By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Though it isn’t the best for hunting outside of small game, the .410 bore (.410 is not a gauge like other shotguns – .410 would be 67 gauge) is enjoying something of a renaissance as a great round for self-defense. Much of it is thanks to .410/.45 Colt revolvers which – as you’d expect – aren’t as good of a shotgun as, well, an actual shotgun.
Granted, .410 bore actually has a lot to offer for home defense if employed judiciously. Birdshot is a non-starter as it’s barely lethal beyond point-blank range. It’s also not improved terribly by switching to buckshot, as even 3-inch shells contain only three or four pellets in many cases. The most you’re likely to find in a shell is five.
If you plan on backing up your home with buckshot, 20-gauge or 12-gauge are, of course, the better bets.
Instead, where .410 comes good is with slugs. Rifled barrels are better for use with slug or sabot rounds, but at home defense distances are not strictly necessary. There are even a few brands made for .410 pistols, though – as with any bullet/cartridge – you get better performance with a 16-inch barrel or longer. Thus, the best .410 gun for home defense will be a compact shotgun rather than a handgun.
Semi-autos abound in 12- and 20-gauge, but few – in fact, none that I’m aware of – in .410. Therefore, break-action doubles or manual operation shall be thy lot – though you might find a bolt-action in .410 somewhere on the used market. If you wanted to really dial it up, Henry and a few other companies are making lever-action shotguns.
So, there’s plenty of hardware. As to software, the best choice is going to be hollow point slugs, which will get significantly more zing from a 16- to 20-inch barrel of a shotgun as opposed to a 2- to 3-inch barrel from a revolver. Most .410 slugs have a .20- to .25-ounce projectile, which will achieve muzzle velocity somewhere between 1700 fps to 1900 fps, and roughly 650 ft-lbs to 900 ft-lbs of energy, depending on maker, barrel length and so on.
This puts the slug from a .410 shotgun roughly on par with .357 Magnum, 10mm and medium-power load of .41 Magnum, albeit with a lighter projectile. Therefore, it’s high-power but lower recoil. Since the gun will be a long gun, that means a .410 in home defense will be astoundingly handy, with fast follow-up shots.
Of course, use of a long gun with home defense requires practice in order to wield it accurately. Use of any gun in the home in a defensive capacity can be terribly risky. Handgun rounds, rifle rounds and indeed shotgun rounds any larger than birdshot will go through drywall and plywood like a hot knife through butter. It is critical, therefore, that you hit the target.
If you have an old side-by-side or pump-action in .410 bore laying around, unloved and unused, this is actually a good role for it. The 28- and 20-gauge chamberings have superseded it as the youth shotgun of choice and the 28-gauge is getting less common even in that role. So go ahead and relegate it to that duty. Or if you feel 12-gauge is too much, your home will still be adequately defended.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.