The subject of steel shot has been hotly debated and many people hold strong views for and against. Now before you reach for the phone, this is strictly about steel shot for clay targets, not game. A number of shooting grounds overseas have become concerned about contamination of the land they shoot on by lead shot and, as a result, have moved to steel for clay target shooting. At Hau Ora Clays we use steel for the same reason and in talking to ammunition suppliers in New Zealand it would seem we are not alone.
The question “can I use steel in my gun?” prompted me to do a bit or research and I found this very useful summary from BASC in the UK. The answer it seems is “yes”, as long as the ammunition is standard steel and your gun is nitro proofed ie suitable for modern lead cartridges. What is more, according to BASC, you can use standard steel through any choke.
We currently use Baschieri and Pelagri F2 Legend 24 g steel No7 loads, basically steel trap ammo which, according to the specifications on the B&P website, sits well inside the envelope for standard steel. Thousands of steel rounds have gone through our Beretta Silver Pigeons with no signs of distress. For peace of mind where customers’ guns are concerned, I have also put a good deal of it through my own nitro proofed English over and under without problems.
Muzzle velocity is a bit higher and felt recoil is slightly greater than an equivalent lead load but it breaks clays perfectly well, assuming of course you point the gun in the right place. Steel does, however pattern more tightly than lead and for this reason we recommend that chokes no tighter than half are used, simply to provide enough spread to offer a better chance of breaking the target. BASC advises not to use steel shot in Damascus or twisted barrel guns, which have a tendency to untwist, and not to use BB’s through more than half choke. Bad news for those with a Damascus barrel turkey or ostrich gun but, with a bit of care, the rest of us should be alright.
Our next club shoot is at 9.30am on Sunday 5 July. Come and try some out for yourself.