Birdshot for self defense? Federal say yes

    There has been a discussion on the blog about the controversial new Federal Personal Defense Handgun .410 shotshell ammunition designed exclusively for the Taurus Judge .410 revolver.

    .410 Personal Defense opened and pellets dumped. Thanks to Stephen for the photo.

    The round contains 60 pellets of #4 bird shot (each pellet is .13″ in diameter). The load of pellets weight 1/2 oz (218.75 grain). Velocity is listed as 1200 fps which makes the total energy delivered at the muzzle to be 700 ft/lbs.

    Federal said to Guns Holsters and Gear that:

    The #4 pellets (approximately 10) penetrate to a depth of up to 6″.

    (the pellet number is wrong, but the penetration depth sounds right for .410)

    So with these facts in mind do you think that this round is capable of delivering a blow that warrants its name? I am not sure it does, but I welcome your opinions in the comments. I have a few issues with this round and how Federal have marketed it.

    Firstly, the FBI requires penetration of at least 12″ for their ammunition, added to this is the fact that the pellets are individually, only .13″ in caliber and weigh about 3.6 grain. I would not want to be shot by one, and they could certainty kill if they traveled around the body and hit a vital organ, but I seriously doubt an attacker would be stopped in their tracks.

    Another problem is shot dispersion. Dick wrote this comment on the blog about he groupings he achieved.

    NOT SUITABLE FOR PERSONAL DEFENSE AGAINST MUCH OF ANYTHING LARGE ENOUGH TO WARRENT “SELF DEFENSE” EXCEPT PERHAPS SMALL SNAKES! A large one shot with this round at 21′ will likely kill you before it bleeds to death! With 2 rounds it put 18-20 pellets inside a 12″ circle so the snake better be curled up and there were plenty enough large gaps to miss a head shot.

    Another issue I have is the published velocity. When firearm manufacturers publish velocity they usually base it on their test barrels, which are usually longer than what you would buy. For example shotgun velocities would be recorded from 28″ or 30″ barrel. The 1200 fps this round achieves is very similar to other standard shotgun loads, the difference being it is intended for the Judge. Most of the Judge models have a 2.5″ chamber and 3.5″ barrel. Revolvers measure barrel length forward of the chamber, so compared to a normal shotgun this works about to be 6″ of barrel. I believe shotguns are loaded with fast burning powder (reloaders please correct me if I am wrong), but this seems pretty amazing if it can achieve maximum velocity in only 6″ of barrel.

    Finally, if Federal believe this is an adequate round for self-defense, why have they not published their own internal studies? Telling me it has 6″ of penetration, presumably in ballistic gelatin, is just not enough information.

    So far Federal have not delivered a .410 buckshot model of the Personal Defense Round, but likely will later this year.

    I am interested in your opinions. I don’t consider myself very knowledgeable in this area.


    Other blogger have weighed in on the issue. Go read what they have to say (if you have blogged about it and I don’t know, tell me and I will add your blog to the list):

    Michael Bane @ The Michael Bane Blog

    Caleb @ Gun Nuts

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!