column By: Staff | March, 20
Fortunately, other gauges serve to keep things interesting, including the big 10, the 16 gauge and the fine 28. Over the years, I have shot birds on the wing using all of these with little trouble, but when it comes to the .410 (actually a bore designation), even the lowest-flying dove can keep a person humble.
Few hunters who leave shotgunning to the fall months are masters of its typical ¾- or 11⁄16-ounce charge of lead shot. Regardless, a .410 is fun and challenging to shoot well and allows a hunter to tote around a comparatively lightweight field gun, which draws some upland game enthusiasts to the use of the skinny-barreled shotguns. Dedicated fans can thank the firm of Eley Brothers (London) for introducing it as a multi-purpose pest or “garden” cartridge in the mid-1870s. A .410 is also enjoyable to use for informal clay bird shooting or hunting rabbits.
One of newest .410s available is the Pointer Arista over/under (O/U) made in Turkey and imported by Legacy Sports International in Reno, Nevada, the same company that imports Howa 1500 rifles. While there are several Pointer models to include the MXL Synthetic Black and MXL Camo in 20 and 12 gauge, a Basic Over Under Clay model and a Basic Trap version (single barrel), the Arista is pure field gun with a suggested retail price of less than $600.
One surprise was the test sample’s better than average Turkish, oiled walnut stock with a much cleaner fit to the receiver than most other O/Us I’ve shot in this price range. I could do without the rubber honeycomb-style recoil pad on a .410, but all Aristas are so fitted, including 12-, 20- and 28-gauge options. Overall length on all Aristas is 45.2 inches. One exception is the 20-guage Youth model with 26-inch barrels and a 12.5-inch length of pull. Shooting clay birds revealed that for anyone’s first .410, this is a nice shotgun, and it comes with five choke tubes.
Legacy’s autoloading Phenoma .410 Cera-Wood model is an excellent field gun that is also available in 28-, 20- and 12-gauge options, including a 12-gauge variant with full coverage camouflage. All feature 28-inch black CERAKOTED barrels and an overall length of 48.5 inches. Weight runs from 7.1 pounds down to 5.9 pounds, depending on the gauge.
That last weight figure brings us back to the Cera-Wood (the receiver is coated with either gray or bronze CERAKOTE) .410 I’ve been testing. The shotgun comes with a plastic case and a selection of choke tubes. Its long barrel is flat-black and its Turkish walnut stock and forend are dark in color with a slight amount of figure running the length of the top of the comb. Stippled panels along both sides of the grip and forend provide the shooter a solid hold.
The Phenoma is a typical gas-operated semiauto with a conventional double-port gas position that rides on the magazine tube. To mount the barrel, pull the operating handle on the bolt halfway back and fully seat the barrel, slide the forend in place and screw on the magazine cap. This sounds simple enough, but it’s mentioned here because the test sample’s tolerances are snug enough that everything fits tightly. This shows that the gun was well engineered. If I had one objection, it would be the polymer trigger housing, but that boils down to personal preference.
While hunting doves alone in September with the Phenoma in the Arizona high county, a typical summer squall kept the birds flying high and fast with the wind, making for challenging shooting. Most were missed at distances of 30 yards or so, but the little .410 cycled round after round of Winchester 3-inch, High Brass Super X and Remington Express Long Range ammunition with no hiccups. Eventually realizing shots were going high, I started holding just below the passing birds and finally bagged a couple before rain began to fall.
Fortunately, the Phenoma comes with a set of stock spacers of different thicknesses used to change the angle between the receiver and buttstock, thus changing the relation of the eye to the barrel rib. After some trail-and-error adjustment, the Phenoma was used to break clay birds with ease at Wolfe Publishing’s annual company shoot.
Turkeys With a .410?
A friend of mine has turkey hunting in his blood, and last year he piled up a heap of the big birds with a Phenoma .410. Aside from calling them in close, his trick has been shooting Federal’s buffered, 3-inch Heavyweight Tungsten Super Shot ammunition consisting of No. 9 tungsten shot at a listed muzzle velocity of 1,100 feet per second. There’s no point in boasting about how many he shot, but not one ran off wounded.
The Phenoma is a fine .410 in my view, a lightweight semiauto that can be used for hunting a variety of small game and upland birds – or fun shooting at clay pigeons and, apparently, gobblers with appropriate loads. Suggested retail price is less than $700, which makes me think, as this is written just after Christmas, I should send a check and add it to the 12-, 20- and 28-guage shotguns in the safe…just to keep things interesting. Plus, the local, high-flying doves will need more attention come September. legacysports.com
– Lee J. Hoots