December 2008

Over/Under 410 Bores: We Like Padrone’s Snipe Sub-Gauge

The deciding factors in our match-up were the fledgling Padrone Snipe Model’s longer barrels and better trigger pulls, but the legendary Browning Superposed Lightning is sweet, too.

Seasoned bird hunters are often more interested in savoring quality time in the field than in trying to crush targets with big guns and big shells. Many are turning to sub-gauge offerings such as the tiny .410 to help them relive the memory of what might have been their first shotgun experience.

Unfortunately for some shooters, that first experience may not have been as encouraging as it could have been. While a .410 has less recoil and is easier for a young, slightly-built shooter to handle, they are not the best choice for a new and inexperienced shooter.

The main problem is with the pellets. A standard .410-bore 2.5-inch shell with one-half ounce of No. 8 shot will contain about 164 pellets, compared with about 410 pellets in a standard 12 gauge 2.75-inch shell with 1 ounce of No. 8 shot. Increase the shot size to No. 6 shot — an effective dove load in a .410 — and the shot differential is about 155 pellets in a .410 3-inch shell with 11/16 ounces of shot, compared to about 281 pellets in a 12 gauge 2.75-inch shell with 1.25 ounces of shot.

Less shot means more potential target-missing holes in a pattern and requires a shooter to be really centered on a clay or bird to produce consistent hits. Veteran shooters with years of shotgun experience are just more suited for making sure they put a .410 on target than a novice taking his or her first shots with a scattergun.

The other factor favoring the tiny poppers is that veteran shooters are often interested in upgrading their "toys" and are looking for high-quality, easy-shooting fine firearms for their seasoned shooting experiences.

Both of the shotguns in this match fall within the parameters of quality shooting tools where the owner is not opposed to spending a few more dollars to satisfy "big boy toy" needs. The two test shotguns we put to field and target use were the Padrone Snipe Model that retails for about $6,795 and the Browning Superposed Lightning Model available in the used shotgun racks for about $4,500. These two firearms probably would not be the choice for a bargain shotgun shopper, but both have good followings of owners who have a taste for a little finer wing-shooting experience.

We liked the looks and feel of both the test guns — not too fancy and yet far from plain — and enjoyed our shooting experiences both on the range and in the field. Our ratio of shots to hits was nearly identical to fellow field shooters using massive 12 gauge shotguns in their attempts to knock down darting doves, so we have no complaints about the effectiveness of the two sub gauges.

For our target range time, we selected Winchester AA Super Sport Sporting Clays 2.5-inch loads with one-half ounce of No. 8 shot that produced an average muzzle velocity of 1,300 fps. Field loads for our test were Federal Hi-Power 3-inch loads with 11/16 ounces of No. 6 shot that produced an average muzzle velocity of 1,135 fps.

Recoil with both loads was negligible, as expected, and there were no malfunctions with either shotgun with any of the test ammunition. Patterning performance with both loads and both barrels of each shotgun was a surprise, as noted in the individual assessments of the shotguns.

Here’s our test report:

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