Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun Review: A “Carbine” Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical is all business with ghost ring sights and a rail for optics.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical is all business with ghost ring sights and a rail for optics.

Have you ever shot an M1 Garand, followed by an M1 Carbine? Or perhaps a FAL, followed by a Ruger 10/22? Or maybe a full size over and under 12 gauge, followed by a compact coach gun?

If so, then you already have an idea of the relative feel of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun.

What attracted me to this gun for testing and evaluation is its compact size, light weight and super quick handling. You can think of it as a shotgun carbine. With an 18.5 inch barrel and short stock, the entire length is just under 38 inches long. As a comparison, the M1 Carbine of WWII fame is 35.6 inches end to end, while a Ruger Carbine measures 37 inches.

Just the specs…

In standard configuration, you'll be able to fit four 2 ¾ inch shells in the tube, but you'll have to remove the plug first.

In standard configuration, you’ll be able to fit four 2 ¾ inch shells in the tube, but you’ll have to remove the plug first.

The factory configured stock is really, really compact, offering a length of pull of just about 13 inches. As I wanted a compact shotgun, I left it just as is – almost. More on that a bit later. If you prefer a longer stock and length of pull, Beretta includes two spacers that work together or separately. One is ½ inch while the other is 1 inch, so choose the length you want and mix and match accordingly. As with most other Beretta guns, you can also tweak drop and cast, although I had no need – this one fit me out of the box and offered a natural sight line right down the sights.

Offered in 12 gauge only, the 1301 Tactical features a 3-inch chamber, not that you need it. If you want to get thumped, feel free, you can load the big boy shells.

Magazine capacity is a bit of a mystery. Some retailers quote the 1301 Tactical as 4+1 while other say 5+1. Beretta doesn’t exactly say in their website specs, but the owners manual indicates 4+1, so I just tried it. Mine fit four 2 ¾ inch shells plus one in the chamber. Just a heads up, Beretta ships the gun with the magazine plug installed, which limits you to two shells in the tube. Just remove the end cap and pop that out to take advantage of full magazine capacity.

The controls

The controls, bolt handle, bolt release and safety are all oversized and easy to manipulate with or without gloves.

The controls, bolt handle, bolt release and safety are all oversized and easy to manipulate with or without gloves.

The primary controls are all oversized and easy to operate, presumably to enable operation with gloved hands. This also makes it a solid combination home defense and competition shotgun.

The bolt release button is oblong with textured ridges, so operation is easy and positive. The bolt handle is also oversized, and shaped somewhat like a snow cone cup, with the pointy end in the receiver. The shape encourages your fingers to stay on the handle when operating it quickly. The push through safety bar is also oversized and reversible.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s ON SALE now for a limited time!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Gun Review: Browning Citori 725 Feather Over & Under Shotgun

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

There are times when a heavier shotgun is nice to have—the trap or clays course, for example, where you’ll be popping off a hundred or so 12-gauge shells and have ample opportunity to set your (heavy) gun down. And there are other times when lugging around a gun that weighs the same as a gallon of house paint really, really hurts.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

The primary design idea behind the Browning Citori 725 Feather is, you guessed it, light weight. My evaluation sample was a 12-gauge Feather model with 28-inch barrels. It weighs in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces. If you compare to the equivalent Field (non-Feather) model, the 28-inch barrel model weighs just about a full pound more at 7 pounds, 8 ounces. That adds up over a day in the field. Imagine taping a can of lima beans to the Citori 725 Feather, and now you’re carrying a standard weight over-and-under.

Where did the weight go? Unlike the Field model, with its all-steel receiver, the Feather uses an alloy receiver. The breech face and hinge pin are still constructed from steel for durability.

A Quick and Dirty Tour

OK, so we’ve established that the Citori 725 Feather is light. Now let’s take a look at what else it offers.

pistol grip checkering-1

The pistol grip area features cut 20-line-per-inch checkering.

Chambers are cut for 3-inch shells if you want to shoot the big-boy stuff. And you can do this thanks to a variety of felt-recoil-reducing features that we’ll talk about later. First on that list is that the Citori 725 has a lower-profile receiver. If you look at it compared to a “standard” over-and-under receiver, you’ll see that the top of the receiver is somewhere between ⅛ and ¼ inch lower than normal. This lowers the recoil force just a tad, which helps prevent muzzle jump. The more inline the bore, the more natural, and less painful, a gun feels.

In terms of dimensions, the overall length is 45 ¾ inches with a 14 ¼ inch length of pull. Drop at the comb is 1 ⅝ inches and drop at the heel is 2 ¼ inches. You can order the Feather with either 26-or 28-inch barrels.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Meet the Shotgun!

Double barrel shotgunLet’s take a look at what makes a shotgun a shotgun.

If you rely on Hollywood for your information, a shotgun can never miss and is capable of knocking a 1970 Pontiac GTO clear across Hazzard County.

In reality, they’re not quite that impressive, but a shotgun is one very versatile gun. Competition, recreation, hunting and home defense—a shotgun can do it all.

Before we get into types of shotguns and their various uses, let’s talk about what a shotgun is. A shotgun used to be a gun with a smooth (non-rifled) bore that fired multiple pellet projectiles. As with everything, the lines got blurry because gun people like to invent new stuff. Now some shotguns can fire single projectiles, have rifled barrels and are available as handguns.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s consider a shotgun as a shoulder-fired gun that has a smooth bore and is intended to fire ammunition loaded with multiple pellet projectiles. Even with this basic definition, the versatility of a shotgun is evident.

The versatility comes from shotgun ammunition, commonly called shot. Shot type is identified by number. The higher the number, the smaller the pellet size. For example, 000 buck shot shells have pellets that measure .36 inches in diameter. That’s the same diameter as a .357 Magnum bullet! Number 9 shot shells have a gazillion tiny pellets that measure .080 inches in diameter. There are about a dozen options in between. If you require longer range and more power, you can use a shell with fewer, but larger and heavier pellets. If you’re shooting at clay targets or bird hunting, you can use a shell with many smaller and lighter pellets. Using the same gun, you can customize your ammo choice for the job.

We need to talk about one more thing before we get into types of shotguns—choke. Think of a choke tube as a nozzle you put on a garden hose. If you put a small nozzle on the end, the water stream gets narrower and shoots farther. It’s the same thing with a shotgun choke tube. For example, a “full choke” tube constricts the diameter of the muzzle, causing the pellets to compress into a tighter cloud.

Types of Shotguns

There are three common types of shotguns: break action, pump and semi-automatic. We’ll lump the more unusual designs into the “other” category. Let’s take a look at each.

Read the rest at the National Shooting Sports Foundation!

Mossberg FLEX System: When One Gun Is Enough

I’ve seen magazine ads for the Mossberg FLEX system for sometime now, but have not had the opportunity to kick the tires, so to speak, until now.

The Mossberg FLEX system allows you to swap stocks, grips and butt pads quickly and easily.

The Mossberg FLEX system allows you to swap stocks, grips and butt pads quickly and easily.

If you’re not familiar with the Mossberg FLEX, the idea is a system of interchangeable parts, like stocks, grips, buttpads and forends, that allow you to quickly and easily reconfigure a rifle or shotgun. There are plenty of good reasons you might want to do this.

  • Seasonal clothing changes. If your shotgun or rifle fits you perfectly in the cold months when you wear heavy clothing, it might be a bit long in the stock during the summer t-shirt months.
  • You may want to share the same rifle or shotgun with another person who requires a different length of pull than you – a child for instance?
  • Maybe you want to use one gun for hunting and home defense. Why not mount a solid stock for hunting outings and a collapsible for home defense use?
Butt pads are a piece of cake to swap. A button on the bottom of the stock releases one, so you can add a different size.

Butt pads are a piece of cake to swap. A button on the bottom of the stock releases one, so you can add a different size.

Before I saw the system I had hesitations about the about how solid this the mounts would be. After all, the stock is the focal point for heavy recoil forces in shotguns and rifles. At the recent Professional Outdoor Media Conference (POMA) I had the opportunity to swap some stocks and shoot.

I found the locking system to be rock solid and here’s why. Mossberg uses zinc fixtures on both male and female sides of the locking mechanism between the stock and receiver. The locking mechanism is similar and appearance and function to AR style barrel extension and bolt carrier the way the two pieces locked together. A semicircular lever lifts out of the stock itself and twists 90° to release the mechanism. A quick bump with your hand and the two halves come apart. It’s a tight fit and I could detect no “play” at all between the receiver and stock.

You can also swap the butt pad for different sizes with a simple button release on the bottom of the stock. The butt pads are designed to snap in place and are available in small, medium and large sizes. Mossberg also offers different sizes of stocks blanks so you actually have two ways to customize. First you choose the stock you want, then select the desired butt pad. Couldn’t be easier.

Mossberg makes the FLEX system for 12 gauge 500 series shotguns, 7.62mm and 5.56mm MVP bolt action magazine fed rifles, 20 gauge shotguns and now FLEX-22 rifles.

Cool stuff.

What Do You Need To Shoot 3 Guns At Night? Loadout for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Later this week, I’m going to run around shooting guns in the pitch dark. Just for fun.

The Crimson Trace midnight 3 Gun Invitational event takes place far from city lights outside of Bend, Oregon. The matches begin at 9 or 10pm each night and continue until 3am or so. So it will be dark. Really dark. All three guns – shotgun, rifle and pistol – will need a 100 lumen light at minimum. Lasers will help  make target designation faster. Night vision gear is allowed, but I’ll take that plunge next year if I’m able to attend.

Since Crimson Trace is sponsoring the event, I’m choosing to equip with everything possible from Crimson Trace products. Just to see what’s possible with the current product line. Here’s a breakdown of the gear I’m bringing:

Glock 17 Crimson Trace lightguard lasergrips 9mm

Glock 17 Gen 4 – It’s hard to beat a double-stack polymer wonder gun for this type of event. High round count, low-recoiling 9mm ammo, easy availability of Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a rail to attach a Crimson Trace Lightguard makes this a strong contender or the ideal M3GI pistol.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Glock Lasergrips

Crimson Trace Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact – I like this specific version as it’s compatible with a Crimson Trace Lightguard. The laser features a rear-activated pressure switch while the Lightguard has a front-activation switch. There’s also a positive on/off button to save battery life when you’re shooting in daylight conditions.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear lightguard Glock 17

Crimson Trace Lightguard for Glock – Blasting out 100 lumens of light with 2 hours of continuous operation, this light will make target identification easy for anything within pistol distance.

Smith  Wesson M P 15 VTAC 8  1

Smith & Wesson M&P 15 VTAC – With a 1:7 twist barrel, this rifle shines with heavier projectiles at longer range. While this match, given the dark conditions, will have all targets inside of 200 yards, how can I not bring this honey? The Viking Tactics JP hand guard allows you to mount sling attachments and rail segments just about anywhere you want.

Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24 12  2

Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-6.5×24 with BTR-2 reticleI reviewed this a while back and loved the flexibility. With a first focal plane reticle, it acts like a red dot at true 1x power and a moderate range scope when zoomed in. It should be perfect for nighttime targets from 25 to 100 yards away.

Switchview 679

MGM Switchview – You know MGM Targets right? The folks that make all those fun steel plates and critters to shoot at? Well, they also have a nifty little accessory for rifle optics with a zoom ring. The Switchview lever clamps over the zoom ring and features a “throw bar” lever to make adjusting power level fast and easy. It also offers a great visual indicator as to how the scope is currently set. If you’re shooting in the pitch dark, like at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun event, you can feel the current zoom setting on your optic!

Crimson Trace MVF 515 673

Crimson Trace MVF-515 Modular Vertical Foregrip – I’ve used this in daylight and dusk conditions but can’t wait to shoot it in the dark. Dual touch controls on both sides operate either a green laser and/or a 150 to 200 lumen tactical light. Couldn’t be more intuitive.

Vtac ug main

Viking Tactics Padded Sling – Love, love, love this sling. Here’s why. It’s two point attachment allows you to brace the rifle for steadier shooting and of course tote your rifle around. It’s got quick-adjust tabs that allow you to instantly tighten the sling, or loosen it for shooting. You can even flip the rifle to your offside shoulder without removing the sling. The rifle carries well muzzle down in the front or muzzle up in the back without adjusting the sling straps. Oh, and it’s padded for comfort. Highly recommended!

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Magpul PMAG Window

Magpul PMAG 30 Gen 3 Window Magazines – PMAGs. Need I say more? With windows to see how many rounds you have left.

Mossberg JM Pro Tactical Class  1

Mossberg JM Pro Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Look for a full review on this one soon. In short, it’s part of the Mossberg 930 Signature Series and this one has Jerry Miculek behind the design. If you need more than the 9+1 capacity to deal with your targets, you might want to bring some friends with guns.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear RailMaster Light

Crimson Trace RailMaster Universal Tactical Light – I’m actually bringing this along with no intention of using it. Currently, I have it mounted on a rail segment on the Mossberg JM Pro. With 100 lumens of light and a constant on switch, it will work great for shotgun distance targets. Hopefully it will get left in my shooting back for the event. Read the next segment to see why.
? Crimson Trace CMR-204 Combination Light / Laser – Word has it that these soon-to-be-released units will be available to test at the match. So, if my assumptions are correct about this being a rail mounted unit with integrated light and laser, it will be taking the place of the RailMaster light currently strapped on to the Mossberg JM Pro!
Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  4 Mesa Tactical SureShell ShotShell Side Saddle Shell Carrier – Say that 10 times fast. Now again, but in Cantonese. When 10 rounds of 12 gauge isn’t enough, reach for some reloads on the side of your receiver. The match format calls for low-volume shot gun reloads so this should provide perfect insurance against the occasional miss.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Cyclops LED visor light

Cyclops Solutions LED Hat Clip Light – The whole place will be pitch dark! So I’m bringing this nifty little device I found on a recent trip out west. It’s a 3 LED light that clips on to the brim of most any hat. Turn it on and illuminate whatever is in front of your face. Unfortunately I’ll probably be sulking over my scorecard with this piece of gear.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Safariland ELS competition belt

Safariland ELS Competition Belt and Magazine Carriers – Another review in progress, the Safariland ELS system is impressive. An inner belt goes through your pants belt loops. The outside of the inner belt is velcro. The outer belt is pretty rigid stuff with a velcro lining. This sticks on to the inner belt and is surprisingly secure. The outer belt features 118,839 holes (my estimate) that are used to attach ELS plate “sockets.” Accessories like magazine carriers, holsters, shotshell carriers, rifle magazine carriers, light pouches and duty gear are attached by mounting the male portion of the “plate sockets” to the individual accessory. You can easily add and remove components depending on your match or duty requirements. It’s really, really flexible. I’m configuring the belt with two Glock magazine pouches, two shotshell carriers, two AR magazine punches and a holster. I might add a Bat grappling hook system if I have time.

Desantis Speed Scabbard Glock Lightguard

DeSantis Speed Scabbard Holster for Glock 17,19,22,23 with Crimson Trace Lightguard or Laserguard – This is really more of a concealed carry holster for Glocks equipped with Lightguard tactical lights. It’s made of leather, not Kydex and does not feature a reinforced mouth for quick reholstering. As the match stages all end with pistol, the way I’m shooting them anyway, this will be fine. I’m really excited to use this as a CCW holster after the match.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear SportEar hearing protection

SportEar XT4 Electronic Earmuffs – I picked up a set of these at the Shooting Industry Masters event and have used them ever since. Not only do the electronics block out dangerous sound levels over 85dB, they amplify nearby sounds up to eight times. Separate frequency adjustment knobs allow you to tune the system to hear things like range commands and quiet noises like a twig snapping in the woods.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear 685

Cabelas Armor Xtreme Double Long-Gun Hard Case – This case is a tank. Made of sturdy, high-impact resin, it has four crank-down locks and accepts two padlocks for travel. You can cut the center foam layer to fit your specific toting needs. It’s got a gasket seal and is water and airtight. A pressure release valve makes it cool for air travel. Most important feature? Lifetime warranty!
blackhawk padded weapons case Blackhawk Padded Weapons Case – This two rifle soft case is what I’ll use while at the range. The Cabelas Armor Xtreme is for travel while this one is for range use. A padded interior with divider allows you to easily carry to long guns. Extra pockets accommodate magazines and range gear. You can even unzip this case all the way to configure it as a shooting mat.

Danner Rivot TFX Hot Military Boots

Danner Rivot GTX Hot Military Boots – Danner has graciously provided these for the match. I’ve been wearing them the past few weeks to break them in and already it’s clear these are not only comfortable, but durable.

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields – We reviewed these a while back and found them to be some of the best eye protection that money can buy, short of full combat goggles.

Think that’s enough? Let’s see how I fare with the TSA gauntlet of molestation…

Scope Review: Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

The Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others

Somewhat like Captain Jack Sparrow, the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope easily adapts to all sorts of situations. Originally designed as a crossbow optic, people quickly realized that it was fit for more combustible applications. As I’ll show in more detail, it has 3 easy-to acquire aiming points which you can use to identify both near and far zeros for your particular rifle, crossbow or shotgun.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope  3

The Hawke 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others. Crossbows, AR-15′s and shotguns to name a few.

 Just the facts about the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope…

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope illumination

The left side-wheel operates the illuminated reticle. Both red and green illumination is available and each color offers five levels of brightness. The “crosses” illuminate – see the reticle image below for detail. The illumination feature is powered by a single CR2032 battery – available most anywhere. Just unscrew the reticle brightness control knob cap to replace the battery.

 Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope windage and elevation

As this is a 1x optic, you’re probably not going to use the windage and elevation controls while shooting. They’re more for adjusting your zero as you change rifles and ammunition types. You might even move this to a crossbow! Each click adjusts the point of impact by 1/2 MOA, or just a hair over a half an inch at 100 yards. I found this to be plenty of granularity to get my favorite .223 load on target. The turrets are finger adjustable, and once you get your settings right, just screw the protective caps back on.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope reticle

Clarity of the scope was really good, with no discernible loss of focus or brightness as you look to the edges of the scope. The photo here shows a view at a berm about 110 yards away. The long horizontal and vertical bars made targeting fast and easy. Also as this photo shows, the cross aiming points show as black when illumination is not turned on. There’s really no need to use the illumination feature unless you’re in early or end of day low light conditions. One more thing – the top of the vertical bar is another aiming point – we’ll talk more about that below.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope coated lens

Lenses are multi-coated and I found visibility to be good. While the objective is 32mm, the tube is 1 inch in diameter.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope mount

Keeping this an all Hawke Optics solution, I used the Hawke 1″ 2-Piece, Reach Forward mounts. As you can see in the photo, this left quite a bit of remaining adjustment play both on the rail and in the scope rings. The eye relief in the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is very generous so you can put this scope pretty much anywhere on the receiver rail. The specs indicate that eye relief is 8 inches. It’s not intended to be a scout scope so you’ll get some shadowing if you try to put it on the front rail. While testing, I placed the scope so the rear lens was about an inch forward of the rear of the receiver. This provided great visibility and unhindered access to the charging handle.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose BRC reticle

Hawke Optics offers free ballistics software for Mac, PC, iPhones and iPads and Android devices. The BRC software has the Hawke reticles and a bunch of cartridge profiles built-in, so you can quickly tell it you’re using the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope with an AR-15. As I was using practice hand loads, I adjusted the actual velocity to 2,700 feet per second instead of the default 3,250. As this is a 1x optic, and I’m half blind, I chose a 200 yard zero. not to actually shoot at 200 yards, but because the “near” zero point for the primary aiming cross works out to 42.2 yards. You can see on the image here that the left columns shows near zero distances while the column on the right shows far zero distances. Using my specially calibrated tennis shoes, I paced off 42 yards and added a bit more. Sure enough, I was right on target with the primary (top) aiming point in the reticle.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Hawke BRC software tells me, that for this reticle, with my specific load and velocity, what the aiming points are for the lower cross and the top of the vertical post – 6.3 and 4.3 yards respectively. So I moved my target in to 6.3 yards, again using my Imperial system calibrated shoes and paced off 6.3 yards. Again, right on target. same with the top of the vertical post aim point at 4.3 yards. Depending on where you set your primary zero, and which load you use, you can develop a useful scenario where you know point of impact for both very short and very long-range. This is particularly handy with AR-15 applications. As the center of AR-15 optics is generally about 2.5 inches above the bore, you normally have to compensate for short-range shots. With the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope, you simply use one of the lower two aiming points to put you right on target at “inside the home” distances.
Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose BRC software

The Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose BRC software comes preloaded with all of the Hawke Optics reticles so you can easily work out point of aim and impact solutions. Here’s the data we used for AR-15 testing with a 2,700 foot per second .223 Remington load.

 

Closing Arguments

The practical flexibility of this optic is just plain cool. I’ve been using it on an AR-15 with great success. My daughter just got a Barnett Jackal crossbow, so the weekend project will be to equip it with the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope and see how that works. Our first step will be to configure the Hawke BRC software with the Jackal’s ballistic data. Here’s the initial report based on the bolt velocity of the Jackal. By the way, crossbow data is preloaded into Hawke BRC software and you can tweak variables like velocity.

Hawke BRC Crossbow data

The Hawke BRC Software give us this projected aim point and range data for the Barnett Jackal crossbow.

So, looking at the right column of far aim point data, we see that the three default aim points correspond to ranges of 20, 40 and 50 yards.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the value of this one. Retailing at $129.99, the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is a great option to consider if you’re on a tight budget. Add the benefit of moving it around from rifle to crossbow to shotgun and you’ve got a winner.

Available Here Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

You Don’t Have To Aim A Shotgun

Shooting Myths Explained

Fact or Fiction?  You Don’t have to aim a shotgun!

Not many people know this, but shotguns were invented by actor Val Kilmer for use in the movie Tombstone. Kilmer needed a weapon capable of taking out a whole posse of Clantons and McLaurys – without much aiming. Hence the invention of a weapon capable of being fired from the hip, while giving the camera a sexy look.

A lot of people believe shotguns are great home defense guns, and easy to use, because you don’t really have to aim. If you just point one in the general direction and fire, it will clean house so to speak. Right?

Well, in The Terminator movie franchise, that’s how they work. In the real world, shotguns need a little more skill in order to be effective.

Just because a shotgun fires multiple projectiles – BB’s, pellets, buckshot or whatever you want to call them – that doesn’t mean that the shot spreads out like a giant cloud of locust intent on devouring a field of ripe Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes. It’s important to remember that the shot leaves the barrel of your shotgun in a “cloud” exactly the diameter of your barrel. That’s a pretty small cloud. To put it in absolute terms, the shot “cloud” leaving a 12 gauge shotgun measures just about ¾ of an inch in diameter.

While it’s true that shot projectiles spread out more the farther they travel from the barrel, they typically stay in a pretty tight pattern at realistic distances. That’s what that shotgun barrel does after all – keep the shot all together while it launches towards the target. If we’re talking self defense, a realistic distance is some fraction of the interior of your house – like across a room or down the hall.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of range tests to see exactly how much the shot spreads out at realistic “inside your home” distances.

First, we’ll try buckshot. Buckshot loads contain a small number of very large pellets. In the first example, we’re using 00 (double ought) buckshot shells, which have 9 pellets that measure just about ⅓ inch in diameter. Typically, buckshot loads like this one will only create a “cloud” a few inches in diameter at short distances.

RIO Royal Buck buckshot pattern

This 12 gauge buckshot load (9 pellets) was fired at the target from an “inside the home” distance of 18 feet.

If you choose to use shotshells with a smaller pellet size, the cloud of short will typically spread out a little bit faster. Even still, at short distances, we’re still talking a few inches.

Let’s take a look at Number 1 size shot pellets. Number 1 size pellets are about .16” in diameter, or about half the size of the 00 buckshot we tested. The Remington shotshells we tested contain about 125 of the Number 1 pellets per shell.

Remington number 1 Shot pattern

This Number 1 shot stayed in a pattern about 6″ in diameter at a distance of 18 feet.

Finally, we tried really small birdshot – Number 7 ½. These shells have pellets that are only 0.095” in diameter and these particular 7/8 ounce shells have about 306 pellets. As you can see, this very small shot spreads out even more, but still, at a distance of 18 feet, the pattern still falls within 8 inches with most of the density within a 3 inch circle.

Federal Target shotgun Load

The Number 7 1/2 shot spread out to 6 inches, but most of the pellets fit in a 3 inch circle.

The shotgun we used for these simple tests was a Mossberg JM Pro. It has a butt stock that’s just about 12” long. So if you held it like a club and tried to whack someone with it, you’d have to aim less than if you fired it.

The bottom line?

You still have to aim a shotgun.

Half-Cocked: Happy 2012!

Happy-20-12

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas… Twelve Gauges Shooting

musical-notes

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…
Twelve gauges shooting…

musical-notes

 

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Benelli M2 Tactical Shotgun
Benelli has a great assortment of self-defense shotguns, but we’ve gotta go with one of the inertia-cycled semi-automatic models. Hate cleaning that gas junk in shotguns after all – we’d rather save that time for eating pie over the holidays.As long as you’re shooting 1 ounce or heavier 2.5” or 3” loads, you should be good to go in terms of semi-auto reliability.Oh, and we’re going old school without the pistol grip option. But we are getting the ComfortTech stock to minimize shoulder pummeling.

 

musical-notes

musical-notes

Eleven ounces AR bling…
Ten toys for loading…
9mm Kimber Solo-ing…
Eight Guns for Plinking…
Seven lasers aiming…
Six scales a weighing…
Five magnum things…
Four written words…
Three tactical pens…
Two shooting gloves
And a Smith and Wesson M and P

410HandGuns.com – Judging the .410 Handgun

hCharter Arms El Presidente 40mm Grenade

What’s the effectiveness of your 40mm handgun?

Ever-vigilant in our efforts to bring you the latest shooting industry scoop, we recently crashed the POMA Annual Conference in Ogden, UT. In addition to learning that POMA is a front for a top-secret Zombie Apocalypse Preparation Society, we met some interesting folks with new ideas.

One of those was Gil Horman, frequent contributor to AmericanRifleman.org. In his spare time, Gil has designed and built a new standard testing methodology for the slew of .410 handguns and ammunition now entering the market such as the Taurus Judge, Smith & Wesson Governor, Magnum Research BFR and Bond Arms Snake Slayer. This new performance measurement philosophy is highlighted on a new site, 410Handguns.com.

As long as we can remember, standard testing protocols for standard handguns have been widely abused used. Set up targets at 25 yards, shoot at them from a free-handed hold position, report two or three inch groups, and not-so-subtly hint to the world what a great shooter you are while claiming to have ascertained the mechanical accuracy of the gun in question. Right.

But we digress. Whether or not the standard handgun testing protocols are horse-hockey or not, there is no real standard of any value for objectively measuring .410 handguns with various loads. Enter 410Handguns.com.

According to Horman, the idea is to establish meaningful measurements for different types of loads – bird shot and buck shot pellets – while documenting performance at varying real-world combat distances. The FIST Test Protocol establishes both percentage of strike and group size standards depending on the load type.

410Handguns.com does not only propose standardized testing methodology, it puts it to work. Having tested hundreds of gun / load combinations, 410Handguns.com presents tabular results that allow site users to see how various loads perform in their handgun, or vice-versa. Handy stuff.

Pressed to share in about future enhancements to the site, Horman was reluctant to offer details. However, we’ve learned that work is already under way on development of Huge@ssHandguns.com where the Charter Arms El Presidente Model will be tested with a variety of high explosive, incendiary, and armor penetrating loads. Horman refused to confirm or deny speculation that the site would launch at SHOT 2012 Media Day. Calls to the Las Vegas High-Explosive Zoning Commission have not been returned.

Horman was able to confirm some details of 410Handguns.com short term plans. Next on the testing agenda is .410 Rubber Buckshot. 410handGuns.com will be validating the relative effectiveness of the classic  “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you shoot bounces off me and sticks to you” defense. Results should be published shortly after infinity plus one.

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