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Thread: Shot size for squirrels?

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master


    richhodg66's Avatar
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    Shot size for squirrels?

    I normally hunt squirrels with a .22 or a downloaded centerfire, but was real sore from some work this morning and didn't want to sit, so took the old Stevens 5100 in 16 gauge and a few shells out of an old box of Federal,high brass paper hulled duck loads, 1 1/8 ounce of #6. Killed two and as I was skinning them, found a surprising amount of shot in both. Neither was very far, and I'd have figured the shot would have gone all the way though.

    I haven't yet, but have all the stuff to reload 16 gauge and have a few pounds of #4 shot. Would fours be more likely to exit? I'm going to eat these, and would prefer to not have to worry about biting down on a pellet.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    TNsailorman's Avatar
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    Number 6 shot is what we always used many years ago. It is very easy to slit the shot wound open and find the shot in legs. We seldom had to do that in the body cavity as they generally went all the way thru. It is not fun to bite down on a number 6 lead shot though. james

  3. #3
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    This is actually a pretty open choked gun, not marked,but I suspect Improved and Modified. Most of the squirrels I've killed the past few years have been with a beat up old Savage 94 which is my "behind the barn door gun", but locks up tight and is choked full. It leaves shot in them too.

    I think I'm gonna load a few with these #4s or some #5s I have and see if it makes a difference.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master



    skeettx's Avatar
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    I use #4
    Less to bite on as the shot passes through
    and anchors the game better
    NRA Benefactor 2004 USAF RET 1971-95

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    I've used 6 and 7 1/2 on greys and gotten pass through, I don't remember ever seeing shot in the meat. But penetration is dependent on velocity. Maybe that's the culprit?

  6. #6
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    Always used .22 for sporty shooting, used a shotgun to put meat on the table. Number 6’s were always the go to.
    Keep your powder dry and watch your six !!

  7. #7
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    Eddie Southgate's Avatar
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    #5 is what I usually use.
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have used everything from 9s to 4s, all worked if they were going fast enough. Seems the 1290 and better kills them much better than the 1150 stuff. My experience with shot and squirrels is pretty minimal, generally incidental to bird hunting or rabbit hunting so definitely defer to others. I am a 22 or air rifle squirrel hunter, but definitely understand the desire to use a favored gun. My IJ Hammerforged 20 SxS is probably going when woodcock opens. I love going out to “shoot some food” and just taking whatever game is found! Reminds me of my youth, going out Saturday morning and coming back at dusk with squirrels, rabbit , quail and doves. My favorite way to hunt and it takes a shotgun to do it.
    “You don’t practice until you get it right. You practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Jason Elam, All-Pro kicker, Denver Broncos

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I bought some old but shootable 16 gauge shells from a friend Saturday . Two of the boxes were Federal “Duck and Pheasent” loads as printed . They have some age as they’re not steel , but they are plastic . Anyway they’re both #4’s . They might get used in the second barrel for one of the preserve driven shoots I plan on attending .
    Go Manny Pacquiao !!!

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  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    as you and others typically my squirrels are 22lr , but on occasion I have been know to use 4's and 5s . Typically when I am out pheasant hunting. Same goes for rabbit if one pops up in the field

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I Don't hunt with old shells, the shot can be oxidized and you would end up eating the dust even if it passed through. Squirrels are tough skinned, rabbits, soft. YMMV...

  12. #12
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    richhodg66's Avatar
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    The shot in these looked just like brand new.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    #6's seem to be the go to shot for just about everyone in my neck o' the woods, providing they're not using a .22 LR.

    Murphy
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  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Unrelated to the shot size question, take a look at the bottom squirrel in the picture. It was oddly discolored, almost like it had been bleached on the upper part of its body (the pic isn't that great, but you can tell), it looked perfectly normal and healthy otherwise.

    I've lived around here for 25 years and never seen any other than Fox squirrels, much larger and different colored than the Gray squirrels I hunted as a kid in the southeast. I lived in Leavenworth about a hundred miles east of here for a few years and though they were mostly Fox squirrels there, I did see Gray ones occasionally, so we must be pretty close to the edge of the Gray's range here. Do the two species interbreed or is there some other explanation?

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    My favorite is #5 but #4 and #6 are good too. I like #4 better than #6.. I see all the time where folks use #7 1/2"s and #8's but at any distance at all you'll end up with a lot of cripples. Squirrels are a lot tougher than people realize. Ive seen them take three or four #6's right through the body and keep going like nothing happened.. I live and hunt in eastern,Ky. Its all big tall timber on mountainsides thats thick. Early season its almost impossible to get shots with a .22. Takes a good load and tight choke to roll a squirrel out of a 100' tall hickory

  16. #16
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    1 oz. copper plated #5 in a 16 ga. Fiocchi hull with fiber wads (no plastic shotcup). Very seldom find any shot in a squirrel. Squirrel pot pie is what I like.
    So many guns, so little time
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master trapper9260's Avatar
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    I use #6 or 7 1/2 shot on the squirrels . Yes they are one tough animal and there skin is make some nice thin leather. Kylongrifle is right on what said about people on the animal.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  18. #18
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    My dad always used 5's for small game and turkey. After much experimenting I, also, have settled on 5's for small game hunting. Turkeys, however, get 1-7/8 oz. of #2 pellets. I'd use BB's if I could but state regs limit shot size to #2-#8. I get better kills with #5 on squirrels, they penetrate well, whereas with #6 I may times would "roll" them and they'd run off. The 5's work well on everything else. 'Cept turkeys.
    "We take a thousand moments for granted thinking there will be a thousand more to come. Each day, each breath, each beat of your heart is a gift. Live with love & joy, tomorrow is not promised to anyone......"

    unknown

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kylongrifle View Post
    Its all big tall timber on mountainsides thats thick. Early season its almost impossible to get shots with a .22. Takes a good load and tight choke to roll a squirrel out of a 100' tall hickory
    I'm in Jax, FL now, but grew up in southern Indiana, right on the Ohio river. I still make it back home for squirrel season every year though.
    My Dad is a VERY avid squirrel hunter. He's 77, climbs around on the hills on the farm like a 17 year old, and he fills the freezer using #6 from August to October. Then he stays out of the woods until whitetail season.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I use either a 22LR or #6 shot. Large enough to not ruin too much meat yet you can easily find them. I remember as a kid using 7 1/2 and found there were too many pellets to find. #5 would also work well. I tried as best I could to find a squirrel on a tree just poking his head around...head shots are the best for meat retention and no pellets to bite on.

    redhawk

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check