View Full Version : Silly question about nomenclature of buckshot

October 27, 2011, 08:35 AM
So, I live in a state in which one cannot deer hunt with rifles. Supposedly the state is flat enough that there is a risk of bullet over-travel. So of course, we are allowed to use shotguns (among other things). However, we are not permitted to use shot - only slugs. Now, it seems reasonable to assume buck-shot was invented for, um..., bucks. But buckshot is apparently now considered inhumane on deer. I'm not arguing the validity of that - I'm all for humane taking of prey.

Who knows the history of buckshot and slugs? Was buckshot in fact originally intended for deer? How long was it used as such? At what point did slugs become available? And when did society decide shot was no longer sufficient for humane taking of deer?

October 27, 2011, 09:12 AM
Some Civil war and earlier paper cartridges were call "Buck & Ball".
THe ball being a loose fit to the muzzleloader bore and three buck (smaller) loaded on top, the the paper wrapper was formed around and tied off.

There 's a picture from Gettysburg of a regiment's memorial that's just a column with the "buck&ball" on top.

In HEAVY cover and prior to commercial slugs, buck shot was favored, for close work.

Once the commercial Forster and Brenneke slugs were made, the increase in range was noticeable.

Now with the SABOT round for shotgun and used in the rifled barrels that most states allow, are better yet.

Any scope is preferable to iron sights for best accuracy.

What shotgun involved?

Old Grump
October 27, 2011, 10:36 AM
slugs were a later invention, shot was made for killing game and buck shot came from the distance a buck could be killed with shot. That was forgotten but the name buckshot was applied to the shot used for big game hunting and it stuck.

October 27, 2011, 10:38 AM
The modern slug is an adaptation of the bullets used in early breech loading smooth bore muskets. The tricky part of slug design, unlike musket bullets, is they have to accommodate various choke diameters. The choke concern is omitted in modern rifled shotgun barrels with sabot slugs.

October 27, 2011, 10:51 AM
The modern slug is an adaptation of the bullets
So is the first generation "slugs"... Look at the last generation of smoothbore frontloaders... (I can't call it a rifle without rifling)... they fired a honkin' big lead ball... I know they had .60-64 cal guns and I think I remember a .72 cal or something nearly that large...

First generation rifled bore rifles fired a "bullet" that I feel was the precursor to the "rifled slug"...


October 27, 2011, 11:07 AM
Buckshot will kill deer, but is far less effective than slugs. The only folks who use it effectively are some guys who still run deer with dogs. The shots are close and fast. It is considered safer since dogs or other hunters could easily be within range of rifle rounds or slugs, but be out of sight in the thick swamps where this type of hunting is usually done.

Unless I were required by law I'd use a rifle as my first choice, with slugs a distant 2nd. I'd never use buckshot unless it was all I had.

Lee Lapin
October 27, 2011, 04:02 PM
Use of the term actually predates the founding of the USA. Soldiers during the Revolutionary War often used 'buck and ball' loads in their smoothbore muskets, and many, who showed up to war with their personally owned fowling pieces (smoothbores were more widely used than rifles in colonial days, as they were cheaper and more versatile) often used just buckshot, if they could get it. Note the following detail regarding Francis Marion's men, from the war in the Carolinas:

Marion frequently went into action with less than three rounds to a man -- half of his men were sometimes lookers on because of the lack of arms and ammunition -- waiting to see the fall of friends or enemies, in order to obtain the necessary means of taking part in the affair. Buck-shot easily satisfied soldiers, who not unfrequently advanced to the combat with nothing but swan-shot in their fowling-pieces. -- http://sciway3.net/clark/revolutionarywar/cp8.html

Swan shot, you will note, is even smaller than buckshot and was used - as the name implied - on swans, geese etc.

October 27, 2011, 08:51 PM
I wonder if doubles were ever used in the Civil War. Also, did they have any paper shells available in this era?

Dave McC
October 28, 2011, 10:07 AM
The Confederacy was so strapped for firearms they had a factory in Richmond that altered shotguns, mostly for cavalry.

I ran across one such. It was displayed by a descendant of the original owner with a Navy Colt, a tattered grey uniform coat and a Daguerrotype picture.

The shotgun itself was a small bore, barrels about 16" long and percussion fired. There were a few European pinfires in the War, but not enough to make a difference.

Parker started making breechloading shotguns about 1866. Other US makers were going at it by 1870.

Lee Lapin
October 28, 2011, 11:57 AM
Confederate cavalry shotguns were mostly muzzleloaders. And cavalry soldiers carried all the revolvers they could get, wearing a pair, with a pair in saddle holsters etc. There was no way of reloading easily with cap and ball pistols, and on horseback even more so. It was easier and faster just to grab another revolver.

"Forrest ordered forward. Without waiting to be formal in the matter, the Texans went like a cyclone, not waiting for Forrest to give his other orders to trot, gallop, and charge as he had drilled his men. By the time the Yankee skirmishers could run to their places in ranks and both lines got their bayonets ready to lift us fellows off our horses, we were halted in twenty steps of their two lines of savage bayonets, their front line kneeling with butts of guns on the ground, the bayonets standing out at right angle or straighter and the rear lines of their bayonets extended between the heads of the men of the first line. In a twinkling of an eye almost, both barrels of every shotgun in our line loaded with fifteen to twenty buckshot in each barrel was turned into that blue line and lo! What destruction and and confusion followed. It reminded me then of a large covey of quail bunched on the ground, shot into with a load of bird shot: their squirming and fluttering around on the ground would fairly represent that scene in that blue line of soldiers on that occasion. Every man nearly who was not hurt or killed broke to the rear, most of them leaving their guns where the line went down, and made a fine record in getting back to their reserved force several hundred yards to their rear. After the shotguns were fired, the guns were slung on the horns of our saddles and with our six shooters in hand we pursued those fleeing, either capturing of killing until they had reached their reserved force. Just before they reached this force, we quietly withdrew; every man seemed to act upon his own judgement for I heard no orders. But we were all generals and colonels enough to know that when the fleeing enemy should uncover us so their line could fire on us, we would have been swept from the face of the earth." -- http://www.keathleywebs.com/terrysrangers/terry2.htm





October 28, 2011, 07:42 PM
This is a great topic! Loads of historical literature here.