Of steel shot alternatives and density


September 18, 2005, 11:02 PM
I am going to be trying some steel shot alternatives this duck season. I believe the alternatives are hevi-shot, hevi-steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-matrix, and bismuth.

Density is what I am specifically interested in. Does anyone know the density of these alternatives, as well as the density for steel shot or lead shot?


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September 19, 2005, 08:25 AM

"Just what is Hevi-Shot? It is an iron-based projectile but gets its good press from the fact that it is alloyed with enough tungsten and a smidgen of nickel to weigh, pellet size for pellet size, slightly more than lead shot. Lead shot has a density of about 10.9 g/cc, while Hevi-Shot has a density of 12.0 g/cc. That makes Hevi-Shot about 10 percent more dense than lead shot across the board. That may not seem like a whole lot, but as a result, you know when you buy Hevi-Shot that you're getting a projectile at least as dense as lead and actually a bit more. This justifies the Environ-Metal registered statement, "Heavier Than Lead" when referring to Hevi-Shot.

Steel shot has a density of 7.8 g/cc, which means that Hevi-Shot is fully half again as dense as steel. This theoretically allows the hunter to use a Hevi-Shot pellet two and sometimes three sizes smaller to achieve the same lethality. This means a very significant increase in payload pellet count for Hevi-Shot over steel. This in turn translates into significantly higher available pellet counts downrange for taking game since Hevi-Shot also patterns as well or better than steel.

So Hevi-Shot offers the shotgunner the best of two very important factors in lethality and downrange terminal ballistics. First, Hevi-Shot boasts the highest per-pellet density of any shotshell projectile currently available. Second, Hevi-Shot offers superb patterns. These two in combination offer performance superiority that any ballistician or shotgunner would search for in a perfect world."

September 19, 2005, 09:13 AM
Like JohnBT, Hevishot is a little more dense than lead. For ducks, I wouldn't hesitate to use #6 Hevishot. In fact, I've seen it used to very good effect. I hunted the Wisconsin Early Goose season pretty heavily this year, and use B size Hevishot. It performed very, very well.

September 19, 2005, 07:01 PM
I have found out today that tungsten-matrix has a density of 10.8 gm/cc. This very closely approximates lead.

Also, if hevi-steel is 20% denser than steel, would that make it 9.36 gm/cc?

If tungsten iron is 35% denser than steel, would that make it 10.53 gm/cc?

September 19, 2005, 07:17 PM
So, when using Hevi-shot, would a guy still choke as if he were using steel since it's so hard?

September 19, 2005, 09:21 PM
I haven't patterned much steel, but the Hevishot I've done does tend to pattern more tightly than lead. I typically like to shoot full chokes for everything except grouse and woodcock, and I've found that modified will give me those patterns when I'm using Hevishot.

From the Hevishot.com FAQ:

What Chokes are recommended for the various loads?
Since HEVI-SHOT® is "heavier than lead"®, it patterns very tightly. For the turkey loads a full choke is OK. This is because the loads are fully buffered. We have use from a 665 and up. For waterfowl we recommend an improved cylinder over decoys, and modified choke for pass shooting. You may find that you need less choke (or even no choke) with HEVI-SHOT®.

September 19, 2005, 10:52 PM
I use Tungsten-Iron BB in my SP10 full choke for Swans and Cranes and I use Hevi-Shot #2 in my 11-87 for Geese with an IM choke.

September 20, 2005, 12:13 AM
Hevi-shot #4 and #6 for ducks. #2 for geese.
I use Mod choke for all waterfowl but IC would work just great if hunting where all shots were expected to be close.
about bismuth- it sucks. inconsistant and often poor performance. I'll sell some partial boxes of it as I have absolutely no intention of ever shooting it at any game. the bismuth shot sometimes clumps up like a slug, except when it shatters into tiny smears and slivers, or you might get clumps and slivers all from the same shell... junk.
I've been using Hevi-shot for 3 years and it swats em real hard.

September 20, 2005, 02:12 PM
APPROVED NON-TOXIC SHOT - density, gr/cc (Lead shot ~11.1 gr/cc)

Steel (soft iron) - 7.9
Hevi-steel - 9.1?
Bismuth-Tin - 9.4-9.7
Tungsten-Iron, Hi-Density T-I -10.2-10.4
Tungsten-Polymer (Matrix) - 10.4-11.1
Tungsten-Nickel-Iron (TNI; Hevi-Shot) - 12.0
Hevi-Shot 13
Heavyweight - 15.2
Tin (temporary approval)


Hard. Many hunters achieved better results with early steel using 3 or even 4 sizes larger than they would use with lead. Now the new loads are so much better that they may use only 2 sizes larger. Best steel loads are fine for up to 40 yards. Goose loads ok farther in 3.5”.

From Byron Ferguson, et. al.:
Using Benelli SBE, #1 Steel, 3” = 92 hits in 24” @ 30 yards with Ballistic Specialties Full Choke
#1 = best in live mallard tests
#3 = all around duck load
BB or BBB = all around goose load
#6 = cripple shooting

25% W, 75% Fe 15% heavier than steel. 25-30% more range and penetration than steel. Can drop shot size and increase pellet count.


Shoot the same size as lead. Soft. Patterns tight, good for long range.
#5 = decoying ducks, BB & #2 = geese


Low pellet count. Very hard. Patterns tightest, short shot string. Expensive, better for long range.
BB = geese
#2 = snows & specs
#4 = ducks


Performs exactly like lead. Soft. Use the same shot sizes and chokes with Tungsten - Polymer as you would with lead. Does not pattern as tightly as bismuth or tungsten-iron.

Federal = Tungsten-Polymer
Kent = Tungsten-Matrix
#1 = geese
#3 = geese over decoys
#5 = ducks


50% W, 35% Ni, 15% Fe. Slightly irregular in size and shape, very dense – 10% heavier than lead, about as hard as or harder than steel. Corrosion resistant. Can use slightly smaller sizes than you would with lead. Patterns extremely tightly - hard to do less than 70% with any choke. Any 12 ga. choke tighter than 0.665” will open the pattern. A standard Full choke, at about 0.691”, will pattern over 85%.


Tungsten Alloy. 37% denser than lead, 15% denser than HeviShot. Uniformly spherical.

September 20, 2005, 11:07 PM
Tungsten Super Shot (

Thius is the newest one waiting to be approved for Waterfowl hunting.

September 22, 2005, 10:44 PM
Looks like I will be trying Hevi-shot and Kent Tungsten Matrix from this information. When bismuth first came out, you could get it as raw shot pretty reasonable (Before the deal with Winchester, when it then became a little more cost prohibitive) and really liked it. I had no problem with it. Kingcreek, let me know what you have in the way of bismuth and what you would take for it and I might take it off your hands!

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