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Steel is less dense than lead. The pellets weigh one-third less than lead pellets of the same size.

  • Steel retains less energy and may not kill birds cleanly at the same ranges.
  • Steel with the same weight and shot size contains more pellets than lead, making loads that contain more shot than necessary.
  • Compensate for the lighter weight by using a shot one or two sizes larger than the lead shot size.

Steel is harder than lead shot.

  • Birds may bleed more freely because the steel penetrates better without clogging the wound channels with feather balls.
  • Steel shot spreads less and has denser shot patterns, resulting in less margin for error in gun handling and trigger timing.
  • Compensate by using a more open choke like an improved cylinder or modified choke rather than a full choke. This is especially true for shots within 50 yards.