View Full Version : Shotgun patterning with 00

August 2, 2000, 10:28 PM
I was patterning my M1S90 with 00 buck and found:

25yds - all nine pellets on the torso of a realistic man size target

50yds - one pellet on the target every time (upper torso)

At a 50 yard distance, how much would you expect the other 8 00 pellets
to penetrate in an urban environment? Would it go through the exterior
of a house and still be a deadly threat to those inside?


Dave McC
August 2, 2000, 11:17 PM
25 yards is about the max effective distance of buck due to spread,Dave. The pellets run out of steam much,much farther down the line.

And, ONE buck pellet is not often a sure stopper, the effectiveness of buck depends on multiple hits.

August 2, 2000, 11:34 PM
I don't know if it would still retain lethal capability after going through an exterior wall. As Dave said, buckshot loses steam quite rapidly downrange -- the round ball shape is aerodynamically inferior to something like a boat-tailed rifle bullet so it will lose kinetic energy much faster.

The problem with taking a shot at a perp at 50 yards with a buckshot-loaded shotgun is, as you state, the other 8 pellets that don't hit the guy. I wish I had some wallboard to run some penetration tests with buckshot, maybe that will be my new project. :)

But the best thing to do is, if you must take a shot at a goblin at 50 yards with a shotgun, is to transition to the slug. The problem is, civil liability (and possibly criminal liability) will attach to you if ANYONE downrange gets hurt. And we can imagine too many realistic scenarios where someone gets hit and injured -- it's much better to hit the guy with a slug than risk sending 8 "flyers" down range.

For example, say we run our tests and determine that a 00 pellet does not retain lethal capability at 50 yards after hitting an exterior wall. So we see a goblin at 50 yards and let loose with our buckshot. What if some guy is out in his lawn raking leaves and gets hit by a stray pellet? What if the exterior wall is missed, a window is hit instead and then someone on the inside gets hit and seriously injured? What if one of the pellets goes through an exterior wall and then hits a small child or a hemophiliac?

In all those instances, you are liable civily, and maybe criminally for any damage caused to property and person. There is a famous tort law case which every attorney learns in law school about a kid who sustains serious medical damage from another kid who merely tapped him on the shoulder during class (the first kid had some sort of medical condition). The moral was that the tortfeasor "takes his target as he finds him", so the second kid was held responsible for all damages caused to the first one -- even though all he did was tap the other kid on his shoulder. So even though we only nicked the hemophiliac, if he dies -- hoo boy are we in trouble.

John, correct me on that case if I'm wrong, I never did well in my first year law school classes. :)

This long-winded reply is not a flame, as you asked a very intelligent question. Only the conscientious person would have wondered what happens to those other 8 pellets, the careless person would have let them fly without a second thought. We are accountable for every projectile we send downrange, so the question of overpenetration with buckshot at 50 yards is very relevant.

My answer is that since tort law (and criminal law, probably) will hold us accountable even though we anticipate from our penetration testing that 00 buckshot at 50 yards will not harm someone after going through an exterior wall, better to switch to a slug instead. As John Farnam said in his text "The Farnam Method of Defensive Rifle and Shotgun Shooting", the answer to overpenetration concerns is not reduced power ammunition, but shot placement.

As usual, not a legal opinion or legal advice.


Justin T. Huang, Esq.
late of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

[This message has been edited by jthuang (edited August 03, 2000).]

August 3, 2000, 09:20 AM
If you shoot at someone fifty yards away you've probably got legal problems anyway, whether you hit them or not. Let the cops do it! If you actually do have to shoot at someone that far away, I agree with the post above: use a slug. Or a rifle.

August 3, 2000, 09:55 AM
The reason for the question regarding engagement at distances of 50 yards is primarily for a LA Riot type scenario. The shotgun would be my primary longarm in a very urban environment. I can easily see how I could need to engage a target at 50 yards. That is about the distance to the end of my next neighbors house. A perp could be setting fire to houses or shooting into mine. Switching to slugs makes sense if your target is unaware of you and you have time. If your target is actively engaging you at 50 yards with a rifle, I doubt the "switch to slug" drill works in the real world. I have taken tactical shotgun classes and the average time is about 4-5 seconds for the transition. That seems to long if someone is trying to kill you.

Maybe, after all, the .223 carbine is better for this scenario? It can easily hit targets from 1 yard to 100 yard without missing a beat. In a riot, someone does not have to be on top of you to be a threat. 50 yards is not that far. Especially if they have a rifle.

Just thinking things out ahead of time.

August 3, 2000, 10:28 AM
I'd agree, a rifle in 5.56 NATO is going to be better for engaging targets past 50 yards.

But if all you've got is a shotgun, I would still recommend switching to a slug if you have to pop someone at 50 yards. True, the switch to slug drill takes some time. If the goblin is actively engaging you, you shouldn't be standing out in the open switching to a slug, you should be running to cover. :) Switch to the slug while behind hard cover and then let him have it.


August 3, 2000, 01:44 PM
I believe that your elapsed time in slug changeover can be a lot better than 4-5 seconds, perhaps less than 2, with practice. If you're going to depend on a 12-gauge at that distance then a slug is the answer and your diligence in practicing marksmanship and manipulation are mandatory.

[This message has been edited by SKN (edited August 03, 2000).]

Dave McC
August 4, 2000, 10:05 AM
I wonder just how often this type of AS scenario will come up. I saw the vids of the LA riots, and noted that while shotguns were in use, so were rifles.

If a situation calls for a distance weapon, I'll reach for the 30-30 or '06.UP close, then the 870.