If you’re a trap shooter, you’ve no doubt patterned your shotgun for your load of choice. If you shoot, say, No. 8s and you usually shoot singles, it’s nice to know what your pattern at 30 to 40 yards will look like if you want to consistently smoke those orange disks. Similarly, if you’re a turkey hunter, you’ll want to know at what distances your load of choice is lethal through your turkey choke. But have you ever bothered to take your home defense shotgun out for a spin to see what it will do with OO in tight quarters at domestically likely distances?

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58 Responses to Question of the Day: Have You Patterned Your Home Defense Shogtun?

  1. Actually, yes. The Federal and Hornady Zmax are pretty tight. The old Mil-Spec 00 green rounds are dirty and pattern for garbage. I still have the targets.

    • Yup, similar experience except the Mil Spec 00 patterns decently (not great) out of one of my 870’s but not out of the other exactly configured 870, go figure. Test patterning is essential.

    • Win MilSup out of my Win pump stay under 10 inches at 60 yard, which is the furthest I can ever see myself shooting 00 buck…

      I’ll admit that’s not great patterning, but it works.

  2. …well wow! Kinda obvious once stated, but I never actually thought about it. I’ll chalk that up to my continued newbie status.

    • Same here. It’s something that never even occurred to me. The way I look at it, the pellets can’t possibly spread out that much inside of 10 yards (the longest straight-line distance in my house) so I don’t really have any reason to worry about it.

      Then again, I use a pistol for home defense.

  3. I’ve patterned my home defense AR and am intimately familiar with it’s sub 10 yard height-over-bore – does that count?

  4. I patterned a round of 41 pellet #4 buck at 25 yards once on a silhouette. The patterned covered the whole target with just about all the pellets in the vitals. Kind of scary, really. At that range the pellets should penetrate about 8 inches. Unless you’re carrying around an extra couple hundred pounds I don’t think there’s any getting up from that.

    • I have moved away from 00 to #4.for close range defense because the overall stopping power of the round is about the same since you hit the target with more pellets over a wider area. It may be a little less lethal but it is certainly more incapacitating. It is also a much better anti-mob round since you can put 400 pellets in a few seconds out of a semiauto.

      • A little less lethal and a little more incapacitating is a good combination. Works well when it counts, and plays well when it’s being recounted.

        I think of my shotgun (plain vanilla Mav 88 12ga.) in terms of SHTF anti-mob duty, in addition to traditional home defense. So having additional projectiles is a benefit in my mind, too. God tip. Thanks.

      • I’ve always been a fan of #4B, but I keep around some 15 pellet 00 as well. The fundamental problem (IMHO) with shotguns (or the Judge) is that they are only really an advantage from X yards to Y yards, depending on the particular load. Inside of X yards the shot hits as one mass and there won’t be enough spread to be any advantage over a pistol or rifle. And even skeet loads are deadly inside the house. Outside of Y yards the pattern is too sparse and the pellets won’t penetrate enough. That said, if anyone takes a round of 41 pellet #4 buck center mass at a range of 0-30 yards you can tell the 911 operator the ambulance driver doesn’t need to be in any hurry to get there. 00 might stretch that range a bit, but with only 9-15 pellets the pattern will be getting pretty sparse by 30 yards. I practice with my carry .357 at 50 yards and routinely put at least 5 out of 6 shots on the points on my silhouette targets from an unsupported weaver stance, so I consider the shotgun a shorter range firearm than a handgun (pocket handguns excepted).

        You have a good point about #4 as a mob deterrent, if you start shooting before they get within 50 yards or so you could really scatter a crowd without killing anyone. Might put a few eyes out, but you probably won’t actually kill anyone.

  5. At any range I’m likely to encounter in my house both my hd shotguns make the same pattern. One ragged hole regardless of shot size and brand name.

    Even the cheap Rio shells and the unbufferd loads. I gotta believe that in the houses that most of middle America lives in the ranges aren’t great enough to expect much difference.

    The only time I’ve used a shotgun for defense I posted at the top of the stairs. No shots were needed but you would have to have a tank to survive in a stairwell against a shotgun.

  6. Yep! And I repattern it annually. I expect to be on the witness stand if I ever have to use it in defense of myself or my peeps. Any lawyer worth their salt should be asking that question.

  7. Yes I have, but Federal Flight Control 00 buck at HD distances say 21 feet or so through a cylinder bore you’re talking about a fist size ragged hole. Not much to actually pattern but it’s good (and fun) to understand POA, POI, recoil etc.
    Another excuse to shoot, nothing wrong with that.

    • I recall on TTAG from maybe last year an article about a shotgun laser with multiple angled beams, instead of the standard single beam, specifically to approximate the spread at whatever distance you’re targeting. I don’t recall whether it was adjustable to account for varying spreads based on different shells, though, or if it’s one size fits all. I don’t know whether that’s old hat, but it looked novel to me at the time.

      • Laserlyte “Center Mass” laser; it projects one center dot and a ring of 8 more dots. The ring pattern expands at a fixed rate and is not adjustable. It is highly visible indoors, especially at night. Outdoors the laser points are too small, not so visible, and get lost easily against irregular surfaces. For home defense inside the home, though, it’s a winner.

  8. Yup. Painted it plaid with polka dot stock.

    Kidding.

    This makes me jealous as I do not have a shotgun.

        • Or you could simplify things and have a 16 gauge.

          Too bad the 16 gauge isn’t as popular. With light loads it is as good as 20 gauge while with heavier loads it is as good as 12 gauge if not better due to better balance of the shotguns (and less recoil of course).

        • sweet sixteen. they used to be popular. there are always shells on the store shelf…
          and ithaca still makes one.

        • I saw a semi-auto 16 gauge (Browning A5) for sale here in Norway. So, so much want but alas I am not old enough and I have other priorities for now.

    • “Hello, 911? I need medical and fire assistance at ***********.”
      Ye olde fireball indoors can be a bit troublesome. >=)

  9. “you want to consistently smoke those orange disks”

    Perhaps. But with perps, as with tobacco, smoke is out. “Vape” is in.

  10. Nope. Never felt the need to pattern it. It will shoot about the size if a grapefruit at the distances I’m worried about. Never even bothered pattering my skeet choke for clays.

  11. My 12ga. 18.5″ HD gun will make a hole about 15% bigger than the diameter of the barrel at max range in my house… but I am talking about less than 4 yards really, (small house) I can use cheap Wal-Mart target load for HD and get the job done at that range.

    I also load it up for escalation, so it usually is full of 1-2 target load, then progressively larger buckshot, whatever flavor I have at home and grab first really.

  12. Unfortunate truth:

    The vast majority of shotgunners never pattern test any load for any reason – this includes self defense, deer hunting, turkey hunting or clay target games!

  13. My local range only allows for firing slugs from shotguns. I haven’t had the time or opportunity to travel out of the DFW metroplex for the sole purpose of visiting a less restrictive range.

    • Seriously?!? You live in central Tejas and you don’t know anyone who can stroll you out to the country and shoot?!?!? Little Brother, you need to find some better friends! Just drive west on 20 for an hour and pick a nice spot. Can see traffic coming from a llooonnngggg way off. A few milk jugs full of water and you know exactly what your pump gun is doing. And my suggestion for city dweller shotgun HDRs is magnum turkey loads. Lethal at close range, shot column dissipates rapidly passing through drywall/plaster/plywood/whatnot.

  14. I patterned my Mossberg Persuader with some 00 buck on some pumpkins about a year ago. At chit-chatty distances, the Persuader shoots right to where I put the bead. The pumpkins seemed pretty persuaded.

  15. Nope; don’t have one.

    Currently I’m defended by Soviet military guns, although when I finish refurbishing my WWI “Trench Sweeper” it’ll join the line-up and I will pattern it.

    As yet it’s inoperable, having been neglected and abused for a very loonnngggg time before coming into my possession.

  16. I patterned my Mossberg with both 00 and 04 buck. I got some fliers with the 00, but the 04 gave me a nice jagged hole, so I’m loaded with the 04.

  17. Wifey’s pump sets a 6 inch semi-round pattern at 15 feet with remington 00 buck shot. Throws 10 inch pattern with hand loaded fletchettes. Which you think is in the chamber at all times?

  18. Absolutely! and the Laser designator is set to match that pattern. If I ever have to open up with #4, I can say that
    “whatever is green will take a significant amount of hits”. I do find it strange that I spent more on the designator than on the 88 Mav, but it just seemed so ideally suited to the job; I don’t even need to find my glasses!

  19. Yep at 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards. I stick with a pump Hatsan, and I prefer number 1 buckshot, it penetrates the necessary 12 inches, and is double the pellets as standard 00 buckshot.

  20. At inside house ranges, even bird and small game shot packs more of a solid punch than most folks would ever imagine.

    • I had the chance to shoot inside an old farmhouse scheduled for destruction. Lathe and plaster interiors and solid wood doors. Even low brass #6s were devastating.

      • I have done indoor shooting in several old houses, and yea, even against old double plank with lathe and plaster interiors shotgun loads are pretty effective, much less modern stud and drywall construction. People have a false idea of how much protection walls, doors and furnishings provide, thanks to TV and movies. And don’t get me started on hiding behind car doors!

  21. Pretty new to shotguns, but took my Mossberg 590 20″ to the range. Cylinder bore. At five yards (or it might have been seven) Remington 00 buck 9 pellets went no bigger than a softball. I knew it was a myth that you just point in the general direction and hit, but I was somewhat surprised how tight it was.

    So that’s my HD ammo now.

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