What Could Possible Go Wrong: Cut Shells and Run Edition

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

18 Responses to What Could Possible Go Wrong: Cut Shells and Run Edition

  1. avatarHunter S. says:

    Lends credence to the fact that most of our elders took care of the “providing” business with ONE shotgun… Beware the man with one gun, he probably knows how to use it.

  2. avatarDaniel Zimmerman says:

    Intellectually, I can see how that might be a less than safe thing to do. But damn, it’s cool.

  3. avatarVincit Veritas says:

    What actually is so dangerous about that? I would say it’s generally not advisable for amateurs to modify ammunition, especially in the field- but is there a danger of injury here? Not being sarcastic, actually asking.

    • avatarMALTHUS says:

      There is a slight chance of the shot column and wad passing through the crimp and leaving the forward portion of the cut shell lodged in the barrel. If interior ballistics is an item of curiosity for you, barrel obstructions will lead to interesting results with the subsequent discharge. ;^)

      “Cut shells” would not be your first line of defense in response to being attacked by Mongol hordes, but in a break-open shotgun they represent a viable field expedient.

  4. avatarRAN says:

    Necessity is the mother of invention. A trick to make your shot act like a slug. No longer necessary now in light of the availability of slugs and other interesting shells but something to keep tucked away in the back.

  5. avatarRoy Hill says:

    Cut shells absolutely would not work in either a pump or a semi-auto shotgun.

    But in a break-action double or single, they do allow you to have slug power with cheapo bird shot.

    And it shows that our ancestors, who depended on their one shotgun for food and protection, were able to adapt and overcome, even with limited resources.

    • avatarLance says:

      Why wouldn’t they work in a pump or semi mag tube? (You can feed them directly into the chamber with said action types to compensate for that, though.) The only other place I have seen them is in Magpul’s Art of the Dynamic Shotgun. A big disclaimer about never modifying factory ammo, etc. came up, but I can’t imagine that the editors would let them put it in at all if it was an excessively dangerous thing to do.

      • avatarBuuurr says:

        “Lance says:

        April 26, 2011 at 10:45 AM

        Why wouldn’t they work in a pump or semi mag tube?”

        I wouldn’t use this in my semi. That shell was bent when he loaded it into the chamber. I can’t begin to imagine the snag firing one of these (if it ejected fully) and the recoil spring slamming another shell, folding it up in the tube. Yeah I could load one at a time but that would take away my reason for having a semi. It is pretty cool for a crack though.

        • avatarLance says:

          Yeah, I hear you. It’s very much for an “I really need a slug right now, but I don’t have one” situation. And at the point you are carving buckshot rounds into slugs, you are down somewhere around the rate of fire of a muzzle loader.

      • avatarA. Lee says:

        Bingo. The Magpul video demonstrates the use of field-expedient cut shells. They strongly emphasize the need to cut the shell as close as possible to the moment of firing, and to discard unused cut shells.

  6. avatarRoy Hill says:

    Some quick looking around the Internet has revealed many references to this video today.

    I read one guy who says he used cut-shells in other types of actions, and here are the problems he listed.

    1) Cut shells bend and twist after they’ve been cut, and typically don’t feed reliably in a pump or semi.

    2) In some cases, the pump or semi doesn’t fully eject the stubby left-over end of the cut shell after firing. This guy said that bolt action shotguns were particularly bad at leaving behind the little stubby end of the fired shell.

    3) In some cases, part of the plastic shotshell hull gets left behind in the barrel of the shotgun after firing. With a break-open gun, you can actually look down the barrels very easily from the chamber end to verify before the next shot that the barrel is actually clear of obstructions. If a cut shell cycled in a pump or semi, and you didn’t check the barrel, you can easily blow up the gun with the next shot if there is a chunk of shotshell hull still remaining inside the barrel.

    Those were the three reasons this guy gave to use cut shells only in break action guns and to always, always, always check the barrel for leftover debris before firing the next shot.

    I probably won’t ever use cut shells. But it’s a great handy idea to have if I ever find myself somewhere with only a shotgun and only birdshot shells, but really needing something with a little more oomph. Stranded in the woods with a hungry bear prowling around comes to mind.

    Oh, one more thing. If using a cut shell in a double-barreled gun, always, always fire the cut shell first, or load one cut shell into only one barrel.

    Because the cut shell is cut, if you fire it second in a double gun, the recoil from the first shot could cause the cut shell to separate and the cut end to slide down the barrel a bit, again setting up a situation where the gun could blow up.

    Do it only like in the video. Only one shot from one barrel, and always fired first.

    • avatarLance says:

      In addition, while it may be obvious to some, you should not keep these long term. If you don’t use it, dispose of it in accordance to proper bad ammo disposal procedures.

  7. avatarRalph says:

    The only shells I’m gonna cut will be stuffed with manicotti.

  8. avatarJeff O. says:

    There’s some super interesting blog post I read somewhere about a guy in Nigeria, I think, turning birshot (the only shell he could get) into slugs & buckshot by melting down the pellets.

    • avatarBob H says:

      Did he offer to cut you in on a piece of the action if you would just help him collect the money through your bank in the US?

      • avatarJeff O. says:

        Well he said he was a prince and needed a cashier’s check to get out of the country so he could transfer all the assests to my account.

  9. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    It looks as if he made, in effect, a round like a Magsafe and a Glaser Safety Slug. I wonder if, with the money he saved, he could buy t shirts for all three that aren’t 50 pounds too tight!

  10. avatarDale says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlwodejs1wY Cut shells will work in a pump.

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