This will probably be the last post I make on the subject of the new garden gun for a while. As always, time and money are limited, as is my current supply of patterning paper and I still have a box of Eley .410 cartridges awaiting patterning – quite apart from those which are required for other the other articles I’m currently working on. Thus, although I’m already rather fond of the 9mm, it’s unlikely that further investigation will occur until various other higher-priority items are finished.
It’s worth recording a few, final points before putting this particular subject aside. The first is that the “unknown nickel” cartridges turned out to contain #10 shot – or something very close. Both they and the RWS cartridges contained around 190 pellets, which is approximately 7g of #10 shot. Size-wise, there was some variation in both cartridges, but it broadly averaged #10 in both cases.
I deconstructed some cartridges to discover this yesterday, but – unlike the more modern centre-fire rounds we regularly analyze on this site – I was somewhat cautious about how far to go. With no previous experience of rimfires, I can’t feel any degree of certainty about how much pressure / force on the primer would be required to ignite them.
Having removed the shot from a couple of cartridges yesterday, I found the wads to be very well seated, to the point that I wasn’t able to lever them out with any available tool. I certainly didn’t want to risk hammering something down the side of the case – one thwack too hard and my eyebrows would have been vaporized.
I judged that it would be possible to extract the wads by turning a small screw through them, then pulling them out using the screw head as a handle, but I wasn’t sure how much “slow” force the priming compound in the cartridges would take before detonating. The point of a screw can exert a great deal of pressure with even relatively small forces behind it, because of it’s size, which made me unwilling to do more than pull the shot and card until I’ve taken advice.
Nonetheless, here’s the unidentified “nickel” cartridge opened up:
Although I found the performance of that particular cartridge to be relatively poor, all three cartridges tested delivered approximately 80% of their shot charge onto the pattern paper at 20 yards. This isn’t by any means spectacular – one would expect a higher percentage performance than that in a nominally cylinder-choked gun of almost any other kind at that distance, but it is enough that the use of #9 shot is likely to be the most effective in this particular shotgun.
7½g of #9 shot should give about 153 pellets in the cartridge on average. 80% of these hitting the pattern plate should give 120 in the circle at 20 yards. Muzzle energy is still very low, however, so how much bigger one would have to go to get even 0.5ftlbs of striking energy at 20 yards, I’m not sure. It might be as large as #7½ (Italian #8) and if so, we’re down to around 105 pellets in the cartridge an 83 in the pattern, which isn’t really sufficient for game. If such a cartridge performed well, aimed shots with a working pattern area of 20″ diameter (as opposed to 30″) might make the gun usable on game.
Really, however, I think that Pietro Fiocchi was right when he judged the .410 to be the smallest sensible bore / gauge for live game shooting.
This is probably less a “sneak preview” than a reminder list for myself of things that need doing to keep the SmallBoreShotguns site (or my responsibilities to it) ticking over.
At some point next week, I hope to get out to pattern test the new Eley 3″ cartridge I’ve acquired. I also hope – after pay day – to be able to afford a box of the Hull “High Pheasant” 3″ loading which I know the local shop now have in stock. Further abroad, I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for stockists of 9mm shot cartridges, but given that I’ve been quoted eye-wateringly high prices of more than £20 / box of 50 shells, it might be some time before I decide I’m rich enough to buy any more of those.
On the article front, the case study into what, if anything, the effect of changing from paper to plastic cases might have been remains on the back burner. I’ve also got another two, if not three parts of my article on Shotgun Patterning from First Principles to complete – they’re all in various states of draft as I write.
Regarding the site more broadly, there will hopefully be some important developments to report in the next month or so, but we’ll have to see what happens and I don’t want to preempt any of the positive things which I hope will occur by talking about them before they do. Watch this space!