Once again, I’ve managed to stumble on a great deal on a great weapon for zombie defense. My endless hours of reading all things gun related on the internet yielded another interesting firearm I needed to check out. I love finding good guns for great prices to add to the collection. The latest find covers that important niche of home defense. We’re all familiar with the benefits of shotguns in home defense, and how potent they can be if hoards of the undead show up at your door. I’m a firm believer in the power and versatility of shotguns, and I’ve been a fan of pump guns for their reliability. I’ve shot dozens of different shotguns over the years from the cheapest pumps up to the legendary “B” guns like Benelli, Browning, and Beretta. Each has their place, but I always come back to the pump guns. In my opinion, they are the most durable action available. This can be evidenced by the fact that they are widely used in police and military applications. I’m not going to criticize anyone that owns a semi-auto or double barrel by any means, but I personally favor the pump shotguns for most applications. Now that I’ve got my ramblings about preference out of the way, we can get to the point of the gun in question…
H&R has been in the gun business for over a century. They’ve long been known for offering reliable guns for a cheap price. They’ve gone through more than a few ownership changes over the years, but still offer great guns and wonderful customer service. I own several of their guns and have yet to have a problem. Their mainstay is the single shot platform in both shotguns and rifles. I’m a firm believer that you can’t go wrong doing business with them. Recently they started to branch out and expand their line. Part of that expansion is into the pump shotgun market. I was hesitant to jump on board at first since they weren’t manufacturing the guns themselves. I was unsure about quality and simply put, I prefer to buy guns made in America. With that said, I did my research about their pump guns and couldn’t find any negative reviews. I’ve been wanting a short barrel 12 gauge pump for a while and looked at all the offerings. Remington and Mossberg are the go to in this market, but I was turned off by the price of new pump guns. That’s where H&R comes in. They offer their Pardner line of pump guns that are imported copies of the famous Remington 870. The model that caught my eye is the Pardner Protector. It seemed to fit the bill on what I was wanting with a much less expensive price. I hit the road in search of one to put my hands on. After visiting the local gun show and a couple of local stores with no success, I went to the Cabela’s store here in north Texas. Luck was with me on that trip. Not only was one available to handle, it was on sale for Christmas. The salesman hands me the gun to check out and I begin my overly thorough examination at the gun counter. I’m sure I irritate sales staff with these examinations, but I like to do my due diligence before forking over my hard earned cash.
The Initial Examination
As I was handed the gun my first impression was “This thing is built like a tank!” It’s a little on the heavy side, but the proper balance is there. Now I start looking for this little flaws in machining and finish that tell me if the gun is manufactured as cheaply and quickly as possible. I’m sure it is, but I want to see if attention to detail is there. Looking over the crown of the barrel and fit of the receiver to the stock, I’m pleasantly surprised. Everything looks good. Opening the action reveals the same satisfaction. All the guts look smooth and they fit together like they should. The only flaw I could really see is that the oil from the gun interacted with the styrofoam in the box to create this sticky white residue on the top of the receiver. I can deal with that later.
Now onto the workings… Pumping the action reveals a solid feel with the forearm. That’s always a big selling point for me. If the forearm feels wobbly, it’s a big turn off. I grab this one, shake it a little, then rack the action. Solid feel for sure. Sliding the forearm forward feels solid too. The receiver locks in good and of course it makes that incredible sound known the world over. I’m pretty sure I was grinning at this point. A few more racks of the action and I’m convinced. I grab the barrel to make sure it fits the receiver well with no play. Another solid fit. Now it’s time to look at that price tag hanging from the trigger guard. $159.99 for a limited time only! SOLD! Now it’s time for all that fun stuff like Form 4473 and waiting for the background check.
Now to cover the basics of the gun. The H&R Pardner Protector sports a black synthetic stock and forearm. It comes with an 18.5 inch barrel chambered for 3 inch shells. It doesn’t come tapped for chokes, but I’m not interested in that for a gun with a short barrel. It does, however, come drilled and tapped for mounting optics, sights, or a rail on the receiver. The receiver is almost identical to the Remington 870. Since it is made of steel rather than an alloy, it’s more a copy of the 870 Police model rather than the 870 Express. This was a big selling point for me since the Police model 870 is pretty freaking expensive. Overall length is a little over 37.5 inches and it weighs in at 7.5 pounds empty. That’s a touch heavy for a short barrel shotgun, but it feels balanced in the hands. Capacity is 5+1 using 2 3/4 inch shells. Most of the Remington 870 accessories will work on this gun without modification. The big exception is replacement barrels. I’ve read that 870 barrels can be modified to fit, but with other barrels available from H&R, I don’t see the point in modifying a Remington barrel. Magazine extensions are iffy as well. As far as I can find out, Remington tubes are too long. Wilson Combat makes a +1 extension tube that is rumored to fit. I’ll be giving this a shot in the near future. Another nice addition is the gun comes with sling attachments, including a swivel at the end of the magazine.
After getting the gun home and cleaned up, it was time to figure out when I could get out and put it through its paces. Luckily, my cousin called me up wanting to shoot a few rounds of skeet. We got to the range and walked up to the skeet field. Needless to say I got some chuckles when I uncased a black shotgun with an 18.5 inch barrel. One of the other shooters asked if I was expecting a riot on the skeet range. I just took it all in stride and got myself together for our first round. I step up, load a couple of shells and get set. “PULL!” “BANG!” Then a clay turns into a little cloud of black dust. Now I’m the one chuckling while a couple of other shooters are wondering if their foot will fit in the mouth. The first round went well for me and I finished up breaking 20 birds out of 25. Now the other shooters are interested in what kind of gun I’m using to outshoot them. We ended up shooting 6 rounds which comes out to 150 shots. Every time the gun fed the shell in smoothly and put lead downrange. I was expecting a hiccup somewhere in there since new guns tend to run a little tight. Not an issue one. I’m pretty abusive on a pump shotgun when shooting clays, so I was a little concerned. I’ve actually broken the slide arm on a Mossberg 500 at a previous range trip. The Protector took the abuse in stride. 150 rounds in rapid succession is a good way to get a gun hot and dirty, especially using cheap shells. Even when it got hot, the Protector ran smoothly. Overall, we had a great time at the range and the Protector proved itself.
I had concerns about the gun when I was researching before buying. H&R Pumps are manufactured in China and that can be hit or miss with quality. After my experiences with this gun, H&R did well when selecting a manufacturer. They felt comfortable enough to put their name on it, and I feel comfortable giving it my personal endorsement. I know there are plenty of purists out there that say they would never buy a Chinese gun, but I would point out them that China has a long track record of making some fine firearms. Anyone will admit that Chinese SKS rifles are top notch, and just about anything else labeled Norinco. I prefer to buy as local as possible, but I’m also have an eye for a good deal that fits my budget. The Protector fits that bill. This gun gets the seal of approval for quality, function, and finish. I would recommend it to a friend and to any of my readers that are looking for a reliable weapon for home defense or the zombie apocalypse. I really tried to look for flaws or issues and haven’t had much luck finding anything wrong other than the weight of the gun. It’s slightly heavier than the comparable Remington 870 Police model. Even this isn’t much of a flaw since I carried it around for an afternoon without much fatigue. If you are looking for a good deal, this might be the gun for you. I plan to add a few accessories to my gun, including a collapsible stock and the Wilson Combat mag tube extension. Once I get around to these modifications, I’ll revisit the gun in an article to let everyone know how well everything fits.
As promised, an article on the basics of reloading shotgun shells! If you read the previous article on centerfire ammo reloading, you’ll notice quite a few similarities. You’ll also notice that there are some differences in construction. Shotshells do follow the basic process of other ammo reloading in that you still have a case, called a hull, a primer, propellant, and a projectile (actually a lot of small projectiles). We’ll add to that list a wad, also known as a shot cup. This is a small plastic device to hold the shot together and protect it from hot gases on its trip down the barrel. Once the shot and wad exit the barrel, the wad has served its purpose and will fall to the ground while the shot continues on to your target.
Another difference between shotshells and centerfire cartridges is the equipment used to reload. There is shotgun specific reloading equipment that won’t work for centerfire reloading. Initial investment can run about the same as getting set up for centerfire reloading, so a lot of people choose to start with one or the other. At the time in my life when I started reloading, I was doing a lot of shotgun shooting, and I mean a LOT. It was normal for a couple of buddies to get together and shoot three cases of shotshells over a weekend. I was lucky enough to have a friend’s dad be a former skeet shooter that no longer wanted to reload. I was able to buy his press and enough components to reload 3 cases of shells for a hundred dollar bill. I never did the math on return of investment, but I would imagine it paid for itself within a week with the amount of shooting I was doing.
Polyformed versus Compression Formed Shotshell Hulls.
Before we get into the actually construction and process of reloading shotshells, we need to look at the types of hulls commonly available. The two most common hulls on the market differ in the way they are made, and this has a huge impact on reloading. Polyformed shotshells are the most common in factory loaded ammo because they are cheaper to manufacture. These are easy to identify because the plastic part of the hull has a slight ribbed texture to them. Most companies offer these type in their less expensive game and target loads. They can be reloaded, but the results are less than stellar. You have to find load data specifically for them to be safe, and the crimps don’t hold very well, so you might have shot leaking out in the box or in the magazine of your gun. These hulls are also slightly weaker, so they are prone to cracking or tearing when reloaded. In my opinion, it’s best to leave them out when selecting hulls to reload.
Compression formed hulls are smooth to the touch (they lack the ribbed feel). These hulls are used in factory loaded ammunition and usually cost quite a bit more. A couple of examples of factory ammo that use compression formed hulls are Remington STS and Winchester AA. These offerings can sometimes cost twice as much as other shells. The compression formed hulls are considerably more durable and can be reloaded several times before they need to be replaced. These hulls hold a crimp well and offer a better reloading experience. It’s best to stick with these types of hulls for all of your reloading needs.
The Construction and Operation
Shotshell construction differs quite a bit from rifle or pistol cartridges. This is the main reason for the difference in equipment. The concepts and a few components are the same, but shotshells add another component that centerfire cartridges don’t have, the wad. A wad is a plastic device that looks similar to a badminton birdie. Its main purpose is to hold the shot charge while it travels down the barrel. It also serves to protect the shot charge from the hot gases from the burning powder. Without a wad, the shot pattern of the shotgun would be awful, and the hot gases would deform a lot of the shot, even further destroying the pattern and accuracy. The next component is the shot charge. Rather than a single projectile, shotguns offer a charge of small, round pellets that spread out once they leave the barrel. Shot comes in all sorts of sizes and materials to suit the needs of the shooter. Since reloading data is measured by weight, what size you use can be determined by your needs. There isn’t load data specifically for individual shot sizes, but rather how much shot you add. Examples would be a 7/8oz load or a 1 1/8oz load. Load data will be the same for the 7/8oz load whether you opt for small #8 shot or larger pellets like #4.
Now that we’ve covered the differences from centerfire, we can look at the similarities. Shotshells use a primer to ignite a powder charge to generate the force to propel the shot charge down the barrel. This concept is identical to centerfire cartridges. The primers are larger, but they serve the same purpose. When you shoot a loaded shell in a shotgun, the firing pin strikes the primer to ignite the powder which burns to create a lot of hot gases. These push the wad containing the shot charge down the barrel. Once the wad and shot charge leave the barrel the shot charge continues on to target while the wad falls to the ground. Wads are disposable, one-use pieces, so there’s no need to go find them and attempt to re-use them. Luckily they are very inexpensive.
Most shotshell presses offer “stations” that perform each step. Some require each hull to be moved manually to the next station and some will automatically move the hull for you. One feature most offer is that you can have hulls in each station at the same time so as you are completing the first step on one hull, the next station is completing its step on another. This really speeds up the process.
1. Depriming and resizing.
This step only applies if you are using hulls that have already been fired. You can skip this step if you are using new hulls. Basically it is exactly as it sounds. The spent primer is forced out of the primer pocket and at the same time the brass portion of the hull is forced back to factory specified size. This ensures your hull will fit the chamber of your shotgun.
Once you have a hull prepared, the next step is to seat a new primer. Shotshell reloading presses have a specific station just for this because primers contain small amounts of explosive mixtures. You have to use the specialized tools on the press to do this. If you try to install a primer by hand, it’s very possible to ignite the primer. Different presses have different ways of delivering the primer under the hull, but mine is simple. I set a primer in a small recess and the press pushes the hull down onto it.
3. Adding the Powder Charge.
Once you have a primer in, you add the gun powder. Most shotshell presses have a slide bar that you move to one side to drop a pre-measured powder charge. Once you slide it over, it uses gravity to deliver the powder through a tube into the hull.
4. Inserting the Wad.
On most presses, this step is completed in the same station as adding powder. You set the wad at the open case mouth and pull the lever to force the wad into the hull. There are varying amounts of pressure to seat specific wads, so you’ll need to make sure the seating force is set properly on the press. Once the wad is seated in the hull, you proceed to the next step which is usually done in the same station.
5. Adding the Shot Charge.
With most presses, that same slide bar that adds the powder will add the shot charge. you simply slide it the other way to gravity feed the shot into the hull on top of the wad. If you’ve added the proper amount of charge, there should still be a small amount of empty space at the case mouth of the hull.
Crimping the case mouth serves to close off the case mouth to hold in the shot charge. This step should seal up the end of the hull well enough that shot stay in, even with some rough handling. From the factory, most crimping dies are set pretty well and don’t require much fine tuning to get a good crimp. Occasionally, you might need to adjust the crimp die. In my personal experiences, this can be a headache. Set it too deep and the end looks like a funnel that lets shot out. Crimp too shallow and you have a funky looking dome that lets shot out. Adjusting the die just right should result in a crimp that looks identical to factory loaded ammunition. If you have to adjust the die, plan on screwing it up a few times while you fine tune it. Patience (which I rarely have) is paramount on setting the dies!
Some Thoughts on Specialty Reloading.
The process I’ve just described works for most of your shotshell needs. I’ve reloaded for target shooting like trap and skeet as well as game loads for dove and small game. The shot charges are measured in ounces and the press will automatically load the proper amount if you install the correct bushing in the slide bar.
Buckshot varies from the process in that it cannot flow well through the slide bar on most presses. Once you get to the point of adding a charge of buckshot, you will need to count the individual pellets and add them to the hull. Larger buckshot requires that you stack it in the hull in a certain way so that the proper number of pellets will fit. Buffer material is usually added to the shot charge to provide cushion to the lead pellets. This prevents deformation which can lead to poor patterns. I recommend using commercially available buffer material. You might find some load data that recommend using all sorts of things including corn meal. Just don’t. It might have been good 80 years ago, but we have better options today. Cornmeal and other materials might get damp and clump up or bind together. It is best to use the best materials available for reloading.
Some people are going to want to load their own slugs. I’ve never loaded slugs so I’m not willing to offer advice on the subject. There is a lot of information available from other sources, so if you want slugs you are on your own. I might learn the techniques at some point and cover it in a later article, but for now I’ll leave it alone.
As always, I have some comments on safety. When reloading any type of cartridge, you will be dealing with gunpowder and explosive primers. Safe handling procedures are paramount. I don’t want to hear about any of my readers losing a finger or starting a fire in their garage. Please pay attention and follow all the rules and processes carefully. As I stated in the article on centerfire cartridges, only use PUBLISHED load data. There is a lot of data people offer up on the internet, but unless it can be verified as safe, stick with the data from component manufacturers.
If you want to start reloading for shotshells, make your first purchase a reloading manual. This will get you all the load data you need and lots of great information on reloading in general. For shotshell reloading, I highly recommend the Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook. It has great load data and step by step instructions for safe reloading. This is the book I rely on most for my shotshell reloading needs.
It finally happened. I’ve been telling everyone for years that they should be preparing for the zombie apocalypse, but they wouldn’t listen. Now who’s laughing at who. Most of them have had their brains pulled out and eaten, or they’ve become part of the undead hoards themselves. Sarah, the girls and I are safe and sound in an undisclosed location away from major population centers. We are 12 days into the zombie occupation. We’ve been without power for 7 days. The laptop has a pretty low power draw, so I’m able to use my meager solar capabilities to run it. Somehow, the internet connection is still working. I guess they build in a lot of automation and redundancy into the telecommunication systems. Luckily the weather has been nice. I wanted to share with the readers on how the preps have worked out and what we’ve learned since this ordeal started.
Wise brand long term food storage is good stuff. The cheesy lasagna tastes pretty good and even the kids like it. Bacon SPAM is amazing, even under high stress situations. It’s a little taste of home in a world of chaos.
My .270 Winchester is a superb long range zombie gun. If I crank the scope up to 9 power, I can pick them off at 300 yards or a little more. There haven’t been many zombies out here, but we see a few. Being able to take them out long before they know where we are seems to keep more from showing up. We did have one get up close, but the HiPoint carbine worked as advertised.
Getting information has been difficult to say the least. We saw zombies conducting the national news, but we don’t know whether they were infected or not. It’s hard to tell with the hosts of the major news networks. Local radio stations have started going off air, but they didn’t know any more than we did. We think it all started in New York with the Occupy Wall Street movement and spread quickly. Apparently dirty hippies were more dangerous than we thought. I always thought the self proclaimed “99%” were out to destroy our world, but I didn’t think they would do it in such a literal way.
I’ve never been an avid football fan,but I realize how much I miss college football. Since the Texas A&M Aggies literally devoured the boys from the University of Texas, all football games seem to have been canceled. I would imagine a virus that causes zombie-ism would transmit pretty quickly through a locker room.
The bug out location has a shallow well that we can dip with a bucket, so we don’t have to worry about getting water without power. This has been a lifesaver. We are also surrounded by a lot of ranch land. Cows are unaffected by the virus, and are pretty much going about their daily lives. Zombies seem to have no interest in the cows, so I think we have a sustainable, long term food source in case things don’t get back to normal soon.
I’m very glad to say we haven’t had to resort to my article about treatment for zombie bites. Everyone is in good health and good spirits.
It looks like a cold front is moving in, so I’m hoping for freezing temperatures. The zombies can’t move if they are frozen and it would give us a good chance to get out and see what’s going on with the world outside of the bug out location.
I’ll update further if anything new develops and the internet connection holds out.
Happy Halloween from Surviving Modern Life!!
Since the article about tactical medical treatment was well received, I thought I should continue in that same area. Penetrating wounds can be very ugly, but one of the ugliest wounds a person can receive is a bite from a zombie. Zombie mouths are very unclean, and these bites almost always result in secondary infection. Treating the initial wound is pretty straightforward. This type of first aid is covered in the most basic kits, even the ten dollar “Band-Aid and Aspirin” kits available at the big box stores. We’ll cover primary and secondary treatments in this article.
Bite wounds can be pretty minor all the way to serious injuries. Luckily, humans don’t have really sharp teeth or long canines. It takes a lot of force to break the skin. Typically the result is bruising more than cutting or tearing. For bruising, simply wash the affected area with soap and water and administer a pain reliever for pain. You can also apply ice to reduce pain and swelling. Remember, you never want to apply ice directly to the skin. If there is some bleeding or torn skin, the area will still need to be washed well with a good anti-bacterial soap and water. Once the area is cleaned thoroughly and dried, you can proceed with basic first aid. A simple bandage should do nicely to keep the wound covered.
The good news about these types of injuries is that they most often occur on hands and/or limbs. The likelihood of the actual bite being fatal is pretty slim. The bad news is the potential for infection. Bites from humans or animals are nasty enough, but if that bite is from a zombie, the resulting infection is bad news. If you are treating a victim for a zombie bite and the skin has been broken, your victim is almost certainly infected. The incubation period is 12 to 24 hours. After this time, your victim is technically deceased, but is probably still moving, moaning, and trying to violently bite you. At this point, treatment involves destroying the victim’s brain. Firearms work best, and I prefer .40 caliber handguns and .30 caliber rifles. Use what works best for you.
*Disclaimer: While the section on primary treatment of bite wound is sound advice, the secondary treatment is written for comic purposes. I do not condone shooting anyone in the head. However, if the person really has become the walking dead, please handle the situation as you deem necessary. And please let me know as soon as possible so I can bug out to an undisclosed location away from population centers.
A little while back I realized that I spend too much time thinking about a few specific subjects. I’m constantly pondering emergency preparedness, self reliance, homesteading, and self defense. I also spend way too much time considering the outcome of a full out zombie uprising. While it would be nice to have a large homestead that is fully self sufficient and fortified against the hordes of the undead… time, finances, and normal life seem to be in the way. This website is a public outlet of working toward these goals, however lengthy the journey may be. I believe that the mind is the most powerful tool in any survival situation, so I focus on learning as many skills as possible. I still have a lot to learn. I also believe knowledge is best shared, so I’ve created this website to share what I’m learning with anyone interested. I’m by no means an expert on survival or homesteading, so take this as a disclaimer. There are many out there with a lot more knowledge and expertise on these subjects. I’m not trying to become the next Bear Grylls or Dave Canterbury. I also won’t focus on one specific area, like wilderness survival or homesteading. I like the “Jack of all trades, and master of none” approach.
Another subject dear to my heart is liberty. We have become a society that is more than willing to trade freedom for security. So long as our routines are not upset, we will submit to just about anything that encroaches on our individual rights. We will go where we are told, eat what we are told, and live the way we are told. We are told who to vote for. Sure, we are given two choices, but those choices are for essentially the same thing. We have become completely dependent on these systems that take our freedoms and offer us comfort and entertainment in return. I’ve been unplugging myself from as many of these systems as possible, and being self reliant is a natural step in that direction. I’ll try not to turn this site into a political rant, but some of the content will be political in nature.
Thanks for taking time to read this and I hope to have you back soon! Please feel free to jump in and comment on any content, or offer suggestions for content or improvement.