View Full Version : HD Shotgun Starting Loads

December 18, 2000, 03:19 PM
I've been a very good boy so for christmas I decided to treat myself to a Shotgun. I've put my money down for a 590 and I'm currently waiting for the State to say that I'm a good person.

While I wait I figured to pick up some loads to test to see what the gun likes. I'm looking for a short list of good starting point rounds. Hopefully 3 or 4 slug loads and 3 or 4 buck loads.


Al Thompson
December 18, 2000, 05:57 PM
Depending on your situation, it's hard to see what use slugs would be. They are can punch through an awful lot of stuff. I tested some Remington and KO slugs on a piece of log home timber. The timber stopped all handgun rounds tested, but the slugs and a .308 blasted right through.

Dave McQ mentioned that the best range is your maximum indoor range plus five feet. Minimum range needs practice too.

My HD loads are bird shot loads (# 2s) up first with a # 4 buckshot as the second or third round. Usually some # 1 Buck or Federal Tactical 00 is in the Sidesaddle. (depends on the gun)

Get several boxes of loss leader birdshot at a local "Mart" store and practice with that first. Pattern the buck IAW paragraph # 2. Lots eaiser on the wallet and shoulder.

Might want to do a search on this topic - lots of info for you there......


Dave McC
December 18, 2000, 06:36 PM
Giz has it right about slugs. I see very little use for slugs in HD scenarios. Go with some "Lossleader" ammo for basic breaking in and fun, and pick up some of those 5 packs of various buckshot. Now the work starts....

Hie thyself to a range or place where you can pattern that shotgun/load. Take a magic marker along to ID which load is which.Of course, by this time you've measured the longest shot possible in your house and added a yard(5 feet will do to, Giz). Pattern at that distance and fire at least three shots of each brand,one at a time and mark as you go. Then, pick the one that patterns tightest. For sizes, I'd check out 00 and 000, and maybe #1 buck also. While you're burning up all that ammo, try patterning some of that loss leader bird shot at that same distance. You may find that pattern interesting....

And, you may find that one or more brands do not hit as they should. Adjust sights, or if just a bead sight, adjust the stock to bring most of the pattern over the bead, IOW hitting a hair high.

Once you've determined which brand and size seems best, go buy enough to quell a small riot. Shelf life on ammo kept cool and dry is measured in decades, and chances are it's not going to get any cheaper.

Now, once you've got this part covered, and just HAVE to have slug capability, bench and zero with divers brands. As a loose rule, the Forsters and Brennekes do best in smoothbores, so check them out first...

Hope this helps...

December 18, 2000, 07:31 PM
Comments Re. Slugs WRT HD noted. However, you never know so better to have them in the ammo box and not need them then vice versa. (I'll be so glad to be rid of the Clintons and Gores; seems like every 12/18 months they give me the "Oh Sh3$, the worlds comming to an end" feeling) This 590 will be first serious long gun for me so I'd like to know what it (we) can do at 50+yd ranges.

So would this be a good shopping list?

4-5 boxes of what ever is cheep (2-3/4 dove and quail??) for breaking in and fimilarization.

Two boxes each of : #4 buck, #1 buck (brands?, 2-3/4 or 3?), Federal Classic OO (2-2/4 or 3).

A couple boxes each of Forster and Brenneke slugs. Do they come in different weights/lengths/saboted/ etc.

Sorry for all the newbie questions but shotgun ammo is pretty bewildering compared to centerfire ammo. I guess thats why is reguarded as so verstile. Makes the learning curve pretty steep though. I'm a pretty experienced handgun shooter but haven't had much exposure to shotguns. Is there a good web site with evaluations of shotgun ammo?

Oleg Volk
December 19, 2000, 02:06 AM
My 20ga is loaded four #3 buck (biggest I can commonly find here) and three slugs. The reasoning is that if buck is insufficient (and I have very little faith in it after seeing performance on veggies and solid cover), it means an extended fight and a need to punch through things on the way to the perp.

Depending on where you live, extra penetration may or may not be a problem.

Dave McC
December 19, 2000, 06:04 AM
Ok, here's what I'd consider a very basic ammo supply for a shotgunner not terribly interested in hunting, but with a desire to be well based for AS scenarios...

First, practice ammo...

Some practice ammo should be the cheapest stuff you can find. Remington Game Farm loads come to mind, tho whatever's on sale at Guns R Us will work well,at least in 2 3/4". WE don't need no STEENKING Mags for practice here.Also, stick to 1 oz loads. They're cheaper,usually, and have less recoil so you can concentrate on form more easily.

Some "Duty" ammo has to included in practice. There are rare inconsistencies between some shotguns and ammo, so it makes sense to make sure that the ammo you're depending on to save you works in the shotgun you're depending on to save you.

Duty ammo....

It may be high brass field loads, low brass target loads,"Tactical" loads, standard buck loads, or specialty ammo. I regard the last with a jaundiced eye. It's costly, and there's not a perp on earth capable of telling whether he got shot at close range by an intended victim with a skeet load of 8s or a 3 1/2 mag load of depleted uranium pellets rubbed with garlic mixed with breath mints. I suggest either those "Tactical" loads or standard 00, in the brand that patterns tightest in YOUR shotgun.

Slugs, read all the old threads for input, but there's few HD scenarios where these are a good choice.

Fun ammo....

This is what you're going to shoot recreationally for fun and casual practice. More field loads, maybe some higher quality trap loads for the occasional clays venture and your OLD duty ammo from your HD shotgun. You DO rotate your ammo, right?

December 19, 2000, 06:26 AM
Bullwinkle - Save yourself some bucks and just pick up one box of each load you will be patterning. Even after one shot, you'll find that some pattern so poorly you'd never use them for PD. Freezer paper works well for cheap patterning paper.


December 19, 2000, 06:28 AM
The other posters are correct about the familiarization and practice loadings.

You have to make the ultimate decision about your home defense needs. It will not surprise me to find that no two people responding to this thread will use the same loadings as each scenario is different.

I keep my 870 loaded with two rounds of #6 low brass birdshot followed by 5 rounds of 01 buck 12 pellet. Personally, I am aware of the ineffectiveness of #6 birdshot when it comes to penetration. I have three reasons for doing this:

1. Ranges inside my home do not exceed 35 feet. At that range or less, the pattern is not very large, with the shot acting almost as a single projectile. I do not expect this to 'stop' an attacker, but it certainly will distract or deter him, if nothing else. This also reduces the likelihood over penetration beyond the first interior wall.

2. Feral dogs. In consideration of my neighbors, if I am forced to discharge a round or two dispatching a persistent animal.

3. My female companion. She can operate the shotgun with buckshot, but is always a little hesitant despite all the familarization. She remembers a few times when she was careless about her 'hold' and was bruised. She knows the first two rounds are 'light' and easily handled. She also knows that the remainder and available reloads are all full powered loads. After the first round or two, it is unlikely she would realize the difference.

I prefer 01 buck over 04 because it has the best probability of hits/penetration over the expected ranges. Expected ranges include the entire acreage, which offers up to 200 foot shots. 04 buck simply does not offer single pellet stopping capability due to lack of penetration from it's smaller pellets when variables are introduced. This really comes into fruition when heavy clothing is encountered or the range extends approaches 25 yards or more.

Do keep some slugs handy. They are invaluable and a necessity for a shotgun in order for it to be fully faceted. Know where they impact.

Don't waste your money on the liabilty of 'specialty' rounds (as suggested by others before me). They are to be viewed as novelties or special application 'devices' at best.

Practice. You will love your shotgun.

December 19, 2000, 11:30 AM
The tactical (or reduced velocity) 00 are soft shooters and tend to pattern very well. I don't think these were the specialty loads others were referring to, so you may want to give them a try. Althouth it may not be any of my business what others shoot or why, it neverthelss remains that the purpose of shooting someone is to stop a violent confrontation, not to get their attention. If you just need to have their attention and shoot them with anything, you just made a very big mistake, both morally and,I suspect, legally.


December 19, 2000, 12:45 PM
Couple of more questions....

When patterning do you pattern with 1 load per target or more (2 or 3) to average out the flyers?

Is the Quickshock slug considered a dubious "specialty" slug? I stumbled across that web site and the marketing looks good; three, 180-gr. fragments at 1000+fps. Kind of like a 10mm triple-tap.

Dave McC
December 19, 2000, 01:08 PM
Bullwinkle, I use at least three shells of each load. Two ways to do this,one is to just shoot the same paper three times and start counting holes, the other is to change said paper each shot.I see no real advantage to either method, but the NRA says it's best to change the paper.

Patterning can serve two purposes here. One is to check POI/POA. The other is to observe the spread.

Also, there's no ineffective slugs. I'd call that Quicktap a specialty round of dubious value, based on price and the fact that standard, cheaper slugs are too darn effective sometimes.

It's like +P loads for the 45 Govt. Are they needed? The standard round runs 95% for one shot stops....

December 19, 2000, 06:52 PM
I use Federal Reduced Recoil 00 Buck exclusively as it patterns best in my Benelli M1S90. Whether or not you will have a need for slugs may depend on your pattern with your chosen buckshot load. Can you take that headshot at 10 yards with buckshot? You'd better know your gun's pattern at every possible distance. If you are not sure it's time for the slug select. It's certainly worth keeping a couple handy. Mine are in positions 1-3 on the sidesaddle.

John Francis

Dave McC
December 21, 2000, 02:09 PM
At 10 yards, John, the pattern from my HD 870 with 00 of choice is 3-5". Headshots are possible, but not likely.

And there's a brace of slugs handy in the SS, just to keep all bases covered.The problem is lots of folks think the slug is perfect for HD,under most circumstances.

Caveat, never have I seen buck pattern over a slug hole w/o sight realignment. So, if you zero with slugs, know that that does to POI with buck,and vice versa.