View Full Version : 12ga. #4 Buckshot for home defense

November 19, 2011, 12:03 AM
I keep slugs, #1 buckshot,and 00 buckshot on hand for home/camp defense in my Rem. 870. I'm wondering how you guys feel about #4 buck stacking up against the others I mentioned for this purpose.

Many years ago I kept a 12ga. side-by-side coach gun loaded with magnum #4 buck for HD. If memory serves it patterned very well at ten yards,which is why I stayed with the #4 the entire time . I'd also like your thoughts on the mixed loads such as BBx2 for HD.

Thanks and best wishes, Bill

November 19, 2011, 12:26 AM
Personally I only load my shotguns with either Slugs, #1, or 00 Buck for HD. #1 patterns very nice out of my HD shotgun. I used to use #4 Buck, it doesn't test too badly, it should work. I think its a little light though.

I'm adamantly against bird shot for HD. It just doesn't penetrate well enough.

November 19, 2011, 12:30 AM
Sure, no reason not to.
I use goose shot. Mostly because I still have a lot of it.

Well I don't "use" it. I intend to use it if the occasion arises. Umm not arises like a goose mind you..not in the literal sense. Metaphorically "arising", if you get my meaning.
But if a goose did break in I'd sure be prepared.

November 19, 2011, 12:54 AM
a square hit with a goose or turkey load will have the impact of a very hard punch in the stomach. that's not a 9 mm round, there is a great deal of genuine "knockdown power." a punch like that will, without a doubt, stagger and tamporarily disable an assailant. That load of shot, spread out to a few inches, will put a lot of small wounds in the area ofa person's vitals with a chest hit. Using tungsten rounds will enhance the penetration.

In my home, given the choice, I'd use heavy turkey rounds with tungsten shot over large buckshot rounds. Once you go past 20feet or so, that strategy is out.

November 19, 2011, 12:56 AM
I keep #4 buck in my 12 ga.

00 buck offers nothing I need in a Home Defense scenario.
Bird shot would be pretty effective in my home, but I still don't want to use it (you can't get a shot longer than 12 feet in this house, but bird shot still isn't ideal).

#4 patterns well; penetrates well; has significantly more pellets than 00, 0, and #1; and... it's easier to find in a 2 3/4" load, than many other options.

(I don't like the idea of using 3" or 3.5" mags for SD/HD. ...and my shotgun only has a 2 3/4" chamber, anyway. ;))

Mr. James
November 19, 2011, 01:04 AM
I second FrankenMauser

I've been partial to 00 buck in the past. But a dear friend swears by #4 buckshot. Having recently (last Saturday) patterned the #4 load, I'm quite convinced that it would pretty much ruin any intruder's day, and I have adopted it as my HD load. I know some folks who load #4 with some slugs as follow up rounds. At home defense ranges, the #4 should be more than sufficient unto your needs. In my little humble hovel, frankly, any 12 gauge round is going to do the job, but I have really taken to the #4 load.

November 19, 2011, 06:44 AM
I've seen 2 deer killed with #4 Buck and a bolt of lightning or a howitzer would not have killed them quicker. Both tried to leap across a fire road running at full speed. Maybe 2-3 seconds apart. My friend was shooting a Browing A-5 12 ga. with #4 Buck. Both deer died mid-leap and kicked maybe once when they crashed into the ground. Amazing thing to see. I knew that if I was doing the shooting, with the rifle I was carrying, I would have missed them both.

Bailey Boat
November 19, 2011, 09:33 AM
I'll have to ditto the #4 buck, it patterns very well from my 870's short barrel and I love the copper plated load.

Carne Frio
November 19, 2011, 01:00 PM
I prefer 00 buck, but #4 buck would sure ruin some prowler's day:


And that video is only 20g.

November 19, 2011, 02:51 PM
#4 buck would sure ruin some prowler's day

#4 squirrel shot will sho'nuff ruin some prowler's evening.:cool:

November 19, 2011, 04:28 PM
I did a lot of searching and reading and decided on #4 for my 12 ga. The last round in my mag is 00, just in case.

November 19, 2011, 05:01 PM
I too have shot deer with buckshot and it is devastating at HD ranges. One in the chest with my 12ga and it game over.

Dave McC
November 19, 2011, 06:58 PM
One of the 870s kept ready here is stoked with 4 buck. Someone gave me a mess of it.

Patterning showed good patterns with a skeet choke. Probable use is at less than 5 yards.

The others here are loaded with 00, but their mission is a little different due to location and altitude.

November 19, 2011, 09:00 PM
For personal defense and law enforcement applications, the International Wound Ballistics Association advocates number 1 buckshot as being superior to all other buckshot sizes.

Number 1 buck is the smallest diameter shot that reliably and consistently penetrates more than 12 inches of standard ordnance gelatin when fired at typical shotgun engagement distances.

A standard 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge shotshell contains 16 pellets of #1 buck. The total combined cross sectional area of the 16 pellets is 1.13 square inches. Compared to the total combined cross sectional area of the nine pellets in a standard #00 (double-aught) buck shotshell (0.77 square inches), the # 1 buck shotshell has the capacity to produce over 30 percent more potentially effective wound trauma. In all shotshell loads, number 1 buckshot produces more potentially effective wound trauma than either #00 or #000 buck. In addition, number 1 buck is less likely to over-penetrate and exit an attacker's body.



November 20, 2011, 05:42 PM
All of the old timer deer hunters I know use No. 4 on deer and have been plenty successful. If it kills a deer I think a person doesn't have a chance.

November 22, 2011, 12:05 PM
When I was with Treasury, the Secret Service had standardized 12 gauge, #4 buck as their buckshot load. They didn't do this by first reading an article in Guns and Ammo. They studied and tested available or popular buckshot loads before deciding. First, you're launching 27 .22 caliber pellets. For them, it could happen in a building or on the street. For us, we should be concerned with home defense. A .22 cal. pellet is not as likely to overpenetrate the house and perhaps an adjoining residence as OO buck, each pellet being .33 caliber. A stray .22 caliber pellet is more survivable than a stray 33 caliber pellet.

Within the confined spaces of our homes, does anyone really think an intruder will know the difference between #4 buck, #4 shot, O or OO buck? Either way you go, the recipient is going to have a bad day--a very bad day:D

kenny g
November 22, 2011, 12:38 PM
my 870 wingmaster came with a 28" modified vent rib barrel [ 30 + years ago ] and I know it was OK to run a few slugs thru it. 15 to 20 years ago I traded that barrel [ and $50 ] for a 30" full choke for still board / turkey shoots and trap..
anyway , is it OK to shoot #4 or '00' through that full choke ?

November 22, 2011, 01:11 PM
I use 00 Buck, but #4 Buck is fine. Go with what you feel.


Dave McC
November 22, 2011, 02:24 PM
Kenny, that barrel and choke should be fine with either flavor of buck. Pattern to establish the best load for your use environment.

November 22, 2011, 04:23 PM
I respectfully disagree about combining a full choke with buckshot.

A full choke will tend to cause the pellets to collide with one another, resulting in deformation of the pellets. Deformed pellets do not fly "true" so one is inducing flyers. At point blank distance, this might not be an issue, but it must be accounted for past point blank distance. Flyers with buckshot is a bad plan.

Buckshot should be patterned and shot through a choke no tighter than improved cylinder to avoid pellet deformation and the resulting flyers.

November 22, 2011, 04:50 PM
I've used #4 in shootings. At close range it's pretty good. I did dust a guy at about 50 yards. One pellet hit him in the forehead and slid up under his scalp, a second hit him in the wrist and skidded along the bone winding up in his elbow. The rest hit him in the chest. It was really cold and he was wearing a real heavy leather coat. Each pellet that hit his chest made a pimple on the coat and bounced off. I don't carry smaller than #1 at work or for home defense. I do live in the country so don't worry much about over penetration.

November 22, 2011, 05:21 PM
Packr, If I don't aim a shotgun at a non threatening clay target some 35+ yards out, why would I want to take the time to aim at a threat some 5 yards across a room. I am assuming that the threat has already been positively identified and needs to be put down ASAP.

November 22, 2011, 06:40 PM
you have several seconds, as vs 1/2 second in which to hit, and your pattern is 5-6 ft wide. At 5 yds, it's 5" wide, that's why.

Try about a second from calling for a target and properly choked patterns are half of your 5-6 ft wide. That the target is trying to kill you is all the more reason not to take time to aim. As for the number of #7.5 pellets, I suggest it is not much of a factor. unless you have holes in your pattern.

November 22, 2011, 06:57 PM
#4 buck is what i use. Not all factory loads are created equal. The ammo with the plastic buffer will pattern much tigher. Maximum knock down range is 50 yards with my Mossberg 20" full choke tube barrel.

November 22, 2011, 10:03 PM
There are a lot of variables in using a shotgun for home defense. I will state what my wife and I do, THAT WORKS FOR US; (which may or may not work for you). I am 61 and my wife is 62, in our situation the 12ga is just too much gun. Specifically, I had a rotator cuff repair and a total shoulder arthroplasty (replacement) of my shooting (left) shoulder in 09/2008. Bottom line is that my days of shooting a 12ga are gone forever. As for my wife, she shoots several 20ga guns well; but that is her limit of endurance. Many folks, so called experts, state that shooting anything less than a 12ga w/00 or 000 Buck; handicaps the shooter. (To which I politely state "HORSE MANURE"!) I have shot far too many deer w/small (2, 3, & 4 buck) to not be impressed with it's knock down power.

My life's experience has taught me that bird shot is for birds, buckshot is for bad guys. The longest possible shot in my home is 31 feet. I'm loading buckshot in my home defense shotguns, and not slugs.

We (the wife & I), use three shotguns for defense of ourselves within our residence...............
• Remington® SPR220 (Biakal® IZH-43) 20ga SxS loaded with Remington® 2¾"20 pellets of #3 Buckshot (#SP 20-3BK)
• Mossberg®500 20ga Pump loaded with Federal® Power-Shok® 3" 18 pellets of #2 Buckshot (#F207 2B)
• Ithaca® 16ga SxS loaded with Federal® Power-Shok® 2¾" 12 pellets of #1 Buckshot (F164 1B)

Federal® has a new 20ga load, #PD256; that has 24 pellets of #4 buck that I haven't tried but hope to as soon as it becomes available.

I'm sure a 12ga 2¾" 27 pellet load w/#4 Buckshot the OP asked about will do fine. (When I was a WA State Correction Officer in the 1990's it's the load we used and it performed superbly.)

November 22, 2011, 10:46 PM
I use it for coyotes and it does a great job out to 40 yards. I will guarantee you it will absolutely smoke somebody inside of ten yards. And, it's on sale at Cabela's right now. Free shipping on orders of $100 or more. Good stuff:

November 24, 2011, 03:17 PM
Swan shot, like #2 (.15) and BB (.18, which cannot be had in lead anymore), including in the duplex rounds, especially BB and especially where overpenetration may be a concern, may be ideal for HD at indoors ranges. I'm talking up to 15 yards, at 15 meters, etc...

#4 Buckshot starts to suggest longer distances and less backstop concern.

#1 Buck and my personal overall favorite when you just don't know what or where you're gonna be, #0 Buck, open the guns capability to its maximum useful range including outdoor HD -- the longer ranges will require heavier pellets to maintain energy and deliver enough energy in multiple hits with decent penetration to perform as required. #00 Buck and #000 Buck are increasingly less effective, respectively, for any HD than the smaller but higher count pellet loads, plain and simple.

November 24, 2011, 04:20 PM
#1 Buck here, too. Waiting (and hoping) for Federal #1 Buck, FliteControl.

November 24, 2011, 04:46 PM
I've shot #4 buck several times out of a 20 ga, never hunting but just messing around shooting at some trees and stuff, and it will do the job for sure on a 2 legged assailant. I even know someone who had to shoot an intruder and only had some birdshot at his disposal. While it didn't kill the man, it rendered him incapacitated. So yes, #4 buckshot will definitely do the job on an intruder. Ive killed deer with 12ga 00 buck, which is obviously way better if you are anticipating attacks from predators. It will penetrate the thick skin of a bear better, but in a home or apartment it is very likely that 00 buck will penetrate several walls putting children, or other people at risk. I would suggest a round or two of #4 followed by a few rounds of 00 just in case.

November 26, 2011, 08:47 AM
NYC, y Flite Control? A shotgun is supposed to SPREAD! Choose your pattern. Select your choke. Only your attorney, Officer Rambo, and folk who fancy themselves "innovators" taut the things. It is a marketing gimmick, a solution looking for a problem, w/a narrow niche.

November 26, 2011, 10:23 AM
Gehrhard, at typical HD distances, say 5-7 yds., almost any 12 gauge 00 buck will produce a 2-2 1/2" hole. The FliteControl shell does this, but also enables effective patterning at 30-40 yds., if necessary. The LE 132-00 Tactical Low Recoil, FliteControl, 9 pellet, 00 buck is the best HD shell I have ever used. If the rumors are true and Federal will introduce a #1 buck, 16 pellet version, I'm there.

November 26, 2011, 10:33 AM
I keep slugs, #1 buckshot,and 00 buckshot on hand for home/camp defense in my Rem. 870.

If you already have 00 and #1 buck, I see no reason to buy anything else. I can't imagine needing slugs for home defense. Camp defense for bears maybe, but none of those around my place.

November 26, 2011, 07:11 PM
NYC, an "effective pattern" for a shotgun at 30-40 yards, the standard intended one for any specified distance in fact, is 70% inside a 30" circle obtained, in this case, with an Improved Modified choke (probably: maybe Modified, maybe Full, YMMV). What are you referring to please?

November 26, 2011, 07:28 PM
5"-6" at 30 yds.; 10"-12" at 40 yds., cylinder bore.

November 26, 2011, 07:55 PM
Yeah. So, that's a terrible shotgun pattern I know you know. Extra Full with small Buck would be in between. But, the good news is you don't need a shotgun anyway. OK. Have you considered the appropriate pistol or, better yet, pistol caliber carbine? You must already have a Longarm Lic. there...

November 26, 2011, 08:02 PM
The best news would be #1 buck, 16 pellet, FliteControl. As always, YMMV...

November 27, 2011, 03:58 PM
I try to have, in order:

1. #1 buck
2. 00 buck
3. #4 buck

Since I have a difficult time finding #1 buck around here, I have quite a bit of 00 and #4 buck on hand. My 930 SPX fires all with equal aplomb.

White Mamba
November 28, 2011, 10:14 PM
I like #9 shot. It has less recoil & it will turn a human into hamburger meat.

Dave McC
November 29, 2011, 02:24 PM
WM, recoil is a function of mass and velocity, not shot size.

9 shot will work if you're close enough. Unfortunately, "close enough" may be just a few feet.

This has been well covered in the past here. I suggest mining the archives.

November 30, 2011, 04:13 AM
I load up my sawed off DB 12 Gauge (in legal lengths) with Winchester #1 Buck with two more loads in a butt stock sleeve.