Letter Re: New High Performance .410 Shotgun Slugs for Self Defense?

Dear SurvivalBlog Editor,
Anyone considering the 410/.22 long rifle combo or any other 410 bore shotgun for survival use should take a look at the new state of the 410 slug. It is far more powerful than before and has potential as a defensive weapon against dangerous animals, human attack or as a big game getter. Those interested in details may find it at Hoening Big Bore South.
You may want to check this out occasionally as work continues on new loads for smooth bores and barrel offerings. – James Hoening

JWR Replies: In my estimation the standard factory .410 slug has been a poor choice for self defense. It is just barely capable of taking deer reliably at short range, and is certainly not to be trusted to reliably stop a two-legged varmint that is shooting back at you. The standard 1/5th ounce (87.5 grain) .410 slug used by Winchester and Remington has a muzzle velocity of 1,815 fps, and generates just 640 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. For comparison,.commercial .44 Magnum handgun ammunition uses a 240 grain bullet at 1,350 fps and generates 971 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (from a 6″ revolver barrel!) Centerfire deer rifles such as .308 Winchester are in another class altogether . The Federal Fusion 150 grain .308 soft nose spitzer load, for example, has a muzzle velocity of 2,820 fps and produces a muzzle energy of 2,650 ft. lbs. Mr. Hoening’s semi-custom .410 heavy slug load is impressive. It uses an un-crimped 375 grain slug at 1,500 fps that generates 1,873 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. Not bad for a little .410! I will definitely buy some to experiment with and to keep on hand in the event that our .410 shotgun ever gets pressed into service above and beyond its usual pest shooting tasks.

If readers want to use a shotgun for self defense, I still generally recommend that they use a 12 gauge, or a 20 gauge for smaller-statured shooters. The Brenneke 12 gauge (3″ shell) 1 ounce (437 grain) sabot slug has a muzzle velocity of 1,673 fps, and a muzzle energy of 2,686 ft. lbs. That is more than four times the energy of the standard .410 slug. The Hoening .410 slug heavy load (with a whompin’ 1,873 ft. lbs muzzle energy) is captivating, but unfortunately because of its non-standard overall length it cannot be cycled through pump or semi-auto shotguns. Unless someone were to practice extensively for rapid reloading with a .410 short-barrel double-barreled ejector shotgun (coach gun style), then this limits the Hoening heavy slugs to use as a hunting load, rather than a self-defense load. The less powerful standard length Hoening roll-crimped .410 slug load can be cycled through a repeating shotgun, and has a velocity of 1,200 fps and a muzzle energy of 1,199 ft. lbs. This might suffice as a deer hunting load, but in my opinion it stills falls short of what is needed for self defense.