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Current advice on 3" .410 shells

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I apologize in advance for the lengthy post.

I'm a Saiga newbie and trying really hard to not become frustrated on the ammo front. I'm looking for current advice on 3" ammo for my lightly used Saiga .410. 


For my rig, I have:

Two 15-rd 3" SureFire Gun magazines

One 30-rd ProMag 3" Drum that works well

One 4-rd 3" factory magazine


I had a heavy handful of 3" Remington and Winchester game loads and I burned through them verifying the weapon and all the mags worked properly. Everything worked well, with the gas setting on 1.


So lately I've been searching for .410 shells from online retailers (local shops don't carry hardly any 3"). And I've scoured most of the posts here for research, but the info is scattered, inconsistent, and much of it is several years old.

So here are my questions that, hopefully, someone with a .410 can advise me on:

1) Best ammos
Does anyone have 3" shell recommendations for:
- steel shot (game/target)
- buckshot
- "plinking"

- slugs
- And what's the final word on Winchester PDX1?

2) Best 3" .410 retailers
I've been searching all the regulars (AmmoToGo, Midway, Cabela's, Sportsman's Guide, CheaperThanDirt, BulkAmmo, Natchez) none of them have a terrific selection of 3" in-stock. And I'm SHOCKED at how expensive .410 has become. Who's your go-to?

3) The 2-1/2" shell dilemma
With my hardware, will they work? Can they work? Do any specific shells work?



I ordered a case of cheaper Italian (B&P) game loads for low-cost shooting just as I get a feel for the weapon, and wouldn't you know it, the things won't feed properly. It seems the diameter of the brass is too wide (yes, wide) to consistently slide into the chamber with a manual cycle. I'm running a 75% failure-to-feed rate with them. The shells are also too long for the 15-rd mags (they measure a full 2.75" crimped). The drum took them, but roughly 1 in 3 won't even fully slide in the chamber from a manual cycle. I've complained to Natchez and to B&P, but I'm not holding my breath for a refund.


I also made a foolish error and accidentally ordered a case of 2-1/2" Winchester PDX1 shells instead of 3". Is there any hope for me making use of these? Or am I SOL? I'd be willing to buy 2-1/2" mags (if I can find them), but aren't even sure they'd work with my weapon or with PDX1 shells.

After the PDX1 mishap and the bunk Italian shells, I'm gun shy (pardon the pun) and can't afford to lose any more coin to shells that won't work.

I never thought the ammo side could be so frustrating. I really was excited about finally getting a Saiga .410; but with all the ammo mishaps and risks of losing even more money, the whole experience has become a real buzzkill.

Many thanks in advance for your guidance and expertise. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Note. B&P is actually a super premium brand, but they make specialty loads. They are focused on the Olympic trap, and snooty European club hunting markets, and their loads are mostly tailored to work in exotic antiques. They do make some very nice ammo, but you need to pay attention to what the design intent of it is. Usually that intent is a very consistent pattern that has low recoil, and won't mess up your antique gun which was made before modern pressure standards were established.


No one is specifically making cheap bulk "tactical .410" optimized for an obscure shotgun that is not currently being imported.


You are really going to need to focus on the muzzle energy of the loads that run and go off of those numbers for cycling. You will find a minimum muzzle energy level that your gun likes. Only buy ammo above that level.


Shell length is measured after firing and the specs don't require it to be exactly the nominal lenght, they merely require that it is not longer than that length. Crimp style, and payload can widely vary the specifications of shotgun shells as loaded. It isn't a defined spec, so it's not reasonable to complain when different loads or different brands come out different lengths. Some roll crimp loads are easily dinged on the crimp, and that can interfere with feeding. Others are tougher plastic, and feed extra nicely.


The best ballistic performance out of .410 were Federal 000 buck x 5 pellets. I don't recall the velocity.


Lehigh makes an absurd slug that performs very well,


Pdx1 .410 ballistics haven't been impressive in any testing I have seen. 


This link is for effect out of a judge or similar, and the shotgun you have will get more velocity. Generally speaking, the current generation of shells are optimised for the pistols, so you probably aren't going to get a lot more velocity out of the shotgun. https://www.google.com/search?q=shooting+the+bull+410+judge&oq=shooting+the+bull+410+&aqs=chrome.5.69i57j0l5.8666j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


Basically, you want a consistent predictable pattern, in something that cycles without fail, that gives you adequate penetration. You won't have the energy for massive expansion or ballistic shock, so you are really only concerned with where the pellets go and how deep.


SGAMMO and aimsurplus would be the vendors I would suggest. Buy something that works and buy a lot of it at once. Quit farting around with local dealers and mix and match performance.

Edited by GunFun
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** .410 is just expensive. 12ga and 20 ga get economy of scale advantage. .410 has one of the highest savings potentials as well as performance increase potential for reloaders.

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Appreciate the thorough and thoughtful response. I'll look for some Federal buckshot and I really appreciate the referral to additional ammo suppliers.


I have now found that Remington 3" 000 buckshot is a reliable defense shell in my Saiga. Both from the SureFire mags and the ProMag drum.


I understand differences in crimped length (I only wish SureFire Mags did) but this batch of B&P was defective for sure. Aside from my Saiga, the shells wouldn't easily slide in/extract from either of my single shot .410s, and would only insert 2/3 of the way in the cylinder of my gunsmith's Circuit Judge. It seems the crimp ballooned the ends just enough to hold them up. So yes, I'm blaming poor quality plastic for the mushroom effect.


As this is B&P's only 3" .410 shell offered in the US, it does not surprise me that it escaped detection by their QC. To their credit, the B&P rep contacted me directly and, with genuine concern and apology, has offered suitable recompense. Always nice to find a manufacturer with integrity. Natchez was also responsive, forwarded my info to B&P, and offered a solution as well if B&P didn't step up.


Got bit by the low pressure error already as well. Some 715fps buckshot from Herter's didn't even produce enough pressure to extract, much less force a full cycle, even on 2. So now I've got a bunch of that taking up space as well. Making for a total of 600 rounds of .410 ammo I have no use for and no way to get rid of. Yep...feeling pretty foolish these days.


I realize and accept these are my rookie .410 mistakes. It just stings a lot (financially) and right at the onset of what normally would be my time of celebration, getting to know and love a new firearm.

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IF you handload 410, and it's not hard at all, and you don't even need a press, just some hand tools and a roll crimper.


14.5gr H110/WW296, Win wad, felt filler wad, any primer and 3" hull 4 000 buck makes for a nasty load. Cheap and groups well. It'll load in a 2.5" case if you don't use filler wad and perform the same.


From old Hodgdon manual.

Edited by patriot
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I would highly recommend getting either a Mec 600 Jr, or a Lee Load All in .410. 


If I had a saiga 410, I think it would be my first accessory. I'm less excited about the roll crimper though. Fold crimping is much more time efficient.

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  • 1 month later...

Most of us feel your pain and have been there. I have had my .410 for 5 years, and just modded it with wood furniture and every upgrade I wanted. I love it. For ammo, I field tested several types and brands, with every magazine made. For ammo, I have found Winchester Super X 3" to be reliable. I have it in bird, buck, and slug. It runs great in my factory mags and my promag drum. I have not had good experience with the SGM 15 round mags and no longer use them. The shells sit too low in the mag, and therefore the bolt does not reliably collect them and feed them into battery. Regarding PDX-1, I have found it to be reliable in the factory mags and the drum. I shot a pickup truck diamond plate toolbox from 30 yards with PDX-1, and it made a 1-inch hole in the front, traveled through the interior of the box, and exited through the other side. Made a believer out of me. I hope you keep the .410 and get it running well. They are a hoot. Who needs another 12 gauge, anyway?

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Academy Sports (if you have access to one) has 3" .410 in #4 shot WInchester Super-X. They state velocity is 1100fps, and using high brass. Price is $14.99, or roughly 60 cents/round. 12 gauge Olin/Winchester 00 is about $1/round at the same store. They also carry the Remington .410 Slugger at $5/box of 5. The MV on those is a blistering 1830fps.


Sounds like charchooter has real-world test results. I'm looking for a Saiga .410 now!

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