Thinking about buckshot

Reviews and discussion of shotgun ammo.

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Antiquus
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Thinking about buckshot

#1 Post by Antiquus » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:51 pm

The only shotgun I own is an old Winchester 1300 16ga pump. It's a bit ratty, but I got it cheap, and it works fine, I even managed to replace the water damaged stock with something better looking for $25, and remove the magazine block so It finally gets the 4+1 it's capable of. One of the things that amuses me is the whole gun is held together with a single big nut, simple and it works fine.

Once or twice a year it goes out for clay pigeon fun, otherwise it's considered a possible home defense gun. Since it's in the safe I don't keep it loaded and ready as I do handguns, but I really believe shotguns are a force that's unmatched for the average home/gun owner.

Owning a 16ga, ammo choices are limited but it's fairly easy to find #1 buck loads. Well crap, I can get .410 in 000 buck, what's with this? After looking at it a bit, this might be a good thing......

000 buck is a 0.36" dia while #1 buck is 0.30" - not really all that much difference, but you have to respect 000 buck's 60% greater weight. But one ball does not a shotgun load make, and there is the matter of A) how many balls fit in the shell and conversely how much wasted volume there is in the shell (hint - bigger balls = more wasted space) and B) penetration.

Penetration seems not to be a problem for 12 gauge loads at least, but the most amazing thing (to me) is after buying a mighty 12 gauge for home defense or law enforcement, the market for self defense 12ga buckshot loads has a lot of reduced recoil listings. Hmmm.... It appears throwing 2100ft/lbs of energy downrange involves some recoil and time to get back on target, so loadings at lesser energies are common.

Penetration. 000 buck weighs 68 grains and a typical 2¾" 12ga round is 8 pellets. #1 buck load is 40 grains and 16 pellets. Full power loads for each is 1325fps and 1250fps respectively. That results for 000 buck 544gr of lead at 2120ft/lb vs 640gr at 2220ft/lbs for #1 buck. Hmmmm...

Someone put this together nicely on the Chuck Hawks website (feel free to skip this if you can't stand Hawk's political views) - it's at http://www.chuckhawks.com/home_defense_shotgun_ammo.htm The point I had been looking for here was the penetration of different buckshot loads , and he cites the Firearms Tactical Institute, which seems to be one guy, but I assume somewhere in there is data, but I couldn't find it. The problem is the sectional density - a sphere is the smallest surface area that can enclose a volume, but it also has the greatest diameter for the enclosed volume (and weight) of any bullet shape. Ah - but many bullets are now HP'a that deform to much great diameters after impact, and CCI's .22lr 40gr out of a rifle at 1250 fps will expand over 0.35", while getting penetration in ballistic gelatin easily over 12". So with what I think is a reasonable analogy I can believe that #1 buckshot load might have enough penetration to make a good to great defense load.

OK my 16 gauge loads are 12 pellets at 1225fps, for 1600ft/lbs on target, about the same as some 12ga reduced recoil loads, so it looks about right.

For a 20ga, there isn't anything I could find this effective. I found 1 loading of Heavi-Shot in one place in 00 buck, but description doesn't fit the ammo, so I can't recommend it. I found #1 buck loadings but in steel, which would be lighter and lack penetration the standard stuff has. It looks like the common 20ga loading is #3 buck, at 23 grains/pellet I'm not too optimistic about it's performance. If I was using a 20, I would have to regard it as less than lethal, and load it with something like BB and depend on the shock to incapacitate, and be ready for the second shot.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#2 Post by Elmo » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:33 pm

Antiquus wrote:For a 20ga, there isn't anything I could find this effective. I found 1 loading of Heavi-Shot in one place in 00 buck, but description doesn't fit the ammo, so I can't recommend it. I found #1 buck loadings but in steel, which would be lighter and lack penetration the standard stuff has. It looks like the common 20ga loading is #3 buck, at 23 grains/pellet I'm not too optimistic about it's performance. If I was using a 20, I would have to regard it as less than lethal, and load it with something like BB and depend on the shock to incapacitate, and be ready for the second shot.
I bought a 20g Rem 870 several years ago for my wife and teenage daughters to learn to shoot. I looked around for home defense loads for it, and my experience was like yours. The heaviest buckshot load I found for 20g was #3 buck. I would consider that an acceptable HD load however.

Then there are slugs for 20g which could be loaded if one needs to bring down a charging rhino.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#3 Post by JoelB » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:02 am

In your house you want the lightest buckshot available. Across a room, birdshot is actually all you need. You sure as hell don't want to hit a family member or neighbor on the other side of a plasterboard wall.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#4 Post by IndigoSix » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:46 am

JoelB wrote:In your house you want the lightest buckshot available. Across a room, birdshot is actually all you need. You sure as hell don't want to hit a family member or neighbor on the other side of a plasterboard wall.
If it won't penetrate drywall, it won't penetrate an attacker.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#5 Post by Antiquus » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:35 pm

Yea we can have that argument about bird vs BB vs buck, it's still raging all over the internet and no one's won it yet. I'm a fan of put something in it you know works, and watch where you shoot. Also, no kids in my house, just me and the wife.

My other thought is, getting hit by anything from a shotgun is going to ruin your day, even if it's a bean bag.
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It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defense of our nation worthwhile. -Earl Warren

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#6 Post by Elmo » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:52 pm

Antiquus wrote:Yea we can have that argument about bird vs BB vs buck, it's still raging all over the internet and no one's won it yet. I'm a fan of put something in it you know works, and watch where you shoot. Also, no kids in my house, just me and the wife.

My other thought is, getting hit by anything from a shotgun is going to ruin your day, even if it's a bean bag.
I agree.

There are a lot of considerations. What range to you envision shooting at, how dense is the dwelling (e.g., apartment building vs. suburban neighborhood vs. farm house), and so on.

At the range of most indoor engagements (10 yards or less), 20g #3 buck is plenty lethal and even birdshot will probably get it done.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#7 Post by yentna » Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:18 pm

While getting hit with a load of birdshot may not be lethal, it'll take someone down and keep them there - at least I assume they wouldn't likely get up when another load would be the result.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#8 Post by fishingal » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:33 pm

At the range of most indoor engagements (10 yards or less), 20g #3 buck is plenty lethal and even birdshot will probably get it done.

Personally, I use #4 and #6 for HD in my home, because my possible clear shooting confrontaton area with an intruder is 7 yds. max! It has been pointed ou to me if you shoot someone much over that distance, the legal burden of justifying a homicide could be a challenge for "fearing for your life and well being"? :!:

I don['t want to kill anyone unless I have no choice and then it would be awful. :ohmg:

My intent is to simply stop a threat not destroy a person if not necessary. :weep:

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#9 Post by punkinlobber » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:18 pm

I use steel BB 3 inch goose loads for home defense. I can't remember if the 1300 replaced the model 12 after the advent of steel shot or not. Be careful what rounds you use on older, softer barrels. I like steel because it is very fast coming out of the muzzle but is prone to rapid deceleration with any resistance. You have a much reduced probability of harming a family member in another room using steel, but close up and personal, it is brutal.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#10 Post by Elmo » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:25 pm

punkinlobber wrote:I use steel BB 3 inch goose loads for home defense. I can't remember if the 1300 replaced the model 12 after the advent of steel shot or not. Be careful what rounds you use on older, softer barrels. I like steel because it is very fast coming out of the muzzle but is prone to rapid deceleration with any resistance. You have a much reduced probability of harming a family member in another room using steel, but close up and personal, it is brutal.
That's interesting. I've never seen a case made for steel shot in HD before, or even heard anything good to say about steel shot (other than not poisoning wildlife).

Makes sense to me. It's similar to the principle behind those Air Marshall handgun loads -- deadly at short range, but designed not to overpenetrate.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#11 Post by JayFromPA » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:14 pm

IndigoSix wrote:
JoelB wrote:In your house you want the lightest buckshot available. Across a room, birdshot is actually all you need. You sure as hell don't want to hit a family member or neighbor on the other side of a plasterboard wall.
If it won't penetrate drywall, it won't penetrate an attacker.
This goes all the way back to galileo dropping ten single grapes and a clump of ten grapes on the stem from a height. After all, it's still ten grapes either way, whether connected or not. And that was his model for destroying the presumption that a larger mass was innately better than the equal amount of mass in smaller pieces, merely because "it's bigger". Ten grapes is ten grapes, whether on the stem or not, they fall the same.

One ounce of buck is one ounce of bird, it's all the same jillion lead atoms flying along. The divergence is the shot spread. In the cases of missing the attacker, you want the spread to expand so that the energy isn't as focused, like laying down on the ice so your weight isn't focused into the smaller per-square-inch of your feet. Spread, baby, spread, because it's better to pepper the near wall with a bunch of small divots than puncture into the next room with a few pellet holes. In the case of hitting the attacker, one ounce of lead at speed X is still one ounce of lead at speed X whether that jillion atoms is traveling in a pack of 200 beads or a family herd of 9 buck pellets. 1 jillion = 1 jillion. And again, it's better to have the impact site on the attacker mashed with a pack of 200 beads than have a through-and-through because that jillion atoms of lead were flying in a family group of 9 buck pellets.

Birdshot is the shotgun version of hollow point technology, spreading the energy out over a larger diameter of area in order to disperse that energy on impact rather than preserve that energy for deeper penetration.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#12 Post by fishingal » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:43 pm

JayFromPA wrote:
IndigoSix wrote:
JoelB wrote:In your house you want the lightest buckshot available. Across a room, birdshot is actually all you need. You sure as hell don't want to hit a family member or neighbor on the other side of a plasterboard wall.
If it won't penetrate drywall, it won't penetrate an attacker.
This goes all the way back to galileo dropping ten single grapes and a clump of ten grapes on the stem from a height. After all, it's still ten grapes either way, whether connected or not. And that was his model for destroying the presumption that a larger mass was innately better than the equal amount of mass in smaller pieces, merely because "it's bigger". Ten grapes is ten grapes, whether on the stem or not, they fall the same.

One ounce of buck is one ounce of bird, it's all the same jillion lead atoms flying along. The divergence is the shot spread. In the cases of missing the attacker, you want the spread to expand so that the energy isn't as focused, like laying down on the ice so your weight isn't focused into the smaller per-square-inch of your feet. Spread, baby, spread, because it's better to pepper the near wall with a bunch of small divots than puncture into the next room with a few pellet holes. In the case of hitting the attacker, one ounce of lead at speed X is still one ounce of lead at speed X whether that jillion atoms is traveling in a pack of 200 beads or a family herd of 9 buck pellets. 1 jillion = 1 jillion. And again, it's better to have the impact site on the attacker mashed with a pack of 200 beads than have a through-and-through because that jillion atoms of lead were flying in a family group of 9 buck pellets.

Birdshot is the shotgun version of hollow point technology, spreading the energy out over a larger diameter of area in order to disperse that energy on impact rather than preserve that energy for deeper penetration.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#13 Post by punkinlobber » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:51 pm

My dad always told me that the poor folks in Albany GA where he grew up would take their standard hunting shell, number 6 or 7&1/2 bird shot, and would modify it for home defense. He said they would open the shell up at the crimp and pour in hot wax and then re-crimp the shell as best they could. He said the local doctors hated those things because there wasn't much they could do to help the poor person hit by one of those shells.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#14 Post by lemur » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:57 pm

punkinlobber wrote:My dad always told me that the poor folks in Albany GA where he grew up would take their standard hunting shell, number 6 or 7&1/2 bird shot, and would modify it for home defense. He said they would open the shell up at the crimp and pour in hot wax and then re-crimp the shell as best they could. He said the local doctors hated those things because there wasn't much they could do to help the poor person hit by one of those shells.
I coincidentally recently ran across a video showing how to do that:

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#15 Post by Elmo » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:14 pm

Interesting about the wax slugs.

Seems like the guy in the video could benefit from using a funnel.

Note that he uses extra wax to seal the cut-off end of the shell, rather than trying to uncrimp and recrimp.

What are the advantages of using a homemade wax/birdshot slug over a store bought solid lead slug? Cheaper? Anything else?
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#16 Post by Antiquus » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:11 pm

One would be weight, as the wax just fills up the volume formerly taken by air and doesn't take the place of any of the lead. As the round hits the target, the wax becomes the energy transfer mechanism, probably liquefies and transfers the energy very well, liquids being incompressible. So it will act like a heavy slug, pretty nasty - but also you loose the effects of the spread of shot and this thing isn't rifled or even drag stabilized as a shotgun slug is so accuracy beyond 25 yards shouldn't be expected.
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#17 Post by JayFromPA » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:49 pm

punkinlobber wrote:My dad always told me that the poor folks in Albany GA where he grew up would take their standard hunting shell, number 6 or 7&1/2 bird shot, and would modify it for home defense. He said they would open the shell up at the crimp and pour in hot wax and then re-crimp the shell as best they could. He said the local doctors hated those things because there wasn't much they could do to help the poor person hit by one of those shells.
What would be more brutal, the improv wax slug or a cut shell?


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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#18 Post by Sonofagun » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:39 am

IndigoSix wrote:
JoelB wrote:In your house you want the lightest buckshot available. Across a room, birdshot is actually all you need. You sure as hell don't want to hit a family member or neighbor on the other side of a plasterboard wall.
If it won't penetrate drywall, it won't penetrate an attacker.
It will be a very uncomfortable experience at the least. And it will penetrate his eyeballs and his gonads at the same time.

I keep Remington slugger slugs in my 12ga. 1100. I use the slugger rather than the sabbot because it has the Smoothe bore slug barrel and I use slugs so I "can" shoot thru the wall. I also know my reactive self well enough and have had enough experience to know "I won't miss". This statement does not apply to my handguns or any rifle.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#19 Post by punkinlobber » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:41 pm

The wax shatters on impact and the birdshot fragments violently. Penetration is very shallow.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#20 Post by JayFromPA » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:43 pm

punkinlobber wrote:The wax shatters on impact and the birdshot fragments violently. Penetration is very shallow.
So, for the wax, there's really nothing to do other than close any vessels and just coat/fill the rest of the meat crater with some sort of antibiotic topical cream, cover it all with a bandage and hope.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#21 Post by Antiquus » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:29 pm

punkinlobber wrote:The wax shatters on impact and the birdshot fragments violently. Penetration is very shallow.
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f96_1329027027
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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#22 Post by punkinlobber » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:06 am

Just Wow!

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#23 Post by gaucheGlock » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:35 pm

larrymod wrote:Interesting about the wax slugs.

Seems like the guy in the video could benefit from using a funnel.

Note that he uses extra wax to seal the cut-off end of the shell, rather than trying to uncrimp and recrimp.

What are the advantages of using a homemade wax/birdshot slug over a store bought solid lead slug? Cheaper? Anything else?
It's also interesting that a forum member mentioned exactly the same thing to me recently. He called it a DIY frangible round - it stays together and penetrates like a slug, but then comes apart and spreads, but doesn't exit.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#24 Post by Pfletch83 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:47 am

Not trying to sound negative with this.

An improv. load that could work is better than nothing at all.

But in my opinion #4 buck is better suited for home defense, the pellets are small enough to be effective if used through a choke,the pellet caliber (.24 if memory serves),weight of numbers and increased chance of punching deep enough to hit the vitals of a threat and transfer a considerable amount of energy make it a good option.

#4 buck can be had in 12,20,and (Thanks to the folks at Federal).410.


I understand that some don't like the idea of killing another human being (Trust me you aren't alone in that) but if the need to use a weapon for self defense arises, I would rather it be the attacker than myself or another honest citizen.

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Re: Thinking about buckshot

#25 Post by brandonsmash » Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:47 am

I will never use homemade ammunition in any firearm that may be used for a defensive purpose. If, gods forfend, I should ever have to take a life the last thing I would want would be a lawyer breathing down my neck, accusing me of "manufacturing extra-lethal violent ammunition" or somesuch. I would not even use a reload as a defensive round.

All my firearms that may ever see actual duty, if they're loaded while I'm at home, are loaded with commercially-available ammunition. I prefer to use the same defensive loads as the local police department, as well.

My defensive shotgun is loaded with standard #00 buckshot. No way in hell would I run a cut shot or a wax shot in a defensive gun.

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