Definitions

shot from hip

Rat-shot

Rat-shot is very small lead shot (usually #12 shot) which is typically loaded into a cartridge not generally considered a shotgun shell. The most common cartridges loaded with rat-shot are the .22 Long Rifle or pistol or revolver cartridges. Using rat-shot cartridges allows one to convert a handgun or rifle into a small shotgun suitable for short-range use.

Uses

Rat-shot (also called snake shot) is generally used for shooting at snakes, rodents, and other small animals at very close range. It is used by farmers in rifles for the control of birds flying inside of barns and sheds, as well as for killing rats, for the simple reason that rat-shot will not damage the metal roof of a barn or the metal sides of a shed, while still being effective against small pests at close distances. The maximum effective killing range of such cartridges is very limited, typically being less than 10 to 16 1/2 feet (3 to 5 meters).

Rat-shot cartridges are best used in dedicated smoothbore firearms such as Marlin Firearms' Garden Gun, but can still provide suitable patterns of shot from rifled barrels at short ranges. Since smoothbore firearms with barrels under a certain length may be classified as sawed off shotguns, rifled barrels are legally required in some cases. The Thompson Center Arms Contender pistols offered barrels in some calibers, such as .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, in configurations that contained special straight rifled choke tubes to improve the patterns produced by the rifled barrels when shooting rat-shot cartridges.

Rat-shot is also used in some types of frangible ammunition, such as the Glaser Safety Slug. In these bullets, the shot is glued or sintered together inside a thin shell to form a projectile that fragments readily upon impact, reducing penetration and risk of ricochet.

Configuration

While some makes of rimfire ratshot cartridges somewhat resemble traditional shotgun shells, with a brass case crimped closed, many other types of rimfire and nearly all centerfire rat-shot cartridges use a hollow plastic capsule, often shaped like a bullet to aid in feeding, which holds the shot. This plastic case shatters during firing, and allows the shot to disperse after it exits the muzzle.

In the news

Former Enron executive J. Clifford Baxter was killed in an apparent suicide, and was originally reported as using a rat-shot cartridge. This was later changed to state the suicide was committed using a Glaser Safety Slug.

See also

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