Continuing on with our outside-the-box expansion program, we’re taking our lever actions in another new direction for Henry Repeating Arms with the 2017 introduction of two .410 bore shotguns for those who like their small-gauge shotgunning to be done through a quick-handling platform they’re familiar with in rimfire and centerfire versions already used in the field. If you know our lever actions, you’ll be right at home with these new small-game-getters. There are times and places where a 20 or a 12 is just too much gun, and for those times and places the .410 may be the ideal way to go.
Both model variants are based on our blued steel-framed .45-70 Lever Action, with five-shot tube-loading magazines chambered for 2.5” shells only, dark straight-grained American walnut furniture, pistol grip wrists, checkering fore and aft, sling swivel studs, and a good thick non-slip ventilated black rubber recoil pad at the rear.
We give you two approaches in this .410. You can be the judge of which best fits your own hunting style.
The H018-410 is the long version, with a 24″ round blued barrel, removable factory installed invector style full choke and large front brass bead, with no rear sight. This one provides slightly longer practical ranges with its barrel length, along with additional choke options you can buy separately.
The H018-410R is a more versatile and compact package featuring a 20″ barrel, with a cylinder bore “choke”, simply a tapered constriction of the gun barrel’s bore at the muzzle end, and our standard adjustable semi-buckhorn rear and brass bead front sights. The weight’s easier to tote over a long afternoon on foot, with the shorter round barrel working easier through brush and other tight terrain where shots are expected to be close and fast. The adjustable sights make it easy to regulate patterns with a variety of birdshot and slugs to handle anything from small game birds such as partridge and pigeons through cottontails to fox and coyotes, varmints and pest control.
Whether you’re in the camp that regards the .410 as a beginner’s gauge or the camp that considers it a specialist’s gauge, we’ve got you covered with these two new models; simplistic, rugged and a great forager for survival, they’ll fit right in among your other prized Henry lever actions.
A Perfect Use for the .410
The .410 has a few things going for it. The guns are small and cute. They don’t kick. They are cheap to reload for. There’s a fun Americana song about them.*
That’s all on the plus side.
On the minus side, .410s don’t hold very much shot—1/2 to 11/16 of an ounce, less in steel—and what shot as they do hold, they deliver downrange poorly. The .410 should be called the “67 gauge,” which is what it is, to underscore the immense gap between the .410 and the other gauges.
Yet a lot of people love .410s. Every once in a while, when someone finds out what I do, they say: “You’re not one of those gun writers who says no one should ever hunt with a .410 are you?”
I mumble something non-committal, as I know what’s coming next, which is: “I’ve shot _____, ____ and _____ with .410s for years. It’s all I hunt with.”
There is the chance the person is a truly expert shot, with the discipline to take only birds at close range, and with good enough dogs to clean up their mistakes. There’s a much greater likelihood the person is a bird-crippling bozo, so I usually smile, nod, and change the subject.
Unless you’re willing to spend big money on TSS, the .410 is limited to woodcock, rails, decoying doves, and squirrels under ideal conditions all at ranges of about 25 yards. Even then, there’s nothing that can be done with a .410 that can’t be done lots better with a 28 gauge.
Except for skeet shooting. Having recently picked up a Mossberg 500 .410 on loan, I have fallen in with my club’s .410 shooters, and I already find myself thinking I need a .410 O/U and a reloader, which I never thought I would.
The difference between .410 skeet and skeet in all other gauges, including the 28, is that when you shoot any other gauge, you expect the targets to break and are disappointed when they don’t. The .410 is another story. As one of the .410 group explained to me when I first joined them: “The secret to shooting a .410 is not to care.” Shooting is always more enjoyable when you’re happy to hit a target, not upset that you missed it. Shooting the Mossberg low gun, my high scores so far have been a few 21x25s, but it’s highly satisfying to see targets shatter when I get lucky and center them in the fixed-full choke pattern. There are plenty of times everything looks perfect, I pull the trigger, and the target sails on its way, too. That’s where not caring helps.
The Best .410 Shotguns for Skeet
If you get sufficiently hooked on .410 Skeet, you may want to buy a special gun for it, and there are fine choices at every price. To be clear, you won’t see these guns at Skeet tournaments, because serious competitors all shoot sub-gauge events with tubes in their 12- or 20-gauge shotguns that let them shoot all the events with one gun. But what fun is that when you can buy a dedicated gun for informal Skeet instead? Here are half a dozen great ones to consider.
1. Browning BPS
Browning’s bottom-ejecting pump comes in a .410 model with a 26-inch barrel. It’s a hefty gun, built on a 20 gauge frame and weighing about 7 pounds, which makes it an easy gun to swing at clays.
2. Remington 1100
In the days before tube sets, it was common for all-gauge Skeet competitors to own a set of four 1100s. Although this classic gas gun is currently in hiatus there are plenty of used 1100s around, although you will find used .410s often command higher prices than bigger bores of the same model.
3. Mossberg SA-410
Mossberg’s imported Turkish gas semiauto wins high marks from its owners as an affordable, reliable gun. The SA-410 Field has a 26 inch choke-tubed barrel and a black synthetic stock so you won’t mind shooting it on rainy days at the gun club.
4. CZ-USA Drake
The CZ Drake is a bare bone O/U that comes and .410 and retails for $702. CZ USA
CZ’s entry-level O/U is priced right if all you want is a fun gun but prefer the ease of loading of a break action and you don’t want to pick up hulls. It’s a no-frills gun, with extractors only and fixed Improved Cylinder/Modified chokes that are open enough to hit close range birds with, but tight enough for satisfying breaks even with ½ ounce of shot.
5. Browning Citori 725 Sporting
It’s hard to find small-gauge Skeet models in this age of tube sets, but you can find Sporting Clays guns that adapt just fine to the Skeet field. The Citori 725 Sporting is the overwhelming gun of choice among the .410 crowd at my club, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a reliable, trim gun with all the competition extras like 30 and 32 inch barrels and extended chokes as well as handsome, grade III/IV walnut.
6. Caesar Guerini Summit
Caesar Guerini made its name with customer service and excellent Italian-made O/Us tailored to the US market, and the .410 Summit sporting is a perfect example. There’s no interest in .410s overseas, but we Americans love them, and what better way to show your love than to splurge on a fine Sporting O/U? It comes with 30 or 32 inch barrels.
The Comeback of the .410, Plus Four Pump-Action Shotguns for Small Game
My first shotgun was a New England Firearms .410 single shot that I received for my eighth birthday. That gun opened up a universe of hunting opportunities, allowing me to be more than a spectator when I accompanied my dad afield. I was a hunter of rabbits, squirrels, and the occasional quail. Like so many other hunters, my .410 was the gun that forged the path to all of my future sporting pursuits.
Five years later, though, I wanted something more potent. My friends carried 12s and 20s, and my little .410 left me feeling undergunned. I purchased a Winchester 1300 20-gauge pump and the .410 was relegated to the back of the gun safe. I didn’t plan on ever using it again.
But as it turns out the .410 has returned to active duty in my lineup of shotguns. Modern loads—specifically TSS—have revived the .410, transforming my NEF single shot into an effective turkey gun. I carry a .410 shotgun as often as any gauge. It’s in my hands when I’m following a pack of beagles at full cry on the heels of a cottontail, and it’s my go-to squirrel gun, especially when I’m locating bushytails with a call (odds are I’ll have to shoot at a moving target and a shotgun is more adept at that than a .22).
As much as I like my single-shot .410, a repeater is a more practical option for most hunting situations, and there’s nothing more American than a classic slide-action scattergun. Today’s .410 pumps are light, generate low recoil, and lethal in the hands of an experienced shooter. When I was a teenager, carrying a .410 was a sign of immaturity—the shotgun equivalent of wearing floaties in the swimming pool. Now when I see a hunter carrying a .410, I recognize an experienced hand who understands that the best shooters don’t need magnum 12-gauge loads so long as they pick their shots and possess the skill needed to make a .410 payload accurate on game.
Read Next: Rise of the Sub-Gauges: Why Small-Bore Shotguns Are Making a Comeback
The real reawakening for the .410, though, is the growing popularity of high-density shot materials like TSS and bismuth. While duck hunting Mississippi’s legendary Beaver Dam Lake I got a lesson in what today’s .410 TSS ammunition can accomplish. Jared Lewis of Apex Ammunition was carrying a .410, and as the ducks dropped in through the cypress trees, Lewis put on a shooting clinic. Mallards where falling to the .410 at 30 and 40 yards, hitting the water stone-dead. Secretly, I had imagined the .410 would cripple more birds than it killed, but that wasn’t the case. When we headed out of the blind for our return trip to the lodge I wondered how Nash Buckingham, who exclusively carried his HE-Grade Super Fox 12-gauge double Bo Whoop, would have felt to know that in the decades following his death hunters would occupy his old stomping grounds carrying .410s.
The .410’s greatest asset is its versatility. It will shoot everything from 2½-inch loads (perfect for dispatching small pests like rats, starlings, and snakes) up to 3-inch magnums with 13/16 ounces of high-density shot for ducks, turkeys, and pheasants. If you’re of the mindset that a pump gun should double as a home defense weapon then you’re in luck with the .410 too, for there are a host of defensive options made popular by guns like the Taurus Judge. Federal Ammunition’s Custom Shop will also whip you up a batch of your favorite .410 loads so you can tailor your shotshells to the game you’re chasing.
Pump guns are the perfect platform to extoll the .410’s many virtues. We tend to think that pumps are considerably slower than semi-autos, but in truth that depends upon the capability of the shooter, the gun, and the load. A low-recoiling .410 pump in the hands of an experienced shooter cycles like lightning, and since you’re doing the brunt of the work to cycle the gun, odds are it will run without failure even if you’ve been a little lax on your cleaning detail. Pumps are also the most affordable repeaters, with a panache you can’t find in other guns.
The 12-gauge is still the standard-bearer and will be for the foreseeable future—you own one and so do all of your hunting buddies. But owning a .410 pump has its virtues. You just have to use it for the proper pursuits. If that appeals to you, then here are four .410 pumps that you’ll want to consider buying. Just beware: These guns can quickly become an obsession, and your gun safe may soon overflow with .410s.
1. Tristar Cobra III Field Pump
Tristar guns are modeled after Beretta’s line of Italian auto-loaders and break-action shotguns. They are well-made Turkish firearms, and the Cobra III Field Pump Walnut .410 is an excellent value at $415. The Cobra weighs in at just over five pounds with a 28-inch barrel and the gloss-finish walnut stock looks like it belongs on a gun that should cost a lot moire. Three chokes come standard, and the reliable slide-action design will hold up to plenty of spent rounds. It only weighs five pounds, and can handle 3-inch loads. The barrel is chrome-lined and there is a rubber recoil pad on the buttstock, so you should hardly feel a thing every time you pull the trigger.
2. Browning BPS
My vote for the most under appreciated shotgun in North America goes to the BPS. Sure, these guns cost a little more than the average pump (starting at $700 MSRP), but the styling and craftsmanship is commensurate with a gun in that price range, plus they last forever. Browning’s BPS Field .410 ($800) comes with a robust steel receiver and weighs a bit more than other .410s on this list at 7 pounds—not ideal for young upland hunters who have to walk long distances with the gun. However, these guns have virtually no recoil with .410 loads and follow-up shots are blisteringly quick. Like most Mossberg guns, the BPS features a tang-mounted safety which is ideal for turkey hunting if you have to shoot with your off hand. And because the safety is ambidextrous and the BPS has a straight stock, it’s a good fit for right- and left-handed shooters. The BPS has a 3-inch chamber, the barrel is 26 inches, and it comes with Browning Invector-Plus chokes (IC, M, F).
3. Mossberg 500
Mossberg knows pump guns, so it’s no surprise that the company’s catalog of .410 pumps is the longest of any shotgun maker. Mossberg’s flagship pump is the 500. It’s available with walnut or black synthetic stocks, and both perform dutifully. The company also offers the .410 Bantam, which includes removable stock spacers that allow the gun to grow as your son or daughter does. That means the same gun your kid carries during their formative years in the squirrel woods could be the same gun they use to kill gobblers as an adult—and in both instances the gun will fit them properly. Turkey hunters will love the Model 500 .410 Turkey ($549), which comes in Bottomland camo, with a tang safety of course, and an extended X-Full choke. The 500 Field comes with a fixed full choke, and weighs just over 6 pounds. It also has a 3-inch chamber and dual-bead sight.
Read Next:8 of the Most Underrated Pump Shotguns of All Time
4. Remington 870
The future of Remington guns is uncertain. The company was purchased out of bankruptcy and new owners—Roundhill Group LLC—have promised to bring back the 870. I certainly hope that’s the case. Remington’s failings over the years have had nothing to do with the 870’s design, and the light, lively Wingmaster .410 with a 25-inch barrel is a beautiful gun to behold. Plus, you can still find this gun new as well as on the used market. Just before the company was sold another new .410 was announced, an all-camo .410 turkey gun with a Tru-Glo top rail for mounting an optic. It also includes a super full choke tube, and the receiver is milled from solid steel, so you can expect a lifetime’s worth of durability from this gun.
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