Post Apocalypse EOTWAWKI Choice? 12 Ga.

On some other thread, the topic of ammunition reloading in adversity was briefly talked up. I’ve reloaded pistol and shotgun rounds, and even a few rifle rounds; so this isn’t entirely hypothetical.

When it is the EOTWAWKI and the SHTF, what do you want in your “Go Bag”?

( End Of The World As We Know It and Shit Hits The Fan)

At one time I spent many hour contemplating this. Usually while waiting for a backup tape to finish turning or a disk fsck to finish. (file systems consistency check – usually pronounced ‘F-Suck’ and can take hours). Gotta have something to keep the mind busy while thumbs are twiddling in a cold, locked computer room with limited access and you can’t leave…

My conclusions were pretty simple. A “9 mm / .357 / .38 special” bullet mold (yes, I know the 9 is imperceptibly different…). A 9 mm handgun – since just about 100% of every military uses it as does lots of police forces so ammo is plentiful and compatible, an optional .357 rifle – Marlin, lever gun, good for everything from squirrels to ‘deer sized mammals’, and a 12 Gauge shotgun – ever try to hit a flying bird with a rifle? I’ve done it, but…

While the .22 LR is great for “small stuff” and you can pack 1000 rounds in a pocket of your overalls, it’s a 3rd tier choice. Chuck it in the trunk of the car if you have time kind of thing. The simple fact is that the 9mm stops just about everything you need to stop, is also a very dense ammo pack, and is going to be available from any military and paramilitary you find to hook up with. Then a nice lever gun in .357 is a good enough hunting gun, can be easily reloaded with a Lee Loader (think sandwich box sized hand tool) and can be loaded with black power in a pinch. Since you ought to only need it on rare occasions (and a disciplined hunter will maybe use 100 rounds a year) it is easy enough to put it in the trunk and be done.

But the one that always caught my fancy was the 12 Gauge.

Mine has both a bird barrel (smooth bore, long, interchangeable chokes) and a 24 inch rifled deer barrel. It can be used for all those difficult things like pheasant, ducks, quail, running squirrels, and hard to drop things like wild boar and bear (with slugs).

The 12 gauge also has the advantage that the primer cups are really big and can be reformed by hand with simple tools, loaded with match heads, and reused. The Filipinos did that during W.W.II against the Japanese. Then the shell can be reused almost forever without any need for reforming dies. It can also use various propellants (handgun, shotgun and similar smokeless powder, black powder, and even home made cordite) with some care to not load too full. Then, the really good part: Just about anything you can stick into the shell makes a decent projectile. Nails, bolts, rock salt, rocks, coins, etc. etc.

So it is sort of the “Hail Mary” end of the line option.
When nothing else works, grab it.

The 12 Gauge also has the “advantage” that it is typically seen as the PC-Approved gun. For some reason the folks who know little about guns think it is just for shooting clays or ducks and not for anything else. Lost on them is the history of the Trench Broom of W.W.I and the Police Riot Gun… In reality, for ranges under 100 yards, it is one of the most lethal guns out there. The typically 4 round tube magazine on pump guns even makes them feel comfortable with “limited capacity”. Having never been to a speed shoot, they don’t realize your “magazine capacity” is the size bag you can sling. Many shooters can stuff them up the load ramp as fast as they can get a bead on a target.

So long after States, like California, and countries, like the UK, have criminalized just about every other choice; they typically leave shotguns alone. I have 3 of them… (The Defender version with an officially 5 round magazine – but 7 shorter 2 3/4 inch shells fit for 7+1 chambered, 8 total), and an adapter lets me move the bird barrel and Deer Hunter barrels onto it if desired… then a double bbl). I’m a bit low on 00 Buckshot ( some other buckshot loads can be 36 pellets / shot and about the same “lumps of lead down range” per minute as a machine gun) and slugs ( what can an ounce of lead at about Mach 1 do on impact? Um, stop any animal not found only in Africa…)

So my general ideal get out of Dodge plan is to put 2 shotguns and about 25 lbs of ammo (did I mention it’s heavy? ;-) in the trunk with the .357 and 100 rds or so, then have the 9mm and a few more hundreds “at hand” and head out. IF time permits and I want something spouse (or in prior times, the kids) could handle then the .22 LR guns got loaded to the trunk, too. Now not so much. Besides, the spouse is good enough now to like the 9mm ;-)

Figuring the 9mm is more than enough for most “protection” needs and will stop a mountain lion when camping out in the wilderness. It can be used for some “game” on an opportunistic basis, but realistically, that’s the job of the .357 lever gun with scope. Then the shotgun mostly sits around waiting for that WTF Wild Boar charge, or the fall bird migration hunt. And maybe the odd bear that decides to not leave when you bang the pots together… A 12 gauge slug can be a fearsome thing…

But even I was not ready for what was on these videos.

Think bolts is a wild idea? How about armor penetrating rounds? 3D Plastic printed slugs? What about when everything is banned but Gummi Bears and Vienna Sausages? (Seriously, they fire a sausage slug…)

This one is just crazy. Hand blown glass slugs with iron bits inside them. Really. Glass slugs. Who knew?

Then this one is just getting silly. Random pellets stuck into Flex Seal…

At which point you can see why I’m not really worried about “Ammo Bans”. (At present, in California, you must present ID so your purchase details can be stored in a database about you, and pay an ammo tax – that goes to a special fund that is used to persecute gun owners, and jump through other hoops too, just to buy any ammo in any quantity. So I reload…)

Go ahead and ban 12 Gauge ammo, don’t worry about me… I’m just buying some sausages and a bit of Flex Seal… ;-)

Then, for folks who think a 12 Gauge just “isn’t enough gun”, there’s this little round. It is a BYO 22 blank from your nail / anchor construction tools, though… The blank in the nose sets off the powder filling the lead slug.

And that, boys and girls, is why I have 3 x 12 Gauge shotguns and not even one AR-15 or other “Politically Incorrect” rifle. The State Of California has decided I must have a much more lethal gun and the ability to create thousands of rounds of my own ammo, so I’m just doing as I was told…

Then, just for fun, on to “Stopping Power”. Endlessly used as fodder for long discussions. This video does a very good job of sorting out the crap. Only thing where I think they missed a trick is on the issue of specific ammunition. I have a small .32 ACP pocket gun I like. Technically way too under-powered (even if it IS the James Bond gun). BUT, put a particular kind of high tech ammo in it that opens into 6 small hooked knives on impact, it has a 1-shot-stop rating almost the same as .45 ACP Military Ball. Not a “bug out gun”, but something you can hold in a dressing gown pocket and look like nothing is there, yet have quite something… Other than that, I agree entirely with their conclusions. Most any “regular defense caliber” is good ( Roughly anything .380 / .38 special up to 45 ACP / .44 Magnum) and the major problem with small rounds ( .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP) is that stopping a drugged up big angry guy doesn’t work reliably enough. Shotguns and big rifles stop everything.:

One surprise for me was just how much “any gun” does almost everything you could want most of the time.

Then, just because I know there are some folks here who love it, the same folks evaluation of their ultimate EOTWAWKI gun:

As I’m not limited to “just one”, I come to a different conclusion. To be expected with a different premise.

My “Just One” choice? Likely a Rebel Gun. The LeMat. Shoots black powder (we ARE talking EOTWAWKI) has a 9 shot revolver (from .36 to .42 caliber with .44 reproductions) and a .60 caliber / 20 Gauge central smooth bore short shotgun barrel… I’d want the modern reproduction version. Seen in Firefly and Serenity… ;-)

No price listed but last time I saw one it was about $1000 which is why I don’t have one ;-)

The mid-1800s were a time in American history that gave birth to a number of innovative firearm designs, and this truly unique, unusual sidearm was also known as the “Grape Shot Revolver.” Developed in New Orleans in 1856 by Dr. Jean LeMat and backed by Pierre G.T. Beauregard, who was to become a general with the Confederacy. Roughly 2,900 were produced. An accurate reproduction of the First Model LeMat, our Cavalry version has a nine-shot, .44-caliber cylinder and rifled 6-3/4″ barrel. What sets it apart from other revolver designs is the 20-gauge, .645″ diameter 5-7/8″ smoothbore barrel, originally intended for firing buckshot. Both are fired by a pivoting striker. In combat, the firepower from the pistol barrel plus a hefty dose of “blue whistlers” made the LeMat a fearsome weapon to face. Accurate details like the swivel lanyard ring and trigger guard spur duplicate those found on originals. The loading lever is mounted on the left side. N-SSA approved. Don’t miss this opportunity to own a classic firearm that was part of the transition from single-shot to repeating arms. Replacement Nipples are available and come Per 10.

Now That’s an EOTWAWKI gun!

LeMat Reproduction

LeMat Reproduction

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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98 Responses to Post Apocalypse EOTWAWKI Choice? 12 Ga.

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    A couple side notes, if you are loading .357 for use in a tube magazine lever gun you would want to use a flat nose bullet profile to ensure they won’t set off other rounds in the magazine due to recoil. In lever guns with strong recoil, a pointed nosed bullet can set off the primer ahead of it in the tube magazine when the gun recoils. Round nose not so much but still a slight risk. On the .357 probably not enough recoil to be a high risk but since there are flat nose .357 caliber 158 grain bullets out there might as well use them.

    As noted by EM above common .9mm and .380 uses a 0.355 – 0.356 Inches diameter bullet, the .38 and .357 generally go for 0.357 Inches to 0.358 Inches these diameters are essentially interchangeable, although using the larger in a gun intended to use the smaller will result in higher chamber pressures (not a good thing on older cheaper “found” guns)

    The good news is that you can easily build a simple bullet swage to resize the larger bullets to the slightly smaller diameter. Basically just a polished hole of the smaller size in a block of steel which you press the bullet through to slightly reform it to the smaller diameter.

    For about $43 you can buy casting molds for the most common calibers to have on hand if you wanted to “manufacture” bullets out of melted lead acid battery plates or similar cast-able metal.

    If in a bind you could cast the .358 bullets in the last link and resize them slightly with a small swage and a vice or other press.

    You can also manufacture your own molds with a bit of effort (two flat bars of metal and a drill press and a bit of time hand grinding a reamer out of 3/8 inch drill to achieve the proper bullet profile.

    At close range you don’t even need lead bullets any metal or dense plastic soft enough to deform into the rifling and survive the spin imparted will work. I see no reason you could not make bullets out of metal shavings bonded together with melted plastic if you kept velocities low. In WWII the Japanese manufactured bamboo bullets in the south pacific when they were cut off from supply by our island hopping campaign as they tried to recycle ammunition.

    Another nice book to have in the library is a reloading manual which will give you some ideas of what powder to use and how much. (NOTE powders are NOT interchangeable, using a fast burning powder in too great a quantity will blow up a gun) So if using some expedient powder substitute a great deal of caution would be needed to work up useful loads. You can pickup up older versions in thrift stores and used book stores for very low cost. Many load sheets are available on line from the major manufactures so you could also down load them and print out the ones you are most interested in.

    Buckshot molds are available for only a bit more money.

    Although lots of folks talk about #00 buckshot, #1 buckshot is actually a slightly better load.
    #00 is 0.33 inch diameter and only loads 9-12 pellets because of its low packing effeciency in the 12 Ga hull, depending on if 2 3/4 inch or 3 inch shells.
    #1 buck is 0.30 inch diameter and loads better giving 16 pellets in a 2 3/4 inch shell or 24 pellets in a 3″ shell.

    The beauty of a shot gun, is as the Chief mentioned that the pellets do not even have to be round you can make an expedient plate mold of just a flat plate of the proper thickness with lots of 5/16 inch holes in it giving cylindrical pellets about 0.3125 which weight wise would be more or less identical to #0 buckshot. Where 9/32 drill holes would give you a cylindrical pellet about equivalent to #2 buck.

    On .22 rim fire ammunition, the biggest cause for fail to fire with rim fire ammunition is rough handling (ie bouncing around in your trunk) so if carrying rim fire in the car place the ammo with the cartridge base down and rest it on something resilient so it rides a bit easier and does not cause vibration to knock the primer compound out of the rim.

    If you are inclined to purchase just the key components you can buy everything you need from various suppliers. My favorite for shotguns is:
    I especially like these as they come in common shot weights used in cheap 12 gauge shells people use for skeet etc. so in theory you could buy low cost 1 1/8 oz shot loads dump the shot and replace it with a 1 1/8 or a 1 ounce dangerous game slug and have something that you could depend on to take down even a big wild pig or bear or what ever.

    During the Vietnam war they experimented with flechette rounds for the 12Ga, they fly much farther and penetrate more and the pattern spreads less at long distance than common buckshot.

    They could be easily made out of common nails.

    (note flechette rounds are illegal to own in CA, FL, MA, IL, DC, HI, or AK.)

    We think alike on this EM.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, I got the 2 bullet .357 mold in 158 gr? or so “semi-wadcutter flat nose” . Works great in both my 9mm and the .357 guns. Slower production rate, but my goal was minimal carry weight.

    A Very Important Point:

    As these are cast lead, they are NOT sensitive to the 0.001 range variation. It’s the jacketed hard shell rounds where that starts to matter and even then it is at marginally high loadings.

    I started off with a “lowest suggested load” at about 900 fps, then worked my way up looking for pressure indications and found none up to a full 9mm loading of about 1200 fps. As lead tends to rub off at higher speeds and coat the barrel, I stopped at that point.

    My load is written on the boxes that the shells (full or empty) live in, so I can’t forget it…

    Yes, with any “improvised powder”, you start with “not nearly enough” and work upward. I’d use my .357 Ruger revolver for that. It can pretty much take anything ;-) and has a 9mm cylinder too ;-)

    Be prepared to shove a bullet out of the barrel if you find out your first load is a squib…

    Loading books are cheap, and lots of info is online and can just be printed out, but realistically, pick ONE bullet and ONE powder for your SHTF inventory and write it down on the boxes. I also used “dippers” so the powder load is not dependent on some high tech scale. Worked fine.

    “Found metal” is easier not from car batteries. (Lead Sulphate is not your friend). Wheel weights are all over the place, especially at tire repair places. Plumbing solder works very well, but realize that it is almost all tin. Tin makes a very hard bullet (and mine end up 110 grain so very fast out the spout) and that is classed as “armor piercing” in some places like California if loaded into a handgun (at least last time I looked) So don’t do that. ;-) Just hit up some junk shops and metal recyclers and you can usually pick up a batch. Scuba dive weights are also large lumps of lead as are fish net weights. Hang out at the coast and find where folks get rid of their worn gear.

    BTW, I think you meant “powders are NOT interchangeable”, yes?

  3. ossqss says:

    My list would include my 10/22 takedown. Ammo is just so plentiful and light. Sharpshooter friend says it is not about caliber, but about accuracy of your shot on just about anything. Just about every gun owner has a 22 and bunches of cheap ammo in the house to find if necessary.

    That said, I still would hold on to the Judge and Circuit Judge using various 410 loads (half weight and size of a 12) and 45 Colt longs. Sharing ammo with a pistol and rifle/shot gun has its benefits. I would probably leave the AR and the other various handguns behind (I would miss my CC Glock 30S) , but would pack my Barnett Jackel cross bow. Silent, accurate, and deadly with reusable bolts, if you don’t miss. Zombie weapon if you will. ;-)

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    Then you must have liked the video choice of the “just one” gun, the Judge ;-)

    My only complaint about it is that I’ve had trouble hitting clays with a .410 as the shot pattern is not dense enough. You can be right on target and the clay has pellets just whizz past it… it’s in a hole in the pattern.

    I can’t imagine that getting better from a rifled pistol barrel.

    As my desire for a shotgun includes more than just “self defense” and little things inside 15 feet, a shotgun with a real and dense shot pattern matters to me…

    At least with my skill, a 20 Gauge is about as small as I can go and reliably hit clays.

    For a while I wanted one of these over / under rifle / shotguns in 20 Gauge / .223 Remington, but they are a bit heavy to carry and being 2 x single shot, not much for defense after the first couple of rounds.

    Now discontinued anyway. But as a “just enough” hunting anything gun, would be great.

  5. ossqss says:

    Oh heck yeah on the “just one” EM. I would note the Circuit Judge comes with 2 chokes. One of which would help with tightening patters for clays for certain, but you don’t use that with Colt longs.

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

    Oh yes missed that typo Powders are definitely not interchangeable, even similar powders which have burn rates close to each other cannot be substituted one for one.

    Could you please fix that typo so if someone just reads that single comment they do not run off and do something really dangerous? That was one of those edit errors where you accidentally clip something you did not intend to.

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    My brother had a Marlin and I had a Winchester Model 70 – 30-06, so I didn’t pay much attention to his loads.
    I was going to comment on the 0.35 Rem {.358} versus the 0.357 diameter but Larry covered it, so I can go read something else.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Even the same powder as it ages can change. I decant about the amount I expect to load in a batch, then load. Excess returned to the jug. This minimizes the pouring / wearing on the powder and production of “fines”. I also keep it temperature controlled. No changes of note yet.

    The other Ah-Ha moment for me was learning about how wildcatters work up a loading. That’s when I realized all loads were basically done that way. Start low, work up to “pressure signs”, back off. Just the professional guys have better gear for “pressure signs”, including copper disks and instrumented barrels; but the concept is a constant.

    Which I then generalized to: IF I’m not trying for a max allowable load but just want consistent good enough, I’ve got a lot of headroom on the “pressure signs”…

    Then it is a lot easier to handle… So I make my 9’s strong enough to run the action, but well below max (and never +P even though the gun can handle them) and I tend to load the .357 to about 10% light – but well over .38 Special. Then my brass lasts longer too.

    That way it isn’t much risk even if things change or I have a screwup.

    Only big risk is that the old stovepipe .38 / .357 cases are mostly empty. It is possible to “double dip” and make too strong a load by 2 x so I’m very very careful at that point… Dip and load the whole tray, then scan it with a bright flashlight so all look the same fullness (then put away the dipper and powder) THEN run them through the press…

    IF I really want a full on .357 Bear Stopper, well, I’ve got a couple of commercial boxes for that…

    THE really good thing is that black powder is much much more forgiving and much more fluffy so it’s almost impossible to overload the cases. Makes a dirty mess in the gun, so not to be used if there is any other option… Home Made cordite will tend to have too large a grain size for handgun / shotgun use so the slow burn will tend to be protective. (The risk there would be making it from cotton and NOT dissolving it in acetone and extruding. Then it is way too fine… and would want a lot of graphite to slow the burn rate.. But most likely the nitration won’t be complete anyway. Essentially risks are likely really low, but if you were really good at nitrating, you better also be good at making it into goo and extruding / rolling it.)

    Then you start with about a 1/2 load of a fast powder recipe and asses. Squib? Close to right? Pressure signs? And adjust in small increments. Just like the wildcatters…

    Hopefully that will only ever be a hypothetical for me. Has been for about 30 years now ;-)

    At this point, even in an EOTWAWKI event, I’m not seeing where I’d use up all my supplies before I ran out of need. I’m not going to hold off roving bands (in uniforms or not) and the bug out to country option has slowly dried up as population near here has gone through the roof even out in what used to be “remote” areas; so “bug out and camp” not really an option any more. Something to feed into the planning for the Florida move… Stay close to the geriatric hospital or be on the edge of where you can live without society? Decisions decisions… ( I’m going to lobby for a place near the urban area and an RV pad on some “recreational land” a modest drive away… ;-)

    It isn’t clear if “reloading bench” will be part of the resultant plan… especially if “briefcase of commercial” is a lot easier to store and move, and more than remotely needed…

    @Per 12 Gauge:

    One other point… It doesn’t take nearly as much precise aiming. Something I’m appreciating more and more as the eyes age. Still need to remember than inside 20 to 40 feet the “shot pattern” is more like a fist than pizza, but with the rifle barrel putting twist on the shot cup, it spreads out faster for “inside and close”… For that reason I leave the rifled deer bbl on it with “turkey loads”… Ought to get to about basketball sized crossing the living room ;-) Plus with some clays practice you get really good “instinctive point” going…

  9. H.R. says:

    E.M. leads in with: “On some other thread, the topic of ammunition reloading in adversity was briefly talked up.”

    Actually runs of comments and a few threads on reloading, making ammo, firearms, hunting, SHTF firearms, self defense firearms, other SHTF weapons, found weapons, and all things designed to break things, blow up things, and kill things have broken out many times on your blog E.M. You’ve unleashed the knowledge and diabolical creativity of the denizens of this blog more times than can just be tossed off as, “Didn’t we discuss that once?” 😁👍

    Yeah, it’s all just fun and games and grins and giggles until the SHTF for real. Then everyone else will wish they had been paying attention in class. Better to have knowledge and not need it than need some knowledge and not have it. So, I’ll enjoy this episode exploring ways of not dying for (fill in the blank) and making the other poor bastard die for (fill in the blank).

    My SHTF/EOTWAWKI ensemble would consist of a gate-loading .357 lever action carbine, a .357 mag revolver, a SxS double-barrel 12-gage coach gun chambered for 3″, a S&W .22 Kit revolver, and a S&W .38 Special Chief revolver. I have all that. My wife has a SIG compact .380 which is insanely accurate,highly reliable, and easy to shoot.

    Now, I also have a couple of 9mm semi-auto handguns, a .22 semi-auto, a few pump shotguns and a couple of high-power hunting rifles. They would stay behind in an EOTW bug-out situation. All the guns I listed to take have common and interchangeable ammo, are reliable, and are (relatively) easily repairable.

    All that I listed is easily carried and the .22 and the .38 are particularly concealable. The thought is that there should be some spare or backup capacity should one gun be put out of commission, lost, or taken or traded away. As far as the shotgun goes, if I can’t take care of business with one or two shots, then 4 or 5 or 6 more aren’t going to help. It’s better to learn to shoot well with the first shot than depend on a probability distribution of many poorly aimed shots.

    What I’d toss into the mix is, if you have to lighten the load of multiple guns, what would you shed first? Assuming there’s time to follow the plan and not just grab the first gun because it’s the only gun you’re going to get, why would anyone want to plan for having only one gun that does it all? That Raging Judge looks to be an excellent choice for a one gun only situation, but what happens when it breaks? There’s no back up.

    On the opposite end, I’m looking to ‘go’ with 3 handguns and two long guns, but what happens if you have to lighten the load due to injury or perhaps desperation and needing to trade?

    Any thoughts there?

  10. ossqss says:

    BTW, on the .454 item, Ya better have good strong hands. The velocity tells the story. Hence, why I opted for the slower Colt long. Ever shot a hot load in a 44? That can break skin in your palm. .454 is just more, faster, of the same.

    Just don’t overlook an accurately placed 22. Just sayin, anybody can shoot that. My 50 round flip clip can compensate accordingly for accuracy issues if needed.

    I gotta weigh 50 rounds now for comparison to others for travel. :-)

    Dangit, I gotta work tomorrow!

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    OK, you caught me.

    In reality, when putting the Marlin .357 lever gun in the trunk, the Ruger six shooter with both .357 and 9mm cylinders goes with it. They are a “set”. They are able, between them, to shoot all the .357, 38 Special, 38 S&W, 9mm and a few other bits of ammo unlikely to be found. Including .357 shot shells.

    While I’d be very loath to leave them behind for “just” a shotgun for the simple reason that a “box” of 12 gauge shells is about as big as a loaf of raisin bread and weighs like a gallon of milk… Compare a box of 9mm at about the size of a big candy bar and light enough to not notice… So it comes down to “Walking or riding”?

    So if weight becomes an issue, I’m hanging onto the Marlin / Ruger set (and then if forced further would likely keep just the Ruger as it DOES stop just about everything and is military compatible with the 9mm cylinder and is lightest of the two. But it is much easier to shoot game with a scoped rifle… so might depend on “where” also.

    But ONLY if I could not take more with me.

    The other “omission” is that I’ve got a set of Beretta’s in small calibers. I’d likely carry either the .32 ACP or the .22 LR in a jacket pocket at all times. About the size of a pack of cards and about as heavy, but “enough gun” for all those little surprises in life. I’d lie to anyone who asked, and say I was only keeping one gun and that was the Ruger but that Beretta is NOT coming out of the pocket…. “I just forgot it was there” ;-)

    So being painfully detailed:

    The “one gun” on my person would be the small caliber Beretta dinky thing. Always in a pocket.

    The “one gun” I’d carry if walking is the Marlin / Ruger set. Dropping the Marlin only if no choice.

    The “one gun” in the bugout vehicle is the 12 Gauge pump with 2 barrels.

    I’d only drop down that list from 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 if I had no hope of finding more ammo and was out for that one, or it was simply not possible physically to keep them all with me. (Walking out of the Mojave in August, for example, where if you carry anything it is water…)


    I find the .44 Magnum easier on the hand than the .357. It was quite a surprise that way. (Friend had a matching gun in .44 and I realized that with the added weight from the larger sized tube and cylinder, it had less total OW factor… Not a lot, but notable. IIRC, the .44 is slightly lower pressure loading as well.

    Part of why I don’t load my .357 to full loads….

    I have no interest in shooting anything hotter than the .357 Magnum… Been there, done that.

    I dearly love my .22 LR guns. (The .22 short Beretta is darned cute but really just a joke …) In a stationary “at home” situation they would be used more than anything else. Why? Quiet. Accurate. “Enough gun” for anything non-armored around here. One has a scope on it. I have a few bricks of ammo (that I hope is still good… bought it about 15+ years ago…)

    Bugging out in a car, I’d toss in a matched set .22 LR rifle / pistol in the kit. But they would be the early ones to get left out. Not reload-able so it’s a wasting asset. Too low a power for things like reliable deer and mountain lion self defense (and we’ve had a couple of folks bit here…) and they just annoy bears… Similarly a waste for anyone with protective gear or behind laminated glass (old car windows – new I don’t know about). Maybe near perfect for things like squirrels and “varmints”, but hard to live off that.

    So I’m pained at the notion of “leave them behind”. But given a choice of a very light fast .357 Marlin with 10 rd capacity that can drop deer / bear if careful, and mountain lions, while still (with .38 Spcl) handle squirrels with some hope of edible bits left.. I can’t see carry of an extra 6 pounds of .22 gun instead of 6 pounds of reloading supplies.

    Though in truth, were I NOT heading out but staying home: It is the .22 that would get used just because the sound is so much less and there are no big animals here. In the urban environment, telling everyone for a mile radius to come get you is a bad idea just to pot one squirrel… and the .357 does that. Until the barbarians are at the gate, then a 12 gauge pump works wonders in the intimidation role ;-)

  12. H.R. says:

    @E.M.: In your 22 August 2018 at 6:37 am reply to me and ossqss, you definitely hit on the factors I was tossing and turning in my mind. For one, the choice of SHTF firearms is dependent on the situation: on foot, vehicle mobile, barricaded at home.

    I think it is important to have a mental list of firearms and other useful weapons (bows, tactical tomahawks, bolos, knives, and…) for the several scenarios you would most likely encounter. That way “If X, grab this and that. If Y, grab this and the other. If Z, grab this, that, and the other.” is almost a reflex. It may be fatal to grab the wrong combination in a true SHTF moment. For example, if on foot, maybe the .357 rifle, .357 revolver, and a tactical tomahawk is the way to go.

    Also, you touched on the point that where you live at the moment determines the most likely scenario you’d face if the SHTF. Yep, the likely scenario would be quite different for San Jose, versus 20 acres and trailer in Florida. I have been considering what I’d most likely really face in my current location. The choices would also change as I age.

    The fantasy of wandering in the woods, living off the land, is a fantasy for most (not all!) people. It is unwise to prepare for a fantasy.

    As to what to drop or trade first, I’m inclined to agree that a .22 or the shotgun would be the first to go, depending on the situation. I have a couple of 25-round bandoliers for shotshells and the SxS coach gun is fairly light and quick, so I can carry my 5-gun package even on foot… for now. If the SHTF doesn’t come for 10 years (perhaps never), then I’d probably only be capable of carrying 4 or maybe 3 firearms. If the SHTF doesn’t hit until my 80s, and I’m still living independently, I’ll most likely be bunkered down and hunkered down and can only hope to go out while making my demise painful and expensive for whoever takes me out.
    I posted this once before and I may have the link stashed somewhere; it’s a tag line a poster uses on a blog where your tag line is automatically displayed when you post a comment. Here’s my fave.

    “If you ever shoot me with that .25 auto and I find out about it, I’m gonna be really pissed.”
    ~attribution lost for now

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    In a SHTF moment, all that fancy Iron and Ammo is best fit for trading material. Specially the ammo. If you HAVE to live off the land you need something that is rock solid and dependable, Something you are very well practiced with and comfortable living with, Something you can obtain ammunition for.
    When I was 14 my grandfather gave me a 22 Marlin tube load semi-auto. It can shoot 22 short up to 22long rifle.. Kind of heavy but rock solid with a tough little scope. That gun has ridden on tractor and pickup, horse back and afoot. Killed more tons of meat then any 10 high powered deer rifles. Fired 10s of thousands of rounds through it and is still dead on accurate.
    When I was 15 I bought a model 94 30-30, brand new in the box, a box of shells and a deer license for $100 at the local hardware store. Long time ago! 8-) Been packing it around ever since, Tough and dependable, it has been with me out in the Alaskan wilderness, Nevada desert and Californian woods, Horse back, vehicle and afoot.
    You shoot a 22 and nobody pays attention to it, even game tends to ignore that little POP. You fire a big gun and everything within 5 miles knows where you are and what you are doing. Game runs and hides for hours and is on alert for days. From squirrel to deer, even to birds, a 22 will feed you if it is dependably accurate. And you can pack a shit load of cheap ammunition out in the field.
    If you need to impress someone up close and personal, a 12gauge is hard to beat and it can take down a bear. If you need to reach out and touch someone with extreme prejudice, a 30-06 with a good scope has been the weapon of choice for over a hundred years.
    In a SHTF/EOTWAWKI event, Ammunition! will be the thing of greatest value. For your own use and as trading material. Save, hoard and protect your ammunition! Guns will be cheap. There are 100s of millions of them out there.
    Finally, My ancestors conquered this continent with Powder burning 30cal long rifles, 1700s technology, accuracy and dependability is far more important then bore size and fire power…pg

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    The availability of ammunition issue is why I prefer the re-loadable rounds. I have both a reloading bench set up (if at home) and pocket sized “Lee Loaders” in a couple of calibers. I can make a box of 50 rounds in about an hour, even with the Lee Loader.

    I’m very sensitive to noise (due to prior hearing damage) so part of my “guiding light” in guns for a few decades has been the quest for quiet. Yes, the .22 can’t be beat in that category. Fire a .22 BB cap or CB cap in a bolt rifle and it is about the same as an air rifle. The .22 short only modestly louder and the .22 LR quite livable. While a 12 Gauge or 30-06 will leave you unable to hear quiet sounds for a good while and anything for a mile around is either hiding or knows where to attack.


    A low load .38 Special in the Marlin is almost as quiet. The “note” shifts to lower tone, but the key bit is “case volumes of expansion”. I deliberately made some loads in .38 S&W cases that are even shorter. They don’t feed through the loading ramp as well, but single loaded is easy. They are “close enough” to quiet to not scare things “nearby but not here”. A bit louder than the .22 LR but not horrible.

    Which I think highlights another factor: Do you reload, or not? We both identified ammunition as a key factor – but I emphasize reloading and ability to be compatible with various uniformed services while you emphasized just how compact, light, and inexpensive the .22 LR ammo can be. For folks who do not reload, that’s highly important. Were I not able to manufacture my own (custom loadings) ammo, I’d likely swap the rifle for my bolt .22 rifle.

    I’d always want one of: .357 Revolver, .357 Rifle, or 12 Gauge. Why? Because my interest is not so much on hunting. IF I lived in a “country place” where hunting could feed me, then yes, a .22 can do that best – IF you are a good shot. There’s a lot more “little stuff” than big animals in any area. My Dad, at 12 years old during the Great Depression, used a .22 LR to hunt rabbits for the family. He was given one cartridge / day. IF he got a rabbit, he was given another one. If not, he waited a day… without rabbit dinner… He almost always got a rabbit. This was in rural farm country mid-west. BUT – that is just not going to happen in sub-urban California. The only things here are squirrels & birds and they would be gone in a couple of weeks (or days). My major concern is not food, but keeping predators away.

    Both the two legged kind, and if mobile headed out for the hills, natures predators. Set up in a camp, I’m not so concerned about potting a rodent (that 50 lbs of beans & rice in the trunk…) as I am about a mountain lion deciding I’m tasty or a bear deciding he want’s my bag of beans. I do not expect to be “living off the land” – I expect to be “living longer than the other guy” off my stored goods and surviving what wants to take those goods.

    Which comes to another point: I would want to be able to hunt, but I plan to trap. For me, hunting is just using up too much time and energy running around. Set a trap and come back tomorrow. (or tonight if you hear something making noise…) It is also relatively silent. I’d expect any “living off the land” food to be from fishing (and with set lines rather than actively tended all day long) and trapping with the use of hunting reserved for “opportunistic” shots. A novice hunter who thinks they will live off the land by hunting is going to die of starvation in a month… if the land owner doesn’t take care of it first. OTOH, if I have a set camp on public land and a deer wanders by, or a bear comes to see what smells good, I want to be able to drop it in one shot. Scope and decent caliber.

    All of which points out that the “choice of gun” also depends on the rest of your skill set and materials. My bug out bag has good fishing gear in it and both kevlar line and some brass wire for trap making. I expect the fishing and trapping to be the food getters and the guns to be protective. I’m pretty good at fishing and know the areas inside a tank of gas range. I also know the best places to hunt will have a large owner predator suggesting I not do that there… So my “plan” has been to bug out to somewhere modestly remote but along side a small river, on public lands. Water is the #1 issue, not food. I could go a month without eating, easily. Not water. Set up a defensible camp, secure water purification, and then set some traps. At that point I’m good for about 2 months even if I didn’t catch a single thing… and as long as I can defend it and not get eaten by a mountain lion or bear (that are in the area).

    That all changes some in the Florida move. Water is just about everywhere (instead of the California seasonal desert…) and alligators are a more likely predator than mountain lions. The idea of a ‘camp by the water’ requires a set-back from the water ;-) and maybe a long pole for the dipper bucket ;-) Having an open air camp doesn’t work as well in torrential tropical storms, so a bug-out vehicle also needs to be a waterproof shelter. Circumstances change. So more “RV with 90 days of stores” and less “tent & traps”.

    Sidebar on Lack:

    There are two things that have always been lacking in my collection of stuff. A black powder gun, and a real air rifle. (A kids Daisy doesn’t count ;-)

    For decades I’ve wanted a .22 Air Rifle with scope. It takes the notion of light weight ammo and quiet to a whole new level. It tops out at about “squirrels” for size of game it will reliably take, but in the urban jungle that’s about as big as things get anyway. Were I stuck in an urban to sub-urban area and knew I had no hope of bugging out to somewhere better, that’s the thing I’d want for “hunting” the local rodents trying to eat my garden.

    Then folks tend to think of black powder cap-and-ball guns as relics. They still work just as good today as they did in 1776. As I’m not the “spray and pray” kind of person, only having one shot in a rifle doesn’t really bother me, and 6 in a revolver is more than enough most of the time. It eliminates the whole issue of “ammo” to have a black powder musket and a bullet mold. It become an issue of materials instead.

    This gets back to that idea of “leveling” to the level of technology and era you expect things to end up at when their decent finally pauses. Is it going to be 1930? Then metallic cartridges and manufactured rimfire are fine. (Otherwise both are a wasting asset…) Or will it be 1750? Then you want that musket and cap-n-ball revolver. (Or 1000 B.C. and an axe / bow and arrow set…)

    I’ve never planned on 1750.. For me, it has been 1930 or prepare for B.C. level. (I have two bows. One compound one simple fiberglass). But I’ve been very aware that a highly likely outcome would be 1750 again. At least for a while. If an EMP takes out “all things electrical” the next stop is more Amish than Hittite.

    I’ve patched over this point by knowing that the 38 / 357 cases can be loaded as black powder rounds and the lever gun / single action revolvers are OK with that (if messy and cleaning needed). But in fact the ‘cap’ of cap-n-ball is far far easier to make than a primer. It is just a thin sheet of metal formed with a punch and die of trivial design. But frankly, if we ever reach the point where folks are making caps for such guns as their highest tech, I’m unlikely to be around as we’ll have lost 80%+ of the population and most of the survivors will have been in rural defensible positions that they owned. So I’ve chosen to just ignore that whole level. I’m figuring on it being transitory on the way to B.C. level and that a few hundred rounds of metallic gets me through it as I’m not planning to fire more than “one a day”, if that.

    So I’ve never bought a black powder gun nor an air rifle. Even though for my particular needs, they are in some ways more ideal. Air rifle is silent so no ear-ringing issues. A .44 black powder revolver or .60 Musket is just fine for a “one shot now and then” into a long decay of civilization back to a distant past; and will be so longer than any metallic cartridge gun dependent on ‘factory loads’. Essentially, I’ve put a timer on me in those circumstances and pretty much figure I’m not going to make it to that point, should that be the “event”. Why prepare for what will not involve you?

  15. Ed Forbes says:

    Interesting topic
    My preference for a pistol is the 45apc. I reload with red dot shot powder with light loads at about 750 fps. Locked and cocked, the 45apc gives about the best trigger pull for getting that first round off quickly and on target. The light loads gives minimal recoil for accurate follow up shots.

    I have friends who shoot the high power 9 and 38 super, but these high velocity rounds make for short reload life for the cases.

    And at over a century old, the tech for the 45 is fully developed.

  16. ossqss says:

    @EM, I totally forgot about my break barrel .22 air rifle and the 500 pellets in a hockey puck size container (use hollow point lead not alloy as those are too light) . I have had my Bengamin Nitro for many years and it has worked flawlessly when needed. Single shot, but the nitrogen piston never fails in any weather/temp. This is the one I have. They say 70% less noise, dunno, but it has a good kick to it. Just don’t put your eye too close to that scope or you get a nice sliver on your eyebrow like my buddy did ;-)

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    While a 12 Gauge or 30-06 will leave you unable to hear quiet sounds for a good while and anything for a mile around is either hiding or knows where to attack.

    Interesting you should mention that, just a couple weeks ago I bought some electronic mickey mouse ear protection from Cabelas. Only $84 dollars at the time – they amplify quiet sounds but cut off loud sounds above about 82 Db if I remember correctly. I was helping two younger friends sight in their 30-06 rifles (they had never sighted in a hunting class rifle before) and I was messing with my .308 bolt gun. They were a real pleasure to use, For those of us of a certain age, the amplified low level sound could be a big advantage in certain situations especially in SHTF/EOTWAWKI type situations where you are trying to stay one step ahead of predators . The down side is, although you can hear the quieter sounds it is a bit more difficult to tell where the sound is coming from, but for a day at the range, with big bores it was very nice to be able to clearly hear my friends without having to constantly pull the muffs off to talk.
    These use AAA batteries which can be purchased in rechargeable types.

    As mentioned above, in a true SHTF/EOTWAWKI situation the ammunition is more valuable and will be exhausted first, rather than the fire arms. Most folks will spend too much money on the guns and not enough on the supplies to feed them. If you remember the ammunition shortage days a while back, costs of shooting supplies went up very quickly and stayed there for over a year before the manufactures could catch up on the suppressed demand.

    In a tactical situation, most ammunition is used simply to keep the other guys head down. In that sort of situation, there is little difference between bullets. No one wants to get shot with anything, so under 75-50 yards a .22 LR would work just about as well as larger calibers. It could also be a way to imply there are more defenders than there actually are. The same person firing 3 different weapons with distinct sound signatures would suggest that there are 3 defenders rather than one.

    All warfare is deception – Sun Tzu

    The other advantage of a .22 LR is, being lighter weight it is easier and more likely to be carried and 2nd and 3rd shots can generally be made quicker and more accurately than the larger calibers, and as noted you can easily carry 50+ rounds on your person where the same load of centerfire ammunition would be a significant bother.

    Which brings up the in between round the WRM, it is a .22 rim fire (not reloadable) and is about halfway between the .22LR and the .223/5.56 in performance. It has a significant muzzle report (ie sounds like a centerfire), especially in a short barrel gun, yet it has the other advantages of the .22LR, relatively light weight and relatively low weight of ammunition.

    I have a .22 WRM bolt gun that I have had for 50 years which will shoot a nickle sized group at 50+ yards. With good shot placement, it can take larger game and pests like wild dogs, skunks, coyotes, and deer or similar sized food prey. It would be too much gun for a squirrel or rabbit though.

    Anyone thinking of a relocation strategy should really do a test load. Anyone who is reasonably prepared would quickly find that without lots of help from friends (more than one vehicle and 2-3 people to load) you really cannot carry that much stuff or load it quickly enough for a quick evacuation move.

    Unless you are a 20 year old military grunt in top shape you are not going to be able to hump 85-100 pound back packs. Even with a car, it is surprising how quickly they fill up with the essential stuff and you are in the quandary of what to leave behind.

    Short of Watts Riots sorts of chaos, you will probably be far better off staying in your local area where you know the terrain and resources and might have a few allies.

    Hopefully none of us never needs to actually practice any of these last ditch scenarios but as mentioned above better to pre-plan this sort of thing so the decision making processes have already been outlined and considered, and key shortcomings addressed.

    Although the planning process aims for the worst case, all these considerations apply to lesser issues like major utility outages, power and water disruptions, and economic disruptions of far less impact.

    I find it an intellectually stimulating process in its own right, just for the puzzle solving challenge, it keeps your decision making skills sharpened, and your ability to make do with what ever you have becomes a well drilled thought process applicable to nearly any situation.

  18. H.R. says:

    Larry writes: “[…] and your ability to make do with what ever you have becomes a well drilled thought process applicable to nearly any situation.”

    I’d add, “and whatever you can reasonably expect to find.” to the puzzle-solving planning process.

    I haven’t considered it, but if it’s TEOFTWAWKI and you last longer than than all the city-slickers who have run out of pigeons, squirrels, cats, and rats, what can you reasonably expect to find?

    What might one expect to find under the categories of food, water, shelter, clothing, repair items, and defense? Perhaps an ammo hoard is a wise choice if heavy guns are littering the countryside.

    I agree that E.M.’s goal of just surviving longer than the other guys would put you in a spot where you wouldn’t need to carry all that much or lack for anything more than food and water.

    What would most likely be littering the country? (For starters, big screen TVs, but then they’d be as useless to you as to the people who abandoned them. 😜)

  19. H.R. says:

    @Larry: My hearing aids have that feature. They shut off above a preset level. It makes sense. Why would you want to amplify a sound that’s already too loud?

    However, they don’t turn into earplugs, so that’s a great tip on those muffs. I have a Cabela’s nearby and will have a look. They just opened a new shooting range about 6-7 minutes from my house, so we’ll be shooting more frequently than the current every month or two.

    Nice tip. Thanks!

  20. tom says:

    Self-strike matches are more difficult to source in some locations. Appear to be less manufacturers.

  21. u.k.(us) says:

    Now assume the bad guy(s), gotta assume there’ll be more than one, have thought things out just as well.
    Now it comes down to tactics.

  22. E.M.Smith says:


    That “interesting to ponder and sharpens the mind” was why I originally started pondering this stuff while watching tapes turn ;-)

    I like the WMR, but in some ways it’s the worst of both worlds. Not reloadable, limited ammo types, sometimes hard to find, very expensive compared to LR… Then the .223 isn’t THAT much bigger (and the .22 Hornet almost the same weight) and both can be reloaded. .223 is everywhere.

    I had a Thompson Contender with the .223 bbl and a .22 LR cylinder insert. Single shot, but for a hand gun you could put that shot exactly where you wanted it. I really liked it. The .223 bbl was a longer bull barrel. 14 inches? Something like that. Basically a “hand rifle” ;-) I liked that set up more than a WMR as you can choose two different optimized rounds instead of one center point.

    Per Loading:

    My car has a “car bag” and an “emergency bag” in it at all times. One is to keep the car moving, the other is enough for me to live on the road for a week “by surprise” if necessary. Until recently I had a house “bug out bag”, but it is now in piles… being rebuilt for 2 adults instead of a family. (No longer need that big ‘ol tent…) It was also the “post quake in the yard” kit. So “loading” consisted of opening the plastic 50 gallon garbage can and plastic liner, lifting from it and setting in the back of the car. Repeat until done – about 5 minutes if slow. Then add guns, ammo, and any house trinkets and papers (depending on reason – fire, flood, quake, zombies and who needs papers?;-)

    It started during the cold war as the quake & nukes kit. IF a nuke was the deal, it was just toss in what you could while spouse hustled kids into the car, then take the bug out road due south as fast as possible. With a 15 minute run we were safely between hills. (So sub launched would have taken out Moffett Field, not us, and we had 15 minutes before the big boomers came over the frozen north…) Now the nuke thing is kind of over… Moffett is sold off to Google. Russia isn’t our big problem. Etc.

    So I’d practiced and I could toss in what was needed in about 2 minutes with adrenalin or extra espresso ;-)

    In General, now, our strategy is more “shelter in place” – in which case I have way too many guns and ammo and no decisions are needed ;-) BUT, if things start going down hill fast, we are still ready for a bit of “load and go”. Worst case would be a massive EMP that did take out most things electrical, followed by a nuclear exchange. In which case the “shelter in place” is really “has issues”… Spouse and me in the old Diesel with a tent by Anderson Lake is not gonna cut it for long. Then a few Million folks walking out of the San Francisco Bay Area will mean anything for 100 miles will be stripped and / or toxic (socially and disease wise). It’s that kind of thing where “a few guns & stuff” in the car and going to the end of the 400 mile range has some hope. Maybe.

    A fully stocked RV in Florida is sounding better and better ;-)


    Two very key points:

    1) Cities run on just in time water supply / production. Unless you camp at the reservoir that feeds it, often 100 miles away, the city runs dry when the power goes out.

    2) The average food supply in cities has dropped to about a week. Most folks don’t have that much in the kitchen. At the end of a week, most food is gone. By the end of week two, riot and mayhem will be hitting as the folks who have not eaten in a week start to lose it. Don’t expect to find food in cities. It is found on farms and in the country.

    Bonus point:

    3) LOTS of hardware and metals will be all over the place. No problem getting wheel weights to melt ;-) Basically, look at what is in “durable goods”, that’s why you find. Oh, and lots of clothes and shoes in closets…


    I’ve not seen them in years. If anyone knows who carries them, I’d like to support them…


    Lucky point – the bad guys are generally not that bright and depend on raw force. (Thus the 12 gauge buck & slugs…) The really bright bad guys go into government as political “leaders” and run minor armies of people with major equipment… The “good news” is by not standing out, those folks usually leave you alone…

    Most bad guys love their semi-auto 9mm. They will be out of ammo in about a week… Maybe less.

  23. u.k.(us) says:

    What, may I ask, is a “lucky point” ?

  24. Larry Ledwick says:

    Re strike anywhere matches.

    I’ve not seen them in years. If anyone knows who carries them, I’d like to support them…

    I have noticed the move appears to be store chain specific one of my local grocery stores does not even carry book matches any more.

    I had to shop around but I found them. As I recall I picked them up in the grocery section at walmart, but I will double check if they are still on the shelves. Stores that carry BBQ and grill/fireplace supplies seem to have them in stock but there is a clear move to transition to “safe” matches.

    I stocked up on them a long time ago (couple years) but will look around and see what the stocking is now days.

    A full line hardware store or sporting goods store would probably be a good place to look if your local super market does not carry them. They might have become seasonal now instead of year around essentials.

  25. E.M.Smith says:



    It is lucky for all of us that, as this point makes, the crooks are pretty dim.


    Good point on the BBQ section… I’ve been looking in local grocery sections… Housewives – safety; big guy at grill WTF Won’t These Damn Things Light!!!! ;-)

    Guess I need to check out BBQ sections at places like ACE and others I usually don’t go…

    I basically just transitioned to butane BBQ lighters and said “stick it”… But it would be a good thing to support the desired market…

  26. u.k.(us) says:

    Dim bulbs can put one in the 10 spot as good as anyone, maybe even better due to the lack of ….distractions ??

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    Okay starting over somehow I nuked my post:

    I like the WMR, but in some ways it’s the worst of both worlds. Not reloadable, limited ammo types, sometimes hard to find, very expensive compared to LR… Then the .223 isn’t THAT much bigger (and the .22 Hornet almost the same weight) and both can be reloaded. .223 is everywhere.

    Yes I agree with many of those observations but, I purchased that .22 WRM rifle in 1968 so that decision was made long ago. I also later bought a .22 LR / .22 WRM convertable revolver, so can handle both in one gun. Great choice for a walk out situation where you need to hump a small pack but want to carry something that goes bang.

    The .22 LR from a rifle if you hold enough elevation (it takes a lot) is lethal out to 400 yards, but by then has gone sub sonic. (could be a minor advantage as at

    Hope this formats properly
    .22LR 40 grain 1260 ft sec muzzle vel ballistics
    windage and lead are based on 10 mph wind and target speed of 10 mph (2x a fast walk)
    Range Drop Drop Windage Windage Velocity Mach Energy Time Lead Lead
    (yd) (in) (MOA) (in) (MOA) (ft/s) (none) (ft•lbs) (s) (in) (MOA)
    0 -1.5 *** 0.0 *** 1273.6 1.141 144.0 0.000 0.0 ***
    46 2.7 5.6 1.4 2.9 1114.2 0.998 110.2 0.116 20.5 42.5
    100 -0.0 -0.0 6.2 5.9 995.5 0.892 88.0 0.271 47.6 45.5
    200 -33.4 -15.9 22.0 10.5 861.1 0.771 65.9 0.596 104.9 50.1
    300 -113.7 -36.2 45.7 14.6 765.3 0.686 52.0 0.967 170.1 54.1
    400 -253.6 -60.5 77.3 18.5 685.8 0.614 41.8 1.381 243.1 58.0

    The .22WRM has basically the same bullet ballistics but higher initial velocity of 1875 ft/sec for the CCI max mag. And that higher muzzle velocity basically buys you an extra 100 yards of reach.

    Range Drop Drop Windage Windage Velocity Mach Energy Time Lead Lead
    (yd) (in) (MOA) (in) (MOA) (ft/s) (none) (ft•lbs) (s) (in) (MOA)
    0 -1.5 *** 0.0 *** 1896.0 1.698 319.2 0.000 0.0 ***
    100 -0.0 -0.0 5.4 5.1 1344.2 1.204 160.4 0.189 33.2 31.7
    162 -8.1 -4.8 15.0 8.8 1115.2 0.999 110.4 0.342 60.1 35.4
    200 -18.2 -8.7 23.2 11.1 1025.7 0.919 93.4 0.448 78.9 37.7
    300 -69.1 -22.0 51.3 16.3 879.5 0.788 68.7 0.766 134.9 42.9
    400 -165.1 -39.4 87.4 20.9 779.7 0.698 54.0 1.129 198.8 47.5
    500 -318.5 -60.8 131.2 25.1 698.1 0.625 43.3 1.537 270.5 51.7

    Basically it is a choice of evils on all these cartridge choices. For a walk out bug out bag you would want something reasonably capable, relatively light and “descrete”. The .22 WRM revolver satisfied that.

    50 rounds of .22 Lr will cost you about $7.00 right now or 14 cents a round
    50 rounds of .22 WRM will cost you between $10.00 and $12.00 now or .20 cents a round

    So the cost has narrowed significantly over the last few years.

    .223 is now going for about $20.00 for 50 or just under $40 per hundred in the .55 grain load.
    That is a FMJ bullet where the .22 WRM are most available as hollow point so at close range the .22 WRM might actually be a better one shot kill than the 5.56 which would likely just shoot a single hole through and through light game, where the WRM is devastating on light game (great varmint cartidge for big rats, cats, ferral dogs coyotes etc.

    No argument on the availability of the 5.56 but compared to the .22 WRM 3 – 4x heavier per round (I will have to weigh some when I get home from work). The .22WRM rifle also looks like an innocuous .22 LR from a distance rather than an evil black gun assault rifle so more likely to have lower shock value if observed in the field.

    Bottom line there is no “best” cartridge because each has to weigh multiple factors and decide what is important. (by the way the .22 WRM rifle can fire the .22 LR in a pinch, especially if you sleeve the .22 LR brass with a piece of a spent .22 WRM case (they will just slide over each other.)

    Like you guns are like golf clubs pick the one best suited to the job at hand. You can get away with a single putter and a driver but do much better with the proper club for the situation.

  28. H.R. says:

    I ran across strike anywhere matches in a grocery store on Hilton Head Island. They had a beach stuff/BBQ/picnic section and it actually jumped out at me when I saw a good old large box of matches. I hadn’t seen them for quite some time. Nearly did a double-take on my part.

    No fires allowed on the beaches, but there are tons of chimneas and fire pits at the rental units so vacationers can strike up a fire, sip adult beverages, and just hang out.

    I’m guessing that if there’s a grocery store in a resort town or a campground store and its not far off one of your day-to-day routes, it might pay off to pop in and see if they have them there.

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    $7 for a box of 22 LR? Gosh! It’s been a few years since I bought any… Used to be $9 bought a brick at the local gun shop (of random brand…)

    Now I’m even happier I reload ;-)

    FWIW, I have the Ruger .22 LR / WMR revolver as a match to my Ruger rifle ;-) Like I said, I like the round… (“but”…) From a pistol it is just way too loud for my tastes. I’d rather used a .38 S&W or Spcl. with a low powder load. Slower, but more “case volumes of expansion” to the end of the bbl and lower velocity exhaust gasses… I mostly like it in a rifle (that I don’t own one of 8-(

    A friend had one when we were kids (back when kids could take their bikes and rifles out in the woods and shoot things…)

    It was an impressive gun and we all liked shooting it. But we all got to shoot 100 rds while he was reluctant to shoot even 20 due to cost. We coveted his gun and he coveted ours ;-)

    FWIW, I’d pondered getting something like a straight sided round, like the .38, but with a smaller bullet diameter. Good “case volumes of expansion” so quiet, but reloadable and without as much weight (lead) as the .38 shells. I came to the conclusion that the .30 Carbine was likely the round.

    But the available guns were almost universally the M1 Carbine. Not a bad gun, but most of them used and variable quality… but not exactly a target rifle. So I didn’t get one or explore that space.

    For a while I had the hots for a 9mm rifle. Again, the large “case volumes of expansion” would quiet the report a lot. Yes, it doesn’t give all that much more speed than the pistols because after about 18 inches the bullet is slowing down as it pulls a vacuum … which is the goal if you want it quiet… but that’s a very thin market. I did get the Marlin in 45 ACP (same reasons), but it was prone to sporadic mis-feeds. One thing I just can’t stand is a gun that just fails to go BANG! when it ought. It did do what I wanted otherwise. A quiet really big lump of lead ;-)

    So to some extent I’m still on the hunt for a very quiet rifle with a bigger than .22 bullet. I know how to design one, it’s pretty simple: Short case packed fully with powder. Many case volumes of expansion (about 20). Bullet no bigger diameter than 9mm ( .30 cal likely ideal) Heavy bullet below Mach 1 at muzzle. Closest I’ve come so far is those .38 S&W cases in the Marlin (but they must be put in the breech one by one by hand…)

    Why does this relate to to .22 discussion? Look at the length of the WMR case. How many case lengths long is the barrel? About 12? What is the muzzle velocity? Oh, about Mach 2. So it makes more noise than I’d like. (That’s also why the .22 short is so quiet. Very short case, so lots of case lengths / bbl length.)

    As you get to bigger caliber, the gas ball at the end of the muzzle has more surface area so more sound produced. More gas making a bigger bubble in the air. Clearly too big a bullet is not as quiet as it could be. So there’s a sweet spot and for the .22 caliber you don’t have enough energy in a quiet round. Yet my experience with the .45 ACP rifle was that it was not as quiet as I expected. Thus my guess that between those two is where you find “quiet enough” along with “enough energy”. 45+22= 67 67/2= 33.5 so a .30 Cal to .38 Cal near the mid point. The .38 is pretty good but still a bit louder than my goal, so I’m thinking the .30 is likely the ideal spot. Lots of bullet choices too.

    So what I’d really like to do is make a .30 cal round with about a 140 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity just about Mach 1 (minus a tad…) and the case about an inch long and a 20 inch bbl.

    But making a wild cat is not a cheap or easy thing to do ;-)

    Now if I wasn’t sensitive to very load “report”, I’d likely not care that the WMR is a bit loud…

    Per the golf club analogy: Thus my gun budget “problem”… Though in the last few years Ive avoided buying any more and even got rid of some hangar queens… (that whole getting ready for the RV thing..)

  30. ossqss says:

    Larry, you might be interested in these items if you are on the WMR trail. My boy Jeff likes it. Neighbor has the pistol, and loves it.

    BTW, Jeff has a great site for reviews.

    On youtube obviously too…;-)

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    Okay took some ammunition weights

    Ammunition weight per round (in the box)
    7344 grams –100 rounds Winchester 3″ 12 Ga 24 pellet #1 buckshot
    4712 grams — 100 rounds (military brown box) 2 3/4″ 12 GA 9 pellet 00 buck
    2502 grams — 100 rounds PMC 7.62 ball 147 gr FMJ-BT
    2150 grams — 100 rounds Remington .45 ACP ball 230 grain
    1705 grams — 100 rounds .357 125 gr HP CCI
    1684 grams — 100 rounds .357 CCI 140 gr hp
    1611 grams — 100 rounds Winchester .40 S&W 165 gr FMJ
    1301 grams — 100 rounds of Federal 9mm 115 gra FMJ
    1177 grams — 100 rounds Federal 5.56 55 gr ball FMJ
    675 grams — 100 rounds of CCI Blazer .380 auto 95 gr FMJ
    505 grams — 100 rounds CCI .22 WRM FMJ maxi-mag 40 grain
    368 grams — 100 rounds CCI .22 LR HP mini mag 36 grain hollow point

    Now for load planning you would also need to consider the weight of the firearm you plan to use for each round

    You could also dial in your local costs for similar ammunition and see what the cost per shot is vs weight to carry.

    As you can see the 12 gauge #1 buck if you calculate the weight of a round vs pellet count, the #1 buck shot gives you a lot more pellets for weight or count, so if you absolutely must stop X the #1 buck is probably the best choice, especially in a poor visibility little time to aim sort of situation.

    The .357 loads and the .40 S&W come out near the same weight for a given number of shots.

    The .380 auto is twice as weight efficient as the 9mm on a per shot basis.
    The .22 LR is 2x more effecient than the 380 on a weight per round and the .22 WRM falls in between the .380 ACP and the .22 LR

    The 5.56 is 2.12x more weight efficient per round compared to the 7.62 M-80 ball. If the situation envisioned could be handled equally well with both the 5.56 is the clear winner. Likewise the .22 WRM at close range is just as lethal as the 5.56 except in a barrier penetration situation but you can carry 2.33x the number of rounds for the same weight.

    Choices choices choices

    The best answer depends on the answers to several different questions and assumed situation.

    The 5.56 is good for about 10,000 rounds before it shoots out the barrel or starts to break springs and small bits, where the 7.62 will start to use up the barrel at about 1/2 that number of rounds depending on how hot the loads are which you use and how rapidly you shoot it (does the barrel have time to cool?).

    Match grade accuracy on the 7.62 starts to deteriorate at around 1500 – 2500 rounds

  32. Larry Ledwick says:

    FWIW, I’d pondered getting something like a straight sided round, like the .38, but with a smaller bullet diameter.

    Discarding sabot rounds would be the answer for that, lots of possibilities. An enterprising person could make wood sabot’s for shooting sub caliber bullets in a larger round.

    They are not quite as accurate as a standard projectile but you can achieve some impressive velocities using them. There are a few commercial versions available.

    How about 4000 ft/sec on a 30-06

    Now that will make a varmint turn into pink mist.

    Principle is really simple, a lathe (or even a drill press) and a bit of tooling fabrication and you could make what ever you needed out of wood or plastic or even cast it out of resin (shoot a .380 bullet in a .45 ACP) or a .30 cal bullet in a .45-70 lever action etc.
    (pssst hint 3D printing)

    Tank guns use sabots to achieve the high velocities they use for kinetic energy rounds.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    The sabot give you higher velocity from a bigger barrel.
    I’m looking to get lower velocity from a smaller barrel. (For sound reasons)

    The larger bore with a sabot will make a bigger gas bubble at the end and be louder.
    I want the smaller bore to be quieter from less total gas.

    The high speed round gives Mach issues.
    I want just sub-sonic to avoid the “crack” (and the supersonic gasses out the muzzle too)

    Basically, the .22 short and the .38 S&W are both short cases packed with powder, but different diameters. Both have about the same “case volumes of expansion” in the barrel The .38 is louder.

    So to get closer to the quiet of the .22 Short will take a smaller diameter of the barrel than the .38

    So to get closer to the power of the .38 will take a larger diameter of the barrel than the .22 (since I want to stay sub-sonic and there’s a limit to how long you can make a bullet and barrel)

    This is about the SOUND profile, not just getting more velocity in a smaller bullet.

    So yeah, sabots are fun gizmos. I have some sabot slugs for the shotgun. Looks like giant longer air-gun pellets of about an ounce, not the fat fluted things in most slugs. More accurate from the rifled barrel too ;-) But they are LOUD! Full magnum load of powder ;-)

    The basic problem is that the powder makes a volume of gas. It gets expanded so many doublings as it goes down the barrel. Eventually it gets cool enough to stop providing power to the bullet, and a bit after that it doesn’t make as much “Bang” out the end of the muzzle. Getting it sub-sonic helps.

    So taking a 30-’06 and necking it down to a .22 doesn’t help. Nor does putting that .22 in a sabot. You still have X of powder for the desired energy and it is still being expanded down the barrel and reaching the end as a .30 caliber gas bubble into the air going BANG! It must be cooled and slowed to reduce sound pressure. That needs “case volumes” of expansion and a smaller exit diameter to the air.

    Now an interesting question would be “If the case is packed with filler”. Now the powder is in a small part of the case and that “powder volumes of expansion” would be much larger trying to fill a larger diameter barrel behind the sabot. Does that offset the increased sound from the larger muzzle diameter? Or not?… Would require testing to find out, I think.

    Maybe I’ll get a .32 Caliber black powder gun… Ball pressed right over powder. Long barrel. Subsonic mostly. Hmmm….

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    The way to get lower pressures at the muzzle is not just by using expansion ratio but by using the smallest charge of the fastest powder suitable for the round. That ensures the powder gasses are complete with their burning process and starting to cool before they exit the barrel. A typical high velocity big bore like a hunting rifle has sufficient gas pressure at the muzzle that the supersonic plume of gas that exits the barrel just as the bullet “uncorks” the barrel out runs the bullet and continues to accelerate the bullet for about 15 bullet diameters.

    The .22 LR essentially stops accelerating and reaches maximum velocity in 11 or so inches of barrel travel. That is why it is relatively quiet, low residual pressure as the bullet leaves the muzzle.

    One of the reasons you get a massive muzzle blast and muzzle flash with a healthy load of Unique is that the powder is still actively burning when it exits that short barrel, where fast powders and light loads of bullseye or similar fast powders produce little muzzle flash and very consistent velocity (ie good for target shooters) because all the powder burns every time.

    I would suggest you include powder selection as part of the process. Sure a good expansion ratio as the bullet moves down the barrel will help, but so will having peak pressure occur as early as possible.

    I have also thought that a carefully designed muzzle brake could also help that by using relatively small ports / cuts in the barrel placed well back from the muzzle so that the barrel pressure is bled off by successive small releases through small ports that limit gas velocity due to their limited ability to flow due to their size. It would not be a silencer but it would distribute the sound over a longer time, and break it up into multiple small pulses that would if properly sized and spaced would negatively reinforce each other so that from the side the individual port releases would fill in the gaps and smooth out the pressure release.

    I was thinking of using the sabot to gain expansion ratio, moving a .30 or .40 caliber sabot piston down the bore would for the same powder charge cause a significant drop in pressure to what you would see with the same powder charge in a small bore. Total chamber and bore volume would be much larger than a much narrower bore of the same length with the same small powder charge required to drive the light bullet. Use the mechanical piston area of the sabot to allow you to use a much smaller powder charge and drive the same weight projectile with much lower pressures to your desired just sub sonic velocity.

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    That distributed small port diameter porting might change the guns report to a sound more like a zipper (or perhaps a really loud fart – which might be really funny)

  36. catweazle666 says:

    Interesting stuff on high-impact 12 bore rounds, we used to uncrimp the top of the cartridge and pour molten candle wax into the shot to give it a bit of coherence.

    Makes a right mess of a rat at ten paces…

  37. u.k.(us) says:

    Crimp-on lead fishing weights crimped onto piano wire, as a load ?
    Seen it in a movie once.

  38. H.R. says:

    @u.k.(us): Good one. I recall that; instant buzz saw.

    I think there’s a commercial version they call the brush cutter. I’ll have to look for that later to see if my memory is correct.

  39. E.M.Smith says:


    Ah, I see. Typically a sabot is used to convert a large powder charge large bore into an even faster small bore. You are suggesting a lightened powder load too. If still in a large case volume it will reduce efficiency but might work. In a smaller case, too, it would work.

    Small powder charges in a large case start burning slowly and some powder is burned just to get the pressure up enough to get the rest of the burn to accelerate. (Burn rate is pressure dependent so when burned in open air it is a slow deflagration, under pressure it is faster and eventually this results in detonation – why powder grains are coated with graphite, or made larger: to slow the burn rate down…)

    So take a S&W .38 and put a .30 in sabot… I’ll have to think about it…

    Muzzle brakes sometimes make it louder… Big surface area of high pressure pulse facing the shooter. I don’t know enough about the black magic in there design to sort that one… but I can see that it could be done (at least if consistent volumes and pressures were used.

    @Catweasle666 & UK(us):

    Never ceases to amaze me what folks do with shot shells… wax, eh?

    There’s a video up of “Bolo” rounds. Two big lead round shot on a wire. Didn’t watch it as I had too many for the article already, but looked like it would be “effective”.. Here it is:

  40. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting video on the .410 for home defense. He “disses” the Judge a little bit in that it is a couple of hundred fps slower than the Mossburg and spreads the shot fast; but then turns right around and finds that in the Mossburg, the 000 buck does not spread enough and over penetrates… which would be fixed by using the Judge.

    My “takeaway” was that for “inside the house” the Judge would be dandy with buck shot. It will be low velocity (about 700 fps) and will not over penetrate while having some spread in the pattern (where from the Mossburg it was just one chunk, really, and went right through the “perp” and out the other side with lots of retained velocity). So I’d not want to use it for 30 yards, but my home is not 30 yards long! At 5 yards, 15 feet, that’s about one side of my living room to the other; close to the max range for most of my home.

    Why he didn’t “make that leap” is beyond me since he provided the information…

    I agree with him that birdshot is just going to “mess up their front” if it gets any spread at all. IMHO, turkey loads (heavier than bird shot, lighter than buck) would be ideal…

    Anyway, after my “reading between the lines” on that video I’ve come to the conclusion that the Judge would be a very good self defense gun indoors with turkey loads or small buckshot.

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    The problem of detonation of light loads appears to be more to do with wear and tear due to vibration and carrying the round causing the light load to slosh around inside the cartridge and gradually ball mill the powder into fine dust or polish off the coatings which control burn rate.
    Some folks use a small ball of polyester fluff (used for stuffing pillows etc.) to fill the front of the case and hold the light powder charge back against the primer so it gets good ignition.

    You might also take measures to increase the pressure needed to unseat the bullet. One would be sealing the bullet with lacquer (used by military to water proof cartridges), set an intentionally tight crimp or use a cannelure bullet design with a tight crimp (often used in very light bullet weights for that specific purpose (can be a bit inconsistent and difficult to control head space on rimless rounds that head space on the front of the cartridge), if designing for a specific fire arm, setting the over all cartridge length (bullet seating depth) so that the bullet has no free jump to the rifling but instead has to start into the rifling from a dead stop due to being seated out so on closing the breach the bullet engages the rifling. Down sides of the latter is firearm specific, can cause the bullet to be pulled out of the cartridge if ejected without being fired (seen this happen with hand loads with excessive bullet seated too far out of the cartridge). Or last would be to intentionally use a slightly larger bullet diameter or hard case bullet that provides more barrel resistance moving down the bore.

    I stumbled across a tech paper the other day that had some interesting information in it. In a 30-06 the net force on the base of the bullet is about 2000 pounds of thrust, and actually upsets the bullet slightly swelling it into the rifling if using a softer cast bullet rather than a FMC design bullet that better resists that deformation during acceleration. Bullet is in the barrel only about 1.5 milliseconds after the primer fires and the rifle only moves about 1/10 of an inch in recoil while the bullet is still in the barrel. It was discussing the mechanics of barrel vibration and he was chasing down the primary modes of vibration and what the driving forces/causes were.

  42. Larry Ledwick says:

    I had thought of using pressure sintered shot to make a cohesive shot slug to keep the shot together and travel as a consolidated blob of shot. This is the Glazer safety slug, similar concept could also be done using a light weight outer cover like aluminum foil to wrap the shot before pressing it into the shot cup.

  43. H.R. says:

    E.M.: ” IMHO, turkey loads (heavier than bird shot, lighter than buck) would be ideal… “

    I haven’t chased it down in depth, but I’ve run across a few articles lately that are arguing against buckshot for home defense and supporting your thought. It’s a growing debate.

    I believe part of the thinking is that in the ‘burbs, pass-through and misses are a real concern with neighbors close by on all sides. A large part of the population is now in the ‘burbs so it is a widespread problem. So, fewer kills, but then there’s less chance of accidental injury or death down range.

    I bought my .357 (6″ barrel) revolver as a nightstand gun because it is so easy to hit center mass at hallway ranges; point and shoot, aiming is optional. But it wasn’t long before I realized that my neighbor’s bedroom across the street was directly in line with my hallway and just about any shot, hit or miss, was going to come to rest somewhere in their bedroom. That’s when I bought a coach gun, 12ga, chambered for 3″.

    I still have 00 buckshot as my load, chosen after patterning on a man target at hallway range, and I’m satisfied that a complete miss would not penetrate the neighbor’s outer wall. Because of my effective canine early detection and warning system, I expect to be able to address intruder(s) before they enter the house and warn against entry.

    If there are two intruders and they insist upon entering, I expect the first one in to make the usual ‘thunk’ on the floor (at the speed of gravity) and the one behind him to be wounded, but likely to survive. And that’s with the first shot. If the second one isn’t thoroughly dissuaded from entering at that point, a second shot should produce a repeat ‘thunk’ sound.

  44. Larry Ledwick says:

    As mentioned above, I am a big fan of slightly smaller shot like the #1 buck, better spread, and less over penetration in the 12 GA. The #1 buck is the same weight as a .22 LR (40 grain ball of .30 caliber) I think that is plenty, and #4 is just a tad lighter than the .22 LR at 20.6 grain and the same diameter at .24 inch so wound channel would be comparable to the .22.

    In the .410 probably the best load for home defense would b a custom load of #2 , #3 or #4 shot in a 3″ shell but don’t find anyone that lists those loadings over the counter. Everyone seems to load with 000 buckshot or .36 caliber 53.8 grain balls and only 5 pellets.

    I also see no one that makes a short barrel home defense autoloader in .410 which would be a really handy gun. Interestingly the .20 gauge autoloaders are all high end shotguns, none of them are the economical tactical style shotguns although there are a couple 20 gauge tactical pump actions that are affordable.

    There is a 20 gauge #3 buckshot load available so that might be the light shotgun load of choice at 23.4 grains 0.25 caliber for someone who has nearby neighbors in thin walled construction.

  45. E.M.Smith says:


    A whole lot about “modern” Turkey Loads:

    Now I’m familiar with #5 lead shot, but it seems due to the “Lead Evil” movement, times have moved on to steel, bismuth, and now tungsten shot(!).

    On a quick look I didn’t find a shot count for #5, but here’s a #4 “buckshot” link

    with 27 pellets in a 2 3/4 inch 12 gauge. Turkey loads will be higher pellet count somewhere around the 36 or so (even more in 3 inch magnums…)

    That link notes for the #4:

    Each round delivers a consistent muzzle velocity of 1325 feet per second. Ideally suited for whitetail deer hunting, these loads are also appropriate for home defense.

    Uh, yeah…

    notes they get 41 pellets in the 3 inch magnum…

    “Each pellet is .24″ in diameter and weighs 20.7 grains. That is a lot of lead with each pull of the trigger!”

    IIRC each #5 is about .20 or .22″ something like that, and you get closer to 50 or 60.

    Think it would be effective to be hit with 40 (some miss…) .22 shots all at once?

    Then, with the lower mass, they tend to deliver all energy into about 8 inches of the target and not go through too many walls…

  46. E.M.Smith says:


    I personally only use the phrase “double ought buck” as a cultural touchstone. It is not an advocacy position. My advocacy position would be slugs for rifled barrel long reach (deer at a distance) and Turkey Loads (or #4 buck) for closer / tactical use from the same rifled barrel (to create more shot spread at close ranges).

    I think the .410 buck loads are sized so it is a single column of pellets filling the shell. Smaller buck would just be a wobbly single stack column and cause too much spread. Part of why I’ve never owned one… the geometry starts to interfere with shot size choices.

    I’ve owned a 20 gauge and loved it much more than the 12 gauge. So much so I wanted to duplicate my 12 gauge kit in 20 (“defender” shotgun with 7 round magazine, added rifled ‘deer’ barrel with adapter for longer magazine. Overall gun 6 inches longer than the 18 inch bbl ‘defender’ but with iron sites and rifling. Better long range reach with slugs, better short range spread with defense shot indoors.) But just could not justify the money for something that was mostly just “lighter and more comfortable” in a use case what was nearly zero probability so “comfort” just would not be an issue.

    Were I doing it over again (and provided the bits are still available / made) I’d do it in 20 gauge. The hard part was finding the (VERY long) custom end cap for the Defender magazine that lets it seat the ( 6 inches further back) ring on the rifled and bird barrels… Getting it in 12 gauge was hard enough…

    Unfortunately, for reasons I can’t explain, the current 20 gauge “defender” only has a 4 shot magazine:

    As it is, I just decided to put lighter loads in the 12 gauge and call it done ;-)

    Someone makes 2 inch 12 gauge that supposedly work in the action and give something like 10 or 12? rounds capacity, but I’ve never felt that worried that 8 ( 7 + one in the chamber) of 12 gauge would be “too little gun” ;-)

    Though I still from time to time pine for the idea of a 20 gauge 8 shot defense shotgun… which I would load with Turkey Loads #5 or #4 “buck”.

  47. H.R. says:

    I’m sticking with the 00 for now and counting on over-penetration with some pass through. I’ve ony got two shots, but that coach gun is so quick and so accurate in point-and-shoot mode that I have a lot of confidence in two shots taking care of two (mayhaps even 3!) intruders.

    Oh, I do have my CC 9mm Kahr tucked in just in case I’m wrong about the double barrel. But it’s not the front gun.

    @Larry: thanks for that weight per 100 rounds table. That’s a keeper!

  48. Larry Ledwick says:

    Oh cool I had heard of that duckbill choke but was under the impression it was done by squeezing the muzzle vertically into a flattened oval shape. First time I have seen an image of one.

    You could easily make one by buying a second barrel for your shotgun of choice and a few minutes with a hack saw and grinder and a bit of patterning at the range and you could “tune” it to your specific needs.

    I think I would opt for a slightly less aggressive cut, perhaps only half that deep so that at hallway distance you had a buckshot pattern that filled the hallway laterally but was only a few inches tall.

    On a light weight tactical 20 gauge it would be very effective and easy to cover the necessary arc of interest if you had multiple intruders.

  49. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and H.R.:

    If worried about the .357 going through too many walls, there are two choices.

    Glazer safety slugs and
    CCI shot shells.

    The Glazers are frangible and break up on impact (so one wall and done) while the CCI is a plastic pod full of shot that gets scored in the barrel and dumps the shot as it exits the gun. In my experience shooting them at paper, inside about a 1 room distance it still acts like one lump of lead, and only beyond about 12 feet is it arriving as a bunch of small shot.

    Load up one or two of those as first to fire, and then follow with regular .357 slugs.

    The other alternative is a few .38 special light load lead round nose or wadcutter first (soft lead deforms on first wall and tends to stop in the next couple) then the .357 for when the first ones didn’t get the message across…

    Also the maximum expansion hollow points tend to “blow up” in the first wall and are so spread out by the second they don’t penetrate like a solid FMJ .357 round. Knowing how many walls to the neighbor and doing some testing at a “junk shooting range” would be in order, though…

  50. E.M.Smith says:

    20 gauge “tactical” shotgun in 5+1

    Remington in 6+1

    I guess it’s close enough… but… Wait a mo… I think I may be mistaken on my Defender capacity. This link:

    says it’s a 5+1 and that’s going to be 3 inch. I think I got 8 in mine, but shorter shells and as a 7 +1. Maybe I need to dig it out and check again. (It’s only been about 20 years since I shot it… typically shooting the “bird gun” at clays… ) Or maybe I had some of those shorty shells way back when… I seem to remember some extra short shells from …. somewhere…

    OK, time to open the safe…

  51. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, it holds 8 x 2 3/4 inch shells. 7 in the magazine and one in the chamber.

    So I was right in remembering 8, but forgot that one of them was in the chamber.

    So why is the present one listed as a 5 +1 ? 5 x 1/4 inch is not 2 3/4 inches… and certainly not twice that.

    I fixed the magazine capacity statement I made above to reflect this real world test.

    Looks like that Remington ought to be able to hold 7 +1 of 20 gauge 2 3/4 inch shells…
    (No, no I don’t need a new shotgun. NO! Sit!!)

  52. ossqss says:

    Have a peek at these slightly different shotguns. ;-)

  53. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm… Mossberg makes a 6 shot magazine 20 gauge with deer bbl…

    Just $365 and I can have what would most likely be a 7+1 capacity of 2 3/4 inch shells in a rifled barrel of 22 inches…

    (Have I told myself lately that I do NOT need another shotgun?….)

    A “tactical” version with smooth bore 18.5 ” bbl…

    and who is this 14 inch bbl “pistol” version for?

    “The 590 Shockwave is classified as fully-compliant by the BATFE, so this model requires no Tax Stamp for transfers. Be sure to check local laws to determine further compliance. Returns due to non-compliance are subject to additional shipping and return fees. Must be 21 years of age or older to purchase.”

    I thought 18 inches was the minimum for shotgun barrels?

    Firearm Specifications
        Manufacturer: Mossberg
        Model: 590 Shockwave
        Gauge: 20
        Capacity: 6
        Chamber: 3
        Barrel Type: Heavy-Walled
        Barrel Length: 14"
        Sight: Bead
        Choke: Cylinder Bore
        Barrel Finish: Matte Blued
        Weight: 4.9
        Length: 26.37
        UPC: 015813506571

    Maybe I need that second cup of coffee this morning…

    Well, OK, before I get too much “down the rabbit hole” on 20 gauge tactical shotguns, I think I need to spend some quality time with the coffee maker and stop looking at gun adverts ;-)

  54. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is for shotguns but it is using the pistol loophole that it is designed to be fired by one hand, so is technically a pistol, as you can hoist it with one hand and fire but you have to grab the front to chamber a new round. If it had a pistol grip on the front or a stock it would be considered a shot gun as that design would imply it is “intended” to be fired while holding it with two hands.

    Very subtle gray area in the BATF definitions.

  55. E.M.Smith says:


    OK, thanks for that explanation. I’d not want to try explaining that to the cop on the site 2 years out of the academy… or for that matter his Sgt. back at booking… I’ll cope with the added 4 inches, thanks….

    FYI (coffee made but not started savoring yet so still looking at ads ;-) this is a “tactical” .410 shotgun. Who knew?

    I guess so the spouse and kids can join in? For when 20 Gauge is just too much?

  56. E.M.Smith says:

    An interesting “Don’t Mess With The Prez..” image

    I wonder if it is photo shopped or if he posed for it for effect? ;-)

    Found in the sidebar f the article here:

    A lady customizes her Remington 20 gauge for tactical qualification:

    In Search of the Perfect Tactical 20-Gauge Shotgun
    By Diane Walls // 01/01/2010
    The recoil of a 12 gauge can discourage putting enough rounds through one to become competent with it. The reduction in recoil of the 20 can go a long way toward solving this. What is given up in power and the number of pellets in a charge of buckshot is more than made up for by its ease of handling and speed of recovery between shots. I’d call that an advantage worth pursuing.

    Exactly my experience with the 12 Gauge vs 20 Gauge. I can handle the 12, but with magnum loads I don’t want to… The 20, with anything, is comfortable and not a chore. My son was OK with the 12 but better with the 20. My daughter was very not happy with the 12 and my wife would not even try it.

    As an aside: I do wish the world would have settled on the 28 / 20 / 16 instead of the .410 / 20 / 12. For a “big guy” the 16 gauge is more comfortable and highly accurate and competent where the 12 can be ‘a bit much’. I’ve not shot a 28 but they are supposedly very easy yet have significantly more punch than the .410 and easier load selection. Oh Well. FWIW, with the move to non-lead light shot I expect to see more 10 gauge guns. In that case my model flight would be the 28 / 20 / 16 / 10 gauges. The 10 gauge, for when the 12 gauge 3 inch magnum doesn’t make you cringe enough…

    In any case, given that he 16 is nearly dead, the 20 is my “Gauge of choice” unless there is some strong reason otherwise. Oddly, I don’t own one at the moment. (Kids choice too ;-)

    Before my chance came up, however, I had an opportunity to lend my new Vang Comp Special to a female student in Ayoob’s LFI-2 course, a course which also included shotgun work. I was helping to staff the class, and she was struggling with a borrowed gun that was a poor fit and becoming quite discouraged. She confided that she had been dreading the shotgun work and hated the long guns. She tried my new toy and actually enjoyed herself so much that I had to let her keep it for the duration of the class. When I arrived for the first day of LFI-3, there was my friend who had enjoyed my Remington so much. She now had one of her own and was looking forward to learning more about using the shotgun.

    Through four days of training and qualifications with shotguns, all done with slugs, I had no problems with my Vang Comp Remington that weren’t operator error. I didn’t have to contend with a jarred head or shoulder pain due to recoil either. On the last day, we got to run our guns as fast as we could work the trigger for five rounds of buckshot in order to learn to control recoil. We did this drill twice for time in competition with each other. My little Remington ran flawlessly, turning in times of 1.31 seconds for 5 rounds on the first run and 1.14 seconds on the second run. Not only would it go fast, it did so almost effortlessly and dumped 90 pellets of .27 caliber shot into the center of the target in a hurry. I’d say that should stop a threat pretty effectively.

    I’m actually looking forward to more training with the shotgun. Hopefully, the 20 gauge will catch on as a training and defense gun, enabling more people to get to know this powerful and versatile defense option without taking a beating in the process.

    Maybe the spouse needs a 20 Gauge tactical shotgun… yeah, that’s it, for her birthday maybe ;-) and then I can borrow it … (CLOP! – my gun dear, mitts off… says the Mrs… 9-0

  57. u.k.(us) says:

    Buy a house faced with brick, in a neighborhood with houses faced with brick, no worries then.
    Unless you’re using a 50-Cal for home defense :)

  58. Larry Ledwick says:

    OK, thanks for that explanation. I’d not want to try explaining that to the cop on the site 2 years out of the academy… or for that matter his Sgt. back at booking… I’ll cope with the added 4 inches, thanks….

    Yeah that is one of those guns you would want to get a copy of the BATF certification letter that it is fully compliant and keep it with the gun like taped to the stock or some place.

    As you noted above it would be really cool to get a 20 gauge, set it up like that Mossberg 590 with a duck bill muzzle tuned to cover a hallway wall to wall at 10-12 feet, and load it with 3″ #3 or #4 buckshot. Loaded with slugs would be a good bear country pack gun too.

  59. Larry Ledwick says:

    @Larry: thanks for that weight per 100 rounds table. That’s a keeper!

    Thanks there are a few other calibers and loads that should be added, like 158 grain .357 but it is a starting point and I can build on it as I get the info. I currently do not have a 30-06 so if anyone wants to give the actual weight of 30-06 150 /165/ or 180 grain that would be nice, along with any of the other popular self defense calibers.

  60. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, my son had the hots for them and sent me to look at them.

    The issues for me are first off that with over a 10 rd magazine they might be illegal in California. (Or gun laws changes yearly so who knows at any one time…)

    Then, I don’t have that kind of money…

    Finally: Does it come in 20 gauge? Shooting 16 rounds of 3″ Magnum 12 gauge is not my idea of fun… I’ve tried it in a full sized bird gun (Winchester pump so not light… with recoil pad).

    So yeah, way cool guns.. but I can’t see me owning or shooting one… Guess I’m a wimp ;-)

  61. Larry Ledwick says:

    Nice handy chart for shot size is here:

    One thing I don’t understand is no one is making more ballistically efficient steel shot about the size of a long grain of rice bit necked like a pellet gun pellet and a hollow base so it is drag stabilized to fly point first. Should be cheaper than the really hard heavy shot but like the heavy shot would not play nice with a choke unless it had a thick resilient shot cup wall, but would hold very tight long range patterns in theory.

    It would perhaps also be technically considered a flechette round so that might be a complication to wide spread use since it appears several states specifically ban them.

  62. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry; add to your list;
    2100 grams – 100 rounds FSP 30-30 Winchester 150gr
    2600 grams – 100 rounds Super-X 30-06 Springfield 150 gr
    3000 grams – 100 rounds Super-X 30-06 Springfield 180gr


  63. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cool thanks PG appreciate the added numbers.

    Along that line of thinking, it is worth considering what cartridges are most popular, implying most likely to be available, most in demand and for which fire arms could be acquired most easily due to numbers in use if things went completely sideways.

    During the ammo shortage I noticed that some cartridges disappeared from the stores almost literally over night, while others were still stocked in the ammo cases long after the popular rounds were bare spots on the display case shelves.
    USA (Averaged 2015 sales rank)

    .223 Remington
    .308 Winchester
    .30-06 Springfield
    .30-30 Winchester
    .270 Winchester
    .243 Winchester
    7mm Remington Magnum
    .300 Winchester Magnum
    7.62x39mm Soviet
    .22-250 Remington

    Honorable Mention: .300 WSM, 7mm-08 Rem. and .338 Win. Mag.

    ALASKA TOP TEN CARTRIDGES (Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game survey, 2000)

    .30-06 (20.9%)
    .300 Win. Mag. (18.5%)
    .338 Win. Mag. (18.4%)
    7mm Rem. Mag. (8.5%)
    .375 H&H Mag. (6.3%)
    .270 Win. (5.8%)
    .308 Win. (3.5%)
    .300 Wby. Mag. (3.5%)
    .45-70 Gov. (1.4%)
    .280 Rem. (1.1%)

    Also if you were inclined to stock a few “barter cartridges” these would be at the top of the list for hunting rounds.

    For handgun cartriges

    (the specific local demand would vary a bit based on local considerations. In metro areas .380 and 9mm would and .22 LR and .40 S&W would probably dominate with .38 spl and .357 coming in close behind.

    In rural areas the .45, and major bore revolver rounds would also have a strong representation like .44 mag,

    .380 ACP
    .40 S&W
    .45 ACP
    .38 Special
    .357 Magnum

    So far I have not found any authoritative purchase statistics by caliber, so the above conventional wisdom observations would have to be the basis for decision making. If anyone stumbles across such figures it would be useful info to capture.

    During the ammo shortage the ones that stayed in stock were the specilty hot varmint rounds and the large dangerous game rounds like high velocity light bullet 25-06, 7mm rem magnum, big magnums like the 300 Weatherby magnum, .338 win mag, .375 H&H which are both very expensive rounds and not used much except for large dangerous game.

    Some of the other formerly popular rounds like the .270, and the flat shooting .264 win mag have been supplanted by other more modern loads like the ultra mags

  64. Larry Ledwick says:

    Regarding the BATF certification of the classification of the Mossberg 590 shockwave 12 GA.

    Click to access Shockwave-Letter-from-ATF-3-2-17.pdf

    If I had one I would drill a hole in the stock and keep a rolled up copy of that letter with the gun at all times.

  65. E.M.Smith says:


    In general, THE most popular rounds are present or former Military or Police rounds.

    The surprise to me in your list is that the .308 Win isn’t more common in Alaska. It is basically just a shortened .30-’06 (the prior military round vs the current .308 Nato that’s almost the same as the .308 Win)

    FWIW, I’ve generally bought “military & police compatible” calibers with the only real exceptions being some odd guns like a Cz in .30 Tokarev (then again, that WAS an old Soviet military round…) and some dinky Beretta pistols ( .25 ACP and .22 Short) that I only bought because from about 8 years old to leaving town for college I would go to the hardware store and look at / drool over them in the display case. So just to scratch a very very old itch. Oddly, they are fun to shoot!

  66. u.k.(us) says:

    This just came to mind, keep 2-3 mean acting dogs, if nothing else they WILL draw attention.

  67. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes cartridge popularity changes over time.

    When I was very young, a lot of people hunted with 30-40 krag and the 30-06 (in heavy brush country like back east, lots of hunters used 30-30) Back there in heavy timber and cover you could never see a deer far enough away to be limited by the short range of the 30-30.

    In the late 1960’s when the M14 replaced the M1 Garand the shift to 7.62 NATO (.308 win began)
    In the army version of the M1 Garand it was chambered for the 30-06 (legacy of WWII) but the Navy version was chambered for the .308 / 7.62 NATO.

    The use of 7.62 NATO and 5.56 mm in Vietnam drove the US to standardize on those two calibers, the 7.62 for light machine gun and sniper use but was replaced by the 5.56 in the basic grunt battle rifle.

    Out here on the plains for lighter game like antelope which could see you a 1/2 mile away, the hot light magnums were popular for their flat trajectories ( .264 win mag, .300 win mag and weatherby mag, and the 7mm Remington mag being the top choices in that environment)
    Although popular back east in more open terrain the .270 never really became all that popular out here in Colorado due to the longer ranges and larger game like Elk although was used for deer. It is now not that common.

    But the .223 5.56 was too small for deer size game and up. Here in Colorado in the early 1970’s they had a requirement that you could not hunt deer with a cartridge that could not deliver 1000 foot pounds of energy at 100 yards. This allowed the 30-30 to just squeak under the wire at about 1300 ft pounds but blocked use of the 5.56 and the .30 M1 tanker carbine which only delivered 964 ft pounds at the muzzle and 600 ft pounds at 100 yards, and the 5.56 which only delivered 921 ft pounds at 100 yards with the then common 55 grain bullets (even the 62 grain load fails that test)

    Pistols at that time were dominated by the .45 ACP and due to police usage .38 SPL and later the .357 magnum (9mm was looked down on as a round that over penetrated in ball ammunition (none expanding) and did not have enough size to create a decent wound channel. This was the same reason Police moved away from the .38 SPL, it was not high velocity enough to have much shock value, or to expand reliably and could not reliably penetrate heavy clothing and minor obstructions, car windshields or doors (in Colorado the .357 magnum was adopted by the highway patrol for that reason.) Even into the early 1970’s most police organizations still stuck with revolvers and resisted a move to automatic pistols. Here it was only in the mid 1970’s that some departments started approving any gun the officer liked, some even mandated only S&W or Colt only revolvers well into the late 1970’s and early 1980’s because they did not trust the automatics and thought the .45 was too hard to shoot accurately. The high reliability of the Ruger Security Six in .357 finally broke that log jam and the 9mm finally started to be accepted. As mentioned above it was adoption by institutional users and government that drove popularity. After the FBI lost some agents in a shoot out them started looking at pistol calibers and only then did other rounds like the .40 S&W become acceptable to law enforcement.

    As far as Alaska is concerned, the 7.62 / .308 NATO is just not enough gun to reliably stop big dangerous game like Elk, Moose, Brown bear etc. according to those I have talked too.

    A guy I used to know who shot more elk than most people ever see (he had a ranch in Gunnison) strongly recommended that Elk and up, you needed at least a .30 caliber magnum or he preferred the .338 win Mag. His reasoning was simple the .338 would forgive a less than perfect shot, the .308 and even the .30-06 would occasionally not put down the bigger animals.

    For close range situations and dangerous game I prefer the .45-70 (again a former government caliber) with modern hot loads, it will deliver more energy than the .338 win Mag and leave a big wound channel and has enough bullet mass to knock a hole in a charging grizzly bears forehead which will cause lighter calibers to just glance off and really irritate the bear. I want to pick one up one of these days, but it would be in the, “nice to have” category as I don’t live in Montana or northern Wyoming and have to deal with angry moose or grizzly bears.

  68. E.M.Smith says:

    Even the .32 ACP and .380 ACP were police cartridges, though mostly in Europe, and some officers guns were issued in those calibers at least in W.W.II

    As I remember it, the FBI first chose the 10 mm. Then a lot of folks found it a pain to shoot, and a reduced power cut down 10 mm, called the .40 S&W, was approved for some uses. That started the adoption of .40 S&W by police. It’s now pretty common.

    FWIW, some officers I’ve talked with said their departments were reluctant to move from revolvers to automatics simply because the revolver required little thought (no safety, no ‘is one in the chamber’, no “do I cock it or not’) and basically the revolver was more “GI Proof” or “Cop Proof”. Glock started the move to semi-autos by police in such departments by being almost as “Cop Proof” with no separate safety to operate and no hammer to cock.

    IIRC, some Forest Service Officers carried .44 Magnum depending on the local wildlife… big wild boar (especially Russian hybrids) require a LOT to stop them. Similar to Grizzly in the hard head department…

    FWIW, shooting the .45 ACP in a 1911a was easier for me than the .357 Magnum…

    Quasi -unrelated to police calibers:

    One of my favorites is a Sig in .40 S&W with a separate .357 Sig barrel. The .357 Sig is a necked down .40 S&W and is almost the same power as the .357 Magnum. It shoots very very well with zero jams (bottle neck cartridges are like that ;-) yet you can still be compatible with local police.

    Costs a minor fortune though…

    But a hell of a lot of firepower in a small package. 10 rd. capacity IIRC.

    As much as I love the .45 ACP, I like the .40 S&W better… It’s just so right. More than the 9mm by just enough. Yet easy to shoot. Compact rounds so a box of them is small.

  69. ossqss says:

    I finally settled on a Glock 30s for my carry gun. Still compact enough and powerful enough to handle most situations. I had a Taurus 24×7 and just could not shoot it well. Trigger pull was not for me (everything low). Traded it for the Glock and glad I did. Had the same issue with my P 85 DC 9mm, but can shoot very well with my Ruger Security 6 357. I just can’t carry that one. So I invested in the 45 ACP, and can actually use the ammo in my Judges with moon clips if needed. Hopefully I never have to.

    Checked the sighting on that Nitro air rifle again after EM’s reminder and that thing is dead nuts at 25 – 75 yrs (adjustable scope included), still.

    I still liked that Raging Judge though. That video is probably gonna cost me some cashola! ;-)

  70. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting history of the FBI issue side arms, (you will get a pop up chat window in the corner of the window but you can just ignore it). The site is for a gun belt company and I assume they are trying to see you accessories.

  71. H.R. says:

    ossqss: “Checked the sighting on that Nitro air rifle again after EM’s reminder and that thing is dead nuts at 25 – 75 yrs(adjustable scope included), still.”

    Man-oh-man… now that is what I call ‘low velocity.’

  72. ossqss says:

    Oh crapicola, my mobile keyboard stikes again HR. LOL! Maybe it would sound better if it were Light Years! ;-)

  73. H.R. says:

    @ossqss: I came this |–| close to buying one, but opted to use my mad money on a .357 lever action carbine instead. I still keep a covetous eye on them whenever I spot one in a gun shop.

    @ E.M. – The double barrel 12ga coach gun is strictly my hallway gun. I put a nice, cushiony recoil pad on it to take out the flinch factor and that works for me, knowing I’m not going to shoot round after round. BUT… I have a 16ga pump action that I love! I’m with you on the many advantages of the 16ga.

    The story I read a few years ago was that the demise of the 16ga was a conspiracy of the ammo makers. The 12ga wasn’t going away any time soon, but they didn’t like splitting production runs and getting the distribution right, or something like that. So they began pushing just 12 and 20 gages and developing magnum loads for the 20ga. Then their advertising went all heavy touting 20ga. and the 16ga began falling out of favor. The 16ga popularity was supposedly because the turn of the century immigrants were used to the 16ga as it was very popular in Europe. I can’t recall if the gun makers were on board too so they could sell shiny new 20ga guns to replace “those old guns your father used. These are new and improved! Did we mention shiny?”

    Anyhow, I really like 16ga. That article I read was at the Dentist’s office, (cool dentist! Gun, car, and fishing mags in the waiting room!) I was getting a bone graft for an implant, and I suspect the 1 Valium pre-op and the nitrous oxide during the procedure may have had, just perhaps (😜) a tiny effect on my memory. But the basic story was the demise of the 16ga didn’t just happen because people lost interest. There was an active push to the 20ga.

    @Larry: My dad had a government surplus .45-70 trapdoor Springfield he bought mainly to toy with the loads, and it was a fairly safe gun for us kids to shoot while he concentrated on trying to put 10 shots through the same hole with his single shot Winchester .225 high-wall lever action with a bull barrel. Now that gun was a tack hammer!

    He developed black powder loads and modern powder loads making sure the pressures wouldn’t split anything (and making for easier gun cleaning, of course). The loads were only slightly detuned just for the safety aspect, and even at age 9, 10, 11 the recoil was strong, but it didn’t kick nearly as sharply as the .30-06. He’d always make up 20 rounds or so of black powder full loads to shoot standing position at 100 yards using the adjustable peephole sight, just to recreate what it was like for the soldiers who actually used and depended on the guns. He could get a 10″-12″ group and would always marvel that the well-practiced soldiers could reportedly do head shots at 300-500 yards in their day.

    We shot a few times from the bench and the 100 yard groups were (well, dad’s not mine) about 3″ with the iron sights. Still a tight, accurate gun after all those years.

    Oh, he made wax ‘blanks’ for shooting off on the 4th of July and New Years Eve. He had a 6″ x 8″ or 10″ tray about 1/2″, deep that he filled with a red wax. Then he’d load powder and a little cotton wadding so he could press the cartridge down into the tray and get uniform wax plugs. He didn’t have shotguns, so that .45-70 was his little holiday noisemaker. BTW, that red wax wasn’t just any old wax but was something he got at the gun store made for shooters. Any idea what that red wax might have been?

  74. H.R. says:

    I posted this a while back, but when it comes right down to it, this is the ideal hallway gun. Just make sure your homeowners insurance is paid up.

  75. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, my “hallway gun” is a samurai short sword…

    For various hard to explain now reasons, the gun safe is at one end of the hallway and the bedroom is at the other 8-{

    The short sword was intended for use in hallways where walls will catch the long sword, so just right for when things go “bump in the night” and I get the spousal poke to go check it out… (what is the dachshund doing in the kitchen again and what did she knock over this time?…) In various Japanese Samurai movies you will see them sheath the long swords as they enter a house and pull the short ones. Historically accurate.

    I doubt many folks today would have any clue what to do with a 240 lb white ape swinging a sword charging at them ;-) I expect at least 2 minutes of free attack time while they boggle over deciding just what is it they are looking at…

    Depending on circumstances, sometimes I’ll have a “pocket gun” available in the bedroom. (I’m in an extraordinarily low crime area, and the neighbors house looks much richer than mine ;-) So in about 30 years nothing has happened… and I’ve gotten lax about it. Besides, the dogs bark if someone farts in the street so anyone comes in the yard I’m already alerted… and cranky ;-)

    High temp wax has beeswax in it. I’d guess the red wax is bees wax with coloring agent.

    On the flexibility of shotguns, here’s a caliber / gauge adapter set for $450

    The calibers of ammunition that the X-Caliber can fire include: .22lc / 38 special / .357 / 9mm / 45 acp / 45lc / .410 shotgun / 12 ga. shotgun / .223 / 7.62×39 / 308.

    I think that first one is supposed to be .22 LR… then, gee, their system “can fire” 12 gauge in your 12 gauge (talk about sellers puff!)

    It is actually just 8 adapters.
    I figure it’s .22 LR, a 357/38 combo, 9mm, .45 ACP, a combo .45 LC-.410,
    then the three big rifles: .223, .308, and Russian 7.62×39

    Don’t know as I’m willing to pay $450 to get single shot pistol rounds out of a 12 gauge, but turning my side by side that can’t take steel shot into a side by side .410 / .45 LC and .223 would be interesting… (“sights” leaving some to be desired…)

    Bore adapters are interesting things. Saw a video where they were shooting pistol rounds in an adapter. The .45 ACP made a dull “thump” sound… Most of the muzzle gasses and noise of the 8 inch barrel adapter lost inside the big shotgun bore… It was pretty accurate too. They claimed out to maybe 50 yards; I’d guess more like 25 given a front bead and a rear guess… BUT, they exist…

  76. H.R. says:

    E.M.: ” Besides, the dogs bark if someone farts in the street so anyone comes in the yard I’m already alerted… and cranky ;-)”

    Small yappy dogs are very effective DEW systems, although our Scottie, which has about the same jaws as a German Shepherd, can really put the bite on someone and they never let go; can’t even sling them off. The Cairn terrier… not so much. She’s restricted to yapping and mouse duty. Bottom line; dogs = good. Nobody sneaks up on our house. (They’d even bark if that fart on the street was an SBD. 😜)

    Per the adapters: I also ran across those and, short of that EOTWAWKI scenario where you don’t know what ammo you’ll come across, what’s the point? I have the 12ga because I wanted a 12ga. I have a .22 if I want a .22. Adapters? I don’t need no steenkin’ adapters.

    I’m really counting on those little yappers to give me enough warning to warn off intruders so no shots will have to be fired. Don’t get me wrong, it will seriously tear me up to take a life, but I will not hesitate to shoot without a second thought if me, my loved ones, or innocents are threatened.

    When seconds count, help is only minutes away.”
    I still think a Saiga 12 with a 30-round drum will clear a hallway (and the whole block, for that matter) faster than a short sword, but using the short sword won’t raise your homeowners insurance rates, so there’s that. Besi

  77. Larry Ledwick says:

    Regarding the wax, as I recall in the late 1980’s or so I recall seeing stories of shooters using wax bullets and primers only to practice tactical situations (police swat training etc.) this was just before paint ball and air soft took off, so probably the precursor to that. Like you said I think it was a mixture of bees wax and candle wax (paraffin wax as we call it here in the US) to get a wax plug that was solid enough to stay together but be frangible for indoor practice in environments which were not bullet safe.

    And a bit of searching returns this how – to

  78. Larry Ledwick says:

    A bit more on wax bullet usage. I just remembered following location of this article that at the time I “discovered” wax bullet loads I had a friend who was into Western Renactment (staged old west gun fights in tourist old west locations)

    I could also see using wax bullets in a survival situation to discourage pests you don’t want to kill (ie Deer browsing your garden or some such situation)

  79. H.R. says:

    @Larry: Bingo! That first link is, no doubt, the correct recipe. Dad had the Lyman Reloader’s Handbook, probably the same 42nd edition, and the description matches the look and feel of the wax sheet I recall to a tee.

    They mentioned primer powered wax loads and I’m vaguely recalling him making those wax loads for his military surplus .45 semi-auto. He probably made them exactly like the article said to use for cheap practice.

    I definitely recall him making the powder-powered .45-70 noise makers because he specifically was looking to make maximum noise. I have no what he worked up as his load; thinner wax just to hold everything in? Black powder? Hard to say.

  80. E.M.Smith says:

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the cartridges that persist are few and usually major military or widely used traditional rounds. There’s a whole catalog of “interesting and edgy” that have gone by the wayside. Just about ever rimfire but the .22 rounds. Huge numbers of large case capacity black powder designs, especially in rifles. All sorts of Big Game calibers. On and on the list goes. And with them go guns in those calibers. Turned into wall hangings or trash.

    Then there are the thousands of “wild cat” rounds. Flashing onto the scene and just as fast going silent.

    For that reason alone I generally avoid all such “New, Improved, SPECIAL, OMG LOOK AT ME!!” rounds. The only exception so far has been the .357 Sig (and that only because the other barrel is the .40 S&W that has a significant law enforcement adoption).

    Some long time ago I internalized that point, that ammunition availability determined life of a gun. I think it was when I was about 15 and read about .32 caliber rim-fire cartridges. Thought that would be a great step up from my .22 rifle… then discovered that nobody made them anymore. Guns were still out there, but not used enough to support the manufacture of ammunition.

    That was the Ah-Ha moment when I realized that you wanted a large and active shooting population for a given cartridge or it would cease to be, and your gun would become useless.

    From that point forward, despite my usual preference for finding optimal ‘edge cases’ of tech, my interests moved toward “what is everyone else shooting?”.

    I didn’t buy an H&R .32 Magnum revolver, even though in some ways it was ideal for me. Less kick than the .357 and yet quite effective. I didn’t buy the supermagnum .357 who’s maker escapes me at the moment (even though it also fires .357 and .38 spl and even .38 S&W). On and on the list goes. Bright ideas, often good ones ( .41 Remington Magnum anyone?) that just did not look to me like they would generate a majority following.

    It is also why I didn’t buy a 16 gauge shotgun 30 years ago when they were still in the running. (Technically they are still in the running as some are made, but they tend to be custom expensive things, not your $400 pump gun). The “sweet sixteen” was clearly the better choice, but… everyone else was buying 12s or 20s.

    Then I discovered reloading. IF I was going to buy into a particular kind of ammunition, I was going to buy the ability to reload it too. At least I’d be able to keep the gun running if I so choose.

    For that reason alone I’d encourage folks to investigate reloading. I started with the Lee Loader (then about $12, now? Hang on a mo… Looks like about $40 ) and the first rounds I made were 9mm. Easy as could be. Later, doing .357 Magnum I discovered that pounding those long harder cases into a die was more like work and bought a reloading press… then discovered score marks from crap getting stuck in the plain steel dies and bought a carbide die… So for anything new I only get carbide dies ;-)

    Over the years I’ve accumulated several calibers I didn’t expect to accumulate. I went through a phase of interest in Eastern European stuff and the Tokarev came to visit. It has now gone on to other hands. What has stayed with me? Those few most widely used rounds in the world, and especially in the USA, with a military and police history and adoption. Along with loading dies…

    The ubiquitous .22 LR also, just because it can do so much and is so common and inexpensive.

    Now, with California on the seriously Bat Shit Crazy side of gun banning and trying to make buying ammunition so painful as to kill it; I’ve become very fond of my loading equipment. Knowing that if the sales of any particular kind of ammunition drop too low, it vanishes. During the “ammunition shortage”, I didn’t even notice.

    So if you own a small pistol caliber, and do not reload, take a look at the Lee Loader. Maybe even give it a try. There is a “shotgun shell sized” metal tube, the die, into which you pound the case using a rubber mallet. Then you knock it back out, use a priming tool (like a plastic squeeze thing) to seat a primer. Use a small plastic dipper spoon to put powder in. Place a bullet on the end, then use the other side of the die to crimp the bullet in place with a few taps. About as hard as driving a mid sized nail into the wall. They work well and I have had very consistent rounds using the powder “dipper”. Folks saying you must weigh the powder are just wrong for normal shooting.

    For big magnum cases and rifle rounds, the Lee Loaders do work, but the pounding part becomes significantly more work. For shotgun shells, it was pretty darned easy. Though in fact you can reload shotgun shells without any press at all, but a bit more sloppy and the end crimp will be dodgy. Not for competitive use or even “knocking about” as the crimp can open if only hand pressed, but OK in a pinch…

    That, too, is part of my reason for the 9mm instead of the .22 LR as my “getaway” choice. Not only can it use military rounds, I can reload it for a very long time. Similarly the .38 Spl / .357 mag. Similarly the 12 Ga.

    I’m not limited by the manufactures of ammunition and what they decide, nor am I limited by what P.C. Crap Governments decide…

  81. H.R. says:

    E.M.: :“Use a small plastic dipper spoon to put powder in.”

    Except for his .225 tack hammer loads, where bullets were weighed and matched and the powder was carefully weighed, dad made and used some sweet little dippers.

    Take an empty rimless cartridge, wrap a length of solid wire around the groove and solder it in place, then form a convenient handle with the rest of the wire. Put some lead solder in the bottom and then peck drill, weigh a charge, and repeat until you get the powder weight you want.

    It’s easy to make those dippers on the fly for any charge. I can’t recall how he identified what each dipper was made to hold, but I’d think it would be easy enough to scribe a brass cartridge with the needed info.

  82. E.M.Smith says:


    Good expedient solution! FWIW, I bought a full set of graduated dippers for some incredibly low price. Just molded plastic so inexpensive. I tested them with dips tossed on a powder scale. Every one was accurate as long as I didn’t pack the powder down nor let it rise above the edge.

    Just run the dipper through the bowl of powder and strike the top off flat.

    Personally, I’d likely just glue the cases to a Popsicle stick and be done…. but wire would work too.

    A large variety of odd case sizes can be quickly picked up at a shooting range as many folks don’t bother to pick up their brass. Nobody cares if you pick up a few, though some places will complain if you start picking up pounds of it away from your station and your brass. I’ve accumulated a few strange samples of brass over the years by wondering what some odd thing was while picking up my brass…

  83. Larry Ledwick says:

    You mean like these?
    I also have a set of the lee loader dippers.
    If powder is dipped the same way every time, they are quite accurate and much faster that dribbling a load into a scale pan.

  84. H.R. says:

    @E.M.: I think the point of the wire soldered into the groove was so that stray grains of powder didn’t get stuck to the dipper; nice rounded solder bead and wire handle meant nothing sticks.

    @Larry: Nice plastic set. I don’t see the charge molded into the plastic, but I’m assuming it’s there. Note the shape of the neck going to the dipper. It’s pretty much the same as the heavy wire, so Lee is taking dredge-out into account.

    I just picked up a shot shell press. (Free! Neighbor moving.) Obviously, I grew up around reloading, but I never really bothered with it. I’m intrigued with how creative you can get with 12ga rounds and might start toying with developing my idea of the ideal load for my hallway.

    I might get motivated to start reloading .380, 38 special, and .357 as those are a smidge pricey compared to 9mm, and I pretty much have enough 9mm to practice my way to the apocalypse with enough left over to survive it. 9mm is cheeeeep!

  85. Larry Ledwick says:

    On the reloading .380, that bullet size is not as easy to find as some of the other more common sizes, but I have found them at midwayusa. (currently out of stock)

    There are a couple others but those are good places to start.

    Actually as part of my looking at cartridge popularity the issue came to mind about stocking most used bullets too. In the US the .380 is one of the more popular concealed carry calibers, for people of small stature like myself, it is much easier to carry the smaller thinner 380’s than most 9mm, so I have been looking around to get some bullets to work with.

    One of the other items we have discussed is how to cast bullets if you don’t have commercial bullet molds.

    I got to thinking, you could borrow the technology used for doing cast iron or brass/bronze.

    Take a half dozen bullets of the desired size, epoxy them to a smooth surface (assuming they are flat based designs. Lubricate them with an appropriate release agent, Then build a fence around them and pack with fine sand or pour plaster of paris over the bullets. Let dry completely and the turn over and carefully pull the female mold off the male and pour your bullets directly into the cavities. You will want to bake a plaster mold until you are sure it is absolutely dry how ever.

    You should get several pours out of the cast if you use plaster and have some means to get the cast bullets out of the mold without breaking it. With smooth round nose projectiles like the first link they probably will just fall out, if not you could pull them out some other way.

    I know for a fact that if you use high temperature RTV mold compound, you can get 30-40 casts of pure lead out of the mold before it starts to go away. Maybe a two part mold with a dip of high temp RTV with a backing of any casting material to hold shape (concrete, epoxy resin, plaster etc.)

    Side note if you need to get an exact dimension of a firearm bore, there are two classic ways I know of that have been used. One is to make a cast using molten sulfur the other is (for the bore) take a pure lead slug just slightly smaller than the bore, slide it down the barrel then using two hard wood or brass dowels upset the plug by smacking one of the dowels while the other is placed on a firm surface. That will bulge out the slug and form a perfect negative image slug of the bore which can then be pushed out and measured.

  86. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes! Exactly those! Though mine are red plastic…. guess 30 years is worth a color change ;-)

  87. H.R. says:

    tom says: 22 August 2018 at 8:10 pm

    “Self-strike matches are more difficult to source in some locations. Appear to be less manufacturers.”

    Sunuvagun! I was doing my weekly grocery run today (8/26). I was in a Kroger grocery store and in the checkout line someone had orphaned a package of strike anywhere matches.

    It was a ‘brick’ of ten of the pocket-size matchboxes, 32 matches per box, not the big box of kitchen matches. And it was good old Diamond brand matches, so they have managed to stay in business all these years. I tossed the pack in the cart just to see how much they’d ring up; only 99 cents!

    I still don’t know if all Kroger stores carry strike anywhere matches or if this one does because it is close to a State Park with tons of boaters and campers. Perhaps more stores than you’d think carry those matches and it depends on where they think it’s logical to display matches.

    I was checking out so I didn’t go looking for them, but next grocery run I’ll try to remember to chase them down and see what section has the boxes of matches. Oh… maybe they have the big box of kitchen matches. We’ll see.

    One more note: People used to make their own weatherproof matches by taking kitchen matches and dipping them in melted paraffin wax. We did that as kids once or twice so we could have some to throw in our little tackle boxes.

    Some parents back then didn’t mind if kids built a fire by the fishin’ hole when we disappeared for the day. We just knew to make the fire on a sandbar very near the water and that if the fire ever got away from us, our little @$$es were burnt toast, and our parents would drive us to the State Penitentiary themselves… or worse! I think we were about 10-years old when we were trusted to make a campfire. (Some kids were NOT EVER to be trusted and we were told or we knew who the junior pyromaniacs were.)

  88. Sera says:

    So I ‘m looking at my compound bow and thinking “This is definitely going in my EOTWAWKI kit, along with my .38 super”. I have a 30-40 Krag, but it’s just too heavy to carry any distance. The .38 Super is the best trail gun and can be used for both self defence and hunting, and I can make arrows out of ‘waste’ material. So that and a rocket stove, and a water purifier should be enough to sustain myself.

  89. E.M.Smith says:

    At the Georgia Walmart on the drive in, they had 2 different hunting crossbow choices, with scopes, for a couple $ hundred or so. Don’t know if it is a regional thing or not, but smaller and easier to use. I’m really tempted to get one… (maybe something to do with the crossbow being the only hunting device I don’t already own :-)

  90. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have also eye’d cross bows (like you one of those “I don’t have one of those yet” items) ;)

  91. ossqss says:

    I got the Barnett Jackal from Wallyworld on sale for better than 50% off after Christmas last year (was in the $400 range a few years ago). Good value, but be aware you will need addition stuff, lube, wax, bolt friendly targets etc.. OH! and lots of bolts and field tips when you start shooting. ;-)

  92. ossqss says:

    Also note, most of what look like scopes on less expensive crossbows are actually 3 dot sights.

  93. E.M.Smith says:


    Probably was a 3 dot. I’ve never seen one so don’t know what they look like; then was just walking through the sports department from automotive and glanced at the price tag and picture.

    That $199 price link has me thinking there’s a Wallyworld nearby… if I get bored… or see a gator… or have room in the trunk… or finish lunch early… or… :-)

  94. Sera says:

    •150-lb draw weight, 12″ power stroke… That’s gonna leave a mark! Comes with a red dot sight on a picatinny rail, and for $199.99- sounds like a really good deal…

  95. p.g.sharrow says:

    All of this survival stuff is fun speculation but societies generally go out, Not with a Bang, but with a long wimpier. As things slowly get worse politicians and bureaucrats institute stronger controls on the population to maintain and improve their positions of power and wealth. Instant disasters generally result in improved freedom and prosperity because the controllers are disrupted as well.

    The revival of American spirit that Trump represents will revive all of the worlds society because Socialism has discredited itself.just as the American way again becomes a shinning light.

    Just as Reagan said “Government is the problem, not the solution”.
    We don’t need them!…pg

  96. E.M.Smith says:


    I see this “survival stuff” as useful to get through the long slow wimper just enough better than the other folks.. Think the local government accountant fresh out of a food trough job will be ready to use an air gun to make rat stew to survive that long empty wimper? Or make pigeon stew after the huricane wipes out the island ports and farms?

    There is a failure to thrive order, and I see this stuff as useful toward the end game stage. As long as aid trucks arrive, no problem. But once the social rules have gone for a few months, well, given achoice of starve in Caracas or Roast Rat….

  97. p.g.sharrow says:

    Yes, I once had a 22cal Benjamin pump air rifle. If you pumped it hard and kept it well oiled it would diesel and near equal a 22 short when it “cracked” I found it while removing a bunch of trash boards on the 5 acre farm that my parents had bought when I when I was 5, must have been 8 when I found it. Cleaned it up and refinished the stock and used it until I got a real 22 about 7 years later. Nice piece, too bad it was lost when our home burned down. The 177cal BB/pellet Crossmen pump that I have now is not much better then a spring loaded Dasie…pg

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