Little guns such as the single shot Savage .410 have become extremely popular and at a very low cost, I think I paid around $170 for mine at Sportsman's Warehouse, it was a low barrier opportunity to try out.
After picking up my gun, I found a Burris Fast-fire III red dot scope to mount on the gun and after extensive online shopping and ‘googling’ found a few sources for shells and ordered a few different company types and shot sizes.
Being a big fan of high density patterns and ‘hits’ on target, I opted for 9.5 and 9 shot from the shells that I ordered.
I ordered Federal, Boss, Rouge and Verdict and anxiously waited for them to arrive.
In the meantime, I had a few boxes of 4 shot lead and to not waste TSS loads for the initial ‘sighting in’ process, I used these to get me on paper and close to where I new I’d waste minimal shells to dialing in my build. Initial impressions weren't horrible..
The first shells to arrive were the Federal 3” 9’s. A nice looking shell that had mixed online reviews.
Knowing all too well that a low cost, high volume manufactured shotgun would vary in manufacturing specs and performance, I knew I had to find out what worked for me my little Savage.
Wanting to know the performance at the very end of where I’d take a shot on a bird, as long as the pattern density performed, I set my box up in my back field at 40 yards. I did this to make sure I captured the full pattern on the paper and could focus on putting the center of the pattern behind the red dot.
In 2 shots I was on target and fairly impressed with the load (picture above on 10" circle) Would it kill a turkey? Yes. Everytime? I wasn’t confident it would so I moved the box in closer in 5 yard increments until the pattern yielded the results that I knew, without a doubt, would kill a turkey 100% off the time.
For this particular Federal Shell, 30 yards was where I knew it’d be lights out. I made note of this as I documented my testing.
The next shell to arrive was the Verdict Ammo. The performance was unreal. As you'll see in the image below.. it threw a CLOUD! Unfortunately, I was only able to buy a single box of shells (5) and despite the incredible pattern it threw at 40 yards I mixed up the direction of my red dot and ended up not being able to use this shell because I moved the sight wrong and couldn't correct with my limited shells. Damn it.
It was by far the best pattering shell of the lot that I shot and I would have 100% confidence in the shell performing at distance, if needed.
Following the Verdict, I tried out the BOSS shells. The performance was in the middle of the road at 35 yards and for me, which was ideally as far as I wanted to take a bird. I shot a few rounds to confirm consistency in pattern and decided I’d hunt with it, as our opener was only 1 day away.
Regarding the Rouge ammo, unfortunately it arrived after my hunt and I still haven’t had a chance to shoot and test it out as I was fortunate to put my tag on a bird first thing opening morning.
For those wondering about performance of the BOSS shell, it works. I was fortunate to take a beautiful Gobbler in our home state of Utah and the shell did its job at around 30 steps. The bird fell as hard and dead as any bird I’d shot with any 12, 20 or 28 gauge load.
You can read that recap here, if you'd like.
In summary, while I know that TSS loads are very expensive and not an option for all, I’d still encourage you to make sure you test out different loads and find the right recipe for your build.
I believe every animal, bird, critter we hunt deserves our very best and knowing the limits and performance capabilities of our guns is a big piece of the puzzle.
Put in the work and you’ll likely reap the rewards.
Give the .410 a try this next spring or fall. I think yall will really enjoy it!
Be safe and God Bless,
Matt Davis / Founder