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The Best Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense

The Best Shotgun Ammo For Home DefenseShotguns have long been considered the king of the home defense realm, and only recently have the carbine and pistol stepped up to challenge this. That’s a different article for a different time, though. Here, we are going to focus on the shotgun for home defense and property defense.

In my opinion, a shotgun is a thinking man’s weapon. It’s incredibly capable and adaptable, and has more applications than any other weapon. The shotgun can be adapted to your situation and your environment, with specific loads tailored for your situation. The shotgun is capable of taking all sizes of game in North America. It is capable of killing birds to bears — and everything in between – and is especially useful against two-legged vermin.

Now, we are strictly talking regular power loads, with a preference being for 2 and 3/4 over 3. Three inches is more powerful, but produces more recoil. Three inch magnum loads are capable for hunting rounds, but not necessary for self-defense.

Let’s look at the three loads that make up the majority of shotgun ammunition: buckshot, birdshot and slugs.

Birdshot for self-defense seems awesome, with little to no penetration of walls, and you’re protected from the dreaded over-penetration right? Well, not a single birdshot load penetrates the required 12 inches to produce a reliable killing shot. Let’s also remember that Dick Cheney accidentally shot his friend, a man well into the middle of his life, in the face with birdshot and the man made a full recovery.

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At the distance where you’re poking them with your shotgun I’m sure it’s plenty fatal, but further than that and I just find it to be less and less likely that’ll you’ll stop a threat effectively.  I also wouldn’t want to be that close to a bad guy.

Why use an inferior load made for squirrels, birds and clay pigeons?

Now, of course, you have slugs, and slugs can be used to reach out a little further than standard buckshot — roughly about 100 yards with a bead sight. Slugs can be devastating and are an option if the fight moves its way outside the home, or if you keep a shotgun for your trunk gun. Slugs are always good to have, but I personally don’t like them as an inside-the-home defense load.

Slugs can really over-penetrate. Plus, why use a slug? After all, a shotgun is a shotgun because it shoots a load of shot. A slug gun is kind of a big, low capacity rifle.

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Buckshot is my choice for home defense. Buckshot consistently penetrates to 12 inches and is capable of producing devastating wounds.

So penetration is covered, but what about shot placement? Well, per-shot the shotgun provides multiple projectiles, creating multiple wound paths, and therefore increasing the likelihood of placing an effective shot. Even if nothing vital is hit and a fatal wound isn’t inflicted, you’ll have an attacker full of pieces of lead, creating multiple wound channels throughout his torso – not only a very painful series of wounds but a debilitating effect on the body.

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That being said, never assume your shotgun is a magic death ray. It’s a great weapon, a devastating weapon, but it’s not a Boba Fett disintegrator. Follow through and do not assume the fight is over until it’s over.

So buckshot is a good inside-the-home load; we’ve established that. So what buckshot should we use? Conventional wisdom says double ought, right? Perhaps 8 33 caliber pellets, which are more than capable of stopping a bad guy, right? The police and military used double ought so it has to have merit, but is it the best load?

There are loads like Winchester PDX that combine slugs and buckshot, which is supposed to be designed for fighting, so that could be a choice. Sure, but it’s basically a slug backed up by three rounds of buckshot.

So triple ought? Nah. I think No. 1 buckshot is the most efficient of loads for self-defense. No 1 is a favorite of old school guys with old fixed choke shotguns that used No. 1 as a hunting load. It my favorite, and here is why.

First off, the rounds are slightly smaller than the double ought; therefore, you reduce over-penetration by a degree — not enough to discount it, but still just a bit.

Secondly, it’s efficient. 8 33 caliber pellets or 16 30 caliber pellets? Hardly a tradeoff for double the payload.

Speaking of efficiency, let’s do some simple math. A load of 8 pellets of double ought buck is about 430 grains. A load of No. 1 buckshot is 640 grains. This may vary a bit by company and load, but No. 1 will always be considerably heavier. I’m not trying to assume that a load of buckshot is going to be the equivalent of a 640 grain solid projectile. I’m just trying to give an idea of the efficiency of No. 1 buckshot as well as giving you a good idea of the amount of lead you’re fighting with.

This isn’t to say 00 buckshot isn’t a good fighting round, but it’s not the best. No. 1 costs the same as double, but it can be harder to find.

So you’re not wrong with 00; you are just less right, but you’re way better off than people who use birdshot.

Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the section below: 

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  1. Get a piece of meat with a bone in it like a pork shoulder, not a gel block, hit it at 30 feet with # 2 bird shot or even # 6. Now if you find any place in your house over 30 feet you have a lot bigger house than me. Then tell me bird shot is not enough inside a house. You all worry about penetration. In hunting we consider shocking power as much as penetration. You do realize that internal organs fail and never get any lead in them simply by shock. A baseball bat is a good example. My shotgun at 30 feet is not going to place 80% of the bird shot in about 3 inch diameter, that is one heck of a shock and it may not penetrate a full 12 inches but it will chew hell out of the first 6 and put one lot of shock on the next 6. Instant death? probably not but I assure you it will knock the wind out of any living creature you hit in chest at inside the house distances. By the time you recover from that shock I assure you my pump will have another round coming your way.

    Now if we go outside (very Unlikely) with the fight after the first 3 shots I will have the hollow point magnum slugs as the final 2 back ups and some in my pocket. Why? If you get behind a car door or any normal cover Don’t matter much to that slug. At longer range 25yards+ like across the street and across the lawn distance I don’t want a scatter shot of any kind Not a big believer in buckshot. Killed a lot of deer with slugs. And a lot of other assorted animals with bird shot. I even used slugs to hunt black bear.

    I grew up with shot guns I have shot through junk car fenders when car fenders had some real steal in them, and hit the engine block with slugs cracked a few even after the fender. Plywood drywall 2/4s with different types of shot at diff distances to see what it would do. We even tested bird shot on a large cow shoulder on cow found dead on friends dairy farm. That was impressive.So I don’t want to hear about gramps that thinks his trusty old blunder bust IS not what he thinks it is. I know what it will and will not do from a lot of lead sliding down that barrel. Had my old Ithica model 37 deer slayer since 1964 with two interchangable barrels. Not my only gun but the one I will chose first in 100% of home defense situations.situations. ANd yes I will use bird shot inside the house and not worry if it will do the job.

    Of course that is if the intruder gets past my two hybred 50% wolf dogs. I sleep very sound and secure. Best home defense is not a shotgun. it is a couple of big trained dogs inside the house.. Best gun is still the one you never have to pull the trigger on.

    • You are absolutely correct. Far too many people incorrectly “think”, that their dogs “bark all the time” at nothing. Nope, our GSDs’ like your dogs, never create a “false alarm” at all. If they alert, there is, something out there. Glad, you have yours INSIDE your home as well! Not only are they members of the family, they WILL protect their family and their turf without hesitation.
      As for plain old birdshot for “home defense”, I’ve seen far too many thugs and a few thugettes, shot with 12 or 20 gauge 7 or 71/2 hunting loads, (in a previous career) by people legally defending themselves and their families, to doubt it’s efficacy in a home defense scenario. While I have personally seen a very few thugs take center-of-mass hits with 00 buck, then run off like a scalded rabbit, only to bleed out a block or two away, they were on PCP and other controlled substances at the time; the point is, there are no absolutes in life. Stay safe, shoot till the threat is down or quits the predation, and be well. Good post.

    • When you shoot in defense, shoot to kill, not stop. There have been cases where home defenders have been successfully SUED by surviving invaders with some bullshit pretzel logic lawyer and have been financially ruined while giving a criminal a wad of money.

      Choose a round that will best kill an invader, period.

      Always assume an intruder is going to kill you. You can’t guess intent.

      • “shoot to kill, not stop”

        That is absolutely backwards. Both legally and strategically. You seem not to value the legal aspect of this, so I’ll skip that part.

        From a strategic standpoint what you are saying could get you killed. If you shoot a person in the heart, they have about 7 seconds of life left in them during which they are still fully capable of taking your life.

        Lets consider a scenario. My life is being threatened by a home invader. I’ve recently read that I need to shoot to kill, not to stop. With that in mind, I draw my pistol and I manage to shoot him right in the heart. In my brain, I know that I’ve killed this home invader. Therefore, based on your advise, I know that I can stop because my objective has been fulfilled – Kill the attacker. Meanwhile, this home invader is fairly angry at me for resisting. This person then proceeds to shoot myself and my wife before running out the front door and falling dead on the sidewalk.

        And if your response to this is to say that you wouldn’t stop with just a heart stop, then you are not being consistent with your message. Because that is shooting to stop. And you are cheating those that read your comment.

        • jteeman never mentioned, or remotely referred, to take one heart shot as a kill shot and call it good. For one; how in the world would you know if you hit someone in the heart, and two; anyone trained to defend themselves knows to fire in bursts. If you are truely in danger of your life, you better be unloading your weapon into the aggressor until there is no more threat, or you have no more ammo left to shoot. Your argument is invalid here, anti-jteeman

        • Receiving a gunshot wound to the heart is almost always fatal. If the projectile pierces any of the chambers of the heart the subjects Blood Pressure would be near or at ZERO. Instant unconsciousness. Eminent biological death…brain death in 6 minutes.
          It is not known if the projectile did strike the heart…until open-chest surgery or autopsy.

          • You are obviously not a hunter. I’ve seen many deer–about the same size and just a little tougher than humans–shot through the heart (and lungs) with handguns from .357 up and rifles from .218 Bee to .358 Norma. Yes, a hit through the heart often causes the animal to collapse instantly. But often it swaps ends and hits warp 9 for about three seconds, travelling 90 or 100 yards before collapsing and sliding to the ground. Often they go 20 or 30 yards into cover, stop, turn to watch their backtrail, and collapse there. Every animal is different, every hit is different, and every gun-load-bullet combination is different, but a killing wound through the heart can absolutely sometimes leave the bad guy a few seconds in which to kill you.

            What creates the largest and quickest killing/ stopping wounds might surprise you. A 158 grain Speer JSP from a .357 carbine @1860 fps leaves a wound about as wide, about as deep, and about as quick to stop, as the fairly soft 130 grain spitzer I launch from a 7mm-08 at ~2900 fps. And the most devastating wounds I’ve ever seen were caused by a relatively low velocity bullet, but a big one, a 335-grain cast-softpoint . 45 Colt from a carbine at ~1585 fps. Expanded to 85 cal, and the only identifiable bit of heart left, a palm-size rag, was the outer wall of the left ventircal. None of this fits my personal theory of ballistics–which is why that’s a work in progress….

            That said, I like my neighbors–well, some of them–including the kids–and I feel a responsibility to balance stopping power with safety for them, and that means NOT going through any more walls than necessary. It’s not ideal, but the best I can do, as far as i know for now, is Glaser silver Safety Slug in my 9mm–I would like something that goes through less drywall!–and a single Aguila Minishell–they won’t feed–in the chamber of a 12 guage.

            The Aguila is a 1.5″ shell, throws 3/4 oz of shot: #4 bird, or a HB SWC slug, or the load I use, four pellets of #1 buck (.30 cal, 40 grains ea.) over seven pellets of #4 buck (.24 cal, 20 grs ea.). I can’t chronograph shot, but the as-far-as-I-can-tell-identical slug load did 960 fps out of an 18″ barrel, not the 1250 advertised. That’s fine with me.

            At 1250 fps I’d be far more worried about blowing thru two exterior walls and hurting an innocent than I am at only 950 or so–~1/4 less velocity and so only half the kinetic energy, yet the entire charge still packs 665 ft lbs, 100 more than the legendary 125-grn. .357, about like a warm load in 10mm. Plenty. The #1 will penetrate lethally deep in flesh, probably not exit, and go through less lath and plaster-sheathing-siding than larger shot, or the same shot moving faster. The #4s? I’m sure they’ll “contribute to stopping power.” Frankly I’d rather they were four more #1s, eight total, and that the shells were 2 1/4″ long, which would feed reliably through my 870s and Riot King while giving me one more in the magazine. Otherwise 50 years of handloading and studying ballistics and wounds has me thinking that 3/4 oz, eight pellets, of #1 buck at around 950 f/s is plenty for across-the-room self-defense, and less likely to make a bad night for me and a bad guy a bad night for my neighbors, too.

            Hey, away from civilization, and for hunting, I prefer 000B when buckshot is appropriate, although a simple 1150 fps 9 pellet 00B load is easy to make–just substitute buck for 7 1/2 while making trap loads–and also very useful in the field.

            As the Minishells won’t feed, they are followed in the Riot King’s magazine by trap loads. How well small birdshot stops depends on distance and choke; if it strikes as a solid mass, you’ll get enough penetration and stopping power. If it spreads enough to hit as individual pellets, you may not.

        • Shoot to kill. Allways. Bird shot at close range is extremely devastating. Especially if using steel 3/1/2. waterfoul loads. More pellets more combines mass at closer range. In a few coroner reports 7 shot has actually bored a hole through a mans chest cavity at close range.

        • You are worried about a perp on PCP shot in the heart??? Your point is valid. my point – I am a marksman, I will shoot the head off. Does not matter what drug the perp is on, they will drop instantly and leave quite a mess after a 00 magnum buckshot shell to the head. Shot placement is critical. And I can do that. I agree 00 can be dangerous… so, do not miss the target. I use 2 3/4″ 12 gauge shells 1,400 FPS 00 9 pellets- that is enough recoil for me, and manageable. Very accurate with 28″ modified choke barrel (Wing Master 870 12 gauge). The most versatile gun I own.

        • Bwahaha. No, just no…I forgot about the magical seven second timer that starts when piping hot lead rips through your left ventricle. You take one in the heart, you fall down. You might squirm, but you ain’t taking out vengeance on the dude that pulled the trigger.

        • I am a retired icu rn. I tell you mister that if you do shoot some ah in the heart, they”re not coming back up. just takes 1-2 secs to go to hell.

        • In this context “shoot to stop” is preached by muddleheads to mean “shoot to wound.” They are not aware (or choose to ignore) the brainless determination that a thug can have. “Shoot to kill” means keep shooting til he/she/it falls dead.

      • The notion that whether you kill or injure someoen is going to have any bearing on whether you can get sued or not is absurd. You’ll get sued just as often by the family of the criminal as you kill as the criminal you injure. In fact, if you go out of your way to put a shot in his head after a couple to the torso have stopped him (think if its caught on surveillance video) youre far more likely to face a lawsuit and criminal charges for killing him than if you let him bleed out after the torso shots.

      • Please, people, do not listen to *anyone* who tells you “shoot to kill*.

        Even worse is the level of stupidity required to render that advice in public.

        You shoot to *stop*.
        The best stopping shots are also pretty lethal, so it really isn’t a matter of effect, as much as intent.

        If you think that’s trivial, wait until they use your online comments in court to establish intent.

        Don’t be a fool.

        No firearms training professional gives this kind of advice.

    • If your wolfdogs are dangerous is people like you who give them a bad name and why many states make them illegal. I had one who was as gentle as the half husky that she was..
      People ruin certain breeds such as hybrids, pit bulls. I hope your wolf dogs are not aggressive unless they can distinguish between a real threat and non threat.

      • All well trained dogs can realize a threat… and they become vicious. So? That is what they SHOULD do. My dogs would gladly give their life attacking a dangerous person just to give me a few seconds to get my gun and defend myself. I have seen this happen personally (the dogs lived). But my dogs would never hurt innocent people. Little kids would ride my Elkhound like a pony. Dogs sense evil, and I do also. they know good also. Half wolf would not scare me – as long as they are trained, I think they would be safe. Funny how a big German Shepherd will instinctively protect their owner’s baby… is nice to see a baby playing in the grass, outside, and no worries… because the dog is guarding every second… Seen that many times too 🙂

        • pretty cool to see you mention how protective shepards instinctively are. have pictures of myself as an infant w/ my parents german shepard always seeming to be sitting/standing guard beside me.

        • pit bulls started out as being used as nannys for kings and queens kids.

    • I almost thought you might have been making a somewhat valid point. Then you said your two “hybred ” wolf dogs. It’s hybrid, hybrid !!! It’s so frustrating to constantly hear people who think they know something prove yet again how ignorant they are. HYBRID, wolves are not pets either. They are 50% wild predator. And no matter how well trained you have convinced yourself they are, they are as likely to turn on you as an intruder at any time.

  2. I like No 4 Magnums at house ranges. A whole lot more pellets and are still fairly large. No 2s will work too.

    • A SEAL named Watson, back in SE Asia , during our involvement there preferred 12 ga with #4 shot, with a “duck bill” choke.
      At close range he said it would “cut them in two”/

      • And a lot of GIs coming back thought that the 5.56 tumbled through the air like a buzsaw. #4 bird or buck? Neither is going to work well at combat ranges. Funny how a guy can carry a weapon every day for a year and know nothing about it. Wonder if he ever actually used it?

  3. I prefer a no.4 upland game load, more pellets and a hard hit. Home defense is going to be a shot of 30 feet or less in most cases, and if you pattern your shotgun at that distance there is very little spread of the shot. When I pattern tested the two guns that I have placed for home defense at 30 feet one had a 14″ spread the other had a 16″ spread. Two things came out of the test, first is to take time to aim or you might miss the intruder, second the limited spread at less distance means a concentrated impact leaving a massive injury to the body cavity.

  4. You never mention gauge so I assume you are focused only on 12 ga? Why do none of the others receive consideration? Seems like some mathmatical considerations can be made for having more rounds ready, perhaps?

  5. I have an assortment of all these loads in my cache, but one thing I’ve used for many years when I didn’t have the heavier loads available for heavier targets, is to use bird shot and to ring the shell casing in the area of the wadding with a knife. When fired the projectile comes out like a slug, perhaps a little lower powered, but very effective

  6. I have a 20 gauge that I use for home and hunting. It’s actually easier for my wife to handle (she’s 5′ 2″). The problem is finding 00 buckshot or anything other than bird shot or slugs. I have it loaded now with a round of #4 followed by a slug. If the first shot doesn’t solve it, the second will. I think the 20 Gauge is overlooked just because of the “I want a 12 gauge cause it’s bigger” thinking. The gun has to be comfortable to shoot or you won’t practice with it. My wife and I shoot every week to keep our skills up

  7. #4 Buck in 20 gauge, with deference to my wife and less recoil. Slide action 12 gauge receiver Remington 870 with a modified 20 gauge barrel and magazine and rifle sights. Heavier delivers less recoil. I do not recommend rifle sights–more than once I have ripped my hand and in the middle of the night they would not be much good anyway.

    I will give some thought to that number 1 argument though. Once wonders if Cor Bon or others make a low flash shell for this purpose.

    • Cor-Bon, at present does NOT produce any shotgun loads. “Low Flash” loads for any firearm, are merely a “range” issue, in real life(self defense situations), you will never notice any “flash”.

    • where do you live that you can get 20 guage in #4’s ?
      which stores?

    • I have used 20 gauge also. Just a note – I have the Remington 870 Wing Master 12 gauge, which is a fairly heavy gun (28″ barrel, mod choke) and has a great shock absorbing pad on the stock. The recoil is very manageable because of these features. Not all shotguns are equal. Lighter polymer shotguns = higher recoil. Especially without the padded stock (ouch!) Just FYI.

  8. I recommend the following: Do a search, bird shot for self defense.

    Er doctors call the wound in operatable.

  9. My first thought was No. 4 buck. I have loaded hundreds of shells (12 ga.), having cast the balls one at a time. Another thing, at close range, birdshot “thinks it’s a slug”. I have also loaded hundreds with 00 buck, casting them as well. And others with slugs, also home-cast. To have only one gun, I would recommend a 12 gauge or a 20 gauge, as may suit one’s preferences. A shotgun shell can also be loaded with flechettes or other items, and, in extreme circumstances, can be loaded with very little equipment: It is basically a miniature muzzle-loader. Replace the primer, dump in some powder, put in some wadding, put in some shot, then another wad to hold it in place. They do not need to be factory wads, you can use any sort of “suitable” paper or cloth, and can seal the end with wax *on top of a wad). If you pour the hot wax into birdshot, it makes a sort of low-tech slug.

  10. I have been using #1 buck for 40 years now, so I guess that makes me one of those “old guys” he talked about. However in recent years I have found #1 harder and harder to find, but when I do I buy 5 or more 5 rd boxes at a time. Now I have a couple of cases of #4 as a good trade off. In home defense #4 has less penetration through sheetrock and other “hard” barriers, but heavy clothing and flesh where over penetration is not desired #4 works well with more pellets although it is .24 inches and #1 is .30 inches. In short through a car door #1 is best inside your home #4 might be a bit better, but my choice has always been #1 buck, but I am more likely to use my .45 ACP 1911.

  11. IMO. Low recoil federal #00 it’s what the LEO’s use. Cycles just fine in my Rem 1100’s not badly priced either. don’t have to worry about recoil and/or over penetration. Imagine if you had to go to court for an incident, it could be a plus.

  12. No mention is made in the article of up-armored suspects, or multiple suspects, and assumptions are made that imply “all” self defense situations where a shotgun is deployed will be IN the residence. While that may not have been the author’s actual intent, real life and my Murphy cousins have a way of showing up rather unexpectedly and WITHOUT NOTICE or any indication of their arrival time. We need to be far more aware of our situations and be far more heads up than thinking we “will” have time to retrieve our excellent shotguns to repel invaders from hearth, home and loved ones. It’s up to each individual to decide which self defense shotgun load will work best for them and, we MUST pattern our selected loads, so we can see how they actually work from the shotguns we are using, rather than relying on the myths perpetuated by Hollywood screen writers that shotguns work all the time, every time. Lots of good points in this article and lots of assumptions as well.

    • FBI ballistics report #1 buck with the best penetration. However penetration can be an issue if you live in a apartment. I personally like the Winchester PDX-1 home defense round which is a slug with 3 rounds of 00 buck packed behind it.

      I also keep some 00 buck , #1 buck and some slugs on a belt next my weapon in case it’s needed.

  13. I agree with your choice of No.1 Here in South Africa it is graded in the English fashion, and we call it SSG. Most of our houses are built with plastered brick, so we are not as worried as Americans about penetration. My own personal choice 2 x “Breneke” 500grain solids, with the other 4 x SSG (No.1) backing it up in my pump action S&W 12 bore.
    The one thing you failed to mention is that always mount your shotgun and aim! I have cut back my shotgun barrel to 18″, with a Lyman compensator, so that you can turn, with the shotgun tucked against your hip in a passage, for close work. When you have the time, always shoulder your shotgun, and AIM! Always have a back up. No matter how you are dressed in the house at night, a shoulder holster is quick to put on, even if you sleep in the raw, or bare chested. My favouright is my modified Colt .45 acp, 10+1.

    • Such a great point. Even the Hollywood “sawed-off shotgun” is better brought to the shoulder, aimed and fired. The “shoot from the hip” bull sh*t is just that. In fact, try it at your favorite forest shooting spot; snap the gun to your hip and shoot from the hip at 15 meters. Or snap the gun to your shoulder and shoot “normally” and see if there’s not a difference! (That’s not counting the odd fellow who ONLY shoots from the hip while practicing, and has fired 500 shells that way. Also, I’ve had instructors who say you aim a rifle, you aim a sidearm, you aim a rocket … but you point a shot gun. All I know is, as a guy familiar in the use of but not expert with, firearms, I’ve always, always had the best results from using proper, practiced technique.)

  14. I figure if maximum damage is the desired effect then smaller pellets to a point would be the norm of the day, I used a 12 ga Winchester pump in Viet Nam for short order business, 1897 with exposed hammer, it wouldn’t handle 3 inch’s but regulars with bird shot sure cut men to ribbons if that’s what your looking for, any where there’s flesh to see is fair game, and extremely small chance of over penetration through household walls unless you’re right on the wall, small pellets disperse quickly but inflict major damage on flesh and bone, unless your perp is wearing many layers of clothing or body armour, hes gonna be one sorry SOB if you catch him with the shotgun with bird shot or smaller loads of pellets than buck loads, 9 pellets versus 80, my choice is more for your money is better.

  15. I’m a firm believer in 00 or #1 buck for home defense. With a tactical breacher 12 Gauge, it provides adequate spread/coverage and kinetic energy to deter or minimise a threat.

  16. Discounting that shotguns are loud, bulky thunder-styx that usually require two hands to operate, lets assume that they also have a capacity of at least six rounds. My philosophy is short distance= small shot/low power…..and the ratio increases with distance. Low brass #9 shot come out first, a one ounce spoon of “who tha f?ck are you”!, recoil is mild on my end and is still traveling 1200fps when it hits anywhere inside your home. Next up would be high brass #6 for his partner that wasn’t paying attention, then a couple of #4 bucks followed by two 00’s………these are 2&3/4″s in spring and summer, Fall and Winter require something to penetrate those fluffy jackets…..I’m counting on just tha mere sound I make charging a round, will fair better than the paper work that surely follow……

  17. I have a 16 ga. 5 shot pump 870 Rem.,child hood gun, Sawed off by machining. I kept bee bee gun beebees in it for many years, trust me they’re awsome, but now I do have it loaded with # 1’s and didn’t know I was doing the right thing. Hope not to need to use it , but believe it’s easier to hit some thing in a high adrenalin state than getting to my AR15 308

  18. In my misguided youth, I saw a home-invader get a leg blown off at the knee by a load of bird shot. From about 10 paces. Friends dad did it and seemed rather satisfied with the results……….

  19. You are correct. No #1 is the best. I read this elsewhere awhile back by a ammo expert and have known it ever since. They can be a little harder to find. Wonder why?

  20. # High Brass Turkey Load !

  21. #4 High Brass Turkey Load !

  22. At home defense distances, the pattern spread is minimal, especially if you’re depending on your hunting gun to also defend inside the home. I am fortunate enough to be able to afford a dedicated open choke gun for my bedroom gun. So buckshot is an excellent choice – it won’t spread much, but it will spread.

    The biggest advantage of buckshot is that in the modern world any punk can buy body armor – and spreading buckshot will more easily find cracks between plates (or whatever) and you stand a greater chance of actually putting a few into the guy than you would with a handgun. If a load to center mass didn’t knock this guy down, I’ll assume he’s wearing armor and a second shot will be aimed at the neck or groin. Same deal if he tries to get up after he’s knocked down.

  23. I liked the article on home defense shotgun loads but did I miss any mention of Caliber? I have a 16 gauge & a 20 gauge both with plenty of buck shot rounds , mostly 2 & 3/4. Not everybody wants to deal with the recoil of a 12 gauge.

  24. I use 00 Buck for one reason:

    I cannot find #1 Buck. However, 00 Buck is everywhere.

    As others including the author have said, you’ve got to pattern your loads, and you’ve got to practice with your shotgun. Pump-actions are great and very reliable, as long as you’re comfortable with working the action. A semi-auto like a Rem 1100 is also very good with rounds that reliably cycle the action, for those who prefer less felt recoil.

    Besides, “Shotgun Joe” Biden told us, “buy a shotgun!” Well, that one particular statement of his actually is pretty good advice. Now if only he could get so much other stuff right….

    – T

  25. Here is my take on this.
    First, a bad guy may be wearing body armor these days. Birdshot and buck shot ain’t gonna stop him or her. Plain simple fact.
    I see talk of over penetration. Nonsense unless you are using a high velocity rifle round. There are vids of medical examiners talking about this on youtube but beware, it is graphic.
    You are the good guy and I want you to survive. I don’t care what rambo did in vietnam. We are not fighting half naked people most likely.
    Whether 1, 2 or 5 bad guys break into your house, you are now in a combat situation. That is reality. I want you to survive and win. You won’t with darn birdshot. Rifled slugs? Maybe if you keep your cool and shoot at lower neck.
    .38, 9mm and the .40 will not defeat level 3A body armor. Fact.
    Standard .44 magnum won’t either.
    Do you want to live and protect your family? Of course you do.
    Don’t like the recoil of a 3 inch mag shell? Me neither. Self abusive.
    So, here is what you need to do. First rethink options and realize we in reality are talking surviving a combat situation and it will be cq or close quarters.
    You have to think a little outside the box.
    In a shtf situation current laws will be a moot point. Right? Right
    Some states outlaw penetrator rounds and others don’t. I am not telling you to break any laws.
    Here are several examples of rounds effective against body armor of level 3 quality.
    .44 magnum loaded for rifle. You can use it in a Ruger Redhawk, Super Redhawk and Blackhawk. But not Smith and Wesson. You can also use it in a Dan Wesson
    A 250 gr. JHP with a steel ball bearing covered with JB weld if loaded hot will defeat lvl 3 body armor. This is a rifle round. At 1650 fps it will deliver a lot of energy.
    The shotgun has not left the equation.
    First get a good quality muzzle brake for it. makes excellent brakes that reduce 60% recoil.
    Now the 3 inch mag is reasonable. Use a sabot round. FMJ HP 398 gr. Bullet made for muzzle loading rifles. Winchester makes them already to go. A minor modification will make it a legal ap round in many states. Take concrete nails and trim to dia. of hollow point. Now cut to fit in the cavity and insert with point to the tip. Cover with JBWeld. This will defeat most body armor a bad guy is wearing.
    Check your state laws. But remember in a shtf situation laws are a thing of the past and surviving and protecting your family are you main priorities.
    This is real life combat with real life evil people. It aint the movies.
    Unless you do a head shot your 9 or .40 ain’t gonna save you. And an experienced combat vet will tell you that in a fire fight head shot is not guaranteed.
    Every shot counts and you can not afford to miss.
    If out numbered, one shot, one down. Reaquire target fast and go from there. Chances are thugs won’t have heavy guns and a kitchen wall with cabinets and stove are good barriers for you to be behind.
    Offer thugs a false sense of security by putting couch or cloth chair between you and them. Most often they are stupid. And will hide behind what your bullet will go through like a hot knife through melted butter.
    Forget all the concepts of a civilized scenario of Hollywood thugs.
    There are gangs such as Latin Kings and MS13 that have members that have been in the military. The govt. knew when they enlisted, but that is another story. But you get the picture. You could be up against a trained thug. You have to put it down fast. He ain’t gonna play folks. These people are socio/psychopaths.
    Back to Ruger and Dan Wesson revolvers.
    A combat setup will be have a pair with 7 1/2 barrels. Equip with either Hogue or pachmayr grips.
    Recoil will be minimal. Heavy frame and rubber grips will reduce recoil significantly. This will allow you to shoot target once and move to next target.
    You don’t have time to double tap or triple tap targets. You are in a cq hot zone. A semi auto at this point is a joke unless it is a .44 automag D.E. or a .50 D.E.
    If your bullet doesn’t stop the perp he will stop you.
    Fight to live, survive and thrive. Adapt and overcome.
    May you all live well.
    God bless

  26. Very informative and useful post! Ammo needs normally vary between individuals, but the information mentioned should help to steer those deciding in the right directions. Thanks for sharing!

  27. I am 5’3″ and use an H&R 20ga. with Rio #1 buck for HD. It patterns better, in my gun, than the #3 or #2 magnum loads. Pattern your gun to find the best load for it. I don’t have to worry about overpenetration as I live alone in a house with wood interior and exterior walls, with the nearest neighbor 400 yards away.

  28. I use an AK 47 military, under folded, with double 30 rounds mag. Loaded with 7.62 x 39 mm 122 GR. FMJ (TulaAmmo). This round has a mild steel core and can penetrate at 200 yards, a ¼” welding steel plate, and a phone book behind it.
    The rule of thumb is 2 in the chest, and 1 in the head. I use it with open site, and practice target shooting at 100 yards grouping 5 rounds in a 4” bull’s eye.
    A Mossberg 500a tactical persuader 12 gauge, it is a good choice, but only if the intruder isn’t wearing any protection.

  29. You all remind me of a time my buddies were arguing over what type of girl is the best to date. After an hour of this and that and why and why not, with a whole bunch of “what do You Know”. My other friend, who was quiet and enjoying the argument, got up and said ” I found the right girl that’s perfect for me”.
    We all have different Self Defense Needs or Sport Related activities. When it comes down to it Personal experience and testing other theories will give you the answers you need.

  30. I use a 20ga I have always liked a 20 and I like wax loads, take a 71/2 bird shot cut the end off, dump the pellets into a pan of melted wax, Then spoon the wax and pellets back into the shell, Top it off with wax and let it cool, They will produce a bigger hole than a slug will, They are accurate and they will kill effectively, This is cheaper than slugs as you can purchase 25 of them cheaper than 5 slugs. Try it

  31. thank youfor the video. on the way in a few,my mossberg LH 500 tactical

    I think that answered the only question Ihas, 8 or 16 and #1 it is… Thanks again

  32. I tend to favour SSG or AAA for inside the normal home. Where I live we have brick internal walls, and double brick external walls.

    I keep SG, No 1 Buck & Slugs 2, but. I favour the above-mentioned AAA or SSG in the short-range & likely high-stress & possibly dark interior house environment, from a RIOT barrel.

    This is mainly because the 45 0.20″ cal pellets of AAA at 1200+ fps at 5-10m is going to ruin any perp’s night. Alternatively, imagine 45 individual shooters in a house all shooting simultaneously with their 0.22 rabbit rifles!! Unless the perp is wearing body armour, he’s going to be in for a tough tine, especially with amother 7 rounds lined up in the mag tube!!

    SSG offers 18 x 0.27″ cal pellets, doubling those im an SG round.

    I believe blokes saying their birdshot inside the typical 5 to 10m ranges in houses makes a real dissuading mess, so there is no doubting the effectiveness of the two loads I favour at these ranges & there are fewer pattern gaps than with SG or No. 1 if your aim is a bit off.

  33. Not advocating anything here, just a vignette from personal experience. Many years ago a female friend who lived alone had a break in at night while she was home. She wasn’t harmed but of course terrified and traumatized. Another friend dropped off a shotgun at her place so she’d have some protection. Sure enough within a few days the intruder returned, again in the middle of the night. My friend grabbed the shotgun, pointed, and shot. In an absolute panic she called me first. I told her to call 911 and I was on the way. I lived real close and arrived just before the police. The load of bird shot, delivered at a distance of no more than 10-15 feet, had essentially decapitated the intruder. There was very little left of his head and his brain had been scattered everywhere. His pants were around his ankles. After seeing that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone getting hit with a round or two of birdshot center mass and being able to carry on with a robbery, assault, or rape.

  34. The longest shot I can take inside my small house up the hall, (yup shotgun side hall house) is 25 feet.
    Any size Buckshot will do the job.
    A slug is too much.
    Bird shot is too little.
    My Twelve gauge is loaded with OO Buck shot, five shots.
    But most likely the first defensive will be my revolver in .357 magnum, 125 gr Bonded Hollow points.
    I have four dogs, none are big mean or aggressive but they all bark.
    Most alarms are not of a nature to go to full alert so totin’ a Shotgun is over kill.

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