Shooting miscellany

Here are a few bits and pieces that have crossed my path, or my consciousness, in recent weeks.

First off, buckshot.  I highly recommend Federal’s Flite Control rounds as one’s primary buckshot load for defensive use.  I prefer the #1 buckshot reduced-recoil (i.e. slower muzzle velocity) cartridge (15 pellets per load), but others choose 00 buck in standard-velocity or reduced-recoil rounds.  The special Flite Control shot cups hold the load together quite a long distance from the muzzle, so that even out to 30 yards, most of the pellets will hit a human-size target.  Most ‘conventional’ buckshot is lucky to get half as far without some of the pellets drifting off target, and at 30 yards, you’ll be lucky to get two or three buckshot pellets in the kill zone.

However, it’s often hard to find Federal Flite Control buckshot.  Many stores simply don’t stock it, partly because it’s a premium round (and therefore more expensive), and others because they concentrate on hunting rather than tactical firearms and ammunition.  There’s a good, and reasonably low-cost, second choice;  Sellier & Bellot’s 12-pellet 00 buckshot round.  It’s also hard to find, but if you do an online search, you’re likely to locate some.  (Note that I’m talking about the 12-pellet round here, not the cheaper 9-pellet load.  Be sure to search for the former.)  It patterns very tightly in most shotguns in which I’ve tried it.  Tamara tried some a couple of years ago, and found the same thing (and also noted the superior tightness of the Federal Flite Control pattern).

So, if you want good defensive buckshot rounds, Federal Flite Control is still top of the heap;  but the 12-pellet 00 buckshot Sellier & Bellot load isn’t bad, and it may pleasantly surprise you (or unpleasantly surprise someone on the other end of your muzzle).  As always, test some of the rounds in your own shotgun to find out how it patterns for you.  Here’s an article on how to pattern your shotgun for birdshot rounds;  for buckshot, I recommend shooting at 25 or 30 yards instead of 40, and a human head-and-torso life-size silhouette instead of a 30″ circle.

Next, a couple of folks have complained that ported firearms such as the Taurus Tracker or Model 44, which I’ve reviewed and recommended in their .44 Magnum versions, are too ‘noisy’ for prolonged use.  I have to admit, they have a point;  but I don’t know anyone who uses these things for casual plinking, without ear protection!  They’re meant to be used with earplugs and/or muffs.  Given that protection, the louder noise from the ported barrels isn’t a problem at all.  Certainly, I’d hate to have to fire one inside a car, or in my bedroom at night – but I don’t use them for that purpose.  I have other firearms, better suited to such environments.  The ported barrel does make recoil control easier, and enables faster repeat shots.  That’s what it’s there for.  The added noise is not pleasant, but given proper equipment, it’s not a problem, either.

Finally, here’s a US Marine showing us how to cook bacon in the field . . . er . . . sort of.



  1. That Power-Flite is good stuff. My Brother killed a wild hog at approximately 40 yards with his Remington 870 pump CYLINDER BORE, the 1st shot wounding it enough for it to fall in place. A 2nd shot with his handgun at close range made it a humane shot. The pattern (he told me) was only about a foot in size – not bad at all.

    Pretty cool bacon tip, wonder if the bacon grease coats the bullet on the way out. Maybe convincing enough to scare Muslim Terrorists.

  2. Absolute must: click on the banner "Leadership Lessons from Ge. James Mattis".
    Well worth the time spent listening.

    (more than meets the brows)

  3. The SEALs found loads of #4 buck were the most effective. British SAS uses "SSG" which is between #3 & #4. Other SOF types, that I've come across, that use shotguns use the same sort of thing.

  4. I have read various articles suggesting #3 or #4 buck for self defense. There are significantly more pellets in the shell when you step down in size, with minimal loss of force per pellet. I think Peter Capstick even comments upon the smaller pellets in one of his books where he talks about using a shotgun as last resort for a charging leopard.

  5. @Quartermaster: #4 buck works very well on smaller-statured people, such as are commonly encountered in South-East Asia. It's less effective on heavier-set individuals, because it doesn't penetrate deeply enough to reach vital organs.

    SSG was common in South Africa, where I learned to use a shotgun. It's between #1 and #2 buckshot in American terms. AAA was also common; it's much closer to #4 – but it had the same issue of lack of penetration.

    @Fishlaw: The comments above apply. Peter Capstick's recommendation was for #1 buckshot. He covered the subject of buckshot extensively in two articles for US magazines, and in his books.

    For an impartial discussion of shotgun ammunition effectiveness, read the following articles:

    Note that some of the links provided in those articles no longer work. However, they both support Peter Capstick's thesis.

  6. On the cooking bit… Take one chicken, stuff with a few small onions, wrap in heavy duty foil and bind on to your troop carrier engine manifold with any wire available… it tells you when ready to eat…

  7. 1- Honestly anything 'buck' works fine. Between them is a largely pointless debate.

    2- To distance. Measure the longest distance in your house. Look at actual self defense situations. It's good to know what your chosen load will do at 20/30/40 yards for reference, but let's be real you'll be shooting under 10uds.

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