What Is Rat Shot, Snake Shot or Dust Shot?

Rat shot or snake shot is specialized ammunition used for close-range pest control, particularly targeting small and agile pests. It is effective at short distances and is commonly used in handguns, revolvers, and some shotguns. While it has historical and military applications, it is mainly used by hikers, campers, and individuals encountering pests in outdoor settings. Let’s find out more interesting information about this shot where the #12 shot and #9 shot are closely related.

Rat Shot/Snake Shot or Dust Shot

Rat shot, also known as snake shot or dust shot, refers to specialized handgun and rifle cartridges designed for pest control. Instead of traditional bullets, these cartridges are loaded with lead shot canisters. This type of ammunition is particularly effective at short ranges. It is used to target small and agile pests such as snakes, rodents, and birds.

The main features and uses of the rat shot are outlined as follows.

1. Purpose and Effectiveness: Rat shot is intended for close-range pest control, where precise aiming is crucial. The lead shot canisters disperse upon firing, creating a pattern that increases the chances of hitting fast-moving or small targets.

2. Common Cartridge: The most common snake shot cartridge is the .22 Long Rifle loaded with a No. 12 shot. The “No. 12” refers to the size of the lead pellets. These cartridges are often used for encounters with smaller snakes, rodents, and pests.

3. Shot Spread and Range: From a standard rifle, the effective patterns of snake shot cartridges are generally limited to about 3 meters (10 feet). However, when fired from a smoothbore shotgun (or garden gun), the range can extend to as far as 15 meters (50 feet). The spread and effective range are influenced by the firearm’s design and the ammunition used.

4. Suitable Firearms: Snake shot is typically used in handguns such as derringers and revolvers, especially those chambered for a .22 Long Rifle, .38 Special, or .357 Magnum. It may not function reliably in semi-automatic pistols due to cycling issues.

Historical Use of Rat or Snake Shot

Shotshells, including those with rat shots, have historical significance in military contexts. For instance, the .45-70 “forager” round was issued to soldiers and contained a wooden bullet filled with birdshot. This round effectively turned rifles into small gauge shotguns for hunting small game to supplement rations.

Military Applications

During World War II, the U.S. military developed shot-shell cartridges like the .45 ACP M12 and M15 for pilots to use as foraging ammunition. These cartridges contained small birdshot pellets and were intended for hunting small game in emergency situations.

Current Manufacturers of Snake Shot Ammo

CCI (Cascade Cartridge Inc.) is a prominent manufacturer of snake-shot ammunition. They produce a variety of calibers, including .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, 9x19mm Luger, .38 Special, .40 Smith & Wesson, .44 Special, .45 ACP, and .45 Colt. CCI’s rimfire and centerfire snake-shot cartridges often utilize a hollow plastic capsule to hold the shot, which shatters upon firing to disperse the pellets.

CCI Pest Control and Centerfire Pistol Shotshell Ammunition
Name/Caliber Muzzle Velocity in ft/s (m/s) Shot Size No. Approx. Weight in Grains (grams) Box Count
.22 Long Rifle 1000 (300) 12 31 (2) 20
.22 Magnum 1000 (300) 12 52 (3.36) 20
9mm Luger 1450 (440) 12 53 (3.43) 10
Big 4 9mm Luger 1000 (300) 4 45 (2.92) 10
.38 Spl/.357 Mag 1000 (300) 9 100 (6.48) 10
Big 4 .38 Spl/.357 Mag 1000 (300) 4 84 (5.44) 10
.40 S&W 1250 (380) 9 88 (5.7) 10
.44 Spl/.44 Mag 1000 (300) 9 140 (9.07) 10
Big 4 .44 Spl/.44 Mag 1000 (300) 4 110 (7.13) 10
.45 ACP 1100 (335) 9 120 (7.78) 10
.45 Colt 1000 (300) 9 150 (9.72) 10
Big 4 .45 Colt 800 (245) 4 140 (9.07) 10

Source and Credit: Wikipedia

What Is Rat Shot Really Good For?

Rat shot, snake shot, or dust shot is particularly effective for specific purposes and scenarios that involve close-range encounters with small and agile pests. Here are some situations where a rat shot can be especially useful.

  • Pest Control: Rat shot is primarily designed for pest control, especially for dealing with pests like snakes, rodents, and birds at very close ranges. The spread of shot pellets increases the chances of hitting fast-moving and evasive targets, making it a practical choice for such scenarios.
  • Small Game Hunting: In addition to pest control, rat shot can be used for hunting small game such as squirrels, rabbits, and birds. The spread of shot pellets can increase the chances of hitting small and fast-moving game animals.
  • Personal Defense Against Pests: For individuals who spend time outdoors, such as hikers, backpackers, and campers, carrying rat shot ammunition can provide a non-lethal option for defending against pests that may pose a threat or nuisance.
  • Limited Range Encounters: Rat shot is effective at short distances, making it suitable for encounters within a few meters or yards. This makes it useful for scenarios where precision is required at close ranges.
  • Firearms Training: Rat shots can be used for firearms training, particularly in situations where maintaining safe distances is important. It allows shooters to practice aiming and firing in a controlled environment with reduced risk of over-penetration.
  • Less Lethal Option: Rat shot offers a less lethal alternative to traditional ammunition. While it can cause harm to small creatures, its reduced power and limited effective range make it a choice that’s less likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities, particularly when compared to standard bullets.

Though rat shot has its uses, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The effectiveness of a rat shot depends on factors like the target’s size, the specific firearm used, shot placement, and distance. For larger pests or longer ranges, different ammunition options or firearm choices might be more appropriate.

Is Snake or Rat Shot Lethal?

Snake/Rat shot or dust shot can be lethal to small pests and animals at close ranges. The lead shot pellets in rat shot cartridges can cause injury or even death to creatures like rats, mice, snakes, and birds when fired at very short distances. However, its lethality depends on several factors-

  1. Target Size: Rat shot is most effective against smaller creatures. The smaller the target, the more likely the shot pellets are to cause significant damage.
  2. Shot Placement: Like any firearm ammunition, the effectiveness of a rat shot depends on accurate shot placement. Hitting vital organs or critical areas can lead to a quicker and more humane dispatch.
  3. Distance: Rat shot is designed for very close ranges, typically a few meters or yards. At longer distances, the pellets disperse and lose energy, reducing their effectiveness.
  4. Species and Resilience: The specific species of the target and their resilience to gunshot wounds also play a role. Larger or tougher animals might not be as immediately affected by rat shots.
  5. Firearm and Ammunition: The firearm used and the specific rat shot cartridge can impact the pattern and energy of the pellets, affecting their lethal potential.

It’s important to remember that while rat shot can be lethal to small pests and animals, it’s not intended for human self-defense or hunting larger game.

Safety Considerations

Using snake shot or rat shot for pest control or other purposes requires careful attention to safety considerations to ensure the well-being of both users and bystanders. Here are some key safety points to keep in mind when using a snake or rat shot.

  • Firearm Compatibility: Snake shots may not function properly in all types of firearms. Avoid using snake shots in firearms not specifically designed for their use, including semi-automatic firearms and lightweight revolvers. Malfunctions or cylinder lock issues can arise due to the unique characteristics of snake shot ammunition.
  • Projectile Identification: Snake shot cartridges may resemble traditional crimped blank cartridges. Always ensure that you’re using the correct type of ammunition for your intended purpose and firearm to prevent confusion and potential accidents.
  • Magazine Feeding and Shattering: The plastic capsules used in snake shot cartridges may shatter when being fed from a magazine. This can lead to malfunctions and possible safety hazards. Be aware of potential feeding issues and consider alternative loading methods if necessary.
  • Extractor Failure: In semi-automatic firearms, crimped cases may fail to extract properly. Proper firearm maintenance and functioning should be regularly checked to avoid potential extraction issues.
  • Firearm Modifications: Avoid using snake shots in firearms with suppressors, ported barrels, or ported recoil compensators. These modifications can affect the functioning and safety of the ammunition.
  • Limited Effectiveness and Range: Snake shot is effective only at very close ranges and against small pests. Ensure that you’re within the appropriate range for accurate and humane use.
  • Cylinder Lock in Lightweight Revolvers: Certain lightweight revolvers may experience cylinder lock due to recoil inertia caused by the movement of the plastic capsule in snake-shot cartridges.  You should use firearms specifically designed to handle snake-shot ammunition to prevent potential malfunctions.
  • Environment and Backstop: Always be aware of your surroundings and ensure a proper backstop. Even though snake shot has reduced penetration power, errant shots can still pose risks to bystanders and property.
  • Local Laws and Regulations: Comply with all local laws and regulations regarding firearm use, ammunition, and pest control. Be aware of any restrictions or requirements in your area.
  • Safety Gear: When using snake shots, consider wearing appropriate safety gear, such as eye and ear protection. This is especially important when using firearms, as loud noises and debris can pose risks.

Using a snake or rat shot demands a thorough understanding of its limitations, compatibility, and proper handling techniques. Prioritize safety, educate yourself on the specific characteristics of the ammunition, and exercise caution to prevent accidents or malfunctions.

Closing Words

Rat shot cartridges are commonly used by individuals engaged in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and backpacking. This shot provides a non-lethal means of deterring pests that may pose threats or nuisances. Its value lies in its potential for precision at close ranges, reducing the risk of over-penetration and collateral damage. Additionally, rat shot has historical significance, having been used in military contexts for supplementing rations and as foraging ammunition.

Rat shot serves as a specialized tool with a niche purpose. It provides a controlled and humane approach to dealing with close-range pest encounters. Its use requires careful consideration of its limitations, strengths, and the safety of both users and the environment. That’s all.