Loads for home defense

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by E.L., Aug 7, 2005.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    A couple of years ago when I bought my Mossy 500 for home defense, I asked the guy at the gunshop what he recommended for a home defense load. He told me that a #8 shot was a good option. 2 3/4 length in a all-purpose sport load was what he used. His reasoning was the it had a lower recoil, and was comfortable for a woman to shoot, and quicker back on target. He also liked the #8 as it was less likely to penetrate through walls behind the target (or numerous walls in the case of buckshot) and endanger others in the house. Having two girls this is a priority for me. I have also seen this same logic used in a gun magazine, and a med. Dr. said that he had seen the effects of smaller shot and at close ranges they made the perp's just as dead and incapacitated. I was just wondering what y'all keep in that shotgun by the bed.
  2. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    hmm, I'm gonna bumb this thread cause I'm interested in the opinions as well. I am currently saving up to buy my first shotgun. This will be used mainly for home defense. I would really like the mossberg 590, but I know that is out of my price range.

    I look forward to hearing the responses.

  3. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Hey Ryan, heres a link to the shotgun I keep on hand and use the most. Have never had any problems with it, it uses remington choke tubes and best of all if on a budget is that its comfortably under $200, also a 20 guage is a lot easier on recoil while still EXTREMELY effective. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.gsp?product_id=2685488
    I keep mine loaded with 3 in mag goose loads, #4 steel shot. I have a farm and use it a lot for critters in the chicken house and such but it would also be devistating on a 2 legged critter without excess penetration.
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah, bargains can be had. I have seen Norinko pumps with 18 inch barrel's for around $150. I bought my Mossberg 500 new for $200.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Ryan, for your purposes, a good used 12 ga shottie can be had for pretty short money. I bought a nearly unused 870 three years ago for just under 300 bux.. There are pretty decent deals to be had on used guns that are not perfect in appearance, but function just fine. A house gun does not need nor want a lot of fancy fittings and widgets, just reliable. Which usually means simple, as in an 870 or similar pump gun. There are two sounds that will freeze the ugly people, racking a 1911 or shucking a pump gun.

    Mossy 500s are a good bet. I like the 870 for the dual op rods, Mossy and Winchesters have only one last I looked. That does not lessen the utility, so don't jump on my bandwagon for that reason alone.

    Like MM, I stack the loads for inhouse, and change if outside work is called for, there is time for that I think. If a couple No 9s don't discourage them, a follow up with No 4 and/or buck will. By the time they wade thru the small pellets, they will be close enough that penetration won't matter, you can't miss. A 20 ga will do, most of the time in house service, but a 12 has a bit more versatility, IMHO.

    If you wind up with both 12 and 20, make very, very, sure of which shells you grab. 20 ga hulls will drop into a 12 bore and catch on the front of the chamber. Not a good thing if you drop a 12 ga hull in on top of it, the results will not be pleasant. Sorry if this is obvious, but stated just in case it isn't.
  6. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yup, this one is like $178 new every day at Walmart. I like the 20 guage since it dosnt beat the shooter to death with the kick like all 12 guages Ive shot but still has plenty of power to get the job done. This one is also short enouph to be comfortable to carry or use even in a house.
  7. JasoninPrescott

    JasoninPrescott Monkey+++ Founding Member

  8. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    That comes with the three choke tubes, or just one? There should have been a certificate in the box to get the longer stock and barrel for a reduced price from Mossberg.
  9. JasoninPrescott

    JasoninPrescott Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Yeah it came with the three choke tubes and a wrench. I got the sticker for the stock as well. Right now I'm waiting to pick up another barrel and cut it down to 18.5", I'm going to get the stock set and a diffrent pistol grip buttstock as well :D
  10. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Cool. I thought the youth barrel was only 22" to begin with, I wouldn't cut one for only 3 1/2 ". Federal makes a 3" Magnum # 2 buck. Buy a couple of boxes of that, and try it with your mod and full choke tubes. Shoot it at 15 or 20 yards, one of the two tubes will give a tighter pattern.
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Because I worry, make sure it's chambered for 3" Then lock and load. Sounds fun.
  12. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    I agree with ghrit, whatever you purchase 20 or 12 guage , it should be able to take a 3" load. 3 1/2 inch is too expensive to shoot (in 12 guage & 10 guage) and costs way to much. Also, the kick on a slug or buckshot is painful. the most I could shoot when sighting in my slug barrel was 11 shots and after that, I physically couldn't pull the trigger again. A 3 inch magnum slug was what I was shooting. For home protection, I think this is overkill and unnecessary unless you plan to shoot them through your front door before they enter your house. Good luck explaining that one to the police, too.
  13. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    Firearms Tactical Institute
    Web Site Index and Navigation Center

    Tactical Briefs #10, October 1998

    Shotgun Home Defense Ammunition

    For home defense, a shotgun is superior to a handgun in terms of being able to stop a violent intruder as quickly as possible. A reliable, well-made, pump-action shotgun can usually be purchased for less than the cost of a handgun of comparable quality. Also, inexpensive birdshot ammunition, typically used for training applications, is about three-fourths the cost, round for round, of comparable handgun ammunition.

    Most people typically choose a shotgun for home defense for one of three general reasons: 1) to minimize wall penetration to reduce the danger to innocent third parties in case of a missed shot, 2) to maximize wound trauma to stop a vicious assailant as quickly as possible, or 3) because a shotgun does not require as much skill as a handgun to put lead on target.

    If you're considering a shotgun for home defense or already have one, we suggest you give some serious thought to attending a one or two day "defensive shotgun" training course from a reputable shooting school. (We have a few schools listed on our Links page.) It's one thing to be armed with a well-equipped, high-tech shotgun and premium personal defense ammunition, but if you're not a skilled shotgun operator, you're the weakest link in your last-ditch home defense weapon system.

    Shotgun Pellet Wound Ballistics
    A shotgun pellet produces wound trauma by crushing the tissue it comes into direct contact with as it penetrates. In order to produce wound trauma that will be effective in quickly stopping an attacker, the pellets must penetrate his body deeply enough to be able to pass through a vital cardiovascular structure and cause rapid fatal hemorrhage to quickly deprive the brain of oxygenated blood needed to maintain consciousness.

    Shotgun pellets are classified into two general categories: 1) birdshot, of which individual pellets are typically less than .20 caliber in diameter, and 2) buckshot, which varies in diameter from .24 caliber to .36 caliber.

    Table 1 and Table 2 list nominal size and weight information about lead birdshot and buckshot, respectively.

    Table 1. Lead Birdshot

    Number Pellet Diameter
    (Inches) Average Pellet
    Weight (Grains) Approximate # of
    Pellets per Ounce
    12 .05 .18 2385
    11 .06 .25 1750
    9 .08 .75 585
    8 1/2 .085 .88 485
    8 .09 1.07 410
    7 1/2 .095 1.25 350
    6 .11 1.95 225
    5 .12 2.58 170
    4 .13 3.24 135
    2 .15 4.86 90
    BB .18 8.75 50

    Table 2. Lead Buckshot

    Number Pellet Diameter
    (Inches) Average Pellet
    Weight (Grains)
    4 .24 20.6
    3 .25 23.4
    2 .27 29.4
    1 .30 40.0
    0 .32 48.3
    00 .33 53.8
    000 .36 68.0

    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 shot will penetrate about 4 inches.

    Federal Personal Defense Shotshell
    Federal Cartridge Company offers reduced recoil Personal Defense Shotshells in 12 gauge and 20 gauge. Both are loaded with #2 lead birdshot. According to Federal's 1998 catalog, the shotshells propel their pellet payloads at a velocity of 1140 fps.

    (Note: We tested terminal performance of the 12 gauge Federal Personal Defense Shotshell, and published our results in Tactical Briefs, January 1999. Click here to read our product review.)

    12 Gauge Shotshell Ammunition
    For personal defense and law enforcement applications, the International Wound Ballistics Association advocates number 1 buckshot as being superior to all other buckshot sizes.

    Number 1 buck is the smallest diameter shot that reliably and consistently penetrates more than 12 inches of standard ordnance gelatin when fired at typical shotgun engagement distances. A standard 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge shotshell contains 16 pellets of #1 buck. The total combined cross sectional area of the 16 pellets is 1.13 square inches. Compared to the total combined cross sectional area of the nine pellets in a standard #00 (double-aught) buck shotshell (0.77 square inches), the # 1 buck shotshell has the capacity to produce over 30 percent more potentially effective wound trauma.

    In all shotshell loads, number 1 buckshot produces more potentially effective wound trauma than either #00 or #000 buck. In addition, number 1 buck is less likely to over-penetrate and exit an attacker's body.

    For home defense applications a standard velocity 2 ¾-inch #1 buck shotshell (16 pellet payload) from Federal, Remington or Winchester is your best choice. We feel the Federal Classic 2 ¾-inch #1 buck load (F127) is slightly better than the same loads offered by Remington and Winchester. The Federal shotshell uses both a plastic shot cup and granulated plastic shot buffer to minimize post-ignition pellet deformation, whereas the Remington and Winchester loads do not.

    Second best choice is Winchester's 2 ¾-inch Magnum #1 buck shotshell, which is loaded with 20 pieces of copper-plated, buffered, hardened lead #1 buckshot. For those of you who are concerned about a tight shot pattern, this shotshell will probably give you the best patterning results in number 1 buck. This load may not be a good choice for those who are recoil sensitive.

    Third choice is any standard or reduced recoil 2 ¾-inch #00 lead buckshot load from Winchester, Remington or Federal.

    If you choose a reduced recoil load or any load containing hardened Magnum #00 buckshot you increase the risk of over-penetration because these innovations assist in maintaining pellet shape integrity. Round pellets have better sectional density for deeper penetration than deformed pellets.

    Fourth choice is any 2 ¾-inch Magnum shotshell that is loaded with hardened, plated and buffered #4 buckshot. The Magnum cartridge has the lowest velocity, and the lower velocity will help to minimize pellet deformation on impact. The hardened buckshot and buffering granules also help to minimize pellet deformation too. These three innovations help to maximize pellet penetration. Number 4 hardened buckshot is a marginal performer. Some of the hardened buckshot will penetrate at least 12 inches deep and some will not.

    20 Gauge Shotshell Ammunition Recommendations
    We're unaware of any ammunition company who offers a 20 gauge shotshell that is loaded with #1 buckshot. The largest shot size commercially available that we know of is number 2 buck.

    From a strict wound ballistics standpoint, we feel the Federal Classic 3-inch 20 gauge Magnum number 2 buckshot cartridge is the best choice. It contains 18 pellets of number 2 buckshot in a plastic shotcup with granulated plastic shot buffer.

    However, the Federal Classic load might produce too much recoil for some people. Given this consideration, Remington's Premier Buckshot 2 ¾-inch 20 gauge number 3 buckshot cartridge is the next best choice. This load contains 20 pieces of nickel-plated, hardened lead shot that is buffered to reduce pellet deformation from post ignition acceleration and terminal impact. The Remington buckshot load will probably produce the tightest shot patterns in 20 gauge shotguns.

    Third place is Winchester's 3-inch 20 gauge Magnum number 3 buckshot cartridge, which contains 24 pieces of buffered, copper-plated, hardened lead shot.

    Shotgun Slugs, Flechettes and Exotic Ammunition for Home Defense?
    Unless you live on acreage and anticipate engaging bad guys at distances beyond 25 yards, shotgun slugs are not a good choice for home defense, because of their enormous capability to over-penetrate a human body and common building materials.

    Some shotgun cartridges are loaded with flechettes. These are small, steel, pointed dart-like projectiles with aft stabilization fins, and are commonly referred to as "nails with tails." The low cross sectional area of a single flechette, combined with the small amount of flechettes that can be loaded into a shotshell, makes them an inferior choice for home defense when compared to buckshot.

    Also, according to Second Chance Body Armor Company, flechettes are not effective against soft body armor, if this is a particular mission requirement for your ammunition. Steel shot also is ineffective against soft body armor.

    There are other various exotic shotshells that are best classified as gimmicks. These include rubber buckshot, bean bags, steel washers, rock salt, "Dragon's Breath," bird bombs, ceramic slugs, "bolo" projectiles and so on. The efficacy of these loads is questionable at best, and we advise you to avoid them altogether for this simple reason.

    With the right load, a shotgun can be very effective in quickly stopping the deadly violence being perpetrated by a criminal who's invaded your home.

    If you're worried that a missed shot might penetrate through a wall and harm others, load your shotgun so that the first one or two cartridges to be fired is number 6 or smaller birdshot, followed by standard lead #1 buckshot (12 gauge) or #3 buckshot (20 gauge). If your first shot misses, the birdshot is less likely to endanger innocent lives outside the room. If your first shot fails to stop the attacker, you can immediately follow-up with more potent ammunition.

    With birdshot you are wise to keep in mind that your gunfire has the potential to NOT PRODUCE an effective wound. Do not expect birdshot to have any decisive effect.

    Number 1 buckshot has the potential to produce more effective wound trauma than either #00 or #000 buck, without the accompanying risk of over-penetration. The IWBA believes, with very good reason, that number 1 buckshot is the shotshell load of choice for quickly stopping deadly criminal violence.

    End Notes
    The term "Magnum" when applied to shotshells means "more shot." Magnum shotshells usually propel their pellets at a lower velocity than a standard shotshell.

    Shotgun barrel length does not affect our shotshell recommendions.

    Cotey, Gus J.: "Number 1 Buckshot, the Number 1 Choice." Wound Ballistics Review, 2(4), 10-18, 1996.

    MacPherson, Duncan: "Technical Comment on Buckshot Loads." Wound Ballistics Review, 2(4), 19-21, 1996.

    MacPherson, Duncan: Bullet Penetration, Ballistic Publications, El Segundo, California, 1994.

    DiMaio, Vincent J.M.: Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Co., Inc., New York, New York, 1985, pp. 163-208.

    Found somebody else that advocates buckshot, explains why you don't want to use birdshot if you have to shoot more than a few feet.
  14. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    This is what I have in my shorty 12 with tac star's and 18.5" barrel
  15. JasoninPrescott

    JasoninPrescott Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I found a seperate 18.5" 3in chambered cylinder barrel, plan on ordering it tomorrow, also ordering a synthetic stock set for it. I'm going to be ordering some of that Federal #2 Buck soon. Already have a side saddle for it just waiting for the other stock set to arrive before I mount it.
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