View Full Version : Smaller buckshot loads for home defense

March 29, 2009, 10:12 PM
According to this http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=109958 #4 buckshot can be just as if not more effective than 00 buckshot for defense uses. Being that if a majority of the 27 pellets in a 2 3/4 inch load hit their in tended target, #4 buck would have a much higher chance of damaging vital organs than 00 buck.

Don't get me wrong. I love 00 buckshot for home defense. In fact I have three 3 inch Remington magnum loads of 00 buckshot on my Remington 870 side saddle. Just incase a bad guy where to hide behind something that 2 3/4 #4 buckshot may not be able to penetrate.

What do you guys think of the smaller buckshot loads like #4 or #1? Could they be more effective than the legendary 00 buck.

March 29, 2009, 10:32 PM
I would still use 00 buck shot THIS is compliments of scorpion tyr
this is nice to look at cause if you look at 4, its still a decent size its equlivent to a .24 caliber. almost a .30 caliber size ball. which is still quite large.

Size Nominal diameter Pellets/oz
000 ("triple-ought") .36" (9.1 mm) 6
00 ("double-ought") .33" (8.4 mm) 8
0 ("ought") .32" (8.1 mm) 9
1 .30" (7.6 mm) 10
2 .27" (6.9 mm) 15
3 .25" (6.4 mm) 18
4 .24" (6 mm) 21

at close range I think they will do just as much damage the only way I COULD see it doing more is because the more pellet count. but I wouldnt say its worth going that route 00 is just to great, plus if i had to shoot through my door while its closed I would trust the 00 more than #4 shot lol. That seems kind of like a likely scenario though right? run to ur gun closet lock/shut the door behind you here the guy kicking it in, shoot the middle of the door. I personally use a 9mm glock on hand in my room for hd shotguns are nice but id like to have a free hand for a flashlight I have or something else if needed.

Good idea though thanks for bringing that up and to our attention, I wouldnt of considerd useing #4 until now.

March 29, 2009, 10:51 PM
I use #3 buck followed by #4 buck. 20 gauge.

March 29, 2009, 10:53 PM
you listed my 2 favorite sizes of Buck, #4 and #1. If I'm hunting deer and am forced to use buckshot, #1 gets the nod. I have #4 in my home gun and back when lead shot was legal, I kept a couple in my pocket for geese.

March 30, 2009, 08:00 PM
I didnt know that 1 and 4 were that popular. Decent size pellet though. I saw a buddy shoot a doe with 00 buck shot and she flew backwards by a meter. the shot was a direct oven shot from 40yrds. I certinly think the 1b would be ideal for geese,ducks,grouse.that way your not pickin out little pellets, odds are it will just pass through it.

Cruncher Block
March 30, 2009, 10:01 PM
The results and analysis were interesting. One quote set me wondering, though:

"Consideration of this [birdshot] load should be limited to an application where an engagement is guaranteed to be very close range and overpenetration is a significant and unacceptable risk."

Is it really the overpenetration that's a risk -- e.g. you hit the intended target but a pellet goes all the way through and hits something unintended?

Or is the risk overpenetration following a miss? In other words, a pellet missed the target, went through drywall, and hit something unintended.

If it's truly overpenetrating after hitting a target that's a concern, is this really a known problem with 00 Buck? Do the pellets have enough velocity and momentum to cause harm after exiting the intended target? Are there cases were this has happened? (Honest question)

If the concern is overpenetration following a miss, does birdshot really help? It seems to me that birdshot pellets go through drywall pretty easily too.

Moreover, the patterns I've seen from birdshot are far more spread than from quality buckshot. That seems to me to significantly increase the risk of stray pellets.

As far as intentionally penetrating cover, if standard 00 Buck won't do it, wouldn't that be the time to select slug?

March 30, 2009, 10:14 PM
In my personal experience, the few times I have tried #1 in my guns I have not seen very good patterns, I tend to get rapidly appearing holes. This may not be quite as important for HD as hitting birds/clays, but I personally would stick with either 00 or 4. But all this may vary with guns/ammo. However, 00 gets the nod in my gun because I don't have to worry about overpenetration where I live, and there are more defensive loadings to choose from (and they are more available at local stores). I think there is only one or two gun shops I know of that regularly keep a stock of #4 shells at all, and none of the sporting goods stores have it. No one has #1 that I've found.

April 1, 2009, 08:32 PM
The video I watched demonstrating the difference was, overpenetration; as in clear air shot through single drywall, double drywall, or single half inch ply, as is oft found in modern construction homes.

My take away - in a personal home defense scenario - was, if you weren't absoletely sure of your down range, the risks of buck shot can be just too high. Conversely, at ranges most people would confront in their homes, bird shot loads are capable of devastating intensity.

April 2, 2009, 07:06 AM
Hey OLNfan: You mention in one of your replies the scenario of "shooting thru your closed door". I did not note the state you live in but here in SC, where castle law is everything, you will have a hard time convincing anyone that with your door closed (even an interior door like a bedroom) you shot and wounded or killed a perp because of "imminent danger". I want you to know that I agree with your statement but it still will be a real challenge for you not to be embroiled in potential criminal/civil repercussions.

April 2, 2009, 08:07 AM
My take away - in a personal home defense scenario - was, if you weren't absoletely sure of your down range, the risks of buck shot can be just too high. Conversely, at ranges most people would confront in their homes, bird shot loads are capable of devastating intensity.

Some real tests of penetration were done and reported on at http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/theboxotruth.htm

#14, I think, tests #8 birdshot - the shot penetrated 1 wall (2 spaced wallboard panels) and struck the second wall without penetrating, except for the shot cup which went into (at least), the second wall.

As far as the effectiveness of birdshot, I believe that it was tested through layers of cloth into waterjugs and/or walls in some of the higher numbered tests. If you haven't visited BOT, it is well worth taking a look.

IMO birdshot right in the face would most likely stop an intruder, but would not stop a determined BG unless there are direct hits into the eyes. I would be more willing to rely on bear spray and a baseball bat than birdshot for home defense.

Bill DeShivs
April 2, 2009, 01:09 PM
There is a lot of misinformation in this thread-
" I saw a buddy shoot a doe with 00 buck shot and she flew backwards by a meter."-- This is a physical impossibility, unless the deer weighed about 8 pounds.

"IMO birdshot right in the face would most likely stop an intruder, but would not stop a determined BG unless there are direct hits into the eyes. I would be more willing to rely on bear spray and a baseball bat than birdshot for home defense." -- Apparently, FTD has never shot anything up close with bird shot!

April 2, 2009, 01:49 PM
At close range birdshot is going to have a similar effect as corbon. I wouldn't hesitate to use it in HD. I am loaded with #4 right now, but I purchased it before I read BOT and watched the PDTV episode on this issue and I plan to shoot it up and switch to my trap rounds.

April 2, 2009, 07:24 PM
Apparently, FTD has never shot anything up close with bird shot!

Just how close are you planning to be, Bill? This certainly wouldn't be the first time I'd be wrong, if I am. I just hope all you bird shooters use shot shells with shotcups in them. The cup will penetrate much deeper than any of your birdshot.


Bill DeShivs
April 2, 2009, 07:53 PM
I have personally seen what a load of #8 shot will do to a human torso at 10 feet. It's pretty awesome. Of course # 8 shot does not penetrate as well as larger bird shot.

April 2, 2009, 07:54 PM
At close range birdshot is going to have a similar effect as corbon

John - I assume that by "corbon" you are referring to the corbon/glaser silver safety slug. I found one test at http://www.brassfetcher.com/Brassfetcher_evaluates_9mm_Glaser_Safety_Slug.pdf

If this is the test that you are using to justify the SD of birdshot, please note that the test was conducted without any clothing and from a distance of 1". Penetration of the #7 pellets was 7.5" or less (mostly less). My advice about using a shotcup with birdshot still stands.

April 2, 2009, 08:05 PM
What a horrible thing to witness. I am sorry that you had to experience it and I pray that I never will. I can't ask you the questions I would like to right now.


Bill DeShivs
April 2, 2009, 08:20 PM
No, I didn't see it happen, but have talked to witnesses. I know both the shooter and the shootee. The load very nearly penetrated his torso, and destroyed part of the right lung. The ER surgeon pulled the wad off his spine.
The guy lived. The 12'' penetration "rule" is ridiculous. It applies to LEOs who must put themselves in harm's way, and takes into account shots into extended arms. A solid torso hit with a shotgun is a devastating wound.

April 2, 2009, 10:22 PM
I'm very glad that you did not have to see it happen. I assume that the shooting you speak of was not a SD situation, so I don't want to discuss our subject at the expense of innocent people that are not part of the discussion. If these men are your friends I rejoice with you that it didn't end in total tragedy.

I have no doubt that any shotgun round can do devastating damage to the human body and even kill. My concern about the shot size is a serious one for me. I am concerned that should I or anyone need to defend with a gun that the defense has the best chance of stopping the BG.

I don't ever want to shoot anybody with any ammunition, but if I must, I want it to be effective. Being effective means to me that I must hit the target AND that by so doing the attack is STOPPED. There is no guarantee of being successful, for even if the BG is hit with an effective round in a proscribed area of the body, and even if the shot does kill him, he may still be able to shoot back before he is stopped. Using effective ammunition is just one more thing that you can do to push the odds a little bit toward your favor.


Bill DeShivs
April 2, 2009, 10:40 PM
I said I know them. They aren't friends, but I know them well.
The story goes: shootee was attempting to force himself on a girl. Girl screamed, shooter heard her and grabbed a 12 ga 1100. He confronted. Shootee had a knife pulled, so he shot. Shootee ran 35 yards before his BP dropped to the point that he stopped. ER was literally 3 blocks away, as was FD ambulance. Shootee stopped his agression when shot. Buckshot would have made no difference. Shootee was coked and drunk, BTW. The shot SHOULD have killed him, but didn't.

April 4, 2009, 07:37 PM
I can believe that it would work but I still think its like using a wrench as a hammer. Sure it works but if you have both what would you pick?

I'd go for some form of buck shot or if I was not able to I'd lean more toward a turkey load with number 2 or 4 shot.

Slugs seem to be asking for over penetration, I've seen my low powered loads go through huge pine logs and still sink deep into the bank behind.

Old Guard Dog
April 4, 2009, 09:35 PM
I've been developing a #4 buckshot HD load and have tested some of my latest loads today in a 18" open cyl. pump 12 ga. These loads were developed by Ballistic Prod.

Here is the receipe:
12 GA- 2 1/2" MultiHull w/ MH209 primer
10.0 grains of Hodgdon Titewad powder
STS wads + 1/4" 20 ga. cork cushion wad
1 oz- 21 pellets of #4 lead buck
.030 overshot card

Supposed to be sub-sonic load. 7800 psi, 860 fps

Wads are dusted with mica powder and shell is roll crimped.

Pattern is 8" at 25', nicely dispersed. It will penetrate a 3/4" pine board.

Recoil is light, and noise is reduced, although I thought it would be quieter. I'm going to load some #00 buck with the same receipe and see how it works.

My plan is to develope a HD "system", that is a load that is lethal, but without overpenetration, and reduced recoil and noise. A load that will be used in a shortened barrel with no choke.

I have not tried it yet, but I want to stick a PG on one of my guns and see how comfortable it is to shoot. Bottom line- #4 buck would be fine for HD- IMHO

Will keep you posted.

April 5, 2009, 06:59 PM

check out this site. some interesting tests from the FBI

I could not get the above link to work so go to this site-http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=109958

it has a good narrative and pixs taken from the 1st link.

April 7, 2009, 10:18 AM
I have a very different outlook when it comes to the BG's than most of you have, plus I don't have to worry about over penatration. If the need arises that I have to shoot a BG I intend to stop him with one shot if possible. I have my 12 ga. loaded with one BB round (.180" X 50) in the chamber followed by seven rifled slugs. If the BG has the gonads to break into my house I have the gonads to shoot him.

April 8, 2009, 09:13 AM
But what about bigger shot...like Centurion's buck-and-ball load (http://www.jgsales.com/product_info.php/ammo-for-shotguns/12-gauge/p/centurion-12ga-multi-defense-buckshot-and-ball%2C-10rd-boxes-/cPath/52_458/products_id/1638)

April 8, 2009, 09:36 AM
S&B offers a 21-pellet #4 buckshot load @ an advertised 1210 FPS that sounds exactly like what the OP is looking for. If it patterns well, it's a decent HD load. 100X better than any inadequate birdshot or mall ninja loads that people are irresponsibly recommending.

If a bad guy is armed and all you have is birdshot in your shotgun, consider yourself out-gunned...
Heavy winter clothing can and will stop tiny little birdshot BBs

@ you guys mixing shells in the magazine - do you honestly believe you can keep track of what shell is next in the mag with adrenaline pumping during a gun fight?? :rolleyes:

Remember, buckshot for bad guys, birdshot for birdies. Repeat.

April 8, 2009, 09:46 AM
I load the 1st 2 rounds #1buck and the next 6 are 00buck. I do have 5 slugs in a sidesaddle.
Like colt said, when the SHTF you won't be able to remember what you have in the gun and you probably won't be able to tell when its empty if the stuff s really flying.

I have seen trained soldiers keep firing/pulling the trigger on an empty m16 for several seconds in a heavy firefight/ambush. It is amazing what flying lead, fear, & adrenaline will make one do:)

April 8, 2009, 10:22 AM
I have NO DOUBT that most any size shot will work in HD if a BG is hit right. Of course the Buckshot loads are to be preffered but in my living situation I cannot in good consience use them for fear of overpennetration to my home and the neighbors next door.
For HD I use Remington Premier Copper plated number #4 birdshot (Turkey loads) these have 1 3/4 oz of shot at 1300 fps in a 3 inch mag Baretta 390.
I have no doubt at the close ranges of my home it would fail to kill a BG, if not, I am pretty darn sure a COM hit at 10 to 15 feet would not defuse the situation right there and now.
This is simply MY living situations, your may be a lot different. I guess I will have to take my chances with the Zombies when they arrive. If the first shot is not working, my Berreta cycles pretty fast so a second shot to the head is a definate possibility.
The main thing is I hope I NEVER have the opportunity to have to actually test my theory.

April 8, 2009, 11:21 AM
My SD gun is an 11-87.
If I ever need to use it I will probably pull the trigger 2-3 times almost instantly. I assume some of that(maybe even most) won't make contact.

Lets assume I hit with one full shot. If a full load of #6 bird Remington Nitro(what I use for trap on the 25 yard line and Pheasant hunting) doesn't stop the intruder I would be very very surprised. Is he going to be dead with every bone in his body broken? Probably not. I am pretty sure he/she will be incapacitated to the extent that I am no longer in danger. If not I will have a few extra rounds in the tube and a couple on the receiver and stock.

My walls are old thick plaster with lath boards underneath and many of them are brick. I doubt 00 buck is going through much of them anyways.
I have patterned my gun at ten yards. I get one hole about 1.5 times the bore diameter. I am satisfied with that result.

I also think using the trap shells out of my trap gun won't exactly look incriminating.

guns and more
April 8, 2009, 11:51 AM
Does anyone make a 2 3/4" #4 buckshot, reduced recoil?
I've never seen it on the usual websites.

capt. jas.
April 8, 2009, 02:53 PM
For those who think birdshot is not satisfactory for HD, have you patterned it at 15 feet from your HD gun to see it's effects? 15-20 feet should be standard distance shot in HD.

April 8, 2009, 03:41 PM
for those touting bird shot as effective man stoppers, read this:


Bill DeShivs
April 8, 2009, 06:38 PM
Yeah. That bird shot just bounces off!;)

Bill DeShivs
April 8, 2009, 06:44 PM
I also knew a deputy sherrif who was serving a warrant. BG shot him with in the bicep with birdshot. Blew his arm off, except for a little meat. They reattached it. He was immediately out of commission.

April 8, 2009, 06:56 PM
I would trust #4 BK in my HD shotgun. I'm not sure about anything smaller. Yes birdshot can be nasty at very close ranges, but I'd rather stay a little farther away from the BG's.

I've seen what happens when someone is shot with birdshot that had only minimal resistance and medium range. It looked like a bunch of mosquito bites.

April 8, 2009, 07:17 PM
A 25ACP will do a realitvely decent job at close range some of the time but a 45ACP will stop the fight quickly and just about 100% of the time. It is all a matter of what you want to trust your life to.

As mentioned above about the deputy-he is lucky he was shot with birdshot. if it had been buckshot he would not be here to talk about it because buckshot would have penetrated to his vital organs.

People just like animals are killed by destroying internal body parts and not by blowing a bunch of little shallow holes in the outer layers of the body.

Each to his own.

capt. jas.
April 8, 2009, 09:26 PM
"for those touting bird shot as effective man stoppers, read this:


Thanks for posting that. I wanted to refer to it as I am a member at that site. I was not sure if it was allowed here being newly registered.

Fact is birdshot is birdshot and buckshot is manshot. (HMM that sounds pretty good! I will use that one again.) At 15 feet or so, the birdshot does somewhat better than a 25 foot test shows but buck will aways do it better. Exactly what tango6 was talking about with the .25 vs. the .45.

The pattern distance with birdshot that I referred to in an above post will actually look real good on paper and fool one into thinking they have enough to work with but penetration will be an issue. In a concern for overpenetration, underpenetration will be achieved.

There are many who do nothing past patterning on paper for any kind of shotgun tests. This will only give one facet of the story. Things like penetration and shot string will not be known.

I do not advocate the need for slugs for HD at all.

April 8, 2009, 10:19 PM
Everybody has an opinion including me. I said earlier that buckshot is preferred, but that large birdshot should work just fine at the distances you will encounter inside your home. If you have a 20' room, remember the BG isn't wallpaper, he will be at least 3 feet from the wall due to furniture and not knowing the terrain. Now you have a 17' shot. So where are YOU standing? In another room or confronting the BG. Chances are you too will have your muzzle less than 17 feet from him, lets call it a 15' shot. Do any of you thing my Rem Turkey load of 1 3/4 oz of #4 will not work at that range? If he is coming toward you the range closes very quickly even at a walk. Read all the stuff published, some say birdshot leaves a really bad wound, but doesn't pennetrate too far. Do you think for a minute that some guy that just had his stomach opened up is gonna wanna play Rambo with you? Not likely. If you are going to live in fear of the drug crazed Zombie smashing down your door and being bullet proof, that too ain't gonna happen. Everybody has these doomsday scenerios but the chances of you getting into one is slim to non existant. Most home invasions are by people that think you are NOT home and the LAST thing they want to do is get caught or hurt by you or the Cops. Charles Manson types aside, but even ole Charlie would have given it up with his chest or stomach hanging out.
COM is the fastes thing to go for, but given time and cool attitude, you can't go wrong with a head shot, especially with almost 2 ounces of shot.

Bill DeShivs
April 9, 2009, 12:16 AM
Hee, hee!

Katrina Guy
April 11, 2009, 09:01 AM
Guess shooting a blank wad of cardboard paper would knock someone off their arse if you shot them in the face with it, strange one would pick up a shotgun for home defense with aiming at a small target such as a face in mind, hope the BG doesn't duck or you're out of luck.
Regarding castle law and the inside of your residence shooting through the door, I'd do it too, already in my abode, ain't waiting for you to open my bedroom door or kick it in, sorry BG, civil liablity against me or not, you done crossed da line already.

April 12, 2009, 01:12 AM
What was Vice President Dick Cheney shooting when he got sick and tired of his buddies “Hey, I’m having a heart attack” jokes?

Birdshot (and secret service?) shut that dude up

April 12, 2009, 02:36 AM
I like my neighbors so my Benelli M1 Super 90 is loaded so that 2rds of #4 buck are up first, followed by 5rds of 00 buck, with 5 slugs in the stock cuff. Escalating levels of penetration on the theory that if the 1st 2 don't finish the fight then barriers may become a factor. Because they are so densely packed #4 buck actually puts more lead into the target (COM) at hall way ranges and the Benelli will allow for true handgun-like doubletaps so thats ~50 x 24 caliber lead balls in a doubletap and if a chest full of that doesn't stop the legendary and much feared 6'7" 350lb drugged out gang banger with a 'tude then it's time to resort to silver bullets or kryptonite slugs. :eek:

Katrina Guy
April 12, 2009, 07:56 PM
Not sure where you've been but Home Invasions (common place enough now a days to actually have a name given it!), is not a burglary in the sense that the BG's think no one is home, it is invading one's home knowing they're home and holding residents at gunpoint forcing car keys and atm pin numbers etc from them. Where have you been??
Doomsday scanario my arse, it's here!

April 12, 2009, 10:31 PM
Katrina, I am sorry you live in a place where this sort of thing is common. It isn't so much that way where I live. I had said that in MY situation, I cannot have a lot of overpennetration due to neighbors.
One of the things that always give me pause to chuckle is all the "expurts" that have NEVER fired a shot dictating what should be used for HD and they are always "mouthing" something they heard, no real experience, just repeating stuff based on nothing but what they read someplace. I would bet there isn't 6 people reading this that have ever fired a shot in a home invasion, maybe fewer, but all are expurts.
I doubt there is any load of shot, be it buck or bird shot that won't terminate a threat at across the room distance. Oh! he is drugged up. wearing bullet resistant vest, well, you have a problem with anything you are shooting then. Unless of course you are so freaked out you actually miss COM and hit him in the crotch under his vest or maybe really mess up and hit his head. I really doubt many if any of us will be attacked by some crazed up druggie. Even if you are, at 10 to 15 feet, ANY shot will most certainly put an end to the threat. Of course I expect this reply to be challenged by those that have never been in the situation with their expurt opinion. If these threads could be only locked to people that have actual experiences, they certainly would be a lot shorter and less full of BS. Like I said, I use a Remington Turkey load with almost 2 oz. of shot going real fast. I can't immagine a situation where someone wants to try for a second shot out of mu Berreta semi auto no less. Hell it isn't a pump. I hope I am not in trouble as we all know how unreliable semi auto's are. Every time you need them they quit working,, ya ,, right.

Bill DeShivs
April 13, 2009, 12:55 AM
I have hankfully never fired a shot in anger, but I have fired a lot of shots-and I agree with you completely.

Katrina Guy
April 18, 2009, 06:05 PM
We're talking very very tight spreads, or patterns in a typical home defense situation, I don't see "stray" pellets flying all over the place, then a stray pellet would have to penetrate two walls of dry wall, hopefully not hitting a 2x4 stud, then exit undamaged/unchanged in velocity to then what, exit insulation then a brick wall, THEN to re-enter all of the above to hit a neigbor watching television in his home??? If THAT were the case nobody but nobody would be shooting .45 acp in full meta jacket (GI Hardball). Besides, as earlier mentioned, where are all of these stray pellets coming from, in a tight home defense type pattern?

Lee Lapin
April 19, 2009, 11:17 AM
My SD gun is an 11-87.
If I ever need to use it I will probably pull the trigger 2-3 times almost instantly. I assume some of that(maybe even most) won't make contact.

I'd strongly suggest re-thinking this approach completely. Everyone who intends to conduct legitimate defense of their home and family has several responsibilities that accrue, moral responsibilities if not legal ones.

The first responsibility is to strenuously obey the Four Rules. http://www.thefiringline.com/library/safetyrules.html

It is incumbent upon someone who is about to fire a shotgun at another human being to know for sure what they are shooting at. A default setting toward a "spray and pray" approach is IMHO not conducive to ironclad target discrimination. Why do I bring up the moral aspect of self protection? Because IMHO it is the most critical. We claim to be "the good guys." If we are to make that claim, then we have to live up to its obligations. I like the way Skip Gochenour puts it:




As a person who carries weapons about in society you have decided that you are a moral arbiter.

You are obliged to prepare yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and morally for the role as a moral arbiter.
You are obliged to train your body, mind and spirit for your role as moral arbiter.
Failure to accept and exercise these obligations is an exercise in immorality. It is a failure of discipline and self-control.





EVENTUALLY FOF IS DEALT WITH AS THE “GRADUATE” LEVEL. - http://www.teddytactical.com/archive/MonthlyStudy/2007/02_StudyDay.htm