A few months back I wrote about shot shell loads for snakes for my "Ammo" column in Shooting Illustrated. In that column, I suggested these loads were not appropriate for personal protection. A reader wrote me a letter and took issue with that statement. This made me wonder, so I tested CCI's .40 S&W Shotshell load in 10-percent ordnance gelatin. I was surprised at the results and found that several layers of cotton cloth in front of the gelatin block had no bearing on terminal performance. Still, penetration is limited and I would be reluctant to trust this load to stop an attacker. However, it would undoubtedly leave a nasty wound, surely cause intense pain and might ultimately be fatal. After all, the first homicide I worked as a police officer was perpetuated with a pellet rifle.