View Full Version : Shot Shells in Rifled Barrel

June 29, 2000, 06:42 AM
I have a fully rifled 20" barrel in a 20ga 870 for home defense. Is there any potential problem I should be aware in terms of using HD shot shells in the rifled barrel?

June 29, 2000, 08:22 AM
Shot patterns out of rifled barrels are pretty poor. It probably wouldn't matter at arms length distances though.

Dave McC
June 29, 2000, 10:19 AM
At HD ranges I doubt there's much problem, if any, Tyro. Best thing is to check YOUR weapon at the longest distance you'll have to shoot in your house and look at the spread. My best guess is if the pattern's less than 5:, no problem...

Remember, spread is not the advantage of the shotgun for HD, the capability of dumping immense amounts of energy into a small area on a perp is.

June 29, 2000, 10:39 AM
Dave: What would you say about the use of slugs in this gun for HD? One writer on the Internet says he keeps a 20ga loaded with slugs for outside the house, and another shotgun loaded with shot shells for use within the house. Having only one shotgun, should I stick to shot shells exclusively?

Dave McC
June 29, 2000, 12:10 PM
I'd stay with shot, Tyro. You've described your situation and from here I cannot see any reason for the slugs for you.

One advantage, using the cheap field type loads for HD means you're shooting your HD load, and doing so cheaply, another incentive to practicing regularly.

BTW, my HD 870 has 2 field loads up first, followed by my old duty 00, but my situation is somewhat different than thine. IMO, I could live several lifetimes in 'hoods worse than this and never get to round #3.

If I were using the 20 ga 870 Youth I got for the kids, I'd load it with the nice cheap 7 1/2s I got on sale at Guns R Us. So, I practice what I preach.

June 30, 2000, 09:24 PM
From what I hear, with shot through a rifled bbl, you get a donut-shaped pattern. Suppose it's cause by the centrifigal force of the shot charge spinning down-barrel.


July 1, 2000, 01:44 AM
Now you've done it. Cops are going to start switching to rifled barrels for their shotguns just to get the "donut" shaped pattern. :D (Not real funny, but I was bored.)

Speaking of donuts, it's almost 2am and I'm getting hungery.


Snow Man
July 2, 2000, 10:46 AM
One of the barels for my 870 is also a 20" rifled barel. Will shot damage that barel? I'm quite sure steel shot would fairly quick, how about lead shot? Will too much lead shot through it convert it to a "smooth bore?"

July 2, 2000, 01:26 PM
Snow Man's question addresses the concern I had when I began this thread/topic. That is, concern/question regarding the effect of shot pellets on the gun barrel: will the use of shot shells in a rifled barrel damage the barrel? I would also be interested in comments as to whether or not use of a 20ga rifled barrel may have any effect related to the question of whether to use #3 buckshot or bird shot. More to the point: I wonder if buckshot in a 20ga with a rifled barrel is as advisable as buckshot in a 12ga. With the latter, I would have no question or concern about stopping power (inside my house). I'm not yet convinced re the former.

July 2, 2000, 01:31 PM
Correction! In the penultimate sentence of my last posting, please read "birdshot" instead of "buckshot".

Dave McC
July 2, 2000, 05:19 PM
Tyro, inside the bbl, the shot is in the cup, so no contact between the shot and rifling.

At HD ranges, the shot will strike as a solid mass, the 20 ga means a lead plug of roughly 60 caliber will impact whatever is in front of it.

Imagine a 45 ACP Glaser Safety Slug expanded to 25% more diameter,and twice the mass moving 250 FPS faster. THAT's the 20 ga...

While I'm not calling for a test here,my guess,and the data from the database, is that anyone shot will not be able to tell you whether it was a 12 or a 20...

July 2, 2000, 06:09 PM
Dave: Many thanks for your informative, convincing, and satisfying answers.

Dave McC
July 3, 2000, 09:20 AM
Glad to help. anything else sing out...

July 4, 2000, 09:55 PM
I tried some buckshot and bird shot at 15' thru my Mossberg 500 rifled barrel (24" and compensated) and the results were awful. Using 9" paper plates as targets, I might get 3 or 4 hits with Federal Tactical Buckshot, but my smoothbore 18" cyl bore barrel kept them all on target. Birdshot evenly covered the plates from the smoothbore, random sprinkles thru the rifled barrel. I knew it would be bad, but not this bad at only 5 yards.


Dave McC
July 5, 2000, 05:36 AM
Chute,that performance is horrible. IMO, those spreads(can't call them patterns) could be tightened with load selection.

Once again, each shotgun must be patterned with care,until ammo is ofund with an acceptable level of spread and effectiveness.

July 5, 2000, 09:20 PM
Dave: I have not actually taken possession of the gun referred to when I began this thread/topic, so I have not been able to test fire it. The gun was ordered from Remington and the dealer went on vacation before the shipment arrived. I am due to get the gun this Friday. If the shot spread turns out to be as bad as it was in Chute's test, I'd be interested in having your comments re the reasons for my not using slugs for home defense with this gun. Would you recommend I try to get another barrel for the gun rather than use slugs if the shot spread is not OK?

July 5, 2000, 10:04 PM
You're missing part of his point-

the results are awful, try switching loads.

Just because the patterning is nasty with one load doesn't necessarily mean it will be that bad with another.

Before you through out money for a smoothbore or resign yourself shooting only slugs, try a variety of loads.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -Robert Heinlein

Dave McC
July 6, 2000, 05:57 AM
SLugs, being one big solid chunk of heavy metal, tend to penetrate more.This means that not all the energy may be used on the target, and the round poses a threat to persons behind the target or in the area. Shot penetrates less, meaning it transfers all the energy to the target.Greater effect.

Remember, is a situation calling for deadly force, STOPPING someone is more important than whether that person lives or dies. A
shot load STOPS someone almost all the time.

I'd try some different loads in that 20, IF I couldn't persuade the dealer to exchange that bbl for a smoothbore. He may do so w/o a hitch, most dealers want to give their customers what they want, it helps them stay customers.

As for bbls if he's willing, for your purposes a plain jane bead sighted bbl should work fine, tho one with rifle sights will too.The shorter the better....