Here's my ammo stash at this point in time

Going to SD for a few days this fall. Not familiar with the nontoxic shells that are required in certain areas. What do others recommend for pheasants?
 

Joe Hunter

Active member
Here's an old post of mine concerning steel pheasant loads. Hope this helps, good luck!

When using steel loads on pheasants, it is best to go with loads that contain #2 or #3 steel pellets. Steel shot lethality research conducted on pheasants by Tom Roster showed #2 steel to be more effective (at all ranges) than either #6 or #4 steel. Yes, #4 or #6 steel loads will kill'em, but a little extra pellet energy is a good thing on wild pheasants since shots are often taken at going-away angles and can get on the long side. The research also showed that #2 steel resulted in fewer cripples than both #6 and #4 steel; and Roster speculated that the #3 steel pellet would be a good compromise between pellet count and downrange energy.

You should be able to google the study for a link. Steel Shot for Pheasants | North Dakota Fishing and Hunting Forum (nodakoutdoors.com)

Here are a few of my 20- and 12-gauge pattern numbers to give you an idea of how #3 and #2 steel loads perform, in my gun/chokes anyway!

Patterning results from a 20-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels and Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

20 GA 3" WINCHESTER DRYLOK SUPER-X STEEL LOAD
1 oz #3 steel (145 pellets) @ 1330 fps

30 YARDS – SK / pattern 114 (78%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 123 (85%)
40 YARDS – IM / pattern 106 (73%)
40 YARDS – LF / pattern 110 (76%)

20 GA 3" REMINGTON NITRO-STEEL MAGNUM LOAD
1 oz #2 steel (118 pellets) @ 1330 fps

30 YARDS – SK / pattern 101 (86%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 105 (89%)
40 YARDS – IM / pattern 99 (84%)
40 YARDS – LF / pattern 102 (86%)

Patterning results from a 12-gauge Browning Citori with 28" Invector-plus barrels using Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

12 GA 2 ¾” REMINGTON SPORTSMAN HI-SPEED STEEL LOAD
1 1/8 oz #2 steel (139 pellets) @ 1375 fps

30 YARDS – SK / pattern 116 (83%)
30 YARDS – IC / pattern 129 (93%)
40 YARDS – IC / pattern 111 (80%)
40 YARDS – LM / pattern 114 (82%)
40 YARDS – M / pattern 114 (82%)
50 YARDS – LF / pattern 100 (72%)
50 YARDS – F / pattern 106 (76%)

As you can see, there wasn't much difference between the IC, LM and M chokes with this steel load at 40 yards, and the LM and M both registered the same 5-shot pattern average!
 

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
Going to SD for a few days this fall. Not familiar with the nontoxic shells that are required in certain areas. What do others recommend for pheasants?
As many times as this question has been asked/answered, I wish I could just copy/paste it from somewhere. But it's probably quicker just to answer it again. First, WPAs & GPAs require non-tox for pheasant hunting. WIAs & CREP do not. Those are really the only 4 types of "public" ground you need to be concerned with. Exceptions exist, but they're rare.
Steel: Minimum 1 oz of #3s at 1400 fps. 1-1/8 or 1-1/4 oz of #2s would be better if you like taking shots over 40 yds.
Bismuth: Minimum 1 oz of #5s at 1250 fps. 1-1/8 oz of #4s would be better if you like taking shots over 40 yds.
Lead: Minimum 1 oz of #6s at 1250 fps. #5s would be better if you like taking shots over 40 yds.
Increasing velocities much above those listed results in surprisingly little increase in effective range, significant increase in recoil, & potential for poor patterns.

If you happen to be a 16 gauge shooter, talk to Kre. He has quite of few of the absolute best. Tungsten Matrix #5s. 1-1/4 oz even. So jealous. They were SUCH great pheasant loads!
 
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Dakotazeb

Well-known member
Going to SD for a few days this fall. Not familiar with the nontoxic shells that are required in certain areas. What do others recommend for pheasants?
If you are only going to hunt a few days you probably won't shoot that many shells. Personally I would forget about steel shot and buy a box or two of Bismuth. Yes, they are expensive but when you factor it into the whole cost of your trip it's not that much.
 

Kre

Member
If you are only going to hunt a few days you probably won't shoot that many shells. Personally I would forget about steel shot and buy a box or two of Bismuth. Yes, they are expensive but when you factor it into the whole cost of your trip it's not that much.
Boss bismuth can be had for about $1.50/shell. The fancy, name brand, high velocity pheasant loads in lead are approaching that same price...or more.

I'm talking 16 gauge here. But, bismuth is worth the price and I feel it's much better than steel.
 

Kre

Member
If you happen to be a 16 gauge shooter, talk to Kre. He has quite of few of the absolute best. Tungsten Matrix #5s. 1-1/4 oz even. So jealous. They were SUCH great pheasant loads!

I paid $420 for the flat about 8-10 years ago. I thought it was crazy at the time, but looking back now, I'm very glad I got them.

I only shoot 5-10 of them/season and I'm sorry, but I'm not parting with any of them. :)
 

Dakotazeb

Well-known member
I paid $420 for the flat about 8-10 years ago. I thought it was crazy at the time, but looking back now, I'm very glad I got them.

I only shoot 5-10 of them/season and I'm sorry, but I'm not parting with any of them. :)
I must have gotten in on the same deal as you. Seemed like a lot of money for shells as the time, but now glad I have them. I use them very sparingly so they should last me as long as I'm going to be hunting. Still have a dozen 10 round boxes left.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Well-known member
If I stick to a 16 gauge this season, as I typically do.
And if I shoot only 1 rooster per shell.
And if I party hunt...a lot!
I can shoot 704 roosters this season! 😃
198 Boss Bismuth 1 oz #4 @ 1350.
82 Kent Bismuth 1 oz #5 @ 1300.
36 Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/4 oz #5 @ 1265.
17 Hevi Bismuth 1-1/8 oz #4 @1350. (dissection shows more like 1 oz #4.5)
225 Fiocchi 16HV5 1-1/8 oz #5 @ 1300.
120 Federal 1-1/4 oz #4 @ 1260.
13 Federal 1-1/8 oz #5 @ 1425.
13 B&P F2 1 oz #6 @ 1312.
20220824_193921.jpg
 
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BrownDogsCan2

Well-known member
If I stick to a 16 gauge this season, as I typically do.
And if I shoot only 1 rooster per shell.
And if I party hunt...a lot!
I can shoot 704 roosters this season! 😃
198 Boss Bismuth 1 oz #4.
82 Kent Bismuth 1 oz #5.
36 Kent Tungsten-Matrix 1-1/4 oz #5.
17 Hevi Bismuth 1-1/8 oz #4. (dissection shows more like 1 oz #4.5)
225 Fiocchi 16HV5 1-1/8 oz #5.
120 Federal 1-1/4 oz #4.
13 Federal 1-1/8 oz #5.
13 B&P F2 1 oz #6.
View attachment 3853
I had about 3 flats of a mish mash of twenty and twelve gauge loads and had every intention of shooting them all up . After watching bare shelves , for what the third year in a row? And with the bird shortage I wanted to make sure I was shooting loads I had the most confidence in and broke down and bought . 3 more flats. If I only shot pheasants 25 birds last year banging away at 50 percent with my automatic. What would that last me? 30 years🤣0440A437-2B1A-4720-AF42-33BF52195589.jpeg
 

gimruis

Well-known member
Here's mine. Always stored in the safe of course. I usually go through about a box and a half during pheasant season. Had great difficulty finding PS in the gauge/shot/size I prefer the last couple seasons.
 

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AtTheMurph

Active member
View attachment 3808
~200 Kent Tunsten Matrix 1-1/4 ounce 5's
~280 Boss bismuth 1 ounce 5's
~35 Handloads of 1-1/4 ounce nickel plated #5
and a mish-mash of 1-1/8 ounce lead in 4, 5 and 6

A decent batch of 16 gauge loads. I wonder how many years it'll take me to shoot these up? But, I think as I use these up I will switch completely to the 1 ounce Boss bismuth loads. Their performance has been excellent and I don't have to worry about switching around non-tox and lead.
Probably need that many shooting a 16ga. Never seen anyone hit anything with a 16ga. Just lots of shooting and a very occasional feather comes loose. ;)
 

Goosemaster

Well-known member
It is often said the higher velocity blows the patterns up, I have never tested it, I have a load that works well (middle of the road payload/charge) and I stick with it and I don't switch-up shotguns either. Use what you have confidence in. In saying this, I had a friend that came out with us once last season, had hunted with him in prior years. He was shooting some heavy weight crap (said they were all he could find), those just destroyed the birds, then he had to "get going" and didn't take those mutilated birds with him. He will not be going out with me this year if he still only has those shells. Isn't that what is happening with you fellas that shoot the one & three eighths loads and higher loads? I had a good dog and hope I do again, and would rather the dog has to track down a winged-bird, than end-up with birds that have little left to eat. I see no sensible reason to kill pheasants if you aren't eating them, so I would think that might play into shell selection. But with the shortage, I guess guys grab what they can find if they aren't somewhat well supplied before all this hoarding started.
I think anything more than 1 1/4 lead is too much for pheasant.
 
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