Non-toxic in general, non-lead to be precise; shots need to be non-toxic to hunt waterfowl and other birds. Bismuth was the first non-toxic alternative to steel before tungsten-based pallets came along. Bismuth shots are perfect for classic shotguns for their oomph factor, inexpensive, bigger, better than the rest. While tungsten super shots are expensive, bismuth is the only premium non-toxic shot available in the market. It was developed by Canadian carpenter John Brown in the 1990s while being bankrolled by Robert Peterson. Safe for ingestion by humans and ducks alike, Bismuth when alloyed with tin makes it dandy, soft enough to not damage old guns.
What are non-toxic shots?
According to U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ton-toxic shots are those which does not cause sickness or death when ingested by birds or humans. Lead as a metal does not hold any beneficial biological role, once ingested mixes with stomach acids and breaks down into particles to get absorbed in the bloodstreams, resulting in the death of diving ducks, loons, and swans who feed off the bottom bed of the pond where lead shots accumulated over time. In place of lead, many non-toxic materials are approved for shots. Hunters should make sure to check with gun manufacturers and gunsmiths to ensure safety to use in place of other firearms. The non-toxic shots are:
Lead-free shotshell alternatives
- Steel: The most popular non-toxic alternative to lead, steel shots are made through an atomization process which makes them efficient and durable. Available in various sizes and hardness, steel shots utilize aerodynamically stabilized wads premium plated round steel shots which make them denser and lighter than lead. As it is harder than lead, it does not leave the shell and break while penetrating the body of the bird. As a result, the blood bleeds less.
- HEVI-shot: Made of tungsten, steel, and tin, it is way harder than steel, heavier than lead which makes it a super-expensive, premium shot alternative. Also known as ‘deadlier at distance”, HEVI-shot has a higher pallet count and a higher down-range velocity, making this a favorite among waterfowl hunters. Another variant of HEVI-shot is Hevi-Shot Sub-Gauge Waterfowl and Upland Shot which is designed for 16, 28, and .410 shotguns.
- Bismuth-tin: In terms of weight and density, it is an affordable alternative to steel. As old shotguns cannot handle the density of steel shots, bismuth does the job cleanly making a clean kill due to the malleability of the bismuth-tin alloy.
- Tungsten: The closest non-toxic alternative to lead is tungsten super shots with its knock-down power, superior muzzle velocity, and an expensive price tag. Perfect for older barrels and fixed-choke barrels, making it a consistent performer in the 40 to 50-yard range. If the aim is right, it kills the bird accurately with fewer shells, justifying the premium price range of tungsten shots.
Advantages of bismuth shots
- Being denser than steel, bismuth helps to kill waterfowls, grouse with accuracy and velocity in a single, clean shot; making it more lethal at long ranges.
- Being less expensive than tungsten, it is a favorite among hunters who cannot afford tungsten and yet want non-toxic shots.
- As bismuth shots are softer than steel, it does not damage the choke or barrel of classic, old shotguns.
Popular bismuth ammo types
- Bismuth 20 Gauge comes in shot sizes 3,4,5 and a shotshell length of 3 inches.
- Bismuth 12 Gauge comes in shot sizes 3,4,5 and a shotshell length of 3 inches.
- Bismuth 12 Gauge comes in shot sizes 3,4,5 and shotshell lengths of 2 and ¾ inches.
Bismuth shot and chokes
If you are a hunter who loves keeping a collection of old shotguns, bismuth’s softness does not damage classic guns’ fixed full chokes as it is easy on every type of choke.
The brittleness of bismuth is less than steel which is a deliberate feature, as it breaks upon contact with bones or teeth making it safer for hunters out on the field.
As it acts as a performance bridge between steel and lead, inexpensive bismuth shot is becoming the highest-selling non-toxic shot replacing tungsten super shots for all the right reasons. At AgescanTungsten.com, we manufacture and sell premium quality bismuth shots at cheaper costs. For more information regarding bismuth shots, visit their website today.
Note: The above information might not be 100% accurate, users are advised to research more online.
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