Choosing the optimum shotgun shells and bismuth shot size should be simple and obvious. A widely established standard and preference for quite some time has been #4 for large ducks, #6 for teal, and #2 or BB for geese. However, times are changing, hunters’ needs are shifting, and a growing trend toward modern non-toxic wing shot shells.
What is the best bismuth shot size for ducks and geese?
We will look at the history and evolution of waterfowl shooting to understand better how we got here, where we are today, and where we‘re headed.
Obtain The Lead
Lead shot ruled the marsh for decades, preferable in a #6 load for its high density, tight patterning, and fatal killing force downrange.
In 1991, ammunition makers and hunters scrambled to find viable substitutes when the lead prohibition took effect. Steel (iron) quickly became the standard alternative due to its low cost and availability as a non-toxic material.
After some trial and error, hunters discovered that they needed to use the slightly larger #4 steel to get the same punch as the #6 lead. If you used to shoot geese with #4 lead, you might now switch to #2 or BB size steel.
You’ve probably had personal experience firing steel loads while hunting ducks and geese by now.
Various companies make steel loads, which you can find on practically every sporting goods store shelf in almost every gauge, length, weight, and shot size combination you can think of.
On the other hand, Steel shot has proven its inadequacies in the field, hurting birds and pursuing disabled people over the marsh at least once in your hunting career.
Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better
Many non–toxic compounds have been explored and tested in shotgun rounds since the introduction of steel shot, with a few top–performing materials, especially bismuth and tungsten, remaining. These materials pack a powerful punch in a compact package with denser, heavier, and more desirable physical qualities than steel.
Because these alternatives have higher densities than steel. They can fit more pellets downrange and into the kill zone, with less wind resistance, less scattering and flyers, and more energy and lethal over longer distances. Many munitions manufacturers now sell bismuth.
Let’s take a look at what bismuth shots are.
Since bismuth has a density halfway between lead and steel, many bismuth shotgun shots sizes are supplied in steel–like proportions.
Pellet integrity improved with a bismuth shot is alloyed with 6% tin. Bismuth is one of the softest non–toxic alternate shot types, making it ideal for older double guns and shotguns with fixed chokes.
The Decision Is Yours
It’s not always as straightforward as picking a number for waterfowl hunting shot size. Hunters must factor in other elements, including the species to be shot, the season‘s timing, gunning range, and other criteria, into the shot size equation.
In addition, you cannot overlook the necessity of practicing your shooting and patterning your gun during the off-season.
Shoot some paper targets and break some clays before the season to gain confidence in your ability to kill birds with bismuth shots and enjoy your time in the marsh.
Affordable, non–toxic bismuth shots are better suited to the selective shooter or when longer–range results are required.
What Will The Future Bring?
It seems evident that a non-toxic munitions world is in our future, with a nationwide ban on lead for all waterfowl hunting and many states passing prohibitions on all toxic ammo for any sort of hunting.
Now is the time to evaluate your shot shell selection procedure and begin experimenting with your possibilities. Here is a shot guide for you to choose from.
- The shots of #4, #5, and #6 are used for small ducks in a distance of 15–40 yds with gauges 12 and 20.
- The bismuth shots of BB,1, 2, 3# are used for large ducks in a distance of 10–40 yds with gauges 10, 12, and 20.
- Shots of T, BBB, and BB are used for geese at a distance of 10–45 yds with gauges 10, 12, and 20.
Choosing the correct shot gives you the most effective and enjoyable hunting experience possible.
When selecting your shot size, take the academic approach, examine your scenario, and consider the decision variables and available ammo possibilities.
Ensure to find the proper fit by buying a bismuth shot in Canada.