Is bismuth shot worth it?

Pheroze

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The price for factory bismuth shot in Canada is about double that of steel. Is that expense worth it for the fellow who gets out a few times a year to shoot at ducks and geese? #2 steel seems very effective from my perspective. So why pay more?
 

Hunt anything

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To me it’s not worth it, I shoot black cloud 3.5“ #2 at everything from tundra swan down to medium puddle ducks and all divers, the only variation is when I’m in a teal hole, then I go #6 steel. I shoot about a case a year for the last 25 years. That’s what has worked for me.
 

BRICKBURN

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@Pheroze If you are shooting at any distance I'd buy the Bismuth.
For most guys who shoot sporadically, I'd suggest that you just up your Steel shot size to BB (ducks) and T (geese) and you'll be set. Also, only shoot quality ammunition. Promo loads are not worth the noise they make.
 

jcnelsn1

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I think so. I shoot a 3inch 20 gauge load on Bismuth for all waterfowl. #5s for ducks and #3s for geese. Steel works perfectly fine too but with the bismuth I feel my 20 gauge is just as or more effective than my 12 gauge with #2 or 3 steel for ducks and BB for geese. Bismuth is better than steel in my opinion. I shoot a lot of boxes during a season but the additional cost is worth it to me. Don’t buy the hype though that bismuth is as good as lead. It is not. If you want as good (actually better) than lead you have to tungsten super shot. The cost of TSS is not even close to worth it in my opinion.
 

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I don't use steel. I hate it. Part of the reason is that I usually use classic doubles that would be destroyed by steel shot. However, even in one of my modern thumpanklunker semiautos, bismuth or heavy shot (tungsten matrix) is decisively more effective. A 1 1/4 ounce load of number 2's in either will crumble geese and number 6 (or 4) shot is far superior to number 2 steel. I also am not required to use steel in high volume shooting like doves.
 

Pheroze

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I just asked this question of a friend who shoots a lot of snow geese. He says he uses bismuth as his first shot and steel for the next two. He says it gives him confidence with that first one, and the other two a more desperate shots anyways.
 

Pheroze

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@Pheroze If you are shooting at any distance I'd buy the Bismuth.
For most guys who shoot sporadically, I'd suggest that you just up your Steel shot size to BB (ducks) and T (geese) and you'll be set. Also, only shoot quality ammunition. Promo loads are not worth the noise they make.
That is an interesting trade off of shot size over spread density.
 

wesheltonj

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If your question is, I am going to shoot waterfowl a couple of time a year and your barrels will shoot steel -- No, it's not worth it. More than couple of time -- Yes, its worth it. As noted Tungsten is another alternative.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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It's been forever since I was a regular waterfowl hunter, but FWIW, I found that the Kent Fasteel loads worked great on ducks. Much better than regular steel loads.
 

NE 7x57

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What shotgun are you using? I'd never run steel through my old Model 1912 16 gauges or through my 20 gauge Browning Superposed. My 20 gauge Ruger Red Label, I'd run steel though if I had to.
 

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I use bismuth in my .410 and .28 ga when using them for waterfowl. I’ve actually taken a limit of mallard with my .410 one foggy morning on the Kenai River in Alaska. Bismuth is very effective in the sub gauges.

I use heavy shot for turkey and ducks when shooting 12 ga. If you go that route buy choke tubes designed specifically for heavy shot.

If I shoot steel on ducks I use #3 shot. I find #2 gives a lot of pass through that results in birds flying off a couple hundred yards then dying. #3 inside 40 yards is very effective. Three of us once took a limit of 18 birds on a desert pond in WY in about two hours. Range was 25 to 45 yards. 17 of those birds came down stone dead, one had to be dispatched. No feathered birds flew off. It is effective, but like others, I hate steel shot.
 

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I try and get out waterfowling every week once it gets cold. I use 3.5" BB and 3" 1s in steel. Both do the job well and the rest is down to fieldcraft
 

Wyatt Smith

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It’s not worth it if you can’t afford to buy it the first place, and I have been there. Steel has worked for me but I would like to try bismuth someday.
 

Pheroze

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If your question is, I am going to shoot waterfowl a couple of time a year and your barrels will shoot steel -- No, it's not worth it. More than couple of time -- Yes, its worth it. As noted Tungsten is another alternative.
Not specifically for me, more as a general discussion. I know there are a lot of considerations and opinions on this.

To put it another way, for the benefit of the AH theme, I should have said "do you prefer softs or solids on charging geese and mallards"
 

BeeMaa

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@Pheroze - I have a friend contemplating the same thing. He's been using 2 3/4" B steel shot for Canadian Geese and having to take 3 shots to knock them down. He recently stepped up his game with a new Browning Maxus shotgun (capable of 3.5" shells) and is contemplating Bismuth/Hevi-Shot/Tungsten but at a price of about $3-7 per shell. Steel shot is about $1-2 per shell.

So his dilemma is whether to shoot three times at the same Goose to get it to drop with steel or just one of the more expensive ones and be able to transition to another Goose. It's my understanding that if you move up to the Hevi-Shot or tungsten matrix, you can step down two shot sizes. So if you were shooting T or BBB steel shot for Goose, with tungsten you can use BB or #2 shot. This will increase the number of pellets, have a better shot string and with the density they have, hit harder than the steel. I'm also seeing this applied to Turkey shot where regular lead is used at #4, 5 or 6...tungsten is being used at #7 and 9. Example here from Browning.
http://browningammo.com/ammo-detail...ory=Hunting&sub-category=Turkey&sub-brand=TSS

Lastly, make sure your choke is able to handle whatever you are feeding it. I have a Carlson's Black Cloud Long Range (titanium coated) choke that is capable of any kind of shot up to BB at 1550 fps. It's a FULL choke and patterns very well in my SBE2. I have the same choke in a Mid Range, but it never gets used. That one is good for any size shot at any speed.

In the end, I believe it's worth it. I'll be making the jump to tungsten whenever I run out of the ammo I have and can actually find some. Looking for 3.5", 1.75 oz, BB at 1300 fps but at $75 for a box of 10...it's pricey.
 

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Skinnersblade

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I’m using heavy bismuth for Canada’s in a 20 3”shells #2 shot extended full choke, I shot 12 gauge cheaper brands of steal last year mostly imperial. There’s no comparison the amount of cripples comes way down with better quality shot. I also find you don’t waste the amount of shells when your running more expensive ammunition. Not that you won’t still miss but for me atleast it cuts down on that third shot we all take but really shouldn’t.
 

Hank2211

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Lead is still legal here for upland game birds, and since that's all I shoot, lead it is . . . no need to spend more money!
 

K-man

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When you can get them. I have had great luck with Boss tungsten. Easily take down Canadians with #4 or #5 2 3/4 inch shell out to 50 yards. They are expensive but I shoot so much less and spend less time swatting cripples. (or maybe at $2 to $3 a shot I am just taking better shots-?) I also use the Hevi-metal blend but then need #2 or#3 to achieve the same results. Absolutely hate that silly no-lead rule, I can walk the bank the next day shooting pheasants with #5 lead over the same ground, and be legal.
 

justin wiles

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What is it almost 2 g/cm squared more weight then Steel? I would go tss every either first shell or third depending on what kind of shooter you are.

I would not spend more on bismuth unless I got it for a good price. I would go tss route #8 or 9 if you only shoot ducks a few times a year like I do.
 

Johnny reb

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Try a few rounds see how they pattern then shoot a few geese see if the added expense is worth it to you. What distances are you typically shooting? Steel shot requires speed if shots are within 30-35 yds you may not notice a lot of difference.
 

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