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Old June 17, 2013, 09:57 PM   #1
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Range Report on Snake Shot

I'm not sure why the other thread on this topic was closed, but let's try to keep this one clean and on topic.

Per questions on the other thread I took my Bond "Snake Slayer" derringer with .410/.45 and .38/.357 barrels out to the range today with some plastic ice tea jugs.

My hypothesis - that each round would put a bunch of tiny holes in the jug, and that the .410 would pretty well blow it up. WRONG!

I should note that no snakes were harmed in the interests of this research. And my "research" in no way is meant to disagree with anyone's "real world" experience with blowing away rattlesnakes with .22 shot, or whatever. I'm sure whatever you use works great for you. This is just want I discovered, for me.

I brought snake shot in .38/.357 and in .45LC, and #4 .410 shot.

We can shorten this quit a bit - let's just say if I need to shoot a snake I'm going to use my 1911 or a 12 guage, or a shovel.

Ok if you want the long version read on...

NONE - of the .38 or .410 shot would penetrate the jugs at 10 feet. All it did was put a bunch of little dents in the plastic. No water leaked out. My thinking is if the shot won't penetrate a plastic bottle I don't want to try it out on a snake that could bite me back!

The .45LC shot did penetrate a little. Maybe a half dozen little tiny holes. On two out of about 10 tries.

At 5 feet - one .410 round blew a 1/2 inch hole in a jug. I think it was the wad. Otherwise I still did not get full penetration with .410 and about the same with .45LC.

In frustration I took out my 1911 .45. Now THAT took care of business! First shot blew the jugs into a giant spray of water and plastic. Subsequent shots kicked it down the range until I ran out of ammo. I'm pretty sure I can hit a snake with a .45 at 25 feet. I know I could with a 12 guage!

My non-scientific results are as follows:

"Carrying snake shot in any caliber, or .410 #4 shot in a DERRINGER is a worthless waste of weight. I will include the "Judge" and other short barrel .410 pistols in this assessment since they are only marginally longer."

I suspect the short barrels just don't provide enough pressure, probably in a longer barrel revolver or rifle all the rounds would be more effective.

The jury is still out on this however. I plan to do a follow up test with a Judge, and to test with .410 buckshot as well as to compare to a 12 guage in #8 and buck. I'm also going to get some .44mag shot and see what it does out of my Blackhawk. That will probably be effective. Meanwhile I'm going to stick with a big stick and my EDC for close combat with snakes, slithering or walking.
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Old June 17, 2013, 10:02 PM   #2
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Results on plastic jugs do not correlate to snake skin results.
I've killed with .22 birdshot.
The larger payload for the bigger calibers does work on snakes, within range.
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Old June 17, 2013, 10:16 PM   #3
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Range Report on Snake Shot

Interesting comparison. Subscribed...
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Old June 18, 2013, 01:44 PM   #4
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Myusername, I'm glad to see this subject brought back to life. Intereesting test. It'd be interesting to expand the testing to include some kind of "tissue" - whether that be gel or a half frozen (I guess that'd be half thawed too ) chicken, I don't know. I don't mean to suggest the harming or wasting of any animal "just" for testing purposes either , perhaps excepting Spam - which interestingly seems to combine gel and animal products . I've had good luck on the venomous legless ones with .38/.357 and .44 shot at six to ten feet. Closer too, of course, but I try to keep those incidents to a bare minimum!
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Old June 18, 2013, 02:37 PM   #5
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Keep us posted on the .44 mag. I know that more than one creepy-crawlie fell victim to my friends Blackhawk. His had the 83/8" barrel. I've dispatched one or two unwelcome visitors with the 38/357 (4" Model 19). BTW, don't do this indoors for any reason. Your wife MAY get annoyed when you destroy the finish on her new washing machine. Mine did!
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Old June 18, 2013, 02:47 PM   #6
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Roll my own .41 Magnum snake shot. I have shot "at" 7 rattlers with 7 rounds and I have collected 7 sets of rattles. Distances from 8 to 20 feet. They twitched for hours, but never left the spot they were at when they received the payload.

I once unloaded 15 rounds of .40 S&W at two rattlers, close range and killed neither.

I use a pistol powder, .410 stumpbuster wad, #9 shot and a .410 overshot card with a heavy roll crimp. I did hop them up a tad with reformed .414 SuperMag cases to test out. The added effort really provided little extra benefit to the velocity or pattern.
Good Shooting, MarkCO
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Old June 18, 2013, 02:50 PM   #7
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That snake pit in the gunshow thread would have been a great test site.
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Old June 18, 2013, 08:01 PM   #8
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A 410 derringer? And I thought the Judge was the dumb....
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Old June 19, 2013, 12:46 AM   #9
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I buy the Speer Shot Capsules in 38/357 & 44 then fill them with #11 shot. Works for me.
Retired LE, M.P., Sr. M.P. Investigator F.B.I. Trained Rangemaster/Firearms Instructor & Armorer, Presently Forensic Document Examiner for D.H.S.
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Old June 19, 2013, 01:50 AM   #10
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OK - here's today's results.

.45/.410 Bond derringer
Judge .45/.410 2" barrel (Public Defender, not the 3" whatever it's called)

Ammo was:
.45LC Winchester PDX1 JHP
.410 PDX1 Disc
.410 Federal 000 Buck
.410 Federal #4 shot
.45LC Snake Shot

Plastic tea jugs and an old kitchen door with plywood and 2X4 sections

Minimal results from Derringer except for the .45LC which expected to be a killer. Expected Judge to perform slightly better but for the #4 shot to be dismal. I was pleasantly surprised.

Results: All shots at roughly 10-15 feet.

1) I shot the derringer with .410 000 Buckshot. Very effective! Solid holes in jug, blew backside completely apart as a result of hydrostatic pressure.

2) Derringer with PDX1 Dics (which also have 12 bb's) - produced three nearly 1/2 holes and a bunch of little holes and blew the back of the jug apart.

3) Derringer with .45LC HP - as you might expect about the same as hitting with a .45acp or .44mag. Major destruction of jug - big hole going in and the backside split apart with jug flying into air in blast of spray! One jug per shot.

4) Derringer .45LC HP shot into 2x4 section of door from 20 feet - blew a hole going in and a much bigger one - about 3" of splintered wood, leaving. I would pretty much assume a coiled snake hit with this would be in multiple pieces and a two legged snake would be picking their sternum out of their spine.

5) Derringer with .410 buck into plywood portion of door - 4 nice (about .30) holes grouped about 5 inches going all the way through. Same with the 2X4 section.

6) Derringer with .410 PDX1 Disc - three good size holes in plywood about a 4 inch spread and a bunch of little holes and a few dents from the bb's spread about 18 inches. In the 2X4 section the discs penetrated all the way leaving a splintered mess on the backside. A snake would not do well. A two legged snake inside the average room would probably go down and not get up, especially with a face full of this hurt on.

7) Judge with .45LC snake shot. Effective at 10 feet - a bunch of little holes, shot didn't not penetrate the backside of the jug.

8) Judge with .410 #4 birdshot. Effective at 10-15 feet, about a 15 inch spread. Bunch of small holes. Hydrostatic pressure blew back of jug apart.

9) Judge with .410 000 Buckshot. Effective at 10-15 feet about a 4 inch spread. Good size holes going in and out, hydrostatic pressure blew back of jug apart.

10) Judge with .410 PDX1. Effective at 10-15 feet very similar to the buckshot but with a bunch of little holes from the bb's.

11) Judge with .45LC HP. Typical expected results - pulverized the jugs! Smithereens I think would describe it.

12) Full penetration through 2X4 sections of door with Buck, PDX and .45LC HP. All would be deadly to snakes of any type at close range. #4 Birdshot penetrated 3/8 plywood section fully. Ran out of the snake shot so didn't shoot the door.

The .45/.410 derringer can be effective against snakes with buckshot, dics or solid bullets. Insufficiently effective with birdshot or snake shot, probably due to lack of barrel length and lightweight projectiles. Yes a heavy jug isn't a snake - .38 snake shot will probably take out a snake, but I "guaranty" the heavier rounds will stop the threat immediately! Though there might not be any large enough pieces left to eat.

The Judge with a longer barrel would be effective against snakes with all rounds from .45LC shot to buck, PDX or birdshot. It should also be effective at SHORT RANGE against human targets with buck, PDX of .45LC rounds. Effective range with shot I would give about 15 feet, with .45LC you could probably score hits to 30 yards maybe more. Say snub nose ranges.

I could see carrying a derringer in a horizontal cross draw holster appendix position while hiking with buckshot or PDX discs as snake defense, perhaps as a second weapon to a .357 or .44 for pig or bear or hooligans.

The Judge would also make a decent hiking/snake companion. It will shut a snake down pretty easily I'd say up to about 20-25 feet with any of the various rounds. My choice I think would be the PDX1 disc rounds.

The .45LC would "probably" be sufficient for medium predators, cougar, hogs, maybe a black bear if you loaded some kind of hot flat nose copper round. The only issue with just one gun and two different missions is having a snake load when you need a bear round and vice versa.

Last edited by myusername; June 19, 2013 at 02:17 AM.
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Old June 19, 2013, 02:06 AM   #11
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Further thoughts on this:
If you ever need to kill a jug of tea, use a .45LC! Although some jugs have been killed with .22 longs or by kicking them.

The .38 snake shot rounds are probably more effective in a revolver with a longer barrel. Even a snub nose would add considerable power.

The issue with the derringers is with a .38 you only have about one inch of barrel beyond the end of the bullet. And with .410 you have about 3/8 of an inch. There is no space beyond the shell to build up much pressure. This was proven with the Judge which has a couple of inches of barrel at least and provided much more effective results.

I am also guessing that none of the above beats a 12 gauge shotgun - especially if the snake is hiding behind your wife's washing machine.

Last edited by myusername; June 19, 2013 at 02:18 AM.
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Old June 19, 2013, 06:53 PM   #12
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The other side of the barrel length issue is that the longer the barrel, the faster the velocity, and when velocity increases so does the rate of pellet spread.

For max effectiveness in keeping the shot charge together, shorter barrels work best.
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Old June 20, 2013, 05:50 AM   #13
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I've cleanly killed many ground squirrels at 15 feet with my .357 loads (100gr #8 shot over 'a few grains of fast pistol powder')...I do not use the Speer plastic cups...
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Old June 20, 2013, 08:10 AM   #14
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Your Derringer is the problem, way too short of a barrel for a .410 round. The barrel may be 4 inches so you really have an inch barrel. Every action except revolving has this issue. There are long barrel derringers though, I believe American Derringer makes an 8 inch barrel version. Any excessively short barrel isn't going to work well. So I'd stay away from the snub nosed Judges and I belive the Governor has a short barrel too. But Taurus does offer a 6 inch barreled Judge. Magnum Research sells a .45/.410 in their BFR line. Thompson Center has a .45/.410 as well. I also remember seeing a cheap generic single shot .45/.410, can't remember what it's called but it looks like a SAA but single shot. There's much better options for .410 handguns your poor results were from your poor barrel length. I have a Circuit Judge, has an 18 barrel. At about 15 yards with 3 inch 4 shot it will penetrate about 2 inches at milk jugs filled with water and frozen. 3 inch 000 at the same distance will take a big chunk out. At 25 yards at an empty helium tank 4 shot will put a bunch of dings on the tank. At the same distance with Super X .45 Colts it will put about 1 1/2 inch holes in the tank.
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Old June 20, 2013, 05:26 PM   #15
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I've shot snakes with shot out of several firearms, much closer than 10 feet though. If it's farther than 2-3 feet I don't consider it a threat. I don't shoot anything but moccassins, rattlers and copperheads get a pass. I agree with the op though, shot out of a handgun is poor except at point blank range. Reptiles are TOUGH! I have killed many more snakes with standard bullets b/c I never carry shot in the gun, (sometimes in my pocket.)
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Old June 20, 2013, 08:09 PM   #16
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Magnum Research sells a .45/.410 in their BFR line. Thompson Center has a .45/.410 as well. I also remember seeing a cheap generic single shot .45/.410, can't remember what it's called but it looks like a SAA but single shot.
All of which have a removeable choke which stops the spin from the rifling and constricts the shot column. That choke works well and you can get respectable patterns out to 20 yards or so. The Judge has a focring cone which acts somewhat as a choke, but the rifling still messes up any pattern some. When firing a 2-1/2" shotshell in a 3" total barrel length derringer you should yell "CLAYMORE" cause that is what you got, albeit a wimpy one ;-)
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Old June 21, 2013, 07:08 AM   #17
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I had a customer come in and ask about some 44 snake shot ammo. Not something I stocked so I told him he'd have to buy a case but I did have a few from a past project that he could try before jumping in for the purchase.
I told him right up front that these were not suitable for more than a few feet. He came back a few days later with a handful of empty cases and told me he didn't want any snake loads. His first line was "I set up a coffee can and stepped off about 25 yards". At that point, I knew there was no need for further talk.
I've used handloaded CCI shotcaps in 44 SP cases to dispatch possums on/'under my deck and a couple of snakes. At very close range(5-6') the #9 loads are fairly effective even on the possums. Most of the time part of the shotcap was embedded in the critter. I've also impressed some folks who didn't know better by doing some showoff stunts at thrown pop cans-just make sure they don't see the cans after they hit the ground. At 10' or so, the shot loads will spin a pop can and if you're real quick, you can hit it again before the pattern spreads too much.
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Old June 21, 2013, 07:51 AM   #18
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In reality, a snake can only strike a portion of the length of it's body...1/2,
2/3rds..depending on who you talk to. Regardless of barrel length, a good snake shot should penetrate from 3 or 4 feet and that 's more of what they are designed to do. A .410 should have enough poop to stretch the distances out some more. Don't expect much more that about 12 ft. for effective penetration with either, and I'd use a small shot to concentrate it in a small area. In my limited experience people expect too much from it. I once played with a form die from rcbs to make snake shot for 45 acp. I shortened .308 cases, used cut down 410 wads with a small charge of Red Dot powder and a crimped .357 gas check over the whole mess. What a waste of time... I decided if I couldn't hit a snake from 3 ft with the same .45, I should just go find a shovel.
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Old June 21, 2013, 11:52 AM   #19
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When I did a project several years ago on Speer shotshells, I used over 20 different guns in every handgun caliber available at the time. Seems like it was 23 guns, from snub & full-sized revolvers & small & full-sized autos on up to the Marlin leverguns and in .22, 9mm, .38/357 Mag, 44 Mag, .45 calibers. Two-inch barrels to 20-inch barrels. The .40 S&W wasn't yet available.

I set up a backstop with a life-sized snake drawing as the center aiming point and tried the loads through both rifles and handguns at varying distances to determine patterning.

I found, as stated above, that for PATTERNING density (percentage of pellet hits on the "snake") the longer the barrel the quicker the pattern spread and the closer the gun had to be to keep enough pellets in the "snake" to be effective.

Rifling spins each shot charge, and the faster the velocity is, the faster the spin rate out the muzzle is. Consequently, a faster spin rate creates a faster spread rate, leaving more of the pellets in the outer "ring" area of a mostly empty center of the "doughnut" pattern as distances increase.

Short-barreled snubs held patterns together farther than a 20-inch carbine, because of the increased velocity out of the longer barrel.

Twist rate is also a factor, and obviously so is the caliber (regarding the size of the shot charge) in effectiveness.

But- that testing showed clearly that, in terms of patterning and distance, the shorter the barrel the farther the pattern remained effective in dumping more pellets into the "snake".

The side issue is that greater velocity generally means greater penetration, but with that greater velocity you're back to lesser pattern density.

I've killed with a .22 Speer shotshell, I know it can take out a sizeable snake, IF close enough.
A bigger caliber with a larger shot charge through a shorter barrel would be my choice for a snake gun today if I were to carry shotshells for such purposes.

If you do your own pattern testing, you get a better picture of the practical ranges of those shells. And I don't mean setting up a water jug.
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Old June 21, 2013, 03:06 PM   #20
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I'm getting a little confused about shot pattern spread.

Does the longer bbl create a larger pattern because of -

- Higher velocity
- More/faster spin due to rifling


It all seems counter intuitive to me, a non rifle guy. Shorter shotgun bbls render a larger pattern, longer bbls tighter pattern. Difference is the rifling?

Sgt Lumpy
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Old June 21, 2013, 03:55 PM   #21
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Very interesting test "DPris." Thanks for the info on the patterns. I didn't have enough ammo to really do a thorough testing. Just did enough to get a general idea.

"WV-Gunner" yes I agree with you about barrel length. But if I'm going to carry a gun with an 18" barrel it's going to be either a shotgun or an AK, and I'm pretty sure either will solve any snake problems - even a 30' anaconda. LOL

As for whoever mentioned shooting a snake at 2 or 3 feet away - it ain't gonna happen - if a snake is that close to me I'm going to be jumping 5 feet into the air, running! I'll shoot it on the return trip after I clean my shorts.
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Old June 21, 2013, 03:59 PM   #22
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Difference is the rifling?
Correct, which is why the T/C Contender, BFR, Comanche, and the Judge rifle (by Rossi) all have chokes designed to stop the spin.
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Old June 21, 2013, 05:31 PM   #23
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The longer the barrel, the faster the velocity & the more rapid pattern spread.

The rifling is what screws up the pattern on any rifled barrel used with shot charges, unless you have some method of stopping the resulting charge spin.

Just like it does with a bullet, rifling imparts spin to a shot column.
That spin opens up the shot charge, spinning pellets outward as the shot column travels forward.
The farther it goes, the more pellets spin outward away from the center.
The faster the spin (from velocity) the shorter the effective range because by the time the shot gets to where a target is the pellets are too widely dispersed to get enough of them into the target to be effective.

In a rifled barrel, you get that "doughnut" effect, where with increasing distances the pellets all gravitate to something of an outer "ring", leaving the center pretty much free of pellets.

With enough distance (and it ain't much), if your target is small enough to sit in the middle of the doughnut ring, the pellets just pass on by around it, and don't strike in it.
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Old June 22, 2013, 11:09 AM   #24
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I've run no experiments. But in my personal experience, I've come across no ratttlers in the Rocky Mountains capable of striking more than 5 feet.

At that distance, my snake loads in Speer capsules, loaded with #12 shot in a 6 inch barrel .357 have been devastating.

If the serpent is more than five feet away, one can simply walk around it, and/or use standard ammunition to despatch it.
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Old June 23, 2013, 01:06 AM   #25
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^^^ Bears out the longer barrel pistol theory, allowing more pressure but not causing excessive shot spread.

I'm thinking of a better solution. Anybody got some grenades?
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