You May Find More Uses For This Little
.410 Pump Than Home Security
By Payton Miller
I love .410 shotguns. Wait! That’s not altogether true. Truth be told, I hated my first. It was euphemistically classified as a “utility gun.” I got it when I was 11. It was full-choke single-shot with an external hammer sporting a cocking “pull weight” of something in the neighborhood of 20 pounds—the weight of the trigger pull being only slightly less.
But even a couple of decades later, after I’d acquired a specimen far better suited to wingshooting, one fact remained constant. Despite the noble intentions of well-meaning older relatives, a .410 is not a beginner’s gun. It’s something you come around to much, much later on your own, after you’ve learned to shoot a bit and are tired of lugging bigger, harder-kicking guns and bulkier shotshells.
A good .410 pumpgun is very pleasing aesthetically, and the smaller and more “properly scaled” the frame, the better as far as I’m concerned. They run the gamut of high-dollar original Winchester Model 42’s to only slightly less pricey Browning “reissues.” I own neither. I do have a Browning BPS I’m crazy about. Even though it’s a pound or so heavier than it oughta be, it breaks stuff and scratches down dove for me.
But lately I’ve been shooting a very cool little Mossberg, which actually falls into the “non-sporting category.” But the more I fool around with shotguns—or any kind of gun—the more I’m convinced there’s a sporting application for most everything I can think of. Even purposes for which it wasn’t originally intended.
My particular Mossberg falls into a family of “security” or “tactical” styled .410 shotguns on their bread-and-butter 500 pump platform. All sport 18-1/2-inch barrels and weigh around 5-1/2 pounds. All feature synthetic furniture—folding, fixed or “stockless” pistol grip. One even has a spreader choke and a vertical grip on the fore-end.
The one I picked, however, was most appealing to me. It’s called the Persuader (No. 50454). It has a fixed synthetic stock and a conventional fixed Cylinder Bore choke. The LOP is 12-1/2 inches—a little short but serviceable for a bit of clay bird shooting or small game and pests. Even if you’re not totally on board with the concept of a .410 for defensive purposes, this handy little 500 variant could moonlight as a useful multi-purpose item.
The .410 bore (can’t really call it a gauge, actually it’s a caliber) has been taken more seriously in recent years. Why? There’s no shortage of specialized defensive loads for the .410, a development spurred on, no doubt, by the popularity of large-framed DA revolvers capable of handing .410 shotshells as well as .45 ACP and .45 Colt cartridges. But as versatile as these revolvers are, they do limit the .410 from achieving its full potential. And the Mossberg 500 Persuader has some pretty impressive bona fides—even after you toss in the almost-obligatory pejorative “for a .410, that is.”
Who says you can’t shoot skeet with a personal defense shotgun? Jim Keneston
of La Crescenta Valley Sportsman’s Club tries his hand with the Persuader and
Fiocchi’s .410 Exacta Target Load. Fiocchi .410 Exacta Target Load was an ideal
skeet choice. A 25-round box of those little 2-1/2-inch shotshells fit neatly
in a pants pocket.
The 5-1/2-pound weight and short overall length of the Mossberg 500 Persuader
are a definite plus in terms of quick handling. And the top-tang safety (below)
is ideal for speedy accessibility.
Besides buckshot and birdshot options, there’s always the slug thing. From a shotgun, a 1/4-ounce lead HP from a 3-inch Winchester Super-X shotshell runs around 1,800 fps. And although about 40 grains lighter, it’s about 600 fps faster than your basic 155-grain .40 S&W JHP out of a GLOCK 23. For purposes of grouping, however, what I happened to have on hand was Winchester’s 2-1/2-inch 1/5-ounce slug load, which is—according to Winchester—a bit faster than the 1/4 ouncer.
But the real impressive performer was the buckshot. And what I had was a fairly scary item. Federal’s Personal Defense 3-inch 000 buck load features five .36 caliber pellets (don’t be put off by the “.410 Handgun” on the box). The stuff is rated at 775 fps from a 3-inch revolver (Taurus or S&W), but from a legal-length (18 inch) shotgun barrel you can expect something in the neighborhood of 1,100 to 1,200 fps. I shot it at both 15 and 25 yards. And the pattern results were impressive.
But I’ve always felt any shotgun, sporting, defensive, tactical or whatever, should at least put up a pretty fair performance on aerial targets. (Even if you’re no world-class wingshoooter, a couple boxes of target loads will help familiarize you with a tool you may have bought strictly as a defense item.) So I simply couldn’t resist trying this little gun at Crescenta Valley Sportsman’s Club Monday skeet get-together. Naturally, the usual suspects of the early morning crew beat me handily.
I did manage to break 15 by the simple expedient of spot-shooting from a low-gun position. The problem with a featherweight, short-barreled shotgun for me is oddly counterintuitive. I don’t get too far ahead of the bird (which would seem to make sense). Instead, I overcompensate to slow things down and often shoot behind it. As always…
Besides this, the relatively short LOP, while great for defensive applications, didn’t quite allow me to avoid “seeing barrel” and over-shooting the birds. One way around this would be to wear a thick jacket or a well-padded anything. I was using 2-1/2-inch Federal and Fiocchi No. 8’s and thoroughly enjoying one of the few advantages enjoyed by .410 shooters. Namely, being able to dump a whole 25-round box into my pants pocket and not worry about shell vests or belt-bags.
But despite its obvious defensive applications, this super-lightweight little .410 would shine as a “garden gun.” Meaning, of course, a pest eradicator when a .22 LR might be unsafe in more densely populated areas. In this case, darn near any birdshot load would work, regardless of whether or not you want to send it out from a 2-1/2-inch or 3-inch shell. Putting a full charge of shot on a close-range pest seldom requires the kind of “pop him again” scenarios from even the most well-executed rimfire solutions. For venomous snakes it would be ideal with birdshot as well.
At 25 yards, the Winchester slug load proved very accurate, although
Kentucky windage may be the order of the day when sighting with a simple
front bead. The POA was the bottom of the red oval “10” ring, so things
weren’t too seriously out of whack here.
Federal 3-inch 000 Buck load at 15 (left) and 25 yards (right) testify to the
500 Persuader’s capabilities. Compared to the larger bores, there’s relatively
little commercial variety in buckshot sizes for the .410, but there’s certainly
nothing to complain about regarding this 5-pellet “Triple Ought” offering.
If I was going to get this little 500 for its designed purpose, what’d I’d load it with would be the 000 buck—and in 3-inch shells. They were right on the money and it’s tough to imagine a shotgun-range crisis situation they couldn’t handle (unless it was the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, in which case I’d want a 12. Or, better still, a helicopter).
But there’s no denying the Mossberg .410 grouped those peewee 1/5-ounce slugs very well—so well in fact, I was wishing for a ghost-ring setup on the gun to bring the point of impact a little closer to the point of aim. Obviously, the gun would be a defensive option for smaller-statured folks, or anyone who simply can’t handle the recoil of a bigger shotgun—or hit reliably with a handgun.
As you may reasonably expect from a platform as time-proven as Mossberg’s 500, I had no malfunctions. None. No surprises there. They’ve been building them by the millions in—literally—dozens upon dozens of variations. And with this little one, there were certainly no gripes about recoil. Or anything for that matter. And I became a firm believer in what is one of the greatest attributes of the 500 Series—namely, the most sensible, easily accessed safety ever.
And I swear I’m going to have a respectable run at skeet with it before I’m done!
The two loads used to test the 500 Persuader’s defensive capabilities
were Federal’s 3-inch Personal Defense 000 Buck and Winchester’s
2-1/2-inch Super-X slug load.
Maker: O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.
7 Grasso Ave.
North Haven, CT 06473
Chamber: 3 inches
Choke: Cylinder Bore
Barrel length: 18-1/2 inches
Sights: Bead front
Overall length: 37 inches
Length of pull: 12-1/2 inches
Weight: 5-1/2 pounds
Finish: Matte blue
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