A story tells of a Texas Ranger arriving at a function in full Ranger regalia – boots, starched khakis, starched white shirt, black necktie, a wide-brimmed western hat and the traditional silver Texas Ranger badge. On his hip was a semi-automatic pistol.
A lady walked up to the Ranger looking at his pistol, and asked in a mocking tone, “I see you are armed; are you expecting trouble?”
His respectful reply was, “No Ma’am; if I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my shotgun.”
That’s a professional opinion of a good self-defense weapon. But most folks don’t want to lug a long gun around everywhere they go. And shells for larger gauges add weight.
Henry Arms may have just introduced the ultimate firearm for personal self-protection, though – a short barreled, semi-pistol- gripped, .410-gauge, five shell magazine, lever-action shotgun. The .410 round has a mild enough recoil to permit being hand-held, using both hands. The light .410 shells help out, weight-wise, too.
The emphatic sound of a shotgun’s action being operated should discourage most aggressors, too. I pray I will never be confronted with that situation, but I also pray that I will be prepared if it does. This scatter-gun would be a trustworthy companion.
We headed to a ranch to test it with the owner’s permission. We started with #8 shot for familiarization. It’s very comfortable to shoot resting against your hip. My wife agreed. The little gun slid backwards a couple inches with each shot. The muzzle didn’t jump at all. Vicky shot a little high on the paper with it, but her shots would have required serious maintenance on someone with evil intent.
Then we switched to high brass #4 shells. They rocked her a little more but were certainly manageable and provoked no complaints. They inflicted considerably more pain to the paper targets, though.
When asked later if there was a difference, she shrugged and replied,” Not a noticeable one.” She added, “It’s the most fun gun to shoot I’ve ever shot.” And she’s shot a few.
We only had a couple of empty plastic milk jugs, so that test was abbreviated. The number 4 shot destroyed the jugs of water and looked like it penetrated out the back side. But I learned that shooting into a fresh north wind at a gallon milk jug full of water from 25- feet away is a sure way to get your glasses washed. And it certainly looked lethal.
Buckshot wasn’t available, but ought to handle deer, small hogs and all species of predators, if needed. Bird shot is plenty for snakes.
Its 26.4-inch length rides well with the axe handle wedged between the driver’s seat of my truck and the console. I’ll add a small holster on the drive shaft cover to keep the muzzle from sliding around. Then we’ll be ready to ride at first light.
The little shotgun’s fairly heavy (5.75 lbs.) but illustrates the Henry slogan: “Made in America or Not Made at All!” It’s substantial.
John Jefferson is a lifelong outdoorsman, former regulations coordinator at Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., past executive director of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and author of two books on Texas hunting.