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Old December 2, 2010, 04:04 PM   #1
147 Grain
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Home Defense With a Shotgun

A few things I’ve learned over the years.

For self-defense inside the home at short distances, the brand of ammo, type of choke, or size of (#1 or larger) buckshot isn't as critical as shot placement from a well-fitted 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with a simple weapon light (i.e. Streamlight TLR1 or etc...). An open Cylinder (C) or Improved Cylinder (IC) choke with Low Recoil (LR) buckshot is preferred for quicker follow-up shots.

While #1 buckshot offers the best overall terminal performance for civilians, LE Agencies still prefer hardened 00 buckshot due to its superior penetration. Sales is the driving factor as to why there are not more #1 buckshot loads to choose from for civilians. The International Wound Ballistics Association advocates “#1 buckshot as being superior to all other buckshot sizes.”

As for a shotgun, keep things simple! A lot of fancy stuff on a Home-Defense (HD) shotgun isn't necessary! A plain-jane / reliable pump or semi-auto shotgun with a short barrel will do just fine! (SIMPLICITY … and … RELIABLILITY are the operative words here.) An open-choked 18 1/2" - 20" barrel is ideal and an illuminated front bead sight provides the fastest sight picture.

Make sure the rear stock fits you OK (shorter aftermarket stocks are available from Hogue, Remington, or Knoxx Industries). A shorter LOP (Length of Pull) stock might be needed so that things can quickly line-up (straight) using YOUR natural Point of Aim (POA).

Pattern your shotgun at the range with buckshot. Practicing with #8 target loads is perfectly acceptable and saves a lot of wear and tear on the shoulder.

Pistol grips and slings reduce your reactionary and follow-up times (They have proven to be a liability inside the home!). Slings are useful over longer distances outside the home, but get in the way in close quarters. If you insist on a sling, get a quick-disconnect model for removal inside the home. A full-size stock with a pistol grip is a better overall setup than just a small stub mounted to the receiver. Most civilians will do just fine with a standard OEM stock that fits their size.

Federal's LE 9-pellet LE132-00 load @ 1,145 fps with LR Flight Control (FC) wads offers outstanding performance in and outside the home (civilian version is PD132-00). These hardened copper plated buckshot pellets penetrate plenty and full-power loads are not needed unless your semi-auto won't function reliably with LR shells or you need extended range in more open areas. The full-power version of 00 buckshot with FC is LE127-00 @ 1,325 fps.

"Birdshot, because of its small size, does not have the mass and sectional density to penetrate deeply enough to reliably reach and damage critical blood distribution organs. Although birdshot can destroy a great volume of tissue at close range, the permanent crush cavity is usually less than 6 inches deep, and this is not deep enough to reliably include the heart or great blood vessels of the abdomen. A gruesome, shallow wound in the torso does not guarantee a quick stop, especially if the bad guy is chemically intoxicated or psychotic. If the tissue crushed by the pellets does not include a vital cardiovascular structure there's no reason for it to be an effective wound.

"Many people load their shotguns with birdshot, usually #6 shot or smaller, to minimize interior wall penetration. Number 6 lead birdshot, when propelled at 1300 fps, has a maximum penetration depth potential of about 5 inches in standard ordnance gelatin. Not all of the pellets penetrate this deeply however; most of the birdshot will only penetrate about 4 inches."

The whole point of self-defense (SD) is to IMMEDIATELY stop the threat and a shallow wound from birdshot doesn't put as many odds in your favor as buckshot does! While still deadly at a slower pace, birdshot is more likely to leave the BG additional time to inflict harm (than buckshot). Use what you want for SD, as it's your life on the line. Most people want to put more odds in their favor and buckshot is more effective at preserving life than birdshot.

For outside the home, I suggest you avoid Federal's very soft Tru-Ball slugs due to their having significantly less penetration than LR 00 buckshot (i.e. LE132-00 or LE133-00). 00 buckshot with a FC wad is very effective in open areas providing the experienced shooter does his part.

Furthermore, instead of the soft foster-style slugs like Tru-Ball, Brenneke's low recoiling 1-oz. slug (Tactical Home Defense - THD) at 1,325 fps does a much better job for general purpose use outside the home.

Finally, the K.O. 1-oz. slug from Brenneke (designed for hunting) is an improved foster-style slug and likewise a deep penetrator and good for barrier penetration. The drawback is, that at 1,600 fps, recoil is significantly stronger than the THD load (above) and is overkill for self-defense. Note: The K.O. is fine, but recoil is ………… well, you know what I mean.

In short, Goldie Locks would say that Brenneke’s Tactical Home Defense load is just right! Not too soft like Federal Tru-Ball and not overkill for around the home like the K.O.


P.S. The heavy 1 ¼-oz. Brenneke slugs @ 1,476 fps are used by LE Agencies (i.e. HRT - Hostage Rescue Teams) for barrier penetration and provide the deepest penetration of any slug on the market.
Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits & throat.

Last edited by 147 Grain; December 3, 2010 at 02:43 PM.
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Old December 2, 2010, 04:54 PM   #2
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Any slug that can kill a deer will kill a man. I prefer winchesters premium sabots made in copper.
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Old December 3, 2010, 02:47 PM   #3
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True! The accuracy of smooth-bore slugs has come a long ways over the years; penetration through tougher media is where they excel. Same principle applies to the number of good buckshot loads available with tighter patterns than yesteryear.
Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits & throat.
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Old December 3, 2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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Even in a smooth bore, at HD distances the accuracy will be acceptable. You're gonna have a hard time proving defense at the 30-40 yards it takes for the difference in accuracy to become substantial
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Old December 3, 2010, 10:27 PM   #5
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chances are 2 or 3 rounds of regular target loads are going to ruin a home invaders day but I have have 2 3/4 00 buck at the ready in my 870
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Old December 8, 2010, 02:59 AM   #6
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Quote "A few things I’ve learned over the years."
Dear Sir : Just how many self defense shootings have you Been involved in?
NOT ALL self defense shootings in involve a naked, or clad in a thin T-Shirt
bad guy that stands there and gives you a clean shot from the front.

Last November,When the wanted Murderer Christopher Cottle did a
drive by shooting at MY house.
It was more like a "park in front of the house,
and empty all the bullets from all the guns in the car" shooting.
Self defense can be 40 feet away, and against a guy in a two ton car.

What if one or more of the Home invaders grabs a family member
and trys to leave with them?
Kidnapping / Rape is still popular with gangbangers.
After you skip it off of the asphalt to shoot out the rear tire
is that low recoil buckshot going to be able to still blow through a steel belted radial?

Sometimes we will have to penatrate an arm / shoulder to shoot
a Vital area. What happens if BG takes cover behind a refigerator,
freezer, washer,dryer ,or heavy wooden door?
Low recoil 00 buck will Not do the job.

We now live in the era of gangbangers.

EEA Windicator .357 fireing 158grain full jacketed hollowpoints.
If I could find 180, or 200 grain .357 then I would be useing it.
This is my "answer the door gun",
it allows me to live long enough to get to the shotgun.

Maverick Model 88 Pump.
First two rounds 3" mag. #4 buckshot with 41 pellets.
Next two 3" Mag. 000 Buckshot, last two 3" mag. rifled slug.

If you live in a nice safe area where every murderer wears shorts,
and a T-shirt. Breaks into your house,then stands real still 10 feet away
Without takeing cover. Then may GOD BLESS YOU !

I don't have that option.
I live in Jacksonville, the murder capital of Florida.
Here we better be prepared to shoot through sheet metal.

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Old December 8, 2010, 08:02 AM   #7
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The reason I do not prefer slugs for HD for my 12ga is recoil. I cannot "properly" control the blast to be quickly back on target, but 00bk im good with so thats my choice, I may move down to #4 because of the number of pellets and that would feel like shooting a 22 compared to 00. Just my .02
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Old December 8, 2010, 09:07 AM   #8
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While I agree with you about many exceptions, the above simplified version was intended as general info for the less experienced / average home owner trying to protect his family using simple measures.

When I've taught more advanced details (over the years to the LE Community) at the range and in the classroom, the exceptions and a multitude of scenarios are covered.
Aim for the Thoracic Triangle Area between the armpits & throat.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:46 AM   #9
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This may have been duplicated but very good photos of shot penetration from The Truth About Guns site article by Robert Farago 2-27-2010 "Shotgun Penetration With Various Rounds"
As every test concludes, #4 buckshot is the minimum for self-defense. The Brenneke Slugs are the second best slugs (soon to be third when Buffalo Bore comes out with its 820 grain slug) but the best are the Dixie Slugs and for home defense you could not do better than the Dixie Tri-Ball. It will pattern great out to 40 yards or more - Here is a link to Shotgun World site with photos from the Linebaugh Seminar (May 2007) dated 10-18-07. The Tri-Ball will penetrate two feet plus in wet newspaper and for comparison 00 buckshot will penetrate 7" and #4 will penetrate 3.5" - Here is link to Dixie Slugs They make an 870 grain hard cast slug "Dangerous Game" but you need a bore that is no less than .730 as the slug will not pass though a choke like the Brennekes. I would probably pick the Tri-Ball as the best all around slug/shot choice if you don't mind the recoil and want the problem done and over quick.
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Old December 11, 2010, 11:11 PM   #10
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A member on another website was sighting-in and conducting paper target hostage scenarios using Federal's Tru-Ball slugs. He noted that the plastic "ball" located in the concave hollow of the slug would act as a secondary, potentially lethal projectile creating collateral casualties and damages. The Tru-Ball 'ball' frequently hit the hostage..

Number 1 buckshot recoils way too hard (for me) for fast follow-up shots. Shot-to-shot recovery time from such heavy recoiling loads isn't worth the extra stopping power they're claimed to possess. I prefer to use reduced recoil 00 buck with RR slugs on the butt holder
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Old December 12, 2010, 10:10 AM   #11
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I just loaded 8 rounds of Winchester PDX-1 and be damned.
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Old December 12, 2010, 12:14 PM   #12
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For me, I use Winchester Supreme #1 Buck Double X Magnum 2 3/4 inch. I use it for both HD and Duty use. Out of my Winchester 1300 defender, with and Improved Cylinder, it patterned best at Shotgun ranges, under 25 yards for buck shot. Just my 2 cents worth,
Live everyday as if it is your last! Because someday you will be right.

"Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth".
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Old December 12, 2010, 12:59 PM   #13
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I do have 12ga., but my choice is my 20ga. 1300 loaded with 3" #2 buck.
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Old December 14, 2010, 10:07 AM   #14
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"I was afraid for my life". Shoot to kill! Use whatever loads you feel will accomplish that end. Wounded perps can sue for permanent injuries and leave you bankrupt. Dead men can't talk.
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