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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've inherited two old shotguns. One is a Remington Model 17 and by the date codes puts it as Feb. of 1925 mfg. The other is a Savage Fox Model B. Production somewhere between '33 and '45. Can either of these safely use steel shot or am I restricted to lead. I ask 'cause my club cannot allow lead shot on the skeet/trap range due too lead contamination of nearby wetlands.

These are both 20g.

Many thanks.

Eric
 

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No. the only shotguns that I have ever see that can handle steel shot were from the late 70's on. shotguns that old are not proofed for steel shot.correct me if I'm wrong. you might want to try shooting bismuth if your guns are nitro-proofed.
but consult some shotgun experts on this.
 

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Hi there Alpo23--

I'd say probably not, so hold off until you get more info. Until then you'll have to shoot bismuth, alas, at the club. I say "alas" because of its expense, but you'll find its performance excellent. Others here at Shotgunworld may be able to give you more definitive answers by checking the proofmarks, serial numbers, and dates. If in doubt, ask a competent gunsmith.

Meanwhile, welcome to our forums. Lots of good stuff here--I hope you'll hang around and enjoy the talk! If I can be of further help, let me know.

Jeff23
 

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I believe it is possible to get the barrels on older guns, with fixed chokes, opened up , so they can use steel shot. I was told this by a top shotgun gunsmith, when I inquired about using my older gun for steel. It's probably best to check with a local gunsmith,and ask his advise on this matter. I would not at this time suggest that you use steel shot, as it could damage the barrel, and maybe yourself! :shock:

It may be a shame to modify them, if they are real classics, so bismuth may be your ony choice. Expensive loads though.. Gulp
The other thing is the cost to modify them. It shouln't be too bad, but if into the higher bucks, you may as well buy a modern waterfowl gun, and hang on to those old timers for clay shooting, or upland birds, where you can still use lead loads. :)
 

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In a gun this age we are less worried about the choke at the end of the gun than with the construction of the weapon. Steel is hard on an older gun, it is loaded hot to keep the speed up and it is harder than lead. So even if your choke is open on an older gun the chamber and barrel may not be able to take the pressure. This can cause a very dangerous situation.
 

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If you have an old SXS you can get some very expesive Briley inserts that are proofed for steel and shoot 20 gauge thru the 12. Just a thought, because you don't want to hammer those old guns with steel.

http://www.briley.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies, I'll just stay with lead in these old bird guns for now.

On a related note, What is the difference between 'Target loads' and regular loads? I have two boxes of 20g shells that are marked 'Target Load'. They are 7 1/2 shot. I assume it is along the lines of a lighter powder charge with fewer shot to make the gun not kick as hard for practice, since one would assume more shots taken at clays than out on a hunt.

Eric
 

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Hi Eric--

Look at the part of the box that says "DR EQ," and you'll see the "drams equivalent" rating. This is a charmingly quaint old term-- it denotes the amount of black powder to which the current smokeless powder load would be equivalent. Also, look at the "oz." notation--it tells you how many ounces and fractions thereof of #7 1/2 shot the powder is pushing. There are probably other slight differences as well, but look at these two first.
 

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All of the advice that the others above my posting look good to me.

Don't shoot steel in your fine old guns. I'd never heard about opening up the chokes as someone above mentioned. Might work though.

You can shoot bismuth in your old guns. The shells are expensive, but your guns are fine old guns so pay a little and have some gun with them.

You can shoot lead all day long with them (but not at ducks). I think you could even shoot high base shells, but I'd probably stick with low base.

If you want to shoot steel there are lots of new guns that aren't all that expensive that work fine with steel. A Winchester 1300 comes to mind. Also a Remington 870.

I called Winchester the other day and asked them if I could shoot steel in my Winchester 1300, with Winchokes. They said they didn't recommend shooting with the full choke, but the Modified and cylinder bore were okay. (My gun was built in 1979). I suspect new guns are fine with the full choke, but someone posting here may know for sure.
 

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Alpo23 said:
Thanks for all the replies, I'll just stay with lead in these old bird guns for now.

On a related note, What is the difference between 'Target loads' and regular loads? I have two boxes of 20g shells that are marked 'Target Load'. They are 7 1/2 shot. I assume it is along the lines of a lighter powder charge with fewer shot to make the gun not kick as hard for practice, since one would assume more shots taken at clays than out on a hunt.

Eric
I think that the target loads have softer shot. Seems like I read that somewhere. They are fine to hunt with, but they aren't as good as standard hunting loads. I shoot target loads all the time, as they're cheaper. If a bird gets up at 40 yards, I let him go. I'll get'em next year.
 
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