View Full Version : Shotgun Loads: #1 vs #00 Buck

Rich Lucibella
January 19, 1999, 02:37 PM
A well known, though controversial, site has recently put forth the proposition that #1 Buckshot is generally preferable to #00 or #000 for defensive situations.

The reasoning, based on standard 12 guage 2.75" shot, is as follows:

#1 Buck contains 16 pellets which present 1.13" of combined surface contact while still providing adequate penetration.

#00 Buck contains 9 pellets which present .77" of combined surface area.

The conclusion is drawn that #00 Buck gains in penetration at the expense of surface area, but that it is actually an overpenetrator. Unfortunately, I could find no penetration data within the article.

If it is true that #1 Buck offers sufficent penetration for the user's comfort, the increased surface area is indeed a plus. Discarding the temporary wound cavity argument, we might assume, as the article suggests, that "the #1 buck shotshell has the capacity to produce over 30 percent more potentially effective wound trauma". For those of us who are #00 Buck fans, it gives one pause to reconsider.

Original text may be found at:

January 19, 1999, 02:53 PM
I feel two factors should be taken into consideration:

1) Range?

2) Environment?

If one is in a "target-rich environment" (read: no friendlies), I would use 00 everytime. I want deep penetration in that event. If in a neighborhood, or my domicile, less is more in regard to penetration. YMMV.

January 19, 1999, 04:50 PM
"000" be da one!

January 19, 1999, 05:44 PM
I believe my M500 is loaded w/ one round of BB, then 00 Max dram buck.

Ed Brunner
January 20, 1999, 12:43 AM
Rich; Are we talking surface area or cross- sectional area?

Better days to be,


January 20, 1999, 12:54 AM
Or, is that FRONTAL AREA ....

Rich Lucibella
January 20, 1999, 08:21 AM
Ed; G35-
Good points. That refers to cross sectional area.

January 22, 1999, 02:10 PM
Well, when I used to shoot three-gun, I chose #1 buck for the combination of more pellets and the chance of less wall penetration.

This is admittedly a slightly ignorant choice without any published evaluations to back up my suspicions. #1 appears to be big enough, perhaps out to the inadvisable 50-yard mark (too much pattern dispersion--depends on your tube, though...)

Thus, I was most disappointed when the American Rifleman article on "tactical" buck loads did not compare them with #1. They did discuss #4, IIRC, generally discounting it as being a bit too light for decent penetration.

Anyone have any test data on #1? I'm going to the Firearms Tactical site right now...

Be aware of your surroundings, friends!


Jeff Thomas
January 24, 1999, 07:46 PM
Rich, thanks for starting this thread (doesn't it belong in 'Shotguns'? ;) - just having fun with you).

I also noted the article at the Firearms Tactical Institute. That article came to mind when I was rereading Massad F. Ayoob's 'In the Gravest Extreme'. I read that Ayoob also suggested #1 buck, but without much discussion. This book was written almost 20 years ago, and it is usually cited more often for its combat / legal advice. However, on pg 101 (15th edition) he says:

'Some consideration should be given to ammo selection. One who can place his shots with rifle-like precision should use the heavy lead deer slugs. Their stopping power is unparalleled. Buckshot is the general choice; most favor the double-0 size, which in a 12-gauge will throw nine .33 caliber balls. Some have recommended birdshot, on the theory that at close range any shotgun blast is deadly, but birdshot won't carry far and is therefore safer. I prefer #1 buck, with 16 .30 cal. pellets.'

I gather Ayoob liked the number of pellets as well. Now, I still get a bit confused about the choices even in #1 buck. For example, Federal offers Classic Buckshot in F130 - 12 Gauge, 2 3/4", Mag, 1 Buck, 20 Pellets; and F127 - 12 Gauge, 2 3/4", Maximum, 1 Buck, 16 Pellets. I gather, in spite of the name 'Mag', that shell actually holds less powder and more pellets compared to their 'Maximum'? (rather like the fast food joints that no longer have 'small' drinks, eh?) [1/26/99 update - Federal emailed me the following info: 'MAXIMUM HAS 16 PELLETS-1250 FT/SEC, MAGNUM HAS 20 PELLETS-1075/FT/SEC.' Based upon that, it would appear their Magnum is the better choice for home defense I would think. Then, there are their 'personal defense' loads ...]

So far, I use a couple of dove loads, then #1 buck in the magazine. Slugs are available on the side saddle. I would likely need to use the shotgun in a home situation, and over penetration is a real concern.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited 01-26-99).]

Rob Pincus
January 25, 1999, 12:43 AM
I am a big fan of the smaller size shot for defensive applications. all the way down to #4, let alone #1. I have covered this topic in the shotgun forum before.

For LE/ offensive situations, I prefer 000, for the sheer increased hit probability. In a crowd situation or long range shot, I would hesitate to use a Shotgun, unless switching to a light Slug load first.

As usual, this stuff is based on my own playing arounda nd talking to people I trust abot there experiences. I have killed quite a few deer with 00 and 000, never noticed a pentration problem with the smaller shot, but I arguably don't feel I ever got a der with 000 that wouldn't have gone down with 00 just as well.


February 5, 1999, 11:57 AM
Great topic Rich. My personal choice is Super X OOB 9 pellets. My primary home defense weapon is the shotgun ( for obvious reasons). I feel that max shot force is the best bet. Please always keep the engaugment field in mind.I live in a brick home with neighbors in the same so over penatration is a low negative factor. Also I am alone so there is little room for an accident. This has nothing to do with the topic ,but Ill mention it anyway, sighting at night should be kept in mind. My shotgun is equiped with a laser, speed means everything when you are the one on the defensive. JMHO.

February 12, 1999, 10:33 PM
I read the FTI article, and it made sense to me. I try to balance LOTS of decent-sized pellets with reasonable control of follow-up shots.
I live in a rural, wooded area, in a brick house, with no neighbors, so over-penetration is not a concern. But the denser the pattern, the greater the chance of hitting those "Need Now" vital organs. 16 pellets of #1 seems about right for the intimately close encounter.
Of course, last year it was Federal Low Recoil 00; last month it was standard 00, last week it was 000 magnums; tomorrow...? Playing around with the different loads is most of the fun, but with the 12 gauge it doesn't much matter:
They ALL work.


Harry Humphries
February 13, 1999, 01:49 PM
Ok we've worked this one long enough so I'll stick my two cents in. Hopefully I wont bore the @#@[email protected]# out of you too much.

I think we'll all agree that the shotgun, or scatter gun is the weapon of choice if we are looking for maximum fire power, or more specifically - accuracy forgiving, stopping power within close quarters and the ability to accurately deliver large caliber rounds out to 100 yds or more. The weapon is exceptionably powerful and presents over penetration problems in cases of home defense and the effective range of shot is limited to shot dispersion.

Before getting into the shot selection I believe we need to look at the (Shotgun / Shot, or Slug) system. First the gun needs to be patterned, as most of you know the "X" zone is that distance from target where the shot pattern is concentrated with little shot separation, i.e. one big hole in the paper around 3 inches in diameter, usually at ranges of 3-5 yds depending on the cylinder quality. The "Y" zone is the optimum shot zone where the shot pattern spreads evenly out to about 12 inches or the thickness of intended targets - the human body. This range usually is within 15 yds. As we go beyond 15 yds out to 25 or 30 yds we see the "Z" zone or those ranges where the shot patterns demonstrate errant flyers. Patterns spread out to 20 -30 inches and are donut, or blown, shaped which means the intended center mass is not being hit.

Every gun is different some, for no known reason, will pattern better than the others. You need to know how your gun patterns. If you are firing in your gun's "X" zone, does it make a hill of beans what shot you're firing? Not really as the shot, buck or bird, is hitting as a single mass. How about the "Y" zone? Now shot separation, while still controllable, offers maximum accuracy forgiveness and this is good provided the individual pellets are adequately penetrating, that is to say, meet or exceed the 12 inch soft tissue penetration standard. Shot selection is definitely important here. How about the "Z' zone? The shot has patterned out of control, much of the shot will create collateral damage, over penetration becomes a real problem here - the kids are sleeping in the next room. You need to consider small game loads here if in the house with dry wall partitions or, if outside go to slug select.

The trick is to first extend the "X" and "Y" zones out as far as possible, we need to tighten the patterns so we can take longer shots without worrying about shot selection or collateral damage - right? Fitting on cylinder or improved cylinder chokes will certainly do that but slug selection becomes a problem - we've stuck some garbage in the muzzle that slugs don't like.

We recommend looking at Vang Comp modifications for this job. Hans Vang will modify your barrel for around $200.00. This results in 1.- extending the forcing cone giving it a more gradual taper, 2.- back boring the barrel which slightly increases ID to just before the muzzle and
3. - compensating at the top of the muzzle which aids in muzzle flip control for more accurate follow up shots. The result is a drastically improved pattern while not interfering with slug performance.

Now that the weapon part of the system is considered, shot selection becomes the final performance improvement. Our experience tells us that Federal's "Tactical" H132-00 which is their new "shotcup" round gives at least a 30% smaller pattern, in any barrel, compared to standard OO Buck. When shot in the Vang Comp barrels the difference is remarkable as we get "Y" zones out to 30 yds.


it is generally accepted that # 1 Buckshot is the smallest cal. that will meet the 12 inch soft flesh penetration standard, within reasonable ranges. With the Federal Tactical Loads of #1, which include a hardened shot(less likely to deform in the barrel) stacked in a shotcup, you can anticipate a 1/3 increase in shot pellets per unit of mass. Given that it takes 12 #1 Buck pellets to equal the mass of 9 OO Buck pellets of the same alloy you get a 10% increase of tissue crushing potential with the #1 Buck.

Pheww! sorry guys I get carried away sometimes.

Douglas in CT
February 14, 1999, 08:54 PM
Harry H
Thanks for the information. Don't worry about being too long, but could you be a bit more specific (HI!) :) ;) :)

Rich Lucibella
February 14, 1999, 09:04 PM
Great stuff, as usual. Thanks so much.

I'm fixin' to send my 870 barrel to Vang. Are you in favor of the Compensator option on a defense shotgun. I had always knee jerked away from this concept as a result of the drawbacks to compensating a defensive pistol. Should I be rethinking my posiotion on compensators and shotguns?

[This message has been edited by Rich Lucibella (edited February 14, 1999).]

old biker
February 15, 1999, 12:28 AM
John Shaw hits head shots at 35yds with #4 Buck as do I. Use a proper choke and know yer ammo.



February 16, 1999, 01:30 AM
I seem to recall (man, its ugly when
Alzheimer's hits in your late 30s) that
there was at some point a "duplex"
load, i.e. two different pellet sizes.

I would think that you might be able to
find a stacking sequence for , say,
04 and 00 pellets that would allow more
pellets than 00 and better penetration
than straight 04. I might also guess
that patterns might not be good, but
if we can put a man on the moon...

Harry Humphries
February 16, 1999, 07:16 PM

If you're not having muzle flip control problems, don't bother compensating. Definitely have Hans fit you up with a Laser Products fore stock, if you don't have one.

Tell him I said you want the quick delivery package.

Rich Lucibella
February 16, 1999, 10:09 PM
Thanks, Harry. I'll pass on the comp. Scattergun delivered the weapon with an LP fore stock.

Jeff Thomas
February 17, 1999, 03:54 PM
Harry, thank you for those comments. At the risk of beating this horse too badly, let me clarify a remaining question.

Regarding Federal's 'tactical' 12 ga. #1 buck, they make a 'Magnum' version and a 'Maximum' version in their Classic line (according to my dealer). The Maximum is load #F127 and contains 16 pellets, while the Magnum is load #F130 and contains 20 pellets.

Is one of these the #1 tactical buck you are referring to and prefer?

Harry Humphries
February 22, 1999, 12:58 PM

Sorry for delay. The study I used in my last posting actually compared 2 3/4 " Federal Tactical OO [H132-00] containing 9 copper plated Buckshot pellets to Remington 3" magnum 24-pellet #1 Buckshot.

Although the tests show a statistical leaning towards the # 1 loads, I prefer to control my patterning and use the larger cal. OO Buck out to the Z zone (about 35 yds for my Vang modified 870 )where I select slug out to 150 yds.

February 22, 1999, 01:16 PM
How about the Quick Shock 12 ga. slug, 10-12 inches of penatration, quite an accurate round from what i've heard.


Jeff Thomas
February 22, 1999, 10:08 PM
Harry, no problem. I'm being undercharged for this consulting anyway! ;)

Thanks for the info - I get the picture now. More pellets of the same caliber is a good idea, generally. Soon (!! :) ) I'll have a Vang Comp 870 as well, and we'll have to go out in the desert and experiment with various loads.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited February 22, 1999).]

buzz riley
February 23, 1999, 11:46 PM
I've always been a fan of (12)pellet magnum OOB in the 2 3/4" length(plated if the budget allows). I've even got my own department using it. I feel the 3" length is harder on compressed extended magazine springs (that is if it doesn't lessen the capacity by one round). I understand that (12) pellet has less velocity than (9) pellet, but feel it's a worthy trade. Don't have any war stories to back it up...it's just a personal choice.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

Harry Humphries
February 25, 1999, 11:47 AM

Do yourself a favor and test the patterning of your gun with OO -12 pellet mag. shells against OO - 9 pellet, preferably Fed Tactical, you will see that the 12 pellet mag. shells tend to pattern poorly. This is due to the increased shot deformation that occurs in the barrel which is caused by the "Blivit Effect". To save a lot of return posting,—, may I apologize for the coining of "Blivit Effect" A Blivit is a one pound bag loaded with two pounds of fecal matter,----, but you already know that.

buzz riley
February 26, 1999, 02:14 PM
Thanks for the input, you are well versed on the subject. We switched from the Federal Tactical 9 pellet OOB to the Federal 12 pellet 2 3/4 OOB. We did it to increase the the projectiles and the pattern size. It,s sad-but true fact, that most LEO's aren't the best shots(why do I feel like that came as no suprise to you). With the stress induced by a critical incident, they/we still miss BG's at close ranges(not just close, but real close). So we went to hi-cap mags so we can "miss" more at arms length, and the 12 pellet buck to increase hit probability in the situations where the shotgun is used most (traffic stop distances-out to thirty yards or so). Of course thirty yards is way above the "average" range for most LEO shootings. We keep slugs in the side-saddle ammo holders, but most officers do well to hit a target at 50 yards to qualify(without someone shooting back at them). I know training is the answer, and apologize if it sounds like I'm "throwing in the towel". We spend as much time down-range as most departments(and no-I don't approve the overtime for more live fire practice). I'm just trying to be realistic about actual incidents, and increase officer survivability if I can. I appreciate your time, and your concern. Please don't think I'm being critical, I'm interested in any info that may help us. Let me know what you think.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

Jeff Thomas
February 27, 1999, 11:31 PM
buzz and Harry, as a civilian in a 'home defense' situation, it is helpful to learn from you. Thank you.

buzz, thank you for your service. Your observations about hi-cap mag's for LEO's in high stress situations are the reason we civilians have the same desire. It's too bad our legislators don't give a damn.

Here's a burning question I've always had about LEO's - since their lives potentially depend upon their shooting skills, why do they even need to be paid for firearms training? If they don't get enough on company time, why don't they take personal time to meet these goals? I'm not trying to be cute here, or be a smart a** - I'm honestly confused by this.

When I get my shotgun back from Hans Vang I plan to pattern with a few of these loads. Thanks.

[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited February 27, 1999).]

Harry Humphries
February 28, 1999, 11:05 AM
Hey Buzz, Jeff, et.al.

For Buz,

My life has been dedicated to teaching that which is practical with respect to combat survival, especially in the LE community, I too share your interest in making sure the good guys are informed.

Your choice of 12 shot mag is perfectly correct if you or your agency has focused on the scatter gun aspect of the shot gun. Most agencies, however, are plagued with the dreadful aspects of collateral damage, law suits, etc. therefore a compromise thinking of maximum shoulder fire capability, with reasonable shot control if the inadvertent 25 yd shot must be taken in an urban environment. It is a fine point- for sure. Stay safe.

By the way, I was advising on the script of "The Peace Makers" when I recommended the title - guess where I came up with it.

For Jeff,

Stay tuned you are on one heck of a good site if it is professional opinions you are seeking.

Many officers do pay for their own training and equipment, where allowed. The problem with weapon skills, however, is that they are highly perishable and must be maintained regularly. An agency sponsored training program:
• assures control of the skills being taught so all players are on the same sheet of music, if you will.
• assures recalcitrant officers stay up to speed, much to the pleasure of the guys in the cars with them.
• is the moral obligation of those that send men and women into harms way.


buzz riley
March 1, 1999, 08:03 AM
Thanks again for the information, I'm sure I will be calling on your experience again.
Our feelings are the same when it comes to equipment for law abiding civilians(LEO's have homes/families to protect as well).
In an attempt to answer your question about LEO's training on their own time. Some do, God bless them. Harry gave you one of the best reasons why it's not encouraged more, the training is not uniform. I've seen a few officers using methods(even Hollywood style) that were improper after plinking with their friends. Remember the old saying: "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect"(Obviously there was only one perfect peacemaker, but you get my jest).
Now for the cold reality: most officers carry a weapon because it's issued to them. They don't look at it much different than a carpenter looks at a hammer. I don't agree when we're talking about deadly force, but most officers truely feel like it will never happen to them(and they have statistics that back them up). Stay safe.

Jeff Thomas
March 2, 1999, 01:33 AM
Harry, buzz, thank you. I'm glad many LEO's appreciate that civilians want to be able to defend themselves and their families. I wish more of those LEO's would feel comfortable joining groups like LEAA so that the anti-self defense people would lose their argument that LEO's are for greater gun control.

And, regarding statistics, I've always enjoyed my wife's approach - 'the statistics don't matter - when your number's up, your number's up'. ;)

October 4, 2010, 06:33 AM
I prefer the 3" 00buck 15pellets in my mossberg500. I always buy the federal or winchester. Our boss has always taught us that shotguns like it rough, so I don't mind the extra kick either.

October 4, 2010, 06:57 AM
You do realize that the thread to which you just posted is over eleven years old?

October 4, 2010, 08:12 AM
Cool blast from the past, but -- well, if you want to discuss this topic, perhaps it would be a good idea to start a fresh thread in the shotguns forum. Lots of changes to the board over the past 11 years!