View Full Version : Patterned some #4 buck out of my 870. Wasn't impressed.......

September 5, 2007, 07:50 AM
I was at the range yesterday doing some shooting. Also met up with a fellow THR'er, edhaus. Nice guy to hang out with.

I have been an advocate of 00 buck as the ideal HD round out of a shotgun. I know, I know, it's a debate that's been done to death......:rolleyes:

I have seen others post about using #4 buck since it is theoretically less likely to penetrate as much drywall and injure innocents on the other side of walls. Well, being open to new ideas and trying the suggestions of others, I purchased some awhile back, but had not made it to the range yet for a pattern test. Needless to say since it wasn't patterned it was not yet loaded in my shotgun.

My shotgun of choice for HD is a Remington 870 Express with a 20" IC Rifle sighted slug barrel. It does double duty as a hunting weapon as well. In the HD configuration I keep a Tacstar extension with 5 00 buck followed by 2 Brenneke slugs with 2 + 2 in a four shot sidesaddle. I have a Remington picatinny barrel clamp with a Surefire mounted.

My target was a printed 8.5x11" grid target from mytargets.com. It was set up at approx 15-17yds. (I didn't measure exactly). This is farther than I would ever be called upon to shoot inside my house.

I first fired a Remington Reduced Recoil 00 buck load (my HD standard). The 8 pellet pattern pattern was about a 4 inch spread at that range and was point of aim at the center of the target. Needless to say any intruder shot with it would be very likely to stop being a threat and smartly.

I then fired a Remington 2 3/4" #4 buck load at a separate but identical target. Of the 27 pellets I could only account for 20 of them. Of those 20 only about 16 were actually in the paper. I found four more in the wood scattered around the paper. The other 7 were MIA, but I suspect they went high. None of the pellets were clustered around the point of aim so if my point of aim was COM on an intruder he'd be injured but the injury wouldn't likely be immediately incapacitating.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures of these targets. I used the same ones for some slug practice afterward and they're pretty shot up at this point. I plan to get back to the range maybe this Saturday and will replicate the test and post pictures here.

I post this thread not to reignite the debate over which is a better shotgun round for HD, we all have our opinions and aren't likely to change them. What I do highly recommend, though is that if you choose to rely on a shotgun round of any shot size, make sure you pattern it at ranges you would expect to potentially use it. Also make sure you practice with it.

Let me also add that I'm well aware that other #4 loads may pattern better out of my gun. I plan to try more and different loads as I come across them. At this point, though the Managed Recoil 00 Buck from Remington and the Brenneke KO slug are my choices. YMMV

September 5, 2007, 08:35 AM
Just as a point of reference I'll add my 0.02 on the Remington #4 buck.

I shot mine out of an 870 Express w/ 26" barrel and stock choke at only 7 yards. At that distance it made a very nice 6" circular pattern. All pellets stayed on the head of my target.

This was my HD round of choice until I tried the Winchester #1 buck which patterns just a little tighter at 10 yards. I like having something a little larger than the #4.

September 5, 2007, 08:43 AM
Thanks for sharing your experiences with different sizes.

I guess each shotgun and choke combo pattern differently. I have had reasonably good results with #4 at 10 yards - about a 10" circle out of my smooth bore slug barrel, which is similar to what I get with OO buck.

You gotta go with what works for you and a load that you have faith in. It looks like that #4 load is not ' the ' load for you or your 870.

September 5, 2007, 10:47 AM
Here are some patterns with an 870 Marine Magnum (18" Cylinder smoothbore) on a B-34 target - the silhouette is about 3/4 life size.
Frames are 5, 10 and 15 yard shots.

Sellier & Bellot / 21 pellets / 4 Buck / 2-3/4 shell

Federal Power-Shok / 27 pellets / 4 Buck / 2-3/4 shell

Brad Clodfelter
September 5, 2007, 07:09 PM
Well I will give you some food for thought. :) I know your talking buckshot, but the exact same will be the case.

I have tested a lot of Remington 870, and 1100 barrels with turkey loads on cardboard shooting them at 30 and 40yds. What I have found by owning and shooting a Mossberg 835 and shooting these same type loads and comparing them against the Rem barrels is this. Notice I said barrels and not gun. There's the clue to why the difference in shooting the larger shot and getting them to pattern tightly. Now what I am about to tell you, Rem will say is hogwash. But I have seen enough to know that the proof is in the puddin. Rem 870 barrels have approx a .730 backbore barrel. The 835 uses a .775 backbore barrel which is the same as a 10GA by the way. This approx .045 difference in the dimension of backbore barrels is the reason why the Rem barrels won't and I repeat won't shoot the larger size shot as well as a Mossberg 835 barrels. I have tried different brands and size shot in my tests(I'm talking years of testing), and concluded that if you want to shoot say #5 shot and smaller, the Rem barrels will work fine. If you want to shoot #4 shot and larger, go with a Mossberg 835 barrel. The .045 difference of a bigger backbore barrel doesn't compress and squeeze the bigger #4 shot down as quickly, deforming the shot to allow the shot to shoot tighter patterns. When you get to size #4 shot or larger, the shot size being bigger than say #6's and not packing as tightly in a wad after being crimped, won't allow the heavier #4 shot to compress as easily through the backbore of a barrel. That's why the smaller shot will shoot just as good through a Rem barrel, as say a Mossberg 835 barrel. But when you shoot the larger size shot, the bigger .775 backbore 835 barrel is going to be the hands-down winner. I had a Browning Gold auto with a .747 backbore, and you could see the exact same thing I am saying here, only not to the same extent as much of a difference between the #4 shot as compared with a Mossberg 835 .775 backbore barrel. But the Browning .747 backbore barrel would still smoke the Rem 870 barrels for shooting the #4 shot. From every 870 I have owned and shot #4 shot through at 40yds, the pattern was just no comparison to the same #4 shot load out of a Mossberg 835.


September 5, 2007, 07:41 PM
17yrds is not a range to test them at!! for HD stop after 10yrds. 10 yrds and in they are DEVASTATING to say the least. a hit with that COM and you have a dead perp on your hands. I have shot deer with them and at close range its a real mess maker!

September 5, 2007, 10:08 PM
I'd prefer not to be limited to 10 yds. though. 10 yds and in 00 buck is a real mess maker. To 25 yds 00 buck is a real mess maker. Beyond 25 yds Brenneke slugs are real mess makers and real accurate. Why limit yourself to a round that you know will be next to useless beyond 10 yds?

Edited to add: This of course is out of my gun yours can and will vary.

Trapper L
September 5, 2007, 10:34 PM
I think your problem is the rifled slug barrel. We shoot rabbits at night off of airport grounds. We use Remington copper #4 and shots to 35 yds are common out of the Remington 870 with a modified choke. The State also uses #4 buck out of a Benelli from the helicopters to kill hogs. Some of these porkers go over 500 lbs. The shots for the choppers are usually around 15-25 yds. These are all smooth bores. I can't say that we have tried these loads from a slug barrel. Generally, we just change guns.

September 5, 2007, 10:38 PM
Negative on rifling.

Remington 870 Express with a 20" IC Rifle sighted slug barrel

IC = Improved Cylinder

September 5, 2007, 10:42 PM
Plus if you're shooting rabbits it would only take a pellet or two of #4 buck to bring rabbits down at 35 yds. It takes a dense pattern COM to reliably stop a human attacker. I'd be hardpressed to say my 870 would throw such a pattern beyond 7 yds. with #4's I know what it does with 00 buck to 25 yds and it will keep all pellets on the torso of a sillouette at that range. I'd be that Benelli from the helicopters is with a full or mod choke too.

September 6, 2007, 08:13 AM
Interesting RR. I have 3-OT buck in my home shotgun. I know people think I'm wrong due to overpenetration concerns, but my house is brick, AND my neighbors houses are brick. The chances of actually hurting an innocent when firing at an intruder, when coupled with the very low chance of actually even needing the shotgun, are infinitessimably low, in my view.

September 6, 2007, 08:59 AM
Interesting discussion on buckshot patterns gentlemen. I encourage everyone that uses a shotgun for homedefense or for hunting to actually pattern it with the load you intend on using, and at the typical ranges you intend on using it at. Some like larger buckshot, some won't. Some will like a little choke, others will be better with less choke or plain old clyinder barrels.

Brad, Nice comparision between backbored barrels and larger shot sizes. IIRC several tactical aftermarket barrels are purposedly bored oversized to achieve better patterns like the ones you have found with the 835 mossberg.

The vang Comp barrels come to mind: https://www.vangcomp.com/Home.html

September 6, 2007, 10:28 AM
I have spent thousands of dollars on turkey shoot barrels,some backbored,some backbored and sleeved .They are for small shot,but may be instructive.

You can build two as identical as possible and often one will shoot better than the other.

If one shoots 9 shot exceptionally well, it may not shoot 10 shot well at all.

When you back bore you are in effect increasing the amount of choke.This does not guarantee a tighter pattern with all sizes of shot.

You can either decide what you want to shoot and find a barrel that likes it,or you can find a barrel and see what it likes to shoot.I would expect a modified or full choke to tighten up your pattern,but that may not fit with your other loads.

chris in va
September 6, 2007, 10:15 PM

September 8, 2007, 05:31 PM
Well I went to the range today with one of my TFL buddies, bennnn.

I set up patterning sheets (backside of a scorekeeper rifle target) at 7/15/25 and shot them with the two loads in question from my OP: Remington Managed Recoil 00 Buck (8 pellets) and Remington 2 3/4" #4 Buck (27 pellets). These target sheets are larger than Lee's standard 8.5x11 sheet by a considerable bit. More like 14x21. Keep that in mind as you look at the pics.

I have to say my initial impression of the #4 load from my 870 was reinforced mightily today. First we'll look at my standard HD load (the managed recoil 00). I've patterned this load repeatedly and practice with it regularly. I would most certainly trust my life to it.

7 yds:

You can see to the right where the wad hit. Must have been tumbling and hit sideways. All 8 pellets accounted for COM

15 yds:
No wad print in this target, but again all 8 pellets accounted for and COM.

25 yds:
This one I have to apologize for as I pulled it (or rather pushed it since I'm a righty) off to the left a bit. I probably should have re-shot this one, but I've shot enough of this at 25 yds to be personally satisfied and this target is still demonstrative of the overall pattern. 7 of 8 pellets accounted for on the target paper, hole from 8th pellet found in wood 1.5 inches to left of edge of paper.

That load I would definitely trust my life to. This next one, not so much......

7 yds:

I have to say, if I wanted to really limit the useful range of my main HD weapon to 7 yds I wouldn't mind that pattern. It definitely would ruin an intruder's day.

15 yds:
This is where the load really starts to not look so good. Of the 27 pellets only 25 were on the paper (and it's a pretty big paper), where did the other two go?

25 yds:
MMMkay.......27 pellets and only 8 accounted for. Enough said for me. No dice on this load for HD from my 870.

Wonder how it shoots in my 835??????

September 8, 2007, 05:33 PM
My original targets from Tuesday.

15 yds, 8.5x11 target, Managed Recoil 00 buck (my standard HD load) 4 rounds, 32 pellets total all accounted for.


15 yds, 8.5x11 target, Remington #4 buck 16 pellets of 27 accounted for.


I used the same target for slug practice afterward, hence the really big holes.

I thought I would color code a version of it using MS Paint and post it to give you an idea of which rounds fell where:


Red = #4 buckshot
Black = Brenneke KO's
Green = Remington Sluggers
Yellow = Wads from Remington Sluggers

September 10, 2007, 05:38 AM
". Why limit yourself to a round that you know will be next to useless beyond 10 yds?"

He said HD I took that as Home Defence
My livingroom is less than 10 yards :)
see my post here

September 10, 2007, 08:07 AM
I'm not trying to change anybody's mind here about your HD shotgun load.

Personally while my living room is less than 10 yds there are potential scenarios (though remote in possibility) that may require a shot of more than 10 yds. You may be forced to defend yourself not only in the interior dimensions of your home, which is why I choose a shot load that I know will reliably perform to 25 yds and then keep slugs handy for beyond that. I know the possibilities of such are remote, however the possibilities I'll have to use a weapon to defend myself are remote as well.

Now, with all that being said, I'd like to make one comment about the picture you posted in that other thread. While that hole in the 2x6 looks impressive, you have to remember that people are not made of wood. Wood tends to splinter when hit, hence the huge chunk missing from the board. Humans are made of mostly water with some solid and semi-solid structural stuff (bone, muscle, sinew, etc) thrown in to keep us from dissolving into a puddle of goo. So, when people are shot with birdshot you are very likely to get an ugly, but shallow-tissue wound. Each individual pellet will behave indepedently of the rest of the shot column and each lacks sufficient mass to penetrate deeply enough to RELIABLY stop an attacker. I capitalized that word to point out that while it may, it also may not. You may get a stray pellet here or there that penetrates deeply enough to cause neurocirculatory shock, you may not. You may have someone cease the attack from the sheer pain or horror of realizing they've just been shot, you may not. Your attacker may be hyped up on PCP, Crack, Meth, you name it, and may or may not realize they've been hit even if you hit them with 00 buck. The potential variables are simply too great to trust birdshot to do the job IMHO.

September 10, 2007, 03:11 PM
your point is well made sir

September 10, 2007, 09:11 PM
Thanks for the additional info redneck - got no problem with that. Sticking with 000 here.