The .410 bore was first developed and used in England in the 1870's, where it remained specialty cartridge and was not widely adopted for a long time. Some shooters felt it was a novelty only, but others felt it was great for hunting and competition shooting. The .410 emerged in the US around 1915 when the Harrington & Richardson company became the first to produce this shot shell for single shot long guns. Winchester introduced a 3 inch shell in 1933 for the .410, spurring other manufacturers of firearms and ammunition to get on board with the .410 and growing the popularity of the cartridge.
Many shooters consider the .410 a good choice to introduce new shooters and young shooters to shotgun sports. .410 shotguns are lighter than guns for other common gauges, and the recoil is gentler, two factors that are believed to help new shooters acclimate to exertion and impacts of shooting. Counter arguments, however, make the case that a shooter cannot learn to deal with the increased recoil of larger cartridges like the 12 gauge and 20 gauge. The .410 also puts less shot in the air, which makes it harder to hit a moving target than with a larger shotgun. Some experienced competition shooters like to use the .410 since it makes breaking clays a greater challenge due to the reduced shot payload.
Today, the .410 is finding new applications as a cartridge for personal defense. The .410 was not initially considered a cartridge suitable for self defense, especially as a concealed carry weapon. It was used only in walking canes and survival rifles. The introduction of the Taurus Judge and the S&W Governor revolvers legitimized the .410 as a real player in the category of self defense.
These new revolvers have inspired ammunition manufacturers to develop some new choices for the .410. It was unheard of to find #000 Buck in .410 bore before these revolvers arrived on the scene, and now at least five major manufacturers sell cartridges with this large shot in their special purpose ammo. .410 slug cartridges are also easier to find these days than in the past, as are specialty cartridges that fire discs instead of buckshot.
The .410 Bore is proven to be a useful tool for hunters and competitors, as well as for people seeking an alternative ammunition for personal defense. Due to the recent growth in popularity, manufacturers will meet the increased demand for .410 ammunition and offer ongoing improvements and refinement to keep the smallest of the shotguns alive and well.