By Marshall Williams.
Order had done a round of sporting clays, always a humbling experience,
especially the rabbits and teal. Now
the members were seated at the round table finishing up a second cup of
ALOOF coffee, licking their wounds, and enjoying one another’s company.
the litter on the round table was a new Winchester catalog and the Major
picked it and started thumbing through it.
This was a time-honored pastime among the members and no one would
have considered him rude for ignoring the other conversation of the other
members. Besides, he had
turned off his hearing aids to shoot and had not bothered to turn them on
again. No one wanted to talk to him in that condition.
the Major said, “Hey, Winchester has a new lever action model 94 and it
says it’s chambered for the .410 shot shell.
Now there’s a neat original idea.”
was just sitting down with the last cup from the coffee pot.
It looked more like warmed over dregs than coffee, it was dark s
midnight and tasted a little grainy towards the bottom of the cup, but the
Order seemed to like it that way. Topper
looked at the ad and said, “It’s a fairly original idea.
I don’t think it has been tried more than a couple of times by
the other big name makers of lever action rifles.” He stopped and
thought a second and added, “Unless you count some odds and ends.”
now noticed the blank but expectant look on the Major’s face.
Recognizing the problem, Topper motioned the Major to turn on his
hearing aids. He did so and
Topper repeated his observation.
Major respected Topper’s collector’s knowledge and sought answers.
“I never heard of a lever action .410.
Who ever did it? And
said, “I think it was in the 1920s.
Both Savage and Marlin offered lever action .410s.
Savage offered a special take down version of their famous Model 99
with a rifle barrel chambered for the .30-30 or the .303 Savage with an
extra interchangeable barrel for the .410.
Of course it wasn’t a repeater and it was a convertible rather
than a dedicated shotgun. Marlin’s
gun was a genuine .410 repeater made on a variation of the Model 1893, the
predecessor of the popular Model 36.
That was a predecessor of the 336.
It was not a great seller and the company gave them as premiums to
anybody who bought four shares of stock in the company. I would say both
are pretty collectible.”
Major was intrigued. “What
about the odds and ends?”
“Oh, I would put the smoothbore Winchester Model 73s and 92s
in the same category. The .44
shot cartridge was the predecessor of the .410.
In the 60s and 70s, Ithaca made a lever action single barrel gun.
I don’t guess that one counts.
There might even be some other obscure ones.”
were obscure enough to suit the Major, and he said so.
Judge mentioned that he had seen an actual Model 94 converted to .410,
then added. “The owner said
it was done in Japan where it was used to shoot deer.
Apparently they could
not have rifles.”
adequately edified, The Major returned to the ad and announced, “Hey the
ad says it has a cylinder bore and throws a pattern at 25 yards that is
just like a full choke pattern. Perfect
for rabbits at 25 yards”
chimed it with becoming modesty and observed “Can’t no cylinder bore
shotgun shoot no 70% full choke pattern.
No way! No how! No
time! Somebody ought to bring
a truth-in-advertising suit.”
Judge’s interest was piqued at this point.
Indeed, anything touching on patterns in general and .410s in
particular was likely to get his rapt attention.
He said, “Lemme see that ad.”
perused it and pontificated, “Sunny, you ought to get Grundoon to parse
this language for you before you sue ‘em. I
admit it does look like it was written by a lawyer who had his facts
straight, but thought his case was weak.
I think what the ad says is that the cylinder bore shoots a 70%
pattern at 25 yards, comparable in pattern density to a full choke pattern
at 40 yards. If that is what they say, then I agree, a cylinder should
throw a 25 yard pattern that looks like a 40 yard pattern from a full
choke. That ought to do OK
for rabbits at the closer range. Or
the Judge actually had experience shooting rabbits with a .410, Sunny
accepted his word as gospel, but he could not square things.
“Judge, the 2 ˝ inch .410 holds only a half ounce of shot.
It ain’t possible that it could it be as good on rabbits as a big
gun with a full choke at 40 yards? I mean 70% of an ounce of shot is a lot
more than 70% of a half ounce of shot.
Probably twice as much. It
seems to me it ought to be twice as many BBs in the 40 yard pattern.”
Judge eyed Sunny the way a heavy weight boxer eyes a fly weight. “Sunny,
you are absolutely right, but tell me, what size shot do you use on
rabbits at 40 yards?”
felt he might have set himself up, but he plowed ahead anyway,
“Sixes, of course. What
Judge asked, “And how many 6s are there in an ounce?”
dunno.” Sunny replied. “What’s
your book say?”
Judge did not need to look in his book but promptly replied, “Sunny,
there are 225 number six shot in an ounce.
More or less. But at
25 yards, you could use smaller shot and get the same pattern density.
There is no exact fit, but a half ounce of 8s has about 205 pellets
and a half ounce of 8 1/2s has about 240 pellets.
That brackets the 6s.”
was an experienced hunter and said, with some feeling, “But Judge, 8s
don’t hit as hard as 6s.”
Judge said “Sunny, 8s at 40 yards don’t hit like 6s at 40 yards, but
number 8s at 25 yards ought to about equal 6s at 40 yards. The shot is
going faster and has more killing power.
In fact, there have been a couple of scientific studies of the
subject which pin it down pretty exactly, but in my experience, 8s hit as
hard at 25 yards as 6s hit a 40 yards.
If you used a half ounce of 8s in a cylinder bored .410 at 25 yards
and an ounce of 6s in a full choke at 40 yards, I bet the average bunny
could not tell the difference.”
the Judge thought about the day’s outing and added.
“I would point out that if you shot bunnies the way you shot the
rabbit targets at the sporting clays range, at 25 yards, you would miss
them by only 5/8 as much as you miss them at 40 yards.”
muttered, “Don’t give the old fart any more coffee; he’s got a mean
streak in him.” Everyone
chuckled when he said it.
Major had been quietly cogitating during this phase of the conversation
but then got back into things with the observation, “You know, there are
not too many .410 repeaters around, especially with a cylinder choke.
Maybe the Model 94 would work as a Skeet gun.
What do you think Judge, could you work the action fast enough to
Judge responded, “Some people can work a lever action might’ nearly as
fast as a pump. Herb Parsons
showed how to work a Model 94 in ‘Showman Shooter.’
It might be fun to try for a round of Skeet, but I don’t think it
will be a serious Skeet gun. For
one thing, it has rifle sights. Of
course, that might help some people.
I don’t think it will be a great choice for a .410 hunting gun
either. It only handles the
short 2 ˝ inch shell; the three inch shell makes a better hunting gun.
However, it’s not aimed at those markets.
Instead, it fits right in with cowboy action shooting crowd. They can pretend to be Buffalo Bill using his old Model 73 to
shoot glass balls from the back of a galloping horse. Or maybe just standing still.
The crowd would not need to know the gun is a smooth-bore and the
shells full of shot.”
Judge’s mention of pumps caused Topper to think about the Judge’s
favorite .410, a delicate little Winchester Model 42 Skeet gun with
straight grip and ‘rat tail’ fore end.
Topper liked the little gun and thought he would dangle a lure.
“Say, Judge, do you think you will trade off your little .410 pump for a
Model 94 in .410?”
Reprinted curtesy of Shotgun Sports Magazine, P.O. Box 6810, Auburn, CA 95604. www.shotgunsportsmagazine.com