Winchesters .410 2005 loads, inc 000 buck

By Marshall Williams.


I note that Winchester has announced several new three inch .410 loadings. Best news for bird hunters who use the .410 is the return of a 3/4 ounce shot charge. This was the old U. S. standard before plastic shells and wads came along. Advertised velocity is 1100 feet per second, slightly higher than the old U.S. 3/4 oz. load but lower by 35 fps than the current 11/16 oz. load. Make no mistake, it is entirely adequate for bird shooting at the ranges at which .410s ought to be used. Shot sizes include 4, 6, and 7 ˝. My experience leads me to believe 8s or 8 1/2s would make better quail and dove loads, but I certainly applaud Winchester for returning the old US standard .410 shot charge and confidently predict it will improve hunter success. (Now, if only the prices would come down so people could hunt as cheaply with a .410 as with a 12 or 20.)

Other .410 hunting loads include a new 1/4 ounce slug in the three inch shell at an advertised 1800 fps and 784 ft. lbs of muzzle energy. For comparison, the standard 2 ˝ inch slug weighs 1/5 oz. and has an advertised muzzle velocity of 1830 fps. For 650 ft. lbs. of energy. The three inch version offers the highest performance claimed for any factory .410 slug. Down range, the heavier slug will noticeably widen the energy gap as it retains its velocity better.

Finally, there is a three inch 000 buck shot load containing five of the big .36 caliber shot. Advertised velocity is 1100 fps as well. A 000 buckshot is .360 inches in diameter and weighs 70 grains. Thus, this load weighs slightly more than a 3/4 oz. shot load. (Incidentally, the 12 gauge 000 load contains only 8 of the big buckshot.) Each of the five pellets will have energy roughly comparable to a .380/9mm K pistol bullet at the same distance.

I saw these at a gun show and bought a box so I could shoot one over a chronograph at a cardboard target. I used my old Remington 870 Skeet gun with 25 inch barrel. My chronograph showed a velocity corrected to the muzzle of 1070 fps which is quite close to the advertised velocity. I do not trust chronographs with shot loads as the show only the first pellet to cross the screens, but we may be sure that all five buckshot are close together. The pattern at 25 yards spread to 20 inches which is about what one should expect from a Skeet choked gun with buckshot, but is slightly wider than the pattern I got several years ago when I tried the Winchester 2 ˝ inch 000 buckshot shell which contains three (3) 000 buckshot.

As most readers know, for some years Winchester has made a 2 ˝ inch .410 shell loaded with three 000 buckshot. The 2 ˝ inch version contains just three of the big 000 buck shot but propels them at a noticeably higher muzzle velocity, the advertisements say 1300 fps.

To compare the two loads, I went to the buckshot file of Ed Lowry’s outstanding Shotshell Ballistics Program. According to my calculations the 25 yard velocity of the three inch shell is 967 fps giving each pellet 142 ft. lbs. of energy. The combined total energy delivered for five pellets would be 711 ft. lbs.

The 25 yard figures for the higher velocity 2 ˝ inch shell is 1118 fps and each pellet has 190 ft. lbs of energy and a combined total of 571 ft. lbs.

Either would be suitable for deer inside 25 yards and would be formidable for self defense at close range.



Winchester’s new line up of .410 shells. - Revisited

Earlier this year I made note of new Winchester offerings in .410.  These include a three inch shell loaded with 3/4 ounce of shot at 1100 fps, the first such load since about 1969.  Shot choices are 4s, 6s, and 7 1/2s.  Personally I wish they would add 8s or 8 1/2s for greater pattern density.  There is a three inch slug with a weight of 1/4 ounce, a three inch shell loaded with five triple-ought/OOO (.36 caliber) buckshot, and finally, a high speed 2 ˝ inch Sporting Clays load with an extremely high velocity for a .410 -- 1300 fps and a choice of shot sizes 8s and 8 1/2s.  The 2 ˝ inch Skeet load with ˝ ounce of 9s remains at 1200 fps.

I had not had an opportunity of trying any of these loads except the 000 buck shot load.  Therefore, when I discovered that I would be testing the CZ Bobwhite in .410, I requested some of the new ammo to use in preparing this article. Winchester kindly sent me a few boxes of each load, and it did not disappoint.

As a matter of general principle, I do not chronograph shotgun shells; I don’t have a proper chronograph for a shotgun pattern and the results with the one I have can be misleading.  However, in preparing this article, I decided to go against my better judgment and chronograph both the new Winchester loads.  For comparison, I also chronographed some Winchester AA Skeet loads and Estate three inch shells. I chose the latter two simply because I had them on hand.  

In general, the chronograph did not disappoint.  The 1100 fps Winchester 3/4 ounce shell was 35 fps slower than the 1135 fps Estate three inch shells.  The old Skeet loads were right under 1200 fps while the new Sporting Clays loads actually were about 1320 fps, 20 fps faster than advertised.  

All shells patterned very nicely in the little Bobwhite, but the new three inch shells with 7 1/2s patterned tighter than the other loads, all of which used smaller shot.  I am confident I could do very well with Winchester’s new three inch .410 on birds or small game.  

The only problem with the small bores is the cost of the ammunition.  One of my local dealers had the new 3/4 ounce loads on his shelf at a retail price just over $13.00 a box.  When one can buy 12 and 20 gauge shells for under $4.00 per box, it is a strong argument against the little guns.


 Editors Note :-
For those who are interested: In the UK a shotgun cartridge is defined as "cartridges containing five or more shot, none of which exceeds .36 inch in diameter" (*). Thus, the 3" Winchester 000 buck is the smallest legal buckshot cartridge in the UK. The
2 ˝  000 buck is illegal unless (like the slug cartridge) it is held on a full firearms licence.
(*)  Firearms Act 1968, Part 1, Section 1, Para 4(a)