We gun folk are exceptionally guilty of repeating hearsay and assuming it’s truth. You know how it works. If some hypothetical scenario gets repeated enough, it becomes the truth.

This week’s Mad Gun Science experiment has to do with the idea of using birdshot for home defense. This one has two “hearsay” truths.

Birdshot is effective at short range because the shot acts like one big projectile before it has a chance to spread out too much.

Birdshot is not effective for home defense because the small and light pellets won’t penetrate enough to stop a determined home invader.

Rather than discuss the theoretical merits of each argument, I decided to go shoot some stuff with birdshot at very short ranges. For ammo, I elected to use a broad range of what might be considered birdshot. This is not any test of specific brands or loads of shot shells, just what I had on hand that represented a cross section of sizes of birdshot pellets. Oh, all of these are 12 gauge loads.

Remington Sportsman Hi-Speed Steel #1, 1 ¼ oz, 3”, 1,400 fps

Remington Premier Hevi-Shot Buffered Waterfowl, #4, 1 ¼ oz, 2 ¾”, 1,325 fps

Federal Target Load, # 7 ½, 1 ⅛ oz, 2 ¾”, 1,145 fps

Winchester Universal, #8, 1 ⅛ oz, 2 ¾”, 1,200 fps

For the gun, I chose to use my Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun. It’s a perfect home defense gun and features an 18” cylinder bore barrel. Since the test gun is un-choked, you might assume slightly better results if you use a choke to narrow your pattern even more.

Group size

Since the theory is kinda based on the concept of the shot acting more like a solid projectile at short range, I figured it was a good idea to measure pattern sizes before I started blowing things to pieces.

Here’s what I found.

Birdshot pattern sizes

Shooting hard objects

Since I couldn’t find anyone willing to get blasted with birdshot, I found some substitute materials in my garage. While it’s obvious that buckshot will go through just about anything, especially at short range, I wasn’t really sure at what distance small birdshot would start to lose effectiveness in terms of the “mass of shot” theory.

I had a good bit of ⅞” and ½” plywood collecting dust, so I nailed some to a target stand and shot it with all four shot sizes from both 10 and 15 foot ranges.

At a range of 10 feet, all shot sizes made dramatic holes in this 7/8" thick plywood.
At a range of 10 feet, all shot sizes made dramatic holes in this 7/8″ thick plywood.

From 10 feet, all four pellet sizes blew single large holes right through a single sheet of ⅞” plywood, as the “mass of pellets at short range” theory indicated. Not being satisfied with success, I broke out some of the ½” plywood sheets and put two of them out, one behind the other and tried the “common” #7 ½ shot. Again, the shot went right through both sheets and left a single large hole.

At a range of 10 feet, even #7 1/2  birdshot penetrated (2) 1/2" thick pieces of plywood.
At a range of 10 feet, even #7 1/2 birdshot penetrated (2) 1/2″ thick pieces of plywood.

From 15 feet away, I started to see the effects of a spreading shot pattern. When fired at the single ⅞” plywood, only the #1 shot cooking along at 1,400 feet per second made a single ragged hole. The #4 shot did penetrate the plywood, sort of. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe ⅓ of the shot pellets made it through. The #7 ½ and #8 shot did not penetrate the ⅞” plywood sheet. Wanting to replicate the common #7 ½ shot against the two sheets of ½” plywood from the 10 foot test, I fired away from 15 feet. The #7 ½ shot made a large single hole through the first ½” plywood sheet, but was stopped by the second. Range matters with bird shot, even a difference of just five feet.

Just 5 feet farther away, the #7 1/2  birdshot started to run out of gas. It went through the first 1/2" board, but not the second.
Just 5 feet farther away, the #7 1/2 birdshot started to run out of gas. It went through the first 1/2″ board, but not the second.

Ballistic gelatin

So shooting at boards showed that there is a benefit to the “closely packed mass of pellets” theory. Now, I wanted to see how things worked at our two test distances with gelatin blocks. I used to 6x6x16” Clear Ballistics gel blocks, one set up at 10 feet, and the other set up at 15 feet. Since the whole idea of this experiment is to test the effectiveness of birdshot, I elected to use 7 ½ size shot pellets. Those are the most commonly available “birdshot” loads. You’ll find those in the 100 round bulk packs at big box stores and most any ammo retailer.

The short answer to the jello test is that the gelatin blocks were most displeased. The longer answer is that birdshot pellets don’t penetrate ballistic gelatin very deeply. But that’s exactly why people like the idea of using birdshot for home defense – it won’t go through all of your walls and half way to Tuscaloosa.

This Ballistic Gelatin block was most unhappy. Even the wad penetrated about an inch and a half.
This Ballistic Gelatin block was most unhappy. Even the wad penetrated about an inch and a half.

From the 10 foot distance, most of the pellets penetrated about 4 ¾ inches. It’s an inexact science to measure precisely since the range of penetration of individual pellets was between three and seven inches. The wad penetrated about 1 ¼ inches.

From 15 feet, the bulk of the pellets penetrated about 4 inches with a range of two to six inches overall. The wad penetrated about 1 ¼ inches – about the same as the 10 foot gelatin block.

Once the pellets encounter continuous resistance, they start slowing down quickly. The four inch penetration depth was a bit of a surprise after seeing what the birdshot did to fairly tough plywood, but that’s why we’re testing this whole theory.

Conclusions

  1. I prefer not to be shot with any of these.
  2. Using birdshot against an attacker will likely make a huge mess.
  3. For this “solid mass of pellets” theory to hold up, you really need to be inside a range of 15 feet, preferably 10. The ability to blow large holes through plywood was far more consistent at 10 feet than 15. At 10 feet, shot size didn’t seem to matter a whole lot.
  4. As to effectiveness for home-defense, you have to make your own call. The short range performance was certainly devastating to plywood, but the gel tests showed nowhere near the level of penetration that a traditional handgun bullet would achieve.
  5. Blowing stuff up with shotguns is fun, even though I get strange looks at the range.

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.

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  • Wilbur Wong

    Mr. McHale,
    I am a Canadian, a firearm owning Canadian to be exact. I chuckled at your list of conclusions and to be honest, I whole heartedly agree with them. Just to make a couple of points though:
    1) if bird shot is the only thing handy, use it
    2) it does not matter if it is bird shot, steel, lead slugs, or even salt… shoot ’em in the face… goes to your point #2 as well; that is a lot of painful picking the doc is going to have to do if buddy makes it to emerg…
    3) typically there is a second round following the first (more if you’re not an O/U or SxS snob like me) so your distance should close to the “recommended” under 10 foot range and below to achieve the desired “entry and excavation” effect… LOL.
    Again thanks for the entertainment. Looking fwd to your next article….
    W

    • Saint_Barry

      Shoot ’em in the face. Truer words have never been written, my Canadian brother. Amen.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    While it is true that #7 1/2 is very common, I would’ve liked to see the gel test done with the #1; that’s what I keep loaded in my 20g pistol grip Mossberg 500. A pellet .16″ in size, in-between an 1/8 and 3/16. That’s a fairly reasonable size hole and then there are 75 to 100 (based on shell size) of these . . . . ouch! The advantage to the shotgun is the increased likelihood of a hit when the adrenalin is flowing in a surprise circumstance. If someone surprises me from 20-25 feet and I hit them with anything on the first try, odds are they will rethink what they have begun. As stated here, the closer they get, the deadlier the impact from the shotgun loads and my aim can still be less precise and make impact with the target. Sounds like a win win to me and I have 6 rounds which should be good for 2 to 3 intruders; if they’re still going, well then I’ll resort to the handgun of the day.

  • Mark

    I saw a bird hunting buddy shoot a boar from a distance of 12-18″ with a dove load in a 12 gauge. The boar had been wounded by some deer hunters and had been lying in a field we were walking though. As the pig charged him he fired point blank at the boar striking him dead center in the forehead just above the eyes. The boar dropped at his feet from a full run to a dead stop instantly. It weighed around 125 pounds and had some 3-4″ tusks. Not a big boar, but definitely a dangerous one. I was impressed with the extreme effectiveness of that dove load. It caved in the skull in the thickest area. It was one of the most impressive shots I have ever seen and I remember it like yesterday even though it was fifty years ago. My dad put a hollow point .45 through his foot by accident a few years later. That required two band-aids one on the top of the foot and one on the bottom. . I think that the up close and personal damage caused by that bird shot would have been far worse.

    I also saw the damage when an uncle fired off a 12 gauge loaded with high base bird shot in the house. He penetrated completely through a plaster and lath wall and one side of a metal storage cabinet. I think that bird shot is safer for that reason as well. It will devastate your target, but stop before going much farther indoors. I keep a KelTec KSG loaded with Aguila mini 12s buckshot in one tube and slugs in the other for home defense. I think 25 of those little guys make a pretty solid solution for any unwanted visitor problems.

    • Combat Veteran

      Dont miss..

  • LouieF

    I was hoping to see the effects of 7-1/2 shot against 1/2″ thick drywall, commonly used in constructing walls.

    • M40

      There have been a good many studies along those lines. Most handgun bullets will pass through multiple walls and still be quite lethal. However (as the gelatin block test here showed) bird shot quickly loses velocity when it impacts anything. Going through a typical wall means passing through 2 layers of drywall with several inches of space in between. Most birdshot loads pass through both quite easily, but will likely be non-lethal for those beyond the wall.

      This is good if you might have family beyond that wall, but not so good if the bad guys are using the walls for protection. Funny how many TV shows and movies show extended gun battles from around corners in homes or buildings (essentially relying on drywall for protection). The things they use for cover get REALLY funny when they’re shooting rifle calibers. I’ve seen desks, benches, car doors, and a lot of other items become somehow bulletproof in the tiny minds of hollywood directors.

    • If you want to see the effect of plywood and drywall I did a video on this a couple years ago. Go to youtube. My SN there is Fuying Bro. In my videos do a search on “Home Defense and Over Penetration” I yest many calibers and against what would be an exterior wall including insulation.

  • MacBeth51

    My personal experience was as an EMT, picking up the results. 12 ga, #6 shot between 15 and 20 feet- I didn’t measure it. The hole going in the chest was about 5″ in diameter, the hole going out was about 6″. The shot string transected the heart

  • franklygross

    Your first picture showed plywood, the others showed osb, not as strong as plywood for these “tests”. Its now an apples to oranges comparison. Should use drywall anyways, thats what most walls are made of to show it will penetrate but not go outside of the house.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      If the tests run show it going through two layers of OSB or Plywood, then it will certainly go through Drywall and a layer of Plywood or OSB which are most often the outside layers under the siding of choice. However, in-between walls within a house, it would be two layers of drywall that might be only 1/2″ each. My feeling was if it goes through Plywood or OSB, the Drywall is Swiss Cheese as well.

    • I’m guessing you didn’t read the article at all but just looked at the pictures. There was no comparison of plywood vs the OSB, just an additional data point. The whole point wasn’t to show drywall impacts, but to “test” some penetration of harder objects at close range with the successful outcome being penetration.

  • Fabio

    I’ve been shot on my back (luckly) with a 12 gauge 71/2 pellet at 30 meters hunting partriges.
    went to the hospital and counted 64 holes, 22 pellets still left inside. I can assure that if hit at closer range… there is no way to fight back!

    • Combat Veteran

      You lived right?
      You could have pulled the trigger on a weapon right?
      Sorry you were hurt so bad, but you’re wrong.
      There’s a reason why the US military uses 00 buckshot; glad you never found it out.

      • Fumble

        I’ve never seen a house with a 90′ hallway. Have you noticed the people posting that have been shot said they were 30-75 yards away and only shot 1 time? Nobody has posted that they were shot at 10′-20′ because they probably died at that range. Reality check, military trained hitmen are not going to invade your house. If they do, you’re toast anyway. I’d bet most scumbag home invaders have an instant head change when shot at. Watch liveleak, they all run like rats. They dont stay for a fire fight.

  • Chuck Wagon

    Wilbur, where do you come up with the claim #3 that “typically there is a second round following the first”??? Bird shot is a horrible idea. Sure a BB gun can be used too, because “typically a bb penetrated in the eye can travel to the brain and kill someone too.” (Another absurd myth by the way). If someone owns a shotgun, that person should also own a box of buck shot, if they intend to use it for self defense, period. To have a particular gun with the WRONG ammo for a specific purpose is just foolish. When going dove hunting, does a hunter use buck shot? Hell no! So why on earth keep a shotgun handy for a self defense weapon and not have the correct ammunition for it? #4 BUCK works great within the walls of a house. All projectiles should be taken literally that they will penetrate interior walls, period. Deal with that fact and train more to be the best shot one can be. There’s just so many bogus opinions about self defense, guns and ammo out there. People seem to no longer be able to make simple informed decisions anymore about their own personal safety, with respect to which gun/ammo combo to use for the job.

    • I’m always amused when someone states their opinion and ends with “period.”

      Nothing in this world is ever so cut and dry.

    • Wilbur Wong

      Chuck, I live in a country where if the mosquitos and the cold weather don’t get you, and the price of gas, smokes, and beer will; where owning a firearm is considered a stigma and the keeping a loaded firearm in the house is usually not an option. I am strictly talking about long guns now; handguns are a totally different story and a bigger legal sh*t show. Spending time to consider ammo/gun combos is normally discussed over a few rums and brews at hunt camp by a fire… If someone is going to harm my family, I don’t care if it is a stainless cooking pot, an aluminum baseball bat, or a shotgun loaded with #9 target loads (and I have noticed that target loads under 7 1/2 were not discussed as an option in the original article – LOL), something is going to get done.

      My country’s legal system also affords more rights and assistance to an offender than to the person who tried to stop the offending person with the force necessary to do so. Termination over rehabilitation – the courts are a lot more lenient and I hope that the decisions are a lot more cut and dry if it ends up being my wife ( and yes she can handle a 12 bore) who pulls the trigger twice instead of me. If the day comes where I need to slap the trigger on someone or something physically threatening my wife and child, whatever I get my hands on first and loaded in the gun (reference to my first point) is getting sent down range, both barrels. If he, they, or it are still coming after 2 “on the way”, the O/U becomes an extremely expensive club.

      I love my smooth bores and those are the ones I can get my hands on and load the quickest. And to answer your question about having the right ammo, I do have 00 buck in the house; I also have 4×6 for turkey, and steel BB’s and T’s for geese, and I have squibs (god only knows why…) for my 22. I also have other long gun options but I do not think that my neighbours would appreciate a 50 cal ML sabot, or 300WMor 338WM bullet cruising through their home. As for practice, I get enough practice in to confidently fill the freezer every year with moose, venison, grouse, and waterfowl. I have never had much use for a 2 legged critter tag, let alone had the desire to turn one into mild Italian sausage. If I am not going use it in the kitchen why would I practice gunning for it? Center mass or shoot ’em in the face, right?

      • Netanyahu owns the US I guess

        All good choices for ammo. You can’t go wong.

    • Robbie33

      Chuck, you are right. There ARE so many bogus opinions. You are also right that training needs to be done. But the simple fact is bird shot is still devastating. I say this as someone who has seen numerous gunshot wounds and deaths caused by ammunition that by your definition, would not be suitable for self defense. And saying that a particular ammunition is WRONG…well, maybe that’s another bogus opinion. I say, prepare yourself for a violent confrontation, learn to shoot well, and shoot what you got. But then, that’s just my opinion.

    • Chickpea

      Hey Chuck, you should google ‘birdshot wounds’ and take a look at the images that come up. Some interesting results on there. Distance is obviously a huge factor once you see all the different results on the human body. 🙂

    • Boxlock

      Chuck, even birdshot in larger sizes, say #2, inside the home distances is devastating. Really not survivable. And it is much less penetrating than buckshot and less of a danger to others. The idea in urban home defense is to have 1st. a reliable effective round, and second to limit collateral damage and harm.

    • Combat Veteran

      Yup. Theres a reason the US Military puts 00 buckshot into its shotguns and not birdshot; a good reason.
      You want the guy to DIE right there, and fast. Not a few hours later in the hospital (after he has returned fire and wounded/killed you) Or even a few minutes/seconds later. Seconds matter in a firefight BIGTIME

      • Combat Veteran

        Tried by 12 > Carried by 6

  • cvxxx

    I personally cannot advise a shotgun as a close range defense. Many people cannot handle the kick, noise or the thought of shooting someone. Shooting skeet or range is a vast difference. Plus the long length makes corners a real problem. Experienced users will of course disagree, however the average gun owner is usually not experienced nor keeps in training. The emotions of a house burglary combined with inexperience is something to consider. Another consideration is who might have to use it. Other family members may not be able too be comfortable with many shotguns.

    • The Rainmaker

      I’ve got a 410 home defense shotgun and my wife is quite comfortable and capable using it.

      • cvxxx

        How long is it? I is it for defense only or hunting? How many rnds can it carry. Can she hip shoot or must be shouldered?

      • The Rainmaker

        It’s the HS410, look it up. 18″ barrel with a “spreader” choke, vertical foregrip, and a youth-length shoulder-stock. I can hip-shoot it with no problems. I never had her try to do so. It’s a very nice, compact piece. With #4 buck the pattern is around 6″ or so.

      • cvxxx

        I looked it up Not really impressed. Add a really good kitchen knife(a kitchen knife in some jurisdictions = defense) For defense what does she say? Liking and having confidence are important. In a emergency that can be very important. What is the floor plan?

      • The Rainmaker

        She’s used it and likes it, a lot. I’m confident she can handle it. It’s not the only option available but she’s most comfortable with the little shotty. The plan is for her to stay in the bedroom with it. The only one that would actually clear the house would be me. In a rare case that I’m not here and there is an intruder, there is a plan in place for her to hole up with a cell phone and weapon(s) and wait for law enforcement. The way our house is configured she can quickly be behind three locked doors.

        I should mention that she is former military. It was decades ago, but in any case she’s no delicate flower. She’s just short and had a back injury so recoil is an issue.

      • cvxxx

        Don’t forget the kitchen knife and a bag of marbles. a crossbow too if they are wearing armor most won’t work against a crossbow.

      • The Rainmaker

        I fail to get the joke, and that’s fine. I’m done.

      • cvxxx

        The kitchen knife is no joke. Some time ago a woman was attacked in her house. She killed the attacker with her husband’s hunting knife. The prosecutor argued that a woman would pick up a kitchen knife not a hunting knife. His reason was since the attacker was in the kitchen it would be most natural to pick up an instrument she knew to defend herself but picking up the hunting knife was premeditated.

        The bag of marbles fro the floor to impede the attacker(slip & fall). Crossbow in case they are professionals and are armored. In college I was in a dorm with commandos from several different nations, I listened.

      • Rooster

        crossbows and marbles? what is this f*ucking home alone?
        Large caliber rounds, center mass. Life isn’t like the movies kid

      • cvxxx

        If the laws in your state allow it. Body armor designed for bullets usually won’t stop a crossbow bolt. Many people can’t handle a.45. Of course many people just buy a gun and never train or practice.

    • Boxlock

      My shotgun is only 36 inches long. It handles well, points well. We all have to make choices on our own circumstances.

      • cvxxx

        Very true!

  • Christian Cherniss

    There’s a point to be made for using larger shot. Most gunfights happen within 7 yards which is 21 feet. I live in an apartment so I have to balance lethality with killing my neighbors and I use #8. I will be shooting an intruder (if I absolutely have to) from about 10 feet so I’ am not worried myself. Valid tests though well done.

    • Boxlock

      I don’t disagree with you, but…..ah, I’d step up a little from #8s. Those are tiny pellets. I load lead #2s.

  • Robert Smith

    I would have liked to see some measure of “group” size. So many people think that the shotgun is a “no miss” weapon in typical home defense shooting. They are pretty darn wrong. I have been looking at what my load-up is on the Moss-500 in the bed-rail.

  • I’mBaaaatmaaaan!

    CUT the shells…

  • Saint_Barry

    Bird shot, target loads, whatever, it scares the bleep out of someone if it’s coming out of a 12-gauge pump shotgun, for starters. As the author indicates, it will tear you up at close range, but its lack of over-penetration might be nice if you have family members in other rooms while you’re blasting away. It’s not my first choice for home defense, which is a K-Frame S&W 686 in .357, but in a pinch, it’ll do.

  • 0hiojoe

    I have always loaded mine with 2 rounds of #4, 2 rounds of 00 Buck and the last a slug. I really do not like the idea of being sued for defending my family from a late night intruder. If they bring friends I have a Saiga with a 20 round drum close by all buck in the drum.

  • tomah57

    The fact is you fight with whatever you have and fight for a good outcome , it is when you decide not to fight back you are guaranteed a loss…to what degree? perhaps life itself.

  • P161911

    What about 1-3/4 oz. #2 shot Turkey loads? Bigger pellets than #6 and a bunch of them.

    • Boxlock

      I bought a case of Rio 2 3/4″, #2 lead @ 1315 fps for inside the house defense, and it would double nicely on critters.
      I don’t think I would want the recoil of a real heavy load in my light shotgun, and don’t think it’s necessary. But your idea would sure work.

  • Luger Drmc

    Great humor with the article! Love it!!!!

  • Mark Grenoble

    Having been shot in the chest and head with a 12 gauge at 30 yards (90 ft) with three inch mag 6 shot I can attest that it does plenty of damage. I am alive and I am not blind but the nuro surgeon told me he has no idea why I am not both. Three steps closer or a more centered shot, I was hit with the edge of the pattern around 40 pellets thankfully, I would have had no chance. 12 alone are embedded in the lining of my heart and lungs. Sinuses had to be rebuilt but eyes survived without a hit. In my opinion the deadliest close range weapon made I dont care what you load in it. Home defense I have a Mossburg 20 ga. loaded with three inch mag 3 shot. And my CZ 🙂

  • KuntryShooter

    I would highly advice not testing just types of ammo but specific brands and chokes. Some brands have shot cups inside that focus and hold the shot together for much longer distance. There are some great online studies with videos testing all types of guns and ammo through internal and external house walls. There are also brands of ammo with a combination of rifled slug surrounded by buckshot. Consideration should be made for the total length of the shotgun and how it fits both spouses shoulder and eye. Lower caliber shotguns even down to a simple double barrel 410 can be incredible self defense guns with buckshot. There are many ways to tune your loads and penetration besides the ammo type. The key is what was done here, TEST TEST TEST. Even a good game hunter always tests the patterns of their gun at various distances. You can have a good choke with turkey loads that will take the head off a turkey at long distance. As someone else said this is not simple, there are a hundred different results you can get. In many ways this brings me back to a 20 round 9mm with a handheld and weapon light by my bed. Try to navigate your home, hallways and doors with a long gun in the dark.

  • PFnNC

    I did some testing with different brands of 00 Buck across 4 different 12s that I own to see how they “patterned”. It was interesting to see that some brands patterned better in an 18″ barrel than they did in longer barrels up to 28″. I’ll be doing a test now to see how the 7.5 behaves across each gun. You might find it worthwhile to see what you weapon likes best…… (Any excuse to shoot more!)

    • David Teer

      unplated lead shot tends to deform a little while traveling down the barrel. These deformations cause the pellets to spread a little faster. Shorter barrels mean less deformation.

  • 12 will do

    These comments are hilarious. Would anyone here like to be shot by a shotgun within any ranges that could be consider self defense? Have you ever HEARD the noise made by a shotgun shucked in a dark room? Never mind the boom and rip of pellets tearing through your body. Pretty sure that would take the fight out of most attackers, never mind shots 2, 3, 4 …

  • 1911a145acp

    “Birdshot” encompasses all sorts of shotgun loads. I would NOT recommend primarily selecting soft lead, un-plated, low brass, light field loads or handicap target loads in small shot sizes. If these are all that is available, or if lower recoil is a main factor, then light loads can be very effective indoors. Far better performing “birdshot” loads would be High brass, copper plated shot using BBs, #2, #4, or #6 size pellets as a minimum size pellet.This would only be for the home invasion indoor scenario. One pervasive myth is that low base #7 1/2 or #8 lead shots loads will not over penetrate typical interior dry wall construction. Having tested this numerous times on real interior walls on a structure that was about to be demolished, I found that often times, at close range, the shot column compressed inward ( much like hollow point cavities in handgun rounds) and formed a solid core slug of lead that “over ” penetrated quite well through typical interior walls. For my home defense shotgun, I keep a heavy Turkey load in the chamber, followed by Tactical OO Buckshot moderate recoil loads, then slugs. I have dispatched many feral dogs, feral cats, rabid foxes, coons and crows at 30 yards + on my property and I can attest to the effectiveness of copper plated BB short mag loads on those varmints. If the fight is not over after the Turkey load, or moves outside or involves vehicles, the buckshot and slugs that come up for the follow up shot (s) are far more effective at increased ranges and intervening obstacles. just my 2c

  • Darkmans_Shadow1

    The point is that you are firing a 12ga shotgun load of bird shot at your assailant. And as Mr. McHale noted, if you’re armed with a pump shotgun, there is another round coming if the bad guy did not immediately stop. And no matter what, if you continue firing until the threat is neutralized, he is going to be down and in a situation that is going to be painful until the doc shoots him up with a pain killer to remove said pellets. In the mean time he is going to be in a world of hurt, even if he does not die from his wounds while awaiting the cops to show up and cart his sorry butt to the slammer (hospital before the slammer). Or cart him to the morgue depending upon the severity of the damage up front.

  • 1) Thanks for the info/pix…
    2) That’s not plywood..it’s particle board.

    • Sgt JC Davis

      Wrong SA McClellan,
      The 7/8″ target shots were made on plywood. ACTUAL plywood.
      The 1″ target shots were made on 2 sheets of 1/2″ OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

      Anyway, for my actual comment, I have a Remington 870, tactical conversion. 18.5″ barrel with under barrel Streamlight to light the way.
      Loaded with #7 1/2, 1 1/8 ounce target load.
      5 in the tube and 5 more on a side saddle carrier.
      I was in law enforcement for a number of years and have no problem using this for my close quarter home defense firearm. It’s got more than enough knockdown to handle the typical self defense range.

    • Bruce Crossan

      Could be OSB (Oriented Strand Board)…. which has the same strength as plywood.

  • justin

    I survived a 4 10 shotgun blast from 20 feet, and it spread from shoulders to my knees, and I’m 6 feet tall. It went thru a trailer wall, and hit every major organ except my heart. And I was 17 then. I’m sure it would do the job if it wasn’t thru the wall. but, I was able to still walk, and bandage myself after the blast, so double tap may be recommened.

  • Osceola Assassin

    Turkey hunting for more than 30 years has taught me the devastation of a 12 ga. with 2 3/4 and 3 inch loads of #2, 4, 5, and sixes. Helped cart a guy out of the swamp hit under the left arm with 2 3/4 #2s at 42 yards. The 1100 Rem. was choked extra full. Damage was massive from a single shot. 4 broken ribs, 2 more fractured, numerous tears to the lung, pellets bounced off bones and ricocheted to the kidney, liver, stomach lining, and up into his throat. Thankfully no damage to the heart. Tissue damage extended into a 16 in radius with some stray pellets to the face, head and butt cheek. Probably due to hitting grass and brush on the way to the target. 6 weeks in the hospital, four surgeries, and scarred for life due to being mistaken for a turkey. All of you ballistics experts on here are right. Bird shot won’t kill you. Those of you that were shot, glad you made it out alive to share your story.

  • Bruce Crossan

    What an awesome article and love the testing. Lets says it winter time and BG has on 3 or 4 layers of clothing, will any of those loads be able to penetrate and what about leather coats? And even if some of those shots don’t penetrate, how much damage could it still possibly due with the amount of energy/force being exerted in such a small area if shot within less than 20 feet?

  • G. M. Dorn

    So many of these comparisons are concerned with leathal penetration / penetrating the backstop. Nothing is mentioned re: the shock value of these rounds. A FMJ at 3000 fps.FPS at close range might go through the target and the perp don’t even know he’s been hit. It seems that absorbing 1.25 oz. at home defense range is going to be noticed. He’s probably on his ass, and that was just the first round on target. My desire is not to kill, but to stop the threat. If it is fatal,well should’nt been in my home. If you are lucky, the DA will realize the gravity off the situation. Going off “Rambo” will not help in legal court, but civil court as well, and there will be civil court.