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Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose?

For many reasons, shotguns are considered the ideal home defense weapon. At short range, they are extremely deadly. For home defense, this is an ideal situation. In the event that someone were to break into your home, a shotgun should be the first weapon you reach for.

Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose

Shotgun Home Defense Ammo-What Should You Choose

However, shotgun shells can be a little confusing. What really is the best shotgun ammunition for home defense?

In this article, we will go over some of the best options, and talk about what makes them so great.

The Basics – Types of Shotgun Ammunition

Shotgun ammunition can be a little confusing. There are three different main types, and beyond that, there are sizes for each.

The primary types of shells are buckshot, birdshot, and slugs. Birdshot has more, smaller pellets. Buckshot has fewer pellets, but they are significantly larger. A slug is one solid piece of metal, and they are usually very large in size. This turns your shotgun into a crude rifle, and is very effective for taking down big game.

Next up, there are numbers associate with each type. For example, there is 00 buckshot, #4 birdshot, 4 buckshot, #8 birdshot, and many more.

As the number increases, the number of pellets within the shell increases. However, this also means that the size of the pellet decreases.

So, for example, #8 birdshot has hundreds of pellets that are .09 inches in diameter. #2 birdshot has 90 pellets that are .15 inches in diameter.

#4 buckshot pellets are .24 inches in diameter, and 00 buckshot pellets are .33 inches in diameter.

Make sense so far?

So, Which of These are the Best for Home Defense?

As you can imagine, buckshot is the best for home defense. Birdshot has more pellets, but they are very small in size, and usually don’t penetrate deep enough to be effective against a human target.

Buckshot penetrates much deeper, and it has larger pellets to damage more critical tissue.

Slugs would be effective in bringing down a target, but they require much greater accuracy, and they penetrate too deep. If you were to miss your target, that slug would travel through anything in its way for quite some time. This can be dangerous in a home defense situation.

What About Specific Ammunition?

How to choose a shotgun

How to choose a shotgun

In general, 00-1 buckshot are more than effective rounds for home defense. If you aren’t interested in buying ammo specifically for home defense, any of these buckshot shells will work. In fact, the military and many police departments use simple 00 buckshot for their shotguns.

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However, there are some ammo choices available that are made specifically for home defense. Keep reading to check some of these out.

  • Federal Premium Personal Defense PD13200. This is a simple 00 buckshot shell. It is aimed for home defense, and is loaded with 9 pellets. It offers reliable, tight shot groups, and does more than enough damage.
  • Federal Tactical 1 Buckshot. This is a 1 buckshot round. Similar to the previous ammo, this ammo offers reliable groups. However, this one has 15 pellets as opposed to 9.
  • Winchester PDX1. These rounds are more specifically for personal defense. In 12 gauge, there is a segmenting slug and one shell that has a slug and buckshot in it. The segmenting slug will break apart on impact, which damages more tissue. The slug and buckshot round spreads apart very rapidly, so you are able to cover more surface area.

Conclusion

As previously mentioned, shotguns are absolutely key to home defense. However, due to how confusing shotgun shells can be, it is difficult to choose one specific ammo for home defense.

Generally speaking, buckshot is a great choice. While there are fewer pellets, they are much larger. However, if you are looking for a shell that is specifically for home defense, there are a few out there. Winchester specifically makes a great shell for personal defense.

You can’t go wrong with most buckshot, but getting a more specific shot for home defense certainly wont hurt. The extra cost will be worth it in the event that you need it.

Should I Choose Buckshot Or Birdshot For Dome Defense

If you are a shotgun owner, then you have probably considered using it for home defense. With using a shotgun for home defense you may have asked yourself, or friends, what type of shell to use. The common answer has probably been either buckshot or birdshot. Most people when they say buckshot are referring to 00 which is nine .33 caliber balls in the shell. For birdshot the common type to use is number 6 or 7.5. Well this article is going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one and try to help you come to an answer of which one is best for home defense.

Pros And Cons of Buckshot and Birdshot

Buckshot Advantages

So buckshot is usually used for taking down larger animals, such as deer, which is where it gets its name. The rounds are bigger and do more damage. They also come out much faster and maintain their speed longer. Generally 00 buckshot comes out at 1250fps (feet per second). This gives it plenty of penetration power and stopping power. Due to this extra power you don't have to be as close to your target to do the same amount of damage.

Another advantage to buckshot is, since it is less rounds coming out of the shell, the spread of each ball is less. This means you are more likely to hit what you are aiming at. The closer you are to the target, the less spread their will be. Also, for a home defense shotgun you can have a custom choke made. The choke helps narrow the barrel which keeps the spread down. This can be used for any type of round you are using. So less spread and more power are the main advantages to using buckshot.

Buckshot Disadvantages

The disadvantages to buckshot tie into the advantages. Since it comes out faster and has more penetrating power you can run into issues of over penetration. This is when the buckshot goes threw the wall and into another room. This could put other by-standards at danger. Your family that you are trying to protect might accidentally get hit with a stray round. Even worse is if the over penetration takes the round outside and you hit a neighbor.

Also, with the increased power comes more recoil. This means that if you need to fire multiple rounds it might be harder to re-aim or if you are a smaller person it might knock you back. If you get knocked back, then this could put you in harms way and put you at a disadvantage against the intruder. The recoil can be compensated for some with the type of shotgun you are using and the main issue with buckshot is the over penetration.

Advantages to Birdshot

So the advantages to birdshot are going to counter the disadvantages to buckshot. Birdshot pellets are much smaller and come out slower. They have decent force at closer ranges and can penetrate a person even threw some clothing, but it will not go threw walls. They still have the issue of going threw windows, but since they slow down slower they will not hurt someone outside as bad as buckshot would.

Also, since it comes out slower there is a lot less recoil. This means a smaller person can fire birdshot with much more accuracy which is important because since the pellets are smaller you need more of them to hit the target to have stopping power. Birdshot can also be fired faster though because you are using less time to re-aim.

Disadvantages to Birdshot

The main disadvantage to birdshot is it might not have enough stopping power to stop the intruder. If the intruder is on drugs, drunk, or out of their mind in some way, then some small damage may not phase them. This means you either need to be closer when you shoot them with the birdshot to have more penetration or hit them with more. Also, bird shot may have a hard time of getting through thick clothing. If the intruder has a heavy coat or leather coat on, then the birdshot may not make it deep enough to cause real damage to stop the intruder.

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Which should you choose between Buckshot vs Birdshot?

So, which one should you use for home defense now that you know the advantages and disadvantages. Well, if you are a smaller person and can't handle the recoil of buckshot, then you should use birdshot because you want to make sure you hit your target. If you live in a really busy area, then you may also want to consider using birdshot.

In most situations though you should probably use buckshot as long as you can be sure to hit what you are aiming at. This is because the stopping power it provides is important. You want to make sure you are able to stop the target as quickly as possible if you are trying to protect yourself and family. Also, over penetration shouldn't be much of an issue because the intruder is probably near the door and not between you and your family. Stray rounds should not be going into rooms where your family is and neighbors houses should be far enough away that rounds should not go in. Especially if the homes are brick it will keep the rounds from going to far.

Their is a reason the police use 00 buckshot in their shotguns. It is because it works to stop the person needing stopped and the reward for using it out weights the risk of it being used. The last thing you want is to shoot the intruder and not stop them so for home defense in most situations 00 buckshot is the way to go.

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun?

This is a question that can be confusing to many people. However, it really is not that difficult if you understand what you are doing. In this article, we will teach you how to pattern a shotgun, and what distances should be used.

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun

What Distance Should Be Used To Pattern A Shotgun

The Basics

If you are unfamiliar, patterning a shotgun refers to the shot pattern that is produced. Essentially, it boils down to taking some target practice with your shotgun to see what the pattern of shot looks like, and adjusting it from there.

It is extremely important to pattern a shotgun to make sure that your weapon shoots accurately, and is able to accomplish what you need it to.

Factors That Affect the Pattern

There are a few key factors that will affect the pattern that your shotgun produces. Therefore, these are the things that you should change if you want to change the pattern of the shotgun.

The first factor is the choke you are using. Just in case anyone doesn’t know, a choke does exactly what it sounds like. It “chokes” the muzzle of the shotgun to concentrate the shot. As you can imagine, changing your choke can either tighten or loosen your pattern.

A full choke will tighten the pattern the most, while an improved cylinder choke will be only slightly tighter than the normal bore. A modified choke is somewhere in the middle. There are many different kinds of chokes available. Do your research, and you will be able to find out the spread of each.

The next factor is the exact load that you are using. Each load will perform slightly differently. There really isn’t one specific answer – you are going to have to test it out on your own. But, that is the whole point of patterning your shotgun. Trying different things out until it is perfect for you.

What Distance?

This question is actually rather simple. You should pattern your shotgun at the range you will be shooting at. This will be dependent on what type of hunting you are doing, but that is the simplest answer. While it may not help much, it really is dependent on what distance you are planning on shooting at.

If you pattern your shotgun at 20 yards, but then try to shoot it at 40 yards, your pattern is going to be terrible. It’s not exactly exciting, but you should really pattern your shotgun for each type of shooting you do.

In doing so, you will pick out the best choke and load to use at your specific distance and for your specific hunting.

Conclusion

The pattern of a shotgun is pretty simple to understand. Patterning your shotgun for each type of hunting you plan to do will go a long way in ensuring that you are successful. To change the pattern, try out different chokes and different loads.

How to Determine a Shotguns Effective Range?

Finding out your shotgun effective range can be important for a variety of reasons. No matter if the shotgun is being used for hunting or defense, it helps to know how far you can be from the target to have the result of putting the target down.

shotgun effective range

shotgun effective range

This is especially important when it comes to protection but you don't want that deer walking away either.

Their are a few factors that go into a shotguns effective range, and if you continue reading, you will find out what those are so you can figure out the effective range for your gun.

Things that Effect Range

Their are three main things that effect the effective range of your shotgun.

  • The first is the gun itself and the ammunition used
  • the second is the mental state of the target
  • And the third is your skill with the gun

Two of the three can be changed by you, so you can increase your effective range if needed, or create a set up that has a farther effective range. The mental state of the target can not be changed by you however.

You may be wondering how the mental state of the target effects the effectiveness.

You were probably thinking only the gun and ammo mattered, but that isn't the case.

If the target is angry or has an adrenaline high, then you will have to do more damage to it to bring it down.

This means having more of your ammo hit it. The situation is even worse if it is a home invader who may be on drugs.

Enviroment is one of factor impact weapon range

Enviroment is one of factor impact weapon range

What affects how much ammo hits the target though?

Well, that is where the type of shotgun and ammo comes into effect.

Bird shoot for example shoots out a lot of small pellets and because they are small means they spread more.

Buck shoot on the other hand doesn't spread as much and has larger rounds so you need fewer to hit the target.

Lastly a slug spreads even less, but because of this you need better aim to hit the right spot.

Having a chock on your shotgun can effect the spread though, and that is why it is not just the ammo that effects the effective range of a shotgun. A chock forces the load into a smaller compact area before leaving the gun. This means that the ammo doesn't have room to spread as far.

The last factor is your skill.

If you are a better aim or have a good sight, then you might be able to squeeze in a few more feet for your effective range.

Practicing with your gun and knowing how it handles is a good way to increase your skill.

A good rule of thumb though is most shots spread about one inch per foot back, so if you need a grouping that is thirty inches to hit the vital area of a person, then you should be at most thirty feet back.

This is just a basic rule though, and practicing with your gun can help you figure out how much spread your grouping has.

Best Set Up For Your Shotgun

Finding the best set up to increase range is hard.

Skill is a big part of it and practicing is the only way to importer that. Some other things you can do though is choose an ammo that doesn't spread as much.

Most peoples go to is 00 Buck Shot. This has a good spread pattern and has large enough rounds to do lethal damage. Their are some advantages to bird shoot though for home defense.

At close range it has enough little pellets to do a lot of damage. However, these little pallets have a hard time making it through doors and walls, so others will not get hurt.

The next thing is pick a shotgun that fits you.

You need to consider the compactness of it and also consider the type of chock it has.

If you are going to be hunting birds, then you want spread, but for larger things you might want the barrel to be reduced by a chock.

The best thing is to consider the primary purpose of the shotgun when you go to buy it. For home defense you will want a different gun than for bird hunting.

Their are a lot of reliable options on the market, and you can find one that meets your needs and gives you satisfactory results at the range you want.

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Conclusion

Now you know that there are a few factors that goes into a shotguns range and they don't just start and end with the gun and ammo.

While the ammunition of choice and the chock and sights of the gun play an effect. The mental state of the target and your skill are also factors.

Effective range of a shotgun can vary from person to person and target to target. The key thing is that you have enough ammo hitting the target at vital points.

The spread of the ammo combined with your distance determines this and with practice you can learn the effective range of your shotgun.

How To Choose The Right Shotgun For You – Shotgun Buying Guide 2018

With the number of shotguns available, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

In this article, we will go over the key factors to keep in mind when choosing a shotgun, and we will make some recommendations for which shotguns will meet which needs best.

How to choose a shotgun

How to choose a shotgun

What Gauge you should choose for your shotgun

When someone talks about the gauge of a shotgun, they are talking about the diameter of the barrel. In turn, this also means that they are talking about the size of the shell that the shotgun can shoot. 12 gauge and 20 gauge are the most popular, but there are actually quite a few different gauges available.

Here’s a list of the most common shotgun gauges, from smallest to largest:

  • 410 bore – one of the smallest shotgun shells ever made. It is often used for small game and defense purposes. There are revolvers available that are able to shoot this shotgun shell, and they are popular for defense purposes
  • 28 gauge – this is a small shotgun shell. The weapons are lightweight, and are commonly used for pheasant hunting or any other type of upland bird hunting
  • 20 gauge – second most common in the United States. It is popular for hunting and target shooting alike due to its light weight and the fact that it has less recoil than 12 gauge. As far as hunting purposes, 20 gauge can be used for most bird hunting
  • 16 gauge – not all that common. It is somewhat of a jack of all trades, but there are not many 16 gauge shotguns around anymore
  • 12 gauge – by far the most common. They are on the heavy side, but recent technology has improved this. 12 gauge is excellent for waterfowl, turkey, and any other number of animals. It is also popular for home defense
  • 10 gauge – another shell you don’t see much. It used to be very popular for waterfowl, but it is very heavy, and recent improvements to 12 gauge weapons have decreased the popularity

There are other shotgun shells that exist, but are extremely uncommon. Often, these shotguns will require custom ammunition.

Action

When it comes to shotgun actions, it essentially boils down to pump action, semiautomatic, and double-barreled shotguns.

Pum action shotgun: Pump action shotguns are the most common. They are inexpensive, reliable, and easy to use. A pump shotgun will excel in almost any use.

Semiautomatic shotgun: It don’t have a pump. They function using gas blowback, meaning that all you have to do is pull the trigger. They allow for much faster shooting, but are more expensive, and their reliability is questionable.

Double-barreled shotgun: whether over under or side by side, are breech loaded weapons. They are extremely reliable, but can also get expensive. Due to the fact that you only get two shots, these are popular weapons for shooting skeet.

Other Factors when buying a Shotgun

Barrel length.

Longer barrels will be better for shooting skeet, while shorter barrels are very popular for home defense and tactical applications.

Generally speaking, hunting shotguns have a barrel in the neighborhood of 26 to 28 inches long.

Rifled barrel.

Some folks will buy a shotgun for deer hunting, as they are unable to shoot rifles in their area.

If you’re buying a shotgun with the sole purpose of shooting slugs, it would be in your best interest to buy a shotgun with a rifled barrel.

Fit with you

Due to the size, weight, and recoil of a shotgun, it becomes very important to have a shotgun that fits you well.

Make sure that the stock is comfortable, and you are able to easily sweep the barrel.

Which Shotgun Is Right For you

For home defense, we recommend a pump action 12 gauge with a shorter barrel.

For waterfowl hunting, a 12 gauge is an excellent option. Both pump action and semiautomatic will perform well, but semiautomatic will allow for faster shots, which may be helpful.

For upland bird hunting, we recommend a 28 gauge. It is extremely lightweight and fast to shoot. However, many other gauges will work well for this use. 20 gauge is another great choice. As far as action, any will work.

For deer hunting, we recommend a pump action 20 gauge or 12 gauge with a rifled barrel will perform well. This is good shotgun for deer hunting, you should choose the best shotgun scope to have best target. 

For skeet and trap shooting, 12 gauge is extremely popular. A 12 gauge double-barreled shotgun with a longer barrel will perform exceptionally well.

For general shooting, a pump action 20 gauge is a great choice. It is lighter and kicks less than 12 gauge, making it more enjoyable to shoot.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has taken some of the guesswork out of buying a shotgun for you.

There are a few factors to consider, but having this knowledge and comparing it to your desired use will make it easy to select a shotgun.