I’m an average shot and typically use my 12 or 20ga to hunt ruffed grouse in my Michigan home. I inhereted a beautiful Remington 1100 4-10 semi-auto from my dad and I’m thinking of trying it out this season. Is this gauge too light for grouse? Will I miss a lot of birds due to the small calliber size?
Ruffed grouse with a .410? I’m not so sure. To me that seems like an uphill battle and I’m not sure it is fair to our noblest game bird.
Some .410 1100s came with only 2-1/2″ chambers and some with 3″. The 2-1/2″ .410 shells hold 1/2 oz of shot, while the 3″ usually have 11/16 oz, but occasionally 3/4 oz. That 3/4 oz sounds as though it would equal the 28 gauge and almost get to the usual 7/8 oz 20 gauge load. But, due to the long shot column and lack of recoil absorption by the shot wad, the .410 doesn’t pattern nearly as well as the 20 or 28 does. The 1/2 oz 2-1/2″ .410 shell is obviously very much inferior.
Most of the grouse I’ve shot have been within 20 yards, some much closer than that. I just haven’t been able to see grouse much further away in heavily forested cover. Hear then, certainly. But not see them well enough or soon enough to get off a proper shot most of the time. There have been exceptions, but not many. For me, ruffed grouse are a lightning fast close-up gamebird.
.410s have the same pellet velocity as the 28 or 20. They just have less shot that doesn’t pattern as well. That means that the patterns aren’t as large. That means you have to be more centered to get your grouse and not just wound it where it will go off and die by itself.
If you are a truly expert shot with a good dog, you might give it a try just to say you have done it. But it is worth it? You have a better chance at a fair, humane kill with a 28 or 20. We all know how bad we feel when we think we hit a bird, but are not able to retrieve it. We often tell ourselves that we must have missed it clean. Perhaps so. Perhaps not. A wonderful bird like a grouse deserves a quick and fair end when we pull the trigger. I think that it is fairer to the gamebird to use a larger gauge than the .410.
That said, I do admit to shooting a whole bunch of plantation quail with my Model 42 .410 pump guns. But these aren’t wild birds. They are hunted over marvelous pairs of retrieving dogs in generally open terrain. Wounded birds almost never escape. If you want to try your .410 on birds, plantation quail would be a great place to start. I’ve even shot some pen-raised pheasant with the .410. Up close within 25 yards, it works properly. Beyond that, I just don’t pull the trigger.
Bottom line: yes, the .410 will definitely kill a grouse. But think twice about using it when you have a 20 or 28 gauge alternative. We all strive to be ethical hunters. Less is only sporting up to a point.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid