View Full Version : Shooting Buck Shot for the First Time

April 13, 2011, 06:01 PM
Any tips on what to bring or do to familiarize myself with shooting some home defense loads? This is the deal.

I bought my 870 for Home Defense, but so far have only shot target ammo, which is all that is allowed at the nearest range to me and that is a half hour away. If I want to shoot buck shot or slugs, I have to drive for a half an hour so I have been putting it off.

I will be shooting a Remington 870 pump with an 18-1/2" barrel, but imagine I will want to try a few slugs through the 28" barrel with a skeet choke. Neither barrel is rifled.

I can buy old bowling pins for $4 there and of course a target frame. Because I didn't ask about targets, I plan on briging a roll of brown craft paper and a staple gun.

All I have is 20 rounds of 00 Buck, 5 slugs, and a few rounds of Remington PDX1 (its a 1" slug with 3 bbs).

None of this is what I am planning to use for HD, which is reduced recoil buckshot. If I can get some on the way to the range, I plan on picking up some, but let's say I can't.

Given that the purpose of the trip is to familairize myself with a heavy load, so if push ever comes to shove I might be a bit less surprised and better able to keep my cool, I am wasting my time tomorrow? I have a feeling that while 75 rounds of target loads doesn't bother me at all, I will be feeling the 30 rounds I plan to put downwind tomorrow. Does anyone think I have to pickup more buck or slugs?

As for general familiarization, since I have shot over 600 target loads in the direction of clay birds in the last 3 months, I have a rough idea how the gun works and what I need to improve on as far as target shooting goes; everything.


April 13, 2011, 06:12 PM
I would shoot them at a standard sized silhouette target ...most any range has some you can buy for a buck or two ...but you'll only need a couple.

The range may not let you shoot anything except paper ( no bowling pins) because they don't want to clean up the mess...

I would just take the rounds you have and shoot them ...not buy anymore / I think you'll have enough rounds to tell you about the gun / if you can shoot the tactical ammo without any issues.

If you have the ounces of shot in the loads / and the velocity - I can run the recoil formula for you ( with the weight of your gun ) and tell you what the recoil on it will be vs what you've been shooting. ?? if you want to know ...

I wouldn't shoot it in a T shirt / at least make sure you're wearing a clays vest with a recoil pad on it ...if you have one ...

April 13, 2011, 06:32 PM
Where in Orange County are you located? I know that On Target doesn't allow shotguns at all, but if you drive south to the 76 there is Iron Sights which will allow just about anything. But on to your question...

Those are some heavy thirty rounds that you'll be shooting, you will definitely feel them the next day. Is your 870 a 2 3/4" or 3"? My HD gun is an old Wingmaster that was always intended to be a 2 3/4" gun, and I had some ejection issues with the PDX ammo, it was too long to clear the ejection port, even though it is 2 3/4" ammo.

Time spent shooting is hardly ever wasted, your trip tomorrow will certainly help you realize what you, the shotgun and the ammo are capable of.

April 13, 2011, 06:34 PM
I agree with Big Jim. I also suspect you may be thinking too much. Neither buckshot nor slugs are some kind of magic thunderbolts that you need to be concerned about taming. Just a little more recoil, but nothing you can't easily handle. If you get tired, stop shooting. Don't overthink it, don't be tentative, just have fun and shoot!

April 13, 2011, 06:40 PM
I would also take some of those round stickers in stationary or craft dept. Get some orange and some black as either may be better due to lighting etc. This and a marker make great targets out of the craft paper.

A box 15-25 slugs to go along with the 00 in the short barrel. I do this to get my self set up for how me and the gun are indexed for POI vs. POA. I am confident in my skills with my gun using cheap slugs to be able to hit a pie plate from 10 feet out to 60-65 yards. This really helps when it comes to confident shooting in close quarters where I may be relying on my target to mitigate wall penetration.


April 13, 2011, 06:52 PM
I read somewhere --- that most defensive situations are from 10Ft - 30Ft ....so with my tactical weapons ....I would concentrate on those distances.

I've also had instructors tell me - that testing yourself at less than 30Ft - may mask some of your funamental flaws .... and they recommended a 3 - 5 shot group at 30Ft - good tight group 2" maybe ....slow fire / at the start of your range session --- and again at the end of your range session. It gets you focused to start ...and re-focused before you finish. They also want you to run "tactical accuracy drills at 30 feet" ....

Tactical Accuracy ...is an interesting idea ...and to me its the area between the nipples and the belly button. On somebody as big as I am ...its a good sized basketball type area .... and one shot in any part of that area ...followed by 1 or 2 quick followup shots into the same zone ( a double tap ) or 3 shots ( being a triple tap ) ... are solid Tactical Accuracy shots.

Its not "Bulls Eye" shooting ...which is a very different skill set ...

Take some "target loads" with you as well. 1250 fps or whatever you have ...say 1 1/8 oz of shot ....and it'll give you some recoil / and still let you "groove" that double tap action ...shooting /racking the gun/ firing that 2nd shell ...and ideally in my mind - racking the 2nd shell with the gun not leaving your shoulder or your face ....just nice and smooth ...and staying on the gun and on target for that 2nd or that 3rd shot !! Nice and smooth / effective fire on target ...quick and steady ..... / not spray and pray ...

April 13, 2011, 07:03 PM
With my 870, I couldn't tell the difference between 2-3/4" birdshot and buckshot if my eyes were closed. Slugs definitely kick harder, though, and they are a lot of fun.

April 13, 2011, 07:11 PM
Thanks everyone. TxGun nailed it about ovethinking things as that is me to a T. BigJim is probably recalling how I beat myself up with WalMart target loads when I shot the first couple of times. I don't have a shooting vest but I did replace the recoil pad that came on the 870 with what seems to be a pretty decent one, a Remington SuperCell Recoil Pad. While I have gotten accustomed to shooting in a polo shirt, tomorrow its a thick sweatshirt and I may slip some kind of padding material under it to make a cheap shooting pad.

I should know better than to question BigJim, but a double or triple tap in California is liable to land a homeowner in prison.

HogDogs idea about shooting a few more slugs to ascertain the POI versus the POA is an idea I can buy into. Not to be able to shoot slugs with any more accuracy, per se, but to better no the POI. I made some furtive attempts at this so far on a pattern board and this may help clarify how the 870 shoots.

Rob228. My 870 is the basic synthetic Express, which means it is lighter than a wood stock and that means more felt recoil. HogDogs idea about taking some sticky or tape also makes sense.

I am glad I asked this and am on my way now to get some of tape and rounds. Jim, as for the bowling pins they sell them at the range to use as tartgets.

Thanks to all.

April 13, 2011, 07:46 PM
Seriously... get out and shoot them. Any standard silhouette or even a torso sized piece of cardboard will suffice. Back off about 15 paces and take an aimed shot at center mass & see where your pattern falls and how big it is; mark your holes when your done.

When you get comfortable, or at least discover the recoil isn't going to hurt you, rap off a couple of quick shots as soon as the bead falls in the middle of your target. You'll soon learn what your personal 'speed limit' is for getting good hits. The only way to improve it is to practice

April 13, 2011, 10:00 PM
With my 870, I couldn't tell the difference between 2-3/4" birdshot and buckshot if my eyes were closed. Slugs definitely kick harder, though, and they are a lot of fun.
Yes, it's not listed on the boxes, but standard 12-gauge buckshot loads typically have a less than 1-1/4 oz of lead, and since their velocities are usually similar to standard birdshot, recoil is about the same.

And yes, slugs are a bit rougher.

April 13, 2011, 10:46 PM
Take a friend and your thrower and shoot some clays. I busted clays with heavy 3.5" turkey loads and they kick harder than 2.75" buck. Don't worry about it just go shoot.

April 13, 2011, 11:28 PM
The indoor range I shoot at requires you use buck shot and paper targets; man my 12 gauge coach gun has some serious kick. I never shoot more then 15 rounds a session.

April 14, 2011, 12:53 AM
Thanks. I didn't have much time to do anything as my son's car battery went out and I had just enough time to pick one up without missing too much of the Laker's final regular season game. I did get 15 more slugs. I am not going to try busting clays, which is what I do at my regular haunt; Prado in Chino. I can imagine that a coach gun would kick like a mule. Whatever, I have the ice maker filling up the ice bucket and will take some ibuprofin with me.

April 14, 2011, 01:47 AM
I just noticed BigJim's suggestion about grooving my racking and timing with target loads (3 dram eq and 1-1/8 oz of shot). I have a couple of boxes that I will take with me and work on that.

I am glad I asked you guys for suggestions.

April 14, 2011, 01:49 AM
Scubasimmons, I know some relish recoil, but for now I don't even want to thing about 3-1/2" turkey loads. Thinking about Miss Turkey in the Carls Jr.'s commercial I can handle.

April 14, 2011, 02:42 AM
I can't really tell the difference between a heavy bird load and buck shot either. If you get yourself a good semi auto with a good recoil pad, it shouldn't be a problem at all.

April 14, 2011, 02:44 AM
It's a pump, Rugeris......, but I put a good recoil pad on it.

April 14, 2011, 08:46 AM
Shoot some buck to familiarize yourself with the way your chosen load patterns. Then practice, practice, practice with bird shot for cost.

If you plan to use reduced recoil buck, practice with standard skeet load 1 1/8 ounce loads. If you plan on using full power buck, practice with 1 1/4 oz. 3 3/4 dr. loads. These are the typical equivelents in payload weight and velocity and by extension recoil. They won't pattern the same, but at household distances, you'll get the muscle memory built up to more consistently hit Center of Mass.

April 14, 2011, 11:39 AM
Whole lotta nothing from folks who think a recoil pad is the answer to recoil issues...................it isn't.

FIT is critical, something 99.99% of the pumps do NOT do correctly for the owner.

TKM, there are plenty of open spaces in SoCal - find a spot in the boonies and practice with your 00 buck or whatever you have decided on.

While many trap/skeet clubs won't let you shoot shot bigger than 7-1/2 at flying targets, many WILL allow you to shoot them at the pattern board - see if your club will do so.

April 14, 2011, 12:10 PM
OneOunce is right about fit being the issue ...

But some of us have been down this journey with the klawman and his fit/recoil issues a lot ....so we jumped over it a little..

If a gun doesn't fit right ...it will beat the stuffing out of you / and if your fundamentals are not right ( like your mount / and the angle of your elbows - where you might let the gun crab down into your bicep as opposed to stay in your shoulder crease ...it will beat the stuffing out of you)...

Recoil is based on 3 things - the weight of the gun (that's why coach guns kick like mules), the velocity of the load of shot and the weight of the shot in ounces. 1 1/8oz of shot is 1 1/8oz of shot in 7 1/2's or in OO - it makes no difference. 3 Dr Equivalent - is 3 DR Equivalent ....and around 1200 fps..

and a Rem 870 is around 7.75 lbs ... so a 1 1/8 oz load at 1200 fps will give you about 21 Ft Lbs of recoil - if you buy a shell that is 1300 fps then it will give you about 25 Ft Lbs of recoil. If you add 1 lb to the gun ...or have a heavier gun ...the 1200 fps shell will drop the recoil about 15% to 18.5 Ft Lbs on the 1200 fps shell and 21 Ft Lbs on the 1300 fps shell.

Weight of the gun really matters - not as much as Fit ....but it matters !

Keep your fundamentals Klawman ...keep it smooth / head on the comb / tight on the hand grip ...focus on your target ...and have some fun. ( Double Taps are illegal in CA ....?? / Triple Taps --- and a Tactical Reload ---are mandatory outside of King County in Wash state )..:D

April 14, 2011, 01:20 PM
Yes, a 3-dram equivalent load is a 3-dram equivalent load, but Big Jim oversimplifies a little. How the gun transfers the recoil to the shooter is what determines felt recoil, or kick. As has been been previously noted, the weight of the gun is a significant factor; but, the important elements are the area of contact (hands, face and shoulder) and the duration of the recoil event. Gun and recoil pad designers go to great lengths to extend the length of the recoil event; but, maximizing and evenly distributing the contact area is where gun fit comes into play. A proper fit lets your gun evenly deliver the recoil energy to the largest contact area possible.

April 14, 2011, 09:11 PM
Husbandly duties didn't leave enough time to get to Burro today, so I shot some trap at the nearest range, which is called Prado. I also picked up some Federal Personal Defense buckshot, which is supposed to be the same as the LE marketed load with flight control. It isn't particularly low recoil with a velocity of 1145 FPS.

I would add that somehow I picked up a single round of Remington with 1 ounce of #8 shot but 3-1/4 DRAMs. I noticed a slight difference compared to 1-1/8 ounce of #8 with 3 DRAMs.

April 15, 2011, 09:48 PM
There's a difference between birdshot and buckshot, but it's not earth shattering. My shoulder was bruised after the first time shooting my 20 gauge loaded with buck, but I was around 10 when that happened. Since then, buckshot has not caused any undue pain or discomfort.

April 15, 2011, 09:51 PM
It isn't particularly low recoil with a velocity of 1145 FPS.

Actually that is the low recoil load. The regular full power load is 1345 FPS for 9 pellet 00 buck.

April 16, 2011, 01:44 AM
Thanks Rantingredneck. I still have to get out and fire it but the Federal Persoanl Defense stuff sounds ideal to me for home defense since we live in a single family house with all the bedrooms upstairs that has 6 foot perimiter block walls. Because I most likely will be firing down from the second floor landing to the first, it is unlikely that anything will escape my property line.

I have also been reading elsewhere where law enforcement, in particular DEA agents, is using modified chokes due to their concern to maintain tight shot patterns; the importance of which Dave McC has been trying to drum into my thick skull for some time.

Dave McC
April 19, 2011, 05:28 PM
Thy skull's none the thicker than others here, K-man, including mine.

You've asked little I hadn't,and gotten better answers.

These fora are for passing on solid info to those that need it, and for educating new shooters. Not all of whom are comfortable with posting.

So ask away, that's why we're here.

April 19, 2011, 07:10 PM
That's a dangerous thing to say to me, Dave. I can analyze the wings off a gnat and still have questions.

Bubba in c.a.
April 19, 2011, 10:02 PM
Your numbers are off. Most SD shootings are at 0 to 20 feet. Hitting somebody QUICKLY at 4 feet may be much more important than hitting somebody with more precision at 30 feet.

Federal le132 is good stuff--at 0 feet on out to luxurious shots at 30 yards more.

Dave McC
April 20, 2011, 04:22 PM
I accept the risk.......

April 22, 2011, 06:35 PM
I finally got out to where I could have it with buck and slugs. It not only went fine, but I only had to drive about 35 minutes to get to a place called Mike Raahauges Pheasant Club instead of well over an hour from southern Orange County to get Burro Canyon.

They set me up all by my lonesome on the 100 yard rifle range, but had me firing at 10 yards to simulate lilkely maximum home defense distances. When I say they set me up, the rangemaster spent about half an hounr showing me how to load and use the 870 for defense as opposed to breaking clays. This was all with the open cylinder 18 1/2 inch defense barrel.

The range also bosts several sporting clay fields.

Anyway, while the buckshot and slugs definitely packed more of a wallop than the target loads from WalMart, it was doable. Two hours have passed and I have yet to feel any discomfort.

I also feel more confident after having loaded up my beast with 7 rounds and fired them as quickly as I could without rushing or aiming. He had me concetrating on the center of the man size target, bring the gun to my shoulder and firing without aiming with the bead, Besically pointing like shooting clays.

One ammunition type I was curious about surpised me. Its marketed by Remington for LE. I thing it is moderately low recoil, muzzle velocity being around 125 fps, and has a load consisting of a 1 oz slug and 3 pieces of 00 buck. I tested it once by taking more of an aimed shot. The slug was cenetered 1" to the right of the X and the 3 shot were alomost perfectly spaced around it in the 9 ring with each shot roughly at 120 degrees. The spread at 10 yards, which I haven't actually measured, is around 8" with that barrel.

Unfortunately, it may not be legal ammo for a civilian.

April 22, 2011, 07:06 PM
But you learned a lot ...and that's all good info ...nicely done !!

April 22, 2011, 08:56 PM
Happy to hear you had a successful outing at Raahauge's. It's only a few miles (as the crow flies) from Prado, on the other side of the flood control basin. Much more convenient for you than Burro Canyon, glad you found the place.

I doubt the LE shotgun shells are illegal for civilians, but it may not be readily available. Slug-n-shot and reduced recoil LE and personal defense shells seem to be the hot-ticket loads now, and we're seeing new loads offered.

May 2, 2011, 04:12 PM
I'm late to this discussion, but I have this same Remington 870 tactical shotgun as well. I also added the Super Cell recoil pad, as well as a flashlight on a magazine mounted rail and I am quite pleased with it for home protection. I also added a leather military style sling even though some don't like a sling on a home defense shotgun. They think it gets in the way. I need a sling on mine. It just feels right because it is what I'm used to having on a shotgun.

I bought a good supply of Remington low recoil 00 buckshot & found a few boxes of low recoil slugs at a gun show as well. I keep it loaded with the 00 buckshot by my bed & have some slugs & extra buckshot in a shell holder on the stock. I haven't shot it much since I broke it in a few years ago, but I've been shooting shotguns since I got one for Christmas when I was 12, so I'm proficient with shotguns. You bought a good basic HD shotgun that will serve you well. Have fun shooting it. It's a blast. (juvenile pun intended:o)

May 3, 2011, 01:14 AM
Thanks ET. I like it more and more each time I use it.