Guide to Using Snake Shot

posted on April 28, 2017
sheriff-jim-5-28-15.jpg (8)

We usually carry guns to protect us from the two-legged varmints that plague society. Sometimes, we also carry guns to protect us from four-legged predators, too. But let's not forget those no-legged critters, too. Yep, it's snake season again, and we're going to cover the use of snake shot.

Now, let me say right here that I am not in favor of shooting all snakes. Frankly, I don't even shoot the poisonous kind unless they are too near me, my house or my animals. I realize that this is not a practice that is followed by everyone, but I merely suggest that you think about it. Snakes serve an important purpose in ecology and should only be disposed of when they present a clear and present danger to us.

For years, I used to make fun of those who thought they had to have a snake shot load in their gun in order to kill a poisonous snake. I freely admit that I often suggested that they simply learn to shoot. Hitting a snake close enough to actually harm you, in my mind, was not all that difficult.

That was the case until, one evening, I pulled up to my travel trailer to find a rather large Mojave rattlesnake had taken up housekeeping right under the step to the front door. Dragging out a pistol I happened to have handy, I set out to launch him to Snake Heaven. That's when I realized that I couldn't shoot in that particular direction, because I might hit my friend's house. Moving to another angle, I realized that this one was out, too, because of the horse barn. I finally had to drag him out with a stick and get him located in a safe direction for my shot. I went down to the store and bought snake shot shells the next day.

We have found that all snake-shot shells for handguns are not created equal. Just about all of the .22 LR snake-shot ammo cannot be depended upon to do a terminal job on a snake of any size. Moving up to the .22 WMR, you begin to get enough shot and enough power to do the job on one of these critters. However, I find that the best snake loads are built around, at least, the .38 Spl. and 9 mm. The .44 Mag. and .45 ACP snake-shot loads to an even better job transferring Mr. Fangs to a celestial location. Some of those big rattlesnakes can take a lot of killing. CCI Ammunition makes a great line of snake-shot loads available in a variety of common calibers.

The best defense against poisonous snakes is to be alert to your surroundings, just as we should be doing in all avenues of our personal defense. Don't put your hands or feet anywhere that you cannot see. When you see a poisonous snake in a non-threatening location, simply back away and go around him. Of course, it also helps to take the time to study snakes and learn how to recognize the dangerous ones.

In reality, few people are bitten by poisonous snakes each year. Fewer still actually die from it. However, I would hate to be the exception to the rule, and I expect that you would, too. So, it is good to remind ourselves that the snakes are out and that we need to be a bit more watchful.

I'd write more about this subject, but I need to run down to the local gun store and restock my supply of snake-shot cartridges.


Kimber KHX Ultra 9 mm 1911 facing right
Kimber KHX Ultra 9 mm 1911 facing right

I Carry: Kimber KHX Ultra 9 mm 1911 Pistol in a DeSantis Holster

In today's episode of "I Carry," we have a Kimber KHX Ultra 9 mm 1911 pistol carried in a DeSantis Cozy Partner holster with a Buck Knives Sprint Ops Pro pocketknife.

First Look: Safariland Tiger Stripe Holsters

Go "old school," but still have all the latest innovations from Safariland to keep your firearm safe at your side.

HAVA Holds 13th Annual Family Day

Live entertainment, gifts, food, prizes and shooting exhibitions were just some of the highlights.

Can Perception Determine Reality?

How you appear to others can affect your safety.

BallistiClean 00 Buck Review

There’s less training conducted with the defensive shotgun than with any other defensive firearm. This is partly because shotguns recoil the hardest, and recoil is not something shooters typically enjoy. It’s also partly because shotguns—at least compared with handguns and carbines—are a bit expensive to shoot, especially if you’re training with 00 buckshot.

First Look: Anderson A4 Series with Picatinny Rails

Classically styled rifles, carbines and large-format pistols from one of America's most-popular AR builders.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.