The people at DoubleTap Ammunition sent me some .454 Casull rounds to test. And, in looking them over, I found that one of the rounds was a 400-grain, flatnose hardcast bullet, rated at 1400 feet per second. Now, that sounds pretty potent — heck, that’s up there in the neighborhood of a 12-gauge shotgun slug. Clearly, this called for an unlikely head-to-head test; 12-gauge shotgun vs. six-shot revolver . . .
Now, obviously, I didn’t expect the handgun to be anywhere near the same performance level as the 12-gauge shotgun slug. But the bullet statistics were intriguing, and I thought it’d make for an interesting test. As you’ll see in the video, it turned out that they were two very different performing rounds. The kinetic energy between the two was pretty close (about 92.2% the same), the weight was very similar (about 90% the same) and the velocity was nearly identical (1302 fps vs. 1312 fps). But the penetration and the damage cavity were very different, owing to the much larger size of the slug vs. the comparatively smaller diameter of the hardcast bullet (well, if we can call a nearly half-inch wide bullet “small”, that is…)
The slug penetrated to about 20.5″ through gel, but the hardcast .454 Casull 400-grain bullet penetrated 45″. That was nearly three full gel blocks laid end to end! I found the results of the 400-grain hardcast bullet quite impressive, but in really no way comparable to what the shotgun slug did. They were obviously two rounds intended for different purposes.
Since the results were so different, I looked at what else DoubleTap had sent me and found a round that I thought would be a lot more comparable to the shotgun slug; a 250-grain hollowpoint using a Barnes TAC-XPB solid copper bullet. Based on the recovered diameter and impact energy of the shotgun slug, I figured that the .454 Casull load with the Barnes bullet might actually come pretty close to performing like the slug did.
The Barnes bullet is a lot lighter than the shotgun slug, at 250 grains vs. 438 grains, but it’s also rated a lot faster (1850 fps from a 7.5″ barrel on the box, although I was using a 6.5″ barrel). So 300 to 500 fps of additional velocity would go a long way towards making up the energy difference between the two different-weight projectiles, and the Barnes all-copper bullet usually expands to nearly 2x caliber in other tests I’ve seen, and that type of expansion would put it right in the ballpark of a shotgun slug.
So, how about it? Can a handheld revolver match the destructive capability of a 12-gauge 18.5″-barrel shotgun firing a Remington Slugger 1oz shotgun slug? Seems unlikely, but the gel doesn’t lie, and comparing the size, penetration, and permanent damage cavities between the two revealed that yes, indeed, they can be pretty similar.
In general, I ended up quite impressed with the results of all three tests. The 12-gauge slug is everything I expected it to be, and it’s a tremendously destructive projectile. You simply do not want to be hit by one. The 400-grain hardcast bullet doesn’t do the same degree of initial damage the slug does, but it penetrates over twice as deeply, and if you’re facing a large predator, deep penetration of a big, heavy, solid, flatnose bullet can be very effective.
And the hollowpoint? Check the video for yourself, but to my eyes the damage it created looked very similar to what the shotgun slug did. All three were very impressive, although none were particularly suitable for defense against human attackers (for that task I’d still go with 00 or #1 buckshot in the 12-gauge, and a .454 Casull is a bit of overkill and hard to control for personal defense purposes). If your interests lie in hunting larger game or in defending against larger predators, you may find these results useful, and you may find one or more of these rounds would suit your needs.