For the majority of shotgun owners the words “Defensive” and “Small bore shotgun” are mutually exclusive and the two should never meet.
I understand the main concern about a small caliber like a .410 and the fear that it would be ineffective. Gauges like the 12 and 20 are very good options and have been following through on the tasks of putting meat on the table,busting clay pigeons and protecting the homestead for generations.
But (you had to know that was coming) the properly setup .410 has much to offer.
First off let us get the negatives of the .410 addressed and out of the way.
#1: Limited payload= No where near as many shot pellets carried per shell as the larger gauges
#2: Limited effective range = Due to the limited payload.
#3: Ammunition cost and availability when compared to the two more popular shotgun gauges.
Because of the above negatives most opt not to use the .410 and choose one of the other two gauges or go with a standard carbine (such as the M-4 style AR-15) or a carbine that uses the same caliber ammunition as their handgun.
Now on to the positives of the .410 as a defensive arm.
#1: It’s still a shotgun (though most would say just barely) and it does offer more fire power per trigger pull than a firearm that relies on single projectiles.
#2: The limitation of a small payload is reduced to a moot point when the range is close (as it is with most home defense encounters)
#3: Light recoil= Anyone in a household that can shoulder it can make use of it,and the recovery time from shot to shot is faster than with a larger gauge shotgun stoked with standard buckshot loads.
#4: Defensive ammunition for the .410 is generally much cheaper than most centerfire rifle or handgun ammunition designed for the same purpose.
#5: Though there are few models of .410 shotguns purposely designed for defensive use, one can turn an old single or double barrel break action into a very effective close range fight stopper.
My choice for two such small bore shotguns are of the Mossberg 500 E series.
One was a standard hunting model (Model#:50104) that came from the factory wearing a 24-inch full choke barrel,that was soon swapped out for an 18.5 inch cylinder choke barrel.
The second was the .410 version of their Cruiser model (Model#:50455) said variant came with a rear pistol grip which I replaced with a suitable 13.5 inch synthetic stock, it came with an 18.5 inch cylinder choke barrel from the factory.
The magazine tubes for both were the same capacity meaning that barrels could be interchanged easily.
Here is where most have a problem and where many an internet debate has started.
A number of folks load their scatter guns up with off the shelf game loads (which hold lots of very tiny lead pellets) and call it a day.
Others (which I am of that number) understand that different loads are meant for different tasks and champion the use of buckshot for home defense duties.
Federal offers several very good loads for such a task, those being.
#1: Federal premium defense 3-inch #4 Buck (a #4 buckshot pellet is .24 caliber which is equal in size to a .22 LR bullet and the load in question carries 9 per-shell) It works well in full choked guns (the choke most often encountered with a .410 shotgun) and does well in cylinder choke barrels at close range (a respectable 2-3 inch wide pattern at distances of 15 to 20 feet) this offering is tailor made for defense inside a dwelling,offering good penetration.
#2: Federal 3-inch ’000′ buckshot 5-pellet load (a ’000′ buck pellet is .36 caliber equal in size to a .38 special/.357 magnum caliber bullet) this load is very potent and carries with it a greater chance of over penetration I would not recommend this load for folks that live in apartment buildings or similar cramped living conditions. the same goes for the next load.both perform best from a cylinder choke barrel as there is no constriction and no real interference with the pattern.
#3: Federal premium defense 2-1/2 inch ’000′ buckshot 4-pellet load, same as above but in a shorter shell with one less pellet, though from a shotgun it will have a higher velocity than the 3-inch shell.
*I understand that many on this site are not of my mindset and are not fans of firearms ownership,my reason for posting this wasn’t meant as a way to change the site into something it was never meant to be. I just want to get this information out and maybe help save someone’s life if they decide to arm themselves*
This post was submitted by Pfletch83.