On the face of it, Winchester’s PDX1 12 Defender ammo doesn’t make a lot of sense. Buckshot is for personal defense. Shotguns slugs are for long distance love (or the exact opposite thereof). Right? Well, not exactly . . .
According to Winchester New Products Engineer Ben Frank, the one-ounce PDX1 12 Defender slug exits the barrel of a basic 18″ shotgun at an estimated 1350 feet per second. I make that 1700 foot pounds of muzzle energy. Nick recently calculated that a projectile needs about 10 foot pounds of muzzle energy to enter a human skull. So that ought to do it (so to speak).
To increase lethality, Winchester based the PDX1 12 Defender’s slug on their Split Core Technology. The slug’s rear lead core is welded to the projectile’s jacket. The front isn’t. The combo delivers “massive initial trauma” combined with “optimum penetration.” Mr. Frank pegs the PDX1 12 Defender slug’s penetration at 12 to 18″ up to 35 yards.
That’s all well and good if you hit your target (not for your target but you know what I mean). If you miss Mr. Muy Malo the size and speed of the slug is irrelevant—at least in terms of physically deterring the bad guy.
Allegedly, that’s where buckshot is better for home defense. The greater the number of projectiles you send at your target, the wider the dispersion, the greater your chances of hitting said schmuck.
Quick but important digression . . .
Firing a fusillade of smaller projectiles does not necessarily increase your chances of hitting the bad guy. You can miss with a shotgun loaded with buck the same as you can miss with a handgun. Depending on the load, at “normal” defense distances (five yards) we’re talking about a spread roughly the size of a softball.
OK, so . . .
The very thing that makes buckshot “better” than a slug—“aim error compensation” (as Winchester puts it)—makes it worse. If only some of your buck hits the bad gun then some of it doesn’t. The some that doesn’t is going somewhere. Maybe somewhere not so good. And the some that does hit the target doesn’t do as much damage as it would if all of the buck hit the target.
See where I’m going here? Do you want to shoot a bad guy with a little bit o’ buck or a big ass slug?
Not an easy question I know; especially as there is a school of thought that says that the shotgun’s massive stopping power is down to the fact that the projectiles create multiple simultaneous injuries. A body can’t cope (nor, if one is law-abiding, should it).
So buckshot for home defense? Wait! Don’t answer.
Upon contact with clothing or flesh the hollow point PDX1 12 Defender slug segments into three pieces. The ammunition creates three separate wound channels; the bad guy is “blessed” with the much vaunted simultaneous multiple wound insult. And how. These are not small pieces: 135 to 150 grains apiece.
So if you shoot a BG slightly off center, not to worry. The terrible troika will make that one entry wound count. You will still send your two-legged target into a proverbial – make that literal – world of hurt. That said . . .
The segmenting slug shares the same “challenge” as any shotgun slug: over-penetration. Not through humans. When the PDX1 12 Defender slug segments, it deposits its energy. If the pieces do come out of the bad guy’s body after causing internal affront, they’re not likely to have enough energy to damage to a secondary target. But if you miss . . .
Did I mention that the PDX 12 slug is a hollow point? When schmutz plugs up the nose (e.g., the hardwood or plywood found in your average wall) it won’t segment. Unlike buckshot, the slug blasts through interior walls and keeps on a goin’. [LEO note: the slug will segment if it hits automobile glass.]
I’ve never been particularly worried about the much-discussed “over-penetration” issue. I know enough not to shoot towards my loved ones. And living in a detached house in a low-density hood, I reckon odds of inadvertently shooting a neighbor through two or more walls are ridiculously low and not particularly relevant. Did I just say that? Highlight and delete.
Save as: the PDX1 12 Defender’s a home defense shotgun round that’s as close as you’re going to get to a one-stop shot. Unless (or alternatively) you use a load of double ought buck and hit the bad guy center mass. Or maybe “normal” Winchester PDX shotshell ammo, which offers “three pellets of Grex® buffered 00 plated buckshot nested on top of a 1 oz rifled [non-segmenting] slug.”
I wouldn’t want to get in front of ANY of this stuff. But I’m giving serious consideration to shelling-out around $13 for a box of PDX1 12 Defender ammo and loading-up my Benelli M2. Keep in mind that my go-to home defense gun is a Glock 21. I save the Benelli for a static defensive position, where I have an excellent chance of hitting what I’m aiming at. In theory. In practice, who knows?