View Full Version : Shot patterns

Garage Dog
March 19, 2009, 01:12 PM
I've just bought a new Mossberg 590 a few weeks ago. I am beginning to think about the most effective location and method to use it in a HD situation. I have several revolvers deployed in various locations as well, and have been thinking how to best utilize the shotgun. If I were to use the shotgun in the locations I have planned for the revolvers I'm afraid that I'll end up with a face full of my own lead through ricochet because the shootings lanes are so narrow. With 00 buckshot, how wide would the pattern be at say 20' to 30'? Does the fact that it's lead reduce the likelihood of a ricochet?

I know that if SHTF any defensive tactic I previously dreamed up will probably go out the window but I gotta start somewhere. I have searched the web and can't seem to find what I'm looking for.

Lee Lapin
March 19, 2009, 07:37 PM

What's in your shooting lanes that anything would bounce off of? Why would buckshot at 1100- 1500 FPS be any more likely to come back at you than a pistol bullet at 800- 1100 FPS? Not being snarky here, just trying to get you to think about your situation.

As to patterns at 20-30 feet, most shotguns are shooting patterns measured in a few inches at those ranges. Likely about the same size as the groups you'd shoot from your pistol under pressure at the same range, in fact 8^). Of course it will vary given the barrel and load used, but most of the time patterns at across the room ranges will measure in a few inches.

Get yourself up to speed with the shotgun before you add it to your home defense plan. Pattern it at different ranges and be sure what it will do with the load or loads you plan to use.

Get a copy of Louis Awerbuck's video ( http://www.paladinpress.com/product/40/25 ) and start studying the use of the shotgun in home defense. A lot of the shotgun training material out there is geared to law enforcement- look for stuff oriented toward the armed citizen right now. I've heard Clint Smith has a good video out on shotguns but I haven't seen it yet. John Farnam has a useful book out on defensive shotgun and rifle shooting ( http://www.dtipubs.com/ ). There's lots more literature out there if you want to look for it, and there are good instructors around teaching basic classes in defensive shotgunning too. A good class will likely get you the biggest boost on the learning curve in the shortest time with the smallest expenditure of ammo.



March 20, 2009, 12:15 AM
Lee pretty much said it all. The "ricochet" issue aside, just be sure to test your shotguns pattern at various distances, preferably using your HD ammo of choice (which will probably be dependent upon patterning capability). Do this within "typical" HD ranges of roughly 5 to 15 yards or so. Of course, it would not hurt to pattern out to the 25 to 30 yard range as well. Above all else, just find what works best for you and the gun, which ammo patterns best and then stick with it.

Also, consider practicing with the same round count you use for HD, if applicable. For instance, if you keep 5 rounds in the mag tube at home, load only 5 in the tube before firing at the range or wherever. This will help acclimate you to a specific round count. There is no need, as I see it, to load the tube to full capacity every time you practice, unless its merely for convenience or function testing.

Just be sure to test out those patterns. Its not life or death (within limited ranges), IMHO, but it certainly will help you to become more familiar/comfortable with your shotgun and the brand of ammo you eventually decide to stick with.

March 20, 2009, 03:46 AM
Pattern size. Every SG is a little different so the best thing to do is to take your SG to a range, along with the ammo that you intend to use and shoot it at a large piece of paper placed 10 yards (30 feet) away,
The general rule of thumb, though, is that a shot pattern (all gauges, all barrel lengths) will open at one inch per yard for a Full choked gun and two inches per yard for a Cylinder choked gun. The imtermediate chokes will be somewhere between those two.
Like all general rules of thumb, your gun may be different.
That ten inch wide pattern, about as wide as many people can stretch open their hand, is one reason why aiming the SG is important, as opposed to shooting from the hip.

March 20, 2009, 04:45 AM


March 20, 2009, 03:41 PM
Ha! so much for the "general rule of thumb". What was the choke on the 870, if any? Those are certainly smaller than 15 inches.

March 20, 2009, 03:58 PM
imp. cyl. rem choke. 21" twin bead vent rib. 12 gauge winchester super x 16 pellet #1 buckshot. standing shot. was thinking of trying with skeet choke in it next time. tried remington and federal brand 16 pellet 2 3/4" #1 buck. the winchester shot tightest

Sigma 40 Blaster
March 21, 2009, 12:29 AM
I don't know if this will help answer your original question but shooting a 590 today (20" barrel) the spread on #7 shot @ 25 yards was a good 3-4" bigger than the 25 yard bullseye targets you get from Wal-Mart. There were too many people on the rifle range today for me to test the patterns the way I really wanted to but I think that's about a 8 or 9 inch spread.

I wish I would have had some 00 buck but couldn't find any today. I can tell you shooting from the hip I was able to hit the target area on those same targets with a slug with consistency(4 of 5, the forth one was wide left...I know why that happened)...I guess that coulda been luck though.

First time I've ever shot that shotgun or slugs at a target. I was amazed at the accuracy and damage. I am hoping to get out next week early in the day and test patterns at that range and closer with a few different types of buckshot and some #1 to #4 shot.

I'm still not sure what I want to keep in it for HD, over penetration and collateral damage are huge concerns to me given my lack of experience with shotguns.

March 21, 2009, 02:17 AM
I will offer you the same thing... 7 days of preliminary shot gun primer... No less... ricochet is a rarity. If it occurs you violated one or more safe gun shooting rules. Concrete block walls are a possible ricochet risk but back stop and target acquisition rules mitigate this risk. A good shooter takes all these risks to mind and evaluates them as well as shot deformation etc...

Lee Lapin
March 21, 2009, 07:42 AM

I was reading Elmer Keith's book on shotguns (yep, the old man wrote one of those too- Shotguns By Keith, http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1354362 ). He tells a story of a #5 shot pellet bouncing back from a grouse and burying itself in his hunting parter's forehead. They theorized it bounced off a wingbone or the like, as there was nothing but clear air in front of the bird.

Every once in a geat while in shooting, weird things do happen. Louis Awerbuck told us in class of the time a 12 gauge slug fired by one of his students was deflected by the bill of a baseball cap 'worn' by a 3-D target. His point? Be prepared to fire again no matter what.

Strange stuff can happen- thus we all need to be minding all our Ps and Qs any time we have a firearm in hand. In a home defense situation, cover from incoming fire is usually going to be cover from riccochets as well- though even that might not always be true.


March 21, 2009, 11:39 AM
Well a few weeks ago I went and tested my groupins with slugs and buck shot. with 2 3/4 and 3 inch cartidges. but not at 5,10,20 feet. I went for 25-30-40-50 yrds witch buckshot using 000 and 00. with the slugs I went up to 80 yards (we had a range finder). We were shooting at targets we made more for penetration than groupings though.

We had 8 1/2" X 11" (regular piece of paper stacked 5 inchs thick. With 2 inches thick wood frame around it. I made targets like cause if it penetrated that then it would eaisly penetrate the hyde etc of a bear. needless to say the buckshot didnt live up to my expectations.

both were in the same ball park im not going to preech my findings 100%

00 25 yds: 8 pellets For sure entry holes, and only 1 was stuck, pulled it out after.
00 30 yrds: 4-6 pellets for sure entry holes, 4 exit holes
00 40 yrds: 1-3 pellets hit it didnt go through
00 50 yrds: 1 pellet hit didnt stick in, ricchoted off, in a safe direction.

I wont bother with the 2 3/4 000 or the 3 inch 00 and 000. all pretty identical. (this is off memory I didnt write it down hence the #-#)

so 5.10.20 feet Id imagen tear **** up! your grouping would be great haha. unless your hall way is longer than 30yrds hah then Id worry, for stray shots.

March 21, 2009, 01:15 PM
Lee, you and the writer are 100% correct. By mitigate i do not mean "remove possibility from the equation" I just mean that the risk is minimized...
Nothing about a fire arm is guaranteed safe. It is literally an explosion in a controlled environ with devastating projectile flying at super high speed... It just drools possible accident/incident. It is up to us to reduce the risk the best we can...

March 21, 2009, 01:39 PM
Garage Dog et al

Let's not forget our forum's sticky on patterns: Al Thompson's Baseline Data... . If you've been doing pattern testing, please post your findings there to share will all.