7.5 lead, but I prefer #6.

The rule of thumb has always been 2 shot sizes larger when switching from lead to steel shot. I embrace 3 shot sizes larger for my hunting. If I was using 20 gauge steel for grouse I would shoot 3" loads with 7/8 - 1 ounce of shot in #3, 4, or 5.


{hs#

I am not trying to convince anyone to change with the following. Just my 2 cents worth.

IMO the alleged damage to the environment by the minuscule amount of lead very widely scattered about by any hunters, and especially grouse hunters, is total hype bordering on hysteria. It is not supported by any fact based analysis. As for eating lead shot, I do not think if properly cleaned the average person will ingest any lead in most game birds. On the other hand the dentists would love to have more use of steel shot for bird hunting! :shock:

Finally, there are too many classic guns that are most suitable for grouse hunting for which shooting anything but lead is not really an option. There are many that prefer the 28 gauge for grouse but the amount of effective no-tox shot available for it are few. If the OP wants to use steel, he of course can and should. However, I don't think it is "helping" the environment or reducing his lead intake. It just does not add up.

For shot size I too like 6s for grouse and if early in season with woodcock present I like 7.5s in one barrel and 6's in other. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:48 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:58 pm
Posts: 1409
Location: Oklahoma
DWM57 wrote:
I'm thinking about the upcoming grouse season in Washington and I'm looking for ammo advice. I would prefer to shoot steel shot for environmental reasons and to keep from eating lead :D Any suggestions on manufactures, shot, load, etc. would be appreciated.


I've only shot a ruff or two and not hunted the other mountain grouse species (blue and spruce), but I understand it is mostly a close range affair.

So, if you prefer to shoot steel loads and your shots are close (inside 30 yards), you could go with a 2 3/4-inch 3/4-ounce #6 steel load. BUT, if your shots start getting on the longer side of 30 yards, you will probably be better of with a 3-inch 1-ounce load of #4 steel. I would probably try to keep it simple (KISS) and just go with a 1-ounce load of #4 steel and be covered for all shots.

For lead loads, I would probably be using a 20-gauge 2 3/4-inch 1-ounce load of #6 lead shot.

Here are a few of my pattern numbers to give you an idea of the kind of performance you might get from the loads I listed above.

Pattern results from a 20-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels using Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

Steel loads:

20 GA 2 3/4" WINCHESTER XPERT STEEL LOAD
3/4 oz #6 steel (231 pellets) @ 1325 fps
20 YARDS - CYL / pattern 200 (86%)
30 YARDS - CYL / pattern 123 (53%)
30 YARDS - SK / pattern 173 (75%)
30 YARDS - IC / pattern 181 (78%)
30 YARDS - M / pattern 204 (88%)

20 GA 3" REMINGTON NITRO-STEEL MAGNUM LOAD
1 oz #4 steel (191 pellets) @ 1330 fps
30 YARDS -- CYL / pattern 104 (56%)
30 YARDS -- SK / pattern 134 (70%)
30 YARDS -- IC / pattern 164 (86%)
30 YARDS -- M / pattern 179 (94%)
40 YARDS -- M / pattern 139 (73%)

Lead load:

20 GA 2 3/4" RELOAD (BLUE DOT)
1 oz #6 lead (233 pellets) @ 1200 fps
30 YARDS – CYL / pattern 129 (55%)
30 YARDS – SK / pattern 147 (63%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 168 (72%)
30 YARDS – M / pattern 200 (86%)
40 YARDS – M / pattern 146 (63%)

Hope this helps, good luck!

PS: Sorry guys, had to do some editing, lost internet or something!


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:55 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:47 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Washington
Wow guys, what great information! Lots to digest! #6 Steel looks like the best option if I go that way. I do realize that steel requires a slightly looser choke since it patterns tighter, so I'll probably try shooting patterns with Briley's Light Skeet, Improved Skeet, and even modified to see what looks best. I should probably also buy some lead shells to test while I'm at it. Joe Hunter - Really appreciate your pattern info. I've got a lot to learn!


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:58 am 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:36 pm
Posts: 893
Location: Endless Mountains of PA
DWM57,

Check out the Fiocchi #7 Steel for your Grouse hunting, I use them from time to time when I am also shooting Wood Ducks here in Pa. The #7's out of my 20 and 16 gauge double guns work just fine and kill Grouse, Woodies and Woodcock, with no problems.

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man

_________________
L.C. Smith Man
Pine Creek Grouse Dog Trainers
Charlton Heston NRA Speakers Bureau Member
NRA Life Member/NRA Instructor


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:43 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:11 am
Posts: 4209
Location: Western Tampa, FL
Pine Creek/Dave wrote:
DWM57,

Check out the Fiocchi #7 Steel for your Grouse hunting, I use them from time to time when I am also shooting Wood Ducks here in Pa. The #7's out of my 20 and 16 gauge double guns work just fine and kill Grouse, Woodies and Woodcock, with no problems.

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man


Are you saying you regularly shoot steel shot out of your fine old doubles?


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:14 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:50 pm
Posts: 2491
Location: SE Ohio...where ruffed grouse were
I found that 7s in a 12 gauge resulted in more birds recovered with their head up.....dropping down in shot weight with a 20 gauge would appear problematic.

I truly hope that folks consider worst case when making such decisions...considering best case with steel is a sorry two-track to take, imo.
That steel will indeed work should never be Job #1.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:25 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:36 pm
Posts: 893
Location: Endless Mountains of PA
oyeme,

No I seldom shoot steel out of my Classic L.C. Smith double guns, it does get done however. I use the Fiocchi steel #7 & #6's out of my more modern guns like my L.C. Smith 28 gauge made for Marlin by Zabala. With a good pointing dog I have no trouble killing Grouse, Woodcock and Woodies, out to about 35 yards. I also have a 20/28 Silver Reserve combo-gun that gets used on the Woodies, both the 20 and 28 depending on the day the Woodies are around. Got to admit the 20 with the #6 works better than the 28. Jump shooting Woodies while Grouse hunting is a seriously cool way to hunt.

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man

_________________
L.C. Smith Man
Pine Creek Grouse Dog Trainers
Charlton Heston NRA Speakers Bureau Member
NRA Life Member/NRA Instructor


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:54 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:11 am
Posts: 4209
Location: Western Tampa, FL
Pine Creek/Dave wrote:
oyeme,

No I seldom shoot steel out of my Classic L.C. Smith double guns, it does get done however. I use the Fiocchi steel #7 & #6's out of my more modern guns like my L.C. Smith 28 gauge made for Marlin by Zabala. With a good pointing dog I have no trouble killing Grouse, Woodcock and Woodies, out to about 35 yards. I also have a 20/28 Silver Reserve combo-gun that gets used on the Woodies, both the 20 and 28 depending on the day the Woodies are around. Got to admit the 20 with the #6 works better than the 28. Jump shooting Woodies while Grouse hunting is a seriously cool way to hunt.

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man


Whew! You had me worried for a while that you could damage some of very fine doubles you own. I should have known better. {hs#


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:17 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:12 am
Posts: 189
Go find some #6 or #7 bismuth loads. The extra cost is de minimis given that you probably take 10 shots on a really good grouse hunt, and it won't break a tooth like steel shot.

The 686 is a loooot lighter than the A300. Hard to keep it moving. I use a 20/28-gauge combo for quail/grouse/woodcock hunting and have basically learned to pull the trigger when it touches my shoulder to keep from stopping the gun! A great move-mount-shoot gun.


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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:04 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:36 pm
Posts: 893
Location: Endless Mountains of PA
Perdiz,

Got to admit I like the Bismuth out of my L.C. Smith double guns, it does cost a little to much in my opinion, however like you say I do not use it that much to worry about the cost. Nice shells for sure, especially for Woodies.

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man


I use Steel or Bismuth in my old #2 L.C. Smith, a special order 20 gauge from 1898, fully Chrome lined by Briley for 28 gauge, the gun is a lot of fun. Because the gun is an original standard 20 gauge L.C. Smith Frame, the recoil from the 28 shells is hardly even felt. Exceedingly nice gun for hunting Grouse, Woodcock and Woodies.

Image

_________________
L.C. Smith Man
Pine Creek Grouse Dog Trainers
Charlton Heston NRA Speakers Bureau Member
NRA Life Member/NRA Instructor


Last edited by Pine Creek/Dave on Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:14 pm 
Crown Grade
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:08 pm
Posts: 3176
Location: WY
For western mountain grouse, a 20ga stoked with 3/4oz. of steel #6's is the right load. Federal makes cheap "upland steel" loads. They're sold at Wally world. Shoot them through an IC or skeet choke.

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 Post subject: Re: 20 Gauge shells for grouse - steel shot?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:58 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:36 pm
Posts: 893
Location: Endless Mountains of PA
upland dan,

I especially like my 20 L.C. Smith double guns, used federal shells for many years until the 2 1/2" RST shells came out, give them a try. The SpredR's work great in the Classic American and Best German double guns. The RST are more expensive but do a much better job putting the birds down. I purchase mine thru Lion County Supply and have them delivered right to my log cabin in the back woods.

all the best,

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man



_________________
L.C. Smith Man
Pine Creek Grouse Dog Trainers
Charlton Heston NRA Speakers Bureau Member
NRA Life Member/NRA Instructor


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