Alrighty! It was a good deer season for me this year. I bagged my first decent size buck and it was with my new Winchester 9410. I know the 410 slug as a whitetail round is probably as controversial or more so then the 270 Win is as an elk round.
First off let me say that the 410 slug is a legal choice here in Ohio for the week long firearms season. Our firearms season includes all modern shotguns 410 –10ga firing a single slug or round ball, a muzzle loading rifle .38 caliber or larger, a muzzle loading shotguns 410-10ga and handguns firing straight wall cartridges .357 dia. or larger through a 5 inch or longer barrel. I normally used my BPS Stalker firing 3 inch 12 gage Remington Sluggers. I took two deer with that setup in the last four years, a button buck and then a yearling doe. Both were excellent eats but not much in the trophy category.
Last New Year’s Eve I purchased one of the new Winchester 9410 with some gift card I was given, and man is that a fun gun. Here in Ohio I would have to say it is nearly the perfect gun. Its only shortcoming would be the 410 is a little short ranged for waterfowl and Turkey. Since I purchased it I have used it for just about everything, hunting rabbits, grouse, squirrel, and even deer. I had always wanted a lever action gun but could never justify buying one in a rifle or pistol cartridge since I can’t hunt deer in Ohio with it and most of my other hunting does not require that heavy of a gun. I also did not need another rimfire so I never got around to getting a lever gun until the Winchester 9410 came out. Now here was a lever gun I could use. I picked up the Traditional model. It has a 24-inch barrel and full-length magazine that will hold nine shells (10 total with one in the chamber; the three round magazine plug is 18.5 inches long.). It’s chambered for the 2.5 inch 410 shell only and is chocked to a improved cylinder, although it shoots more like a modified from my pattering experiments.
It’s a blast on the skeet range, not to mention the panic looks some guys give you when they think you have your grandpa’s 30-30 on the skeet range. I have even shot some sporting clays with it although it is a bit light and opened choke for a long and difficult course. What surprised me most was that it shot slugs excellently despite the smooth bore. I took it to the local state run range and gave it a try. Despite being a Winchester it hated Winchester slugs shooting 5-6 inch groups at 50 yards. It shot a lot better with Federal Slugs, they are 1/4 ounce rather that the typical 1/5 ounce, and should be better for deer hunting, but because of the way they role crimp them they give me jamming problems coming up out of the magazine in the 9410. The gun loves Remington Sluggers. Those little slugs will shoot a five shot 2-inch group at fifty yards over sandbags. I was extremely pleased.
I did a little research and after looking into the energy of a 410 slug I decided I would give it a try deer hunting. The 1/5 once (87.5 grain) Remington Slugger moving at 1760 (as chronograph at the range in my gun, Rem claims 1830fps) is pushing about 602 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. That a bit more than the standard 158 grain 357 magnum. The one caveat it that the poor ballistic coefficient(~ 0.063) of the slug makes it loose velocity very fast. At 55 yard it has already lost half its muzzle energy. Keeping that shortcoming in mind I decided to use the Win 9410 for deer this year.
So here is how it happened. It was shortly after lunch opening day (12/1) my dad and brother drops me off on the backside of our farm. The farm is located in east central Ohio near the WV, PA, OH border. They were going to go around to the front of the farm and then into their stand. After waiting I was to start stalking their way. I pushed a quick circle on a small lot on the other side of the road to eat up some time and then crossed onto the main part of the farm.
I was about 150 yards off the road inside the edge of a crab-apple thicket on the side of a gently rising hill. I would move and then paused to look around and listen. At one of these pauses I heard some noise in front and to my left about a hundred yards. I looked in that direction and caught sight of some motion and a set of antlers moving thought some thick bramble and green briar at the bottom of the hill. I took a couple quick steps to my right up the hill to get a clear shot through and opening in the crab apples and cocked and shoulder my 9410. I waited for only about 15 seconds when a large doe stepped out of briar patch right into that lane I was looking down. I was really tempted to shoot since the freezer was getting pretty empty on venison since I did not get a deer last year but I waited to see if the antlers showed up.
I held perfectly still as she looked me over. I am pretty sure she saw me but since I was holding still she did not bolt but I do think I spooked her a little. She pick up her pace a little and continued crossing in front of me from left to right heading up the hill. Almost right on her heals came the antlers I saw. A nice three-year-old buck followed her, he never saw me, his attention was focused on the doe. I took aim and fired at him while he was on the move, both deer started up the hill with a jump. In full buck fever frenzy I snap two more shots quickly at him empting my plugged gun. He did not bolt outright though and continued moving slowly up the hill. I grab a round off my stock cartridge holder and fired again but this shot clearly missed as I saw it hit a tree. He stopped and looked around at this fourth shot, the doe was well out of sight up the hill. The buck fever was quickly turning to panic and anger as I though this buck might get away. I loaded another round in the chamber and one in the magazine as I tried to calmed myself down. I carefully and slowly knelt down on my right knee, took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. Wham! The deer fell over legs out straight and then kicked a few times. He did momentarily lift his head briefly but then his head went down again, I cycled the action and reloaded two more rounds into the magazine. I then waited about 3-4 minute incase he got back up. I then slowly approached as I got to the deer I saw him take a final few breaths and then was still.
It turned out that two of the five shots hit him. My guess it was the first and the fifth shot. The first hit him back and a little high. The slug hit the back edge of the ribs and did a lot of damage to the liver but did not exit.. That would have killed him due to the massive blood lose but being hit high and no exit wound would have made tracking him very difficult. The last shot what just behind the shoulder a little higher than I wanted but it nicely punched through the ribs and punched a nice finger size hole through the center of both lungs. It also did not exit.
He weight out after field dressing at about 125 lbs. He was a nice symmetric eight point. For fun I took the measurements for the online Boone and Crocket scoring worksheet and he scored an 89. Far from a record but still a decent buck. The world record typical whitetail is 213 and an award deer is 160.
So after all that excitement what do I think of the 9410 with slugs as a deer gun? My first reaction is oh yah! but I do have to temper that with the fact that I got lucky he didn’t bolt after I initially emptied my gun. I might never have found him even though he would have died from that first shot. When I did put the fifth slug in the boiler room where it counts it was just the right amount of gun. I used my GPS to measure the range and the final shot was taken at about 65 yards (give or take about 6 yards due to error in GPS position). At that range I did not deliver much energy to the target (about 270 ft-lbs). I estimate that the first three shots were taken at about 50 yards. In heavy cover it is deceptive how far thing are even at close range. I guessed the final shot was only about 45-50 yard but later when measure it was quite a bit farther.
So I guess I will leave it up to you guys. I will definitely hunt next year with my 9410. I will be more careful in placing a good first shot but I feel confident in my gun and ammo. Would I recommend other do the same? Hmm… I think if they ask I would just tell them this story and let them decide for themselves. Thanks for reading all my ramblings. Any comment or questions are always good. I have attach a picture of me with the gun and the deer.