“The Gospel of the Gauge” – Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

One of my mentors, Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services refers to Shotgun Training as “The Gospel of the Gauge” especially when it is done on a Sunday. (Don’t lie, you laughed) Tom also says that “Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.”

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

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Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

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Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

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Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

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Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

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So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

Winding up I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity to train with Mr. Givens as he preaches “The Gospel of the Gauge” later this year in Lakeland, Florida. If you are an Instructor or aspire to be one I’d highly recommend that you train with Tom and Lynn Givens. For more information on the Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor Development course, please see below.

Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course
Chief Instructor: Tom Givens
November 16-18, 2018
Firearms Training Club of America, Inc
Lakeland, Florida (Private Range)
Tuition: $595.00

Register Here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/defensive-shotgun-instructor-course-3-day-tickets-39454107297

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Gun Pretenders a/k/a the Grass Eaters of the Firearms Training Industry courtesy of industry giant, John Farnam.

Many people ask where did I come up with the term, “Gun Pretenders” or “Grass Eaters” when referring to some in the firearms training industry. I respond with, it’s not original to me, all credit goes to industry giant John Farnam. I’ll let him explain as he says it best in this Quip from August 2013… There is a funny story about this quip, I was having dinner with John and Vicki in Ohio last November and mentioned this as being my very favorite quip and asked why it was not in the archives. When I returned to my hotel room after doing a little grocery shopping for lunch an email arrived from John with the quip attached. If you are not subscribed to John’s blog you should be. Find him at Defense Training International.

22 Aug 13

Gun Pretenders

Recently, a gun “safety instructor” in OH accidentally shot a student in a classroom during a “gun-safety course.” The injury was serious, but not life-threatening.

Now, we learn this was not the first such “accident” on the part of this particular “safety instructor.” Years ago, he “accidentally” injured yet another person during a similar, foolish gun stunt. I wonder how many other “accidents” with guns (that were never reported) this person has had between these two.

I don’t know this person personally, so I’m just using the foregoing as an example of what I see all too often hanging around ranges, on range “committees,” and purporting to be “instructors.”

We call them “Gun Pretenders.”

Most don’t even carry a gun. When they do, it is not the same gun, nor carry-option, they use for demonstration purposes on the range (on those rare occasions when they actually perform in front of students). For many, their only involvement with guns is some form of sterile, non-serious recreation.

When supposedly “instructing” students on a live range, many don’t carry a gun, even then! When asked why they invariably bleat that they don’t want to be embarrassed when asked to personally demonstrate something they’re teaching! “It might damage my credibility,” I’ve repeatedly heard them say. I don’t know what they’re worried about!

And, they dearly love to shower themselves with pious “titles,” invariably ending in “… master” or “…wizard,” and we never get to know where all these dubious “titles” came from. For one, I’m always suspicious when someone purporting to be an “instructor” finds it necessary to endlessly recite his entire resume, in boring detail, sometimes for twenty minutes or so, before finally getting to the point. When we all don’t already know whom he is, it strikes me as a strategy of desperation!

When sitting down with these people at a restaurant, away from the range, assuming I can get a word in edgewise, I often ask, “… yes, but are you personally carrying a gun right now?” You can probably guess the answer, “… well, of course not.” I generally have no further questions!

Competent instructors are well-trained, humble, accessible, eager to learn, eager to teach, have lots of personal experience, and actually “live” the Art. We don’t live piously withdrawn from it. We are driven to spread the sunshine, and we measure our success by that of our students.

Pretenders are mouthy, shallow, self-centered, self-righteous, vain, pseudo-sanctimonious, and constantly afraid. They spend their time, not worried about students, nor our Art, but desperately trying to maintain the myth of competence. As noted above, on those rare occasions when they do actually carry a gun, it and its “holster,” are unfailingly phony, glistening monstrosities, built strictly for irrelevant competition. These pretentious toys spend all the rest of their time in a padded, mahogany box in a dresser-drawer, gathering dust.

And, if you’re wondering if there is a point lurking in all this, here it is: A gun-owner, and particularly a gun-carrier, has the individual responsibility to acquire and maintain personal competence. History and fate will not accept lame excuses, nor will the court!

When you voluntarily take-on the personal responsibility to have the ability to protect yourself with gunfire, then you must be able to perform adequately, on demand. This has nothing to do with recreation nor competition. It is an individual, ethical responsibility, a matter of personal integrity and character. Bottom line: learn to be competent with your weapon(s) and yourself.

Become one of us, or go back to eating grass!

“How the hell did you know I didn’t have the king or the ace?”

“I recollect a young man putting that same question to Eddie the Dude. ‘Son,’ Eddie told him, ‘all you paid was the lookin’ price. Lessons are extra!’”

Lecture, caustically delivered by Lancey “The Man” Howard (played by Edward G Robinson) to a hapless “Slade” (played by Elmore “Rip” Torn) in the 1965 feature film, “The Cincinnati Kid.”

John Farnam

 

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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