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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?

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      • My only concern would be using this on long range targets. As it slows down, I’d bet that it won’t reliably fragment.

        I suppose it’d still be as effective as any normal slug though. So never mind.

      • Well i tell you one thing i do use them for hunting deer and i shot two at 40 To 50 Yards and that is where they laid down at did not run a yard further. Thanks winchester i love em!!!!

  1. I eagerly await a Youtube test using ballistic gel before I’ll consider buying any of this.

  2. I’ve heard quite a lot about this, actually. Seems like a pretty good set up.

    That being said, I use slugs in my shotgun (Well, technically, on the side saddle ON my shotgun) for the ability to make a little bit more presice shot, If I need to. The terman effects cant be that much different: an ounce of lead at 1300fps is an ounce of lead at 1300fps.

  3. Too much chance of over penetration with slugs at combat distance.

    While the rule of thumb has been 1 inch spread per yard, I find the vast majority of today’s ammo is far tighter, probably 1/2 that.

    Federal’s Flight Control Wad loadings are amazingly tight. I have seen 1 inch groups at 7 yards with various firearms–that’s what I keep mine stoked with.

  4. Good info of which I was unaware, thanks. I’ve used the “normal” PDX shotshell in my M-2. Maybe I’d alternate loads in the tube.

  5. A load of #4 or #6 is amazingly effective on bad people. Try it on a pig carcass or road kill and see for yourself.

    • In Minnesota in February with the perp bundled up like a polar bear I sure as heck am not putting my life on the craps table with #4 shot…I ain’t hunting pheasants here…00 buck interspersed with slugs in the magazine. If I have to shoot, I am going to win.

    • “18 inch barreled 10 gauge”
      You either have no respect for your hearing, or no respect for your shoulder. Or both. Ouch.

      • What??? LOL
        I have Artillery ears. I let my brother shoot it once and he handed it back. I then rapid fired 4 rounds down range. I am quite used to high power rifles.
        It started out as a 10 Gauge BPS Goose Gun with a broken stock I picked up for $100. I had an idea for home defense as I live out in the Country. I had my gun smith cut the barrel down to 18 inches and added a tactical stock, Hi Viz Front Sight, Ghost Ring Rear sight and a barrel porting. Surely, I am not the only one here with a tactical 10 gauge?

        • You bastard. You stole my idea lol.

          I had thought about doing that a while ago but I couldn’t find a BPS 10 gauge for less than $800. Then a used barrel to play around with would still be another $100+.

  6. Right now I got a 13 round mag for my S12 full of buckshot, might need to throw one of these in for every other one…because you never know when a Terminator from the future might show up….

  7. Gotta say after reading all this without any range demo results on various “bad guy” targets & gel, I must disagree with most of this, even though I tip my hat to excellent writing skills, putting the cookies on the bottom shelf, esp. the calculations and of course vast experience, whose opinons deserve respect.

    1. what I’ve witnessed as skeet & reloading duck hunter for years is that buckshot has to travel quite a ways before it actually spreads out. Further studies published strongly suggest even a sawed off shotgun (illegal) doesn’t help this spread like the westerns we watched when young. It’s only when we go outside and add more yardage than an in-house or close quarters self defense SOP scenario do even the “chokes” begin to influence this size shot or that.
    2. reading what Seals and others use for combat and what deer hunters on small parcels use = slugs
    3. most familiar with lead shot than the others and report they may not go through just every garment layer or “shield”/cover employed by “bad guys”; many of you are surly at least familiar with BB guns of lesser power and what their similar shot can do or not

    I gotta side on the Winchester wisdom and inventiveness on this PDX1 ammo in this case BUT will still stop and read anything this author has to write, I like his style.

  8. These are loosely based on a Civil War round called “Buck & Ball”. It was a ball or Minie Ball with three shot at the top of the cartridge. I have them. I loaded them. I shot them. Buying some more.

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