Reduced length shotshells testing

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In my last article I went over how to make reduced length (shorter than 2.75 inch) shotshells. In addition to looking cool, the short-stature shells serve the practical function of increasing the capacity of a tube magazine without the addition of an extension. My Benelli Nova Tactical, for instance, will accommodate a total of five 2.75 inch shells (four in the magazine and one in the chamber). By switching to two inch rounds, I’m able to increase the gun’s overall capacity to seven.

Increased capacity can be useful but only if the ammo performs as needed in terms of feeding, cycling, and pattern.  In order to answer the performance question, I took to the range with a sample pack of handloaded, two inch shotshells.

The test

Before firing a shot, I assumed the shot from the 2-inch rounds would spread out rapidly. My Nova has 3.5-inch chamber and the 2-inch loads have an actual overall length of 1.75 inches. This means the shot is traversing a long section of chamber before reaching the forcing cone, likely causing the kind of pellet deformation that can result in irregular patterns and wild pellets. I also assumed that deformation would be exacerbated by the fact that none of the loads incorporated shotcups or buffering material. Additionally, I knew my gun’s 18-inch, improved cylinder choked barrel would do little to tighten the pattern.

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