Why Use Tungsten Alloy Hunting Shot ?
Tungsten alloy shot is used as the shot for hunting shells. The pellets spread upon leaving the barrel, and the power of the burning charge is divided among the pellets, which means that the energy of any one ball of shot is fairly low. In a hunting context, the product makes shotguns useful primarily for hunting birds and other small games.
Tungsten alloy shot properties:
Its benefits come from the fact that it is denser than any other shot material, including lead, steel or bismuth. To understand how the density factors into performance, let’s look at two spheres about the same size, a golf ball and a ping-pong ball. The golf ball is far denser and will fly farther and hit harder. Now reduce that size down to two single pellets, one steel and the other a tungsten alloy. Get the result. The tungsten will fly farther, hit harder and penetrate deeper. That means more birds, farther out, with fewer cripples.
The beauty of tungsten is you also can reduce shot size and retain all the benefits of the larger lead or steel, with a lot more shot in the pattern. If you normally use No. 4 shot, switch to No. 6 in a tungsten load for a bigger pattern, more range and more forgiveness.
We can manhandle lead and, to a lesser degree, steel, by simply forcing it through varying choke restrictions until we get it to behave the way we want it to. Not so with tungsten. Tungsten has a mind of its own and doesn’t play by the rules when it comes to choke.
For most tungsten loads have been tested , a modified choke delivers the overall best results in most guns, including over/unders and semi-autos. There have been rare instances where a full choke showed some improvement over a modified — one 12-gauge Spartan o/u and one Franchi semi-auto. But the densest, most uniform patterns with tungsten most commonly come from modified or improved modified chokes.
Tungsten is definitely harder than steel, and as such, there have been a flood of warnings about not shooting it in ultra-high-end guns or through standard chokes. It will leave marks in a choke tube, but as of yet, there are not any adverse effects in a barrel.
The shotguns are tools, not works of art, so a bit of streaking or scratching in the tube doesn’t bother you. If you have concerns, just switch to a hardened choke tube made for tungsten or steel.
Tungsten is great stuff, and it will put a lot more birds in the bag, but for now, it is pricey. For the close-timber or flooded-marsh hunter, steel is still the most economical, but for the big Canadas and snows, this stuff drops them with a thud!