View Full Version : Why can't I shoot "tactical" loads in my shotgun?

December 7, 2001, 10:27 AM
Hello -

I'm new to shotguns so forgive me if I ask dumb quesitons, but I recently got a chinese copy of an Ithaca 37 that is safe to shoot 2 3/4" and 3" shells (slugs too) as per the manual, but it also says NOT to shoot anything smaller than 2 3/4" shells.

I like the idea of the short shells I've ssen (and used) in my friend's Winchester 1300 - they're maybe 1.5" long and he said they were "tactical" loads. It seemed like a good idea to have reduced recoil as well as more ammo capacity in the same amount of space.

Why is it that his can shoot it and mine can't? Would it be dangerous for me to try it in my gun? Are there any modifications I could make to make my gun safe to shoot these loads?

Thanks for the help - please don't hesitate to correct me if I've made any incorrect assumptions.


December 7, 2001, 11:05 AM
You mentioned short loads, 1.5", marked "tactical". Depending on your shotgun these can experience feeding/ejection difficulties. Lower reliablility!!! I don't know if there are any safety issues from firing a shell that's 1/2 the length of your chamber. I'll bet your pattern is poor.

The tactical loads I use (Federal and Remington) are a reduced recoil loading, 2 3/4". They function same as any standard load in a pump gun. I've noticed a better pattern with the Federal Tac loads as compared to standard 2 3/4" or 3" in the same shot size. Easier on the shoulder. Heck I don't mind running a couple dozen reduced recoil slugs in a range session.

December 7, 2001, 11:06 AM
Don't think it is a safety issue, probably won't reliably feed the shorter shells. May well be correctable but I am not familiar with that gun.

I have a J.C.Higgens that feeds the Aguila Mini shells just fine. Just lucked out that way.


December 7, 2001, 11:11 AM
I'm certain there's no hazard to shooting them. The problem is in feeding them from the tube/carrier to the chamber - they just don't have enough length to cycle reliably.

Try them ... if they work, they work, nothing's going to blow up on you. If they don't feed properly, shoot them off one at a time, or keep them chambered for the first shot, followed by 2-3/4's or 3's.

December 7, 2001, 12:06 PM
Have you tried painting your shotgun black, thus "tactical?"

December 7, 2001, 01:56 PM
you made my day ;)

Dave McC
December 8, 2001, 07:18 AM
Those mini shells get very mixed reviews, even when they function in a particular shotgun. Bad patterns in some guns, inconsistent velocity with others are the probs I hear about.

Extra capacity is nice, but few crises get resolved because a shotgun has an extra shell or two in it.

I suggest sticking with the 2 3/4' stuff in your riceburner. If you can find some, the Estate SWAT 00 has turned in great patterns for some of us. Fed Lite gets its praises sung too.

3' loads in that light pump will rock you. A good training and practice load would be any of the 1 oz cheapo Field or Dove and Quail loads. Matter of fact, it'd be a good HD load also, once it's established that the stuff works fine in YOUR shotgun. The middle of an AS scenario is no place to discover ammo/weapon incompatability.


December 8, 2001, 12:06 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I will definitely by trying and testing many of these options - reliability is my #1 concern, to put anything before that is rediculous.

I've read a lot about patterning and will have to do some of this, too. What is the best method? Do you pattern at several different distances, or can you assume a linear (or maybe exponential) expansion as the distance increases? Do most people pattern at their calculated longest HD distance? Do you all keep "logbooks" of how different ammo patterns in a particular gun at different distances, or am I putting too much into this?

I did notice when shooting my friend's Winchester 1300 that it did great for me, and was very easy to hit with (it was my first time shooting a shotgun, although I've had a fair amount of experience with rifles and pistols). I was surprised to find that I "short-stroked" my "riceburner" a couple of times when I first tried it (leaving the chamber empty after racking the pump) - this was never an issue with the Winchester - I didn't even know to think about it..........just coincidence, or is there something in the design that's superior?

Thanks again,

Double Naught Spy
December 8, 2001, 03:25 PM
I was not as critical about patterning my gun as some people. I just needed to know basic performance and so I shot at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards with tactical 3/4 00 and with bird shot. What struck me was the LACK of expansion from what I had naively come to believe in movies. Out of my gun, the tactical buck at 20 yards was about with width of a human my size. The bird shot was about double. There won't be any shooting from the hip and hoping to hit much of anything but drywall and furniture in my home! Something interesting, at no more than 10 yards, a little less actually, shot tends to behave like slugs. While it has expanded some, and occasionally had a flyer, generally it produced one single hole. At 5 yards or less, the stuff hasn't even left the shot cup at all and the holes tended to be 12 ga in size, one per shot.

Each gun will perform a little differently, even of the same models. My patterns tending to be a little more oval than round, although not by much. I don't know that such information will matter in a crisis for me as I am likely not to remember at what distances the oval gets pronounced. The important thing is to know how your gun will perform and what you can expect from it.

I read an article sometime back about the use of a shotgun to shoot a hostage taker holding a hostage. I thought that had to be the stupidest idea I had heard of. Out to 5 yards, I can precisely shoot a shotgun at least as well as a handgun and regardless of shot, it isn't going to spread out and so the "shot" portion isn't really an issue. It is just a long gun that make one hole from hell!

Dave McC
December 8, 2001, 07:24 PM
I recommend patterning at the longest possible shot distance in your home plus one yard. Unless you live in a very large house, you'll get one hole or at most, a ragged, fist sized area.

The old Govt database shows that load is not an important issue at close range.

Patterning is not exactly linear if one shoots at 20-50 yards. Full choke patterns are kinda trumpet shaped, open chokes cones shaped.

At typical HD ranges, shotguns HAVE to be aimed. Forget the movies, John Wayne, Chuck Norris, or Wesley Snipes was never in a firefight.

And, despite having had to shoot hundreds of rounds from the hip, any time I use a shotgun in a "Serious" situation, it'll be fired from the shoulder and using whatever sights are on it.