This was taken from Remington's page

Clearly, steel is the best non-toxic substitute for "traditional" lead shot.  However, steel shot is both harder and lighter than lead shot, two important factors which you must account for in order to maximize your shooting success.  The key differences relate to:

Shot size and the number of pellets per load
Initial velocity and retained energy
   (the energy values at specific yardages)
Pattern performance downrange
Shot string characteristics

The easy-to-understand charts and graphs that follow will help explain these differences so you can capitalize on them and improve your shooting results.


The chart to the right shows the comparisons between lead and steel shot (grouping "like" loads, with the steel pellets being two shot sizes larger than the lead pellet).

The chart compares velocity three feet from the muzzle, as well as retained per-pellet energy downrange.  Note that by using a larger steel shot size, comparable velocity and retained energy at desired yardages are maintained.  By carefully studying this chart, you can compare the retained energy for steel and lead shot of the same size (e.g., Steel 2 vs. Lead 2), and prove to yourself why a larger steel shot size must be used to yield similar retained-energy values.


Comparing "like volume" loads, with the steel shot being two shot sizes larger than the lead shot, note that since the steel shot is larger, there are less pellets in each shell.  However, since the steel shot is much harder, it stays round, and flies truer to the target.  At 40 yards, a higher percentage of steel pellets will be on target (within a 30" circle) than lead loads.  At 60 yards, steel shot not only yields higher pattern percentages, but more actual pellets on target as well.



Lead shot, which is easily deformed upon firing, develops a relatively long, large-diameter shot string.  Steel shot, because it is three times harder than lead, stays round, and develops a shot string that is 50-60% shorter and 60-70% narrower than lead.  Or, looking at it another way, steel provides a much more precise "hitting zone" than you'd get with lead shot.   We recommend that you practice shooting with steel shot so you can get used to its compact, hard-hitting "sweet spot" before hunting season.