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Hushpower .410 Moderator
Hushpower .410 Moderator
The following Saturday morning, I headed over to the farm to work out the best way of tackling the problem. As I pulled into the yard the farmer was standing with the gamekeeper discussing their plans for the upcoming pheasant shoot. After I arrived, they quickly moved on to the subject of the rats. Listening to the pair of them, you could be forgiven for thinking that these rats were the size of small dogs, with appetites to match.
After a while, I headed off in the direction of the pheasant pen to take a look for myself. Standing a few yards away from the first feeder that I came to, it quickly became clear that the problem was a very real one, even if the rats didn't quite live up to the earlier descriptions of their size! They were coming from underneath a large stone beam in order to eat the grain that fell to the ground when the pheasants pecked at the feeder. If a pheasant wasn't there to do the job for them, one of the rats would run up the leg of the feeder and jump onto the feed point in order to shake more food out to the rats waiting below. At one point there were six rats below the one shaking out the grain.
Continuing my walk around the farm revealed a similar situation at many of the other feeders, one in particular was close to a strip of game cover that ran alongside a ditch. Here the rats were coming from holes in the side of the ditch as well as from within the cover to feed on the scattered grain. The pheasant pen also had well defined tracks leading to each of the feeders although these rats were far more nervous, dashing from their holes to grab the food before disappearing back down the nearest hole.
In a situation like this I would normally use an air rifle but owing to the number of rats and the limited amount of time available, a different approach was called for. My first thought was my old, single barrel AYA .410 hammer shotgun that has seen little use in recent years but would be ideal if it were not for the noise. Noise is a big issue at this time of year as it is the middle of the pheasant shooting season and the gamekeeper would not take kindly to me walking around the pens firing a shotgun, even a small one.
That evening I did a bit of research and came across the Hushpower range of shotgun moderators, manufactured by the Saddlery and Gunroom in Kent. In addition to a comprehensive range of fully moderated shotguns they also offer a universal moderator for .410 shotguns that attaches to the end of the barrel. I ordered one the next morning and it arrived the following day.
The moderator itself is a little under ten inches long but owing to its aluminum construction is not particularly heavy at 12 ounces. It consists of two parts, the base which attaches to the taper of the barrel and the main body which screws onto the base. Internally there are a series of baffles and expansion chambers that slow the gases down and cool them. My first impressions on collecting the gun were just how long it seemed, in fact when it came to putting it back in the gun cabinet, it would not fit although this was quickly sorted by removing the main body of the silencer.
The following morning I was back at the farm at first light with the gun and a few boxes of Eley, three-inch magnum sub-sonic cartridges. Saddlery and Gunroom recommend using sub-sonic cartridges in order to maximize the sound reduction. Handling the gun did feel strange owing to the increased barrel length and the diameter of the moderator although the weight was not an issue at all.
As I approached the first feeder, I could see that the rats were out from thirty yards away but I needed to get closer in order to ensure that I did not hit the feeder. Using the tree line as cover I edged forward to within ten yards and slowly took aim at the two rats beneath the feeder. As I pulled the trigger both flipped in the air before lying perfectly still. The noise came as quite a surprise, quite unlike anything I had heard from a shotgun before, a kind of dullish crack or pop. The gun was certainly a great deal quieter than it had been before the moderator was fitted but I had been warned that the true level of reduction would only become apparent when I was standing away from the gun when it was fired.
As I was reloading, I spotted another rat moving quickly along the bank away the feeder. The gun came up and as I fired the rat slumped into the ditch, instantly dismissing my concerns about hitting moving targets with the moderator attached. I then headed off to the next feeder and got two more rats. There was little point in hanging around waiting for the rats to show after I had taken a shot, it was far more effective to move onto the next one and come back to each feeder later on. After two hours this tactic had resulted in several rats from each of the feeders with the best yielding eight.
Later that day, I went to the clay ground with a friend to see how the gun performed on flying targets. While we were there, I had the chance to appreciate the full effectiveness of the unit by standing a short distance away from the gun when it was fired. Several other people also commented on just how quiet the gun was. Shooting clays was fine, within the limits of a .410, it was simply a case of learning to ignore the presence of the moderator on the end of the gun.
In summary, the Hushpower moderator is certainly very effective and allows the gun to be used in many situations where an unmoderated shotgun would be unacceptable - so its not difficult to see why professional pest controllers are such big fans. At ?55 it represents very good value for money, and has effectively given an old gun a new lease of life. That said, if I had not already had a .410 and was looking to get a serious pest control tool, I think that I would strongly consider a fully moderated Hushpower model, the .410, 3 shot pump action Mossberg.
Saddlery and Gunroom / Hushpower
Rat hanging from pheasant feeder
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