Steel shot’s low density (and light weight) is a catch-22; when compared to lead pellets, there is significantly more steel shot for a given payload weight—a good thing. Unfortunately, those lightweight pellets must be propelled at high velocities to be terminally effective. Striking the ideal balance between pattern density and lethality can be challenging—especially in smaller gauges. The 20-ga. load below epitomizes such harmony. Featuring just shy of an ounce of No. 3 or No. 4 (your choice) zinc-plated steel, the pellets attained 1444 f.p.s. from a 22" barrel. That’s not all; how about 80 percent patterns at 30 yards, too? As a testament to the load’s effectiveness beyond paper, recently my son bagged our outfitter’s first bluebill (scaup) of the season in Chincoteague, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A single shot at 37 yards dropped the bird stone dead. Keep the shot within 35-40 yards and this load is tough to beat.