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December 31, 2008

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Bourjaily: Winchester Small-Gauge Steel

For years, every time I talked to any shotshell maker, I put in my plug for small-gauge steel loads. They would tell me it was impossible to make a wad thick enough to protect barrels and still hold a meaningful amount of shot. But, they were lying to me because as of now we have steel 28 and .410 loads. For 2009 Winchester announces 28 and .410 steel loads in 6 and 7 shot (roughly equivalent to 7 1/ 2 and 8 1/ 2 lead).

The 28 gauge loads contain 5/8 ounces of shot; the .410s have a 3/8-ounce payload. In terms of pellet count, 5/8 ounce of steel 6 shot equals 196 pellets; 5/8 ounce of 7s contains 249. In the .410, 3/8 ounce of 6 and 7 shot works out to a mere 117 or 149 pellets, respectively.

Granted, both should work only within extreme limitations on small gamebirds and clays. That said, I would love to go rail hunting with a .410 and 3/ 8 ounce of shot. The flight of a rail is usually so short that if you wait long enough not to blow it up with a 12 or 20, it lands before you ever get a chance to shoot. But, I doubt these are a good idea for youth duck hunting although I’ll have to withhold judgment until I’ve had a chance to try them. These are not, in my opinion, youth loads but ammo for serious small gauge nuts. They should be fine for skeet and some sporting clays, and maybe teal right in your face.

The good news is, the industry is no longer pretending that they can’t load small gauge steel. Now, when (not if), a lead ban comes to your area, you’ll still be able to shoot your small gauges.


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PB quote:The good news is, the industry is no longer pretending that they can’t load small gauge steel. Now, when (not if), a lead ban comes to your area, you’ll still be able to shoot your small gauges.

I agree completely, but will take it one step farther. 2009 is the beginning of the end for lead not only in shotshells and hunting bullets in certain states, but in all states and for all bullets.

It's gonna suck and its gonna cost shooters a fortune (and that's what it's intended to do).



oh and don't forget that soon all the new lead free ammo will have to be loaded to subsonic levels as to keep the noise levels down to a minimum.

Really gives us something to look forward to doesn't it.....

Happy 2009 for gun owners!



I was hunting rail with my bow this past autumn. After the first shot, it ran me all through the swamp where I managed to whack him with two more snaro heads, a field point and a blunt. This managed to slow him down to the point where I could grab it and wring it's neck. I highly doubt a .410 would do what a blunt and field tip pass through and 3 snaro hits could not. I don't want to hunt those invincible birds with anything but 3 1/2'' 12 ga loads.

Bernie Kuntz

jstreet: Unfortunately, I think you are entirely correct on an upcoming ban on lead bullets and shotshells. The state wildlife agencies and the National Wildlife Federation will roll over with this one, just like they did with the lead shot ban on waterfowl hunting. Lead will be demonized by morons in Congress who know nothing about it, and we will have a choice--illegally use lead or discard it. And you are right again--it is all designed to discourage hunting and shooting.

Happy New Year


Not that I know a lot about smaller loads, but 410's are a heck of a lot of fun! I've shot one a couple of times and they are much easier to shoot than a 20 gauge. I hope the smaller loads recieve a better share of the market.


well, that much is true, but what will i do with my Belgium Browning Sweet 16? i certainly do not want to ruin the barrel by shooting steel.


I live in Minnesota and just read this morning that there is going to be a push in Minnesota to ban lead ammunition. According to the writer, she has found several Bald Eagles that have feasted on deer shot with lead bullets and died. I often wonder why now, the eagles have been eating deer for years. I never realized they were eating so much lead. What will be next?



Lead ban extremists are the same as Peta and the Humane Society. They would go so far to as to purposely poison eagles with lead to prove their point.

Jim in Mo

That was me, don't know what happened.

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