[ 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:
A good front-heavy and long projectile.
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.)
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.
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.
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!