Charming Snakes With CCI Shotshells


When it comes to pest control, particularly the venomous kind, few handgun loads beat CCI Shotshells.

How CCI Shotshells eliminate pests:

  • Shot held in rigid plastic capsules.
  • Flexible base wad prevents gas blow-by.
  • Uses CCI primers.
  • Available in 10 calibers, from .22 Short up to .45 Colt.
  • Depending on caliber, loaded with No. 12, No. 9 and No. 4 shot.

Personal protection with a handgun is not just about fending off muggers, homicidal maniacs and vampires. There are other bad things is this world. I grew up in the Allegheny Mountains where copperheads and timber rattlers were the price we paid for the serenity the hills provided, and I developed an intense dislike for both. The only thing that can ruin a fishing trip or a picnic faster than a politician is a poisonous snake.

CCI shotshells are great handgun ammunition for snakes. Typically, the larger the caliber the better they work, simply because they contain more shot.
CCI shotshells are great handgun ammunition for snakes. Typically, the larger the caliber the better they work, simply because they contain more shot.

When Grandpa wanted us kids to enthusiastically tackle some chore, he often told us to get at it like we were “killing snakes.” I never really understood what that meant until I fought a 4-foot-long copperhead while armed with a shovel. You can kill serpents with hand tools, but if I ever do it again it’ll be because I’m out of ammunition.

The only thing to brag about after my first gun battle with a snake was that the timber rattler I eventually killed was almost as long as me. After a magazine full of hardball from a 1911, the snake coiled up under a laurel bush. I then fetched a .22 rifle and finished the job. Lesson learned: It’s hard to hit a moving target the size of a water hose when you’re afraid it’s going to give you a fanged surprise.

CCI Shotshell 2

If you sometimes encounter venomous snakes in your wanderings and don’t exercise the live and let live philosophy, a shotgun would seem the obvious choice. But shotguns are hard to carry in your pocket. Continually out and about in the underbrush, I’ve found CCI Shotshells are an ideal solution. A snake can strike about one-half to two-thirds its body length. In North America, a 6-foot-long venomous snake is on the large side, so a safe engagement distance should be on the other side of 4 feet. Sure, you can get closer, but like my 10-year-old says 350 times a day, “Why?”

CCI now offers two versions of their handgun shotshells. The standard version is loaded with No. 12 shot (9mm Luger) or No. 9 shot (.38 Special/.357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Special/Magnum, .45 Auto and .45 Colt.) The newer Big 4 loads are loaded with No. 4 shot. For snakes, the smaller shot is the way to go; the patterns are denser and the shell delivers a more pulverizing effect.

You should test these loads in your own handgun for pattern size at distance. Just be advised that few semi-automatic handguns will reliably cycle shotshells, so you might have to manually rack the slide after the shot.

For more information on CCI Shotshells, please visit:

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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