GMK Advice on Steel Shot

Monday 2nd August 2021

Please see below advice on steel shot.

Is standard steel shot safe to use through any Beretta, Benelli or Franchi shotgun with either fixed or multichoke?
Yes, providing that chambers and general barrel condition are all correct and in good order. See advice regarding chokes below.

What about chokes?

The general advice is not to use anything tighter than a half choke when shooting steel loads, with both multichoke and particularly fixed choke barrels. Steel shot produces a denser pattern, for any given choke constriction, compared to lead. Therefore half choke is more than sufficient, even at the limit of steel shot range.

What about chamber lengths?

Because steel is less dense than lead, in order to achieve the desired shot weight High Performance steel cartridges often require 3” (76mm) chambers. If you have a 2 ¾” (70mm) chambered gun it is safe to use standard steel loads, subject to the above advice regarding the condition of the gun. We recommend only using HP steel shot cartridges in a case length matching the chamber length of your gun.

How do I know what size my chamber and choke are?

These are clearly marked on the outside of the of the barrel at the chamber end. Multichoke choke tubes are individually marked on the outside or by a series of indents at the muzzle end.

What about Superior Steel?

Superior (sometimes referred to as High Performance or magnum) steel cartridges operate at higher pressures and achieve higher shot velocity. These cartridges should only be used in guns with a Fleur de Lys stamp (⚜️) showing that they have been proofed to the higher 1,320 bar pressure as opposed to the standard 930 bar pressure. Often guns proofed for superior steel shot come with a 3 ½” chamber (but sometimes are 3”) to accommodate the larger shot sizes recommended for long range targets.

This below image shows a gun that is Fleur de Lys stamped for Superior Steel Shot. (⚜️)


Index. Reading from left to right –
KG 1350 = barrel weight
Next symbol = Italian Proof House in Gardone VT (see below)
CIP/⚜️ = High Performance Steel Shot proof
CIP/S = superior proof
CN – date code/ref year of proof


How can I tell if the cartridge is superior steel or standard?
This can be an issue because of the different names used to describe this category of product, often the marketing language can add to the confusion. Check for the Fleur de Lys and the 1320 bar pressure, if in doubt speak to the shop or cartridge manufacturer.

What chokes are recommended when using superior steel?

Again, the recommendation is not to use more than ½ choke but many suggest a maximum of ¼ choke.

Will steel shot damage barrels?

All barrels wear with time regardless of shot type, steel is harder than lead and hence the advice regarding chokes which can become damaged if the constriction is too severe. Our manufacturers advise the use of up to half choke only. Steel cartridges are manufactured with a plastic (and now sometimes biodegradable plastic) wad in order to maintain the pressure. This plastic wad also acts to protect the barrel as the shot travels down the tube. Steel shot has been used in many countries for years with no reported major issues with barrel wear. GMK do not endorse or recommend any particular brands of steel cartridge in terms of their performance as our expertise relates solely to firearms.

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