Bismuth shot is now larger, better, and more affordable than ever. That’s excellent news if you want more power than steel loads or if you would like to shoot an older, vintage shotgun somewhere where lead isn’t permissible. Bismuth was the initial nontoxic shotshell replacement for steel, and it was widespread until denser tungsten-based pellets appeared. Tungsten costs are now skyrocketing. Bismuth Shot, Canada, may be the final affordable quality nontoxic highland and waterfowl choice available.
Bismuth shot was created in the 1990s by Canadian carpenter John Brown with the help of Guns & Ammo publisher Robert Petersen. It is best recognized as the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol. When combined with tin, it produces a useful, if brittle, pellet with a density almost exactly midway between steel and lead. It’s soft enough not to damage older gun barrels.
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Bismuth as a Non-Toxic Alternative
When lead shot bans were implemented in the 1990s, bismuth became one of the first replacements used outside of steel. Several manufacturers have since tried their hand at it.
Because bismuth shot is fragile, the pellets frequently fracture immediately after firing and prior to leaving the barrel. According to shotgun pattern science, the more uniform and spherical the pellets, the more accurate the shot pattern. Patterns are not produced by fractured pellets. Bismuth, on the other hand, retained a following because it could be fired from traditional, full-choke firearms.
“Bismuth was also very odd-shaped and wasn’t uniform in size or roundness, which led to decreased pattern performance,” Jeff Berry of Kent Cartridge said of the first bismuth shells. “For several years, products like our Tungsten Matrix outperformed bismuth.” When tungsten prices began to rise, bismuth reappeared in the market since it was now cheaper than tungsten-based products. “This was around 2015, and more have since joined,” Berry says.
Although lead and bismuth are on the same periodic table, their compositions are very different. Bismuth is soft but brittle, whereas lead is soft and flexible (making it a good material for shots and bullets). While Bismuth lacks the toxicity of lead, it is also a component in the well-known and widely used stomach medicine Pepto Bismol.
Bismuth non toxic shotshell has more energy and velocity than steel shot. There is also less wind drift. Because of its softness, it can also be shot via full-choke firearms.
Benefits of Bismuth Shot
Bismuth shot is thicker than steel, making it dangerous even at vast distances. This makes it extremely useful for taking down ducks and fowl with a single, crisp shot. It’s also far cheaper than tungsten shot, in Canada. This makes Bismuth a cost-effective lead substitute that most aficionados can afford.
You may also be wondering why the bismuth shot is the chosen ammunition for older shotgun types. Simply speaking, bismuth shot is mild enough to be utilized in older, traditional shotguns without causing damage to the valve or barrel.
Bismuth has resurfaced in the last five years. We compare downrange lethality by shot density. The denser the pellet, the greater its deadly capability. Steel shot has a density of 7.8 grams per cubic centimeter (gr/cc); bismuth has a density of 9.6 gr/cc; and lead has a density of 10-11 gr/cc depending on its antimony and maybe arsenic alloy composition. Bismuth is harmless and nearly as thick (and dangerous) as lead. The non-toxic shotshells of Bismuth are also sufficiently soft to shoot through.
Bismuth Shot and Chokes
On any choke, a bismuth shot is simple. If you’re familiar with steel shot, modern guns don’t change much, but for people who gather and utilize older shotguns, the softness of bismuth means you can avoid breaking their permanent full chokes. If you want to keep your historic shotgun in excellent working order for years to come, consider softer ammo like bismuth. What about the brittleness?
The bismuth shot Canada, available today is significantly less brittle than what was initially available. Furthermore, its brittleness in comparison to steel is a purposeful feature – bismuth breaks when it comes into proximity to bones and even teeth, rendering it less dangerous for shooters in the field.
It’s simple to see why bismuth shot for refilling is so popular among hunters. It outperforms, if not outperforms, leads without being toxic. It can be shot out of traditional shotguns without causing damage. Bismuth is also a good alternative for hunters who are accustomed to tungsten shots in Canada and want to switch to a shot that functions similarly.