During WWII the British Isles were under credible threat of invasion by the Axis forces particularly in the early years of that war.

Local Defence Volunteers — name later changed to Home Guard — were men who had been rejected for active military service, but who were tasked with providing defence for England while the active military was busy elsewhere.

A great deal of the time, the LDV were armed with only what they could bring from home, and even in those days, the only thing most of them had that would go “Bang!” was a two-barrel fowling piece.

And most of the ammunition readily available for the shotguns was light shot — unfortunately what is good medicine for grouse at fifteen yards might tend to put you closer to an errant Fallschirmjager than one might like.

The solution was called a “ringer” in England, and a “cut-load” in the United States, and was an old poachers trick to turn the paper-hulled shot shells and side-by-side shotgun into a nasty medium-range thumper.

The execution was simple: the old paper-hulled shotgun shells generally had two thick felt wads between the powder and the shot column. One simply made a spiral cut through the paper hull of the shell at a location between the two wads — making sure that the cut overlapped, and that the ending of the cut was about an eighth to a quarter of an inch below the beginning of the cut.

When a normal shell was fired in a shotgun, the hull remained attached to the base and the end opened up to allow the shot to fly down-range in a cloud.

In one that had been modified into a “ringer” or “cut-load”, this would not happen. Instead, the hull would separate from the base and the entire paper hull — shot and all — would exit the muzzle in one solid mass. The shot would not leave the hull until it came into contact with a deer — or a German paratrooper.

It was — more or less — a giant paper 12-bore Glaser safety slug.

Old Africa hands going into the bush hunting birds would slip a couple of “cut-loads” into their pocket in case something with teeth tried to get up under their hat with them as they were potting birds for the evening meal, but I really thought that the practice of “ringing” had died out with the paper-hulled case, and that it wasn’t really possible with modern plastic-hulled cases and modern pressures.

Turns out that I was wrong:

Just because some tricks are old, doesn’t mean they’re not effective.

Folks, two things cannot be cautioned enough: if you use cut-loads, feed the cut-load directly into the chamber by hand. If you try to put cut-loads into a tube magazine eventually they will come apart and dump powder, shot and other nastiness into your shotgun’s innards; and

Check local laws. This is an old poacher’s trick and well-schooled game wardens may look askance at finding you on the dove field with a pocket full of shells modified for deer-whacking.


In which the respect due my lofty position is expressed
Cue panic in 3 ... 2 ...

18 thoughts on “Ringers”

  1. I love his video series, I've learned things I wouldn't have otherwise since I was taught by friends my age and not from someone from an older generation. It's great learning these old tips and tricks.

  2. To make it even more slug-like, open the crimp at the tip of the shell and drip molten wax into the shot cup, binding the shot together; then re-close the crimp. Nasty . . .

  3. Hot glue on the crimp also reinforces the tendency to not open the crimp, and gives a better visual ID.

  4. I was actually acquanted with cut loads in Oklahoma's police academy back in '86. It was shown to us as a way to get some reach out of a buckshot loaded 12 guage if no slugs were handy.

  5. Tried it once to show a newbe the trick.
    7.5 bird shot went through an abandoned car door…impressive.

  6. Thanks for the history lesson and gun tip! It might come in handy someday if I ever dust off my grandpa's old single 16, as I've got a box of turkey loads for it (and that's the only thing I can find for it).

  7. I used to do that with a single bbl 12 ga and the Wally World bulk pack federal shells. It would put impressive holes in sheet metal, and make a really cool dust cloud from hit rocks.

    Fun stuff.

  8. It strikes me that, were the LDV called to duty today, they would only be armed with quarterstaffs and slingshots.

    Sad, huh?


  9. My uncle taught me that trick when I was a wee sprog. He always had his old topper with him in the truck and a box of #8 on the dashboard. We came across deer caught up in the barbed wire fence cut up bad. He pulled out the topper a shell and his pocket knife, cut one just like that and put the deer out of it's misery. Then we spent almost an hour getting the deer out of the fence and repairing the fence, putting the deer in the truck after we dressed it out. Never turn away meat for the freezer especially on a farm in the 70's.

  10. heard them called hasty slugs around here. They even made it onto the Magpul shotty DVD set; the Costa demos how to make them.

    St Paul

  11. Careful doing it in tight choked guns.

    Buffered steel or hardened non-toxic shot does not compress well.

    I've seen a couple of full-choke barrels bulged that way.

  12. I'd be interested to see the pressure curve comparison between a normal shell and one of these cut shells.

  13. Aside from potential issue with choking, I can't see many pressure issues, it's the same MASS being accelerated.

    And the plastic should help lubricate the "slug" though a bit if you have some constriction.

    Be interesting to test though

  14. With the plastic hulls, I wonder if a series of angled, short cuts spread all the way around the body would be strong enough to handle loading from the mag, and still separate properly when fired? I'm thinking like a chevron series, so it would have some rigidity, instead of acting like a coil spring. Wonder if Box o Truth could be convinced to try this approach?

    wv: guncenic. How does it pick these?!!

  15. The "spiral cut" leaves a floppy result.

    Better to make a series of 2-3-4 in-line slices, leaving just enough uncut to hold it together – 1/8 or 1/16" is enough in my experience.

    I've fed these through my pump 870 without difficulty though I WAS being very careful!



  16. Since the 00 and 000 buck loads are stashed with the pump action 12, and the double barrel is handy, and there is a box of 1500 size 6 to 8 shot that are past their sell-by date by some 10-20 years, I have been keeping that handy tip alive. At the range, they make a basket ball size hole at 20 yards.

  17. Late to the party, as usual. Could I reasonably put these in box magazine bolt action shotgun, or would that be asking for trouble as much as in a tube magazine?

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