Shotgun Patterning, Part 8: Vintage Speer Lawman 00 Buck

A few months ago, I stumbled across a source to buy old LE stock Speer Lawman 8 pellet buckshot. Apparently, it was manufactured in the same Federal/CCI/Speer factory that today makes Federal FliteControl and was initially advertised as having the FliteControl wad. I say initially, because when I went back to try to buy more, the description had been changed. The ammunition was sold out by that point anyway. I recently took the opportunity to pattern the ammunition with my 870P and I thought I would share my results in a continuation of my shotgun patterning series.

I used the same five shot method that I’ve used so far throughout this series. That is, one initial head shot at five yards to see what a room distance shot would look like (as well as a potential hostage rescue shot), a three shot pattern at a distance of 15 yards representing the longest shot possible in my home, and a final shot at 25 yards to look at a potential shot outside of the home but still within the curtilage of my property. After shooting the three shot pattern at 15 yards, I tape any impacts outside of the vital zone on the target. I like using IDPA targets for this exercise since the vital zones of the target are delineated as circles, and I think that more closely resembles pattern spread.

My first shot at the head box of an IDPA target yielded all eight pellets in the -0 zone. The large impact outside the -0 is actually the wad impact. Indeed, I was able to recover a wad for closer examination. Note that this means that the shot column had already exited the wad at this close distance. More on this later…

At 15 yards, with the exception of one pellet, my three shot pattern was completely within the eight inch -0 area of the target backer. This is on par with other premium buckshot samples that I’ve tested.

Finally, at 25 yards, only two pellets were outside the -0. I hesitate to label the impacts outside of the vital zone on the target as “flyers,” but that argument could certainly be made, especially with the lower left impact. Nonetheless, I was pleased with the performance of the ammunition out of my 870P SBS and plan to use it in an upcoming class.

Next, I went back to the range with my 18” cylinder choke barrel. I repeated the same process I describe above. My five yard shot again yielded all pellets in the -0 of the head box on an IDPA target, with the wad impacting to the side. So even out of a cylinder choke at five yards, the shot column had already separated from the wad.

At 15 yards, my three shots yielded five pellets outside of the vital zone of the target. This was actually worse than I expected, although to be fair, my cylinder bore 18″ barrel only has a bead sight and all of the “misses” were high. If you don’t bury the bead in the top of the receiver, you will often hit high with a bead sighted shotgun.

Finally, at 25 yards, I counted six out of eight pellets outside the vital zone, assuming the other two didn’t miss the target completely. Again, I was aiming with a bead sight, but the pattern spread was far more than I expected.

I think it’s pretty clear that the old stock ammo predates the introduction of FliteControl, but let’s revisit the results from some of my prior pattern testing with actual Federal FliteControl as compared to the old stock Speer Lawman ammo. Flitecontrol is the top three photos, and the old Speer Lawman is the bottom three.

The results are actually fairly similar, although I will reiterate that Federal FliteControl does not perform to it’s peak potential from my fixed modified choke barrel. I didn’t have any Federal FliteControl on hand to cut open and examine, but in looking back through old photos, I realized that I had a picture of an actual FliteControl wad from prior testing. Comparing it to the wad from the old stock Speer Lawman clearly shows that they are not the same.

Furthermore, a performance comparison between the two out of the same barrel shows a definitive difference.

So what can I conclude from the above results? Obviously, the old stock Speer Lawman I bought predates the development of the FliteControl wad. I don’t know exactly when FliteControl was introduced, and I don’t know when the old stock Speer Lawman was produced, but I did find a “Copyright 2002” on an outer box. For nearly 20 year old ammo, I’d say it’s still pretty good. The ammo performs adequately out of my 870P SBS and probably benefits from the VCS modification to my barrel. (As an aside, Vang Comp advertises a reduction in felt recoil. Having just fired the same ammunition out of the same gun with a VCS modified barrel and a stock barrel, I can attest that the VCS modification does indeed reduce felt recoil.)

Ultimately, I am pleased with my purchase of the ammunition in significant quantity and I am confident in relying on it in an upcoming class. Just to reiterate, this test does NOT represent current manufacture Speer Lawman. That will have to wait until I can find it in stock! But still, this is good ammo and it performs well in my gun. I can’t ask for much more than that.

Perhaps in the next few months while I wait for the ammunition supply chain to catch up, I’ll send my 18″ barrel off to Vang Comp for their barrel treatment and some good sights, and then do another pattern test looking at current production Speer Lawman compared to Federal FliteControl. Stay tuned!

As always, thanks for reading. We welcome questions, comments, and civil discourse. You can follow our work here at the blog either by email or on social media.

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