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Old September 29, 2019, 11:47 PM   #30
Senior Member
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 7,046

Bigger guns throw more shot and denser patterns at all degrees of choke, which results in a gun with which it is easier to hit and kill birds on the wing. The payload on a .410 makes it a poor wingshooting gun for most of us, and as others have said, not necessarily a good choice for beginners, though many, including myself, had a .410 as a first shotgun.

But if not wingshooting, the .410 properly loaded, is a useful tool to take rabbits and squirrels out to 25 maybe 30 yds. As a rabbit gun, hunting ahead of slow moving beagles, bunnies in close can be shot without a lot of meat damage and yield more palatable table fair. Same of course for squirrels, if their not too high up in big trees. Even a light 12 ga load, inside 20 yds, can put enough pellets and holes in a cottontail or squirrel to make poor eating. The .410 is also a useful garden and pest gun, and a light 2-1/2" trap load will not ricochet dangerously like a .22 might when shooting around properties and structures, despite what attention you pay to your backstop. It is also less of a kicker of course, and comparatively quiter than bigger bores.

I think the .410's reputation for useless stems from folks using too large a shot size (yielding thin patterns) and then attempting shots to far for the skimpy cloud of shot. Seems all the stores in may area consistently stock .410 in #4 and #6 shot, just like the larger bores. And another thing seems that the short 2-!/2" shell is oftne stocked as well. Now certainly, a load of #4 (or #6) from a .410 inside 20 yds will yield dead critters. But stretch that distance just a wee bit,and that pattern will get VERY thin in a hurry.

My family hunted .410's a great deal on rabbits ahead of beagles. The load was the 3" shell and #7-1/2 shot. That is smaller shot size than typically used on fur clad small game, but the smaller pellets yield denser, more even patterns inside 25-30 yds and never seemed to compromise killing power in our use. I'll add that you can carry twice as many .410 shells as anything else in your shell vest, important if you were a kid hunting all day and missing some!!!!!
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