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Best shot size for squirrels in thick brush.
#4 22%  22%  [ 8 ]
#5 22%  22%  [ 8 ]
#6 47%  47%  [ 17 ]
#7 1/2 8%  8%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 36
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 Post subject: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:57 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:32 pm
Posts: 3
I live in south MS, and there is always a lot of thick vegetation. I mainly use a .410 and I've been searching for the perfect shot size for my application. I've always heard #6 is king, but I've found #6 to be unreliable when making shots through brush. Its hit or miss, it sometimes gets a clean kill and other times it takes a follow up shot. My problem is if I go up in size (#5, #4, etc.) I get less shot and less hit probability, but I can seem to get enough energy with #6. I want the community's opinion on this.



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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:50 am 
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When I lived in the Florida panhandle and hunted squirrels with a .410, #6 was all I used and didn't have any problems. Sometimes just had to wait then out for a more open shot before pullin' the trigger.

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:31 pm
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Although it makes no sense I've found #4 shot preforms very well in the .410 shotgun. It's my shot of choice for tree rats when using a .410.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:06 am
Posts: 583
I like #5 but also use #6 & #4. You might pattern your .410 at 25 yards and it might pattern one of the heavier shot as well or better than the #6. (As Ohio Mike said his gun does.)
If I think that I will be hunting in taller timber (longer shots) or later in the year with less foliage (longer shots again) then I use the 20, 16 or 12 gauge.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:11 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 5:27 pm
Posts: 6874
Location: southern Ohio
I have killed hundreds with a 20ga and my reloads of 7.5 shot. I use premium hard shot and load the hottest listed loads I can find. 7/8 oz. I have shot squirrels with 6s 5s and 4s, but have never experienced better results than I get with 7.5s. I have shot a Benelli M2 with a turkey choke for the last several years.

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:32 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:34 pm
Posts: 7358
Location: NE Oklahoma
What amazes me is that anyone would hunt the fool things. Yes, I have hunted squirrels; no more.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:50 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 5:27 pm
Posts: 6874
Location: southern Ohio
Vette Jockey wrote:
What amazes me is that anyone would hunt the fool things. Yes, I have hunted squirrels; no more.

In my youth squirrels were one of the basic food groups! I still think they are some of the best tasting game animals out there!

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:21 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:46 pm
Posts: 1710
Location: SW Missouri
I used to have a NEF single shot .410 full choke that I hunted squirrels with. Unlike ohio mike, my gun did terrible with #4 shot. Most of the time I used #6 shot and it worked well if I didn't stretch the range. One time I found some #5 shot and my gun liked it the best. I had about the same pattern as with #6 shot and the additional energy of the #5s came in handy if shooting through brush or stretching the range a bit.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:09 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 7:25 pm
Posts: 8979
Location: Louisiana
I've never owned a .410, but have hunted squirrels quite a bit with the 12, 16 and 20 gauges. Seems to me that #5 shot provides the very best combination of pattern density, knockdown power and range, with #6 a close second.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:53 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:32 pm
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I went out and bought some #4 shot (2 1/2in was all academy had in stock). I patterned it today and compared it against #6, 3in shells. My gun seems to pattern #4 just as good as #6 or better. (the pic is the pattern tested targets). Obviously there is more #6 shot on target, but #4 seems to be more centralized in closer ranges. https://www.instagram.com/p/BpF_RdjhUmU ... 15u381uyjm

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 7:25 pm
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Location: Louisiana
No offense, but I wouldn't hunt squirrels with those patterns. Even at 25 yards, the chances of wounding versus killing one are too high. Just not enough shot in the vitals for a quick kill. I'd limit my shots to 20 yards or get a bigger gun.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:27 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:06 am
Posts: 583
Dixieland Outdoors wrote:
I went out and bought some #4 shot (2 1/2in was all academy had in stock). I patterned it today and compared it against #6, 3in shells. My gun seems to pattern #4 just as good as #6 or better. (the pic is the pattern tested targets). Obviously there is more #6 shot on target, but #4 seems to be more centralized in closer ranges. https://www.instagram.com/p/BpF_RdjhUmU ... 15u381uyjm


You may want to try some different shells and pattern again if you want to stay with the .410.

Last week I was testing the pattern of some 3" #6 steel compared to 3" #6 lead in a Stevens single shot .410 with full choke. At 25 yds. shooting 9" paper plates the lead patterned 27 hits and the steel 34 hits. The steel was a more even distribution.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:30 am 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:10 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Atlanta Michigan
Vette Jockey wrote:
What amazes me is that anyone would hunt the fool things. Yes, I have hunted squirrels; no more.


I would be amazed that you admit they are smarter than you but then again they are smarter than you.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 12:29 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:46 pm
Posts: 1710
Location: SW Missouri
Wildwood wrote:
Last week I was testing the pattern of some 3" #6 steel compared to 3" #6 lead in a Stevens single shot .410 with full choke. At 25 yds. shooting 9" paper plates the lead patterned 27 hits and the steel 34 hits. The steel was a more even distribution.


Pattern isn't everything. Squirrels are tough and steel #6 shot will penetrate less than lead #6 shot. I would not use steel #6 on squirrels regardless of gauge but especially not the .410. If I had to absolutely shoot steel shot at squirrels it would be #4 or #3 steel.

When I was a teenager, one time I was grouse hunting and shot at a squirrel with lead #7 1/2 shot from a full choke 16 gauge at around 40 yards. It visibly shook the squirrel but it managed to run back the limb and dive in a hole. I felt terrible. I have never shot anything smaller than lead #6 at squirrels since and now use only lead #5s. BTW, killed a squirrel 10 yards farther using lead #5s using the same exact gun. Shot size made a huge difference. The #6 steel would be worse than lead #7 1/2s in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:08 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:06 am
Posts: 583
Double 20,
I agree. I wouldn’t use #6 steel (1400 FPS) from a .410 for squirrel unless the shots were 20yds or less. My statement was mainly made as an example of a simple “patterning” test.

Last week I did use #4 steel from my 20 gauge to take a squirrel and coyote.
(Non-tox shot only in this area.)


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:15 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:49 am
Posts: 28
I shoot 5 and 6 interchangeably at squirrels with a 12 gauge. Both shot size do great. Of course, I've also killed my share with 71/2 too, but I like the larger pellets because they pass through more often and don't wind up in the gumbo, as least not as much.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:15 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:51 am
Posts: 138
I voted sixes before I saw you use a .410. With .410s, the only shot sizes worth looking at are seven and a halfs or smaller. There's just not enough room to get enough of the larger pellets in there.

.410 is generally only good for 20 yards, that includes up. A sq. in the top of a sixty-foot tree is fairly safe from you. If you have one of the rare .410s which patterns better than that, it will show it if you pattern it.


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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:57 pm 
Crown Grade

Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:04 am
Posts: 2709
Turkinator wrote:
Vette Jockey wrote:
What amazes me is that anyone would hunt the fool things. Yes, I have hunted squirrels; no more.

In my youth squirrels were one of the basic food groups! I still think they are some of the best tasting game animals out there!


It's about the only thing that I've psyched myself out about eating. I can snails, snake, frog legs , you name it . For some totally irrational reason I got the idea that I was eating
a rat with a bushy tail . That was the ball game !!

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:15 pm 
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Location: 35 miles from Normal, Illinois (as close to normal as I'll ever be)
I think your 3" #6's are the best choice for shot size and pattern density. The solution is to pick clear shots. Blasting your way through the foliage is rarely effective, regardless of load.

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 Post subject: Re: Shot size for squirrel hunting in thick brush?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:54 am 
Field Grade

Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:52 pm
Posts: 78
Location: The Ozarks
Living here in Arkansas, I have figured out one thing over the years: a 410 has no use in the Ozarks, unless you're using it for rabbits at 15 steps. I hunt heavy cover often and use either an A5 standard 12 with 1 1/4 oz of #4's or a Model 12 Winchester 16ga with 1 1/8th oz of of 5's or 6's. Squirrels can't get high enough to get away from either gun. I tried a 410 a couple times, and it didn't take me long to figure out that the little cartridge wouldn't get to the top of those big tall pines, or if it did it, it wasn't stout enough to do anything to the squirrel. Just pi$$ed it off, you might say. You might consider at least going up to the 20ga, as it has mild recoil and can be had in a lightweight gun also. But, if you're dead set on the 410, go to #4 shot. That's what I had my best worst luck with. :mrgreen:

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