About the Study Guide

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Extensive field tests demonstrate that when velocity and shot size selection have been properly adjusted for there is no significant difference in wounding loss between steel shot and lead shot.

  • Pattern test your gun and choke.
  • Choose effective loads.
  • Practice your shotgun skills.
  • Shoot within range of your shooting ability.

Make sure to keep your steel shot size within legal standards. It is illegal to use shot larger than size T (0.20" diameter) for migratory birds in Alaska.

Comparison of common shotgun chokes: their relative patterning efficiency, nominal bore constriction in 12 gauge, and typical applications.
Choke Relative Pattern Efficiency* Typical Applications**

* Relative pattern efficiency for lead shot as the percentage of in-shell shot hitting within a 30-inch circle at 40 yards. Performance varies even among individual chokes of the same origin. Testing on the range is important to prove the relative patterning performance of any choke. Because steel shot is more round than lead, pattern efficiency through these chokes will be 10-20% higher than lead values shown.

** The effectiveness of chokes for various applications is very dependent on shot size, charge weight, specific distances, and other factors.

Full 70% Long range, still targets, turkeys
Improved-Modified (IM) 65% Large birds mid-range
Modified (Mod) 60% Large birds mid-range
Improved Cylinder (IC) 55% Waterfowl over decoys, upland birds
Skeet 45-50% Snipe, clay targets, short range
Cylinder <50% Slug barrels