410 Gauge Ammo
It is the smallest gauge of shotgun shell available and the .410 gauge allows many single-shot firearms in the .45 Colt caliber to shoot without modification. As a result of the .410 gauge’s small size, it has very low recoil, better for young shooters. Also known as .410 bore, the .410ga shell has a length of up to 3 inches.
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410 Gauge Ballistics
If you’re considering hunting with a 410 Gauge, before looking at its ballistic efficacy it is important to check one’s local laws and regulations. Depending on where you are, .410 bore shotguns may or may not be legal to hunt with. Assuming that they are legal for you to use, what’s the biggest animal one could reasonably expect to hunt with a .410 slug? Part of this question pertains to how humanely the kill can be achieved as well, as one would not want to use ammunition that would only wound an animal and give it the chance to flee and succumb to its wounds later on. Good hunters know that both for the sake of efficiency and out of respect for the animal, one should always aim to harvest their game as swiftly as possible. The smaller the projectile used and the less energy it imparts on the target elevate the importance of shot placement. While a 12-gauge has enough energy to drop most deer even with an imperfect shot, .410 requires greater care to achieve the same result.
As this chart from Frank Barnes’ Cartridges Of The World shows, while .410 slugs exit the muzzle with velocities higher than most 12 or 20-gauge slugs, they lose that velocity at a faster rate than the larger mass projectiles do. The .410 slugs also deliver less foot-pounds of energy on target even at the muzzle, and again with a greater rate of loss as the range increases. What this data translates to is that while .410 slugs may provide sufficient energy within 50 yards, beyond that its efficacy begins to drop dramatically. In fact, according to some ballistician’s recommendation of a minimum 1,000 foot-pounds of energy to ethically kill a deer, the .410 is inadequate even at the muzzle. This doesn’t mean that ethical kills can’t be achieved with .410, even beyond 100 yards, but it does mean that one’s shot placement becomes massively more important in order to achieve it.
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