I asked the rabbi why he chose to address the issue of shotgun patterning in the free clip from armedresponsetraining.com‘s new DVD Home / Personal Defense Shotgun. “Because most people don’t do it,” he replied with characteristic candor. I also asked him why he featured Federal Premium Personal Defense ammo. “It’s the best we’ve ever tested.” I reckon we need to get the rabbi a wide range of HD shotshell to test out of my Benelli M2. Purely for scientific reasons, of course. Meanwhile, have you patterned your HD shotgun and what ammo do you use?


  1. thats why i like this forum…leave no stone unturned…will try that this weekend…

  2. After being thoroughly displeased with the current crop of 870s, a Mossberg Mariner has become my “go-to” HD shotgun. Shall pattern it this weekend.

    • There’s not a damn thing wrong with the 870. Mine patterns like a sandstorm with Winchester 00 LE, but groups much more tightly with the Remington tactical 00. I did switch to the Mossberg 18″ breacher barrel (yes, a Mossberg barrel on a Remington). Now, I’ve got a club and a shotgun in one! I suspect the Hornady HD and Federal HD ammo would group even tighter, but I don’t mind a little spread at close range. My goal is to get the entire pellet payload into a torso-sized target at 20-25 yards. Outside of that range, slugs or an AR become more appropriate, in my opinion.

      • I have an older 870 and it is really a good gun. I think if I was
        buying a new pump shotgun, I would go after the Browning BPS or
        Ithaca 37.

  3. Benelli M1, 14″ barrel with Federal 00 Buck, flight control wad ammo. That gun loves that ammo. At 15 yards it gets that 1″ pattern shown on the video. At 25 yards, the it gets a 6″ pattern. Phenomenal. Interestingly, that same ammo gets a 4″ pattern @ 15 and an 8″ pattern @ 25 yards out of my 18″ M1. Still, the best patterning buckshot ammo out of my Benelli’s I have ever seen. We use it as our academy training/firearms qualification load. Similar results out of the entire array of 870’s in the inventory.

  4. I have patternd a lot of buckshot for hunting , Remington low recoil 00 is the best I’ve tried, in 12 gauge.

  5. I’d post some pictures in the comments if I could figure out how … patterned my shotgun with cheapo Estate 00 buck from Cabela’s and Federal 00 buck with flite control (LE132-00) and the results were impressive: The Estate buck scatters like a blunderbuss – 10″ – 12″ groupings at 15 yards, torso size groupings (or larger) at 25 yards. Completely different story with the Federal Flite Control 00 buck: single holeat 15 yards and fist-size groupings at 25 yards. Would love to take it out to 50 yards but the indoor range I shoot at only goes out to 25.

  6. The beauty of Federal’s Flight Control Wad is that it greatly extends the range of the shotgun

    • I’ve seen this firsthand and that’s all I use now. You can almost
      be surgical with the Federal flite control rounds.

  7. I use a Remington 870 marine magnum, loaded with 7 Winchester 00 buck 2 3/4″ shells. the bandolier sling carries a handful of slugs, some more 2 3/4 shells, and a bunch of 3″ shells. I figure that if the job can’t be done with 7 rounds of buckshot, surely the slugs and 3 inchers will make something happen! plus the stainless on black look is intimidating as hell. Shooting the 00 buck, the spread will stay inside a soda can out to 25 yards.

  8. I patterned many HD loads in the Mossberg HS410 we keep handy. My favorite is a Remington HD 2.5″ load with four 000 buck. Fist sized pattern at my desired distance of 7 yards. Last weekend I shot bowling pins with it. Standard course. While 9 and 40 rounds were effective this buckshot load shoved them straight off the table and they went down! No follow up needed. Very effective table clearer. Happy shooting, dv

    • Jason, The issue with slugs is over penetration at close distances.
      Slugs are a better choice for longer ranges

  9. Did these guys miss the point of buck? It’s supposed to spread. And
    since most people use it for home defense, it should spread at
    household distances. If you’re going to aim for 1″ patterns at 15
    yards… why not just use a slug? The point of buck is to create
    multiple wound channels, over a broader area so that you increase
    your chances of hitting something vital. I don’t have a 15 yard
    line of sight in my home. I prefer slug, but if I was to load up
    with 00 buck, I’d want something that spread to face-size at the
    longest range in my home. Tune your tools to your needs, not some
    arbitrary standard of “smaller is better”.

    • I am with you…The more spread the better at the ranges that I
      want. If it isn’t 5-10″ at 20 yards then why bother with a shotgun.
      If I was an officer with an 870 in my trunk I may be worried about
      spread at 25-30 yards. However the title of this article includes
      Home Defense Shotgun….I want to be able to produce gaping 4″
      holes at the end of a 30 foot hallway.

    • Standard buckshot is great for close distances, but the Flight
      Control Wad reduces the spread enabling the use of the shotgun for
      longer distances, which makes the shotgun a more versatile weapon.

    • Agree. Which is why the NRA recognition of the recent Hornady SD
      load, same thing as “flite control wad,” really, seemed odd. The
      beauty of 00 buck with traditional dispersion at home defense
      ranges is the spread: It is, of course, false to say a shotgun need
      not be aimed. What is true, though, is that at high speed with
      adrenaline rushing the buck provides a much higher chance of
      hitting a vital spot. It isn’t about ‘lots’ of spread, but about
      the virtues of at least some spread. It isn’t about frontal area as
      so many #1 buck fans aver, but about having the slightly greater
      sectional density in each pellet of 00. The spread becomes even
      more important when you’re defending against a perp with a vest,
      forcing you to quickly hit smaller vital areas above and below the

  10. I have a Remington 1187 (26″ barrel) that I don’t use for HD
    because I am going to have dogs running around the BG. However, I
    have patterned it with the standard choke for Remington Express 00.
    I have read that if you are concerned about containing the shot
    within your house you should use #4 Turkey shot insteat of 00.

  11. Patterning is pretty basic shotgun knowledge and a good way to
    learn how your weapon really works. Most patterns at close range
    are very tight.

  12. Try this. Patterning is pretty basic shotgun knowledge and a good
    way to learn how your weapon really works. Most patterns at close
    range are very tight.

    • Shotguns while seemingly simple are actually a more complex weapon
      than people think. Randy Wakeman Outdoors has some good articles
      and one of the better books was The Varmint Hunters Bible on how
      shotguns really work.

  13. Most of the smaller sized shot does not have enough muzzle energy
    to do adequate damage at greater distances even if the groupings
    are tight. Buckshot does not penetrate nearly as well some people
    think it does. I do not want to turn a shotgun into a poor-man’s
    rifle. One of the upsides of the shotgun is faster speed in terms
    of aiming and firing. You still got to aim, but scatter guns should
    be a little more forgiving than a rifle. I want a fairly wide
    pattern and a very even one. The flight control wad seems to
    accomplish the latter.

  14. Some guys in VietNam carried shotguns with a horizontal oval
    muzzle. Is anything like that available and if so legal. The idea
    as I understood was to throw a horizontally spread pattern.

    • Can’t seem to edit. My second sentence above is a question. It
      would be seemly for me to have used a question mark, would it not?

      • Edit function is down, thanks to the latest WordPress upgrade. We’re working on it. You patience is most appreciated.

  15. I’ve patterned my Mossberg 835 with Federal 2 3/4″ 9 pellet 00
    buck, Remington 3″ Magnum 15 pellet 00 buck, and handloaded 3 1/2″
    12 pellet 000 buck. (I’m not an idiot, the handloads are for
    hunting, not HD) and the biggest spread I see is with the Federal,
    still about an 8″ pattern at 40m. The other two loads are pretty
    even, but the federal seems to really want to make a vertical line
    about 2″ wide and 8″ tall. Anybody else noticed this with their

  16. Patterned my 870 with 18 inch slug barrel in 1978 with Federal,
    Remington , Winchester and Rottweil buckshot loads. At 50 feet the
    patterns all ran 13 to 14 inches no matter shot size. How wide is
    YOUR chest?

  17. Heck, I find that most hunters that use buckshot don’t see the need for patterning – other than on deer! Any shotgun / choke / load that cannot hold at least a 100% pattern in ten inches at 25 yards is unacceptable for deer hunting. While buckshot is an excellent load for thick cover hunting, patterning before using it on game is just as important as sighting in a rifle!

    Commercial 12 gauge buckshot loads run the gamut in pellet size from the small .24 caliber (27 to 54 pellet) coyote loads to the massive – tight patterning .60 caliber (Tri-Ball) loads that will smash through the gristle and shoulder bones of a big boar hog.

  18. Patterning is the first thing any shotgun owner should do. Buy different types and brands of ammo for tests. Test ammo on different distances to better understand your shotgun and to choose the ammo that suits your needs.

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