#5 Nickel-Plated Lead Shot Explained

Nickel-plated lead shot is different from your typical lead shot because the coating allows the shot to leave your barrel a bit smoother, gives more penetration and can lead to easier kills when hunting pheasants and waterfowl. This shot is more expensive than your average lead but there are definitely some benefits that may make it worth the price. The main issue is just how hard the lead inside is. A good manufacturer will use a good quality lead shot and coat it with nickel but some will use a softer lead. The softer lead can still have some advantages such as less risk of lead contamination but may not be as predictable as harder shot and isn’t classified as “non-toxic”.

Bird Hunting

Nickel Plated Lead Pellets#5 is a great choice for birds of all sizes but is marketed mainly as a pheasant shot. It can be effective for turkey and ducks also due to the range and number/size of the pellets. These mid to large sized birds are very fast so any advantage can help you have a more successful hunt overall. Most commonly found in 12 gauge, nickel plated shot can also be had in all of the common shotgun gauges.  Nickel plating gives you a slight edge in velocity and penetration and that can make quite a bit of difference in what you bring back from any successful trip. Check the local hunting regulations on shot size as always before you start your trip but #5 is widely allowed. Nickel-plated may or may not be allowed in certain places and this all depends on where you’re using it.


Coyotes, rabbits, foxes and anything that can potentially cost you money or time on your property can be a significant problem. If you rely on crops or livestock financially, you’re going to run into some trespassing critters eventually no matter how good your fencing is. Trying to hit a rabbit with 00 buck or a .22 LR takes a higher degree of skill whereas bird shot covers quite a wider area, increasing your likelihood of hitting the target greatly. This saves ammo and you’re more likely to get a kill right away instead of simply scaring something away to return when you’re not home.  Nickle plating furthers the advantage ot the smaller shot size in that it gives a more consistent pattern allowing for a more predictable shot.

Target Shooting

The #5 fired from a shotgun is recommended for shooting clays in your backyard or stationary targets because you get that great balance of spread, range and power that makes it feel just right.

Nickel-plated shot will cost more than lead shot due to the extra time needed to manufacture it and the cost of the materials. If you only hunt now and then during hunting season, you won’t notice it very much but if you fire a ton of shells at targets as a hobby, you might. It comes down to your preference for or against solid lead and how the ammo performs with your specific gun.  Several manufacturers make shotshells using nickel plated shot, Fiocchi and Hornady are two of the largest.

 #5 nickel-plated lead shot probably won’t be used for home defense purposes but if you were to shoot an intruder with this birdshot, it is definitely going to cause a lot of damage, especially at the 10-15 foot range found inside most of our homes.