.410 Slugs for Deer Hunting?

posted on May 20, 2014
image0016.jpg

If you’re like me, you’ve pondered the suitability of .410 slugs for whitetail deer hunting. However, there’s little consensus about the subject; in fact, even ammunition companies’ stances are often at odds. For example, Brenneke USA promotes its 2½” and 3” for use on small game and, more specifically, coyotes, as well as for self-defense, while Federal Cartridge Co. displays a deer emblem, thereby suggesting its effectiveness for the smaller, big-game species. Too, in searching the internet forums, there are actually few reliable field reports, though those who have employed them on whitetail deer understood their range limitations and were pleased with their performance.

Further compounding the dilemma, in crunching the numbers, Federal’s Power-Shok 2½”, 1/4-oz. (109.375-gr.) slug propelled to 1775 f.p.s. produces 765 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle, which is more than even the field-proven Hornady 10 mm Auto 180-gr. XTP load-it produces 556 ft.-lbs. at the muzzle. Granted, the latter will, by virtue of its construction, penetrate deeper. As such, it makes sense that the .410 would “work” on deer-size game; however, I wanted empirical evidence rather than conjecture and unsubstantiated reports, so I worked with Federal Cartridge Co. to determine the .410’s terminal performance through animal hide into ordnance gelatin. The results: when fired from a Savage Arms Model 42 from 50 yds., the all-lead, .41-cal. slug penetrated to a depth of about 8½”. The slug’s oversize expansion diameter surely factored into the limited penetration.

All things considered, for a youth or extremely recoil-timid adult hunter, if he or she is willing to “pick” shots and try to avoid the scapula, I see no reason that the aforementioned load wouldn’t bring a whitetail deer to bag. In this case, bigger is better but smaller is sufficient.

Latest

Bergara Premier Mglite Rifle
Bergara Premier Mglite Rifle

New For 2022: Bergara Premier MgLite Rifle

New for 2022, Bergara introduces its new Premier Series MgLite rifle, combining carbon fiber and magnesium construction for an ultra-lightweight, long-range bolt action.

New For 2022: Stoeger STR-9C Optic Ready

New for 2022, Stoeger introduces a new addition to its compact STR-9C handgun line with an optic read model, the STR-9C Optic Ready.

New For 2022: Browning X-Bolt Speed Ovix Suppressor Ready

Browning introduces a new addition to the X-bolt Speed series for 2022 with a suppressor ready model with pre-threaded barrel.

New For 2022: Kelbly's Inc. Nanook MG Rifle

New for 2022, Kelby's Inc. unveils its ultra-lightwight Nano MG precision rifle, offered in three different calibers.

First Look: Walther PDP Color Options

Building off the success of its PDP handguns, Walther Arms now offers three additional color options for the frames of the PDP line.

New For 2022: Black Collar Arms MBA

New for 2022, Black Collar Arms releases it Modern Bolt Action, or MBA, straight-pull, bolt-action rifle which uses commonly available AR-10 parts in its construction.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.