It seems that the desire for an individual to launch multiple projectiles at once from a firearm has been with us since the days of the earliest hand-cannons. Instead of bigger and badder, however, the preference has been towards smaller, handier, and very effective at close range. From pirates with deck-clearing musketoons, to Pinkertons with coach guns, to “Mad Max” with his sawed off side-by-side 12 gauge with pistol grip, a clear preference has emerged.
Multiple projectiles are what made shotguns have so popular in America, and not just as a hunting arm. Compact shotguns have served in the military and law enforcement and continue to fill a necessary role. Meanwhile the shotgun’s reputation as a home defense tool is also without equal because of its ability to put a lot of lead in the air very quickly.
Restrictions being what they are, it is often not an easy thing for the average person to legally possess a short-barreled shotgun. The easiest solution for those seeking the benefits of a shotgun out of a small gun was to make handguns that fired shotshells (with a legal requirement that they have rifling in the barrel). However, no one who is familiar with the somewhat aggressive recoil of 12 or even 20 gauge shotshells has much of a desire to fire them out of a small, lightweight pistol. Fortunately the .410 bore shotshell, which is a measure of the diameter in inches and not gauges like other shotshells, came about around the turn of the last century.