20 ga. specialty shells

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Aug 11, 2005
Elbert County, CO
So, my formerly-anti parents finally got a clue a few years ago, and adopted my Security-six 4". Well, my mom is a pretty decent shot but stepdad....not so much. Neither of them felt they were well in control of the handgun, either. With the addition of a boom in snake population and talking with other folks in their horse riding group, they decided to investigate the shotgun option. I was happy to oblige. After some "classroom time" on what gauge means, types of shot, shell length, action types, chokes, etc., we headed to the range with my Ithaca 37 20 ga. and Remington 11-87 police 12 ga. (and a SxS 12 Ga. coach gun I decided against having them shoot). It was apparent early on that a 12 would be too much for my 62 year old, 5'4" mother, so we focused on familiarizing with the Ithaca. After some time with birdshot, heavy field loads and buck loads, they both felt pretty comfortable with the pump action, understanding the slide release button, safety, leaving action open to show safe, and so on. I didn't have a spare 20 ga. and they didn't want to spend a lot, so I ordered them a Maverick 88. They wanted short, but a 26" Modified is the only 20 ga. configuration. It will be an 18.5" cyl. bore after a few minutes in my workshop.

Anyway, now that we have a little background, this gun is to be multi-purpose, from snakes in the pasture to nuisance dogs to home defense. Obviously, I can just get them #8 shells for the snakes and buck or slug loads for HD. But.....they would rather not use lethal ammunition on the neighborhood pests with owners.

I found a few (very expensive) rubber ball loads, but nothing in the way of bean bags or rock salt. So my question, if anyone can answer, is where I may find such 20 ga. shells. I don't load shotgun, so they have to be purchased as loaded ammunition.

No need to buy reloading gear, you can modify shells to suit your needs. All it takes is patience and practice.

You can open up the petals of the crimp, but *not* the rolled over portion, dump out the shot and refill with stuff of choice. For non-lethal against pest pets I'd go with air-soft pellets. It'd take a few tries to get the right amount in that'd let you push the petals closed again tight against the pellets. After closing the petals up make sure the round chambers OK. Might need to do a little tapping around the perimeter to round out the crimp again.

I've reloaded, read changed the payload, on a LOT of 12 gauge and more than a few 20's. The only trouble I've run into is that most 20's have the little petals (what is it, 8 or 10 ?) in the crimp as opposed to the 12's with 6 big petals. That can make redoing the crimp kind of a pain. The other thing is that super light loads often leave unburnt powder in the action which needs cleaned out after shooting.
A modified shotshell has the capability to cripple or kill neighborhood dogs if you don't get it just right, and even then, it's not a good idea.

You really shouldn't fire a shotgun at anything you don't want to kill anyways.

For nuisance dogs you don't want to kill, Mace, an airsoft gun, or maybe a paintball gun would all be better choices.
Whatever you use aim for the hindquarters to avoid hitting an eye. This alone disqualifies a shotgun load of almost any type to discourage dogs.
For non-lethal against pest pets I'd go with air-soft pellets.

I think we'll do that. Thanks!

A modified shotshell has the capability to cripple or kill neighborhood dogs if you don't get it just right, and even then, it's not a good idea.

They were informed that it could still kill. Nonetheless, it was their request that they have an option that is less likely to mortally wound. Even light #8 loads are still deadly at 30 yards.

Me? I use a .22 Hornet for 4-legged problems on my property. I don't want repeat offenders.
Ayup, I knew the possibility of lethality was gonna come up. Depending on range even just the wad can be lethal, as could a bean bag with a head shot. I went with air-soft pellets as they have practically no mass so they should slow down & spread out quick. For the pest rounds I'd prolly go with light target shelss or whatever had the lightest standard load and lowest feet per second. Work up a few rounds and see how they pattern then you'll know if it'll work for your application.
All I had on hand was some high brass #6 shells, 3/4 ounce & 1200 FPS. They'll take 16 BB's, which equals only ~30 grains-I imagine muzzle velocity will be very high but, as you mentioned, they'll shed velocity very quickly. I'll take them out soon and see how cardboard boxes fare at 10, 20, 30 yards. Will probably wait until we have theirs, though; The 30" full choke Ithaca isn't going to tell us much about how an 18.5" cylinder bore does.

Having played with airsoft and using them to deter my own pets from trashcans or scratching the furniture, I know the animal's fur will protect it from those featherweight pellets at pretty high velocities. The 250-400 FPS of normal airsoft guns stings pretty good on bare skin, but my german sheperd has not even noticed the impact sometimes. would be too slow to discourage an aggressive dog, so I'm hoping they'll still be doing 600 (for a whopping 1.5 ft/lbs) plus at 20 yards. We'll see if I can get the chrony to catch any of them at that distance.
In my experience, using a lethal weapon desiring less than lethal results is just asking for trouble. The neighbors beagles were tearing up my uncles flower beds chasing rabbits, and he shot at them from a later measured 90 yards with #12 shot from a .22. Killed an $800 registered beagle stone dead. Apparently some of the pellets stuck together. He's a dog lover and felt awful, as well as poorer.
Air soft is much safer, and couple that with some 357 or 44 blanks (and earplugs for you) and they may decide the area is undesirable.
I used my paintball guns on the neighbors sheep to keep them out of the vegetable garden. I only had to do it once. I think it was the bright green paint that let the neighbor know he had to contain his sheep better, not the pain they inflicted on the sheep. The neighbor put up a much better fence after that incident. The rest of my neighbors were much happier.
Shotgun for varmint is ok.
Shotgun to chase the neighbor dog away is BAD. Use a paintball gun @ or less than 300fps. It will most likely cause no permanent damage, just a welt and a pink spot.
If I saw someone shoot my dog with a shotgun, I dont know if my retaliation would be 'legal'.
If they have owners deal with the owners, not the dogs.

All well and good if it's always the same dog(s) and you know who they belong to.

There are leash & kennel laws here, and if you don't keep your critter contained, you run the risk of losing it. This is also not a property line issue like it often is in the city; They're fully within their rights to destroy any animal that threatens thier livestock (chasing dogs qualify). They'd just rather not kill. That said, I didn't ask for opinions on alternate deterrents; All I was looking for was a good source for commercially loaded rock salt & other less lethals in 20 ga.
The sound of most guns would be enough to frighten off any owned pet in the yard. Making a blank from a shotgun shell is relatively simple, simple enough that I won't go into it here. But I agree that one shoud deal with the owner first before leveling any kind of weapon at a house hold pet. Less Lethal is for police who have the proper training to utilize that level of force, and people still die.
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