I worked as a Paramedic in central Georgia for 13 years. I saw many gunshot wounds. Besides the cases I worked, I went over to the ER to check out any GSW that came in, as our barracks was in the parking lot out behind the ER, and I was particularly interested in gunshot wounds.
I was fascinated by the lethality of birdshot wounds to the torso.
In the course of my career I saw 14 close range birdshot wounds to the torso and every one of them died.
Most of these injuries occurred inside a house, so you are talking 10 feet to maybe 25 feet max.
We did have one sad case, a teenage boy was crossing a barbed wire fence. He had a .410 with number 6 shot. The gun went off and hit his brother in the back of the neck, ten feet away.
The kid was dead when the ambulance arrived.
Most of the shotgun torso wounds I saw were like that, we would get there ten minutes after the shooting and the guy would be graveyard dead.
I saw hundreds of gunshot wounds and close range birdshot was the most lethal gunshot injury I saw.
If any of y'all doubt the effectiveness of birdshot, it is easy to do a penetration test.
I had heard that birdshot would not penetrate a leather coat. I doubted this so I made a test. I got a pair of old workboots, the sole was worn out but the ankle leather was still good, easily as thick as the leather of a coat.
I got a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with number 8 shot. At fifteen feet I shot the boot. The shot went right through the leather, and went right out the other side. The pattern was familiar, about 1 1/2 inches wide, a rough jagged hole.
Then I put a pine 1x4 into the other boot. I figured that 3/4 inch of pine was a pretty good simulation of human bone.
I fired again. The shot went through the leather and blew right through the board. This time, only a few shot exited the other side of the boot.
I had the feeling that if someone had been wearing this boot they would have had their foot blown off, it would have given the orthopedic surgeon a very long night to try to save it.