.410 bore

The .410 bore or .410 gauge, is the second-smallest caliber of shotgun shell commonly available. A .410 bore shotgun loaded with shot shells is well suited for small game hunting and pest control. The .410 started off in the UK as a garden gun along with the .360 and the No.3, No.2 and No.1 bore rimfires. .410 shells have similar base dimensions to the .45 Colt cartridge, allowing many single-shot firearms, as well as some derringers chambered in that caliber, to fire .410 shot shells without any modifications.

.410 bore
From left to right: a .45 ACP, a .410 bore shotshell, a 20 gauge shotshell, and a 12 gauge shotshell
TypeShotgun, revolver, single-shot pistol
Place of originEngland
Production history
ManufacturerEley Brothers
Produced1874 onwards
Case typeRimmed, straight, (optional plastic)
Bullet diameter.410 in (10.4 mm) (slug)
Neck diameter.455 in (11.6 mm) (plastic)
Base diameter.470 in (11.9 mm)
Rim diameter.535 in (13.6 mm)
Rim thickness.060 in (1.5 mm)
Overall length2″, 2+1/2″, 3″
Primer typeShotshell primer
Maximum pressure18,130 psi
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
oz. Federal 2+1/2″ slug 1780 ft/s 1043.1 J
+1/4 oz. Winchester 3″ slug 1800 ft/s 1066.7 J
Winchester 3″ 000 buckshot 1300 ft/s 306 J per pellet (1530 J overall)
+3/4 oz. Winchester 3″ No. 6 shot 1100 ft/s 10.6 J per pellet (1187.2 J overall)
½ oz. Remington 2+1/2″ No. 7+1/2 shot 1200 ft/s 5.4 J per pellet (945 J overall)


Lancaster's pattern centerfire and pinfire .410 shot cartridges first appeared in Eley Brothers Ltd. flysheets in 1857. By 1874, Eleys were advertising modern centerfire .410 cartridges.[1] It appears to have become popular around 1900, although it was recommended as "suited to the requirements of naturalists, garden guns and for such weapons as walking-stick guns", presumably for self-defense, in 1892 by W. W. Greener.[2] The first ammunition was 2.0 inches (50.8 mm) long, compared with the modern 2.5 (63.5 mm) and 3.0-inch (76 mm) sizes. Aluminum shells are available but are not reloadable, as are paper or plastic shells. Full length brass shells can be found and are reloadable. Brass shells can be made from .444 Marlin rifle cartridges, and these are reloadable.

.410 shotguns loaded with shot shells are well suited for small game hunting and pest control; including rabbits, squirrels, snakes, rats, birds, etc. A .410 loaded with 1/4 ounce slugs is effective against larger animals such as coyotes and deer.

While a .410 is inferior to the traditional 12-gauge shotshell for defensive use,[3] a number of companies market defensive guns chambered in .410, such as the Mossberg 500 Home Security Model, the Smith & Wesson Governor, and the Taurus Judge revolver. Defensive ammunition such as buckshot, slugs and combination loads are common. American Derringer and Winchester market ammunition loaded with five 000 buckshot pellets in 3-inch (76 mm) shells and three pellets in 2.5-inch (64 mm) shells.[4][5] Combination shells such as Winchester Supreme Elite .410 shells are loaded with three 71 grain disks and twelve BB pellets.

Survival arms

The small size of the .410 bore makes it popular for use in compact firearms carried for emergency use. These are often combination guns, with a .22 Hornet or .22 rimfire rifle barrel mounted over a .410 bore shotgun barrel.

The Snake Charmer is a .410 gauge, stainless steel, single shot, break-action shotgun, with an exposed hammer, an 18 1/8 inch barrel, black molded plastic furniture and a short thumb-hole butt-stock that holds four additional 2 1/2 shotgun shells. These light weight 3 1/2 pound guns have an overall length of 28 1/8 inches and will easily fit under a car seat.[6] They are commonly used by gardeners and farmers for pest control. It originally sold for $89.95 and was marketed as a general purpose utility shotgun perfect for "Fishing - Hunting - Camping - Back Packing - Survival - Home Defense - Truck or Jeep Gun."

The Savage Model 24 is an American made over and under combination gun manufactured by Savage Arms. The basic .22LR over .410 gauge model weighs 7 pounds, has 24-inch barrels and an overall length of 41-inches. It may also be disassembled for ease of stowage. It's predecessor, was made by Stevens and sported a tenite stock and forearm. These were first ordered for use by Army Air pilots as survival arms in the event they were shot down. However, the U.S. Air Force was established in 1947 and both the Army and Air Force refused delivery.

The M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon was made for the US Air Force, with a .22 Hornet rifle barrel mounted over a .410 bore shotgun barrel and was first issued in the Korean War. The military also lists an aluminum .410 3" shell with an rifle primer as standard issue under the ammunition inventory name M-35.The civilian version, the Springfield Armory M6 Scout has a .22 rimfire over a .410 bore shotgun barrel. The original has a 14-inch (360 mm) barrel, the same length as the stock, and folds in half for storage, making a compact package. With the short barrel, this is classified as an any other weapon in the United States, so 18.5-inch (470 mm) barreled models are made for civilian sales, as well as a 16-inch (410 mm) pistol version in .22 over .45 Colt.[7] Special flare cartridges in .410 were issued with the USAF model.

Handguns and Shot Pistols

The fact that the .410 bore shell fits in a .45 Colt chamber has resulted in some unusual applications. While shotguns are often limited in minimum length, a firearm chambered in .45 Colt, such as the Contender pistol, is not defined as a shotgun even though it can chamber shotgun shells.

The Thompson Center Arms Contender pistols are commonly encountered with a special .45 Colt-.410 bore barrel. The barrel is rifled for the .45 Colt, but has a special choke and vent rib to make it function as a shotgun. Due to the rifled barrel, the assembled firearm is considered a rifle or pistol (depending on barrel length) and thus is not subject to the National Firearms Act's 18-inch (460 mm) minimum barrel length.[8] Nonetheless, possession of a Thompson Center Arms .45-.410 pistol barrel is illegal in California, for both dealers and individuals, and such a barrel may not legally be shipped into the state, or even taken into California for a hunting trip, by reason of it being classified as a short barreled shotgun (SBSG) when used with a Contender receiver.[9]

American Derringer has long offered .45 Colt-.410 bore Derringers.[10] Bond Arms also offers various Derringer models which chamber both .45 Colt cartridges and .410 shotshell.[11]

Also, Taurus, Magnum Research, and Smith & Wesson offer revolvers with extended cylinders, long enough to hold .410 shells as well. Magnum Research offers a single-action revolver in their BFR (Big Frame Revolver) line, while the Taurus Judge is similar in price to their other double-action revolvers, with the Raging Judge model capable of chambering and firing the .454 Casull cartridge. The Smith & Wesson Governor is a double-action revolver also capable of firing .45 Colt as well as .45 ACP cartridges with the aid of moon clips. The discontinued MIL Thunder 5 is also chambered in .410-bore. A large number of devises over the years have been made and some still are, that will convert larger gauge shot guns to accept .410 shotgun shells.

Capacity, compared to other gauges

Length & load No. 000 buckshot (.36") No. 4 buckshot (.24")
2½", 410 bore 3 or 4 pellets 8 pellets
3", 410 bore 5 pellets 9 pellets
2¾", 12 gauge 8 pellets 27 pellets
3", 12 gauge 10 pellets 41 pellets

Most shotgun cartridges are measured in terms of shotgun gauge. Shotgun gauge is determined by the weight of a round lead ball that is sized to fit into its barrel. For example, the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun is equal to the diameter of a 1/12-pound lead ball and a 20-gauge can fit a 1/20-pound ball. Using this method a .410 bore is equivalent to a (hypothetical) 67-gauge.[12]

See also


  1. Eley Cartridges by CW Harding (2006)
  2. William Wellington Greener (1892). The Breach Loader, and How to Use It. Forest and Stream Publishing Co., New York. p. 45. The 28-bore is the smallest of any practical use as a game gun, but the 410 and other sizes are suited to the requirements of naturalists, and for such weapons as walking-stick guns.
  3. Chuck Hawks' updated rec.guns FAQ on defensive ammunition
  4. Winchester .410 buckshot
  5. American Derringer 410 buckshot
  6. Field & Stream. News for 1979 Part II. by Bob Brister. May 1979. page 159
  7. S. P. Fjestad. Blue Book of Gun Values, 13th Ed. Blue Book Publications.
  8. "G2 Contender Pistols". Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
  9. "California Dangerous Weapons Control Law ARTICLE 2. UNLAWFUL CARRYING AND POSSESSION OF WEAPONS 12020". State of California. 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-29. As used in this section, a "short-barreled shotgun" means any of the following: (A) A firearm which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell and having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. (B) A firearm which has an overall length of less than 26 inches and which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell.
  10. American Derringer model 1
  11. Bond Arms
  12. "Ball Weight and Density". Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
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