Why wasn’t buckshot preferred over a roundball?

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cal.45

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The pistol was used for self defence at a short range, and with a short barrel and roundball it lacked accuracy. At a short range buckshot is effective and have a larger spread which make it easier to hit your target, and if you’re lucky you might hit multiple attackers at once. For a single shot pistol buckshot seem to be a better option than a roundball, but why doesn’t we see that being true according to history?
 
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Single shot pistols were used at man to man range.
a dual was made to satisfy honor and increased range help keep death rates low. Otherwise a pistol wasn’t made to shoot at any distance. A seaman boarding an enemy would parry a blow with his right then shoot with the pistol from his left, only inches or feet away.
A horseman would charge to the enemy line, or all ready broken line I should say, and likewise fire almost touching.
A ‘bar fight’ situation may cause a man to draw his pistol, but again theirs was at a range of inches or feet. Running Buffalo. One rode close enough to singe hair around the shot. Buck would offer no advantage in the ranges used. And if a little fatter away could offer ‘slow kills’ instead of the devastating wound of one fat ball.
Ones already sacrificed the power of a load by using a pistol. Across a room,say thirty or forty feet, the buck would have a nice pattern but already only as effective as buck at thirty or forty yards.
I’ve killed one deer at about twentyfive yards with a.50 ball. But I don’t think a buck load from a pistol would have dropped her.
 

Notchy Bob

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Regarding the question of self defense at short range, I can only speculate, as I am not an authority. However, it would seem to me that if you are in a really desperate encounter, you would want to stop your attacker in his tracks. A single large-diameter ball might just do that. I think one or more buckshot might create a mortal wound, but the attacker might have some fight left in him before he expires.

I think wadding or patching would also make a difference. Testing by the Bevel Brothers, published last year, showed something like a 40% loss in velocity for shot loads wadded with loose fiber (e.g. tow) as opposed to card or dense fiber wads fitted to the bore. I expect a half dozen or so buckshot wadded with tow would have a lot of gas blow-by that could be eliminated by using a single ball close to bore size. Couple that with the down range energy loss of the smaller pellets, and the buckshot load in a handgun starts looking really puny.

At really close range, like handshaking distance, I don’t think buck or ball would make much difference… The buck wouldn’t have room to spread.

In shooting smoothbores with shot, whether loaded from the muzzle or the breech, I think it’s a good idea to pattern your gun. What you find may surprise you. I learned this in cowboy action shooting. A lot of guys failed to knock down shotgun “poppers” placed at 8 to 15 yards, and swore the targets were too far, that the shot patterns from their short-barreled, cylinder bored scatterguns opened up too much. I was intrigued, and patterned my own double-barreled coach gun (20” cylinder bored barrels), and found the patterns were a lot tighter than expected. At 8 yards, it was essentially one hole the size of my fist. Adding to the problem, I believe the barrels on the cheap doubles a lot of the guys used were not well regulated, meaning point of impact did not necessarily coincide with point of aim. If the poppers were not going down, it was because the shooter missed.

Just some random thoughts, mostly speculation on my part.

Notchy Bob
 
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Shooting 3Gun with 12 ga loads, typically 1 1/8 ounce field loads, a cylinder choked gun will have a hard time knocking down reactive steel past 12 yards.

If folks show up to a match with a riot gun (no choke) they are going to have a tough day.

Also, 71/2 shot has much greater terminal effect on steel than #8 with all other things being equal.
 
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I think @Notchy Bob and @brazosland hit on it,, Terminal ballistics.
A 32 cal and 36 cal are already "buckshot" size round ball. Anything smaller just didn't have enough power to cause enough damage.
Given the aspect of "self-defense", the idea is to stop the attacker.
Punching several small holes in a body that only go a 1/2" deep isn't going to stop anyone and will probably just enrage them to an escalated attack.

It's only in Hollywood that even a modern 9mm sends a body flying backwards,,
 
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smoothshooter

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The pistol was used for self defence at a short range, and with a short barrel and roundball it lacked accuracy. At a short range buckshot is effective and have a larger spread which make it easier to hit your target, and if you’re lucky you might hit multiple attackers at once. For a single shot pistol buckshot seem to be a better option than a roundball, but why doesn’t we see that being true according to history?
The pistol was used for self defence at a short range, and with a short barrel and roundball it lacked accuracy. At a short range buckshot is effective and have a larger spread which make it easier to hit your target, and if you’re lucky you might hit multiple attackers at once. For a single shot pistol buckshot seem to be a better option than a roundball, but why doesn’t we see that being true according to history?

Human nature and practicality would convince me that buckshot sized balls would have been used on occasion in smoothbores.
Even a combination of a single larger ball with one or more smaller ones together.
It’s just another one of those little things that people have done in the distant past that no one thought worth writing about.

Very, very few people ever owned or had the use of a pistol of any kind their entire lives, anywhere in the world. Even on the American frontier prior to the advent of percussion and cartridge revolvers.
I would hazard a guess that in the 1800’s American west, way less than half of male adolescents and adults ever owned or carried a handgun, even for a little while.
 

Eterry

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There has been many many failures of buckshot to stop an aggressor. Most Police Departments around here removed buckshot and replaced it with slugs. Plus slugs have more range than buckshot.
A large bullet seems to be more terminal effective than several small ones.

I never felt under gunned when armed with a slug loaded riot gun. After I showed the ballistics of the slug to a fellow SWAT member he switched to a riot gun for making entry.
 
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Pistols were a close quarter weapon that gave a combatant only one chance to stop the threat. Big holes and penetration work better than shallow little holes. Once fired, you now have a very short club.

Revolvers changed tactics. Until then, there was a lot of cuttin' going on with really long knives used by guys on horses and spears called "lances". Bowie knives were not designed by accident and not used for picking teeth. Fights of all kinds were bloody, messy affairs.

Sabers didn't need to be reloaded and, in hand-to-hand combat with front- stuffing single shots, the soldier with the longest bayonet wins.
 

3 trees

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I unloaded a pistol from the civil war. It belonged to a well know General from my area of WV. Single shot precision that was still loaded when the current owner took possession. Has Officers name in small inleted plate so I am sure if it’s history and was purchased from a direct descendent. It was loaded with one ball and 4, 3 B buckshot.
 

cebusey

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Single shot pistols were used at man to man range.
a dual was made to satisfy honor and increased range help keep death rates low. Otherwise a pistol wasn’t made to shoot at any distance. A seaman boarding an enemy would parry a blow with his right then shoot with the pistol from his left, only inches or feet away.
A horseman would charge to the enemy line, or all ready broken line I should say, and likewise fire almost touching.
A ‘bar fight’ situation may cause a man to draw his pistol, but again theirs was at a range of inches or feet. Running Buffalo. One rode close enough to singe hair around the shot. Buck would offer no advantage in the ranges used. And if a little fatter away could offer ‘slow kills’ instead of the devastating wound of one fat ball.
Ones already sacrificed the power of a load by using a pistol. Across a room,say thirty or forty feet, the buck would have a nice pattern but already only as effective as buck at thirty or forty yards.
I’ve killed one deer at about twentyfive yards with a.50 ball. But I don’t think a buck load from a pistol would have dropped her.
Though best at belly range - I have an original Manton that is shootable in 66 cal - carefully loaded can keep it on a 9 inch pie plate at 25 yards. That being said nobody was shooting back..... still I would think adding a few buck on top of the ball would be advantageous
 
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There has been many many failures of buckshot to stop an aggressor. Most Police Departments around here removed buckshot and replaced it with slugs. Plus slugs have more range than buckshot.
A large bullet seems to be more terminal effective than several small ones.

I never felt under gunned when armed with a slug loaded riot gun. After I showed the ballistics of the slug to a fellow SWAT member he switched to a riot gun for making entry.

We loaded "bucks and slugs". Started with 1 or 2 buckshot the alternated.
We trained out to 15 yards with buckshot and it was very telling to see how much the pattern opened up.
 

rem700

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Regarding the question of self defense at short range, I can only speculate, as I am not an authority. However, it would seem to me that if you are in a really desperate encounter, you would want to stop your attacker in his tracks. A single large-diameter ball might just do that. I think one or more buckshot might create a mortal wound, but the attacker might have some fight left in him before he expires.

I think wadding or patching would also make a difference. Testing by the Bevel Brothers, published last year, showed something like a 40% loss in velocity for shot loads wadded with loose fiber (e.g. tow) as opposed to card or dense fiber wads fitted to the bore. I expect a half dozen or so buckshot wadded with tow would have a lot of gas blow-by that could be eliminated by using a single ball close to bore size. Couple that with the down range energy loss of the smaller pellets, and the buckshot load in a handgun starts looking really puny.

At really close range, like handshaking distance, I don’t think buck or ball would make much difference… The buck wouldn’t have room to spread.

In shooting smoothbores with shot, whether loaded from the muzzle or the breech, I think it’s a good idea to pattern your gun. What you find may surprise you. I learned this in cowboy action shooting. A lot of guys failed to knock down shotgun “poppers” placed at 8 to 15 yards, and swore the targets were too far, that the shot patterns from their short-barreled, cylinder bored scatterguns opened up too much. I was intrigued, and patterned my own double-barreled coach gun (20” cylinder bored barrels), and found the patterns were a lot tighter than expected. At 8 yards, it was essentially one hole the size of my fist. Adding to the problem, I believe the barrels on the cheap doubles a lot of the guys used were not well regulated, meaning point of impact did not necessarily coincide with point of aim. If the poppers were not going down, it was because the shooter missed.

Just some random thoughts, mostly speculation on my part.

Notchy Bob
I found similar results shooting cowboy using a 97 clone with cylinder bore patterned at 10yds avg pattern was 8", what I discovered is if actually aimed and hit the popper they went down. I found similar result using the same 97 and load the few times I tried 3Gun using Win Low recoil low noise 980fps 8shot if the center of pattern hit the popper it went down if half the pattern missed it did not go down. Regarding self defense if one considers something like the Tueller 21ft rule and a average room size of 14ft even 2 rooms at 28ft round up to 30ft would be 10yds one might find drastic pattern size difference from patterning at 25yds with bucksot. Another aspect one might consider is the old rule of be sure of your target and what is BEYOND! might not mean much if your nearest neighbor is a mile thru the woods but could be quite different if they are only on the other side of the wall in a neighboring apartment.
 
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Skeggs

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I'm not sure what the various match rules are on wads, but these days, that's where the "choke" is. We can use flight control wads out to 60 yards or more and hold a 10" pattern with goose/turkey loads. Tech not available back in the day, but they shoot in ml guns nicely.
Ballistics Products sold wads to cut slits yourself to customize your pattern to your load/range. Our best results with these wads have been in cylinder bore barrels, too.
If you go back to Keith's book, Shotguns, from 1950, he correctly pointed out that tighter chokes work best on smaller shot, the larger "bucks" actually patterned best with more open bores. He even shows people tying large shot together with copper wires, like the navy mast cutting balls chained together.
The best thing about shotguns is that, ml, cartridge, black or smokeless, performance is pretty similar.
 

Nathan55770

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I've always thought about this and have no sources or official information on this but I think they would rather hit an enemy with one big bullet rather than hit one or more enemies with possibly just one or two small ones.
 
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