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Shot shells for squirrels

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by EatBugs, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. EatBugs

    EatBugs Well-Known Member


    I needed shells for my shotgun and I went to Wallmart. I know what size to get and everything but I was stumped when I had to choose between Remington heavy dove loads , game loads, target loads, and express long range. when I hunted with my 410 the decision was easy because you got what you can find. But now I'm introducing my 20 gauge to squirrels and OH the variety! I ruled out target loads right away.The wallmart employee kept insisting I get the heavy dove loads(they were cheaper) I wound up walking out with the express long range but not really sure I made the right decision. What is the difference between all those types and what is the best for squirrels?
  2. JR1

    JR1 Well-Known Member

    Those shells will work fine for you. Just be prepared for minced squirrel if you take a close range shot!

    My favorite load, from Remington, that is getting hard to find is a 1 oz. load of #6. Plenty of energy, pretty good pattern, and not enough pellets to demolish a squirrel.

    I do not like 7 1/2 shot or 8 shot. It sure works, but biting on those pellets is murder on the teeth.

    351 WINCHESTER Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with no 6, low brass or high - just depends on the range and your choke.

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    Basically, low brass, cheap loads for closer shots, high brass and magnums for all far shots.

    Like JR1 said, be prepared for mince meat (and hard chewing).
  5. mio

    mio Well-Known Member

    i use #6 in both my 12ga and 20ga when im using them for squirrels.
  6. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    No problem shooting heavy dove loads in 6 shot. I don't like smaller than 6 as per the rest of the folks. In 20 gauge, 3" number fives can put the hurt on small game. Don't need 'em to hunt squirrel, though.

    Me, I prefer an accurate .22 pistol, more fun, more challenge.

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    I'm with MCGunner.

    I have a Ruger Mark II Stainless 10" target pistol that is deadly accurate. I installed Volquartsen parts to accurize it, including the fully adjustible trigger and the rear sight.

    If anyone has a Mark II and you wonder whether Volquartsen parts are worth it, THEY ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY! The trigger setup took several hours as it meant assembling the entire trigger and action assembly, assembling the gun, trying the pull, taking it all apart all the way down to the trigger, adjusting, then putting all together.

    I did it probably 30+ times, before I finally got the trigger to be almost hair, with very little play afterwards. Once I set the trigger up, I used blue loctite on the adjustment screws and used my micrometer to take note of the exact clearances, in case I ever run into a problem, the clearances are all recorded for the trigger set up.

    When I bought it, I ran all kinds of loads through it to see which were the most accurate and have several that I shoot, with different POI, but the ones the gun is sighted for are Eley Pistol loads.

    They are not as powerful, they are expensive, but are DEAD-ON every time. If I miss, I know it was my error.

    I have a red squirrel problem and an occasional skunk problem and I like to use this to hit them in the head.

    Of course, I'm not so proficient that I can do it single-handedly, so I typically use two hands, or one (or two) - handed if I'm resting the barrel on a tree branch, the side of the house, a front porch post, etc.

    As long as the red squirrel is not running, I can typically hit it first shot out to about 80 feet or so. At that distance, the bullet may be a body shot, but have had some head and neck shots that far.
  8. IndianaBoy

    IndianaBoy Well-Known Member

    None of the above.


    Biting down on shot hurts. It's more fun shooting them in the head.
  9. oronocova

    oronocova Active Member

    I'm like you; a lot of my ammo comes from walmart also. I've been buying a box or few every paycheck for a while... just to stock up. Last time I got a couple boxes of 12ga #6 but they were low brass ("game load" i think). They were also half price the high brass ("express" i think). Now, I have always used the high brass but I noticed that there was very little difference in the FPS so I am hoping these will be about as good. I don't usually use a shotgun, but when I do I usually use a 20ga or 12ga with #6 shot. I always thought 7 1/2's didn't carry enough energy especially when they were up in the leaves, and #5s tore them up a little more. I will say a 20ga won't reach out there like a 12ga, (maybe with a 3" magnum, but they are expensive right?).

    I usually take a 22, but if hunting with others I always liked someone to have a shotgun and someone to have a rifle.

  10. publiuss

    publiuss Well-Known Member

    i have used everything from steel 2#s to #9 lead. use a .22 now but if I decided to take a 12 ga I would opt for 1 1/8 oz of #6.
  11. Navy joe

    Navy joe Well-Known Member

    If you bite into a squirrel and hit a tender spot then you just bit a piece of shot. I prefer .22. I'm sure the dove loads will do the trick.
  12. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    6 shot. Smaller shot leads to unrecovered squirrels and sometimes more pain than ethical hunters want.

    7/8 oz of 6s will work with the tighter chokes all the way to the top of most trees here.

    22s are also an option, but where is that bullet coming down? Most places these days are too populated to be Daniel Booneing them in the treetops,
  13. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Have always preferred #5 shot for rabbits, squirrels and pheasants,

    Gets through the canopy better, has more "ooomph" per pellet, puts fewer pellets in the meat and easier to dig out.

    Hard to find in factory loads but I happen to reload and managed to put in a good supply of it quite a while ago. Still can scavange it from old shells sometimes found at gun shows.

    Barring #5 - my choice would probably be #4, especially until the leaves come off.


  14. EatBugs

    EatBugs Well-Known Member

    thanks guys.... btw.. I do have a 10/22 that I love to hunt squirrels and paper plates with but revert to the shotgun in the early season and besides the area I'm hunting does not allow rifles with the exception of muzzleloaders for deer.

    ironically, the only time I have ever bit into shot while eating a squirrelly dinner was from a squirrel I shot with my 22. go figure. :rolleyes:
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    See, just too damned many people back east. I'd go flippin' nuts. Texas is pretty crowded, but .22s are the norm for squirrels. Lots of BIG areas to hunt that are devoid of people. Don't have that back east I guess.

    My 10/22 does good to get 1.5" 50 yard groups, but good 'nuf I guess. My Mk2 hasn't got ANY of the work Inspector has done on his and I can shoot 1" groups all day at 50 with it using cheap Federal bulk pack ammo. Why improve anything? That's minute of squirrel, after all. My .22 barrel for my Contender is even more accurate than that, outshoots most rifles. I have scopes on both pistols, of course. I even have shot a few with my Rossi M511 kit gun, 4" with iron sights. With RWS target it'll group 1" at 25 yards. That's good enough if you keep your shots to that distance or in. My Mk2 is rapidly becoming my favorite tool, though. It really doesn't need any improvements to be a 50 yard squirrel getter.
  16. dagger dog

    dagger dog Well-Known Member

    4's or 5's are great in 20,16, or 12 gauges, low brass, I know I left out the four hundred and ten. You do have to do your home work on patterning your scatter gun. Most modifides do a nice job out to 25-30 yds or so as long as the cover is not real dense.

    The only draw back in those choices is the availability, they're tough to find on the shelves at Dicks or Wallys place. My neck of the woods ya have to mail order them. If you go to my neighborhood WW you would think the only thing they hunt here is dove or clays. The shelves abound with 7 1/2's 'n' 8's or high brass duck "steel" or turkey loads.

    I go to the local Bass Pro same thing only more choices, not in squirrel loads but in brands.

    So most of the time I have to wind up with the standard 20 16 12 gauge "field loads" in 6 shot.

    You have to get up a little closer,as they don't hit as hard as 4's or 5's, but I think I've killed more small game with them than any other size.

    Back to that four hundred and ten, how many of ya'll shoot at tree rats with them little guns? Have you checked out he prices on the 3" latley? Over 13 bucks a box:what:

    Oh, by the way MCgunner, we still got plenty of public hunting land back here, we can use rimfire or centerfire rifles here in Hoosier land for squirrel, it's just some of us are blind and decrepit old farts that grew up with a shotgun!
  17. HB

    HB Well-Known Member

    They've always been high, but I figure $13= 25 squirrels =10 meals = $1.30 a meal... Can't beat that :)
  18. mgregg85

    mgregg85 Well-Known Member

    Are you gonna eat it after shooting it? If so use a 20 gauge with say 4 or 5 or 6.

    If your not gonna eat it, break out the 12 and go wild.
  19. dagger dog

    dagger dog Well-Known Member


    You got to be an optimist!

    My Pop always told me:

    Don't prognosticate the future of juvenile poultry before the process of
    incubation is fully matured.

    This is my shotshell to digested squirrel equation:

    25 shells at X cents per + 13 chigger bites = mismeal cramps!:D
  20. ImARugerFan

    ImARugerFan Well-Known Member

    I tried hunting squirrels with my Ruger 10/22 for the first time a couple weekends ago. I'll be going back to my 20ga next time. It's quite a pain in the butt to hit the little buggers with a 22 since they rarely if ever stop moving. I hit two of them that couldn't be recovered, that's never happened to me with a shotgun.

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