More important is how will steel shot affect quality shotguns. I don't think it would, because the wad is in my opinion the only thing contacting the barrel.
If I'm wrong let a real authority offer some facts.
The move to steel will happen eventually. At my age (60), it is unlikely it will occur while I am still able to shoot ATA. If it happens sooner, it will not affect me as I will adapt. It is not rocket science.
There are two drivers. Environmental and cost. As more steel shot is used, the costs will trend downward. There are no further economies of scale for producing lead shot.
Should shot containment become mandated, steel should have the additional advantage of being reusable without reworking.
It is my understanding that #7 steel is acceptable regardless of venue.
The advantange to using #7 steel is ZERO... unless one is forced to shoot it and shoots it regularly to become both familiar and confident in its use, I think one would be handicapped against a mainstream lead contender.
As far the effects on "quality" shotguns, if the real question is one of damage, the response is to inquire of the manufacturer (e.g. fixed choke Superposed shotguns are not recommended for use with steel shot) but most modern guns and those with steel-approved tubes should find no issue.
That said, performance in tightly choked guns and steel shot may bring unexpected results. I shot a low rib 90T for years with a lower 30s constriction and got good breaks at yardage, but shooting my more recently acquired HPAR with its higher 30s constriction brings inconsistent results... the guns are set up the same for POI, I need to do more patterning to determine if the tighter full choke is actually causing the shot string to breakdown at further distances... I'm having no issues at 16 yards.
Regarding the concept of harvesting spent steel shot... steel rusts. Any shot left for more than a few days in contact with moisture will begin to oxidize and can bind to other shot forming both irregular shaped pellets and in some instances "globs" of shot... some really ugly and few if any useable...
Dry environments may find their results different...
If I'm not mistaken you must put plywood on the back of the trap house to prevent shot from coming back if it hits the house and I have heard that in some places the ground is orange and so is run off water from the rust.
I would think that a shell loaded with 1 1/8 oz. of #8 steel will contain more pellets than it would if it were lead, how many more I have no idea and how this would effect hitting the target I also don't know. Does anybody have any information on that?
Since steel is approximately 30 percent lighter than lead, add about 20% more pellets. However, #7 steel appears to be the smallest shot size commercially available... If #8 steel were available, I would believe that they could break birds at 16 yards... use at yardage might suffer, with its nominal pellet energy capacity.
A 1.125oz volume drop for lead #7.5s gives me a .74oz drop of #7 steel... 300 pcs of shot.
maybe you guys should sort of keep this issue to yourselves and not post it out there. In other words dont wish for something you cant handle. I mean we dont need any envior"s breathing down our necks !!!!!!!! beni
A 'secret' discovered by some of the guys at our club is how well #6 shot breaks targets at yardage. Since steel is lighter than lead (per pellet) I would think we should be able to go down to #6 and still be 'legal'. Our club allows it and from what I've heard, we had an awesome turkey shoot this year where you move back until you miss. You can get #6 shot loads at the local Meijer's. Purchased some myself and had the best Dove score ever - back to the tree for second place. It's not a secret anymore.
This is supported with numbers at the above URL. The energy comparison chart shows a lead 7-1/2 load comparable to steel #6.
Other references you can copy and paste into your browser:
I think its fair to say that the USEPA, state EPAs/DEPs, etc. are all very well aware of lead. From my perspective, the shooting sports industry is committed to the future use of traditional lead ammunition.
Folks who are forced into shooting steel, just deal with it. However, as I've mentioned earlier, if you shoot steel regularly, I've witnessed the easy transition between steel and lead, but the lead shooters who occasionally shoot steel appear to have some issues.
My belief is that those ranges/clubs that are truly shooting into "waterways" (e.g. rivers, lakes), "protected environments" (e.g. wetlands) or onto properties other than their own, should have reason to be concerned about future oversight and should do whatever they can do to mitigate that shotfall.
Lastly, you just can't hide "something" - someone always seems to stumble onto what you're wanting to hide... best to be upfront and try to fix problems.
"My belief is that those ranges/clubs that are truly shooting into "waterways" (e.g. rivers, lakes), "protected environments" (e.g. wetlands) or onto properties other than their own, should have reason to be concerned about future oversight and should do whatever they can do to mitigate that shotfall."
Interesting way of looking at it, except in this state it didn't work at the club I used to shoot. The state closed the trap range for "filling the wetlands" According to the EPA in this state "filling the wetlands" is a violation of federal law. To fill the wetlands legally you must have permits or some such nonsense.
On the same range Steel, Bismuth or any other nontoxic shot is prohibited. That means no shot of any kind. That also means no trap so Steel is not the absolute cure all.