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.


Berger Bollets
Berger Bollets

First Look: New Bullets from Berger Ammunition

New .30-caliber bullets for long-distance shooting.

Still A Favorite

The classics never go out of style.

Hodgdon’s 2024 Reloading Annual

With the internet all it is today; you might wonder why anyone would want a printed loading manual.

I Carry: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm Pistol in a Mission First Tactical Holster

In this week's episode of "I Carry," we have the new Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm pistol carried in a Mission First Tactical Ambidextrous AIWB/OWB holster with a Shield Sights AMS enclosed-emitter red-dot sight.

First Look: MDT Renegade Shooting Bag

Ideal for situations where every extra ounce matters.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.