A shotgun offers a variety of different options that most weapons cannot come close to comparing to. These options range from ammo selection, action, accessories, stocks, sights, and calibers.
Shotguns can be adapted for a number of different duties while simply switching ammo. Want to hunt squirrels or dove with your twelve gauge? Throw in some bird shot or small games loads and go at it.
You see a buck while squirrel hunting – throw in some buckshot or a slug. Are you a police officer who needs a less than lethal option? Rubber buckshot or rubber slugs work perfectly. Are you a Marine who needs to breech a door? A shotgun can do it, and do it damn well.
Shotguns have been around for centuries and will continue to be around until something better comes along. When placed in a defensive situation, especially a home defense situation the shotgun shines. The shotgun has a wide of variety of different loads for self-defense one can choose and each of these are unique and capable of filling a specific niche.
What’s the absolute best round for home defense though? First off we need to set parameters for how we judge ammo. For example for home defense we should stick to standard loads, this meaning no magnum loads, simple two and three quarter shells.
Even though three inch, and three and a half inch loads, these are more so designed for hunting, and are just a bit overkill for your typical home invader.
Bird Shot, Buckshot & Slugs
So that parameter is set, next focus on the different kinds of loads, bird shot, buckshot, and slugs. We are not going to use exotic rounds because most are not extremely useful. Rounds like flechette and dragon’s breath seems cool, but ultimately they are not effective for home defense.
So let’s look at bird shot. Many people will say birds hot is perfect for home defense. People say things like “at close range it’s just as good as a slug, but it won’t penetrate your walls and harm your neighbor.”
They are half right, it won’t penetrate your walls, but it doesn’t act like a slug. If it did it would penetrate walls. No load of bird shot penetrates deep enough to score a vital hit.
The argument about bird shot as an effective man stopper but doesn’t pierce walls is as ridiculous as it sounds. If it can’t pierce walls how will it stop men? It doesn’t make sense. Bird shot does not penetrate enough ballistic gel to be considered an effective kill shot.
In reality not a single bird shot load is capable of piercing the doctor prescribed 12 inches of ballistic gel. Sure at extremely close range, and we’re talking bad breath distance, bird shot can kill, but I don’t want to be that close.
Bird shot is made for birds and squirrels and that’s it. When fighting the zombie hoard of squirrels go ahead and load up on bird shot. Bird shot does is a specific round for specific purpose and that purpose is not fighting.
So what about slugs? Slugs are excellent at penetration and can really expand your firepower out to 100 yard easily, with just a bead sight. Slugs are very heavy and can be devastating to the body. Slugs can be a fighting round for sure, but inside the home not so much. Slugs are good for long range, but a shotgun is most effective at close range firing it’s namesake, shot.
Slugs can definitely be kept in your shotgun armament, you never know where the fight is going to take you. You could find yourself fighting outside your home, or from inside your home to a threat outside your home. A good, powerful slug like the (Insert product) is perfect for extending the fighting range of a shotgun.
Slugs are capable of some mighty penetration. You can pierce most parts of a car, doors certainly, and nearly anything else you’d find inside your home. This can be an issue for inside the home. A slug is capable of both penetrating a person and continuing through their body and really over penetrating, this is made worse at close range.
Self-defense slugs do exist, specifically designed not to over penetrate like the Winchester PDX 12 gauge, and it’s backed by three rounds of buckshot. Still it’s not the best round for fighting inside the home.
So we are left with buckshot. Buckshot has been the standard self defense round for police and military for decades. Buckshot contains multiple projectiles much larger than a bird shot projectile. Buckshot varies in size and amount of pellets, but is most capable of stopping a close range attack.
Vital shots that stop an attacker are judged by two things, penetration and shot placement. The round needs to be capable of penetrating at least 12 inches of 10% percent ballistic gel. So buckshot size no 1 and larger has the capability of meeting the penetration requirements. So what about shot placement?
Shot placement is difficult, even more so when your attacker is a wriggling, moving, dipping, dodging, ducking attacker. Scoring a vital shot can be extremely difficult. A shotgun reduces the difficulty by firing multiple projectiles into the body.
These projectiles continue to moving and spreading and creating a multitude of different wound channels. Every projectile is capable of scoring a grievous wound that can stop an attack.
Even is you didn’t score a vital hit the multitude of projectiles and damage done is often enough to stop the attacker. So what kind of buckshot should one use?
The standard double ought buckshot load has been considered the standard load for fighting close range. Double ought buckshot it typically 8 to 9 pellets of 33 caliber round balls. The load is used by police and military nationwide.
Rounds like the Federal Premium Personal Defense loads are perfect, they combine low recoil, and short range with a tight shot group. Rounds like this are excellent man stopper and are specifically designed for self-defense.
Now another shotgun load that is often overlooked is number one buckshot. Number buckshot is 16 pellets of 30 caliber pellets. Number 1 is capable of the penetration necessary to score a vital hit, and the paylod is doubled.
Number 1 has a lower penetration which means less chance of hurting a family member in the same home. Winchester Super x No 1 buckshot is perfect for home defense duty.
One other buckshot that is popular for home defense is number 4. Number 4 is 27 small pellets. Number 4 does not meet the penetration test for a vital hit, but can stop an attack. This is the load one can use if penetrating walls and retaining killing power is a serious concern.
This specialty load should be used if you believe that NO 1 and 00 is just too big. Federal Premium Personal Defense has a NO 4 load, and if you have too use Number 4 you should use one built for self-defense.
When a weapon for home defense is chosen it’s most important to be proficient with it. Being proficient with your weapon is more important than the round you choose any day. Get proficient, get some practice, and then choose the right load for you.