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KerryLuft

Steel and clays

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KerryLuft

Prompted by another thread, I took two boxes of Clever 12 gauge steel target ammo out to my regular gun club to test their performance on longer clay targets.  This load is 1 oz. of steel 7s at 1375 fps.  The price point on these shells is about the same as Remington Gun Clubs or Winchester Super Targets. I was shooting my regular competition gun, a Beretta 391 with an extended Modified choke.

 

Long story short: They work, even on presentations beyond 40 yards. I had first shot kills on every single on a middling FITASC parcour, and regularly broke a full-face 50 yard battue on the sporting clays course.  Edgier targets did not break as convincingly as when I shot 1 oz. of lead 8s at 1200, but they did break.

 

The drawbacks: Beyond 35 yards or so, you must consciously slap a little extra lead on the target than with a slower lead load.  The resulting gap between barrel and target can be disconcertingly large -- but if you can bring yourself to give the target more lead than you're accustomed to doing, you can break them a long, long way out there.

 

The recoil is also more than I would prefer.  Definitely not a load I would shoot out of anything but a gas auto.  Because of those two factors, I am not giving up my lead shells anytime soon -- but if I'm forced to shoot steel in the future, I'll be able to break targets just fine.

 

More testing is in order, with Fiocchi's 1200 fps load -- and I will report back.

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Kemo Sabe

Excellent post, Kerry. 

 

It's crazy when people say something like steel doesn't work, or that they just draw feathers with it.  Truth is, it does work, but takes sometime to get used to. That's why many wild pheasant hunters who hunt ducks with steel don't change back over to lead. 

 

That's not to say the steel is as good as lead, because as you mentioned, it isn't. But it's more than adequate to kill birds stone dead for those who are practiced with it an can put the load where it needs to be. Ditto for clays.

 

My guess is that when forced to used steel, many clay shooters will initially see their scores go down a bit, but they will get back to where they were with lead  in a short time.

 

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KerryLuft

Kemo, my thought is that it's going to be hard for many shooters to put even more forward allowance on a long crosser than they have to do now with lead.   Subconsciously at least, I am pretty dialed in to a 1250 fps lead load and I have a pretty good idea of where to insert before pulling away on longer targets ... this "gap" if you will was substantially larger and  I felt less connection with the target.  Whether this will improve with time, I cannot say.

 

But in terms of ballistics, I saw enough to say that the steel loads can indeed break targets at distance.  It will be even more important for target setters to show a little belly or dome than it is now, but IMO an edgy 40-yarder is pushing it regardless of the load you're shooting.

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Kemo Sabe

Excellent points, Kerry.

 

My experience with steel is mainly on ducks, and I have shot a bit of #6s on targets. Not enough to be fully versed with targets, especially longer ones.

 

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KerryLuft

A further update:  I shot several stations on the course where I work today with a 28 gauge A400 and Winchester's steel load, 5/8 oz. of 7s at 1300 fps.

 

Might not be my choice for the highest scores I've ever shot, but every target broke convincingly when I could slow down that little gun.  What a hoot!

 

Moral: Steel target loads might be better than you think.

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Grifish

Kerry, thanks for the first hand evaluation! I've seen a couple steel only courses and have avoided them!  Now I'll just have to see if my SigSauer TR25 can eat steel.

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KerryLuft

You're welcome.  I prefer shooting lead when possible, but given the choice between steel and not shooting at all, I'd shoot steel.

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steveziv
On 8/13/2017 at 5:00 PM, KerryLuft said:

The drawbacks: Beyond 35 yards or so, you must consciously slap a little extra lead on the target than with a slower lead load.  The resulting gap between barrel and target can be disconcertingly large -- but if you can bring yourself to give the target more lead than you're accustomed to doing, you can break them a long, long way out there.

 

Why would you have to increase your lead in comparison to that of a slower lead load?  It seems like faster ammo would allow put pellets on the target sooner allowing for a smaller lead.  I've read that steel slows down faster than lead, which would account for the larger leads on distant targets, but that's not what you said.  :)

 

That said, when I consciously decreased my leads on ducks I started hitting them.  But I don't attribute that to compensating for steel ammo's speed, instead I think I was initially applying skeet leads to much slower targets.  When I backed my "aim" up from a couple feet to their beak I started hitting birds.

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KerryLuft
37 minutes ago, steveziv said:

 

Why would you have to increase your lead in comparison to that of a slower lead load?  It seems like faster ammo would allow put pellets on the target sooner allowing for a smaller lead.  I've read that steel slows down faster than lead, which would account for the larger leads on distant targets, but that's not what you said.  :)

 

That said, when I consciously decreased my leads on ducks I started hitting them.  But I don't attribute that to compensating for steel ammo's speed, instead I think I was initially applying skeet leads to much slower targets.  When I backed my "aim" up from a couple feet to their beak I started hitting birds.

 

The lead load starts out slower, but retains its speed longer.   At the distances I was shooting, the steel is traveling slower than the lead shot, and the difference is appreciable.  As I said, I noticed it at distances beyond 35 yards.  Within 35 yards, no problems.

 

The opposite happened when I shot ducks with lead in another country last year.  Closer shots needed a touch more lead; at distance, less.

 

 

 

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steveziv

Makes sense.

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drummer's stump

I shot steel target for the first time a couple weeks ago, there were not any long targets so I didn't notice any real difference in performance. The one major difference I noticed between lead and steel loads is how dirty the steel loads are. They are very very dirty, almost like black powder smutty, I tried Winchester and federal loads. If all clays courses were to go to steel I am going to buy stock in cleaning products.

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KerryLuft

Fiocchi and Clever loads are cleaner.

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Mike Connally

Have you put the steel loads on paper? What's happening with pattern sizes? 

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KerryLuft

 

15 hours ago, Mike Connally said:

Have you put the steel loads on paper? What's happening with pattern sizes? 

 

Not extensively.  As I've said elsewhere, I pattern only if I think something's wrong -- and I tend to worry more about density than pattern size.  I'm getting good breaks with IC chokes, and not many "mystery misses" so I haven't felt the need.

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Mike Connally

Ok. I've used a few boxes of steel and hit what I usually hit. I didn't see any difference except I got really good breaks. 

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