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Breakpoint lead vs steel

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by wireguy, Apr 13, 2011.

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  1. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Does anyone know where the point is where buying steel shot would be less than buying lead? I know a lot of components would have to change also but just looking at shot, what does 25 pounds of steel shot cost? Does the difference in weight come in to play in costing or is steel still sold by the pound? Seems like since bushings drop volume not weight the volume per shell would remain the same. Are there any problems with steel shot rusting in storage?
     
  2. Unknown1

    Unknown1 Well-Known Member

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    10 pounds of steel shot costs about $16-$18 dollars but you will use about 25% more of it than lead shot to get the same weight. The wads allow for greater shot volume:<center>
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    </center>

    The loading press has to be equipped with enlarged bushings to allow the greater volume of shot to be dropped.

    MK
     
  3. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    It's easy to get confused about weight and volume. Hold one constant and see the difference in the other. Look at weight first: 1 oz of lead has a smaller volume than 1 oz of steel because lead is heaver (per given volume).

    Now consider volume. In a charge bar that drops x ounces of lead, you're going to get less than x ounces of steel. Your bushing needs to be larger for steel to get the same weight.

    Your scale can give you something to remember easily. Check it out.

    As long as you keep steel shot dry it won't rust.

    Steel shot is sold by weight. We buy it by the ton for $1.30 per pound. That's $32.50 for 25 pounds. If you load 1 oz of steel and 1 oz lead loads you're going to get the same number of shells out of that 25 pound bag.

    You'll also have to purchase special wads that have thicker petals and the appropriate sized (larger) shot cup. You can get wads from Ballistic Products or Precision Reloading. Reloading Specialties also carries some interesting looking steel shot. See http://www.bucksrunsports.com/ to purchase.

    As the price of lead goes up, expect to see more interest in steel.
     
  4. SNelson

    SNelson Member

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    Thanks Joe for that good explaination. I guess you get real smart about steel reloading when you are doing it!
    Scott R Nelson
     
  5. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    "If you load 1 oz of steel and 1 oz lead loads you're going to get the same number of shells out of that 25 pound bag."

    That's if you drop by weight, but our bushings and bars drop by volume, not weight. A 1 oz Mec bar is going to drop the same approximate number of similar sized pellets whether steel or lead. BUT, if we consider steel's lesser energy retention than lead, and therefore the need for larger steel pellets to get same as lead energy on target, we may then need to go up in VOLUME of steel to get the same number of pellets as lead. So the 25 pound bag of steel shot that contains a lot more volume of pellets than 25 pounds of lead is also going to have to give up more volume per load to get similar pellet count, thus Joe's and unknown1's statements above are correct.
     
  6. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    Ok, same conclusion, different path to get there. I wasn't sure where you were going.

    In terms of break point in cost, steel is a little cheaper and the wads are a little more expensive, so it's a toss up at this time, for me anyway. I've not broken that down to actuals, but soon, it may be cheaper to load steel.
     
  7. dverna

    dverna Active Member

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    My guess - it will start when lead gets to $50/bag for more than 12 months. And if steel stays under $35.

    Even those of us who have stockpiled lead will consider 1 oz steel loads for practice 16's and doubles. Short yardage HC as well. We will want to save the "good stuff" for ATA shoots.

    My main concern is the effect on barrels/chokes. I am also concerned about running steel in the Spolar as they do not recommend steel shot bushings.

    Steel has about 69% the density of steel. A 1.5 oz lead bushing should deliver about 1 oz of steel. Most reloading machines should be able to deliver that volume. Joe will chime in I am sure as he has real experience.

    Don Verna
     
  8. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    Hi Don.

    Actually a 1 oz steel wad will hold 1-3/8 oz of lead. Same goes for the bushings. Be sure to check with a scale. Mec has them rated, but the two sets are not perfectly exchangeable. The weight to volume ratios must not be parallel, or something. I don't really know/care.

    Your bbl will be protected by the wads for steel which have thicker petals and less of a gap between the petals. Removable chokes should be rated for steel to avoid stretching.

    I've never had a problem with my bbl or my fixed full choke on my 870 and I have tens of thousands of steel rounds through it in the last 6 or so years.

    Dr. Andrew Jones found steel patterned slightly larger than lead which goes against conventional 'wisdom'. We agree with the good doctor based on tests but ours are not nearly as controlled and Andrew's. Rate your chokes by constriction not the full, modified, etc ratings so you know what you are getting. Some choke companies tweak the ratings for steel so that a steel rated full choke is actually looser than a lead full choke. And by all means, check on paper so you know.

    I wonder why Spoler doesn't recommend steel shot bushings.
     
  9. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    Steel #6 has the same pellet energy as lead #7.5. Scroll down to the energy comparison chart in the webiste above. Clubs that limit you to steel should allow #6 sized steel shot. I wonder if lead shot recyclers are filtering the mining results with a maget to take out the steel.
     
  10. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    Maybe the "real" breakpoint question should be, do you need 1.125oz of lead, when a similar volume of steel (.74oz) is more than sufficient to break targets from 16 yards?!

    If one were to increase the drop for increases in yardage, at some point you would like to have the full 1.125oz...

    Going back to the original premise of similar volume; using .74oz of steel at $1.30/# results in cost of $0.06. vs. $0.10 for 1.125oz lead (based upon $40 bagged lead)

    I use a Blue Duster wad, plus a Winchester 209 primer and 16 grains of Clays powder... at market prices is giving me a box of steel at $3.50/box and I'm breaking all the birds I want at 16 yards... small price increase out at back yardage...

    Respectfully offered,

    Jay Spitz
     
  11. grunt

    grunt TS Supporters TS Supporters

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  12. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

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    Wireguy, steel starts off a little complicated, but gets ordinary pretty quickly.

    There are 2 basic types of steel shot suitable for shooting: annealed soft iron which may/may not be coated and unannealed hard (industrial cast).

    If you are going to be loading for hunting, yes, use the Zinc-coated at ±$2/lb.

    For sport shooting, uncoated is fine, and if you are in a humid place, you may have some surface rust, which won't affect you.

    'Modern' guns can shoot steel, no problem, but like Joe says, you want steel-rated chokes, as the regular chokes WILL peen & stretch. For S&G, when I was playing with steel re-loading, I tried to score an 870 barrel. I couldn't do it, even with a few BB outside the wad, and even bare shot atop Gas Check wads with no protective petals.

    You get a lot more pellets/oz of steel v. lead, and you might want to look at 7/8oz, especially for 16s & doubles. I doubt you could tell the difference between 7/8 steel and federal paper 1-1/8 at 16yds.

    Steel can be rough on reloading gear: if you spill shot, you HAVE to clean it all up & right.now.

    Joe hinted around the situation, but I don't know if Vagner Plastics (BPIs VP wads) has solved their design issues, which affected both their steel & lead wads. Joe?

    Bob
     
  13. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

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    Pellet counts:

    Steel #7 ... 422 in one ounce and 370 in 7/8oz

    Lead #7½ ... 350 1oz and 392(?) in 1-1/8oz.
     
  14. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Interesting. I didn't know there was different kinds of steel shot. I can see where for hunting, zinc coated would be a good investment. One thing I was thinking about was lead shot with copper or nickle plating vs steel shot. Since the alleged purpose of the plating was to make the surface of the lead shot harder so it was more slippery and would re-position itself instead of crushing as it went through the choke, wouldn't logic indicate that hard steel shot would be even better at that and be EASIER on chokes than lead. Since we know from actual practice that steel is harder on chokes, I have to wonder how much plated shot really contributed to re-positioning itself as it went through the choke. Was plated shot really more of a marketing tool than a genuine contributor to better patterns?
     
  15. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

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    Lead is compressible, steel is not.

    As far as plated shot (and 'lubriticity') goes, there's some evidence in both patterns and velocity difference, and penetration in a live bird .... i.e. one of those $1000 pigeons, is ABSOLUTELY deeper with plated shot.

    Bob
     
  16. cnsane

    cnsane Member

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    Ummm,,,, If steel doesn't compress, then how have I been mounting bearings in industrial machinery all these decades using a press fit. I believe you might be confusing compression with deformation. Both metals will compress, stretch, and deform. It just takes a lot more energy to make it happen with steel shot.
     
  17. Unknown1

    Unknown1 Well-Known Member

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  18. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    Bob - Vagner has not yet fixed their 1 oz steel wad. It has a blow through problem. Alternatives are the Gualandi 1 oz wad known by different names in the US. BPI calls it the mg42. There's also a B&P 1 oz wad for steel, but it's more expensive, so I've never used it.

    This year I decided to shoot the VP65 which is an ounce and 1/8. Man, there are so many pellets in that load it's a real grinder. I up it to size #6 for yardage and feel it'll be just fine for whatever I care to do. I load everything as slow as I can go and still get a decent burn on the powder. I gauge that by looking down the bbl for residue. More junk = less efficiency.

    "if you spill shot, you HAVE to clean it all up & right.now." A magnet will help.

    "Steel can be rough on reloading gear" Bob, what extra wear and tear have you seen? We've not seen any.

    Jay can stretch steel like nobody's business.
     
  19. grunt

    grunt TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Good info. Thanks
     
  20. JerryP

    JerryP Active Member

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    Joe, can you increase the velocity to make up for the lighter weight steel pellets instead of going to larger shot like the #6 you mention?
     
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