The .410 shotgun; a place in the field & the heart
by Scott Crawford - April 16, 2020
Whether you own one or have heard of them, everybody has an opinion of them as a useful field gun or not. Recently when Henry Firearms released their Henry Axe, many dismissed them as nothing but an expensive toy not useful for field duty. At 26.5” in length & 5.75 lbs. there is no stock, it’s shaped like an axe handle hence the name. A smooth bore chambered for .410 x 2.5” shells it holds 5 in the tube. I took two of these to the range firing at 25 yards and they patterned well enough to use as a turkey gun as far as I’m concerned.
There are many makers of .410 bore shotguns from super expensive to moderately priced. I personally have a Marlin .410 bore lever-action shotgun and have hunted extensively with it from squirrel & rabbit to quail, turkey and pheasant. I’ve also killed a hog with it using slugs. I intend to hunt song dogs with it after this national pandemic passes with those same slugs.
A new Henry Axe .410 Shotgun & a @RangeCase ammo system
Many have childhood memories of starting out with a .410 however I believe it is better suited as an experienced shooters tool rather than a beginners. It takes a real skill to take a moving target with its smaller pattern & limited range compared to that of say a 20, 16 or 12 bore.
I guess while we’re speaking of gauge, bore or caliber we should clear up what a .410 truly is. It’s a .410 caliber not a .410 gauge. Yes I’ve been guilty of calling it such but it isn’t. If it was named properly as a gauge it would be a 67 gauge. This caliber was developed in 1911 and has been around ever since. Shot shell manufactures do brand them as .410 gauge on their boxes however that is a misnomer.
Marlin .410 Lever Gun in my Gun Room
I’ve shot single shot, side by side, over & under and finally lever action .410’s. I’ve never come across a pump or semi-auto .410 however I know they’re out there. My experience is that a .410 is practical out to 25 yards or so, not much past that while hunting. That makes for a quick target acquisition & shot while hunting game birds or quick moving rabbits. It truly tests a hunter’s skill set. If I was trying to survive dependent on game taken in the field I’d never take a .410 for game birds. That being said, since I’m not dependent on this I love taking the opportunity to test my skills.
Short video of Axes at the range!
I’ll never forget the day I took my Marlin .410 lever gun to a trap shoot & I heard someone say, “you’d better tell that fella you can’t shoot trap with a thutty-thutty”. I was challenging others with 20 & 12 gauges and did very well bringing a lot of applause for this little .410 shotgun. So to sum this up I believe there is a place in the field and at the sporting clays with a .410 caliber firearm however knowing your limits is important to achieving success in what you’re doing.
Henry Axe with Bore light & MEC Hand Loaded shot shell
I would love to hear back on what .410’s you prefer and what you use yours for. Is it a field or sport duty shotgun? What’s your favorite brand and style; single shot, lever, pump, semi-auto, side by side or over / under? Heck you may even own a combo gun with 22 on top of a .410. Let me know.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Henry Shotguns Marlin Firearms MEC Outdoors @RangeCase Ammo Systems