Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby MK10 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:11 am

Ned S wrote:My components from Bucks Run got here the afternoon the day the duck season opened back in the '80's. I bought a box of Federal steel 4's to shoot. This shot bounced off the Gadwalls that were here at 30 yds. I did not kill a duck that day but crippled my limit. My two Labs had a ball. They said 1250 fps on the box. Later I learned they were only 1000 fps and slightly less. My friend that was also hunting with me and shooting the same load later checked the velocity.
Also you do not need 130 pellets to kill teal. I kill them with 7/8 oz of 4's with 165 pellets. I shot and killed wood ducks in Iowa with 1 1/4 oz of lead 4's with 169 pellets. I used an IC choke with both loads. I always hunted with Labs also. Will you reloaders that kill teal with 7/8 oz of steel 4's please come forward. Ned S the young 81 yr old.



Hi Ned S,

Let’s assume for argument sake that you’re right, you don’t need 130 or 140 pellets in a 30-inch circle to kill Teal sized game birds. Ok Ned, how many pellets do you need? What sort of pattern density do you need to successfully (cleanly kill) and consistently take Teal sized birds and what do you base this on?

Similarly, given your use of an IC choke in 7/8 ounce loads of 4’s, can you tell me what distance you’re successfully (cleanly killing, NOT wounding/crippling) and consistently taking Teal sized birds? Is it 25, 30, 35, 40 or +40 yards?

Cheers, :thumbsup:
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Ned S » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:58 am

To clear the air, JJmac does not reload and has never shot 7/8 oz loads at 1700 to 1800 fps. Yet he is an expert contradicting my field findings. Steel 1's do kill to 70 yds at 1730 fps GYD at 32F and 4000 ft using RSI 88. I have killed many a Snow at these distances checked with a Leica Rangefinder. Ned S the young 81 yr old.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby inthebox30lbs » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:02 pm

MK10 wrote:
brad43 wrote:MK,
Not sure what kind of loads your shooting at 1200 fps range, but that's 1980 era steel velocities, and they didn't work all that great back then. I have a 7/8 oz load pushing above 1700 fps range that patterns 80% at 40 yards with #4 steel in IC choke. Interestingly enough a wood duck flew into this load this weekend at about 30-35 yards........and when it hit the water not a twitch. Many of the pellets were complete pass thru. At 20-25 yards skeet choke with #3 in a fast load will "powder" pheasants and ducks, too much so IMO..........I've considered adding wood chips to the 1700+ loads for a little added smoke flavor!!

Cheers......


Hi Brad43,

Interesting response! Just to answer your question, the load I’m using is an Italian made/loaded Remington Nitro-Steel Magnum.

Firstly, who said that ammunition back in the 80’s didn’t work well, particularly with relation to load velocities.................was it the same Doubting Thomas’s who continue to use 2-3 packets of ammunition to bag a couple of birds?

No, contrary to your view, modern science has proven without a doubt that a load velocity as low as 1,280 fps is more than capable of bagging birds effectively and consistently with steel shot provided that the correct shot size/load weight and choke constriction have been matched appropriately to the bird hunting activity. What’s more important for me, is that I’ve been using this stuff since the late 80’s and have taken hundreds of birds and have proven to my self that it works. What I've also learnt during that time is that ultra-high velocity loads provide no real added benefit. In fact, they make controlling patterns much more difficult and the effects of increased recoil are proven to impact on hunters shooting ability.

80% pattern with an IC at 40 yards using a 7/8 ounce load of 4’s at 1,700 fps!

Well, all I can say is that you are extremely fortunate as most hunters would be struggling to achieve this pattern percentage at 30 yards wityh this load configuration. Whilst we’re on the subject of proven data (not armchair theories), it may interest you to know that it has been determined that a minimum pattern density (pellet strike count in 30-inch circle) of 130-140 pellets is needed to ensure that small birds such as Wood Duck are taken effectively and consistently at any range. The in-shell pellet count for a 7/8 ounce load of 4’s will be around 167. If we assume 80% pattern average this is brings our pellet strike average down to about 133. As I said earlier, many hunters will be struggling to achieve this level of pattern density at 30 yards let alone 35 or 40 yards.

Cheers :thumbsup:


Just add fuel to the fire out of my 935 I average around 83% patterns at 40 yards with IC factory mossy choke with LS2 7/8 rio load of 4's. All day long. Even with my standard bore barrels I can easliy get 70-80% patterns. The key seems to be the overbored barrel Thats why I like the 935 it without doubt patterns better than any gun I have seen :biggrin:
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Ned S » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:46 pm

Yep! and if you checked the velocity of the 7/8 oz load they would be running 100 fps faster in the 935. They do in mine. Ned S
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:31 am

I found that with my dogs hunting close, with these fat, farmed pheasants:

Skeet was good with 7/8oz #2, but got skinny at 25yds. #3's were too dense in close and #4's were way out of the question.

The high velocity just pulverized bones, so I'm looking for lighter loads.... Lyman??, or where???? Hodgdon was too light, I think, running down 'round 1300fps and under... maybe that's enough??

I'm looking towards Skeet 1?, 'tween skeet and IC, with #2's, for pheasants, so I can throw a few pellets at about the same density, from 15-25 yds,, or at least, not spreading as much as the skeet...???

On to ducks (mallards):
I haven't gotten to the pattern board, but also thinking of running 1oz of #3's, through an extended Light Modified, for 20-30yds as a first shot on ducks, over decoys, but on crowded, public lands, where the next blind is not far away and is full of sky-busters,, so the birds may land beyond 15yds.

Thanks!.... Ken
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Ned S » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:24 am

Barrel resonance is what affects patterns. No two barrels will pattern alike because of this. The pattern board is the only way to tell what choke and shot to use. I like around 100 pellets for mallards at the distance I am shooting. Ned S
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby mudpack » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:11 am

brad43 wrote:My 7/8 oz load of steel #4 is bascially the same number of pellets as the historic 1 1/4 oz lead #4 loads, nobody thought they were inferior pellet counts? Sorry, I don't follow your logic, but if it works for you, that's all that matters!!

I think MK is right on.
As far as comparing 7/8oz of steel 4's with 1 1/4oz of lead 4's...well, there is no comparison. Pellet count in the load is far from the only consideration. Assuming both loads have equivalent muzzle velocity, the energy on target at any range over about 10 yards has the lead load winning unquestionably.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:16 am

My issue is actually having too many pellets on target, in close. I'm thinking/hoping that the differences between chokes at 15yds is minimal and that the tighter choke, with bigger pellets, will give me a longer distance of pattern density... basically giving a narrower-angle cone of spread over distance.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby J J Mac » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:37 am

kenner wrote:My issue is actually having too many pellets on target, in close. I'm thinking/hoping that the differences between chokes at 15yds is minimal and that the tighter choke, with bigger pellets, will give me a longer distance of pattern density... basically giving a narrower-angle cone of spread over distance.

The Timber N Teal Briley choke might work for you
www.briley.com/buckgardnersignatureseri ... choke.aspx
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:36 pm

I'm the original poster. What I've learned 'til now....
I've been body shooting my birds/pheasants, for the most part...
The lesson(s) I've learned is to target their beak; if they're close, you'll blow it off; if they're further, you'll get a good kill without ruining meat. Body shooting at close range kills 'em alright,, but it's not pretty,, or edible.

For my shooting...: I'm still working on it.... 7/8 oz #3's are nice in an IC choke.. at least the pattern and kills are.
When shooting a going-away bird, one wants mass of pellets to get through feathers and bone... which is where the #2's are favored. Also... #2's pattern more tightly than #3's; larger pellets stay together better than smaller.

Much like in trad archery.. A heavier, slower arrow is going to just go right through and does its job. Bullets, the same way, without destroying as much as the KE idea of high velocity in a small projectile. Hyper-velocity, light weight to vaporize; Big and slow to penetrate.

I'm still workin' it out.... My dog(s) works very close,, and I decoy ducks very close. So, I'm still working on the right mix for me that'll cleanly bag the birds and leave me something to eat.
My strategy this Fall is to try 7/8oz, #3's and 1oz #2's, in an IC, targeting their beak.

Maybe a better option would be to go to a different gauge, smaller, with a longer shot column,, but afterall, this is about shooting 12 gauge.

Good luck, All!.... Ken
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby wingseeker » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:59 am

Kenner,

Take a good look at the HeviShot Pheasant shells. We are planning on using them in the Dakotas
this FALL. Of course, you cannot use any lead on Federal Land.....remember that.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Elvis Kiwi » Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:03 am

wow what a great thread to read all the way through!!! sounds like you have got it sorted in the end Kenner
bum......beak.....boomshaggalagga....fetch em boy :biggrin:
man I wish our birds would co operrate and get in that close,most of what we get are 35-40yrs out :no: , or in your face fly bys in fading light.
how has it worked out in the end for you??
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:48 am

I'm still working on it..... Last year, I got a different gun,, an 870 Express w/28" bbl, whereas I was shooting my beautiful 870 Wingmaster, w/30" bbl (I wanted a beater for the swamp,, and I painted it.) And while I did kill some birds, they weren't as dead as I would have liked... enter the dog.

Even though both guns were similar and I cut the Express to the same length and angle, it still/I still shot differently and poorly.

I think too, that I was shooting too tight of choke last year, IC, for that close of range, to 30yds. I'm going back to the skeet and with a little more payload and here's the thinking:

I had imagined, as in the illustrations, that a pattern just widens equally as it travels, and what I'm gathering/understanding from more experienced people on this site, is that the shot "cloud" mushrooms, somewhat like a volcanic eruption, or smoke coming out, until the outer part peels away and eventually, there's not enough left in the back, center to feed the front and the pattern loses density.

And, I'm learning from people here, to target the head and not the center of mass.
So, I'd like clarification from you, 'cuz I hear, "butt, beak, boom", and I don't know if that means pull the trigger at the beak, or if one is supposed to swing through the bird and "boom" actually happens, "on three", an equally further distance/timing in front of the bird??

Thanks, Elvis!!.... Ken
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Jon Bergren » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:42 am

Kenner you can put 20 gage Polywad spreaders in a 12 gage 7/8 oz load and get nice 20-30 yd patterns or load 20% 1's under 80% 4 by wt. Also you can put 20 gage thin paper wads in your load dividing it into three horizontal compartments stack one on the other. I have done and used all three methods and they open up the patterns. 43X who published the first Lighntning Steel manual shoots 7/8 oz of 3's and kills out to 40+ yds. I think its 43 yds across the river he hunts. Ned S
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:46 am

Thanks, Ned! What choke is 43X using?
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Jon Bergren » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:57 pm

kenner wrote:Thanks, Ned! What choke is 43X using?


I believe he was shooting a Mod choke. Ned S
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Elvis Kiwi » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:46 pm

lead/swing is a personal thing, the human brain will/should remember what worked and let you repeat it. MY sight picture is about a bird length of air between beak and bead when trigger is "slapped" but everyone is different.speed of swing is pesonal too everyone is different. sustained lead vs swing n slap will always be different schools of thought. I swing n slap up close and try sustained lead on longer passing or overhead shots. every shot /bird is slightly different.
what has just been suggested loading is know as a spreader load, quail shooters have used them for years. maybe..just maybe some of the winchester Xpert lumpy bumpy shot would help with opening patterns??? back in the lead shot days you took the petals off your wad and devided the shot up with it...NOT AN OPTION with steel, if my memory serves me correctly no choke at all eg cylinder will spread approxamitely 1" per yard so 10" at 10yrds 20" at 20yrds etc etc it will vary from load to load. we use to dehead rabbits with the .12ga with anything under 15yrds when shooting a heck of alot of ammo 50-500rounds per day. with rabbits we would wait and let them get out a tad before firing to let pattern open out a bit or you just got mush,not worth eating/picking up.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:08 pm

Great info!... Thank you!!!
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby rainingmallards » Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:26 am

That is a good thread.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Elvis Kiwi » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:16 pm

7/8th oz #4 at about 20 yards through a H&R PUMP imp cyl choke
should be doing around 1550 fps
not a very scientific way of patterning I know but it tastes better than cardboard :grooving:
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:06 pm

2013 Season Update:

I tested loads of #3 and #2 in velocities of 1425 fps to 1500 fps. I found that the #3s tended to catch more feathers than the #2s, on going away shots.

I found more #3s still in the bird and in my meal. There were fewer #2s, left in the bird. In one instance, the pellet went in through the back plate, through the gizzard, filled with gravel, and gone.

The skeet choke worked great with an ounce of #2s out to 25 yds, but began to thin (or my shooting was less accurate... small sample size). If a bird flushed at 30 yds, I had little pattern density left.

I ended up using 1oz #2s, RSI data, minus 1grain Steel pwdr. I got good penetration and broke bones, but didn't shatter them into tiny bits.

From this, for my situation, I'm liking 1oz of #2s @ ~1475-1500 fps, with an Imp Cyl. There are some situations, where the bird's entering the brush, or going outta sight at closer ranges, where I may have to try not to center the bird, but the IC will give me the density I need/want at slightly longer ranges.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby Elvis Kiwi » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:53 pm

sounds like a good answer to your original query.
Im going to be loading some up myself now Ive finally pulled the cobwebs away from my wallet and bought some size#2 shot
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:24 am

The #2s definitely fold the bird. #4s @ 1700 fps did too, but there were too many holes in the bird. I think the RSI #65? of 450gr (just over an ounce) would be a great load for these close-flushing birds (10-20yd flush) and back the powder down a grain, or half of a grain.

I didn't try the RSI AA load @ 1550 fps; I will try that next year. I'm trying to cleanly kill the birds, without sending bone dust and splinters through the meat. I used the AA hulls, 'cuz I could find them better in the grass and wasn't leaving trash in the field, other than my spent wads; but I pick up plenty of plastic out there on my outings.

It would be nice to hear field reports on different birds, with diff. size shot at diff. speeds, in regards to # of holes in the bird and bone damage. Thank you Elvis, for posting the picked duck pic. Nice visual.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:54 pm

2014 Season so far: I like the results of #2s over #3s and #4s. I'm experimenting with #1s, so as to have fewer pellets remaining in the bird, as well as having a tighter pattern, over a longer distance, so shooting them @ 20yds, won't be so different than 30yds, when using a tighter choke, as opposed to the skeet choke I had been using.

Here's from another post of mine, seeking a 1-1/16oz load for AA/Ched Hulls:

With a skeet choke: 7/8oz #4s @ 1700fps, just shredded the birds. 7/8oz #2s at that velocity, so shattered and pulverized the bones, that the bird was inedible... and the pattern got really skinny @ 30 yds.

1oz of #2s, or 7/8oz #2s through a slightly tighter choke @ ~ 1400fps is nice! Dead bird, but not overly dead.

#3s kill, but I was finding too much shot in the bird and I liked how the #2s pushed further through, with more exiting.

I loaded 1oz #1s @~1400fps, or so, but through my skeet choke, the pattern was too thin. I think it'll be fine through my Wad Wiz SWAT.

I unpacked a 1-1/8oz 3" Kent load and filled with #1s, moving 1475 fps. At 20yds, with the SWAT, it was too dense and maybe a bit too much energy..... Shot a rooster, quartering away; I found 4 pellets, one against the neck skin and three more, nearly together in the shoulder joint and neck. Too many pellets in one area. The bones weren't broken as bad as with the #2s at higher the velocity.

I'm wanting to make a slower load, with bigger pellets, which will "push" their way through the bird, without the devastating impact to the bones.
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Re: Choke 12ga 7/8 oz #3 steel close-in pheasants/ducks?

Postby kenner » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:45 pm

I re-packed some very old, PMC shells with 1-1/8oz #1 steel @ 1365 fps. Bones were broken, but not smashed. Pellets passed through. I may even move to 1-1/4oz, #1s, but that would require a 3" shell; I'd prefer to keep with the 2-3/4".

At this time, it's a toss-up 'tween 1oz #2s,(or 7/8oz #2 w/tighter choke) and 1-1/8oz #1s. But, not too fast!!!

Going to play more with #1 shot. An ounce of #2 is great, but #1s are more consistent through range and retain energy a long ways out there, to go through tail feathers, backbone, and vitals.

Like BBK posted, I too, like to eat what I shoot. It's not hard to blast something.. It's a different deal, matching loads to quarry and conditions. It'd be easy to just grab a box of shells,, but I'm too OC/obsessive-compulsive for that! ;-)
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