Home defence loads for 7.62x54R and 8mm


October 15, 2008, 10:36 AM
Currently all I have are bolt action rifles. Some are 7.62x54R, some are 8mm, and some others. Getting a handgun is not in my plans in the near future. What I would like to do is to develop some loads for the rifles to use for home defense. Obviously firing regular ammo inside the house with neighbors around is not a good idea.

I was thinking along the lines of reduced loads close to 45LC or 44Spl in energy to prevent overpenetration but that would still be effective at HD. Any suggestions?


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October 15, 2008, 12:15 PM
overpenetration could be a problem. :uhoh:

October 15, 2008, 01:13 PM
Does your Mosin have a bayonet? :D

October 15, 2008, 01:15 PM
^ +1

October 15, 2008, 01:33 PM
There's no way I'd use a rifle like that for home defense! Besides the over-penetration aspect, you'd be deaf for life. Go buy a cheap Hi-Point pistol at least, or shop for a used pistol.

October 15, 2008, 02:12 PM
I would agree with the other posters that those rifles are not the best to use in a home. You can find a shotgun for $150+/- that would suite your needs.
However; if you are dead set on using these rifles, you could load down both to about 1800fps. I use 28-30 grains of H4895 under 185gr cast bullets for my 8mm Mauser and I have also successfully used jacket bullets of the same weight with the same charge (don't go any less on the powder if using jacketed bullets). According to the manual, that should give you 1700-1800fps (I don't have the manual in front of me now).

October 15, 2008, 05:48 PM
What about one of these for home defense?


You would still have to worry about the over-penetration thing I guess.:banghead:


October 15, 2008, 06:32 PM
BATFE is looking for you!

Larry E
October 15, 2008, 06:47 PM
An acceptable self defense load could be developed with a light 120-130 gr bullet designed for varmint hunting at nearly full velocity. One of those shouldn't have an overpenetration problem, but it'd be horrendously loud. A .45 LC with a good load will shoot through a house from side to side unless something pretty substantial like a big chunk of meat in the refrigerator is hit.

The other problem with most military rifles is that they're LONG. Trying to maneuver one of those around an average house or apartment could prove to be tricky.

Unless you'd like to pay $200 for a license for a "destructive device" or want to explain things to BATFE and a judge, don't cut the stock and barrel off to make it illegal either.

October 15, 2008, 06:49 PM

Nope! I took it to a local gunsmith/dealer and he said that it was legal. Overall length is 30.5 inches and the barrel is a smidge over 20.

A relative resently passed and I was given all of his reloading stuff. When I removed a stack of about 20 dies this was behind them. His sister signed it over to me.


October 15, 2008, 08:12 PM
Every article I've ever read by anyone with legal experience regarding self defense have all said the same thing. Do NOT Use Handloads For Self Defense.

It gives the prosecuting attorney "ammo" to use against you. How are you going to prove you didn't load some special "killer" bullets?

One other, more important issue, factory ammo has been tested and has certain proven characteristics, like the pattern of burnt powder residue deposited at close range. There was a cop who was acquitted of shooting a perp largely because the perp's claim of being 30' away was impossible given the powder residue on the perps clothing that indicated a max distance of 18".

Do use handloads to develop skills useful for self defense.

October 15, 2008, 08:28 PM
In that case, there's a chiropractor looking to work on your hands/wrists - OUCH!

October 15, 2008, 10:08 PM
I did shoot it twice and it kicked like a mule! I held it on my hip with my thumb next to my trigger finger and my left hand on top of the chamber. It's not real accurate.:eek: Imagine that!!

I think I'll clean it up and display it. Nice conversation piece.

Steve C
October 16, 2008, 02:45 AM
You can load 10grs of Red Dot with either a cast or jacketed bullet of normal weight for the cartridge. No fillers and don't go past 13 grs. With a jacketed bullet the velocity should be around 1,200 to 1,300 fps for either.

October 16, 2008, 10:00 AM
Thank you guys for the suggestions.

Getting a handgun for me is pretty much out of the question, unless I move out of the NYC. Shotgun is an option, but I wasn't planning on buying another gun for a while. Although, one never knows.

10gr of Red Dot sound like a plan. I have a can of 2400 at home. Would that work? I experimented with reduced loads for 303 British using 19.2 gr of 2400. Wouldn't know the velocity though as I don't have a chronograph. Do you think this load would be OK for my purposes?

October 16, 2008, 10:32 AM
+1 on the Red Dot idea. I used to load up 30-06 this way with a 110gr Sierra Varminter. Not sure how fast it was going, but I'd suspect it'd do just fine. I suppose the same kind of loading with light bullets would do well for 7.62x54r or 8x57 (I think Hornady makes a 125gr bullet).

Steve C
October 16, 2008, 02:53 PM
You can contact Alliant at http://www.alliantpowder.com/ and go to the "Contact Us" for their e-mail or phone number.

Tell them your looking for a low power load using the powder of your choice for a 1,200 - 1,300 fps with the bullet you want to use. They'll most likely send you a load. It may take some time.

October 16, 2008, 03:14 PM
Unless you'd like to pay $200 for a license for a "destructive device" or want to explain things to BATFE and a judge, don't cut the stock and barrel off to make it illegal either.

You mean short barreled rifle. Sure is a hoot to shoot a 91/30 like that.... :D


October 16, 2008, 11:50 PM
My not on it is get a managable rifel u like in handgun cal such as Henery yellowboy in 44mag and run agood self defence load like T.A.P.

BattleChimp Potemkin
October 17, 2008, 09:17 AM

While there would be no end to answers regarding not to do it, I think a Mosin, loaded properly would be actually a great home defense gun. Check out Brassfetcher online for their 203gr Soft Point gel tests for 7.62x54. Neat stuff and penetration seems manageable (however, it is Barnaul ammo, so flash would set the house on fire) :D.

Also, Graf and Sons used to have a 125gr Hornady VMax for .311 diameter guns (specifically the x39). This, loaded with a mild load to keep flash down would be great. Failing that, a 125gr soft point would keep overpenetration down, as I would imagine most of the .311 diameter 125gr softpoints are designed for x39, not x54. Anything heavier than that would most likely overpenetrate. As for flash, lower loads are a must. Also, in my loading adventures, Vihtavouri powders always seem VERY low flash and perform superbly.

As for 8mm Mauser, in my opinion, would not use for home defense. Most bullets for loading in that diameter are heavy soft points that are designed for heavier animals. Unless you can find a light weight soft point for it, Mauser would be out of the question in my mind.

I have always been under the idea that a bolt action (if properly loaded for and trained with) can be effective for home defense. It isnt the latest shotgun with lights attached or tacti-crap on it, but one can still attach a light to a Mosin and have an effective home defense. The M44 Mosin, coupled with a scout mount/large diameter red dot, with a light attached (while looking ungainly), good loading and proper technique would be a very effective home defense weapon. Just because it takes a little more practice than a claymore on a stick doesnt mean discount it if that is all one has/limited to.

As far as not using handloads for defense, has there ever been a case regarding this? I have nothing but respect for Ayoob, but filler material for his book would be what I believe this to be. So many people say that but never come up with case one where it was used as an attack against the defendant. Heck, I could imagine that lots of folks that cant afford factory ammo using ball reloads bought from a store (like ultramax or house brands)for defense. I load all my loads for defense very stringently for quality and never scrimp (I dont use a progressive just for that reason, gotta check every one). I have NEVER had one load not go off. YMMV. I feel as long as one doesnt gas on about reloaded ammo and how it made him dead right there, one should be fine. Sorry for the rant, but I get a little hot under the collar when I hear that stuff. To me it is a similar arguement above: Its not the most tacticool round on the planet, so you will get in trouble in court for using it.

October 17, 2008, 09:47 PM

Please tell me that chopped 91/30 is a Photoshop:eek:

The muzzle blast on that must make an M44 look/sound like a kids cap gun.:what:

Der Verge
October 17, 2008, 10:18 PM
Screw the mosin and the mauser for home D. Use a ball bat. It is more fun:what:

October 17, 2008, 11:35 PM
"...What about one of these..." The only thing that's more useless than a shotgun with no stock is a rifle with no stock.
"...Any suggestions?..." Buy a 12 or 20 guage pump shotgun. If that's out, financially, look into light cast bullet loads. You'll still have over penetration issues though. They're still far faster than any handgun bullet.

Crazy Fingers
October 18, 2008, 12:28 PM
Dude, I really would ditch the bolt action rifle for home defense. I hate to say it, but if some guy comes in your house with a wonder nine or a shotgun, you are gonna be toast. :what:

I really think you should spend the extra $150 on a good used shotgun.

October 19, 2008, 01:26 AM
Actually, it's safe to go up to 15 grains of red dot in these cartridges. Generally, though, 13 grains is ideal.

(From Ed Harris).

I load squib loads with 7 grains of red dot in the mosin. No recoil worth talking about, and with a 160gr bullet, I figure it's somewhere between .38 special and .357 in terms of muzzle energy.

That's far below published loads, however, so use at your own risk. Be alert for squibs. I use it in a 91/30, so if your mosin is a carbine, you'd probably have no problems with that load.

October 19, 2008, 11:59 PM
Dude, go get a old used single shot break open shotgun at a pawn shop for $65. Buy some 4 - 6 shot. Won't over penetrate and you can still hit the target even though you will probably be wetting (or worse) your pants...if you ever get in that situation.

October 20, 2008, 12:40 AM
Better yet, get a cheap pump-action shotgun and some 00 buckshot. You'll be in a much better situation to deal with multiple problems that happen to travel in packs. birdshot is for birds and not much else.

October 21, 2008, 09:15 PM
Better yet, get a cheap pump-action shotgun and some 00 buckshot. You'll be in a much better situation to deal with multiple problems that happen to travel in packs. birdshot is for birds and not much else.

I'd have to completely disagree. The only thing worse than buckshot for home defense is a slug. Over penetration is one of the big concerns with home defense. It does you no good to take a shot at an intruder and end up penetrating a wall and killing a family member. Birdshot is far, far less likely to penetrate a wall than anything else, and at home defense range (i.e. very close range) buckshot is not going to be any more lethal than birdshot. It's the distance where buckshot has it's advantage.

If you can't afford a good pistol then for home defense, a 20 gauge with an 18" to 20" barrel loaded with #6 to #7 1/2 shells. Inexpensive, cheap to keep loaded, simple to operate. Nobody wants to argue with a man with a shotgun.

Biggest problem is the damage it will do to your stuff if you miss.

October 21, 2008, 11:44 PM
Get some of the 48 grain or so practice ammo thats old soviet bloc surplus. During The ethnic cleansing in the 1990s in europe, alot of people were using that stuff on other people.
Medical reports indicated that this cartridge created wounds very similar to a shotgun slug.

Also, if your barrel bore diameter is the true .311, you can try loading up some 96 grain jacketed lead hollow points sold by graf and sons online. That moving at say 1000 fps would most likely act like a Barnes "varmint grenade" bullet.

October 22, 2008, 12:48 AM
Nobody wants to argue with a man with a shotgun.

That's mostly true...because most of the time, they assume he's loading buckshot. The times when they are willing to argue with him, he's going to need that buckshot, because they are in an altered mental state.


Do you not understand the concept of inertia? Little pellets don't travel as far in air because of wind resistance. They don't maintain velocity against friction. The same thing happens when they impact flesh/clothing. To penetrate and hit vital organs, it has to have a cetain amount of inertia. Once the shot has left the shot cup, each pellet has its own inertia. At point blank range, if it has enough power to penetrate enough human flesh to reach vitals, it's going to go through a wall and hurt someone on the other side. I agree that slugs are overkill for HD, but birdshot isn't going to reach vitals and make a big enough hole to be effective. This has been tested time and again. There's a GOOD REASON that the FBI and IWBC reccomend nothing smaller than #1 buckshot for self defense out of a shotgun. Anything less won't penetrate vitals to get a quick stop. Make no mistake: That birdshot can be lethal, but it isn't going to incapacitate someone pumped up on adrenaline or drugs fast enough to matter.

If it can penetrate and stop a person, it's going to penetrate a wall and be dangerous on the other side. If it can't penetrate a person, or most of one, it isn't going to be effective (especially figuring the increasing amounts of fat most Americans are carrying around). You can't escape that.

And please don't launch into the "birdshot at close range is the same as buckshot or a lead slug" nonsense. Here's a non-lethal illustration of the same principle: Throw a handful of sand at someone's head at arm's reach (travels 2 inches from hand to target). Then throw a handful of sandstone at the same distance. Notice the different effect (one makes them spit out sand, the other requires an ice pack and band aids). Same material, but one sticks together in one solid piece, the other is lots of little bitty pieces that each have to overcome air or flesh resistance. If this wasn't true, at home defense range, the birdshot would be just as effective as a slug. Why isn't this true? Because the larger projectile penetrates more; it retains the entire projectile's inertia as it passes through it's target.

So, understanding this basic principle, you have to get projectiles large enough to penetrate vital organs, without passing through the next ten walls or failing to penetrate the skin and first layer or two of muscle. Answer? Somewhere between #4 and 000 buckshot, depending on who you talk to. At less than two meters, goose loads MIGHT be effective, but then you still run the risk of penetrating walls.

Answer? Practice, and don't miss. Even better, plan out ahead of time what your most defensible position is, and create one lane of fire with a solid backstop. Anything else you are playing with a pissed off attacker who hasn't been stopped, or potentially dead neighbors.

I've heard about and read about far too many people shot at home defense range with birdshot and still been standing to put any trust in that as a defense load. It creates a vicious crater-type wound, but it's shallow. Our vice president shot an elderly guy in the face at about 18 yards (the official range estimate must politely be called fantastical spin/fiction), and the guy lived. I don't have ANY faith that it would stop a coked up/drunk/pissed-off fatbody/weightlifter at 10 yards (and I have a clear line of sight 12 yards long down the hallway and into a bedroom as I am typing this). I've done enough testing on milk jugs to know that birdshot even at close range just won't get more than about 6 inches of penetration in flesh.

One example from the box of truth via AR-15.com (granted, hearsay, but better hearsay than "theory")

A friend of AR15.com sends this:

"I saw a gunshot victim, about 5' 10" and 200 lbs, taken to the operating room with a shotgun wound to the chest. He was shot at a range of six feet at a distance of just over the pectoralis muscle. He was sitting on his front porch and walked to the ambulance. We explored the chest after x-rays were taken. The ER doc had said 'buckshot' wound, but this was obviously not accurate.

It was # 6 shot. There was a crater in the skin over an inch in diameter. When the shot hit the level of the ribs, it spread out about five inches. There was ONE pellet that had passed between the ribs and entered the pericardium, but not damaged the heart at all. As you say, 'use birdshot for little birds.'"

See also:

Penetrated only 1 sheet or drywall at what appears to be less than 10 yards, probably around five yards. That's not going to stop anybody except a two-year old.

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