Hot .410 Loads


Haven’t had a chance to drop you a note lately. Shooting has been good. North/South I shot a 394, ran the 12 & 28. Sure would like to run them all one time. Maybe before I retire. HaHa.

Anyway, a friend of mine says his .410 skeet loads are running at 1390 fps. Is this a safe load for Kolar tubes, is this a safe load for any gun or shell, or what is your opinion? What would be the safest, hottest load, for 1/2 ounce shot in the .410? I am afraid to go that high unless I get proper advice. What is your opinion on 81/2 shot vs 9 magnum in the .410?

My reason for asking all these questions is I want to come up with a great load for tournament shooting without doing something crazy. As you say, “Ask the Technoid”

Hope to hear from you at your convenience.

Your friend,

Dear Jon,

It is a common misconception that high velocity always means high pressure. It doesn’t if the correct powder is used. The problem with the .410 bore is that the hull is so small that a reloader’s options are severely curtailed.

My favorite reloading recipe source is the Lyman’s “Shotshell Reloading Handbook”, 4th edition. I don’t see any 1/2 oz loads at 1390 fps, but there are is one at 1370 fps and a modest 8,000 lup (lead units of pressure). There is also a 1/2 oz load at a slow 1132 fps and a whopping 10,400 lup. Slower speed and more pressure. It doesn’t seem right, but it proves the point. Always read the fine print.

Even though I would never recommend using loads of excessive pressure, I do have faith that published recipes will keep me out of trouble. Especially if I know that the source is the powder maker or a well-respected outfit like Lyman. Lyman doesn’t list anything that isn’t safe to shoot. Modern tubes from a quality company like Kolar are quite strong and fully capable of withstanding normal pressures. It is the pressure that counts, not the muzzle velocity. As long as the pressures are OK, you are welcome to use all the velocity you can get.

Is it a good idea to use super fast skeet shells? Well, I dunno about that. Are you going to shoot a 1390 fps 12 gauge shell? A 1390 fps 20 gauge shell? Why would you want to use a .410 load with a different velocity and different leads from your other shells? I load all my shells to a chronographed 1200 fps. My .410s have the same speed as my 12s. I don’t have to worry about different leads when switching gauges. .410 is hard enough without any extra concerns.

#8-1/2s or #9s for .410 skeet? I prefer the higher pellet count of the #9s. A good friend of mine who is a hot shot skeet competitor prefers the #8-1/2s. The nominal pellet count difference is 289 vs 241. I hate to give up those extra 48 pellets. It costs you about 1″ of your pattern circle, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that your killing pattern with a .410 is stretching to make 16″ at skeet distances.

You make up your mind as to how much pellet energy you need. At 21 yards a #9 starting at 1200 three foot muzzle velocity has .96 foot pounds energy. This is the same as a 1200 fps #8 at 34 yards and a 1200 fps #7-1/2 at 42 yards. The #8-1/2 starting at 1200 fps has 1.21 ft/lb at 21 yards. #8s and #7-1/2s equal this at 27 and 34 yards respectively. I feel pretty confident using #8s at 34 yards and #7-1/2s at 42, so I am happy with #9s at 21. The extra 48 pellets are also most welcome and, to me, make up for the slightly less energy. By the way, if you crank you .410 #9s up to 1375, at 21 yards they will only retain 1.15 ft/lbs, so it hardly seems worth the effort of worrying about different leads.

It is fun to run the numbers on the .410. Don’t worry. With either #9s or #8-1/2s, the “idiot stick” will still drive you crazy.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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