[Guest Post] Homemade tactical sights, and Brenneke-type Shotgun slugs [Part 7]

[ Y-Man, TFB’s resident Nigerian shotgunner, continues his series of guest articles about his quest to build the perfect shotgun. Being one of the lucky few in Africa to legally own a gun, he has to fabricate many parts and ammunition himself because supplies of gun parts are so limited. You can read Part 6 here. ]

I have been in need of good sights forever, and like many know: I live in a country where firearms are highly restricted, and firearms accessories and fittings are impossible to get.

I had a discarded B-Square mount in the house, and began to wonder what I could use it for, so I used the upper rail section to fabricate a tactical sight using some left-over Shotgun sights I had at home, which I thought I would never be able to use again. So I fastened the top rail part to my barrel, similar to how I once fastened an aluminium tube to the barrel to form a quite effective sight.

See pictures of the “tacticool” sight I fabricated here:

They work! I was able to use them on the range the other time: really good and adjustable sight system: all assembled from discarded items.

Homemade drag-stabilised slugs.

In the past, I had fabricated Foster-type slugs for use from my smoothbore shotgun, and initially got very good results. Later, and with a change of firearm: I noticed very inaccurate performance and inconsistency in my shooting, over the last few months. I have been VERY busy trying to develop the best kind of slug that would give me the performance I need. I have filled the cavities with hot glue, and have done very deep research: nothing has been good enough.

It has become such an obsession: this quest for the best slug, that I have not fired a regular, unmodified shot-shell in a year now!

I have been able to develop the following slugs, using vary basic equipment. They have been very inaccurate, complicated to produce, and generally not satisfactory.

The original Foster-type slugs (Initially performed well, then performance degraded…I could barely get 3 rounds onto an 18-inch target consistently.)

Then, at one point, I got a mold fabricated: and achieved this: what I call the “Socket Wrench Slug” cast from a No. 16 socket wrench.

These did okay at close range: 15 yards, but moving to 20 to 25 yards; began to tumble. Accuracy at 30 yards was almost impossible.

Then, with this unacceptable performance, I moved further to this: a hybrid of the Socket Wrench Slug, with a square base “fin”: Using a No. 16 Socket Wrench, and leaving the square bit on.

This one performed woefully: tumbling almost as soon as they emerged from the muzzle. The rear had a cavity drilled into it (To ensure the slug is always front-heavy and point-forward in flight, the typical Foster slug theory), but this did not help. It tore big holes in targets, but also caused pressure spikes: the projectile alone being up to 45 grams in weight sometimes! (My Shot-shells carry 32 grams of shot normally.)

Moved on further: I got another mold fabricated: a really unique one which took a lot of thinking and planning. It was not easy: I don’t have metal working tools or training myself, and having to explain and guide an experienced but illiterate technician in fabricating this. It was NOT easy! But we got it made.

From this: I was able to produce this Flat Top slug prototype: (Notice the resemblance to the Lyman-type slug? That was the inspiration.)

Sadly: these also did NOT give good performance! Key-holing, tumbling, skirt collapse, wads forced into cavity, etc. Even filling of the cavity with Cream of Wheat, or hot glue, did not help. I was mostly getting 6 shots out of 10 onto an 18 inch target at 30 yards, but those 4 misses could mean the difference between life and death, or food on the table and starvation, in a real-life situation.

(I have become very good at capturing my fired slugs, using sandbags: and I have been able to see the actual performance: which slugs have tumbled, which slugs have key holed etc…)

So I did some more thinking: I used an aluminium cap to achieve a more aerodynamic shape for my Flat-top slugs:

These seemed to have more promise: but the irregularities in the size and fitting to the bore, still led to poor, inconsistent performance also. It was really getting DISAPPOINTING! A smoothbore projectile ideally should have good sliding fit through the bore. When a projectile is bouncing off the walls: it could emerge from muzzle in any orientation completely, thus, no consistency. This was proved in several test firings.

So I left off for almost 2 months, and when I had the time, did some thinking, and research. I realised two major things have been missing from my designs:

  1. A good front-heavy and long projectile.

  2. A good bore-size sliding action for the projectile: a projectile that fits properly in the bore on its way out.

So, I realised something when I was picking up some fired slugs one day at my “range”: I was also picking the wads too! (Many wads tore through my targets too: giving me very bad results from my shooting…)

Epiphany!!!: Slugs and wads fly together! This is the basis for the Brenneke slug! So why don’t I just fix the plastic wads to some 1 oz solid lead slugs?

So, I did some casting: solid slugs, with a starter hole for screws: weighing 28 to 30 grams. Then I cut open some shotshells, brought out the wads, and fastened them together to the slugs with brass screws. Brass because they are a bit softer than steel screws: just in case they twist out of alignment on firing. I weighed everything and they are less than 32 grams: well within safe pressure limits!

The slugs and wads MUST be correctly aligned, as they will be coming out of the barrel together, and will fly to target together.

See these below:

These slugs fit very well in the shells, and when I tested they slide properly down the bore of the shotgun too. A good fit.

So: I went off to the “range” today, and fired off 6 rounds of these slugs, at a 18 inch metal target from 27 yards. (Just a metal/ enamel tray.)

I fired:

3 rounds 2.75”Modified Shell.

3 rounds 3” Modified Shell.

It WORKED! 6 rounds fired: 6 solid hits!

A. 3 rounds 2.75”: Group: 4 inches @ 27 yards. (One “flyer”.)

B. 3 rounds 3”: Group: 3 inches @ 27 yards. 1 FTE. (Took some strong racking to get it out…Strange…)

*5 rounds were high and to the left of POA, 1 low right.

Total group: 18mm (7 inches) Excluding “Flyer”.

See target: (The plastic can was my “slug-trap”. Filled with sand to trap fired slugs.)

I then proceeded to blast the target at 25 yards with 3 regular, unmodified shells for the fun of it.

See target:

Like I said before, I have recently learnt to recover my fired slugs. Today was not different: I recovered 3 out of my 6 slugs (3 went right through my sand trap!) Here they are: you can see it looks like every single slug was point-first, there was little deformation, and wad collapse. Little expansion, but these would definitely put a world of hurt on a target.

I think the combination of good sights and the slugs has worked. I am much more confident now.

Last note

The situation in my country is getting more worrying now: we are aware there are a lot more illegal guns and ammo being smuggled in: in “preparation” for the politics for next year… I was shocked to watch a local news report the other day: a whole container load of Turkish and Russian shotguns, and a semi-trailer load of 12-gauge ammo intercepted at the port.
Unfortunately: the attacks, the killings have begun already: not widespread, but assassination of political aspirants and party activists here and there… There is also the tension of religious factors: the incumbent president is being pressured to run for election. He was the former vice president, who got into power because of the death of the erstwhile president. He is from the Christian South-South, while the Muslim Northerners feel Northern rule should continue.

God help my country in the coming time, and God grant me a good target picture, a steady hand, good cover, and enough ammo, God forbid that it comes to that…Amen!



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Mouse

    Wow. I really like this guy. His dedication and love of his country is admirable.

  • Keep your sand in the sand trap dry. Water is like lubricant between the sand and reduces the resistance to projectiles (thus the plastic bags for modern sandbags instead of Jute bags).

  • Ted

    Serious props. There are companies that devote tons of money to making high-tech sights and ammo in the US and other countries, and here we have an average joe in a country with heavy firearms restrictions making his own quality accessories and ammo.

    I wish Y-man the very best of the situation in his country.

  • hillbilly

    Y-man, I agree with you in prayer that things get better in your country.

    But I also pray that if things get that bad, you escape to America.

    I’d love to take you to the shooting range sometime.

  • Sian

    Inspiring!

    Stay safe, Y-man.

  • JamesF

    Somebody drop off a good AK-74 and some spam cans of 5.45 to this guy…

  • His stuff is getting better!

    Are the commercial products too expensive, or illegal? Why does he do this? Or is it just fun?

  • John C.

    Looks like a quite effective slug design. I might try this out in my spare time just to see if I can get it to work.
    Good luck

  • R N

    This man is amazing! I never would have thought that Libya even let people have guns even though Western Newspapers pretty miuch make it seem like everyone in africa and their grandma has an AK and is shooting each other, but seeing the stuff that you’ve written its pretty damn cool and about the opposite(well mostly opposite)

  • R N

    By the way I wasn’t happy when I saw the post saying you dropped your scope I thought it looked awesome that way

  • Derfel Cadarn

    Have followed entire series of experiments,it is very impressive how innovative humans can be. Wishing Y-Man a life of peace . Seems he is doing his best to be prepared. Great job!

  • Adam

    I always enjoy these posts very much. So long as there are a few men like you left in your country, there is hope

  • Jim

    I feel so much pride in humanity when I read these posts. I know Y-Man is a Nigerian patriot, but I wish we could let him into the US on his engineering and invention based merits.

    God bless you Y-Man, stay safe!

  • Justin Grigg

    Good job, once again Y-man!

  • Greg

    I wish I could send this guy a care package.

  • EgregiousCharles

    I admire Y-Man enormously.

  • Chase

    Y-Man is an exemplar we should all look up to. He’s risen to the challenge of severely limited off-the-shelf options and distinguished himself with his ingenuity and resourcefulness. Gods bless you, Y-Man, and keep you and your country safe.

  • HerbG

    Y-Man is incredible! I am always amazed at his ingenuity in overcoming problems, and he should be an inspiration to shooters and handloaders everywhere.

  • James Versluys

    Hi guys! Looong time reader, total amateur lover of thefirearmblog and long following our pal from Africa’s brilliant journey. I feel I owe him (n’ firearmbl) for just how much I’ve learned, not to speak of the sheer joy in reading both firearmblog and him.

    Two things:

    1. We need to find a way to help our brother shooter in Africa: are there things, easy to send things (possibly as simple as a crimper or molds or some easy to get tools here in the States or Europe/Switzerland) we could send him to make his life easier? I’m not talking bullets or guns or even accessories, but things like tools and supplies (like, say iron powder or whatever gunmongers use). I literally don’t know, being the noob I am, but I am wondering. This is where more experts or pro’s would take over a conversation I would quickly be out of depth in.

    and

    2. Just a note of thanks to Firearmblog. I check you every day. I know you’re for experts and pros, but you write so well (and, ahem, cuz p’ pretty pictures) that simply interested day-shooters find all kinds of pleasure in reading you. Thanks, Firearmblog.

  • CMathews

    You never cease to amaze Y-Man.
    Hopefully it does not come to having to use your project. Stay safe, and keep your head on a swivel Y-Man.

  • Todd

    Steve, we should start a fund to cover transport and legal expenses to get Y-man to the USA.

    • Todd, I am sure Y-Man would be a credit to the USA, I know that he loves his country despite all its problems!

  • James Versluys

    We should get a petition going and get all our families and friends and go to some of the major politico blogs: I bet we could get 5,000 signatures together: 5-10,000 signatures has enough weight we could get a congressman’s attention (and a promise from all signatories to send 5$ to 50$ to his campaign next election if our pal gets in), and congressmen can help waive a lot of red tape and fees.

    Think about it- this guy’s a natural American. A go-getter, brilliant, and just waiting to be a success. Just the kind of immigrant we need by the million.

  • Erik

    Y-Man, if you’re reading, post up some way for us to send you a care package, I have a few purpose molds for shotgun slugs that I”m sure you could use :-D. Also if I can hunt around, maybe a nice set of ghost rings for your mossberg.

  • Bryan S.

    Erik, that sounds like a great idea. Im thinking if we can get Y-man a rifled slug mold for his smoothbore, or heck, if we could find a way to legally get a rifled barrel over there, his quest for accuracy would get a bit shorter.

  • Y-man, you rock. This is a really cool post which shows serious patriotism and a great love of firearms. I wish people here were as motivated as you. If you ever choose to come Stateside, you’ll be a welcome guest.

  • Dom

    I know the flash never flatters any gun, but there is rust in that bore! I would hate to see that become a real problem for Y-Man. If y’all put together a mailing, lemme know I’ll chip in something for that rust. Are there any household/auto chemicals that can be safely applied for that? Thinking radiator cleaner…

  • Y-Man

    Response to The Firearmblog

    Many thanks guys, for the kind words and prayers on my last guest post: . Many, many thanks.

    I assure you all that upon all the fears and concerns with the upcoming elections in my country, I love my country very much, but if need be: I would gladly go someplace else: Alaska, Iceland or Greenland would be nice (I fell in love with Iceland after reading Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising.)

    I would love to go shooting with all y’all who offered: great! I am actually saving up for a visit to the USA next year (I have travelled quite a bit in Europe: I am an Oil company worker…) You can all be sure I am saving up a sh*tload of dollars to spend on ammo at your ranges! I DEFINITELY will go back home with a sore shoulder and a “sorer” trigger finger, but a BIG smile on my face!

    Guys, I really appreciate the offers of sending stuff to me. I will do some thinking about what “innocent” items I would love to have. It can’t be more than a buckshot mould, a good smoothbore slug mold (Lyman, maybe?), the ATS Universal Shotgun sight

    http://www.dillonprecision.com/content/p/9/pid/25597/catid/17/Advantage_Tactical_Shot_Gun_Sight.

    Maybe when I come over to the USA, I can buy these: and carry them “innocently” back. (In the past 2 years, a friend who’s from New Orleans, but works in my country: has been able to bring some of the things I have been able to get: the Bushnell scope, the B-Square mount, the turkey sights, some Tri-Mark lasers, etc. The trick is to throw away the packaging, and disassemble the components and spread them all around checked-in baggage.

    A rifled barrel with rifle sights would be perfect: I once dreamt of “disguising” a rifled barrel as a crutch: imagine sending down or “smuggling” a “care package” with several crutches: well disguised as crutches! 🙂 Sadly: this MIGHT not work…(Check this out:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44877118@N04/5024950293/

    Guys, thanks for the offers: but sometimes: the fun is in the fabricating and modifying! (Can you imagine how boring the 80’s would have been if MacGyver had a Walmart or other full hardware store right inside EVERY shack he was locked up in, or EVERY pilot-less plane he had to escape from?)

    in that spirit: check out my fabricated “Ghost-ring” sights! I realised I have drilled and tapped receiver, so I used some stuff from some kids toys made in China:

    http://www.hurricanetoys.com/eng/product/km.php

    To get these bits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44877118@N04/5025674370/

    To achieve this:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44877118@N04/5025060869/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44877118@N04/5025061041/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44877118@N04/5025061195/

    What do you guys think?

  • Solifugid

    Y-man? Because he can, man!

  • Michael M

    Just be careful. Anyone from your country getting on a plane here gets extra extra scrutiny. If anything,If I were you I want to get one of those little Chinese mini lathes. With one of those and some aluminum (Lee makes their molds out of aluminum and they work great) you can make any molds you want,you just need the dimensions of the projectile you want. Actually,you could probobally make one off slug designs to try them without a mold at all by just cutting a cylinder of lead to the correct dimensions. Once you find something that seems to work well,you could then make a mold for it.

  • chris from canada

    i do not believe for one second that square-base socket slug came from that socket in the picture. not unless you failed to mention something…oh , nevermind. i do see that you did fail to mention steps about the square-base slug. i sherlock’d that one. looked to me that you where really onto a good thing. i was rooting for you.

    • Y-man

      I confirm 100% that the square-base came from that socket in the picture. I have NO reason to “fabricate” tales. [Pun intended!]
      I shot it and had a bruised shoulder, and a large keyhole in the target… Suffice to say – I NEVER made one like that again!

  • Jesse Voluntaryist Mathewson

    Anything is possible, Feel free to message-