View Full Version : Recommend a Home Defense 20G Shell

March 22, 2009, 11:22 AM
Hi everyone, got a question, sure its been discussed before.

Can you recommend a good home defense load for my 20 Gauge?

Winchester Model 1912. As far as I know, 2.5" shells would be fine, but I could be wrong (at work right now, gun is not in front of me) I will update tonight.

Any suggestions?


March 22, 2009, 12:04 PM
You need buckshot. #2 and #3 buck are commonly available for the 20. But I believe the #2 load is typically 3", so you may have a hard time finding anything but #3 Buck in a 2 3/4" factory load. Just look around. If there is an Academy Sports near you, they usually have it on the shelf. Or google "20 gauge buckshot". You'll find a lot of retail suppliers. Here's just a couple of on-line sources:



March 22, 2009, 12:14 PM
My father keeps a mix of Remington Express #3 Buckshot and Remington Premier 260gr slugs in is 20ga.

March 22, 2009, 12:54 PM
Inside a house where the range is short, anything from #8 dove loads to 000 buck is going to be a show stopper.

March 22, 2009, 02:16 PM
"Inside a house where the range is short, anything from #8 dove loads to 000 buck is going to be a show stopper."


Not always. Depends on what's between you and the intruder. Birdshot can be an unreliable stopper, even at short range. The following thread just one of many examples:


And here's a guy who replicated the incident, sans the leather; this time using buckshot:


Not perfect, but indicative of the vast difference in penetration between birdshot and buckshot.

March 22, 2009, 02:56 PM
Thanks guys, that link to the 12 gauge comparison is neat. Drives the point home.

Open to other ideas.

March 22, 2009, 04:07 PM
My walmart stocks #3 buck and the is the finest shot I would intentionally use for HD. If all I had was 7 1/2 I would use that. 2 3/4 inch shells are what mine are...

March 22, 2009, 07:24 PM
I am certainly not an expert on Winchester shotguns, and I'll gladly defer to someone who is . . . . . . . however, if your gun is indeed a Model 1912, as opposed to a Model 12, you might be correct about the need for 2.5 inch shells. I owned a Model 1912 16 gauge, and it wouldn't reliably handle 2 3/4 inch shells. It would fail to eject them. I don't know exactly what the date for the change from 2 9/16 to 2 3/4 was, but I think most of the guns marked Model 1912 were before the change.

I certainly wouldn't feel too badly under-gunned with a shotgun loaded with 2.5 inch #8 birdshot in a ten yard home defense situation. In fact, given a choice, I would take the 20 gauge birdshot over a .32 Keltec, or a .380 Whatever, and would feel just about as well armed as I would with a good 4" .38 special. I would rather have a 12 gauge with #1 Buckshot, or a .45 250 grain swc, but most threats can be handled very well with your gun and 20 gauge birdshot.

There are instances of every load failing at one time or another. A shotgun loaded with birdshot at 10 yards is a formidable weapon.

March 22, 2009, 07:56 PM

My Winchester is most likely before the change. It was manufactured in 1913, and has been in my family for a very long time.

Like you guys mention any #3 Buck in 2.5" ought to make the BG think twice.

Thanks for the help!!!