Thank you everyone for the information. I too was a big proponent of Copper and then Nickel as they came into vogue. i am finding that the actual performance in my unscientific field tests, tell me that a good magnum lead is as good as plated shot. The one exception is that lead does pull feathers. Other than that if you have a load that produces good patterns in your gun and you place the shot where you want, it results in a dead bird.
I must weigh in on this. Not all copper or nickel plated shot is all that hard. To be specific, if the plating goes over a pellet of a truly high antimony content then you have the good stuff. However, too many just plate chilled lead or something not much better. Some expensive factory loads use the crummy stuff too.
From personal experience, I will say that BPI's nickel is noticeably softer than plain West Coast Mag Lead. A simple squeeze test with a pair of pliers can be very revealing without the need for an expensive testing gadget too. I use West Coast Mag lead as my baseline to see if something is harder or softer. The stuff is mighty hard. Test, don't guess. There is no sense in paying extra for shot that isn't even as good as more affordable mag lead.
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Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Dave Erickson wrote:
I've often wondered if the density of pure lead is a better killer than harder but lighter alloyed lead.
I would think it is in some cases. The discussions are nearly always of exterior ballistics instead of terminal, and in the situations where higher pattern density needs to be maintained to be effective the harder shot should provide better results.
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Joined: 08 Aug 2011
Location: Central CT
I guess it depends how you want to kill birds.
If you are of the mind that the best way to kill a bird is with multiple hits to the body, then maybe soft shot is the way to go.
If you think that the best way to kill birds is up front in the head/neck/central nervous system, than I believe you want a nice dense core. It would seem that harder shot would be better.
There was an article a bit ago that suggested that soft lead shot would break clay targets better, because they will flatten out on contact providing a larger surface to damage the clay.
I have to be honest, I don't think that soft shot is a good idea regardless of whether you are trying to kill clay targets or birds.
I completely believe that you are best using the hardest and roundest shot you can get and controlling the pattern with degree of choke. The slight difference that you are going to have as far as pellet weight is entirely insignificant as far as penetration on bird or target.
The flattening out of a pellet on a bird to create a larger wound channel.....unless it hits bone the pellet isn't going to deform and even if it does so what. You don't kill a bird with a lung shot like you would a mammal. I think you can kill a bird by the sheer force of multiple hits on a bird 30 yards and under, I am very certain on longer birds you either hit it up front and kill it (you can watch the head flop backwards or down) or it will be either a very long retrieve or a lost bird, especially on ducks/pheasants or larger birds.
I can't ever see why or when soft shot is an advantage.
I had the chance to duck hunt with the gentleman who owned the Big Foot Goose Decoy company back in 1995(he just passed on recently). We were in Springfield, South Dakota on the Missouri River and he and his son gave me a clinic on how to kill ducks. I was hunting ducks with them in the morning and hunting pheasants in the afternoon. My job was to clean the ducks as payment for staying at their place. They each killed a limit everyday of 5 ducks and I didn't have to clean pellets out of the breast or leg meat. A few broken wings, with a lot of bloody beaks, They used I/C chokes in their SBE Benelli's & 1 1/8 oz. of #4 steel @ 1,360 FPS. That experience cured me of even thinking about body shots on birds.
I am sure that on woodcock, ruffed grouse, quail etc. it may not matter where you hit them but on pheasants, ducks and larger it makes the difference between your dog retrieving a dead bird or chasing a cripple and maybe never retrieving or even finding it.
I agree that multiple hits are what is important in killing a bird......multiple hits in the head/neck and for that I want the hardest roundest lead shot I can find.
Joined: 22 Aug 2011
Location: the Moosehorn
If you have ever splatted a grouse or woodcock at 5 yards with a load of hard shot from a cyl choke while hunting in the woods with dogs , chilled shot especially naked ( no petals) is the answer, when you need all the spread you can get.
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Joined: 12 Mar 2005
Many years ago (well maybe not so many), I was sucked into buying nickel plated shot by the overly flatulent claims from BPI about its much better performance. I was still a bit of a rube back then and repeatedly paid for it until I wised up--at least about shot performance anyway.
After trying the high priced plated shot for a while, I realized I was just wasting my money on BS. I found magnum shot performance superior in every way. Even good quality chilled shot performed at least as well. BTW, I've never seen dead soft lead shot offered for sale anywhere ever. All I've ever seen is chilled or magnum shot. So I am assuming soft shot and chilled shot are one and the same in this thread.
I've used lighter weight loads of #7.5 or smaller chilled shot w/ excellent results for closer shots of 20 yards or under at smaller birds like rail, woodcock, quail, dove etc. These loads have all also been at moderate velocities of 1100 FPS or so as well, and only for gauges bigger than the 28. Any of my 410 and 28 gauge hunting loads need premium grade magnum shot for best performance.
I've found that any of my faster and heavier Longer range loads require the best premium magnum shot I can buy. This is especially true when using bigger shot sizes of #6 and up.
Of course, as others have already stated, good shooting is also a must. the best shot in the world won't help if we can't center the birds in our patterns most of the time. Just how it is in my experience.
Joined: 12 Mar 2005
A flush at 5 yards is a 15 yard shot In the woods of Maine that the only chance at the bird it lasts about 4 seconds.
All to often for early season grouse hunting, we're lucky if the window of opportunity lasts that long. All too often, them little feathered buzz bombs find something to fly into or behind in a wink. The racket they make when they flush from under our boots screws us up real good too. After I've thrown my gun up in the air in shock, I've never been able to catch it and shoot quick enough to hit them even in the butt.
Joined: 09 Dec 2009
Location: Cheyenne, Wy
mike campbell wrote:
Why would extra hard shot be superior to soft shot for killing birds? If someone thinks harder is necessarily better, why not just load steel shot?
For killing deer, I don't know anyone who prefers full metal jacketed bullets to a bullet designed to deform.
You know, that just makes good sense to me. As a kid I remember Dad cleaning pheasants and pulling the feathers out of the pellet holes, I did the same as I grew up.
Bottom line: It killed them with authority.
Wasn't fancy or expensive, just worked.
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