Gun stuff to bore you with.
Day before last, I went to Cabellas, and bought a pound of RL-15, and two packages of .410 slugs.
.410 bore stuff:
I'll confess that I bought the cheapest slugs, and even then had to pay a lot for them. A box of five .410 slugs costs the same as a box of premium 12 gauge slugs. In this case, I paid $4 each for boxes of Winchester slugs (1850 fps, they claim. Zowie.) that were smaller than a dump pouch for six rounds of .38 Special. Consider that this is rough the same price as a box of twenty-five field loads for dove hunting, in 12 gauge! So it's not about the shipping, or the packaging, or the costs of materials. It's about economies of scale. Tons more (literally) 12 gauge are shot each season than .410 bore. And why not? They've got better knockdown, on a wider variety of game, and at longer distances, effectively.
So here's this .410 shell, putting out around a fifth to a quarter of the shot payload of a 12 gauge shell, making it harder to hit, and harder to kill game. When you're as crappy a winghooter as I am, that's a major consideration.
Paying $4.00 to $5.00 for a box of 12 gauge slugs is pricey, but at least you walk away with something substantial. Most 12 gauge slugs are one ounce slugs, with some going even higher. There are a few reduced recoil slugs out there that weigh in a tad less, but usually they're an ounce each, or twice as much as a bullet from my .45 acp. So a box contains five ounces of projectile alone. Add in primers, wads, powder, hulls, case heads and box, and you get nearly half a pound of substance for your $4.00 or so.
But I honestly believe that one could forget that a box of .410 slugs was in his pocket. I'll have to be careful not to launder them. So why would one get a .410 shotgun at all?
As for myself, I've never owned one. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I've actually ever even fired a .410 shotgun. I'm just doing an experiment with this insert adaptor thing.
One's accuracy is said to improve when one uses a .410. Necessity: it's a mother. I don't know that .410s are any quieter-- in my experience they seem to have quite a crack to them. But they may be a little quieter than a large bore shotgun. But the main thing is that shotguns that handle .410 are usually light and handy, without the recoil that one would get from a large bore in a light gun.
Last year, a friend bought one of those cute little Winchester M9410's. I never got to shoot it, but I did handle it, and it was just as nifty as hell. If you're not familiar with them, they're a Winchester M94 lever action rifle or carbine, which has been fitted with a smoothbore .410 barrel. They are a true shotgun, but in that classic Johne Wayne style. They have a set of shallow open sights that are even more coarse than the standard M94 rifles, but which are probably pretty appropriate for a shotgun that will be wing-shooting. Now, do I really have a use for one? Damned if I can think of one. Believe me, I tried! I still think it looks like fun. But if I did, I'd have to factor in the cost of a reloading setup, because it would KILL me to pay more for .410 shells than for 12 gauge. The reloader experiences nice savings with .410, though.
Reloader 15 Powder.
I bought the RL-15 for reloading .35 Whelen, .45-70, and (drum roll) .375 H&H. Dad and I are going hog hunting the end of this month. Dad'll likely bring that 1895GS .45-70 that I gave him a few years back on his 60th birthday. I'll be bringing my M1903 Springfield sporter .35 Whelen that I rebarreled a few years ago due to bad pitting in the .30 bore. Dad and I've carried these rifles hunting quite a few times, but never got to connect with 'em. (Well, I did shoot a deer with the Springfield when it was a .30-06, but that was a different rifle, back then.) Then there's this safe queen, a Remington M700 .375, that we haven't actually shot yet. Maybe this is the time. Seems that Reloader 15 is a common powder for all three, and while we did have some on hand, these calibers gobble a lot of it. Shoot, the Whelen round is the real miser of the three, with loads only calling for 50 something grains. (Such a great caliber.)
Also, what with my latest messing around with my '06, I've got 40 fresh, once-fired .30-'06 cases all ready to be loaded with .35 Whelen loads. One of the real beautiful properties of the .35 Whelen is that you can load unprepped .30-'06 cases, and skip a step. Attend me: Usually, with rifle cases, even just once-fired, you need to trim the length down to parameters, due to the slight stretching that takes place during firing. It's not a huge task, but it involves chocking up each case in a jig of some kind, and using either hand or motor to run a small trimmer along the mouth of th case to shave off a few thousandths of brass. Then you have to chamfer the case mouth, inside and out, with a deburring tool. For good accuracy, you should do this every time. But when you run the expanding taper down the mouth and neck of the .30-'06 case during case sizing, two things occur: the case mouth and neck are expanded from .308" to .358", and the neck shrinks, just a tad. Not much, but it gets a few thousandts shorter as it gets wider. Just as if I had trimmed the case. When I first rebarreled my Springfield back when, I worried that it was going to be a pain to convert .30-'06 cases to .35 Whelen. I had no idea (until the first time I tried it) that it was not just as easy; it was actually easier than reloading the case to the same caliber.
Now, if I were shooting a scoped rifle and trying to achieve intense high accuracy, I would still trim those cases to a uniform length. Heck, I'd even neck turn the cases to achieve perfect uniformity. But this is an iron-sighted rifle with a ghost peep and a post front sight, with which I cannot achieve better than 2 minute of angle groups on mine and its best day. I'm loading it with either 225g or 250g bullets to a moderate (2300 to 2400 fps) velocity, for smacking hogs out to, oh, about 150 yards. Maybe 200, if I have the sun at my back, a good rest, and a still target. So the slight imperfection in the accuracy bothers me not. While I normally weigh each charge for scoped rifle handloads, I just throw these charges, weighing perhaps every fifth charge or so. What's the point in loading a match-accuracy round for a non-match rifle? One mustn't get overly involved in the process.
Dad's got a bunch of Remington 400g (or were they 405g?) JSP .458 bullets that we'll load up in the Marlin Guide Gun. We load 'em to about 1500 or 1600 fps. Doesn't sound like much, but this is out of a handy little carbine, and the sectional density is very nice. The carbine has Ashley Outdoors/XS peep sights on it, which is amusing, because we're hunting with Ashley himself. Ashley is a hunter and innovator. He's got skills with guns and machinery. He's madeningly adept with both, and sort of knows it. Cockiness is not so hard to take when the guy can back his claims. (Damn him.) I hunted with Ashley a couple of year ago, and liked the heck out of him.
I think that we'll load the .375 up with 270g bullets. The rifle's Dad's, so it's his call. (We sort of use the "communal armory" concept.) The late Jeff Cooper (RIP) said that the 270 was the proper weight for the .375 caliber, when he was damning Hornady for only making 210s for the .376 round for the Scout Dragoon. Who am I to argue? Zipping a 270g bullet along at 2700fps makes for a genuine magnum, fit to take anywhere on the planet. Overkill for hog? Sure, probably. But the cape buff are a little scarce here in Texas.
For what it's worth, I eat my wild hogs when I shoot 'em. Without exception, my experience has shown them to provide lean, sweet meat, fit for roasts or just grinding into sausage. I have a grinder, and recipes for sausage, and it's a snap-- actually easier than individually butchering the meat into parcels for the freezer. I just grind it and stuff it into vegetable casings, and toss it into the freezer. It's good. Hog are a serious menace to the land around here, so I shoot 'em whenever I can.