View Full Version : Effective range of 00 buckshot (disregarding pattern issues)

March 3, 2008, 11:24 AM
OK, Assuming you have the perfect shotgun that will throw the perfect pattern to distance X. At what value of X does 00 buckshot lose it's ability to penetrate to vital organs of the target (whether it be 2 legged or 4 legged)?

What I'm getting at here is beyond the obvious question of pattern density at a given range, at what range does 00 buckshot, due to it's poor SD, become completely useless?

March 3, 2008, 11:49 AM
This is from experience as a police instructor - not from a scientific study.

If the shotgun is sighted correctly for buckshot, 25 yards/75 feet is a pretty reliable hit distance.

It can still be quite lethal out to 100 yards/300 feet, but one problem can become shot spread. A very GENERAL rule of thumb is shot spread averages about 1 inch per yard from the muzzle (and I'm not going to get into an arguement about chokes; sometimes chokes deform the shot, make the pattern more erratic, and can be counter-productive). So 100 yard distance = about 100 inch spread for 9 to 11 pellets. Now put a torso-shaped target there, and there is plenty of potential for not getting a lethal hit.

But I noticed that our people/guns got the most misses because of sight discrepencies. Our guns with bead sights would often impact 2 to 3 feet high at just 10 to 20 yards. This can equate to a complete miss. We used to tell the officers to aim at the belt to hit the chest.

The guns with adjustable rifle sights could be compensated for this, but it created a whole new problem; two different points of aim for our issue squad shotguns (and the common officer won't remember which gun to aim low with).

Again, not being an engineer, I believe that this is caused by muzzle rise due to the heavy loads used in buckshot ammunition. (I've noticed with our .45 pistol ammunition that heavier bullets & loads resulted in the point of impact being several inches higher at 50 feet.)

So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you have adjustable sights and have your shotgun zeroed for a particular brand & load of ammunition, 25 yards can be considered reliable, and 50 yards may not be unreasonable.

If you're just picking up a shotgun and ammunition that you have not recently checked for point-of-impact, keep it well under 25 yards or it's spray & pray.

Superhouse 15
March 3, 2008, 12:11 PM
I guess you could set an arbitrary minimum amount of energy you wanted, say 80FPE, and figure out at what range you go below that energy for a single pellet.

Rough calculation, a 54gr pellet of OO going 820FPS is about 80FPE. OOO weighs about 70gr per pellet, #4 buck about 21gr, and 40.5gr for #1 buck.

You might try some calculations here:

And I use this for reference for BC, muzzle velocities, etc:

March 3, 2008, 01:31 PM
At a defensive shotgun course that I took, we shot 00 buckshot at man sized targets at 100 yards. We patterned our shotguns extensively, and used the ammo that patterned tightest in our guns. We consistently put 3 - 4 pellets on the target. Not necessarily in a vital zone, but on the target. The assessment was, "If you have to, you can certainly make someone keep their head down at 100 yards, and inflict some damage if they don't, with 00 buckshot."

We all had guns equipped with rifle sights of some sort. Not a requirement of the course, it just worked out that way.

That would not be my first choice to fight with at 100 yards, but the reality is the best gun to use in a fight is the one you have.