Tom Roster's Nontoxic Shot Lethality Table ©

Proven Nontoxic Shot Loads for Waterfowl and Upland Game Birds*

Load Velocity: 1,225-1,700 FPS

ACTIVITYObserved Hunters’ Typical Shooting Range During Activity (Yards)Most Effective Nontoxic Shot Size(s) For Birds Listed Under ACTIVITY at the Distances Listed in the Second ColumnMinimum Load Weight (Ounces)Minimum Pellet Hits Needed on Lethal Areas for Clean KillsMinimum Pattern Count Needed at Any Distance for Clean Kills (Number of Pellets in 30" Circle)Most Effective Choke(s) at Distance (Given in Lead Shot Choke Designations)

Large Geese at Long Range

Giant, Western, Atlantic, and Interior Canadas

50-65

50-70

Steel BBB to T

HEVI-Shot 2 to B

1-1/4

1-1/2

1-2

1-2

50-55

50-55

Improved Modified

Improved Modified, Full

Large Geese Over Decoys

35-50

35-50

Steel BB to BBB

HEVI-Shot 2 to B

1-1/4

1-1/2

1-2

1-2

50-55

50-55

Improved Cylinder, Modified

Improved Cylinder, Modified

Medium/Small Geese Long Range

Snow, White-fronted, Lesser Canadas

50-65

50-65

Steel BB to BBB

HEVI-Shot 2

1-1/4

1-1/2

1-2

1-2

60-65

60-65

Improved Modified

Improved Modified, Full

Medium/Small Geese Over Decoys

35-50

35-50

Steel 2 to BB

HEVI-Shot 4 to 2

1-1/8

1-1/4

1-2

1-2

60-65

60-65

Light Modified, Modified

Improved Cylinder, Modified

Large Ducks at Long Range

Mallard, Black, Pintail, Goldeneye, Gadwall

45-65

45-65

Steel 2 to 1

HEVI-Shot 4

1-1/8

1-1/4

1-2

1-2

85-90

85-90

Improved Modified, Full

Improved Modified, Full

Large Ducks Over Decoys

20-45

20-45

Steel 6 to 2

HEVI-Shot 6 to 4

3/4-1

1-1/8

1-2

1-2

85-90

85-90

I.C. (20-35 yds.), Mod (35-45 yds.)

I.C. (20-35 yds.), Mod (35-45 yds.)

Medium Ducks Over Decoys

Wigeon, Scaup, Shoveler

20-45

20-45

Steel 6 to 3

HEVI-Shot 6 to 4

1

1-1/8

1-2

1-2

115-120

115-120

I.C. (20-35 yds.), Mod (35-45 yds.)

I.C. (20-35 yds.), Mod (35-45 yds.)

Small Ducks Over Decoys

Teal, Ruddy, Bufflehead

20-45

20-45

Steel 6 to 4

HEVI-Shot 6

1

1-1/8

1-2

1-2

135-145

135-145

Mod. (20-35 yds.), Full (35-45 yds.)

Mod. (20-35 yds.), Full (35-45 yds.)

Ring-Necked Pheasants

20-50

20-50

Steel 3 to 2

HEVI-Shot 6 to 4

1

1-1/8

2-3

2-3

90-95

90-95

I.C. (20-30 yds.), Mod (30-50 yds.)

I.C. (20-30 yds.), Mod (30-50 yds.)

Turkeys (Head and Neck Shots) 20-40

Steel 4;

HEVI-Shot 6

1-1/4 3-4 210-230 Full or Extra Full
Mourning Doves

20-45

20-45

Steel 8 to 7

HEVI-Shot 7-1/2

5/8-3/4

3/4

1-2

1-2

200-210

200-210

IC-8’s/LM-7’s (20-30 Yds); Mod>30 Yd

I.C. (20-30 Yds); Light Mod (30-45 Yd)

Northern Bobwhite Quail 20-30 Steel 8 to 7 5/8-3/4 1-2 200-210 Imp. Cyl., Light Modified
Swatter Load for Wounded Birds 20-30 Steel 7 to 6 1 1 175 Improved Modified, Full
This table summarizes Tom Roster’s lethality analysis of nontoxic shotshells for hunting various waterfowl, dove, and upland game birds between 1968 and 2014.


NOTE: The pellets in the steel shot loads listed in this table were traditional, highly spherical ball-shaped pellets of ~ 7.86 g/cc density and 90-95 DPH hardness. The HEVI-Shot pellets were of 12.0 g/cc density and are harder than traditional steel pellets.

NOTE: Steel #BBB (.190”) and HEVI-Shot #2 (.150”) have exhibited the best all-around performance for taking geese; steel #3 (.140”) and HEVI-Shot #4 (.130”) the best all-around performance for taking ducks; and steel #2 and HEVI-Shot #4 (.130”) the best all-around performance for taking ring-necked pheasants; and steel 7’s (.100”) the best all-around performance for taking doves.

* These findings are derived from testing 2-3/4" 28 gauge; 3" 20 GAUGE;2-3/4”, 3” and 3-1/2” 12 gauge; and 3-1/2” 10 gauge steel loads; plus 2-3/4” 28 gauge; 2-3/4” and 3” 20 gauge; and 2-3/4” and 3” 12 gauge HEVI-Shot loads.

© Copyright 2016 by Tom Roster.

For answers to questions on this table contact:
Tom Roster
1190 Lynnewood
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
USA
tomroster@charter.net