Calculated Shotgun Shell Pellet Count

December 23, 2008 by  

The pellet count in shotgun shells is useful information for hunters and reloaders. Sometimes manufacturers’ shot counts are hard to find. People commonly post on the DHC Shotshell, Reloading, Ballistics, and Choke Forum

requesting pellet counts for various loadings.

For my own use, I assembled the following tables which give the calculated pellet counts for various weights and sizes of steel, lead, and Remington HD shot. Perhaps this information will be useful to others also. I did not include Hevi-Shot because of pellet size variation within a shell and the different density products Environmental, Inc. now sells.

shotgun shell sizing chartHere are the densities of the three different pellets:

The densities of steel and lead shot are those used by the Ed Lowry’s Shotshell Ballistics software. Of course, the density of lead varies with the amount of antimony used to harden it.

The simple calculation was done by dividing the weight of the shot loading by the weight of one pellet (pellet volume X density) and rounding down to the closest integer.

These tables should suffice for many users although some people may want to weigh the shot in their commercial shells and count the pellets. I’m not a steel shot reloader but apparently many people weigh the shot that goes into each shell. Assuming that manufacturers give accurate shot loading weights, actual data may still differ from these calculated results somewhat owing to other normal manufacturing variances (for example, shot diameter variability and using volume instead of weight in loading the shells).

You can easily make modifications to the table entries for different density materials and different weight loadings.

Let me know if you find any errors, preferably by a PM (private message) to J J Mac, and I will make corrections.

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8 Comments on "Calculated Shotgun Shell Pellet Count"

  1. frank on Sat, 4th Apr 2009 5:05 pm 

    Appreciate your effort,it was helpful. Thank You

  2. Mike on Mon, 27th Jul 2009 2:39 pm 

    Good stuff, good job and good hunting this fall!

  3. Albert on Mon, 9th Nov 2009 7:55 pm 

    Helpful chart beats counting pellets sent the chart to my hunting buddies. Thank You.

  4. Andre on Tue, 18th Mar 2014 6:59 am 

    Hi, thanks a lot for the chart, very useful.

    Just one thing though, I suppose that these charts are refering to a 12 gauge shotgun shell? It would certainly be different figures for a 20 gauge shotshell and other gauges because of the difference in the shotshell size.

    Thanks for clarifying.

  5. al zierman on Wed, 24th Sep 2014 12:15 pm 

    Is there anyone out there that loads steel shot in a 2 3/4 inch 20 ga?? ?that would be fpr goose hunting ND. I was told that I would be wasting my time….any help would be appreciated.. Although there is no powder available in the area. Thanks al zierman

  6. Jeffery on Wed, 5th Nov 2014 7:39 pm 

    Al Zierman: I found three companies that load a commercial load, 20 gauge round that meets your specifications assuming you want #2 shot size which is commonly used on Geese.

    Kent Upland Steel, PMC Steel Load, Stock Number HVST202 and Remington Nitro Steel, NS20HVS2. All of the above are rated at 1,400 FPS.

    Hope this helps.

    Jeffery Sealing

  7. bob blanchfield on Mon, 24th Aug 2015 6:44 pm 

    what does f and t stand for on pellet size charts.

  8. bob blanchfield on Mon, 24th Aug 2015 6:48 pm 

    also on the chart above is it for 23/4 or 3 in. shells. can you give me a chart for 410 and 20 gauge 23/4 shells ? thank you

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