View Full Version : Hunting shotgun shot sizes?

May 12, 2005, 03:47 PM
I've had a recent altercation with a possum in the chicken yard which ended with having to hit him five times with a .22 before he stopped playing possum and really died. Several chickens are now suing me for noise induced hearing loss and one is claiming to have post traumatic stress. The relatives of the deceased chickens are suing the possom's family which is threatening drive-by revenge. A half dozen eggs were left homeless and no end is in sight.

So I am looking for alternative answers.

Could somebody educate me about shot sizes with a 20 gauge for different sized chicken eating animals. There are roughtly five sizes of critters involved. The size breakdown is feral cats and small possums, medium sized possums and small coons, big possums, big coons, coyotes.

May 12, 2005, 04:02 PM
I have some nice 2 3/4" mags ,#4 that work very well on feral cats, smaller dogs etc. I suppose some goose loads I have would work also -3" BB steel with a really tight pattern.A coyote ,at least those around here are very big and I would use buckshot.

May 12, 2005, 04:17 PM
i haven't had much experience with possum but i couldn't see one plowing through anything bigger than 6-shot if your pattern's on. if i were you i'd just "drop a cigarette" near their place and blow them up in their meth lab.

May 12, 2005, 05:10 PM
MeekAndMild, I keep my 20 gauge loaded with #4 shot (136 0.13 inch pellets) for chicken defense.

I was forced to use it on wild dogs a couple of time with great success, but I think that .20 inch buck-shot is a better choice for the larger animals. Distance, your gun's choke, and chance that stray shot will hit the chickens are things to take into consideration. How big are the coyote in your area and how often are they a problem?

May 12, 2005, 08:54 PM
No. 4 shot for animals smaller than a fox with the 20 gauge. Buy high brass ammo only. No. 6 shot works ok on rabbits and squirrels with a 20ga..... but they aren't the problem. Do yourself a favor and just get yourself a 12 gauge if you are serious.

May 12, 2005, 09:14 PM
In a 12 or 20 gauge, regular 2 3/4" pheasant hunting loads of 4 to 6 shot will handle any of them. I've seen many coyotes rolled at close range (10-15 yds) while bird hunting. I don't know how far your chicken coop is from the house, but if you expect coyotes and are more than 20 yds I would probably use #2, BB or or the smaller sizes of buckshot in 3" magnums, however these larger sizes of shot may be difficult to find. Maybe the larger sizes of Hevi-shot would be easier to find.


May 12, 2005, 09:48 PM
:o OK this is getting confusing so let me go through the steps. The 20 ga has one barrel that is improved cylinder and one that is modified and I've never shot anything in it at all except #8 for birds and skeet. "Birds" in this neck of the woods are quail and doves. I always set it to shoot IC first then M if I miss the first shot. (My father used to use #6 on rabbits, but all the local rabbits are Mrs. Meek's pets and have names.)

In the years I've been here the likelihood of these critters is possum > feral cat > coyote > coon. Only one raccoon seen (poor fellow ended his career of rabies spreading with a .17 shot to the neck), a couple of coyotes, several cats and too many possums.

So recommendations are #6 for possums, #4 or BB for coons and buckshot (#3?) for coyotes? Our coyotes run about 60-70 pounds and I've never gotten a shot on one, but they are more of a problem later in the summer when the young ones are weaned and out on their own...prefer rifle for hunting critters big enough to hunt me. Especially when all the good coyote shots are better than 75 yards.

Maybe put #6 in the modified barrel and buckshot in the improved cylinder with a couple of #4 in the pocket? Set the gun to shoot the #6 first and give any coyotes two quick shots? Shooting Modified first seems OK as possums are much slower than doves and would be easier to hit. Also less chance of friendly fire injuries amongst the chickens.

Sorry for all the questions but shotgunning is foreign to me. It seems so...imprecise. :D

May 12, 2005, 10:25 PM
Sounds like you have a solid plan. Try #4 in the modified for your first/all purpose load. The #6 is smaller (less penetration per pellet) and spreads more (more likely to hit a chicken). Load the IC with your buck shot (0 or 00) for the coyote. I would also shoot some targets at expected ranges to get an idea of the pattern of the gun. Knowing how much each shot and barrel is going to spread at range will help the gun feel much more precise. I don't think that your trusty double-barrel is going to make the 75 yards to those big coyotes, but should do fine for "chicken pen" assault range.

Good luck with the flock.

May 13, 2005, 08:34 PM
I would tend towards BB for the intermediate stuff - and buckshot for coyote. While I am sure it is possible to cleanly dispatch smaller mammals with #4 etc I think the larger shot are much better.

The main thing is being close enough; at longer ranges the small shot lack penetration and with larger shot, patterns might not be dense enough.

May 13, 2005, 10:19 PM
If your planning on shooting at coyotes past 30-40 yards, I'd use Buckshot or even some slugs. Anything past that and you need a rifle. Even that .17 you got should be good to maybe 50-60 yards if you "rambo" it. (rambo= empty the the clip on it) I'm sure others will think a .17 won't drop a coyote at 60 yards, and it probably won't, but the coyote won't make it that far.

May 14, 2005, 12:01 AM
So what is the difference between BB and #4?

May 14, 2005, 09:02 AM
BB shot is .18" in diameter, and there are 72 of them per oz.
#4 shot is .13" in diameter, and there are 135 per oz.

For a chart showing the sizes of shot, with a picture so you can see relative sizes, diameters, and number per oz. you can go to Remington.com (remington.com/safety/sbc_begin.html) . This link will take you to their shotgun basics video course page , it will take a few clicks to get to the chart, but there is also some other good info, including Remingtons recomendations for shot sizes and choke for different critters.

I wouldn't worry too much about trying to match shot size to critter in this instance, especially since you said the shots at coyote would probably be at longer distances, outside the effective range of any shot load. #6 or #4 will both work quite well on any of the other animals. My experience with animals (possums, coons, and skunks) getting into a henhouse is that the chickens are making enough noise and commotion that you are not noticed until you get quite close. Trust me, if you catch a skunk in a chicken coop and it gets all defensive, backed into a corner and will not leave the chicken coop, it is too late to worry about the smell so go ahead and shoot him.
If you do catch a coyote in close these shot sizes will work. If one is running away as you approach and is at a greater distance, say from 35 to 60 yds, dustin him will cause no permanent damage and will quickly teach him that there are safer places to find a meal.


May 14, 2005, 09:24 AM
A solid hit of #4s from a .410 will take down Raccoon and they are a might bit tougher than your run of the mill possum.

May 28, 2005, 09:27 PM
Number four seems to be good. thanks, all.

May 29, 2005, 11:05 AM
Possums seem to be hard to kill. I have seen more than a few that took multiple shots and still lived. The only sure way to kill a possum with one shot is a brain shot and they have a brain about the size of an english pea, so good luck with that.

You should use BB shot - that will take care of anything you can take care of with a 20 gauge, and it will stop the possum with one shot, if not kill it. Once you have stopped it you can dispatch it in any of several ways.