copper plated shot - What's the benefit

OntarioHunter

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False. It can remain in the body for days, weeks, or longer. Depends on many variables. There are many studies on lead persistence in the GI. Contrary to popular opinion, persistence in waterfowl doesn't even primarily occur in the gizzard. It passes through the gizzard, then sits in the GI. This is the same thing that occurs in raptors. I don't know where people come up with this claim that lead can't persist in GI tracts. It is very apparent on x-ray, and very easy to follow it's persistence via x-rays and necrospy. This is a basic concept and extremely well understood at this point. We had this figured out by the 70's:

Bates, F. Y., D. M. Barnes, and J. M. Higbee. 1968. Lead toxicosis in mallard ducks. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 4:116–125. Google it.
The difference is that the gizzard efficiently grinds down all the lead pellet before the substance hangs out in the GI tract. Obviously the gizzard is not going to intake lead to any degree. That's not its function. Looking at owl scat, it certainly does appear that hard material like bone and presumably lead is less broken down. No one ever found a lead pellet in goose poop though we knew they were dying from eating them. That is not to say lead is not toxic to raptors. We know it is. How toxic? Are lead pellets ingested by raptors more toxic than lead ingested by waterfowl? That is the issue.

Thanks for the citation. I'll check it out.
 

OntarioHunter

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Back to the subject of the thread. Here's an interesting article from a journal/author on the other side of the pond. https://fieldsports-journal.com/fieldsports/shoot/copper-coated-shot-demystified

I have shot copper "plated" upland loads ... with poor results. The only reason I used them was because it's all that was available. Typically these shells are gassed up to 1500 fps which with 1.25 oz lead = getting my teeth shook loose ... even when shooting them out of an auto. Even if they didn't make me punchy and start to flinch, these shells behave so far removed from the thousands of trap rounds I go through every year, it almost requires learning to shoot all over again. From reading the literature it seems the focus of this copper pellet innovation is downrange shooting at uplands, particularly pheasants, at 40+ yards. Sometimes I have to wonder just how bad people want to kill birds. Enough to warrant wounding more than they kill? Enough to warrant killing their shoulders and pocketbooks? I think this is all about the "wow factor." Wow, did you see that shot? Bet you can't do that [because you don't have the money to afford this stuff]. Same with long range rifle hunting/shooting. The technocrap to accomplish long shots becomes more important than basic hunting skill. More important than just being out there.
 

OntarioHunter

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Out of necessity I discovered a very effective combination for uplands this past fall. In years past I have occasionally run onto 3" twelve gauge hulls in the field and wondered what kind of nut would feel compelled to blast pheasants with those cannon loads. This past fall due to pandemic shortages and nontoxic requirements on the bird refuge I had to take what I could get for ammo. My brother and a friend gave me their stock of 3" #4 shot duck loads. To avoid blowing the birds to pieces I put in skeet choke (which in steel tightens up to something like IC). Federal and Winchester worked very well! The box of "nickle plated" Kent FastSteel were awful but I attribute that to a defective box, something I have encountered in the past with their goose loads.
 
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Hunting Wife

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Avian digestion is not like that of mammals, and toxicity depends on things other than sheer dosage.

Some good overview information in here. Skip down to the physiology section. Gastric pH, transit times, excretion, are all very different in birds, and different amongst classes of birds. These and diet
influence exposure, uptake, and toxicity.


The difference is that the gizzard efficiently grinds down all the lead pellet before the substance hangs out in the GI tract. Obviously the gizzard is not going to intake lead to any degree. That's not its function. Looking at owl scat, it certainly does appear that hard material like bone and presumably lead is less broken down. No one ever found a lead pellet in goose poop though we knew they were dying from eating them. That is not to say lead is not toxic to raptors. We know it is. How toxic? Are lead pellets ingested by raptors more toxic than lead ingested by waterfowl? That is the issue.

Thanks for the citation. I'll check it out.
🤦🏻‍♀️ You at least know that owl pellets aren’t poop, right?
 

OntarioHunter

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Avian digestion is not like that of mammals, and toxicity depends on things other than sheer dosage.

Some good overview information in here. Skip down to the physiology section. Gastric pH, transit times, excretion, are all very different in birds, and different amongst classes of birds. These and diet
influence exposure, uptake, and toxicity.



🤦🏻‍♀️ You at least know that owl pellets aren’t poop, right?
Yes. We have been talking about shotgun pellets so I thought pellets in pellets might be a little confusing. 😁 Argh! The owl pellets are puked not pooped. Gotcha.
 

Durango Mike

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You are comparing apples and oranges ... or rather several varieties of apples to each other. There's more to them than just the seeds inside. A valid comparison would require reloading shells using all the same components but shot. I do reload my trap shells and I can tell you it makes a big difference what wad, powder, primer, and even hull is used in the recipe. When comparing various brands of competition loads, you have no way of knowing what other components are different besides the pellet paint job. Even the pellets inside the paint can be different (higher antimony as you noted). As an example: Our club usually arranges to buy bulk shells for members and resale from our target supplier. We have to take what the supplier offers and that varies from year to year. Consequently, I often have a variety of scavenged hulls to choose from. Both the Canadian manufactueres and even some of the American ones use Chedite hulls imported from France. These typically reload well for me even though they are cheap "straight wall" hulls. During the ammo shortage some club members were able to pick up a few flats of Polish trap shells. Hulls had the distinctive Chedite star pattern so I saved them for loading. Using the same powder, wad, shot, primer recipe those hulls would dud every third or fourth time. Blue box Federal hulls also fire very inconsistently. Remington and AA work well but few club members shoot them and the few that do usually don't throw them away. This fall before leaving for Montana I loaded up some trap recipes with #6 shot for uplands (lucky to find #6 with the ongoing components and ammo drought). I had used up my wads and shifted to another brand. Same hulls, same powder but countless duds. Cost me several easy shots (oh well ... more birds I didn't have to clean). It sucked but I was glad I had them. The shelves in all Montana stores were totally empty when I got there.

Incidentally, another reloading trick I formerly used to "cheat" at skeet like the Russians was to make up spreader loads for station eight. I have a bag of old 16 gauge paper wads (very old!) that I'd split in half and then slip in a disk half way up the shot charge. I put those two shells in the spare slots on the outside of the bag to keep them separate. No one keeps score on the skeet side so it's not like I'd win anything. Eventually I shot so well it was a nuisance fiddling with spreader loads. This past year I missed a total of one shot on station eight (but I do shoot that one high gun).
I was avoiding getting into too much detail, but could not resist responding. I have run extensive controlled variable tests on factory and reloaded ammunition. I used to be a competitive sporting clay and FITASC shooter running thru 50,000-60,000 targets a year for 30 years, not including box pigeon, columbaire, small gauge etc., wore out two Perrazi's in the process. I shot extensively internationally and was forced to use local ammo, the British (almost any major manufacturer) and Italian (made in WW factory) were consistently the best. I disassembled more than a few rounds to see what made it soft shooting and brought a few cases home for further research. My sample size is large and indeed I loaded control groups keeping variables constant except shot, then wad, then powder. The goal was to practice with loads that were as close as possible to factory comp loads.

The tests confirmed the better pattern "efficiency" of hi-antimony (6%) and true nickle plating in all my experiments. When you are competing at master class level missing 1-2 birds was enough difference to go from 1st to 5th. With box pigeon the $$ can be BIG and I have experienced killing 22 and losing $40K to a guy who killed 23, second place that day was $20K, so everything to increase killing effectiveness was a goal (factory ammo was mandatory- no reloads so we found the best for our gun). A major factor is having everything "tuned", hence both barrels were uniformly "back-bored" to .742, lengthening forcing cones to 3 inches, and having Briley long chokes hand honed by Ken Eyster. The best shotgun strategy is to spend $$ on barrel tuning, pre/post testing showed a significant improvement for all types of shot.

When I moved west full time in 2002 the movers loaded two pallets of shotgun shells and I shoot so little these days I still have at least 10K 12 and 28ga in the barn, have been giving them to 4H kids when ammo was scarce. I used to have sponsorship for shells so my cost was negligible. It was always amusing to hear the reactions of the kids when they shot the premium stuff versus the Wally mart thumpers! The only thing I reload now on my Ponsness shotgun press is 28ga with my favorite #7 nickle 3/4 oz load for wild quail in Texas. I think I have 2 55 gallon drums of AA hulls from my days in CT at the Winchester range, they used to be free for the taking as the tossed them in the dumpster, the good old days!

Sounds anal and compulsive I know but that was what the game was and the byproduct was loading outstanding upland game loads. For sure at 10 bucks a box I would not be able to do that much shooting today!
 

OntarioHunter

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I was avoiding getting into too much detail, but could not resist responding. I have run extensive controlled variable tests on factory and reloaded ammunition. I used to be a competitive sporting clay and FITASC shooter running thru 50,000-60,000 targets a year for 30 years, not including box pigeon, columbaire, small gauge etc., wore out two Perrazi's in the process. I shot extensively internationally and was forced to use local ammo, the British (almost any major manufacturer) and Italian (made in WW factory) were consistently the best. I disassembled more than a few rounds to see what made it soft shooting and brought a few cases home for further research. My sample size is large and indeed I loaded control groups keeping variables constant except shot, then wad, then powder. The goal was to practice with loads that were as close as possible to factory comp loads.

The tests confirmed the better pattern "efficiency" of hi-antimony (6%) and true nickle plating in all my experiments. When you are competing at master class level missing 1-2 birds was enough difference to go from 1st to 5th. With box pigeon the $$ can be BIG and I have experienced killing 22 and losing $40K to a guy who killed 23, second place that day was $20K, so everything to increase killing effectiveness was a goal (factory ammo was mandatory- no reloads so we found the best for our gun). A major factor is having everything "tuned", hence both barrels were uniformly "back-bored" to .742, lengthening forcing cones to 3 inches, and having Briley long chokes hand honed by Ken Eyster. The best shotgun strategy is to spend $$ on barrel tuning, pre/post testing showed a significant improvement for all types of shot.

When I moved west full time in 2002 the movers loaded two pallets of shotgun shells and I shoot so little these days I still have at least 10K 12 and 28ga in the barn, have been giving them to 4H kids when ammo was scarce. I used to have sponsorship for shells so my cost was negligible. It was always amusing to hear the reactions of the kids when they shot the premium stuff versus the Wally mart thumpers! The only thing I reload now on my Ponsness shotgun press is 28ga with my favorite #7 nickle 3/4 oz load for wild quail in Texas. I think I have 2 55 gallon drums of AA hulls from my days in CT at the Winchester range, they used to be free for the taking as the tossed them in the dumpster, the good old days!

Sounds anal and compulsive I know but that was what the game was and the byproduct was loading outstanding upland game loads. For sure at 10 bucks a box I would not be able to do that much shooting today!
Thanks! Unclear if high antimony or nickle plating or both yielded 6% improvement? Ten bucks a box? I wish. I had to pay $30/box for steel 3" to shoot pheasants this fall. The only two boxes of steel I could find in the entire state of Montana (some store in Butte had a couple boxes of 3.5" steel T shot but I drew the line at shooting pheasants with that stuff!).
 

Durango Mike

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Thanks! Unclear if high antimony or nickle plating or both yielded 6% improvement? Ten bucks a box? I wish. I had to pay $30/box for steel 3" to shoot pheasants this fall. The only two boxes of steel I could find in the entire state of Montana (some store in Butte had a couple boxes of 3.5" steel T shot but I drew the line at shooting pheasants with that stuff!).
I still get emails with 10 box flats of good quality target loads for $110 delivered, too bad you are not closer I could set you up with plenty of Lawrence Brand magnum shot (just 6% antimony no plating) even have some #4 and #5 that i use to weigh down the ass end of the pick up. I think we were paying a premium of $2-3 a bag for the 6% hard stuff bringing the delivered price to $14.50 in 1988, last time I bought shot. I saw a bag of regular shot on sale for $40 and wonder how people can shoot much at those prices!!

My friends at Winchester had me test their 3 1/2 12ga 1 7/8 oz of bismuth 4's on ducks (MSRP $38 box of 10). Even shot in a tweaked (all the tricks including porting) Bennelli SBE with a mercury recoil suppressor in the stock they kicked like a mule and didn't kill ducks and geese any better than federal steel. Tried to give back the 20 boxes I had left and they could not accept so I have been giving it away for years, probably have a few boxes left someplace.

Shotgun ballistics is way under researched relative to rifle/pistol reloading, counting 150-200 pellet holes on 10 sheets of butcher paper is less fun than a caliper on a 5 shot group. Someone cited Tom Roster in a post, he probably did more shot shell research than anyone. Even the article from the UK you cited is primarily anecdotal comments not hard research. Olin (owned WW) at Niles Farm (sp) did extensive testing on ducks in the 60's at various ranges, brought out the shot collar that gradually evolved and became the modern one piece plastic wad.
 

winmag

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KPY Shotshell Ballistics Calculator is the only external and terminal ballistics calculator that I know of for shotgun pellets.

It gives some helpful outputs such as ballistic gel penetration for a given pellet at a given distance, etc. Inputs include shot material/density, pellet size, muzzle velocity, load size. You can solve for final velocity, distance, flight time, energy, energy density, gel penetration, drop, wind drift. Also tells you how many pellets are in the load. Very helpful for making educated choices for shot size. Doesn't offer any help with predicting how a shell might pattern.

I've attached a photo of the program which might help understand what I'm describing. This is a 370gr TSS #9 load in my 410. The software tells me that there should be 301 pellets in the shell and it should penetrate 1.5" of ballistics gelatin at 59 yards. So if I can maintain enough pattern density, it should have the penetration needed to kill a turkey at 59 yards.
9334209B-6748-4F18-8DC1-53858C846496.jpeg
 
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winmag

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The only reason I'd shoot bismuth is if I had an old shotgun that couldn't handle steel.

Material Density (grams per cubic centimeter):
Tungsten/TSS 18.1
Hevi-Shot 12.0
Lead 11.2
Bismuth 9.7
Steel 7.9

Bismuth is 23% heavier than steel, but its still 13% lighter than lead. I don't think it's worth the 300%(?) increase in cost over steel.
 

OntarioHunter

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The only reason I'd shoot bismuth is if I had an old shotgun that couldn't handle steel.

Material Density (grams per cubic centimeter):
Tungsten/TSS 18.1
Hevi-Shot 12.0
Lead 11.2
Bismuth 9.7
Steel 7.9

Bismuth is 23% heavier than steel, but its still 13% lighter than lead. I don't think it's worth the 300%(?) increase in cost over steel.
I agree totally. I can certainly afford bismuth at $60/box but why? Every year I shoot all the geese my freezer can handle at 35-45 yards with steel shot. If I'm batting .500 it's a very bad day. May as well go home and get some needed rest. Limit of five honkers in five shots is fairly common. I usually shoot a couple of triples every year (really not that hard when hunting alone). My deeks are set at least 45 yards out so most shots are passing overhead into the wind or crossing for a look. Not hard shots but not easy either.
 

neffa3

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The only reason I'd shoot bismuth is if I had an old shotgun that couldn't handle steel.

Material Density (grams per cubic centimeter):
Tungsten/TSS 18.1
Hevi-Shot 12.0
Lead 11.2
Bismuth 9.7
Steel 7.9

Bismuth is 23% heavier than steel, but its still 13% lighter than lead. I don't think it's worth the 300%(?) increase in cost over steel.
Price per round:
Tungsten/TSS $10
Hevi-Shot $2.2
Lead
Bismuth $1.9
Steel $0.9
 

EKYHunter

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Oh yeah! Had a few boxes of the 3"
2 1/4 oz #6 load…DEADLY on turkeys! Wish I had bought a case, but that had to be like close to 20 years ago?
Yep, been a few days ago. But man, they sure performed.
 

ImBillT

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Deforms less, thus tighter patterns, and better penetration. Loads and chokes will of course effect what is optimal.

I shoot a fair bit of buffered nickel plated loads at cranes.(it’s legal here) It’s similar to copper plated. It definitely pulls fewer feathers into the bird than unplated or steel shot.

As far as toxicity, I don’t know if it has been tested, but there is more at play than a bird’s stomach acid. Damage due to impact or corrosion over time would likely be a concern as well. Of course back to the bird, there is a gizzard to overcome.
 

ImBillT

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Price per round:
Tungsten/TSS $10
Hevi-Shot $2.2
Lead
Bismuth $1.9
Steel $0.9
In handloads I don’t know if that math holds up with Hevi(and similar) compared to Bismuth, but even if it does, I’d pay the extra $.30 to shoot something heavier than lead instead of bismuth.

A lot of the guys loading TSS for ducks and geese are using a fairly light payload of small TSS that gets near the minimum pellet count for the bird and expected range, then topping it off with a steel pellet of the appropriate size. Because they can often use something along the lines .5oz TSS and have almost as many pellets as usual, they can add considerably to the pellet count by adding .5-.75oz of steel AND have a shell that’s more like $3/shell instead of $10/shell.
 

neffa3

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In handloads I don’t know if that math holds up with Hevi(and similar) compared to Bismuth, but even if it does, I’d pay the extra $.30 to shoot something heavier than lead instead of bismuth.

A lot of the guys loading TSS for ducks and geese are using a fairly light payload of small TSS that gets near the minimum pellet count for the bird and expected range, then topping it off with a steel pellet of the appropriate size. Because they can often use something along the lines .5oz TSS and have almost as many pellets as usual, they can add considerably to the pellet count by adding .5-.75oz of steel AND have a shell that’s more like $3/shell instead of $10/shell.
Those prices came from a 10 minutes goog search at a case price, they could be way off.
 

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