I have settled on the Kent Fast Steel, seems to be the best stuff for the money. I use the Kent Impact which I think is a tungstem polymer if I am going to kill pheasants on a non-tox area or while I am duck hunting. I also hunt a few places combo for quail and ducks. For those I have been just using steel on the quail and it works about as well as lead.
That's all I use, 2 3/4" or 3" 2's. At around $9.00 a box (25) compared to $20.00+ per box (10) of the other-than-steel alternatives...I just can't justify paying the extra for something that will miss just as easily as steel if you're not on the bird. IMO these other alternatives are for people who plan on shooting past 50 yards most of the time. Even then it doesn't make sense to me.
Zach...let's not mention that hail mary shot last year.
Although it was a good example of what steel can do at long distance. If you're on, you're on. High priced shot doesn't make you swing better or judge the right lead.
Estate either 3" or 3.5". A couple of places will ship free if you order a case. I can get 3.5" 3s
or 2s at 1500 fps for $12.99 box. Locally I can get 2/3" 6s for under $6. They are great fopr close in stuff over dekes. I like Estate mostly becuase it hits hard and burns clean, which means less gunk in the barrell. Salt air & powder residue is tough on barrells.
I've shot lotsa ducks with Kent Faststeel and Estate Watefowl loads. They are both as hot as your higher end Federal & Winchester steel loads.
I've tried Kent's Matrix (tungsten-poymer) and Heavi-shot, but I don't seem to knock any more birds down with them than the less expensive alternative.
I may start reloading Matrix @ some point (if ever available) so I can start shooting an old LC Smith Waterfowl SxS regularly (if I ever take to the old gun...can't seem to shoot it well yet).
About the only steel reload I've been thinking of trying is a recipe for a "light load" of #3's @ 1800 fps. A friend in Idaho slaughters the heck out of mallards with that load. I think it's 7/8th's oz of shot with a fuller modified or full.
Since I shoot with an extremely full choke, I tend to stick with #2's in steel: 3" 1 1/4 oz heavy load.
Hands down the hardest hitting loads I've ever used, This stuff is truly amazing!
I'm an old Lead Shot Duck hunter from ages past and I'd take Hevi-Shot over lead ANY DAY!
For those who complain that it's to expensive, I'll ask you this..
Would it be worth 2 bucks to guarantee that big Canada at 10am?
Considering you rarely get shots at geese and the armor of feathers on that ol' gander will deflect steel with ease, combined with the fact that you spent a ton of $$ just to get here, why are you complaining about a couple bucks?
This stuff increases your chances of a good clean kill.
Unless you're Bill Gates, you don't shoot Hevi-Shot for every round, just maybe the 2nd in a double gun or third in a pump or auto. You could switch #1 when the goose is locked up unexpectedly.
I choose Hevi-Shot. Once you use it you'll be a believer too.
BTW.. If you become a member of Waterfowl.com, they have a tremendous offer on Hevi-Shot.