View Full Version : Re-evaluating my HD shotgun loading

December 8, 2001, 01:19 AM
I just bought a new shotgun and as I was unloading my 870 to reasign it to camp/canoeing duty, I started thinking about my current bedside load out. I keep it loaded with 3 rounds of #8 "game load" set to come out first, with 2, 3in mag OO Buck in the bottom of the tube...empty chamber. I figure if they manage to take 3 blasts of #8 to the face/neck area then they are going to be pretty hard to stop and I better pull out all the stops. At teh time I desided on this loading I was married w/ no kids. That ment everyone in the house would be in the same room and together in the event of a home invasion at night. I live in a subdivision, but the houses are spaced out pretty good and I'm on a corner lot..one less neighbor. I also have my first child on the way. The houses in the neighbor hood are all typical single family homes w/ drywall, wooden studs and vinyl sideing (just though of another advantage of brick). Assuming the burgelers dont mess up and come through the bedroom window, chances are, I would be fireing down the hall or more likely, towards the bedroom door. Fireing down the hall would mean stray pellets would have to penetrate one interior wall, my kitchen and one exterior wall. The neighbors house is about 15 yards outside my kitchen. Fore safety sake, lets assume they are directly on the other side of their first exterior wall. that would mean the pellets would have to penetrate 1 interior and 2 exterior walls, and misc. pictures, apliances and furniture. How would you asess the danger in this direction. If I fired towards my bedroom door from the general are of my bed the pellets (worse possible angle assumed) would go through the now open bedroom door, through the hallway, through the open door of my office, through either an exterior wall or the window, across my hard, the road and my neighbors yard ,aprox. 50 yards, and through one exterior wall of the neighbors house (same assumption). How much danger would I pose to the neighbors in this direction. The danger to my future child is negligable, as the nursery is across and down the hall. I cant invision a situation where I would need to fire in this direction. Even if I did, a quick side-step could fix the angles. Has anyone done any testing w/ buckshot on drywall? How many sheets does it penetrate..at what ranges? Should I go to 2 3/4 buckshot or just switch to smaller shot(#4-#1) in 3in. WOuld high-brass #6 make a better choice for the first rounds out of the tube? How is their penetration on drywall?

Sorry for all the questions at once.

<1 am spelling...go figure>

Will Beararms
December 8, 2001, 01:22 AM
I stay with 6,7 or 8's.

Al Thompson
December 8, 2001, 07:53 AM
Carbon, I have almost the same situation. The only "safe" direction for a buckshot round in my house is out the back. All other directions have neighbors in the line of fire.

As Erick mentioned, check the longest distance in your home. For me, it's about 15 yards and is one of the most likely avenues of approach for a bad guy. However, there is a home on the other side of the wall.

The issue becomes one of effectiveness of a birdshot round. Having shot a few critters with various loads, I'm confident that my loads of # 2 plated shot would turn someone around even at 15 yards. Under 10 yards, even # 8s act as a super Glaser round and are quite lethal. Firearms tactical ran some tests on gelatin with 2s and found that (IIRC) while the load was a bit short of optimum, it would still penetrate enough.

While I would rather have a proven load (buckshot in any flavor), common sense and public safety dictate that I use a load that lmits overpenetration.

The only scenario I could envision where my choice of ammo could endanger me or mine would be in a full scale gunfight where I'd be up against folks shooting behind cover. That's why we have sidesaddles filled with buckshot/slugs. :D



Dave McC
December 8, 2001, 11:07 AM

Maybe a decade ago, I read an article on San Quentin, the only prison in the US where guns are routinely carried inside. COs patrol "Gun Walks", elevated walkways in the prison and use 870s with #8 shot loads. This is not for overpenetrations so much as ricochet potential. They devised a method of taking down a inmate by firing a round into the pelvic area. The writer spoke of seeing an evidence photo where the wad was stuck in the pelvic bone, what we would call the hip. The COs reported good results with this technique. Ranges were short. Note this occurs during combat, when adrenaline is running, and the targets oft large, violent and in excellent physical shape.

Longest shot opp possible at Casa McC is 10 yards, and 5 yards much more likely. I mix load, with two trap loads of 8s up first, then 00. The paradigm is I may need to shoot through my refrigerator, thus the 00. In actual fact, there's no difference in effect at these ranges.

I've some old #2 lead goose loads from days of yesteryear, and I may recycle them into something of around 1000 FPS, with a 1/2 oz payload. These should do well for HD, and pose LESS risk of overpenetration,as well as being quite manageable for non shotgunners to use effectively at close to very close ranges, such as occur in our houses. Will advise...

December 8, 2001, 05:33 PM
thanks for all the info guys. I think I have desided to go with 2 rounds of #8 "game load" as the first out of the tube followed by 3, 2 3/4 9pellet 00 buck. My only change being going with non magnum buckshot. I thought about swithching to #1 or #2 buck (I personaly favore #1 for deer) but desided even though the penetration is less in drywall, haveing more pellets to account for made the risk equal or greater. If things are going really bad I Have 3, 3in 00buck and 2 rifled slugs in the buttstock ammo sleave. If things have deteriorated to that point, I need to start looking for a rifle and my car keys.
Like Gizmo, my longest fessable shot would be about 15 yards. Most likely, if a home invasion ever did happen, I would be huddled behind the bed, waiting on the 911 dispatch. The only time I would fire would be if the boggie man desided to plunder the BR. That shot would be about 7-8 yards.

BTW, Long time no see Giz. You probly dont remember me. last time I saw you I had a webtv addy and a different user name. If you remeber, we met at Dicks sporting goods about a year ago in the ammo department over the deal of the century on Breneke Slugs. If your supply is low, I suggest you run over there now..they just marked 'em down to $1.77 a box. I bought all they had on the floor. Make great pumpkin busters. They seem to practicly give away thier shotgun ammo stock about once a year..wonder why? Did someone tell them shells go bad...promise it wasnt me :)

We really shoule get some lunch or go fire a few rounds over at MidCarolina (I finaly joined) some time.

Jason Weaver
P.S. If you remember my Wife that was with me at Dick's...she is about 5 monthes pregnant with my first baby now.

December 8, 2001, 06:46 PM
I live out in the 'sticks' with no neighbors (thankfully!) so where the round ends up is of less concern. I load my 870 slug gun with high brass 4s followed by a pair of 00 buck. It gets pressed into duty fairly regularly for varmint control and the 4s do well at all reasonable ranges. Got 1 of 2 coyotes fighting over what was left of a kitty in the front yard, coons, groundhogs, etc. In a HD situation I feel adequately prepared.

December 9, 2001, 12:51 AM

I kept 2 rounds of #8 followed by buckshot for years, before talking to a cop with 24 years experience in a rough part of town.

I then patterned my 18 inch barrelled Rem 870 non man-sized targets at 7 yards. My #8 shot I had a circular pattern 36" in diameter - yes 36 inches.

Utterly useless in MY gun.

I have switched to pure buckshot ever since.

In my case birdshot is for birds only. In my 26" and 28" barrelled guns, #8 would be perfect, but not in my HD 870.

The best solution to over penetration worries is practice and effective HD lessons. Be sure of your target and hit it solidly in the center. No worries about penetration.
For night time, put a surefire light on your shotgun - if anyone thinks $210 for one is expensive, then imagine shooting your kid by mistake.

Take care,


Dave McC
December 9, 2001, 08:58 AM
Thanks, Erick. That article mentioned the COs move in pairs, one Mini, one 870, both lanyarded to the Officers, along with sidearms.

I had reservations about shotgun use in an environment that "Target Rich", but a Ca CO on the old Prodigy BB reported no probs...

December 9, 2001, 11:50 AM
Surefire fore-end..got it. have had one on my HD shotguns for about 3 years now. Cought alot of flack before this whole tactical flashlight phase caught on.
My new shotgun and the old one has a Full choke, so #8 at 15 yards threw about a 15in pattern, about 8 inches at 7 yards. Seemed pretty effective to me, especialy to the face and throte

December 9, 2001, 12:16 PM
"The best solution to over penetration worries is practice and effective HD lessons. Be sure of your target and hit it solidly in the center."

That's the key! Most shooters are way too concerned about "overpenetration" and not nearly concerned enough about hitting and dropping the target with one shot. No. 2 is my choice.