Maximizing Efficiency: Tips for Selecting the Right Waterfowl Ammo Load

If you’re going waterfowl hunting, you need shotgun waterfowl ammo or ammunition to kill a big duck and function effectively in various temperatures. Steel burdens were so flimsy in the past that they shatter on impact with a human’s skeleton. They would corrode quickly and ruin the barrels. As a result, many individuals stopped going waterfowl hunting since steel shots failed to kill the birds.

or Follow us on WhatsApp Channel

Steel loads are superior in quality nowadays. Better powder, priming, and a tighter seal ensure water can’t enter during production. Here are some tips for selecting the right waterfowl ammo load.

Load Selection based on Duck Size

Species and body size are two factors to consider before purchasing shotgun ammunition. If you can divide it into manageable chunks, you’ll have an easier time dealing with it.

Small ducks

These ducks; unpredictable flight patterns necessitate using little pellets that can cover
more ground. Their shorter range means you’ll have to move in closer to fill a more complex way, but they’ll be easier to use overall.

Medium Ducks

Medium-sized ducks include the wood duck and the gadwall. A 12-gauge gun capable of 1,450 fps with a 3-inch payload will do the business here. You’ll require average range power and density with good pattern density.

Large Ducks

You’ll need to get in close to land a solid blow when shooting at large ducks. You need a high-velocity shot inside a specific range to kill a mallard or canvasback. Don’t push your barrel past its optimum length; doing so will significantly reduce its accuracy.


Tungsten-steel pellets, which deliver a tremendous punch, are necessary to kill a large Canada or sea duck. You’ll have to spend a little extra on these to ensure a clean kill, but they’re worth it.

Factors to Be Considered When Doing Load Selection for Waterfowl Shooting

Begin with a gauge

This may sound like stating the obvious, but let’s ensure the new guy in the rear knows
about it. Don’t waste your money on 20- or 10-gauge shells if you shoot with a 12-gauge.
Direct and to the point.

After that, the composition of the shot

Lead shot is illegal to use in the United States when shooting ducks. Focus on finding steel- shot or lead-alternative (bismuth or tungsten) loaded rounds. The latter two are extremely pricey but have much greater range and penetration than regular steel shots. Tungsten is the most dense of the three possibilities and chemically comparable to lead, but also the
most expensive.

Next, the shell size

Three different shell lengths are available for 12 gauge shotguns: 2 3/4″, 3″, and 3 1/2″.
Refrain from assuming that all modern shotguns have a maximum range of 3.5 inches. Before purchasing, check the longest shells that will fit in your shotgun. The receiver or
barrel should prominently display it. Older bird guns often have a limited range of 2 3/4

Lastly, the size of the shot

This is where the conversation narrows in on the hunter’s preferences. Shot size, or the
diameter of the pellets inside the shell, significantly affects effectiveness in the field. Our recommendations, from largest to smallest, for choosing the right shot size are as follows.

  • F, T, BBB, or a BB shot: It's important to note that the first two are now nearly
    extinct. It’s possible to find some vintage F-shot or T-shot shells at an auction or in the depths of a boat box, but these days you’re more likely to stumble across BBB or BB shot. Hunting large birds, such as geese, requires a shot at this range. The larger
    shot means less of it can fit in each shell, leading to a more spread-out pattern. The heavier pellets, however, will have a greater range and penetrate more deeply.
  • 1, 2, and 3 shot: Larger ducks like pintails, mallards, and wigeons should be shot with a 1, 2, or 3 shot. A hunter could get by with only two shots for all waterfowl species if they opted for this all-in-one option.
  • 4, 5, and 6 shot: Blue-winged teal and green-winged teal and wood ducks migrate early in the season. Northern diving ducks like golden eyes and buffleheads can be enticed late in the season. All these avian species fit the bill of being swift, tiny birds. Smaller pellets are sufficient to kill these animals, but their speed and size make
    them difficult to target. To increase your chances of success, try using measures between 4s and 6s to create a thicker shot pattern.


To be successful at duck hunting, one must adopt a special frame of mind. Here is where our survival instincts come into play, and maybe we’ll have to rely on hunting and fishing for our sustenance one day. Having the proper ammunition will improve your performance and make your life much simpler.

Recommended For You

Got a question/Suggestion? Let's talk!