View Full Version : "Duck Bill Spreader" for Bedroom Range?

September 29, 2001, 02:49 AM
Before I ever had experience with patterning riot shotguns, I can remember thinking that it would be unnecessary to aim accurately with them because of wide pattern spread. After the first time I patterned 00, #1 and #4 buckshot starting at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 feet, I was amazed at just how little the pattern spread at "bedroom" distances. My only use for a 18" 7 shot Rem 870 shotgun is for interior home defense, particularly in my bedroom. I'm a very heavy sleeper, and live alone except for a weekend girlfriend. In the fog of awakening from a heavy sleep by an invader busting in, I want totally reliable stopping power with maximum probability of a first round hit. Outside the home, I rely on a Glock 23 and if all hell broke loose, I'd go to the AR-15's.

In cruising through this and other forums on the topic of riot shotguns for defense, it would seem that most shooters value how *tight* a pattern is at a given distance, rather than how much it spreads. Obviously, when you're talking about over 50 feet, this would be "better". But when you're talking about the GREATEST LIKELY OF TARGET RANGE BEING 10 FEET OR LESS, WOULDN'T A MORE WIDELY SPREAD (say chest width) GIVE A GREATER HIT PROBABILITY WITH NO DISADVANTAGES?

I did a search on all of this and found the following old post referring to a "duck bill spreader":

Duck Bill Spreader Reference (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=11607&highlight=duck+AND+bill+AND+spreader)

I remember reading from James Watson's book 'Pointman', where (as a SEAL) he carried the Ithaca 37 and like the fact that there was only one place to worry about dirt or mud entering the action, and usually he would dip the gun in paddy water, swirl the water around in the action, and let it drain without worry. He later had an Ithaca modified to have a duck bill shot spreader device and a custom 8 or 9 round magazine extension, as well as a pistol grip on his personal weapon he carried that he called 'Sweetheart' (It later became the basis of a project for an Ithaca 37 shotgun that was made up nearly identically and featured in an article in 'Small Arms Review' a year or two ago).

Does anyone know what this is, how it works, and where to get one? Can anyone give me a link to the article in 'Small Arms Review' so referred?

What do you think of what I'm saying about wanting MORE SPREAD AT ULTRA CLOSE RANGES?

I've heard of "adjustable chokes". I wonder if it would be possible to have an "adjustable spreader"?

Thanks in advance,
Straightshootin :cool:

Never Forget 11 September 2001 and the World Trade Center
Death To All Terrorists

Double Naught Spy
September 29, 2001, 08:02 AM
Sorry, I have no answer for you. I am glad you posted the query. I have done the same patterning with my 18" barrel shotgun and found that while being blasted from a shotgun may be very lethal at indoor distances, there isn't much scatter from the scattergun. Aiming is a necessity.

At the longest distnace within my home, a long hall of 47 feet, bird shot only expands about four feet, about the width of the hall. 00 tactical buck is closer to 1.5 - 2.0 feet. I was shocked to find that if the gun was pointed straight down my hall and at torso level, the bad guy was at the other end, I could still miss.

I assume that the "duck bill" would create or allow for more left/right spred and preclude up/down spread? If so, something imortant to remember is that to get the full benefit of the gun, it should not be shot while tilted on its side. Then your left/right spread would turn into and up/down spread.

September 29, 2001, 09:40 AM
I want totally reliable stopping power with maximum probability of a first round hit.
Me too. Which is why I put the focus on alarm systems to get me awake in time to aim carefully.

Shot scatter is not a good substitute for alertness and careful aim.

September 29, 2001, 09:59 AM
Mossberg has a 'spreader choke' on their model 50359 shotgun. That's a .410.

Back in the early 70's there was a gadget called the 'A & W Diverter' for 12 gauge shotguns. It worked like a screw-on choke and came in 2-to-1 and 4-to-1 spread models. Other than a couple of magazine writeups, I never heard much about it and it seems to have disappeared.

A tactical light on your shotgun might be more effective than something to spread the pattern.

September 29, 2001, 11:03 AM
At close ranges, think of your 12 bore as a 73caliber rifle. Shot placement counts. The more spread you have the less effective your hits. Close in with a nice tight pattern you can STOP a bad guy with a load of M&Ms. Out at thirty feet if you hit him with only a couple-three buck pellets you may hurt him bad or you may not. If the whole load gets him in a tight group your chances are better and his are worse.

The A&W spreaders seemed to be effective for giving an oval pattern and had the added benefits of reducing recoil and increasing shot velocity by bout a hundred fps or so. Like bobs1066, I haven't heard anything bout them since the 70s.


September 29, 2001, 12:26 PM
Measure the distances you expect to be shooting at inside your house. Go pattern your weapon at those distances with the load you will be using.

A shotgun's pattern is not a boulder of destruction from the muzzle that Hollywood tells you it is. Go shoot it at different ranges, 3, 5, 7 10, 12 yards.

Contrary to gunshop commandos, your shotgun must be aimed to effect solid hits and to prevent stray pellets from ripping through your house and hitting a bus full of nuns. Get good sights on it and a light.

Fortify your doors (Polaris doors and Medeco deadbolts) and windows (hurricane glass or Shatterguard). Cell phone by bed. Lock your interior doors to your bedroom. Go to school and pray you never need it.

Oh, BTW, don't load your weapon right before you think you need it as the gunshop commandos will tell you (I think they do this to attempt to be dramatic). You have just told Mr. BG where you are. Remember, incoming fire has the right of way, get small.

September 29, 2001, 05:59 PM
Unfortunately, at the ranges we're talking about, nothing is going to make any real difference. A diverter at these ranges will just give a slightly oval shaped pattern versus a round pattern. A shot column needs at least SOME distance to spread out.

Years ago I read somewhere about something placed into the shell that caused the shot to spread quicker. I THINK it was pieces of cardboard used to seperate the pellets.
A letter to the NRA Dope Bag might be worth while. If anything will work, they will know about it.

Big Lou
September 29, 2001, 06:55 PM
Good to hear that you realized this before depending on a "point and spray" defense. It's amazing how many supposedly knowledgeable firearms folks aren't aware of the distance required for a shotgun pattern to spread......I guess Hollywood has once again brainwashed us with garbage.

One (bad) example of this was the movie "El Dorado" with John Wayne and James Caan. Caan played a guy that couldn't shoot a pistol, so John Wayne got him a very short sawed-off double barrelled shotgun. When he shot the thing in a room, the entire wall he was facing was peppered with shot. Loved the movie, hated the Hollywood BS.

The duckbill WAS a device used to cause the pellets to spread more horizontally than vertically.......but it didn't really cause the pattern to spread out any sooner than a cylinder bore would. I used to see some variations of duckbills at gunshows years ago, but haven't seen any in a long time (maybe because they weren't effective?!?).

I agree with several other postings, no matter what you do, a shotgun is just NOT going to spread much of a pattern at distances of 10-20 feet. Incorporate that into your home defense scenarios and go with it.

Dave McC
October 1, 2001, 06:04 AM
A shotgun's big advantage at close range is the huge amount of energy dumped into a target, not spread.

I've not read Watson's book, but I know from long experience that war stories get better with age, just like fine wine.

IMO, money's better spent on ammo and range fees than gadgets like the duckbill.

October 1, 2001, 11:32 AM
I've got a duckbill on a Mossberg. Mine was put on by Great Lakes Armory. This is the company talked about in SAR.
In my patterning with and without the duckbill there's not really much difference in the pattern at typical room distances. There is a very noticeable difference at around 15 yards though. The pattern, at around 15 yards is about twice as wide as a regular barrel (Imp Cyl) and only half as tall. In other words, the duckbill pattern was around four and one half to five feet wide and only around a foot and a half tall. Very even pattern with no holes. Much more even than the same barrel was before the conversion. HTH

October 1, 2001, 11:34 AM
One other point is the this particular duckbill is regulated for #4 buck as opposed to 00 buck. 00 will work, according to GLA, but not nearly as well. Also, no steel shot.

October 1, 2001, 06:04 PM
Thanks everyone for all the great responses! You've taught me a lot about combat use of shotguns in general.

Questions for fal308: What was the cost of the modification by Great Lakes Armory? Do you have a URL on them? Is this modification a screw-on, or is it permanent?

October 2, 2001, 09:15 AM
Mine was a custom one-off done by them. They had never done an extended tube Mossberg before then. After getting done with mine they said they'd probably never do another extended tube Mossberg again, but you never know of the power of the dollar! I was debating on whether to get it installed on one of my Mossbergs or the Ithaca 37 (no disconnector). I ended up with the Mossberg due to the number of barrels I have for them. The normal price at that time was $125. I paid $150 IIRC for mine due to the extra machining done around the front rifle sight. They said that they need around 1 1/2 inches of unencumbered barrel to put on the duckbill. I had around this amount and they said that they had never done that particular application but to send it in and they would check it out to see if it was doable.
I found the articles mentioned above. They are in the January 2000 issue of SAR, Vol 3 No 4.
One point I was erroneous in above was the correct name. The name of the company is Great Lakes Arsenal. I was trying to recall from memory, sorry about any confusion.
The contact information according to the article is
Great Lakes Arsenal
60233 Northern Ave.
Ray, MI 48096-3914
e-mail:[email protected]
Using Google search engine with "Great Lakes Arsenal" gave around half a dozen hits. One of the hits had someone from the company giving a thumbnail explanation of the duckbill and they also explained that they were in the process of changing their email account. This was dated 4/17/01. So I'm not sure if the email is up-to-date anymore.
Almost forgot about your last question. The modification is permanent. It is slightly bulky and does stick out just a little bit, but enough to possibly catch a branch. It appears that it could have the edges melted, as on a pistol though. A heavy rounding of the ends would make it snag-free.
I suggest getting the back issue of SAR as it has quite a bit of useful information. BTW they will only do this mod to plain barrels, no ribbed barrels need apply. Also no semi-auto shotguns with reciprocating barrels. My advice would be to go for it. It's a cool toy and a great conversation piece whenever I pull it out. The 4 to 1 spread is cool too.

February 25, 2008, 01:45 PM

I recently missed out on a A&W Spreader on a 11-48 I planned on getting. I need one for a referance piece.

You still have yours or know if Great lakes is still out there? Their contact info is no longer any good.


Bill DeShivs
February 25, 2008, 02:34 PM
I have an A&W diverter. Never installed it on a gun. All the reports I read showed it worked but I never saw a need for it on any of my guns.

February 25, 2008, 08:00 PM
e-mail sent

February 28, 2008, 04:02 PM
where can i get one of them? i saw one on ebay last year i should've bought it. i tried to email the arsenal but it got returned unknown.

February 28, 2008, 04:15 PM
Try loading some shells w/o the power piston shot cup. All of the components of commercial shotgun shell are for distance shooting. just use a card wadd on top of the powder, let the shot deform, that will be a good thing is close range.
Then experiment with lower velocity loads.

Scattergun Bob
February 29, 2008, 08:00 PM
Well, Straightshooten, you discovered the famous MMC Diverter from the 1960's. Had one on my 37 in the Navy. they made 2 to 1 and 4 to 1 ratio devices. they spread #4 military buck either 2 units wide for each 1 unit tall or 4 units for every 1 unit. the muzzle end resembled a figure 8. I also saw some home made ones at Cat Lo, never shot one of those. They were very effective for shooting into dense vegetation and night shooting. Problem is that you still needed 10 to 12 feet for the pattern to spread.

If you really are sold on spreading your pattern there is a product called square shot available in the LE circles, it will do what you want.

I do ask you to consider shot density and all the good thing that does for you before you set you sights on this option.

March 1, 2008, 12:27 PM
Desert01, some of the info I PMed you is wrong. I was writing from memory.
The information on the Duckbill is in Small Arms Review vol3 no4. There are two articles on it. One by Jeff Zimba on the (then) new duckbill. Another article is by Kevin Dockery. It is a recollection and buildup of a replica SEAL Ithaca 37 as used by "Patches" Watson in VietNam.

March 1, 2008, 07:01 PM

Now that shotgun has wear marks on it. How long has that reciever been in use? I have seen shotguns looking better after 2 or 3 trips to Iraq/ Afghanistan. Mine that is being refinished now was not in half that bad of shape.

Thanks, the A&W is a little differant ong the one I was looking at. Once I comes in from Bill, I will get it mounted on a 18" 590.

If you need a refinish I have a few shops that would hook you up;)

Bill DeShivs
March 1, 2008, 09:14 PM
It will go out next week!

March 1, 2008, 10:55 PM
It's not really in bad shape. The blueing is gone on all the edges and the forestock was cut down (never refinished) to fit the handguard. This Mossburg was my truck gun for about 10 years or so before I rebuilt it.