Early steel shot loaded shotshells


Some early W-W steel loadings.
The one on the left is an experimental (so marked) and based on the construction, I’m thinking 1960’s. I don’t know the weight of the load but the shell is packed tight with a folded pie-type crimp.
The other is an early production from 1976. While both are 2 3/4", this one has a roll crimp and carries 1 1/4oz of shot.
I found the orange color of the experimental interesting.



Nice early steel loads! What year did the Federal ban on lead shot for waterfowl get implemented? Did the ammunition manufacturers get a “heads up” it was coming to allow for development of lead alternatives as early as the late '60s, thus your dating of the orange cased one?



Dave, I am working on an article for the Journal now on steel shot loaded shells which will enlighten many… I hope.

The quest for a lead alternative for waterfowling began as early as the 1950’s but as time passed it became obvious that something had to change. Shell makers did have a heads-up but some pursued the issue more than others. Federal seemed the most aggressive, followed by W-W. Pressure was being applied to the USF&WS to take action by the early 1970’s and in 1976 they began a gradual process of restricting lead use in certain high-pressure waterfowling areas. Due to many factors a full ban of lead for waterfowl in the US did not occur until 1992. Canada followed a few years later. There has also been restrictions on lead for small game on some US Government lands and at shooting ranges. Shells for these activities have been loaded with steel pellets, as small as #7.

I’m certain field testing with steel shot began in the 1970’s but perhaps sooner, don’t have all my notes here. There was a big test at Nilo farms, 73-74, in which Federal participated with their shells which they offered to the public in 1975, according to reports from the time and their catalog.

As for the shells above, I date the experimental based on construction, primarily the crimp rings on the head. The head is brass and compares with both paper and plastic shells from the transition period of the mid-60’s (paper to plastic), including the headstamp. As for the color, I don’t have anything else like that and wonder if the plastic case isn’t likely experimental too. W-W seemed convinced they needed at least 1 1/4 ozs of shot in their shells but due to the volume differences between steel and lead they had trouble stuffing all that in a 2 3/4" hull, hense the roll-crimp on the other shell. They soon remedied that and came out with a folded-crimp load within the year.

Thanks for the interest. This non-toxic shot issue is quite interesting and very broad. Lots to seek out and discover!


This round is from the first trials in Germany.
They were tested by the DEVA in Buke.



Dutch do you have a date with that shell? Curious when Germany would have been testing these. I’m just starting to understand steel shot in Europe and England.