August 2012

Checking out the .410 Bore: We Test Seven Loads for Defense

We started off by showing how ineffective birdshot was for self defense, then moved on to the main event: in-close patterning and penetration for buckshot, BBs, defense discs, and slugs.

It is quite interesting that when we test ammunition, some participants, observers, and readers get bent out of shape. They have told us that, sure, the ballistic test shows one thing, but my friend has shot clean through a deer with . An anecdotal incident may in fact be true, and it may run counter to our results. But our basis for testing ammo has proven profitable in testing individual loadings and comparing one to the other, as well as comparing one caliber to the other. It is possible to compare loads and render recommendations based on their performance, and it is also possible to test a single load and determine if the penetration and expansion standards are adequate for the intended mission. We are not delicate flowers who get our knickers in a wad when a favorite caliber doesn’t cut the mustard. There is something for everyone, and we simply tell it like it is. Our results are verifiable and repeatable. Variances in velocity and accuracy are par for the course, but any reader who runs his own tests should find the general results will be very close to our results. We point out that we do not have an adversarial relationship with the ammunition makers; rather, we are often in awe of the efficiency and consistency of the ammunition we test. But there has to be a best choice.

When it comes to the .410 bore shotgun shell, we found a range of opinions among our raters. The majority of the raters had little use for the .410, with one referring to it as useless. However, once we had gathered some facts, most of us came to a different opinion of the .410 by the time the test was over. With the one having no use for the .410, another of our raters was adamant concerning the role of .410 slugs, as an example, in killing fox, coyote, and other predators. In an accurate shotgun, the .410 slugs kills better than any .22 rifle, he mentioned, while offering greater safety. The slug breaks up and also has less range than the rimfire rifle he said. In this niche, there is nothing quite as capable as the .410, he asserted. Our experiments confirmed his assessment of the .410 slug.

Another interesting development is the introduction of the Taurus Judge in 45 Colt and .410 bore. This handgun has elicited different reactions from different folks. Many experienced shooters who favor the big bore .45 Colt or .44 Magnums took a look at the Judge and felt that it was ungainly and would never be useful. While this is a strongly held opinion by many professionals, sales of the Judge are very strong. One of our raters noted that practically everyone in his circle of shooting friends owns one Judge or the other version. Sadly, the Judge cannot be offered in smoothbore form because short-barrel shotguns are illegal, and a smoothbore pistol is a short-barrel shotgun, according to federal law. But those who own slug guns will tell you that shot being swirled around in rifling is seldom, if ever, capable of producing a good pattern.

With all of this background, we elected to test several .410 bore shotshells. All of our testing was done with a .410 shotgun, not a pistol. If the load doesn’t perform well in the shotgun, it will be much less effective in the handgun. The projectile launcher was a standard Mossberg .410 pump with 24-inch barrel. Hardly a tactical model, this shotgun features a gold trigger, vent rib, and solid smooth action. Overall, everyone was suitably impressed with this light, fast-handling shotgun.

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