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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've read allot of controversial material regarding the use of a .410 for upland birds. And, some guys get pretty heated when the subject of ethics regarding its use is brought up.

So, having said that, and knowing that I may piss some people off.....

I'm seriously debating using my 1969 wingmaster in .410, for the grouse opener. The more clays I shoot with it, the more I pattern different shells, the more I mount and swing the gun, the more confident in it I am. I'm not entirely sure, but this has got to be one of the best fitting, best shooting guns ever made!

If I keep my shots within 25-30yds, it's hard for me to miss. I know I'm bragging a little, but seriously. I'm throwing the clays myself with a hand thrower. When I was really putting this gun through its paces, I could still hit targets further, but not consistently, and not turning them into dust. I'm okay with keeping shots closer.

Am I crazy for wanting to hunt with this amazing little beauty? Is it in fact unethical? Does anyone else hunt grouse with a .410?
 

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Don't know about grouse hunting, but a buddy of mine has shot a .410 for all of the 20 years+ that I've hunted with him and he's killed, literally, thousands of wild quail with it and not a few pen-raised chukars and pheasants.
Oh, and I REALLY would not equate shooting clay targets, launched from underfoot, to killing wild grouse.
 

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I don't have any ethical issues with a GOOD shot using a 410 on game birds, including grouse, at appropriate ranges, with suitable ammunition, and with enough choke. I regularly shoot six 410s in the field and well understand what they are capable of...and what they are not. There are obviously situations where a larger payload may be more appropriate. To be honest, given the limited opportunities to shoot ruffed grouse in NC, and the often heavy cover in which they flush, I would likely use more gun. But if you can kill a limit of doves or quail with a box of 410 shells or less and meet the other criteria I mentioned, I see nothing wrong with trying it. With that said, I understand that there are differing points of view on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Vette Jockey said:
Oh, and I REALLY would not equate shooting clay targets, launched from underfoot, to killing wild grouse.
Completely agree. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what else to equate it too? I don't think the game and fish department would've appreciated me hunting grouse this spring and summer to bone up on my shooting for grouse this fall. Suggestions?

I didn't try to train"underfoot". Much like you not catching me standing in a straight line firing slow strings of fire out of my Glock at some shooting range. I try and bring some sort of realism to every shooting session I take part in.

The first wild birds to take off underfoot, at the beginning of the season scare the crap outta me anyway. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to really prepare for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
steveziv said:
I don't know what grouse hunting is like in WY but here in the E/NE that .410 would make an excellent conservation tool.
They are not a pressured bird out here. In fact, I'd have to say that I only know of one other guy that actually pursues grouse, or any upland bird, as a primary target.
Bird hunting is looked down upon out here. It's a shameful, lesser sport than big game hunting. If I wasn't who I am, and didn't look the way I do, I'm sure personal attacks would ensue. Not even kidding.
 

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Perennial thread.
The .410 will kill upland birds.....sadly, that appears the main and only point to a few.

The wiser point is will the .410 kill upland birds at the extremes or margins of it's abilities and no one is able, apart from anecdotes on message boards, to guarantee that the marginal extremes are never approached...from plain ol' bad luck to misjudgment to second shots and more.
And, one can not escape from the reality that the .410 has margins different than other gauges.
One would simply avoid the use of the .410 on ruffed grouse for the one day when an extreme rears it's head.
It's not ethics as much as it is worst case and Respect.
Then, there are some who consider every bird not dish-ragged or recovered to have escaped uninjured.
That is simply wishful thinking and yet another reason to avoid the .410 for a bird the size of the ruffed grouse and in the cover preferred...in the real world.

That said and as above...sure, the .410 will kill upland birds...a .410 will kill a turkey.
So what?
That said, will larger gauges wound and lose birds?....sure will.
So what?
The .410 is better fit for small and light-feathered birds like dove, quail and woodcock or rabbit and squirrel...none of which match Bonasa U, on average, in areas from size to shots taken and more.
None of which are quite on the same decline curve or possess the same recovery speed either.
But, the .410 will ground sluice or limb swat with the best of them....especially if the birds have not been pressured....lack of pressure does change the game.

Equally sadly, too many view legal as a determiner of scattergun choice....so, if the little gauge is legal then folks will have at it.
Other folks will read of message board exploits and try it...perhaps with different conditions leading to less successful results....often those results are quietly forgotten or blame placed elsewhere.
Anyway, why pimp a shell with greater margins?
That...is a question with seldom an honest answer given.

I have had three .410s to this point....doves work swell and targets are fun....squirrels and bunnies a treat.
I guess that I do not use a .410 for ruffed grouse because I place value above ME and "watch 'is".
I also have lived a decline and that, can capitalize the 'R' in Respect.
 

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25-35 is pushing it. You dont have the speed in those 410s so you must increase shot size which further reduces the already small shot count. 410 is for UNDER 25 YARDS. If you can shoot the gun well, have a good pattern, use the correct shot size and velocity, and you keep your shots under 25 yards (10-20 being ideal) there is nothing wrong with it. That goes for grouse, pheasant, ducks, whatever you want to hunt.
 

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A 410 single shot is all I used for hunting anything in my early years. As I lived in some of the best ruffed grouse country in the U.S., that meant I shot quite a few grouse with that old gun. Some of those birds were even flying!

Since getting my first "real" shotgun, the 410 has taken a very distant 83rd place for my choice in grouse guns. That is for the range issue already mentioned- 25 yards is about the maximum effective range and even that is optimistic. Pattern testing by many over the decades has borne that out again and again as well as actual registered scores which are much more accurate than one's memory.

I am not familiar with the 410 in modern times, it helped me reach Master Class for the second time as many of my punches were in the smaller gauges, particularly the 410. I used it for hunting woodcock when the season opened Sept 1 but quickly switched to a larger bore when the grouse season opened as the dogs returned with far too many cripples. I can only imagine the number of birds I lost earlier before I had dogs.

I still use the 410 on live birds but mostly in training situations. As the birds tend to be close, the 1/2 oz of shot is plenty and it does not tear up birds which helps prevent refusal of the retrieve. For hunting I used 11/16 oz which mostly filled in the poor fringes but it was still pretty sparse.

As mentioned earlier, if one can guarantee that they will not stretch the 410 beyond its capabilities, it will be an effective choice. As also alluded too, the limits are small enough that remaining in them can be problematic and easily forgotten in the heat of the moment. I am still trying to get a MN prairie chicken with a 410 but have not even fired a shot yet. I have filled my tags over the years but not with the little gun. The range limitation is just too strict for my comfort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
BBK said:
25-35 is pushing it. You dont have the speed in those 410s so you must increase shot size which further reduces the already small shot count. 410 is for UNDER 25 YARDS. If you can shoot the gun well, have a good pattern, use the correct shot size and velocity, and you keep your shots under 25 yards (10-20 being ideal) there is nothing wrong with it. That goes for grouse, pheasant, ducks, whatever you want to hunt.
Agree 100%. 25yds is my threshold. I may be passing on allot of shots, but I was an avid bow hunter for the majority of my life, and it's something I'm okay with.
I'm not saying if the birds are ALL further out I'm above taking the ETHOS out. I'd just really like to fill my vest with the .410 if at all possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Very good points uglydog, and everyone else as well.
Season opens tomorrow, and I may cruise into the woods after work. I'm not sure if the .410 will get the nod as of yet, but tomorrow is a new day.

I'll report back and let y'all know what transpires!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
67galaxie said:
If you are already practicing shooting clays with the gun and building up your familiarity with the gun then you are ahead of most
I hope that's not true. I hope weapons familiarity is on the top of everyone's to do list, when they get a new gun. Of course I've had the .410 for half a year or so. I've shot boxes and boxes and boxes of ammo through it. Both in load testing and shooting fake birds.
Oh! Reminds me. The two best hunting loads out of this gun were(don't laugh) Herters 11/16 oz #7.5's, and Remington 11/16 oz #6's. Winchesters were garbage, federal want much better. I rate them on density(less holes in the pattern = better). I know there's other factors, but with the other loads, I could literally put my fist inside of some of the patterns. At 25yds that is.

I shoot grouse regularly with #7.5's, in 12 & 20. Should I go with #6 in the .410?
 

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In my youth I used mostly 3" shells with #6 shot as these pellets penetrated the wings of a standing grouse much better than 7.5 as well as being more effective on snowshoe hares, porcupines, and the odd squirrel. Meat shooting for the pot was the objective and whatever was most efficient was what I uded.

For wing shooting I use 7.5s in the longer hulls as the added pellet density is highly desirable. A pellet of that size will readily reach the vitals of a ruffed grouse at factory 410 velocities and kept within 20 yards, Start getting beyond 20 yards and one loses pattern density quickly which makes killing birds a bit more problematic as ranges increase. Today, if I were hunting for the pot I would probably load the first barrel with 7.5 and the second with 6s and call it good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well. I got two on Saturday. Used #7.5's. Both birds weren't more than 20yds. Actually one took off right behind me! Put on lots of miles at 7-8k ft. Elevation. Would've got one more to fill my limit, but I'm still pretty wiped out from a recent, nasty little kidney infection.
 

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I quit using the 28 ga 3/4 oz load due to crippling and will play with the 7/8 oz loads. Been hunting grouse for more than 50 years with about anything you can think of and even have shot a few with a bow. Settled on a 1oz load of 7's for the best load and am not against 1 1/8 6's in late season. Last grouse I shot with the 28 was hit by one 7 and it penetrated enough to find the bird dead (bird flinched at the shot an I always pursue to see if I hit) I have shot more than one grouse with small pellets embedded in the breast. And I think the dogs brought me a couple of them. Breast is usually green tinted. May be 8's as many use the cheap bargain brand 8's or 7 1/2's. 6's are not all bad on grouse.
Maybe would use a 410 on very early season birds, but doubt it. Primary gun is now a 20 ga semi auto. The two different chokes in a double do not help on grouse. As stated I do not like the 3/4 oz 28 that well.

DP
 

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Mnshooter said:
I quit using the 28 ga 3/4 oz load due to crippling and will play with the 7/8 oz loads. Been hunting grouse for more than 50 years with about anything you can think of and even have shot a few with a bow. Settled on a 1oz load of 7's for the best load and am not against 1 1/8 6's in late season. Last grouse I shot with the 28 was hit by one 7 and it penetrated enough to find the bird dead (bird flinched at the shot an I always pursue to see if I hit) I have shot more than one grouse with small pellets embedded in the breast. And I think the dogs brought me a couple of them. Breast is usually green tinted. May be 8's as many use the cheap bargain brand 8's or 7 1/2's. 6's are not all bad on grouse.
Maybe would use a 410 on very early season birds, but doubt it. Primary gun is now a 20 ga semi auto. The two different chokes in a double do not help on grouse. As stated I do not like the 3/4 oz 28 that well.

DP
Lets be honest here, most of what you are describing as negatives to the 28 are due to shooter error.. plain and simple. A properly choked 28 or 410 is just as deadly as a 12 TO A POINT, and that point usually being about 25 yards. The difference is, it takes a LOT more skill to use the 28 or 410, you have to choke them down and be a great shot to put the smaller pattern on the bird. A 3/4oz of 7's should have PLENTY of shot to kill a grouse under 25 yards, if you do your part. Finding only one hole in the bird is a tell tale sign of you fringing the bird (missing), the pattern isn't there (bad load/choke selection), or too far of a shot (pattern wasn't there). I know you are a well seasoned hunter, so you should know better than that.

There are 215 pellets in a 3/4 oz load of 7's.
There are 225 pellets in 1oz of 6's
There are 250 pellets in 1 1/8 oz of 6's.

All three of those will have enough pellets to kill a grouse at less than 25 yards. He'll I've killed A LOT of doves with 1 1/8 steel 4's and that's only 216 pellets, if I can kill a fast crossing dove with 216 pellets, you can surely kill a fast flushing grouse with 215 pellets.

Don't knock the little guns for shooter error or poor shot selection.
 

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I will be honest, I used the 28 for grouse and went back to the 16 and 20. Grouse are a different game than open shooting at other birds. Nor do you have all day to aim at them. Due to the hunting conditions in the brush you will get more fringe hits or edge hits and more shot fills out the outer pattern better. Also in the brush not all the pellets in the pattern may reach them. Like I said, over 50 years of shooting at them. I did kill quite a few grouse with the 28, many of them off the trail and open shots or clear of the brush. You also get more tail end shots with the grouse and I got more feathers with the 3/4 oz loads. I don't get a chance to shoot doves but have shot more grouse in that 50 years than I can count. Don't compare grouse to doves. I will see if the 7/8 28 gauge works this year, but I suspect I will stay with the 20 as the little SA is about the weight as the 28 double I have. I have outgrown the 28 gauge mystique a long time ago.
Since this thread is aimed a the 410 lets just say that I find the 28, which is a more effective gauge marginal and because of that could not see using a 410 except in very early season. In late season I jump to the 16 or 3" 20 with hand loads and 1 1/8. They are not always 25 yard shots. I believe it was Burtin Spillar who had a 16 made as his custom grouse gun.

DEP
 

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Mnshooter said:
I will be honest, I used the 28 for grouse and went back to the 16 and 20. Grouse are a different game than open shooting at other birds. Nor do you have all day to aim at them. Due to the hunting conditions in the brush you will get more fringe hits or edge hits and more shot fills out the outer pattern better. Also in the brush not all the pellets in the pattern may reach them. Like I said, over 50 years of shooting at them. I did kill quite a few grouse with the 28, many of them off the trail and open shots or clear of the brush. You also get more tail end shots with the grouse and I got more feathers with the 3/4 oz loads. I don't get a chance to shoot doves but have shot more grouse in that 50 years than I can count. Don't compare grouse to doves. I will see if the 7/8 28 gauge works this year, but I suspect I will stay with the 20 as the little SA is about the weight as the 28 double I have. I have outgrown the 28 gauge mystique a long time ago.
Since this thread is aimed a the 410 lets just say that I find the 28, which is a more effective gauge marginal and because of that could not see using a 410 except in very early season. In late season I jump to the 16 or 3" 20 with hand loads and 1 1/8. They are not always 25 yard shots. I believe it was Burtin Spillar who had a 16 made as his custom grouse gun.

DEP
Everything you said falls right in line with what has already been said. You have to chose your shots. If you go in the field thinking you are going to shoot every bird that flushes and get your limit, subgauge hunting is not for you. If you go in the field saying "I'm going to shoot a grouse with a 410", then do it! You might have to pass up 20 shots and hunt over several days to accomplish it.

Shot is shot. #7 shot at 1200fps from a 410 is identical to #7 shot at 1200fps from a 20 gauge. Saying it doesn't work well for going away shots is not too accurate, that shot is all about penetration and I'm sorry to say in that instance the 410 will penetrate exactly the same as the 20, no matter how many pellets you throw at it.

No, I'm not comparing doves to grouse as apples to apples. I'm saying a dove has a vital zone HALF the size of a grouse, therefore if I can shoot dove with the low pellet count you can absolutely shoot grouse with the low pellet count... if you are good enough.

Your failed experiences with the 28 is simply due to poor shot placement, poor pattern, or poor shot selection. That's the facts. I know plenty of people who shoot ducks AND GEESE with 28 and 410 guns, with specialized TSS loads. Saying the 28 won't work for grouse when someone will be shooting a 12lb goose with one this weekend is asinine. Go tell hawglips that the 28 won't kill grouse effectively, I believe one if his friends took a swan with a 410 a couple seasons ago and hawglips shoots most of his waterfowl with the 28 if I remember correctly.
 
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