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Article 8 – 2015

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: A friend of mine recently competed at a club in Victoria where he used steel shot shells. He gave me a few to try, but I was warned against using them. Is there a reason why steel shot may be dangerous and is there any advantage of using steel over lead?

Peter Arandt, Toronto NSW


Answer: I am not sure what shot gun you are planning to try these loads out in, but don’t use them until you have had a gunsmith with a bit of experience check your shotgun out. As a general rule any choke greater than half (modified) is considered the maximum constriction for steel shot. There will be people jumping up and down in their seats reading this, but the reality is there has been any number of tightly constricted barrels ruined by these loads. If your firearm is an older model “side by side” shotgun then please get a reputable gunsmith to look at it irrespective of what chokes the barrel has. Also if your shotgun has removable chokes remember to only use ones that are marked safe for steel shot shell use. Not all chokes are suitable.

At least one club I know of in Victoria enforces a steel shot only rule, but quite a few are considering a lead shot only rule also. The debate about what is more effective on clay targets is a difficult one, but there is no doubt at greater distances lead wins over steel every time.

Please read the warning on the shot shells packet. This will give you a good head start as to what safety limitations this ammunition has.


Question: What is the best color all round front sight (bead) on a barrel to use? I have a white one, but I find on cloudy days I can’t see it too well. I am thinking red.

Barry Kenderson, Hobart TAS


Answer: The first and most obvious answer I would give you is why are you looking at your front sight? It is a shotgun that you point with. You aim a rifle and use a sight. I am serious here. I don’t actually believe it matters one bit. I can name two Olympic Gold Medallists that didn’t use any!!!

The front sight is a reference point. It helps a shooter (mainly a beginner) to be able to find where the end of the barrel is in relation to the clay target or object that is being pointed at. At all times the only thing that needs to be perfectly clear in your vision is the target. NEVER should you see the front sight of your shotgun clear at any stage. It should always only appear as a blur. If you see the front sight with any detail at any stage of your shot then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Break the habit now.

Color is a personal preference. I like the Carlton Football Club who are known as “The Blues” so I am going with that. Put a blue front sight on your shotgun.

Whatever color you decide on just go for a small one. The less distractions up on the front of your barrel the better.

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