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Thread: Grouse/Ptarmigan shot size

  1. #1

    Default Grouse/Ptarmigan shot size

    I have always used for grouse and ptarmigan a 20 gauge with #7.5 or #8 size steel shot. I got a case of #7.5 steel shells that has lasted me for quite awhile, however I am down to my last box. I have been having a hard time finding #7.5 or #8 steel shot in 20 gauge around Anchorage. The smallest I have been able to find is size 6 shot steel shot in 20ga. I have never used #6 for grouse and ptarmigan before. Is #6 shot out of a 20 gauge over kill? Or does anyone know any place that would have #7.5 or #8 20 gauge shells?

  2. #2
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    Is there a reason your after steel?

    I use 4, 6, 7.5 and 8 lead, they all work fine. I actually prefer 4 because I don't end up with so many pellets in a bird. This is for hunting spruce forests, might be a different story if your hunting more open ground?


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    Size 7 1/2 lead has always worked for me.

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    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    I use #6 out of my 20 and 16 gauge hunting Ptarmigan. Most of my hunting is for Spruce grouse in close quarters, for which I use #7.5 or 8s.

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    I would say that steel that small would not have enough energy to be effective at common (flying) ptarmigan ranges. I'm with Jim. 7.5 lead for me.

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    Lead #6 in the early season, #4 in the winter...12 gauge

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I don't care for the 7 1/2 shot for grouse. they tend to leave alot of shot in the meat. number 4's have damaged meat, but number 6 shot, almost always passed through, while not damaging meat. I really like the 3 in 20 gauage 6 shot federal. really versatile shotgun shell for almost all upland bird hunting.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I really like #6 lead for open country upland hunting. I've used 7.5s and 4s and both work in a pinch- 4s work good on late season sharp tails that get cagey and flush at longer range.

    I use steel on waterfowl but it really limits your range on upland game.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  9. #9

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    The reason I originally posted I was looking for steel is, a friend told me you could only use steel even for upland now. I double checked the regs and it was only in unit 26 you could only use steel. My friend was wrong, so I just went out and purchased a case of 7.5 lead shells. I am going to pick up a few boxes of #4 and #6 to give them a try this fall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akmikey907 View Post
    The reason I originally posted I was looking for steel is, a friend told me you could only use steel even for upland now. I double checked the regs and it was only in unit 26 you could only use steel. My friend was wrong, so I just went out and purchased a case of 7.5 lead shells. I am going to pick up a few boxes of #4 and #6 to give them a try this fall.
    Good deal, you'll definitely be happier with lead!


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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    Good deal, you'll definitely be happier with lead!


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    We bagged a nice mix of 30 spruce, ruffs, and sharpies this last weekend way up north (20B). # 6 and 7.5 lead in 12ga did the job fine. No shot up meat and it flew and patterned and killed just fine. Tried 7.5 steel on a few birds and it didn't have even close to the range of lead. After 2 failures, I put the steel Away and went back to flinging lead.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt&FishAK View Post
    We bagged a nice mix of 30 spruce, ruffs, and sharpies this last weekend way up north (20B). # 6 and 7.5 lead in 12ga did the job fine. No shot up meat and it flew and patterned and killed just fine. Tried 7.5 steel on a few birds and it didn't have even close to the range of lead. After 2 failures, I put the steel Away and went back to flinging lead.
    I shot some steel 7.5 at cold bay at super jumpy ptarmigan one year, it was the most frustrating experience of my bird hunting life!


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  13. #13

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    First of all, I will say that the environmental costs of shooting lead far exceed the ballistic benefits. Lead kills tons of birds annually from ingestion, plus lead stays in the environment for a very long period of time, especially in areas with permafrost. Personally, I don't shoot lead, but I understand why some people do. Time to get off my soap box.

    Anyone shooting steel has to remember that you have to go two sizes lower to effectively have the same ballistics as lead. For example, if you typically shoot 7.5 or 8 lead, you should be looking at a 5 or 6 steel. I have had very good luck with 3 inch 6 shot for ptarmigan and grouse. Federal makes a 3 inch 6 shot steel that works well for upland birds and as a swatter for waterfowl.

    If you are shooting in the woods, most shots are relatively close, so an open choke works well with steel shot. For open ground with flightly birds, a tighter choke is more important. I find a mod-full to be ideal in most situations, or a mid- to long-range extended choke tube. I have had equal success with 12 and 20 gauges, so long as the choke was set up correctly for the shot size.

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    So where do we get the magic environment saving loads? I believe the OP noted he couldn't find any?


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    My favorite is #6 lead out of both my 12 gauge and 20 gauge. I also use a full choke with those and just let them get out a little ways.

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    I don't buy into the BS of all of the birds dying due to lead poisoning. In the Tundra - really?

    I tried some #2 3" 12ga mag steels 2 years ago. A bit much, but pretty effective if you let them get out a ways before you shot. I prefer a #7 or a #6 2.5" lead.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I also preffer #6 lead.
    I also like that if I see a hare I have a better round for that with the #6.
    A few years back a friend of mine who lives off of a disability check was tellling me how he thought steel would be a better choice.
    He was worried about accidently eating a lead bb and also the environment.
    He was broke enough he was "borrowing" some shells from me.
    I told him he could buy his own steel shot to use.
    He decided then that it wasn't that important.
    I'm not impressed with the performance of steel or its price.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    .17 copper/lead works for me
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    .17 copper/lead works for me
    A few years ago I shot a Spruce hen with a .17 caliber Pellet in its breast. Ity had barely penetrated beyond the skin.
    Ever since then I have not been a fan of the .17 for grouse or hare.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Never had a penetration problem with the hmr. I have killed them with .17 air rifles as well
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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