Game Guides: Choosing the Right Ammo

These Upland Game/Waterfowl Guides, and Caliber/Game Usage Charts will help get the beginning or inexperienced hunter off to a good start before he or she steps into the woods, fields, sloughs, or on the range. If you would like to become more familiar with shotgun terms, such as “choke,” and learn all about “shot sizes,” and if you would like some tips for patterning your shotgun, check out Shotgun Patterning Tips. As you read these charts, you also will see some options for gauge and shot size. The options in BOLD type are those recommended for beginning shooters for the best results for their shooting skill level.

 

Upland Game Guide

Species Gauge Choke Lead Shot Size
Turkey 10 , 12 Extra-Full, Full #6 , #5 #4
Pheasants – Early Season 12 16 , 20 , 28 Modified #6
Pheasants – Late Season 12 16 , 20 , 28 Full #6 or #4
Experienced hunters know that birds will flush farther out as the season progresses. They will shoot bigger shot out of a tighter choke in the late season.
Ruffed Grouse 12 16 , 20 , 28 Improved Cylinder, Skeet #7-1/2 or #6
Experienced hunters know grouse usually flush close in thick cover; thus a wide-open choke works best.
Prairie & Mountain Grouse 12 16 , 20 , 28 Modified #6 or #5
Experienced hunters know these grouse tend to flush farther out, so more choke and bigger shot is required.
Chukar, Hungarian Partridge 12 16 , 20 , 28 Modified, Full #6 or #5
Experienced hunters know these birds are tough, so you have to hit them hard — using a 12-gauge is recommended.
Quail & Dove 12 16 , 20 , 28 Improved Cylinder, Modified #9 or #8
Experienced hunters know both of these birds go down well with small shot. The choke to use depends on the distance you are shooting.
Woodcock 20 , 28 , .410 Modified #8
Experienced hunters know fast shots are required, but big guns are not. Have fun hunting this bird with a smaller shotgun.
Rabbit & Squirrel 12 , 16 , 20 , 28 , .410 Modified in open cover, Improved Cylinder in thick cover #7-1/2 or #6
Experienced hunters know if you are hunting with dogs for rabbits, a modified choke works best. If you are kicking bunnies out in cover, use an improved cylinder choke.

 

For a fine selection of shotgun ammunition, click here…**If you are hunting upland game on a Wildlife Management Area or Wildlife Protection Area, lead shot may be prohibited. Call your local Department of Natural Resources for your local regulations.

 

Waterfowl

There are many choices of non-lead shotgun ammunition for waterfowl hunters. The ban on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl became nationwide in 1991. It also is banned in Canada.The shot types that are approved for waterfowl hunting include steel, bismuth, and several combinations of tungsten, iron, nickel, tin, etc. Steel shot is lighter and harder than lead. Steel’s more aerodynamic shape than lead shot creates shot strings (the shot pattern length) that are smaller in length and diameter, delivering more dense patterns.As you read this chart, you will see some options for gauge, shot size as well as choke recommendation. For shot, there will be a recommended size given for steel shot as well as the other approved non-toxic alloy types. The options in BOLD type are those recommended for beginning shooters for the best results for their shooting skill level.

 

  Waterfowl Gauge Choke Non-Toxic
Shot Size
Mallard, Pintails, Merganser, Canvasback
(Large ducks)
10 , 12 20 Modified #4 or #2 , BB (Steel)
#5 , #4 , or #2 (Other Alloys)
Experienced hunters advise to stay with larger shot for big ducks, even over decoys. These birds are hard to bring down for keeps.
Bluebills, Gadwall, Wood Ducks, Widgeon
(Medium ducks)
10 , 12 20 Modified #4 or #2 (Steel)
#5 or #4 (Other Alloys)
Experienced hunters know that most of the medium-sized ducks will offer lots of passing shots. Therefore, #4s are always a good bet.
Teal, Bufflehead
(Small ducks)
12 20 Modified #6 or #4 (Steel)
#4 (Other Alloys)
Experienced hunters advise that quick swings, long follow-throughs, and lots of pellets are the keys here. They advise #6 in steel.
Geese 10 , 12 Full,Modified BB , BBB , T (Steel)
#2 , BB , BBB (Other Alloys)
Geese are tough and shots are sometimes very long. Bigger shot is preferred because it carries more energy downrange. With really big steel shot you might want to go with a modified choke because of the competition of the shot to get out of the barrel, and steel shot does not conform to the barrel.

 

For a fine selection of shotgun ammunition, click here…

Target Shooting

Skeet — Skeet is best shot with skeet bore or improved cylinder in all gauges. #9 shot is by far your best bet. Lead shot is legal for target shooting … but always check with your range to be sure of rules and regulations.Trap — Trap is a mainly a 12-gauge sport (you can use any gauge, however) and full or trap chokes are most common. #8 lead shot under normal circumstances is preferred — #7-1/2 lead for handicapped or windy conditions.Sporting Clays — Sporting clays are best shot with a 12-gauge and #7-1/2 lead shot with a modified choke.

 

Caliber/Game Usage Chart

The Caliber/Game Usage Chart will help the hunter decide which caliber rifle works best on the game being hunted. Remember, no matter the game being hunted, the responsible hunter knows the effective range of their firearm.

 

Caliber Usage
.17 HMR/Mach 2 Varmints, Predators, Small Game
.22 Varmints, Predators, Small Game
204 Ruger Varmints, Predators, Small Game
222 Rem. Varmints, Predators, Small Game
223 Rem. Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Target Shooting
22-250 Rem. Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
220 Swift Varmints, Predators, Small Game
243 Win. Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
6mm Rem. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
257 Roberts Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
25-06 Rem. Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
6.5×55 Swedish Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
260 Rem. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
270 Win. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
270 Win. (short magnum) Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
270 Weatherby Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
7-30 Waters Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
7mm Mauser Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
7mm-08 Rem. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
280 Rem. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
7mm Rem. Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
7mm Win. Short Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
7mm Weatherby Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
7mm STW Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
30 Carbine Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Target Shooting
7.62x39mm Soviet Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Target Shooting
30-30 Win. Varmints, Predators, Small Game, Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
300 Savage Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
308 Win. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
30-06 Spring. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
300 H&H Magnum Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
300 Win. Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
300 Win. Short Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
300 Weatherby Magnum Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
300 Rem. Ultra Magnum Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
303 British Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
8mm Mauser Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
338 Win. Magnum Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
338 Rem. Ultra Magnum Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
338 Federal Elk, Moose, Brown Bear
35 Rem. Antelope, Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Black Bear
375 H&H Magnum Elk, Moose, Brown Bear, Cape Buffalo, Elephant
416 Rigby Cape Buffalo, Elephant
416 Rem. Magnum Cape Buffalo, Elephant
458 Win. Magnum Cape Buffalo, Elephant
458 Lott Cape Buffalo, Elephant