I grew up with an LC Smith .410 and have used it a LOT, primarily on green timber ducks, doves and quail over the last 65 years. It will kill anything that flies within 40 yards as long as you stick to the 3" shell with 3/4 ounce of 7 1/2 shot. It has also readily taken pheasants and a few other assorted species when called upon. Right now it is in the trunk of my car for another round of sporting clays. If you reload you can substitute no. 8 shot for the 7 1/2's for doves and quail. The Smith's chokes are modified and full. The only time I've tried larger shot was when I couldn't find 7 1/2's. It still did it's thing as long as you didn't try to stretch the barrels thinking the larger shot had more energy and would kill at a longer distance. The problem quickly becomes one of not having enough pellets.
I used to jump shoot ducks 45 years ago with a Winchester Cooey Model 84 .410 single shot on a creek that ran through one of our farms. My ammo was CIL Imperial 5's or 6's. They were close shots...probably like a 16 yard target and I got pretty good with that little gun. Wish I still had it.
I hunt doves with a .410, have done that for long long time, I use the 3" shell with 7 1/2 shot.
Let my host at a shoot last year use one also and he had a ball with it. He had shoulder problems
And the .410 did not bother him at all.
I use to hunt quail and rabbits but can not walk like I use to.
If you know the limits of the .410 you can still get your your share .
Cost of shells is only drawback.
I've used nothing but my model 42 for club birds for the last 10 or so years. I shoot 2 1/2 " reloads with 1/2 oz. nickel plated #6s at 1300fps. The nickel plating is the key to lethal shot penetration. With my great pointer, I have not lost any birds and most are stone cold dead when they hit the ground. Quail and doves, I shoot 7 1/2 and 8's. The 3" shells are too slow and pattern poorly. Bill Hom
Dad started me out on a Stevens hammer action 22 top barrel 410 bottom barrel hammer action. Still have it can't shoot it my younger brother tore it up and bulged the 410 barrel. Dad said when we got proficient with it we could get a 12 gauge . he also made us call our quail kills hen or drake. Still hunt doves with a 410 870 express. Not enough quail around to fill good about hunting them. Although I'm seeing lots more of them then in years past.
Sorry guys, but I do a lot of bird hunting and I would NEVER chase wild pheasants with a .410. Unfair to the bird....too many wounded birds. Sure...you’ll kill some...but no. Maybe pen-raised birds. Ruffies might be another story...it doesn’t take near as much to bring them down. I have hunted North Dakota pheasants with a 28 ga a couple of times just cause I liked the gun....but really 20ga is as light as I’ll go for wild pheas.
Trail, in my defense, I mentioned my last couple of pheasant hunts were with a .410. While I agree it's certainly not the gun for most hunters, in my case, I only shot a couple of close flushers (20 yards or so). Anything farther than that, I left to my 12 ga. partner.
But I'm also of the opinion that starting a kid hunting upland game with a .410 isn't the best option. I started my boys with 20s.
IMO- the 410 will work for doves & quail over a pointing dog only & yes I have shot some ditch parrots with one, but don't recommend it, too many cripples. I also shot a turkey once & that ended up in hand to hand combat. With that being said 4 of us used to have a Model 42 only, quail hunt every year.