20 thoughts on ““The lost art of Cut Shells”

  1. OK – a question. When I open my break open shotgun, I see a ‘shelf’ where the folded open shot shell opens up and allows the shot cup to pass through the transition of chamber / barrel. There is a prominent ring at this point. When a cut shell is fired, isn’t this case now compressed when passing through this ‘shelf’ ?

    I know vintage shotguns which shot older paper shells did not have this shelf. Possibly safer shooting these cut shells in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Had both my son and a buddy bitchin’ about not being able to get slugs. I asked them both if they had any bird shot? Well yea, was their response, “then you have slugs” was my come back. Showed them both how to do this before I found this video, sent it to them anyway. Thanks Phil.


  3. To Anon, if you’re using a modern nitro-proved gun, then no worries. If you own a cheapie, then the ring or shelf that you describe may be a too-abrupt transition to the forcing cone portion of your shotgun’s barrel. Just ignore it, but if needed, then you can buy cutting tools from sources such as Brownells, or get a quote from your friendly local gunsmith. Don’t forget, these field expedient ‘slugs’ are really pre-fragmented projectiles, not solid slugs. They, and conventional slugs are safe to shoot, even in extra-full turkey chokes if left in by accident or choice, or with fixed choke guns.


  4. will this work in a pump ? or is it something that would be break action only ? i could see the shell coming apart as it is cycled through the action


    • Just drop a cut round in through the ejection port of your pump or auto gun. It is intended for expedient use, and to be used quickly, as no weather proofing is likely possible for long.


    • A word of caution. I recently participated in an informal 3-gun shoot and, during the shotgun section, tied my pump up tight with a leftover cut load from some testing years ago (coulda swore I got rid of all of them). It fed and functioned but the stub wedged itself in there real good when the next round left the magazine.


    • Not recommended for other than single and double barreled shotguns. My gunsmith buddy has stories about how many folks recently have brought in their pump or semi-auto’s in for repairs as loose bits of shot or such are jamming it. Too easy to accidently cut into the shot column and leave some shot in side the action.

      Also empty may not eject well. Also a jamming issue. Could be a problem if your in a hurry for a second shot?

      Not difficult to use a pocket knife to open up a Walmart trap load and replace the 8 shot with something better and reseal with a dab of glue. As the smaller the shot the LESS air space between the pellets LARGER Pellet loads actually weigh less than the #8 or 7.5 shot given same volume to fill. My #4 Buck Loads pattern quite well thusly. I’m using a single shot so I don’t know if the less tidy shot-shell would give a tight tolerance semi or pump issues. Or if recoil *might* let some less sealed shells to leak pellet’s Your Mileage might vary..

      Sometimes the cheap single shot is a handy thing indeed.


  5. We did that as kids hunting rabbits. If you cut one shell lengthwise, you get a good idea of where the wad is, and you can make the cut around it, not the shot. We ran those through break action singles, and pumps all day long. It was a hoot to have a little shell cup eject. The rabbits out in our part of Texas had some disease in the summer. And you’d get it if you cut yourself on their bones. So we fed them to the dogs. Winter usually killed off rabbits that were weak and sickly, so those were eatin’ rabbits.


  6. Excellent!
    I’m surprised my grandfather never taught me that.
    He was always good at teaching me all sorts of nefarious stuff.



  7. If you plan on using it in a pump action, don’t cut all the way around like he did in the video. You want to leave a little bit of the plastic intact on opposite sides of the shell casing, instead of just one side as he did in the video. That will allow the shell to have a better chance of cycling correctly without breaking apart. Also, I found that a bottom eject pump action handles them better than the side eject models.


  8. Simple, single-shot shotguns (like NEFand H&R) are readily available and inexpensive. Even today, I routinely see them available on gunbroker for $100 or less. They’re legal damn-near everywhere, extremely versatile, intuitive to non-gun people, and easy to stock-up on. Recommend everyone have 5 or 6 of them.


    • Got a pretty nice collection here but I love my single shot 12 I’ve been shooting since I was about 10. Took it with me when we took a bunch of folks trap shooting one time and just wore everyone out with it. Started a little “cheap gun” competition over some months and one guy scored a double in doubles trap reloading a single shot 20 gauge while bird 2 was already in the air. I was impressed.


  9. When I was younger we called that a “Country Boy Slug”. My hunting shotgun has been a Stevens 311 double barrel since the late 70’s. I have put down many deer with the cut shell.

    Dad reloaded and our typical deer load was a 650 grain 54caliber in a plastic rifled sabot. It was an elongated mold of a 275 grain bullet for the 54 cal Hawken dad had. When we ran out of them I did the cut shells. That pissed Dad off as it destroyed a shell cutting into our inventory of reloadable shells. I wish I could find those sabot casings as I still have the mold for the 54 caliber bullet.


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