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Read the owner’s manual on any new gun and 99% of them will recommend to use the Modified or Improved chokes when shooting steel shot.
Steel will not compact like lead when exiting the barrel, therefore the possibility of damage exists. Most manufactures are also warning hunters to not shoot steel out of older model shotguns that have full choke fixed barrels (no choke system). It is unfortunate for some waterfowl hunters will not be able to use that trusty shotgun they have used for years. But it beats paying a hefty fine, losing your gun to the DNR or having a hunting accident and ruining your whole day.
Good luck this weekend!

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Becuase steel is rock hard, the pellets don't compress as they get squeezed through the choke. Lead on the other hand is soft so the pellets on the outside of the pattern(ones that scrape the barrel on the way out) will flatten out, may even come out moon shaped or flat. Where steel shot causes a problem is in barrels that were made before steel shot was mandetory. Some of those barrels were made with steel softer than that of the steel shot...so what happens when the steel shot passes through the tight barrel(full choke) it gouges the barrels and over time it even may split the barrel. Now I have heard that if you have a modified choke or wider(more open) you can shoot steel regardless of when your barrel was made. But I would double check with the local gunsmith before taking my advice on that.

Hope that helps...I will be duck hunting my first time and researched this same thing..I posted a while back about this same issue. I ended up having to borrow a gun as my full choke will not handle steel. The only non-toxic option for me was Bismuth and at $18.00 for a box of 10, I decided to just borrow a gun from a buddy.


P.S. My grandparents lived on Rush for many years, and I still go back to WFC 2-3 times per year...great chain of lakes!

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Remington and some lawyers did some testing on this and other barrel problems years ago down in Illinois. There were lawsuits on barrels exploding with steel shot. The cases were dismissed on the findings that the causes were overloaded and improper reloading of steel shells. Dudes were overloading to make up the difference from lead shells. If the barrel didnt explode, the compacted steel in full chokes would crack the muzzle of the barrel. These all came from overmaxed shells. Some of the older gun barrels after years of use have a little thinner barrel and can crack easier with the hardness of steel in reg shells. Most problems today come from 3 1/2" & 3" maxed shells out of a full choke. Lot of steel coming out of small area. The telltale sign is a 1" pressure crack at the tip of the barrel.

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This information was taken from an article from Tru-Choke (an after market maker of choke tubes)

Steel Shot/Waterfowl Chokes

Much has changed over the years with steel loadings. The quality and consistency of the shells has been greatly improved. However, the fact that steel shot exerts much more stress on choke tubes has not changed. The problem is that steel shot is much harder than lead. It will transmit much more energy to the choke when it strikes the conical portion and if the tube is not of sufficient strength it will cause it to deform. This is known as “choke creep”

Over a period of time choke creep can lock a choke in the barrel so that it is next to impossible to remove. All Trulock Chokes are rated for use with steel shot from cylinder bore through Improved, Modified with the exception of the Tru-Choke S.D. which are not recommended for any shot other than lead. In addition our Super Waterfowl Choke was designed especially for steel and all other environmentally friendly shot.

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Got this from GunnersDen

Choke Tubes and Ounces Of Shot:
 This again has to be adjusted as well, if a steel shot pattern is 60% to 70% narrower then this automatically tells you the pattern is to tight so the logical choice is lower ounces of shot and a more open choke are needed.
 The most effective combinations of choke and ounces of shot in all our tests revealed that 1 and 1/8 ounces of smaller shot (BB and down) fired at 1350 fps. through a stainless steel improved cylinder choke gave well above standard hunting pattern percentages.

So...since steel will hold it's form and does not flatten and half moon like lead, it will patern tighter. Therefor a modified or improved cylinder is a better choice.
The moral of the story Guy's is to take the time to pattern your gun using different loads through different chokes and you make the choice. You might just learn that full chokes are not what your gun should be using anyway

I found a good article about pattering your shotgun. Let me knwo if you are interested and I will post it.

A little off the initial subject but it does add to the answer.

[This message has been edited by BBL Resident (edited 09-24-2004).]

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Thanks for all the replies. I will have to go buy a new choke tube before the opener tomorrow. It will also be my first time duck hunting this weekend. I just want to get out and hopefully see a few even though the numbers are so down in the area.

Thanks and good hunting

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