.410 Shotgun cartridges
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
Often thought of as the starter shotgun calibre, or lorded as the expert’s choice, the .410 cartridge has a unique and very passionate place in the hearts of most British shooters. As its name suggests, this little cracker has a bore diameter of 0.410” or 10.41mm, but and when measured on a ½ choke is 10.2mm and on full choke is 9.8mm. As with all the smaller bores, the shot column is longer than say the traditional 12 bore and, despite having a significantly lower shot weight and smaller pattern, it still can deliver good overall spread on target.
Many clay/casual shooters use the smaller shot sizes of #6 or 7.5 and even 9 now, whilst many rough shooters like the larger #5 or 4 sizes. These retain better energy, due to the larger size of the individual balls per load, which can increase range, despite the sparser spread of the pattern.
Most people use tight chokes in their .410 guns in the hope to extend the range. Trouble is, this effective range is only really 25-30 yards and all you are doing is keeping the shot pattern size smaller, making it more difficult to hit a moving target. In other words, you have to be more accurate with a tighter choke. I like a ½.
Whole genres of clay shoots revolve around this mini cartridge, as it really sorts the men from the boys, and tests every part of your skill set. Game shooters too are often seen with 28-gram loads and for some testing birds. Remember, a single #6 pellet traveling at 1275 fps is the same if it is shot from a 12 bore or a 410, it’s just there’s more pellets flying in the air with the former.
Shotgun-wise, the old style Yildiz side by side or single shot Baikal are timeproven designs and very hard wearing and a capable of tough use and still throw good patterns. This also goes for the Webley & Scott bolt action model, although only a 2.5” chamber, it is well tried and tested gun and the bolt action, although single shot, is reliable and makes you really take care with the shot. Over & under style and almost any of the new cheap guns from Turkey such as Revo, Armsan, Yildiz, Kofs are great too. Some benefit from ejectors, which is always a bonus and you also often get a multi choked gun. So, you have a good degree of flexibility in what choke, range and shot size combination best suits.
Quality over & unders, like the Browning Citori, 325 or Beretta 410 Silver Pigeon are excellent guns. I love the older style Browning 425 o/u in 410, as it is a lovely trim lightweight gun with fixed choke that is just a joy to shoot. I also like pump actions and semi auto`s; now you have a very handy and multi shot option for fast moving vermin.
The Hushpower Mossberg pump-action in standard or moderated version (Stealth) give a very quiet report with their integral silencer are great for more urban areas. Adler’s fully silenced single barrelled gun from York Guns is very handy as well and quiet too and throws good patterns. The push on silencer from Saddlery and Gun room is a great bit of kit and converts any single barrelled make instantly to a moderated gun for standard or sub-sonic ammunition use.
I also really like the quality and dependability of the Remington 870 pump; it is a lovely handling and ultra-fast action and throws excellent patterns. Similarly, a semi-automatic 410 shotgun with the correct load is reliable. My favourite though is still Remington’s 1100 Sporting semi. Like its pump-action stable mate, the blued steel and excellent walnut stock handle and look equally well and loaded with Hull’s High Pheasant or Remington magnum loads. Armsan have entered the semi market with their A636; fed the correct load of 3” Magnum shells with in a heavier loading it’s dynamite on vermin and has a multi choke barrel too. You can even get slug loads, which generate about the same figures as a 357 Magnum cartridge.
Gone are the days of only having a handful of 2.5” ammo types for the older style guns and single barrels. Today, we have a really good range of all types of target, skeet, field and game loads. The wide range of sizes from 2 to 3” cases, means that you can mix and match ammo to suit a close shot in a barn at a rat or extend its legs for a pigeon. You have shot sizes from #4 – 9 to choose from. Specialised, sub-sonic loads really make the best use of the moderated guns for pest control or in areas where noise is a problem.
Here are some of the 410 cartridges I use in differing guns and how they pattern down range on full choke that most people use, but I like something a bit more open.
The Fourten: is a 2”/50mm cartridge, with a muzzle velocity of 1300 fps in a plastic case and rolled top closure. The wad is fibre and the payload is a scant 9 grams and is only available in #6 shot. That’s a light load and at 20 yards you get a sparse pattern on full choke of 66 pellets with only 21 inside the 12” inner ring and quite a few gaps. The Fourlong: is 2.5”/65mm case and the increased size allows 12.5 grams of shot in either #5, 6 and 7 shot sizes. You now have 91 pellets in #6 shot on the board with 32 pellets evenly distributed within the 12” circle.
Extra Long: a 3”/76mm case length delivers an 18 gram shot load available in #5, 6, or 7 shot sizes. The fibre wadding is popular and now 124, #5 shot pellets on target with 33 in the inner circle and good overall density of shot pattern.
Eley Extra Long Subsonic: The 3” plastic case holds the same 18 gram load as the Extra Long, but this time a shot size only of #6 is available and the velocity has dropped to below 1050 fps. Very low muzzle report in standard guns or very quiet in silenced weapons. 145 pellets hit the board with very even distribution, with 60 within the inner 12” circle at 20 yards.
Eley Trap 2½” and 3” are new and designed for the sport of clay busting with small calibres. Options here are a 14 gram load of either #7.5 or 9 shots in a 2.5” case. The 3 offers a 19 gram loading in #7.5 and 8 shot in a 3” case.
Fiocchi’s 3” is a good semi-auto load as it is 100% reliable to feed, with 19 grams load of #6 shot. At 30 yards I had a total of 135 pellet strikes with a good even spread and 76 to the outer 30 inch sectors and 59 dense pattern to the inner portions, perfection.
Hull Cartridge High Pheasants, this is probably the best all round 410 loading for sporting use. This is a magnum 3” Magnum loading with a plastic wad and 19 grams of #6 shot. This equates to a pellet count of 188 No 6 shot. In my Remington .410 1100 auto, it is deadly for rats, squirrels or pigeons. I had a pattern of superb spread and density with this load; 143 pellets within 30” spread with 63 outer and a whopping 80 inner strikes with great distribution of shot.
Gamebore make a 2, 2.5 and 3” cartridges with the threes being the best. It holds 16 grams of #6 or 7 shot but has a plastic wad, which helps keep a tight pattern as I had 166 pellets of #7 on the board with 66 strikes in the 12” of inner circle and very good dense pattern overall.
Their Target/Skeet box is an interesting load, as it is squarely aimed at the Skeet or clay shooter. It has a 2.5” case of smaller #9 shot. Again, a plastic wad for tighter patterns and 14 grams of lead resulting in 201 pellets on the board. Great clay load.
Lyalvale too offer some nice shells, with 2” fibre wadded loads with a modest 9 grams of #6 shot, whilst the 2.5” version gives a choice of #5, 6, 7 or 9 sizes. This 65mm case holds 14 grams and 94 pellet #6 and 24 inner 12” circle placements.
Their 3” is a 16 gram load of either #5 or 6 shot. The Magnasonic is for the silenced brigade and velocity is below the speed of sound and uses a load of 17 grams of #5, with 101 pellet strikes, with 33 inner circle hits.
Remington 3” are really good, offering an 18 gram load of #6 shot. I had a great 125 total pellet strike, with an even 64 outer and 61 inner distribution, great even pattern and hard hitter, cycles reliably through autos too.