View Full Version : Best loads for home defense

September 19, 2001, 09:37 AM
I'm the proud owner of a new Mossberg 500 (18-inch barrel), and I was wondering what you guys considered the best load for home defense.

My first thought was 00 buckshot, but I've seen that some people use anything from 4 to 8 shot. Any input is appreciated.


September 19, 2001, 09:43 AM
I haven't decided completely on my choice of loads but it will be something like:

2 shots of #6 bird
1 shot of 00 buck
1 shot of slug
w/ back ups of each

I believe that at HD range, 1oz of shot is 1 oz of shot no matter the size of the pellets. The 00 and slug is for anything that is longer range or hardened targets. Hopefully the #6 will do and I don't worry as much about overpenetration in my house with the #6.


September 19, 2001, 01:20 PM
I used to think about buckshot and slugs for defense (alternated). However, if you live in an area where penetration is an issue, like a frame house with neighbors, an apartment, or a trailer, consider some cheap game loads. At close range they will take care of an intruder just fine, but they won't punch many walls.

Dave McC
September 19, 2001, 01:57 PM
The Archives have lots of input on this. A little research will give you some ideas.

At typical HD ranges, shot size is moot. The load hits as a semi solid mass, think of a .73 caliber Glaser Safety Slug at 1100 FPS plus.

The HD 870 here is mix loaded. First into the chamber is a field load, 6s or 8s. Same next, then some 00 I've tested and found to be reliable and effective. The SideSaddle has more buck and a pair of slugs, just in case of an unlikely move to the outside. No slugs inside, I LIKE my neighbors...

David Park
September 19, 2001, 02:23 PM
As a related question, how does 7 1/2 or 8 shot compare to 6 shot as a manstopper? I ask because, of all the shotgun ammo currently on sale, 7 1/2 is the largest shot size I've seen. I'm assuming use inside my apartment, with distances from point blank to 15 yards.

Also, would there be any disadvantage to using "lite" or "xtra lite" target loads for HD? If I understand correctly, these shotshells have less recoil (and less noise?) because they contain less birdshot and therefore require less powder to achieve the same velocity. Assuming the shot has sufficient penetration, will the amount of shot make much difference? Is there really less noise?

I know the "which HD load" question has been rehashed a lot here, but I'm more interested in learning the whys and hows of choosing a HD shotgun load.

David Park
September 19, 2001, 02:29 PM
Dave McC, you posted while I was typing. Thanks for answering the shot size question. Any comments on the "xtra lite" loads?

Dave McC
September 19, 2001, 02:36 PM
The Fed database used to(and still may)show that one shot stop capability of shotguns was close to 100%, regardless of load or gauge. This includes the 410, but it's not used much for HD.

ALL shot loads go through tissue as a lead plug, 3/4" in diameter at typical HD ranges. I doubt anyone could measure any difference in effectiveness.

Suggestion, since you appear doubtful. Measure the longest shot opp possible in your house, add one yard for GPs, and pattern your load of choice at that distance. If it's larger than shirt pocket size, congrats on living in a mansion, or maybe a bowling alley(G).

One caveat. Some ammo and some shotguns are not totally compatible. Fire off a couple hundred rounds of your load of choice at some clay game or at game before staking your life on it.

Double Naught Spy
September 19, 2001, 07:21 PM
Several guys at the range where I used to shoot considered #4 shot to be a good home defense load that would work for any family member to shoot (teenager or older). Novel idea.

I use 00 buck tactical load. I have an ammo bag (old fanny pack) set up with slugs, bird shot, and 00 as well, like I might have time to reload and decide to go with another type of round if 00 wasn't working.

I liked the tactical load since it was powered down a little which should still be more than sufficient for the interior of my home, back or front yard. I don't plan to shoot people out in the yard, but I have patterned my gun to see what I can expect with 00 buck tactical at fence/road distances from the house.

Al Thompson
September 19, 2001, 07:31 PM
Curley, welcome to the forum. By the way, this has to be in the top two or three most cussed/discussed questions on here. :)

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