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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How good are they? Are they a viable alternative to lead?Noisier? Punchier? What about Timber damage? Environment pollution (rust in the water course)Cheaper?
 

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Lead is inert and does not damage the environment. Lead is toxic IF ingested. Heavy deposition of lead at the bottom of heavily used waterfowl marshes will kill ducks and geese, which is why their use was banned for waterfowl in the US.

If you have significant shotfall over wetlands, consider requiring the use of steel. If you do not, don't. You won't be saving anything.

I, for one, will NOT patronize any clays club that requires shooters to use steel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
See the current edition of Clay Shooting Magazine.
Fight the imposition of a total lead ban.
Steel is coming (and all the problems associated with it)
There is no viable economic alternative to lead shot.
The end is nigh for shooting sports available to the majority, soon we will be forced to shoot using expensive inferior alternatives.
 

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Like deadpair says lead shot will quickly devolope a corrosion layer that will prevent the lead from entering the environment. The corrosion layer will stay in place unless exposed to a strong acid (like whats in your stomach). Most of the problems with waterfowl and lead shot are like any bird waterfowl have gizzards, birds will ingest small stones and sand and hold them in their gizzards to help grind up the seeds they eat so they can continue to digest them. If they get a couple lead shot in their gizzard the lead will break down and enter their system resulting in lead poisoning.

Steel is more expensive but less of an environmental hazzard. It is also less dense and doesn't carry energy as well as lead. I haven't shot any steel shot at clay targets so I'm not real sure how well it does but at least one club near by in NY has swapped over to steel only. The club I'm a member at has some shot fall into a water shed. We have had studies done to show the lead doesn't enter the water.
 

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Swamp Yankee is mostly right. Lead is not nearly the environmental problem it once was. When it was in gasoline and paint it was ingested by people at an alarming rate and caused problems.

Lead is a problem for waterfowl and other birds if they ingest it thinking it is a seed. Lead is soluble in low AND high pH water and it can move in the few streams that have these types of water.

Shooting should not occur where the shot fall is over shallow waters. If you make the water 6 feet deep or deeper no waterfowl can get the shot. It can be shot over. We should phase out stands where shooting is over shallow water. There should not be a lead shooting ban, but we need to do our part to manage shot fall and reclaim it when possible.

I have shot steel #7 and 6 shot at clay targets and you get good breaks.
 

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Salopian:

Here are some answers for you.

How good are they? patterns tighter no flyers and good to 35 yards.

Are they a viable alternative to lead? yes, but lead is not a real problem in most places.

Noisier? about the same.

Punchier? Huh? you get good breaks with #7 to 40 yards.
What about Timber damage? less than lead but if the tree grows around the injury I bet it gives fits to chainsaws.
Environment pollution (rust in the water course) not a problem Cheaper? nope about 2.5 X the cost of lead loads. and hard to reload.

I hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Astomb,
Thanks for your input, so lead is not a problem,steel is 2.5 times the cost of lead and steel in timber damages chain saws.
I said that because you have to raise the velocity of steel you also increase the noise.
Can I deduce that steel as more problems than lead shot?
 

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salopian said:
Can I deduce that steel as more problems than lead shot?
Yes. Actually, you create new problems (for shooters), while trying to fix environmental "problems" that most likely did not exist in the first place.

Lose/lose, if you ask me.
 

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I'll add something to the discussion. When you look at an ounce of lead versus an ounce of steel in say #7 shot, you will find significantly more pellets. One ounce of lead #7 will have 297 pellets, one ounce of steel #7's contains 420 pellets!!! That is a big difference. You may lose a bit of energy in the steel, but you make it up in numbers. Now I would also think that steel may break a target better since it doesn't deform at all. You end up with much shorter shot strings (assuming the pellets start off round) than lead as well. I have compared both steel shells and lead shells and also noticed something of interest. The wads for steel loads have no cushioning section. I guess there is no need to cushion the shot since it doesn't deform. I haven't done any extensive testing for clay targets, but steel may be a good long range shot if you can hold tight patterns.
 

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I have just been re-reading Birster's book. He does a lot of tests of steel vs lead. Although I'm not 100% sold on his experimental methodology, his basic conclusion was that steel was a little worse, but not by much.

As far as the clay sports are concerned, it doesn't matter so long as everybody uses the same. In a letters response to a steel cartridge "test" in Pull! magazine where the author said steel would yield lower scores, somebody wrote in from a club (Kingsferry?) that was forced to go to 100% on-toxic, and he said it made no difference to the skeet scores/averages.

The one big disadvantage Brister found or noted was that steel shot wears the barrel - bulging the barrel just before the choke cones. Perceptible bulging could occur in as few as 500 rounds. Other guns might go 5000+. The thinner walled finer guns were obviously the ones that were more likely to suffer. I think that includes B25s which have relatively thin barrels. :(

Andrew.
 

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Deadpair, you are dead wrong on this one.

Getting lead shot out of the marshes was one of the best things that has been done. I have read the original published work by Dr. Frank Belrose and others and subsequent studies on lead posioning frequency in eastern Kansas. The problem of lead poisoning was real, widespread and a significant motality factor. 6% of ducks stopping at eastern Kansas duck clubs and a public marsh in the fall had lead pellets in their crops or gizzards. Many of these pellets were thought to have been picked up on site.

There is no need to bring up the crippling loss issue; it was shown to be a bogus issue in the mid 80s. We have had to use steel shot for almost 20 years now. it is time to give up these specious arguments and get over it.
 

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astomb said:
Deadpair, you are dead wrong on this one.

Getting lead shot out of the marshes was one of the best things that has been done. I have read the original published work by Dr. Frank Belrose and others and subsequent studies on lead posioning frequency in eastern Kansas. The problem of lead poisoning was real, widespread and a significant motality factor. 6% of ducks stopping at eastern Kansas duck clubs and a public marsh in the fall had lead pellets in their crops or gizzards. Many of these pellets were thought to have been picked up on site.

There is no need to bring up the crippling loss issue; it was shown to be a bogus issue in the mid 80s. We have had to use steel shot for almost 20 years now. it is time to give up these specious arguments and get over it.
When I said
while trying to fix environmental "problems" that most likely did not exist in the first place.
I was talking about the point of view of a gun club that goes to steel just because "lead is toxic", and there is no true environmental need (shallow wetlands frequented by waterfowl, or highly basic or acidic water sources in the shot fall area) just hysteria or junk science.

I do not dispute the damage lead shot in waterfowl wetland bottoms did to birds.

I apologize if I didn't make myself more clear.
 

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Actually, I think Brister's work done on steel is much outdated. We have come a long way in steel loads. Roster has stated that steel only becomes a threat to barrels with larger shot, heavier payloads and tight chokes. This is due to bridging. My father has a bulged 70's era Citori, but that was after shooting T shot through a full choke. I may be wrong, but I doubt a 1 ounce load of #7's through a Light Mod choke will do much harm. I have no doubt that steel would be equal to lead on skeet distance targets. What I'm interested to find is how it would perform on Fitasc targets. I think I will need to buy a couple cases of steel Clay Cartridge #7's and go shoot some longer edgy targets. From my testing of waterfowl steel loads, I found that the weakness of steel is holding patterns at distances past 40 yards. You tend to get a whiffle ball effect with steel. So what looks to be a great load at 40 yards ends up looking miserable at 50 yards. There are many very good alternatives to steel, but their cost will make your toes curl when thinking about the volume we tend to shoot at targets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Interesting comments by Dr Jones about Brister's observations.
Point 1, I do not think any of us have a major problem with shooting steel at skeet targets except for cost, noise, and recoil which may reduce the number of participants due to cost there by compounding the problem of poor entries at English skeet,close grounds due to noise pollution, and injure people susceptable to recoil. ( No significant problems there he said with tongue in cheek)
Point 2, Noticable barrel damage especially in thin wall tubes, excellant at the stroke of a legislative pen we can consign 300 years of engineering excellance to wall hangers or the scrap bin.
Point 3, How do we cope at Fitasc or English sporting ? Bring the targets in to 25-30 metres?
Point 4, With more than 50 years on the Marsh and riverbank I have never recovered a lead poisoned bird.
I am not convinced there is an economic alternative to lead which gives acceptable performance.
 

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Salopian:
Brister wrote about barrel damage after using very early versions of steel shot loads. They are much better now. Most guns of recent manufacture can safely shoot steel loads. About 8 years after he wrote the book Brister came out infavor of the lead ban for waterfowl hunting.

You do not see the birds that become ill they often stay in the heavy cover and do not fly once they become ill. I have seen only two lead poisoned birds in 50 years, but I have seen Frank Belrose's data and video and seen the data taken in eastern Kansas.
 

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Salopian:

Recoil and noise are much the same and you get more pellets in the pattern as Chris Ferres pointed out. The price of light steel loads has come down a lot in the last few years.
 
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