Again, I’d like to point out that you should keep a pair of electronic earmuffs by your home defense shotgun. No matter what ammo you shoot – God forbid – the resulting sonic assault will defeat you. Both immediately – reducing your ability to hear other threats and communicate with friendlies – and long term – degrading your hearing and, perhaps, giving you life-long tinnitus. As for ammo, I use double-ought buck. While over-penetration is an issue, I’m willing to take that risk to assure the immediate end of hostiles. Provided I don’t miss. What do you carry in your hd shotgun?

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104 Responses to Question of the Day: What Ammo for Your Home Defense Shotgun?

  1. Winchester MilSurp 00 Buck.

    Also, Peltor SportTacs are best electronic ear pro you can buy, IMHO.

    Both, the ammo and ear pro, can do the job without breaking the bank.

  2. Agreed on the hearing protection. However, rounds 1-4 are BB size shot, 5-8 are slugs. BB shot is extremely effective inside, with little over-penetration and by round 5, I am likely not shooting at inside targets. Just me.

    • Pretty similar to my choices; #4 buck, then 00 buck, then slugs. Occasionally #1 buckshot is substituted for #4, as both those buckshot sizes are getting harder to find locally (and I do practice/train with what I use).

      • My house gun has three #4 buck followed by three 00 buck followed by four slugs. I have 5 more 00 buck on the off side of the stock in an elastic shell holder. I live in a rural area s the first few rounds are to clear out anything close. Most likely as I’m shooting, the range is going to increase, explaining the change in shells. The 5 extra on the stock are (God forbid) if I need more than 10 or to pick off any stray bad guys still wanting to interact with me after being shot.

  3. Ever fire a 12 guage indoors? It’s way loud. I would give some attention to ear protection when using any un suppressed firearm indoors. Just a thought.

    • Why 1.75″ shells? I ask because I bought a box of Centurion 2″ shells, 6 pellets of 00 in each, which is usually what I load my double-barrel with. I bought them thinking I might be able to get an extra round in a Ted Williams semi-auto that I had at the time, but it didn’t work. Why did you choose that size?

      • I use those 2″ Centurions in my H&R Pardner pump and in my 1887 Lever Action. They work great in both those shotguns. They give a higher capacity and a reduced recoil. I couldn’t get them to feed in a Mossberg 500 I owned. I plan on picking up one of the current run of the repo 1897’s. According to Auglia the ’97 will feed the 1 3/4″ inch shells.

      • Thasnks for all the info, guys. Obviously, with a double-barrel capacity is not going to change (but at least I don’t have to worry if they will feed). But I did note the shorter brass and figured it would be less recoil. Since it is one of those bobbed-stock, 18.5″ barrel jobs, I figured less recoil would definitely be a good thing.

    • I have a dozen of the 1.75 Aguila slugs left from a year or two ago. Decided not to use them as SD loads in my Mossberg 590 because of the tendency of the shell to nose down though the elevator unless the gun is racked with the barrel pointed down.

      The most obvious advantage is increased capacity but I really like that there is so little recoil with these little rounds. For a slug I doubt there would be the usual risk of extreme overpenetration but I bet they’ll go through a few layers of drywall without much problem.

      It appears they are no longer being made, or at least not available any longer, which is disappointing. If I had a ready supply I would definitely reconsider them as a home defense load once I got in the habit of racking the slide with the barrel pointed down.

      So now the 590 is loaded with 4 rounds of #1 buck followed by 4 rounds of Brenneke Tactical Home Defense Slugs.

      • Yes, I found that as well. It is a disadvantage to have to constantly do it [rack the slide with the muzzle pointed down-ish](un-even tradeoff???) but all the shotguns that “won’t” feed them seem to (be more likely to) feed them ~ with the muzzle pointed down [not necessarily vertical, but there are some shotguns out there that won’t feed a lick if you attempt to feed them with the muzzle pointed straight-up (like certain bull-pups)].

        But I would definitely modify a serbu http://www.serbu.com/supershorty.html to take them because 3 rounds will do the job until it don’t.

      • + they seem to be ~ available in OK. Not sure if still made, Don’t know how hard it would be to ‘re-load’ a shorty round.?

  4. No 1 buck, it’s the most efficient payload, 2 and three quarter
    No 1 equals = 640 grains
    Double ought = 484 grains

  5. I like the modern equivalent of buck and ball ammo where you have three or four pellets on top of a small slug. It seems to be the best of both worlds. Though honesty compels me to disclose that my home defense shotgun is on the same go-to level as my Mosin Nagants. There are literally a half dozen guns I would reach for before that point.

  6. I’m just here to see what everyone else says. I have a bit of variety in both buck and birdshot: 00, 0, #4 buck, rilfled slugs, and various sizes of birdshot have all fallen into my 12-gauge supply.

  7. Federal 00. No hearing pro since I live in a small ass apartment and the front door is only a few steps from my bed. No time to grab hearing pros and shotty.

    • I’ve shot a shotgun without the hearing protection. I don’t recommend it, but it can be done without suffering long-term effects.

      • Any firearm fired inside the confines of your home is going to be insanely loud, however my philosophy is that if it’s necessary to fire a weapon in your home, the ringing in your ears will be the least of your worries.

      • I’ve shot hundreds of shotgun rounds inside residential structures thanks to a demo contract I bid on, and it only becomes oppressive after 5 shots or so. 00 military 2 3/4 will penetrate two interior walls pretty consistently, but usually lodges in the next sheet. #4 is the prudent choice if you share a wall, though we could never get 00 to go thru 2 interiors and 2 exteriors, so you won’t be shooting into another detached house, but anyone outside could take a hit obviously.

  8. I’m kind of partial to 3″ 41 pellet #4 buck. Shot a silhouette at 25 yards once and the pattern covered the whole torso. Should get 8″-10″ of penetration. From across the living room it doesn’t really make much difference though, you could be shooting a skeet load and it would still blow a big enough hole to stick your fist through.

    • Re the skeet load: With 12-gauge, maybe, but I knew a guy (sort of; he was the husband of a lady I had to represent once) who was shot in the belly with a 20-gauge birdshot load at close range. Gouged out a really ugly hole, but he was in court a month of so later to show the pictures to the judge. Had a pretty big belly, as you might guess.

      • Yes, I was thinking 12ga, but I’m guessing a 20ga wouldn’t exactly tickle. A foot higher and I doubt he’d been there to testify. Probably hit with the force of a .30-30.

        • He was able to grab at her ankle as she ran by–he was saying “you killed me”, so it definitely made an impression. But ugly as it was, I was surprised at the depth of the hole, as in I thought it would have been deeper.

        • Even at point blank that energy will be spread over a larger area than a .30-30.

      • Many moons ago, had a case of a medium size, athletic, high school boy who attempted suicide with a 20 gauge shotgun. Contact wound to the middle belly. Don’t know what load was , knowing the kid, would guess field load. Slow response time by a very primitive ambulance, no onboard medical personnel. Plus a 20 minute ride to the hospital.

        Kids lived, in spite of blowing away half his spleen. So to recap, contact wound from a 20 gauge. Approximately 40 minute wait for medical treatment. And he survived.

        • A cousin was shot with a 12 gauge, #6 bird shot, at muzzle distance. Survived the shooting after two years in recovery. Died twenty-seven years later from lung cancer.

      • Now you’re preaching to the choir. 6″ GP100 loaded with Double Taps. Although I’d still take one of those over 41 pellets inside of 25 yards.

  9. Herters 00buck at 1200@ second. I guess that’s reduced recoil. And Herters slugs. Both are cheap and reliable. Made in Italy(I think). I do need to look into hearing protection(WHAT?). Got great plugs but it know I can’t hear otherwise.

    • I load the Herters shells in my 12 ga too.

      I have mostly 00 6 pellet buck in mine. I go a little different route by starting off with one slug. I have a few more slugs and a couple extra rounds of buck in the shell holder.

      I start with a slug because I like the option of increased accuracy with my first shot.

  10. A mixture of 00 buck and slugs. I’m not too worried about “downrange” since, if I am shooting down the hallway, nothing is downrange. The ground slopes up and I’d have to shoot over the BG’s head to lob anything onto the neighbor’s property and maybe hit a horse on nocturnal perambulations. I don’t even know if the buck will go that far after ripping through my wall. I’m more worried about shredding the painting that’s a bit off to the side.

  11. I have a mix of 00 buck and 1 oz slug on my wall leaner. I might throw a rubber ball round on top to give them a chance to repent. I haven’t decided yet.

  12. I’m not putting ear protection on in the event of a home intruder for the following reasons:

    1) need to be able to hear my family members – possibly even the one which may be the “perceived” intruder. I don’t know about your neighborhood but in my neighborhood the probability of an intruder is extremely low.

    2) firing a series of shotgun shells in succession will not make you deaf. However long term affects with continued lack of ear protection will.

    3). After firing the shots in succession the ringing in my ears would attentuate the surrounding sound less than my typical hearing pro or plugs.

    Not going to waste my time with hearing protection in the event of an intruder. There is more at stake there than my ears and my ears are a lesser priority.

    I keep 00 buckshot for this purpose.

    • Nice thing about electronic ear protection such as the Peltors: they allow normal hearing, and only cut out the high-intensity rapid-attack sounds such as gunshots. But, as noted, you have to keep your eyes on battery life.

      And while your last point is important, your first point may be more critical – again, an argument in favor of electronic ear protection. You don’t want any unnecessary short-term loss of hearing acuity.

      As for the main topic: 00 buck with some slugs at the end of the stack. Preferably magnum loads. I live in a house that was built in the 1800s – plaster and lath construction – and I don’t worry about over-penetration.

    • “I’m not putting ear protection on in the event of a home intruder for the following reasons:

      1) need to be able to hear my family members – possibly even the one which may be the “perceived” intruder. I don’t know about your neighborhood but in my neighborhood the probability of an intruder is extremely low.”

      The amplified ones give you ‘super hearing’, so sounds like footsteps (and occasional frogs farting) are much clearer, a major plus in my book.

      It seriously upgrades your situational awareness.

  13. Couldn’t decide who to respond to, so I thought I would chime in on my own.

    First three shells are 7.5 light loads. Enough, I think, to stop the casual threat.

    Second three are the escalation, to the PDX-1 that others mention. The 00 and slug should end most continuing threats. I keep another three available in the event that the first six and 15 rounds of HST aren’t enough to restore the peace.

    If I’m sill running into problems, I’m in trouble – only another box or so of HST, and then I’m reduced to FMJ, a bunch of 7 and 8 shells, and a few thousand rounds of .22. I suppose I need to buy some more of something.

    I wonder if Brenneke Black Magic wheels would work against bad guys.

    • I *almost* feel sorry for whoever is stupid enough to break into ‘Casa Katy’.

      All that lead backed up with Brenneke Black Magic slugs?

      Cripes!

      🙂

    • Katy:

      You might only get one shot.

      My advice as a long-time firearms instructor: carry a man-stopper, not a bird stopper.

      First round in mine: slug, followed by 00Buck, all reduced recoil. Why? I’m a high-profile gun owner and I figure any BG foolish enough to break in looking for guns is smart enough to wear armor. A slug will reduce their combat effectiveness long enough for me to administer some double-ought therapy until the threat is no longer.

      Sure, birdshot does just as good as buckshot at point-blank ranges. My question is “How long does it take bad guys to cover that distance?” Answer: faster than you can react.

      John

      • That is a really fair point. I still would prefer to open with birdshot – at home distances, I might get a bit more spread to help counter the adrenaline and it might be just a bit less lethal. I will take a man’s life, but I’d rather not have that be something I live with.

        But, you are right that if the guy keeps entering, the birdshot is clearly not cutting the mustard. I may need to revisit my setup and move to the PDX on the second shell.

        Hopefully, with two adults in the house, enough lead would get slung to stop an intruder.

  14. Although not a true shotgun, my wife uses a S&W Governor (.410) with 2 x birdshot, then 4 x Hornady Critical Defense (.41 cal slug followed by 2 balls). She also has two 45 Auto moon clips loaded with Hornady Critical Defense to use as speed loaders next to it.

    We are worried about over-penetration in our home, due to kids behind the other walls. Birdshot minimizes that risk while still providing deterrent. If after 2 of those they aren’t deterred then we move to the heavier stuff. After the 410s are out, the shift to 45 Auto puts the revolver on power level with a 1911.

    However, to each their own, as long as they are comfortable with what they use.

  15. If the first concerning you in a home defense situation is your hearing then the situation does NOT justify gun fire !

  16. I prefer 1-Buck followed by a low-recoil slug. Buckslugbuckslug… I’m pretty sure I will only be going to my shotgun if there is a neighborhood level disturbance. #1 is my carry HG and #2 is my AR15.

  17. Federal Flight Control 00 Personal Defense. I like the idea of a tight pattern that I can easily control. I keep 5 extra 00 on the side saddle and 2 Brenneke K.O. slugs in case I need slugs for some reason. On the stock I carry 5 more 00 buck and 5 more slugs. My shotgun is a 9+1 semi auto with a mounted sure fire flashlight. That gives me 27 rounds to fight with, which is preposterously excessive for home defense. The whole load out weighs around 13lbs.

  18. This is what I would load in a home defense shotgun:
    12 gauge: reduced recoil #00 buckshot
    20 gauge: reduced recoil #01 buckshot

    • So you know, 20 gauge slugs have half the recoil of 12ga slugs.

      Just wish i knew that before i shot 12ga slugs out my Rossi single shot,
      only 2-3/4″er’s, shot 3 out of a 5 round box, started to hurt after number 2 had to stop at 3.

      • Try a youth model Rossi single shot 20 with slugs and buck. That gun probably weighs 5 pounds and it kicks like a mule. I’m a big guy with lots of shotgun time. I’d rather not do that again.

  19. I use Federal LE132-1B after waiting for about a year and a half to finally find it in stock. Before that I was impressed with Winchester PDX concept.

    https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php?4340-12-gauge-shotgun-loads-for-LE-duty-use

    “The new Federal #1 buckshot, 15 pellet, 1100 fps “Flight Control” load (LE132-1B) offers IDEAL terminal performance for LE and self-defense use and is the best option for those who need to use shot shells for such purposes. In bare gel, all 15 of the 30 caliber plated pellets penetrate in the 14-18 inch range.”

  20. Flechettes.
    With a Speedfeed stock holding 2 Winchester PDX1 12 gauge Buck and Ball and 2 Winchester Military Grade 00 Buckshot

    If that fails I have the bayonet for my 590A1. I call it the exclamation point for the shotgun’s Get the Hell out of my House message.

    • What brand of bayonet do you use? I also have a 590. Is your bayonet heavy? I’m looking for a light weight bayonet.

      • I use a M9 Bayonet.But it should take the M7 or OKC3S bayonet too. Not sure about the weight difference between the 3 bayonets.

    • And here I thought I might be alone in retaining bayonets on my HD long-guns, and continuing to train with them on my own bayonet assault-course behind the house. After all, why let all that training in BCT go rusty?

  21. First round BB. Give me spread cause Adrenalin is going to take over and if my shotguns pointed anywhere near the right direction I’m going to hit him. Everything after that is 00.

  22. 2 3/4″ Federal 00 Flite Control or however they spell it. The idea is that the wad keeps the shot together out to about 7 yards or so before breaking off; I imagine that the wad and shot striking a fleshy human torso inside that range would act similar to a fragmenting slug in that it would impact largely as one more or less solid mass before all the pellets decided to take their own course in whichever direction they wanted inside said bad guy. Namely, out the back on slightly different paths. That’s my usual load, but I’ve had 3″ Hornady 00 buck in the sidesaddle shell holder for a few months in the astronomically unlikely event I need more than 7 rounds of Federal.

  23. Winchester PDX. I keep shooting until the home invader turns into human hamburger. The tarus judge .410 does the trick. A great nightstand shotgun.

  24. My home defense shotgun was a Remington 1100 that I had shortened to about 18″ or to the closest rib on the barrel, had the stock shortened just a little and a recoil pad put on, had a longer magazine tube and a laser on it. It was bad ass. I carried alternating 00 buck I think and slugs. I’m not positive about the 00 buck but I know I alternated between some sort of buck shot and slugs. Wish I still had that gun.

  25. You should practice without earplugs because nobody is gonna stop to put on ear protection when its go time. Gunshots no louder than the streets of NYC at mid day anyway. And a couple shots isnt gonna make you go deaf. You should wear hearing protection when shooting a bunch of ammo all day at the range, or you plan on engaging an entire cartel gang, but if you arent practicing without it once in awhile you are shortchanging your prep.

    • No. Just… No.

      I prefer to keep some semblance of hearing ability into my midlife crisis at least. I am not even 30 and I have noticed I can’t hear as well as I once could.

      I’ve been right next to a 9mm fired from a S&W Shield while indoors. That single shot was enough to actually cause reduction in hearing levels that I can actually notice. It fkucking sucked.

      It is ALWAYS a bad idea to shoot without ear-pro. One shot IS enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

  26. This has been settled forever: 00 to 4 buckshot, or slugs if you have literally zero overpenetration concerns.

    There is absolutely nothing in the world with the same close-range stopping power as a properly fed shotgun.

  27. Mossberg 500 in 410 with Federal Premium handgun loads. Knockdown power without over penetration issues. My nightstand gun is a Glock 17 with an extra Mag so if the shotgun isn’t enough, the Glock will be.

  28. If used as a general duty long arm, it’s #1 or 00 buckshot for me, though Louis Awerbuck (RIP) and LAPD SIS swore by slugs the last I heard – pretty difficult to argue with 1oz of flying lead and gunfighters like that choosing something. But, the over penetration issue looms large once the game moves indoors to HD.

    The shotgun has fallen out of favor lately due to the AR craze (love me some good AR, and AK, too, for that matter), so I’ve felt the shotgun hasn’t been getting it’s due considering it’s shot-per-shot wounding abilities. Maybe that is turning around with people like Mr. Langdon championing it.

    While the video shoes buck vs. 7.5, one person here mentioned BB, and I’d even say a hot pheasant load (string me up now) fired at bedroom distances is going to ruin a person’s day. It’s not dove and quail vs. 00 – there is a whole gambit in between.

    • David,
      As the guy who taught me said “You don’t kill people for a living. You hear a noise in your house, you grab your shotgun and you shoot at the first thing that moves and you miss. The buckshot travels through the wall and kills someone in your family asleep in their bedroom, Shoot them with #6 bird shot and even if you are in the general direction youre going to hit them. People freeze when they get shot and that gives you time to take an aimed second shoot with 00 buck.”

  29. I generally have a hot #4 turkey load in the chamber followed by 00 buck in my Mossberg 500. On the stock in an ammo cuff are additional slugs if needed. The gun is a dedicated home defense weapon with an 18″ barrel,synthetic stock , non glare paint. Copper plated turkey loads would be devastating at 10-15 yards. I live out in the country, so over penetration is the least of my worries. Long response time from the local LEOs is the bigger concern, so there are a couple of Glocks and an AR on tap as well.

  30. Winchester 2 3/4″ #1 Buck. 13 rounds in the Saiga12.

    Will switch to Federal Flite Control #1 when I can find some.

  31. I keep full power Federal Power-shok (or similar) slugs loaded, but my intruders are far more likely to be of the 4 legged sort.

  32. 00 Buckshot.

    Remington Low Recoil/Tactical. 1200 fps is plenty for shooting bad guys, and the somewhat lower pressure means less muzzle blast. (more important than the lower recoil IMHO)

  33. If you are going to keep a pair of electronic muffs my your bedside then make certain to tape over the LED. (or desolder it). Last thing I want in the dark is a light on my head.

  34. KSG loaded with 15 rounds of #2, #1 or 00. Honestly don’t recall which, and I’m not going to go wake my wife up by racking the slide to check. 😉

    I’m using whatever was handy after the last range trip. Anything from #2 to 00 is “good enough” for me. I’m not sure if the KSG suffers from deformed shells from being loaded too long, but I like to cycle out my “defensive ammo” once in a while just in case. That usually means a trip to the desert to help cull the world’s overripe melon population. Afterward, I check the stash piles and grab whatever’s handy and not a “target load.”

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