Bismuth shot and guage selection

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isonychia
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Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by isonychia » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:58 pm

Sooo, for the first time ever I shot a bird, produced a pillow of feathers, and the bird continued flapping until it vanished some miles away. That was with a 20 gauge and 1 ounce of #6 bismuth shot.

As I am getting more into non toxic shot for a variety of reasons, I am plenty happy with the 20ga on grouse, but the chukar who got away from me in the above depiction is haunting. I feel like the knock down power of bismuth could mean going with a heavier gauge and still be sporty. So this begs the question; should I go to a 16 guage or 12 guage over under for chukar country? This would double as my grouse backup. The 16ga would almost have to be a $1500 gun (Franchi or Browning) but the 12 could be a turkish Weatherby Orion or CZ Redhead, which wouldn't hurt to see get leaned against the odd lava boulder, but would be more of a brute to carry in the chukar country. Obviously the 16 would be best for a grouse backup. My concern is that a 20 guage 3 inch bismuth shell would preform closely to the 16 guage 2 3/4 shell.

Thoughts?

PS pumps may be another option, but I can't shoot autoloaders well for some odd reason.

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Garrison
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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Garrison » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:45 am

I must preface my answer with a short disclaimer. I have proven pretty adept at filling empty spaces in the gun safe over the years and have always really wanted an A5 sweet 16, hopefully I will make that happen at some point.

At this point I have kept all my purchases to 20’s and 12’s due to the availability of shells wherever I might be hunting and my current reloading set up. My go to guns for chukar are all 12’s. I use high brass #6 in lead shot as the bench mark for chukar. I know bismuth shot is supposed to be comparable to lead but I have had better luck stepping it up a size. For non lead I usually load steel #4 because it is cheaper but it limits the gun and choke selection. I don’t think chukar are any harder to knock down compared to other birds their size, I think they get this reputation and require a bit larger shot because shots usually end up a bit longer and are more off balanced than most. Especially the second or third shots. A 20 that patterns well with a modified choke is enough medicine but I prefer the 12’s.

If the terrain is such that I don’t have to worry about tumbling down a hill and can carry a beauty queen (rare in chukar country) I like carrying my Browning O/U 525, nice having two different chokes for first and second shot and it is just a sweet gun. After an hour hike for a covey flush it has left me wishing I had a third pull of the trigger a few times. If I am in Nevada where I can shoot lead it’s my old A5 with a sling, tough and the new was worn off long before I was born. California non lead only and rough terrain I usually shoot one of my 870’s.

If I owned a 20 and was getting a new chukar gun (I would probably look used) I would focus my search on a rugged 12 that has sling studs with removable chokes so you can use it for waterfowl as well.

Garrison

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isonychia
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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by isonychia » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:18 pm

Thanks Garrison, that was just what I was looking for. I would love an a5 either in 16 or 12 but have had bad experiences with autos and me not being able to hit anything with them, probably just a fit problem but something to do with swing as well. I carried my 870 express in chukar terrain on a snowy day once, YOUCH! That thing is heavy and I was so cold I couldn't get a bead on quickly enough. I think I may look for a used citori 12 ga around the 1k mark, or maybe a franchi L. I get the terrain is rough on guns, and while I don't want to take a $2k gun up the scree fields, I don't want to tote a cheap looking and performing gun all day. I'm getting more vain as I fall into what hunting means to me, and bird hunting is starting to make me think about style more than anything else ever has in my life. Strange.
Last edited by isonychia on Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by JONOV » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:24 pm

That's odd for Bismuth IMHO. I've seen it pretty effective.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Garrison » Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:45 pm

isonychia wrote:Thanks Garrison, that was just what I was looking for. I would love an a5 either in 16 or 12 but have had bad experiences with autos and me not being able to hit anything with them, probably just a fit problem but something to do with swing as well. I carried my 870 express in chukar terrain on a snowy day once, YOUCH! That thing is heavy and I was so cold I couldn't get a bead on quickly enough. I think I may look for a used citori 12 ga around the 1k mark, or maybe a franchi L. I get the terrain is rough on guns, and while I don't want to take a $2k gun up the scree fields, I don't want to tote a cheap looking and performing gun all day. I'm getting more vain as I fall into what hunting means to me, and bird hunting is starting to make me think about style more than anything else ever has in my life. Strange.
Hard to beat two barrels, don’t get one too pretty. Or it will only come out during tailgate photos! :lol:

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Garrison » Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:05 pm

JONOV wrote:That's odd for Bismuth IMHO. I've seen it pretty effective.
I have to admit I haven't shot a ton of it, when I did play around with it I liked it more than steel. I should probably buy a couple bags of shot and work on some loads so I can use more of the old guns. I think there is still a little space between it and lead when comparing same size shot and performance. I probably would be more concerned if I shot more birds with webbed feet.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by birds » Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:37 am

Might be a good idea to pattern your gun as well. The rule of thumb (with steel) is to step up a shot size or so (using 6 shot in lead? go to 4) and keep the chokes open. My info also says that because of the hardness of steel its better in most guns (for sure sxs and o/u) to stay away from full and if you are using modified it will probably pattern closer to a full, ditto imp cyl will pattern close to mod and cyl close to imp cyl. Might want to dial back the outer range as well. That may mean passing up that third shot unless its a late close flusher. If you pay attention to range there is no reason a .20 won't work just fine, though I step up to a 3 inch to make up the lost pattern density with heavier shot. When steel was mandated for waterfowl back in the early 80's there was a learning curve that was directly related to range/shot size and a lot of birds flew off after that puff of feathers.
All that said I have never used bismuth. It is cheaper to pick close shots than to pay for bismuth and watch hit birds go over the horizon.

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isonychia
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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by isonychia » Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:40 pm

birds wrote:Might be a good idea to pattern your gun as well. The rule of thumb (with steel) is to step up a shot size or so (using 6 shot in lead? go to 4) and keep the chokes open. My info also says that because of the hardness of steel its better in most guns (for sure sxs and o/u) to stay away from full and if you are using modified it will probably pattern closer to a full, ditto imp cyl will pattern close to mod and cyl close to imp cyl. Might want to dial back the outer range as well. That may mean passing up that third shot unless its a late close flusher. If you pay attention to range there is no reason a .20 won't work just fine, though I step up to a 3 inch to make up the lost pattern density with heavier shot. When steel was mandated for waterfowl back in the early 80's there was a learning curve that was directly related to range/shot size and a lot of birds flew off after that puff of feathers.
All that said I have never used bismuth. It is cheaper to pick close shots than to pay for bismuth and watch hit birds go over the horizon.
The problem I have with steel is the issue of ricochet, where I hunt grouse and chukar there are a lot of overhanging cliffs, old mining towers and trash metal, etc for ricochet. Also, if steel does find its way inside your dog, it will fester, unlike lead (not sure about bismuth... hmmm). Not that I have ever shot my dogs. I do know of a lot of folks who have by accident.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Timewise65 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:45 pm

As a primarily, waterfowl hunter I am stuck using all types of loads, except lead! Accordingly, I keep my shots in a much shorter range than I used to with lead. Although, I understand and accept why waterfowl hunters are forced use steel or other loads, I still much prefer 'lead'!

I have tried all of the other options from steel, but came back to steel shot, as the others are very expensive and I do not see any difference in 'knock down' power or range. We hunt primarily over decoys with 12 gage auto's....we also use 3" shells....my auto load has an improved cylinder choke in it since we hunt over decoys from a blind.

But, I am going Pheasant Hunting in Kansas this weekend with a friend who has property and well trained pointers. I will use my 12ga over/under with # 4 and #5, 3" lead loads. I will have a modified choke in one barrel and an Improved/modified in the other. The weather looks to be good and I am anticipating a good couple of days in the field.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by roaniecowpony » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:13 pm

There's no doubt your bag can increase with a larger bore...due to a larger pattern. The size of a killing pattern wll be larger on a larger bore with an increased charge weight. More room for error. But it won't kill better than a centered pattern on a smaller bore. Your 20 ga is plenty of gun to kill a little 1 lb bird. I hunt them with a 410/28ga/20ga. I used bismuth out of 28ga on some pen raised roosters a couple seasons back. They came down hard.

Theres no way in heck I'd hump a 8+ lb 12ga Citori up and down the mountains where chukar live. A 6 to 6 1/2 lb sub gauge is perfect. I really like carrying a 5 1/2 lb 410 or 28 ga.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by roaniecowpony » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:48 am

One thing you'll note when you look at Bismuth shot is that it's all irregular in shape and size. This could be the reason your shot failed. Put it on the pattern board. You'll want to shoot a bit tighter choke than with lead just to make up for holes in the pattern.

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Featherfinder » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:12 am

I had a long response prepared...hit a key and I lost all of it! I think it might have been an omen!
I will try again, against the better judgement of ????
I agree with Roanie.
I use a 20 gauge for all of my wild bird and hunt club birds - woodcock to pheasants. I simply use the appropriate shot-shells. Today, the selection is substantial.
I am not a proponent of non-toxic shot. I have seen the carnage both in waterfowling and dove hunting. I understand that you have to adjust your strategies accordingly however a large majority of my exposure conveys far too many birds being hit - as you witnessed Isony - but managing to escape the immediate danger. There is little doubt in my mind that those crippled birds will die a horrible slow death....somewhere! Is that not something that should be at the forefront of the equation? Instead, as with most things today the Almighty Dollar rules!! And so rumor has it (unsubstantiated at this time), an engineer/chemist/scientist that was at the forefront of the non-toxic shot testing has since retired. He "came clean." There were underlying considerations - dollar driven. Geee...there's a surprise!
So, aside from the increase in cripples, we discover that Grandpa's/Dad's/Uncle's etc. guns (barrels) are no longer utile in this modern world of non-toxic shot. So we ALL need new guns, right? (Cha-ching!) And, all those rounds that this same family/friend group compiled are virtually useless now, right? We need to BUY non-toxic shot. (Cha-ching!)
So, here is a good question. If lead - being the toxic metal that it is - is SO vile, why do the local gun clubs - where thousands upon thousands of rounds accumulate over a specific target area - not required to use non-toxic shot?
I shot steel at doves years ago (the laws around here). The experience - again, like Isony - left such a bad taste in my mouth that I have not hunted them for years! At first, I was really concerned about my eye-sight/age/skills. I couldn't understand how they could deteriorate SO much in just one season! Duuuh...
Another consideration regarding the diminutive gauges vs 12 gauge is their weight variance. If I asked you to hold up a 10 lb weight with your arms straight out in front of you, few of us would find that challenging. If I asked you to do so for 5 minutes (without lowering your arms at all) , many would struggle. Carrying a firearm over extended hunts is not a linear load. It is exponential. As such, it can impact on your performance.
Here is another key. Twelve 28 gauge shells weigh less than twelve 12 gauge shells. Add water into your vest - if not for yourself for your dog - any related accessories, birds you gather along the hunt, etc., and all of a sudden, that truck seems to be parked a lot farther than it was when you started out! Last year, we cut it back somewhat. Our Fitbit indicated roughly 11 miles walked per day over 12 consecutive days. Weight becomes a HUGE factor! I personally am looking forward to taking my 28 gauge for the first time this year. I will pick my shots accordingly but we have been blessed with decent bird numbers so....who cares? The key for me is weight AND humane effectiveness....as well as making memories!
I send this while industries around the world blow massive amounts of toxins into the air/water - cities accumulate garbage at unprecedented levels - we live in a world of disposable everything, burgeoning land fill sites - the trucking industry spews humongous volumes of toxic exhaust into our atmosphere - families on average now own 3 cars where they once had 1 - our oceans are pooling with plastic refuse - chemicals are being spread in huge amounts by agricultural industries nation-wide, etc. etc.
Oh - I almost forgot - and YOU....you VILE people that use lead shot...!!! (Oooops...that would include me!)

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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Garrison » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:17 am

I’m 40, so I am sure I will probably change my tune if I am lucky enough to get on in years. At that point I am sure I will be looking for every advantage I can get. I also usually use a sling to carry my gun until we get in to the areas that we regularly get in to birds, last season I started using some trekking poles in rough country. I still think most folks would be better served to worry more about the weight they carry on themselves everyday rather then the little extra weight they occasionally have to pack. I ride my mountain bike to keep my lungs and legs ready for the season and it always amazes me how many guys I see who are 30lbs overweight and happy to spend $1500 more on a bike because it weighs a 1/2lb less.
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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Featherfinder » Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:31 pm

Garrison...truer words are rarely spoken!! I've recently been trying a fasting process as prescribed by my older son - just because. I don't eat the meal professed to be THE most important - breakfast. So, I eat between 11:00 am and 8:00 pm. I feel great and the concept of my body burning the remains of last night's dinner seems to be holding true!
I have 2 sons. One has a metabolism like I had. He can eat three whole chickens, a steak, potatoes and desert...trim as a fiddle with no sign of any weight change! My older son just has to look at a pic of a hamburger and gains 2 pounds!?! The older son has done this fasting and he looks terrific now! Lost weight but looks healthier in general.
I went from 174 to 162. I think I am good at about 164ish as I'm only 5'8". I work a number of dogs daily, go to the gym, cycle albeit rarely to be honest, maintain our home/grounds and eat/drink VERY responsibly.
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Re: Bismuth shot and guage selection

Post by Featherfinder » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:03 pm

Wait a minute....!!! Isony, you shot at "your first bird" and you saw a pile of feathers? I hate braggers! :lol:
I threw a lot of lead before I collected MY first bird - not even one single feather before that!! You have me beat by "a long shot". :wink:

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