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TOPIC: Antimony Content in Lead Shot

Antimony Content in Lead Shot 5 years 4 months ago #77

  • buck1961
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Antimony Content in Lead Shot Defined:

Antimony is a liquid chemical that is added to lead shot to make the lead harder. On the downside, the higher the Antimony percentage, the lower the pellet density (weight). When lead shot is fired from a shotgun, shot with a low amount of antimony will deform the physical shape of each lead pellet. The lead pellets basically flatten out (called flyers), which distorts the flight path and produces poor patterns. Shot with a high level (6%) of antimony will help pellets deform less, and therefore have a straighter and truer flight path. 2% is the lowest amount of antimony used in shot, with 6% being the highest amount that you can find. Regardless of the level of Antimony added to lead shot, even 6%, there will still be some pellet deformity.

Just what does antimony do for lead shot? Every shooter that shoots lead shot, that cares about patterns, needs to know that antimony is the metal element used to increase the hardness of lead shot. The most common pellet formation processes require some antimony.

The numbers are 2% at the low end and 6% at the high end. Lawrence brand is a major manufacturer of lead shot. Go to their website and check out the antimony percentages. You’ll find that chilled shot and shot sizes #4 and larger get 2% antimony, while magnum shot in target sizes #6-9 are 5% to 6% antimony. Larger pellets don’t need quite as much hardening antimony due to their size.
Different brands also use different amounts of antimony. Just because Lawrence uses certain percentages of antimony doesn’t mean that others do.

The reason that higher percentages of antimony are only used in premium, higher priced lead loads is that it's expensive. Antimony is up to 8 times the cost of lead. The less antimony, the less your shot will cost. That’s why some lead loads are cheaper than others.

Lead shot with high percentages of Antimony does make a difference. When we pattern tested the Remington STS (Premier Target Loads) shells vs. the lower cost Remington Gun Club ammo with lower Antimony shot, the same shotgun and choke that delivered 60% with the STS load delivered only 50% with the Gun Club load. This isn’t to say that softer shot doesn’t have its uses in certain circumstances. It’s just that soft shot is less reliable and produces lower pattern averages. Patterns with higher Antimony percentage shells can easily vary 10% or more in pattern density during pattern testing. Shells with softer shot (lower antimony) will simply produce more deformed pellets.

Manufacturers don't display how much Antimony they use in their lead loads. The only way to find out is to ask the manufacturer directly. A few manufacturers have responded to Shotgun Pattern Pro's inquiries, but the answers were vague, or were not answered at all. The following are the responses we received from the major ammunition manufacturers.

Estate Cartridge has not responded to our inquiry
Federal Premium Ammunition has not responded to our inquiry.
Fiocchi Ammunition has the information displayed on their website, listing 3% antimony in some loads and listing other loads with Magnum Lead which falls in the 3% - 6% range.
Kent Cartridge lists 4% antimony in all of their lead loads.
Their response - “We don't have anything written down that we can give out. However, our shots have 4% antimony levels.”
Remington loads range from 2% antimony up to 6% in their STS Target Loads
Their Response - “We don't list the antimony levels for our products but I can give you a range. Levels range from 2% up to 6% based on the product. Lower cost shells fall in the lower 2% range while our target loads run in the higher 6% range. Plated loads typically fall in the 4% range. We hope this helps. Thanks!”
Winchester loads range from 3% up to 6% in the AA loads.
Their Response - “Winchester AA's have 6% Antimony, the others have 3%”
Thanks and Good Shooting, Buck
Last Edit: 5 years 4 months ago by buck1961.
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