Self Defense .410 shot vs .45 LC vs .410 slugs


April 16, 2008, 11:31 PM
Since I am my family's resident firearm expert (not by choice), my cousin recently approached me about ammo choices for his .410/.45 LC pistol he keeps in his car for self defense on the road. Of course, I told him a .357 magnum or something similar might be a better choice for the car and a 12 gauge for the house. Not willing to consider these, he simply wants to know the best choices for ammo in his favorite pistol. Lets assume that any encounter will be up close and personal.

So here it is for your discussion. As a self defense pistol, which would be best:

.410 shot
.45 LC
.410 slug

Any ideas? I would appreciate it if you can be specific to brands and sizes and of course, reason. I have been leaning towards a Federal or Winchester .410 slug (88 grains) or 45LC (as hot as the gun allows). He seems to like the idea of shot. Thanks in advance.

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Sergeant Sabre
April 16, 2008, 11:44 PM
.45 Colt. Something 200 to 240gr and a hollow or soft point.

A .410 slug is too wimpy to penetrate adequately. The buckshot is too wimpy, also.

April 16, 2008, 11:50 PM
.45 Colt loaded kind-of warm, with 250 or 255 grain soft lead bullets.

.410 loaded with 000 buckshot is no slouch either. I don't remember if it's got 3 or 5 pellets.

April 17, 2008, 12:03 AM
1st: .45 Colt a big first choice.
2nd: The 410 bore with a 110-grain, hard-cast RWS/Dynamit Nobel slug
(not the various 90-grain foster-type slugs out there) would be fine.
3rd: 410 000 or 00 buckshot.
NO to birdshot altogether.

April 17, 2008, 01:59 AM
45LC, hands down. The .410 is not a great bird gun in a long barrel. Shorten the barrel and use it on something looking to damage you?

April 17, 2008, 06:33 AM
Got one of those myself and did a little research. By far a warm round in 45 colt with a jhp is the safest bet. Next would be the .410 000 buckshot, three pellets can do SOME damage at close range. Won't go deep enough to hit vital organs. Most slugs for .410 are rifled and don't fit the barrel tightly.Not sure any slug of .410 will fit a barrel of .452 tight enough to be effective.

But it's fun to shoot up paper targets and make a lot of noise at the range. 5 rounds or #4 shot shreds up the targets as well as the cardboard backer.

Mr. Designer
April 17, 2008, 09:35 AM
For self defense:
Gold Dot Personal Protection - 45 Colt
250 grain - GDHP - Muzzle Velocity 900fps

Use the .410 for snakes.

April 17, 2008, 10:39 AM
Thanks for all the great suggestions. It sounds like the majority of you prefer 45LC (200-250 gr JHP), so I am glad I asked. I was leaning towards the slug at first, but after some comments about rifling issues, I can see now how 45 LC might be at least the best starting point.


Yes, he does have the Judge. So as RC135 suggested, maybe he could mix it up a bit. Maybe we'll start him with 3 or 4 45LC cartridges and then put a few shells with some buckshot in the tail end of the cylinder as bit of a booster for the BG. :D

BTW - Who makes the 3 pellet 000 or 00 buckshot for .410? Is this kind of a novelty? I don't think I have seen it sold anywhere.

April 17, 2008, 11:22 AM
BTW - Who makes the 3 pellet 000 or 00 buckshot for .410? Is this kind of a novelty? I don't think I have seen it sold anywhere.

April 17, 2008, 12:09 PM
.45 LC is the best choice.
IIRC, a .410 slug only weighs about 90 grains. That's not much of a projectile for a cartridge that size.
Buckshot might be a worthwhile choice but I'd still think the old .45 would outclass it.
But I would imagine that if a 000 buck from a 12 gauge shell can penetrate enough to stop, there isn't any reason it wouldn't also reach the vitals from a .410.

April 17, 2008, 12:17 PM
255-Gr. "Cowboy Action" load in .45Colt.

Easy to shoot, and will put a hurtin' on whatever is hit. Or the "Gold Dot" loading a few others mentioned.

April 17, 2008, 12:29 PM
There are .410 defense rounds with 5 stacked buckshot pellets. Those would work okay.

Otherwise, the .410 is the .22LR of shotguns. Very useful for some things, but that list of things is not a really long one.

.45LC, OTOH, is a very versatile round, and in modern guns can be loaded really hot. It can also be loaded for low recoil, though.

Harley Quinn
April 17, 2008, 12:56 PM
410 2.5" high velocity 1245 750
3" is even faster and hits harder:rolleyes:

This is where a 410 shotgun is at :what: So what is wimpy about that:uhoh:

April 17, 2008, 01:23 PM
A lot wimpier than the .45LC you could put in the gun.

I'm not sure about shooting slugs from the thing. Is that something that the factory recommends?

AFAIK the reason for the .410 compatibility is for short-range, large-spread, in-the-face shots to discourage carjackers. Essentially, snake-load functionality.

Steve C
April 17, 2008, 04:54 PM
This is a good read on the Taurus Judge and the ammo available from the The Box of Truth (

April 17, 2008, 05:35 PM
Good read, Steve. Thanks.

If I want a snake gun, I can use a regular revolver with special snakeshot cartridges. These days, they're not too much more expensive than .410 shells, and I have no need for more than a box anyway.

Clay pigeons with a revolver, though... That sounds fun!

April 17, 2008, 06:02 PM
I assume this is a Taurus Judge? According to my cobbled-together internal ballistics calculator (don't have the money for QuickLOAD!), for a Judge with a 6.5" barrel:

1/2 ounce birdshot - 219 gr @ 860 fps
3 pellets 000 buck - 204 gr @ 900 fps
1/4 ounce slug - 109 gr @ 1300 fps
.45 LC - probably 250 gr @ 900 fps or 225 gr @ 1000 fps.

I have pretty good confidence in those numbers, though. My thing estimates 1,100 fps for a 12 gauge slug from a 6.5" barrel (Serbu Super Shorty). A magazine tested a single shot shotgun chopped down to 6-7/8" and got 1,117 fps. So my numbers should be quite close.

.45 LC should perform about like it does in a normal gun, though probably with poorer accuracy, and possible keyholing at long range. Basically the sorta problems you can run into shooting slugs through a smoothbore shotgun with a rifled choke. I'd stick with jacketed ammo only.

Harley Quinn
April 17, 2008, 09:52 PM
This is a good read on the Taurus Judge and the ammo available from the The Box of Truth.

Good link and really good information about the little pistol.

I have an 1917 Colt that has a 3" barrel half moon clips are used for 45 acp and I also have it bored out to take a 308 cartridge cut at the shoulder and a 44 gas check with #8 in it for snake. Nice little shooter I have had it for 25 years now.


April 18, 2008, 11:21 PM
410/45 Derringer test results

Derringers chambered for both 410 shotgun shells and 45 Colt have been getting pretty popular. I have been curious about these for a while so I went ahead and bought one of those Cobray side-by-side 410/45 colt derringers. I got the chronograph out and obtained some velocity readings. The pistol itself is what one might call a Saturday Night Special. It is robustly built as well as being very crude and awkward to use. But it is inexpensive compared to the more common 410/45 Colt over and under derringers. A knob for tilting the barrel flung off on the second shot.

The barrels are just under 3 and inches long with a small amount of rifling at the end of the barrels.

The velocity readings are quite low:

Winchester Cowboy 45 Colt 250 grain averaged 537 fps. Some of the bullet holes at four paces showed obvious tumbling. Recoil was light/moderate and next time around I will get the full-powered 45 Colt. I think a hollow base soft lead bullet would do best in sealing in the barrel and engaging the rifling.

Remington Extra Long Range 3” 410 #4 shot averaged 670 fps. The shot pattern was very wide with only four pellets hitting a six-inch target at four paces. The recoil is pretty fierce.

Winchester Sporting Clays 2 ” #8 shot averaged 706fps and had a tighter pattern. Recoil was fairly strong but not at all bad.

I made my own triple ought buck round by cutting the top off a 3 inch Remington shot shell and replaced the shot with 3 triple ought lead balls which squeezed firmly into the shot cup. All three pellets hit within a six-inch target at four paces. The velocity was 682 fps. Recoil was moderate.

Based on my velocity readings I think that these 410/45 derringers should be viewed as a novelty or trail/snake gun and not used for defense. This is not to say that these pistols are not capable of being quite deadly but I think that there are better alternatives out there to use.

April 18, 2008, 11:37 PM
Ryan, I am calculating 204 grains for the 3 pellets of 000 buck (68 grains each).

Do you have any links to those calculations? Do you have equations for terminal ballistics?

April 18, 2008, 11:53 PM This doesn't look so wimpy to me. Especially since it's designed to handle carjack scenarios.

April 19, 2008, 12:47 AM
yeah, that taurus judge seems pretty mean. how about a staggering 410 and 45 colt??

April 19, 2008, 01:10 AM
I think the only way to make the 410 shotshells work well for self defense is to handload them. The fundamental problem is low velocity. To make them go faster, you need to reduce the payload a bit and increase the powder. I'd like more than 3 projectiles, so the 000 is out for me, but could be OK if you pushed the powder somewhat to get the velocity up.

I think a BB load is about optimal. 21 of them is about 160 grains (and you can fit 21 to 24 in a shell). Number 2 shot fits more nicely, but is a little light even if it hits at 1100 ft/sec. The Golden Bear #4 Buck loads are actually loaded with 5 pellets of #0 Buck (those Russians must use a different size numbering). But they won't chamber in the Judge -- a bit long and too fat. Any pellet larger than BB takes a lot of space in the shell and you won't get too many in it (5 to 7 max), so the payload is too light.

I'm still playing with various combinations of things to see what will work well (multiple light hardcast 357 wadcutters, different techniques to keep the shot contained, shot payload -vs- power charge, 410 cases -vs- 444 Marlin cases, etc).

April 19, 2008, 06:46 AM
A .410 slug has less power than a .38 Special. Think about that next time you get all excited about taking one deer hunting.

April 19, 2008, 08:36 AM
Visit for some interesting test results that support what other folks have been saying--.45LC is a perfectly good defensive round, .410 buckshot is not as good but will do in a pinch, but any other .410 load, including slugs, is just not worth using for self defense.

April 19, 2008, 08:49 AM
Great post with the "Box of Truth" link. It answered every question and confirmed every suspicion I've ever had about a .410 as a self defense weapon.

April 19, 2008, 01:54 PM
Ryan, I am calculating 204 grains for the 3 pellets of 000 buck (68 grains each).

Do you have any links to those calculations? Do you have equations for terminal ballistics?

Whoops! I was thinking 00 buckshot for some reason. You're right, 000 should be about 68 gr per pellet.

Anyway, calculations were done in a spreadsheet, so there's no real link to them or anything. Terminal ballistics, I've got a ton of stuff in the same spreadsheet, mostly based on MacPherson's equations.

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