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.410 Can Be Practical If Used Sensibly

I used a .410 alot when I was a kid and still keep one around our country place. If you limit 2-1/2" shells to 25 yards with shot no larger than 7-1/2s and 3" shells to 30 yards with no shot larger than 6s you will do OK.

To get an idea of how well your gun shoots, get some wooden tent stakes, some 5" paper dessert plates and a steel tape. At measured distances place these paper plates which are about the same area as a game bird or rabbit at 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet. If you can staple the paper plate onto a larger backer cardboard at least 20" across, this helps to determine where the rest of the pattern goes relative to point of aim, but what you really want to do is see how many pellet hits you can get on a small game target.

To be effective you need to have a number of pellet hits on the 5" paper plate which are equal to the shot size, such as seven 7-1/2s, six 6s, etc. If you try larger shot such as 4s it will become very clear how ineffective larger shot become beyond very short ranges when there are less than 200 pellets in the shell.

A full choke .410 doesn't necessarily give you more range than a more open choke. It does tear up more eating game at short range and is more difficult for most people to hit with. While a cylinder bore is of only limited utility, an improved cylinder or modified choke will kill game reliably to 30 yards if you shoot 7-1/2s in 3" shells and 8s in 2-1/2" shells and use fine shot for everything. Beyond this range you should use a gun which enables at least an ounce of shot if you want to shoot 6s or larger.
 
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