I recently watched a video about a young man that found himself on the wrong end of a gang initiation. The perp, a fellow classmate, asked for a ride and then had the victim drive him to an abandoned lot. When they got out of the car the perp retrieved a hidden shotgun and began shooting the victim from a range of 10 feet or less. The perp fired three times hitting the victim once in the arm, once in the chest, and a grazing shot to the head. Then the perp hopped in the victims car and took off. The victim stood up, and walked to the nearest intersection where a police officer found him and got him first aid and an ambulance. The victim lived and fully recovered thank God. He was unconscious for several days. The point of all this is that birdshot is bad news as a defensive load. If the the tables were turned and I was up against a determined aggressor, possibly hopped up on something, I would want a load that would stop the incident immediately by interfering with the basic mechanics of the aggressors body as opposed to a low penetrating load that would leave his lungs and heart still more or less operational. It seems a grim way of looking at it, but that my logic. I hope to never put it to the test.
So in my Hd shotgun I tested three options. Basic 2 3/4" federal classic 00 & 000, as well as Remington 3" 00. Basic, cheap enough to train with, hunting grade buckshot. No versatightcontrol anything. All three have grex.
What I found was that the federal 00 was a very tight pattern at 20'. About 3". The federal 000 was a bit bigger, about 5". The Remington had the 'worst' pattern at around 8-10". This dovetails nicely with a rule of thumb i've read online that 3" magnums tend to pattern wider than standard loads. The reason I put the quotes around 'worst' is that I'm not sure what the objective is here. To my logic, the 10" pattern gives me more margin of error against a moving target. That's the whole point of a shotgun isn't it? It seems to me that the flite control systems are better applied to turkey and coyote loads and possibly to LE loads where more range may be necessary.