Home Defense Shotgun Ammo

Home Defense Shotgun Ammo

What is the best shotgun ammo for home defense? It depends. I have researched the Internet to find a few ideas about this. Some definitive studies have been done using ballistics gelatin to determine the penetration and expansion characteristics of various shotgun loads.

My take on all this information is that;

1. The use of the shotgun is about protecting life, your life and that of your family, and that leaves no room for the uncertainty of non lethal force. I’m not interested in bean bags and other such non lethal ammunition. Personally, I would not shoot someone if they are outside my home and going away. But coming into my home, or already inside my home puts me into a self defense and home defense mode. To protect my family and myself pushes me into a mindset that intends to eliminate that threat. Eliminate the threat and not to incapacitate, stun, or otherwise chance the possibility of failing to eliminate the threat. Because of that intention, the ammunition I use is lethal. I use 00 buckshot and slugs in my home defense shotgun. I started using slugs after I learned how accurate a shotgun can be. That’s why my shotgun has ghost ring sights. I can put huge 3/4 inch holes into any bulls eye I choose. Slugs however can easily penetrate through walls, car doors, and generally have a devastating result.

2. Penetration of #8 birdshot is about 3 inches more or less depending on the amount of clothing worn by the assailant. The use of birdshot will cause a large wound but may not be lethal because of the low penetration. An advantage to small size #8 birdshot is that it will penetrate less through the walls inside the house.

3. 00 buckshot penetrates to about 12 inches more or less which is considered enough to deliver a lethal wound to vital organs. My 2 3/4 inch 12GA 00 buck ammo has 9 .33 Cal. pellets. I prefer the 9 pellet loads because the pattern is tighter with the particular brand of Ammo.

4. The shotgun pellets will spread out to form a pattern at the rate of about an inch to 1.5 inches per yard more or less. The spread is dependent on the ammo, the barrel, and the distance. At 10 yards the spread on my shotgun is about 10 to 15 inches in diameter. At 5 yards the spread is about 6 inches more or less. Because of the short distances inside a house, a home defense combat situation will result in a spread of from 2 or 3 inches to maybe 6 inches at most. The shot pattern spread depends on the distance to the target, the ammunition used, and the barrel and choke characteristics of the shotgun. The only way to determine the spread is to practice with your shotgun and try different loads and types of ammunition.

5. Penetration can become a liability if any pellets miss the intended target. Shotgun 00 buckshot pellets are .33 inch in diameter and can easily go through wall board. You are accountable and responsible for all 9 of the .33 Cal. pellets shot out of your shotgun in a home defense situation.

6. It is important to practice with your shotgun so that you can quickly, reliably, and safely identify the threat, quickly determine a correct course of action for the situation, then if required aim, and fire your weapon to accurately hit the intended target and eliminate the threat.

7. Seek training from a professional trainer or an approved home defense training course.

8. Practice, practice, practice and then maintain your edge by having regular practice sessions.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cebur19 Jul 18, 2013, 12:45 pm

    Yes muzzle velocity is important. The average 12GA muzzle velocity is about 1200 FPS. That is in the mid range of what you mentioned. With this in mind then the force of the nine 33 cal 00 pellets at impact is equivalent to getting hit by four 45 ACP bullets at the same time. Or put another way it is roughly equivalent to being hit by nine 380 bullets at the same time. That is some awesome force applied to the target.

  • Paul Jul 17, 2013, 6:34 pm

    I plan on using 00Buck in my shotgun for home defense. Does muzzle velocity make any difference? Shells range from 1145-1325 fps

  • cebur19 Dec 21, 2012, 11:20 am

    Thanks, I appreciate your comment. I started this site after i purchased my very first firearm, a Remington 870. That was in Nov 2009. I got hooked on guns and now I own quite a few and have also taken up reloading. I started out just to buy a gun for home defense and it developed into an enjoyable hobby. Here is a great YouTube channel that specializes in ammo tests using ballistic gel. Visit “tnoutdoors9” on YouTube.

  • Dennis Torbeck Dec 21, 2012, 8:16 am

    Thanks for the help. I feel the flight control is the best. I did see a video test matching the “FC’ and the Horaday. The problem was I could not tell if they used the same gun and distance. If they did the loads matched. Would be nice to see a test in gel. By the way like your site. As a retired police Segt. I had a real like for the shotgun.

  • cebur19 Dec 20, 2012, 9:48 pm

    After reading your comment I did some research.
    I have a problem with the Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense ammo. A plus is that it produces a tight pattern. A big negative is the price at about $3.00 a shell.
    The Federal Flite Control load gives an even tighter pattern and at $1.50 per shell it is half the cost of the Remington.
    I couldn’t find much on the Hornady except that it is 00 buck with a velocity of 1600 fps.
    If I were to choose between the three I would go with the Federal Flite Control. It looked like it had an impressively tight pattern, for example 2 1/2 inch spread at 15 yards and less than 6 inches at 20 yards.
    I’ll write a more detailed post about this interesting and important topic soon.
    Thanks for your excellent comment.

  • Dennis Torbeck Dec 19, 2012, 7:52 am

    Have you found any information on the use of the Remington Home defense BB load? I have also been looking at the Federal flight Control OO or the Horaday Tap load, any input?