Nontoxic Shot Regulations for Hunting Waterfowl and Coots in the U.S.

Current as of December 21, 2020


The ban on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl was phased-in starting with the 1987-88 hunting season.  The ban became nationwide in 1991. This shot type restriction applies to the taking of ducks, geese (including brant), swans, coots (Fulica americana), and any other species that make up aggregate bag limits with these migratory game birds during concurrent seasons. Nontoxic shot is defined as any shot type that does not cause sickness and death when ingested by migratory birds.

Approved shot types

The shot types that are approved as nontoxic for waterfowl hunting in the U.S. are the following.

Approved shot type* Percent Composition by Weight Field Testing Device**
Bismuth-tin 97 bismuth, and 3 tin Hot Shot®***
Iron (steel) iron and carbon Magnet or Hot Shot®
Iron-tungsten any proportion of tungsten, and ≥1 iron Magnet or Hot Shot®
Iron-tungsten-nickel ≥1 iron, any proportion of tungsten, and up to 40 nickel Magnet or Hot Shot®
Copper-clad iron 84 to 56.59 iron core, with copper cladding up to 44.1 of the shot mass Magnet or Hot Shot®
Corrosion-inhibited copper ≥99.9 copper with benzotriazole and thermoplastic fluorescent powder coatings Ultraviolet Light
Tungsten-bronze 51.1 tungsten, 44.4 copper, 3.9 tin, and 0.6 iron, or 60 tungsten, 35.1 copper, 3.9 tin, and 1 iron Rare Earth Magnet
Tungsten-iron-copper-nickel 40–76 tungsten, 10–37 iron, 9–16 copper, and 5–7 nickel Hot Shot® or Rare Earth Magnet
Tungsten-matrix 95.9 tungsten, 4.1 polymer Hot Shot®
Tungsten-polymer 95.5 tungsten, 4.5 Nylon 6 or 11 Hot Shot®
Tungsten-tin-iron any proportions of tungsten and tin, and ≥1 iron Magnet or Hot Shot®
Tungsten-tin-bismuth any proportions of tungsten, tin, and bismuth Rare Earth Magnet
Tungsten-tin-iron-nickel 65 tungsten, 21.8 tin, 10.4 iron, and 2.8 nickel Magnet
Tungsten-iron-polymer 41.5–95.2 tungsten, 1.5–52.0 iron, and 3.5–8.0 fluoropolymer Rare Earth Magnet or Hot Shot®

*  Coatings of copper, nickel, tin, zinc, zinc chloride, zinc chrome, fluoropolymers, and fluorescent thermoplastic on approved nontoxic shot types also are approved.
**  The information in the “Field Testing Device” column is strictly informational, not regulatory.
***  The “HOT*SHOT” field testing device is from Stream Systems of Concord, CA.


Last Updated: December 23, 2020