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

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?


  1. avatar Accur81 says:

    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.

    1. avatar outwardhound says:

      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.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      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. avatar dlj95118 says:

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

    1. avatar Jim R says:

      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. avatar jdb says:

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

  4. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    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.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      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.

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        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.

      2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        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. avatar jwm says:

    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. avatar K-Bizz says:

    Yes I have, it was a beautiful thing at 10 yds (the longest distance I could even remotely expect to shoot).

  7. avatar Andy says:

    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.

  8. avatar lowhouse5 says:

    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.

  9. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Never thought of it.

    Next shottie I get, you can bet your ass.

    Especially if I laser it…

    1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      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.

      1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

        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.

  10. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    Yup. Painted it plaid with polka dot stock.


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

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Every house in America should have a shotgun.

      1. avatar Evan says:

        Nope. They should have 2 🙂 a 12 gauge for big game and defense and a 20 for showing newbies how to shoot.

        1. avatar lolinski says:

          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).

        2. avatar cmeat says:

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

        3. avatar lolinski says:

          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.

      2. avatar S.CROCK says:

        Every American house should have a pump 12 gauge, a semi auto 9mm, and a Ruger 10/22.

  11. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    In my little house it doesn’t matter. Just so I know it works. Chinese pardner pump.

  12. avatar Hippi says:

    Yup the ol 500 likes the cheep Rio 00 the best and I’m fine with that.

  13. avatar Roll says:

    HD gun is an m92 ak pistol…so I guess no…

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

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

  14. avatar ropingdown says:

    “you want to consistently smoke those orange disks”

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

  15. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Full choke with 27 pellet #4 reduced velocity buck is a beautiful thing.

  16. avatar Evan says:

    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.

  17. avatar Chrispy says:

    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.

  18. avatar DaveL says:

    I don’t have a shogtun. Does Regminton make one?

    1. avatar John M. says:

      Let’s just save you a bunch of trouble and say “no.”

      1. avatar S.CROCK says:

        John that is just so much truth in one sentence.

      2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        That garnered a serious belly laugh – from a serious belly… :/

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          No kidding. That laugh lasted well over a minute!

        2. avatar John M. says:

          Thank you. Remember to tip your server.

    2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      Remington’s older shotguns were fine. Older 870 Wing Masters were very good.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        If you buy the older 870 make sure it doesn’t have the pre recall barrel on it.

  19. avatar Southerner says:

    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!

  20. avatar Thrawn says:

    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.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Weird. My nearest range accepts only shot; no slugs.

    2. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      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.

  21. avatar FoRealz? says:

    Yeah, mine shoots minute of tweaker. And a bit to the right.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:


  22. avatar John M. says:

    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.

  23. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    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.

  24. avatar Wiscosotan says:

    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.

  25. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    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?

  26. avatar Deddo42 says:

    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!

  27. avatar cmeat says:

    does kankakee pumpkins count? there’s always a pattern of seeds.

  28. avatar TravisP says:

    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.

  29. avatar jug says:

    Yawn, yeah at HD range the whole load gets there, and none come back.

    Good to go!

  30. avatar Indiana Tom says:

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

    1. avatar jwm says:

      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.

      1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

        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!

  31. avatar Tim says:

    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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