410 Shotguns - would you use one on a driven day

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Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
I know this is a stalking forum, but everybody seems helpful and friendly so am sure you will indulge me asking this question.

Earlier this year I managed to acquire an old English double barrelled 410 by William Jeffery. It is a proper boxlock - a lovely little thing with a long stock, but in a tatty condition when I acquired it. The woodwork has been cleaned up and the bulk of the dents and scratches removed aong with the layers of grime and it is now away having the action tightened and bores cleaned up a bit.

I have shot it at clays and it shoots very well and shatters them just like a bigger gun. It only shots 1/2 oz of shot but the pattern is dense and tight - you have to be accurate but it does the business when you centre the pattern. When I have used 410s int he past I have always been amazed at how deadly they are provided you keep the range to 30ish yds.

I think it will become my favourite for pottering along hedgerows but would any of you use it for driven game - especially driven partridges that tend to come low and fast.

I know small bores tend to give rise to mixed emotions.

Many thanks

Heym SR20


Site Staff
This really brings us back to the old chestnut calibre debate. My personal view in this, just as in the calibre debate, if it works for you then yes, use it. You know you cannot bang away at high birds with it, you know the limitations of the gun and yourself, so working within those use it.



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I'd say try it and if it works for you then that's what matters.

I use a 12 bore, and it doesn't half kick.

Given the effective range of what 35-40 yds? I wonder whether a few extra yards is worth the punishment.

I am now looking for a 20 bore or smaller to try out. I suppose it means I'm not a real man, but who cares?

Never fired a 410, but I bet they're sweet things to use.


Well-Known Member
410 for pheasants

I would most certainly give a try as long as its not a big formal day a small syndicate shoot may be . Depending on the lay out of the drives if not to hilly out of cover crops or woodland give it a go . But take your normal gun along in case you get disillusioned after the first drive and stuck with it for the rest of the day . On the two shoots i run you would not be under gunned on most drives if as you say it kills well out to thirty yards give it a go you may be surprised MUDDY


Well-Known Member

If you can shoot well with it the cal is not important.

Snow storm just be a little warey of swaping a 12 for a 20 for less kick;

A 20 is lighter and what a lot of people do to get good results from a 20 is put more lead through it.

a 12 and a 20 firing 28 grams of lead will have the same amount of energy going backwards when the gun is fired but because the 20 is lighter the felt recoil will be more severe.

It might be worth trying a lighter cartridge, I saw some lads at the clay ground the other day using 21 gram 12 bore carts. my own shotgun has a weight in the but to balance it perfectly probably no more than 1 lb and the differance of kick with the weight to standard is noticeable.

Personaly when I started shooting I used to get batterd and bruised with the kick but now I am used to It I regularly fire 100 carts with no problems.



Well-Known Member
The only thing I would be warey of is the 410 only fires reltively light loads so you might 'prick' more than you would if you were using a 12g with say 32gr of no 5 shot in them. Try it on a pattern plate at 30m to see.

A. where it shoots.
B. how tight the pattern is.
AFter you do this go to a clay ground and try it on a decent driven stand to see if you get on with it.

All the best

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all your replies. I have patterned it and the pattern whilst smaller in diameter than my open choked 12 is in fact denser so provided a bird is centred in the pattern it will be hit by the same number of No6 or No7 pellets as a larger guage.

410 is lovely to shoot - it weighs 4 lbs 5 oz, no recoil and very quiet. You have to conciously keep it swinging though, since not a lot of weight. And have tried it on a driven stand and OK am not hitting quite as many as with a 12, but still hitting a good enough number.

I will indeed try it out on a couple of smaller days with friends, but will keep to the 12 if invited for a bigger day.

Re 12s and 20s kicking - with a 12, make sure it fits properly and I must admit tend to using 1oz load for preference - kills just as well as bigger loads. 20s - use the old 20 bore load of 3/4 oz and its sweet, any more and they kick like anything - the worst kicking gun I know is a heavy load in a 20 especialy if the stock is too short.

They used to say 6lbs of gun for every 1 oz of shot.

Many thanks


Well-Known Member
I don't want to offend, but generaly bruising is caused by poor gun mounting rather than bore size. Lorrayne (my wife) was taught to shoot as oposed to me, self taught. I get far more mis-mounts than her simply because she practises more than me. :oops:

If my sweet wife can get through 100 cartridges three or four times a week, I'm sure any of us big tough guys can manage! (I have to work hard just to keep up with the ammo costs).

I should add, she does use a 24gram load, not a 28gram (1oz) which might help.

If you can, use a plastic wad for practice as this will again reduce felt recoil.

For those of you who met us at the Quex museum, and were perhaps beaten by my wife, I'm proud to tell you Lorrayne is now Bucks lady champion in sport trap. I'm dead proud of her! :D

Kind regards,


Well-Known Member
Keeper might not appreciate it if you let a lot of birds pass over because they are out of range on a let day but if it gives you pleasure to use it then why not.


paul k

Well-Known Member
I think that we have a responsibility to do all that we can to kill birds cleanly if we shoot at them. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the general perceived wisdom that the best birds are high birds as, by definition, the chances of a clean kill are less.

To use a .410 on a driven day with birds reasonably well presented is to either just pick out the lower birds and annoy the keeper or intentionally shoot in the knowledge that more birds are going to be pricked.

I would personally not regard that as acceptable and I would use nothing less than a 20 bore (which I do frequently) on a driven day and a 12 bore if high birds were a feature on the shoot in question. Even with a 12 bore my kill ratio on a good day is only about 70% which needs improving and which means that at least 30% of what I shoot at might be pricked or hopefully missed clean.

I think that the place for a .410 is on a "stand and walk", walked up or rough shoot where shots are often taken at closer range and a .410 can be very effective and much lighter to carry around. They are also very handy whilst ferreting.


Well-Known Member
I agree with JAYB. Practice with it and if you'r confident with the gun and cartridge combination then use it. For general shooting I wouldn't use anything larger than English no 7's as they have just enough energy for pheasants out to 40 yards. If shooting rabbits in heavy cover at ranges of 4 to 5 yards I would reccommend bb's as they will penetrate cover, kill but not blow the rabbit apart- a rather specialised load for aspecialised situation and not for the inexperienced.

If the people you are shooting with are disparaging about the caliber or the gun change the people you shoot with rather than the gun.

Snowstorm, apart fron having the gun checked out for fit and tightness test for headspace. Try putting a cartridge into the chamber and then closing the gun, (to be safe use an empty case 'loaded' with sand and recrimped), then take a cleaning rod and insert it into the muzzle. push against the end of the cartridge and check how far you can push the cartridge back. You can then establish the gap between the breech face and the head of the cartridge . The less movement the better as there will be less recoil with a smaller headspace. A good gunsmith can rectify this but it may be cheaper to change the gun. If shooting big bore shotguns it is beneficial to have brass cases turned to fit the chamber of a particular gun in order to improve performance and minimise recoil. It works!



Well-Known Member

I'd use it on every day I could! In fact, as soon as I have a few quid together I'll be getting one!

I'm down to a 28 bore now for most of my game shooting where I'm not expecting to see anything much beyond 45 yards all day. If I am fortunate enough to go somewhere where they will be higher than that I take a 12. The gun would do it, I don't trust myself to shoot well enough with it...

As you say, little guns turn clays inside out and belive me they are capable of decking some high and wide game birds. I tend to shoot 3/4 oz 5 1/2's through skeet & 1/4 chokes in the 28 but have shot 5/8 oz loads in it, no discernable difference down range if you put another degree of choke in. I would think yours will be quite tightly choked so 1/2 oz will be fine. Just try it on a pattern sheet, you will be surprised how far that little thing will go.

Two last things, 1: make sure it fits properly because small bores will punish you for using a poorly fitting gun and 2: I suggest you try the continental small bore cartridges (especially the italian loads) as they seem to pay more attention to the quality of their small gauge loads.

If you have a good day with a little gun, you will feel like the god of pheasant shooting, if you have a bad day, its enough to make you wish you never got up!


P.S. If you're one for an excuse on a bad day, its the best there is!


Well-Known Member
Go for it Heym, I would think that when people started using 20 bores more, there where comments referring to a womans gun etc.
When I changed from a 12 to a 20 bore I never looked back :D
I changed because I had a back problem and found it hard to carry a 12 bore all day.
When I was shooting alot in the U.K with the 20 bore I shot absolutley out of this world one season and was toying with the idea of going to a 28 bore, but I never got round to it, good job realy as the next season i shot like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. :oops:
I have shot with people who shoot 28 bore and 410 and they know how to use them and most importantly their guns fit them.
A very good friend of mine runs simulated game days and he is a fantastic game shooter and I.M.O one of the finest instructers I have ever met; and he always told me just to keep that gun moving ! He also questioned my parentage and my scolastic abilities, :eek: but hey ho he was one man who could me to fetch them out of the sky !!
One thing that does puzzle me though, is when youngsters start shooting they are given 410`s, 20 bores etc, then, when they are a bit bigger, their given 12 bores, I.M.O when my little one starts shooting (he`s 9mnths old at mo) if he`s shooting with my 20 bore, I wouldn`t push him onto a 12 bore.


Well-Known Member
The late great Joe Nickerson shot like a god with a 28 so give it a go.

One thing though...take plenty of cartridges because no one will have any you can scrounge if you run out!


Well-Known Member
I use a .410, a 28-bore, a 20 and a 12 for driven game. I find the .410 is absolute mustard on driven partridge, and I have used it to good effect on early-season pheasants. It has its limitations, but punch and patterning are not two of them.

The Croc

Well-Known Member
I used to beat on a commercial shoot in Somerset and the Shoot Manager/owner shot with a 410, he would kill birds cleanly on some of the higher drives and often back gunned taking birds that were missed by the line (most of whom were shooting 12s)

As they say if it works for you do it.


Well-Known Member
I have seen people using the 410 on shoots before, you just need to be more accurate.

Just for you Thar, would you be wanting an 8 bore in here. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
Thanks Gentlemen for all your thoughts and advice re 410s. For driven days will definately take it with me, plus plenty of cartridges (but then a couple of boxes of 410s hardley wegh much!), but will also take my trusty AYA 12 that I know shoots very well.

But know just have to be patient whilst gunsmith cleans up the barrels and redoes the jointing so it doesn't rattle.

For those who have a hankering for one have a look in some of the forthcoming auctions - Holts etc, there are a few 410s and 28s in there, but judging by the recent one at Gleneagles good ones in very clean condition go for well above the estimates - clearly they are popular.

Heym SR20


Well-Known Member
nowt wrong with either a 410 or 28 gauge on lowland birds
on good high birds i do not recommend any thing smaller than a 20 gauge
plus the added difference
non toxic is a lot harder to obtain for any thing less than a 20 if there is a duck drive put on if numbers of shot birds are a little low by dinner
but you can always put old trusty in the motor with a few shells if things are not quite going your way and need a little uplift ;)
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