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I shoot several 410 shotguns and my favorite load is usually 3” lead 6’s. Their scarce Right now but I found some 3” lead 7’s. What’s the difference between the size 6 & 7 shot. I shoot birds and varmits here on the ranch up to raccoon size.
 

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0.01" , 2 gr vs 1.5 gr, 222 pellets vs 296 pellets per ounce per Lymans manual. The 7's work good for birds. Less penetration on the varmints. Have to shoot what you can get though. 7 1/2's are smaller than 7's.
 

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With 3" 410 #7 shot at 25 yards you will kill even raccoons. I am a avid 410 bore hunter and have humanely put down rabbits, squirrel,doves,feral cats and groundhogs out to 35 yards with 7 1/2 shot. Step it off pattern your gun and shoot you some coffee cans. Raccoons are tough critters but get"em in range you'll dispatch them as well. Buy what you can when you can.
 

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I shoot several 410 shotguns and my favorite load is usually 3” lead 6’s. Their scarce Right now but I found some 3” lead 7’s. What’s the difference between the size 6 & 7 shot. I shoot birds and varmits here on the ranch up to raccoon size.
"....I found some 3” lead 7’s."
Do you mean steel 7's?
 

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With 3" 410 #7 shot at 25 yards you will kill even raccoons. I am a avid 410 bore hunter and have humanely put down rabbits, squirrel,doves,feral cats and groundhogs out to 35 yards with 7 1/2 shot. Step it off pattern your gun and shoot you some coffee cans. Raccoons are tough critters but get"em in range you'll dispatch them as well. Buy what you can when you can.
I can't agree with that except that a .410 is essentially a 25 yd. shotgun. Pop bought me a .410 sxs Stevens as a first shotgun. He asked me if I would prefer a 20 but I took the .410. Bad move! Somebody once said, " A .410 is an expert's shotgun, it is not a beginner's shotgun!" You are light years ahead with a 20 ga., however I did kill lots of game with the little gun. It worked good for squirrels using #6's within it's effective range. Yea, you can sometimes make shots with pellets that are too small but you will cripple a lot of game in the process! A squirrel is a tough little bugger with a tough hide. #6's are about the only shot size that offers both adequate penetration & pattern density for a tree rat in a .410. Other sizes can be used successfully under certain conditions but I know 6's work! A lot of folks use 7.5's for rabbits. A rabbit is pretty easy to kill & 7.5's kill 'em fine but they sure make a lot of holes at close range. Bigger shot up to 4's also kills them fine & leaves a lot more rabbit for the table! You can sometimes kill critters with a lot of things that are not reliable consistently! I once killed a nice rooster pheasant with 7.5s in my .410 but what you did once doesn't mean much! Although, I think you could reliably kill pheasant with them at close range. Regarding raccoon, they have been killed with most everything in the book, I am sure, but I have seen countless ***** shot at under 40 yds. with lead #4 duck loads that didn't break stride. The only **** I ever saw cleanly killed at a range approaching 40 yds. with a shotgun was shot with a magnum load from a 10 ga.! I don't recall the shot size but I am sure it was at least a lead #4 & quite possibly larger! I am not the worlds leading expert on anything but I have quite a lot of practical field experience that dates back to the latter 1950's!
 

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Raccoon vary greatly in size depending on your location. Though they're all tough, ours run on the small side.

I had five of them in the yard last week. Shot the first one on the ground with a 223. The other four went up a tree and were dispatched with a pocketful of 4, 6 and 7-1/2 shot. Couldn't tell which one caught which load.
 

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Second what geometric said. I hung up the 410 decades ago when I was still a kid. I squirrel hunted with a full choke. Most 410 fc's hold a super tight pattern. Too close and you ruin the meat, add another 5 or 10 yards and you just wound. The switch to 20 ga. was the best thing I did. That said, 6's are the best all around shot, but 7, 7 1/2's and 8's are great bird rounds. My mom was killer on doves with her 410 Savage O/U. Watched her shoot 25/25 at clays one day, and she repeated that many times afterward, so they will get the job done. Raccoons and squirrels with 7's and up require closing the distance a bit. Distancing is the key with a 410.
 
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