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GUNS Magazine Digital April 2011 - Page 30

• h O L t b O d I N S O N • The historical load goes mainstream. ombining buckshot and a bore-sized ball in a single C charge is a historical and very effective answer to improving the lethality of the smoothbore in combat. It was a common load during the Revolutionary War and was the standard musket load during the War of 1812. According to Dean Thomas’ 4-part opus, Round Ball to Rimfire—A History of Civil War Small Arms Ammunition, 69-, 71-, 72-, 73- and 75-caliber buck & ball loads were widely loaded and supplied to both sides of the struggle. One unit, the 12th New Jersey Infantry, was so effective with their smoothbore .69 Springfield muskets so loaded, that they became known as the “Buck & Ball Regiment.” The typical 69-caliber, paper-wrapped musket cartridge of the day contained three buckshot over a single roundball and was not a load you wanted to be facing if within 200 yards of the shooter. Well, thanks to Winchester Ammunition, which must be home to some historically minded ballisticians, the famous buck & ball load, is just beginning to make a modern comeback. I suspect this reintroduction won’t be the end of the buck & ball saga in our time. It’s just too good of a load not to attract some holt used his smoothbore ciA Ultra 87 for his tests of the new Winchester pDX-1 Buck & Ball 12-gauge load because it had proven accurate with conventional slug loads as shown here. Winchester’s box art is not only graphic, but is accurate too. bUCk & bALL competitors’ attention. Under the Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 label, Winchester has unveiled two very different approaches to the buck & ball load with two distinct end users in mind. The 12-gauge load is a universal load for all of us who like to have a 12 gauge handy at home or in the car just in case. The other load is a 2-1/2" .410, designed specifically to maximize the effectiveness of the Taurus Judge series of handguns and the new Circuit Judge (see the feature in this issue) revolving carbines, although the load is equally useful and effective in any .410. Winchester’s Supreme Elite PDX1 loading for the 2-3/4" 12 gauge is composed of three, copper-plated 00 buckshot layered in Grex buffering media over a 1-ounce Foster-type, Power Point slug—a real hammer load, clocking 1,150 fps. Hmm, three .33" buckshots arranged in a triangle over a .73" slug, sounds just like a Revolutionary War loading for the Brown Bess or any of the large-caliber buck & ball cartridges supplied during the American Civil War. Who was it that said “There is nothing new under the sun”? We are truly reliving ballistic history. Something should be said about the wad column in the 12-gauge PDX1 loading because when shooting the load on paper at close range, the wads become secondary missiles and target looks like it was hit with two or three slugs. There is a 1/4" hard-plastic overpowder wad, followed by a 5/16" fibercushion wad, followed by a hard 3/16" card wad—three wads, three secondary missiles, which the perp unfortunately won’t have the time to feel. Odd Shape Winchester’s PDX1 personaldefense loading for the .410, and particularly for the “Judge” series of revolvers, is a bit different when we think in terms of buck & ball. The buck consists of 12 plated BBs stacked in four levels of three BBs each under the balls (velocity to be announced). The balls, slugs, or discs (or whatever you want to call them) are three plated, 70-grain projectiles that look like miniature flying saucers. Whoever came up with the design is a genius because the bore-size, saucer-shaped projectiles fly true and deliver lethal patterns. For testing the new Winchester WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2011 30

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