HUNTINGsmart! USA Knowledge Base



Traditional lead shot is toxic. Wildlife (especially birds) feed on the vegetation and protein sources that can be contaminated by the toxicity of lead pellets. The soil where the lead pellets land will absorb the lead toxins, the vegetation will then grow from the soil, and animals will end up eating the toxic vegetation. It’s a deadly cycle.

Non-toxic shot can be made of steel (or other materials) but steel shot is used most often as the non-toxic option to replace lead shot. It is illegal to use lead shot for waterfowl hunting and some federally regulated areas have also banned lead shot for hunting upland game birds. Know what the laws are in your hunting area.

Check This Out: Steel Shot + a Less Restrictive Choke = Duck Hunting Success

Listen up duck hunters. Steel shot is lighter and denser than lead shot. This means it will produce a tighter pattern when fired from your shotgun. If you pair the least restrictive choke option on your firearm with a slightly larger size of shot, you’ll have some serious success on your duck hunt. Remember to never use steel shot with a full choke—steel shot is designed to be used with an open choke—if fired through a choke that’s too restrictive, steel shot can cause structural failure of the choke and of the firearm.

Illustration of a target with a wide shot pattern and another target with a tight shot pattern and their corresponding boxes of shotshells.


Campfire Collective truck icon.



Go boldly, tell your story. Campfire is building a collective of ambassadors who share a passion for the wild. If you’re an influencer, publisher or sport expert drop us a line. Let’s hook up and inspire others.

Campfire Collective high five icon.



Stay in the loop. Sign up for our newsletter
to get the latest stories from around the fire.