So, prior to heading up to the hills this last Sunday, I had been cruising around Ranch and Home, and my eyes lit upon a box of .357/.38 Shot Shells. With this area of Eastern Washington actually being home to at least one variety of poisonous snake(the Western Rattlesnake), I thought maybe having a round or two of that in my S&W while out hiking would be useful.
Not wanting to carry an untested load, I started thinking about a method for testing the efficiency of my purchase. Fortuitously, Safeway had a package of chicken hotdogs priced 50%, which had them right around a $1.25. I bought a package and threw them in my cooler along with P&J sandwiches when I headed up to Bethel Ridge Sunday morning. I also had an old package of deli-sliced turkey that was too old to eat, so it went in the cooler also.
In between rain storms, I broke out the package of hotdogs, and lashed them together with electrical tape. I also had a few cherries left over from my breakfast, so, I added some of them in to simulate blood. Did I mention I was bored?
I repeated the test three times...once at 5 feet, and once at 7 feet, and last at 10 feet. I don't hate snakes...given the opportunity, I would rather not kill one, so, anything beyond the 7 foot range, I think I would back off and let the snake go it's own way, but curiosity(and the number of hot dogs in the pack) dictated I find the maximum effective range.
At five feet, I was actually very impressed with the results...large amounts of the hot dogs ceased to exist. These were really the only pieces worth picking up off the ground.
At 10 feet, the results were less impressive.
Finally, I moved back into 5 feet, and let the package of turkey have it. Once again, I was very impressed...several of the pellets actually penetrated all of the turkey, which was about 1 inch thick...
In reflection, I think the most dangerous thing to come out the end of the barrel were the pieces of the blue plastic cap. As stated, I was very impressed with the penetration/destruction at 5 feet. At that distance, you are probably talking 'lethal' to anything cat size or smaller. The 'spread' of pellets was very small...from looking at the impact on the turkey, it looked like 90% of the pellets were within a 2.5-3" circle...which means you actually still need to aim. I certainly wouldn't want to mes up and have an accidental discharge into the thigh with one of these....the results could be very, very bad.