#2 Steel Shot Explained

Having a smaller pellet diameter than all sizes of Buckshot, #2 shot grants you a larger number of pellets per shot. This makes #2 shot a pretty versatile ammo choice.  But it isn’t ideal for use when hunting deer, moose, bear and other large game.  Most use steel shot for hunting waterfowl although it can be used for predator control as well. 

Hunting Use

The #2 shot has long been a favorite of goose hunters because of the number of pellets and that is will shoot a good pattern up to 40-yards. Many states and areas don’t like you using lead or have simply banned it outright due to the potential contamination of groundwater that could affect wildlife or even humans in the area. Shot Size Comparison Chart

While the impact of lead ammunition on the environment is hotly debated, steel offers a contaminant free option. That said, it sometimes can spread a bit more than lead or be more unpredictable when fired. To counter this, you need to be sure and check the pattern of your shotgun before going afield as it is very possible that it will pattern differently than using lead shot. So by doing this, you’ll be able to more accurately judge the effective range and  spread to be a more effective hunter.  With that being said, the firearms industry has begun to respond to the concerns of hunters and is using more advanced materials and designs in their ammunition to make steel shot a more palatable choice.

Home Defense

Many argue that shot sizes ranging from 00 to #4 buck are the only options for home defense, but #2 shot has several advantages.  The higher pellet count allows for more wound channels and decreased likelihood of overpenetration.. Steel is a tad bit lighter than lead so if home defense is what you’re after, steel may penetrate just a little less into your target. This could lead to fewer accidents involving neighbors or people outside, should something get out of hand. #2 shot within 15 feet or so is still devastating.

Environmental Issues

For someone out shooting on their property or keeping coyotes down, steel or copper plated lead is preferable to straight lead most of the time. A shot here and there of straight lead is just fine, but environmentalists claim if you add up hundreds or thousands of rounds in your back yard and you have a well, you could be putting yourself at risk. This is the main reason lead is banned in certain forests and hunting grounds. Some claim steel is just a better choice for geese and ducks because they tend to be in watery areas.

The #2 steel shot is a good overall choice for large birds, medium sized mammals and home defense.  The less dense and environmentally safer steel is quite popular. The only downside is lead is heavier so you’re going to lose some penetration with steel. Patterning is very important so that you understand the limitations of the load you are using..  Although offered in most of the common gauges, 12 gauge offers the widest variety of shot size and shell lengths.

#2 steel shot is sold pretty widely across the US, especially in popular duck and goose hunting locations. It’s recommended to order it online if you can’t find it nearby because hunting huge geese with smaller shot is a risky proposition as they’re a lot tougher than they look at first glance.