Survival Shotgun Part 5: Myths Explained

Survival Shotgun Myths - Remington 870

Thanks to television, movies, and popular Rambo talk there are lots of myths about the shotgun. If you are going to use yours effectively in a survival situation you need to separate fact from fiction. Here are some common misconceptions the smart prepper should be wary of.

This article is Part 5 in a series of posts by contributing author Mr. Smashy:

Rack It

Myth: “The sound of a pump racking is enough to scare away an intruder.”

Fact: If you are racking your pump investigating a suspicious noise, you’ve made a tactical error.  You may have escalated a situation from a simple peeping tom or snooping thief into a full scale home invasion by engaging their fight or flight reflexes.  You’ve also announced your location to anyone that may have been trying to find you. Mossberg 500 Shotgun MythsLearn to load your weapon silently or leave it with a round in the chamber, whichever you’re comfortable and can safely do.

If you’re out in the wild, follow the safety rules you’re comfortable with (NRA Safety Rules, Col. Cooper’s Rules of Gun Safety), but be ready to bring your weapon to action quickly and quietly; your threat will usually not give you the luxury of a distinctive warning.

Room Clearing

Myth: “You just point the shotgun in the general direction of the bad guy, pull the trigger and it’s game over!”

Fact: You need to aim shotguns just like rifles and pistols.  Rounds like buckshot will spread one inch for every yard of flight, as a rule of thumb.  If you’re defending yourself from an assailant at 5 yards, the group of shot will be roughly 5″ wide, an easy shot to miss if you’re snap shooting.  If the shot was well aimed in the thoracic cavity, the result would be completely different.

Target Shotgun MythsShooting your shotgun at targets setup at different distances and measuring the size of the spread is called “patterning” your shotgun, and it’s you should do with your gun and with each load you shoot.  You’ll have a better understanding of how your shotgun performs and the limitations of each load.

If your buckshot pellets cannot hold an 18″ group (average shoulder width of a man) at 30 yards, but will at 25, you know that your effective range is 25 yards.  Try different loads in your shotgun for the best pattern.  Also, remember, you are responsible for each pellet that you send downrange and each pellet should hit your intended target.

Mix and Match

Myth: “I like to load in a slug in first, followed by two rounds of 00 buck, then then two rounds of bird shot.  If those two rounds of bird shot don’t end the fight, the buckshot sure will, and I keep that slug for insurance.”

Loads Shells Shotgun MythsFact 1: Mixing ammo in the same magazine is not recommended.  You could pull the trigger and get an unexpected result.  If you need a different round, train on how to switch loads.

Fact 2: Birdshot should never be used for defensive purposes unless you have no choice.  The small shot does not penetrate and will not cause a stop, especially if the aggressor is determined.  There has been a documented report of a 12 year old girl surviving a point blank blast of bird shot.  Dick Cheney shot an 78-year-old man in the face with birdshot and the receiver lived.

Armchair Tactical

Shotgun Movie MythsMyth: Everything you’ve seen in TV and movies about people getting shot with shotguns.

Fact: In close quarters buckshot and slugs do heavy damage, but people do not explode, fly backwards, and there is not always a huge window for them to fall through.  Train for quick follow up shots, dealing with multiple aggressors, reloading your shotgun when it’s run dry, and a especially the Tactical Reload (loading your magazine between shots.)


Myth: A single blast will open a door explosively.

Fact: Ballistic breaching is usually a two or three step process involving shooting frangible breaching slugs at the latch and bolt of a locked door, Shotgun Myths Breaching Slugand then the door is pried or battered open.  If you’re lucky and have shot well, a good kick with a solid boot will open the door.

If you shot poorly, you can actually twist a metal door and frame together so an explosive breach, battering ram, or Halligan tool is necessary.

Breaching can be accomplished by a prepper with a shotgun and a partner with something like a Stanley FuBar, but don’t expect a dynamic entry on an unsuspecting party.  You can use standard buckshot and slugs for a ballistic breech, but frangible breaching slugs are recommended for safety.

Your Favorite

Every armchair tactical operator and mall ninja has a ton of great “shotgun myths” Leave a comment and tell us your favorite.

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

caine30 May 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

one thing you might want to concider is practicing a tactical weapon change(like a priamry weapon jam or empty mag) switching to a secondary weapon like a hand gun.


cbond November 5, 2010 at 7:01 pm

i agree 100% with you.people need to have sound tacticsand train on a regular basis to be ready for what comes thier way.its not just about punching paper.i drill on a weekly basis with my wife also so she can be ready if need be.never stop training your life or others may count on it some day thank you for your time


steven December 8, 2010 at 10:53 pm

That would be a reflex action for me !
I have had a shotgun go click !! and it was not at a good time !


Ben228 April 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

The loudest noises in the world: BOOM when your expecting click and vise-a-versa!


ATurner88 December 16, 2010 at 5:32 am

also practice, reloading your shotgun while keeping eyes on target


Montezuma1775 May 26, 2010 at 6:08 am

I'm a big fan of the one handed pump action like in Terminator 2.


Clay September 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm

it's actually a lever action model 1887 with a vaquero lever. just means a big lever ment for when your wearing leather gloves. that actually is incredibly hard to do even when standing still. much less on a bike.


Dan October 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm

He may have meant the 1-handed rack that Sarah Conner does with her pump-action shotgun at the end of the movie. I’ve seen people short-stroke it like that, and wouldn’t recommend trying it under any kind of stress.

Interestingly enough, they made a custom lever loop for the flip-cock scenes with Arnold on the bike, and during one take he accidentally tried it with the standard version of the 1887 (the one used for closeups) and almost broke a finger.


zschell May 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I love this series! This particular article has brought up some good points that I had not considered, such as mixing ammo and testing the spread on my gun. As far as snap shooting, I have a flashlight/laser combo on my shotgun. People have asked me what the point of a laser is on a shotgun, and I tell them that I use it to make sure that my snap shots will go where they are supposed to. Keep up the great info you guys provide!


Lucas_SurvCache June 2, 2010 at 6:26 am


I'm glad you like the series. Scott does an excellent job sharing his expertise.

I'd be interested to hear what kind of flashlight/laser combo you are running on your shotgun?


real world survival November 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

FBI and law enforcement training for lasers are simply for target coverage so the other officers know who is covering who without having to point around the room and guess who is covering who. Example "Hey I've got the guy in the blue shirt and the other officer sayes okay I got the guy in the red shorts." Instead the simply enter the room and aquire a target the next officer lasers his target and everyone knows who has who." As for snap shooting the FBI has proven that snap shooting is a process of training the muscles to develop memory so your body points the gun at the target you have not taken your eyes off of. A laser actually inhibits this process so that your eyes are having to follow the laser to the target, and stealing dangerous split seconds and your attention. FBI, SWAT, and ARMY all only use lasers for this purpose. If your not part of a breaching team then you should lose the laser, or just don't turn it on. This site is to tear down the myths and people need to understand the full purpose of what they see on tv and movies, and not rely on the cool factor when in a hostle situation.


JCJ78 November 21, 2011 at 2:02 am

this has got to be the dumbest post I’ve seen in a minute.


David/Sharpie March 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Which is?


zschell May 28, 2010 at 7:25 am

Favorite movie myth: holding a shotgun in one hand and different gun in the other hand and effectively clearing a room or firing accurate stopping shots with the shotgun (most recently "Mr. & Mrs. Smith").


servingbrother July 20, 2010 at 6:38 pm
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mr_smashy June 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I'd suggest loading and test firing real firearms (pistols, AR-15s, shotguns) with dummy rounds one handed. There are techniques to do so but for some weapon systems (AR-15), it's a complex operation. A GLOCK with good sights, in comparison, can be racked against you pants leg and loaded that easy.

I think in the film they were firing pistol grip shotguns one handed; not impossible, but not pleasant, easy, or a best practice.


caine30 November 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

oh i agree that you should try a test fire but I have been around shotguns and rifles for most if not all my adult life so I know what I am capable of if you are a unsure of what you can do stick to the basics they will never fail you.


real world survival November 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm

There is nothing amazing about dying, especially when you claim to be trained. Make the trip and take GUNSITE, look it up, It's not cheap. Complete that course and you will have the skills to pass on, not the backyard paintball course. In personel retreaval you would sling the shotgun and go for your pistol if you were alone, or you would have someone cover you so you could make the extraction faster and you and the victim might live. People watch too many movies, and the people with no training don't know any better end up listening to false truths will put themselves in avoidable danger. I do know what I'm talking about, I'm a former Deputy Sheriff Special Operations. No Offense but you need to re-educate yourself from a reliable training center.


caine30 November 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

no offense was taken but I have had training and it is more than a Backyard Paintball course…I have trained with people that are Army rangers and State Police Tactical Teams so yeah i have had some Education on the matter but one never truly knows what situation one will be put into that is why we train in many different things so we can try to handle anything in a reasonably safe manner.


Dustin C August 6, 2011 at 8:56 am

Id like to see you one hand a 3″ 00 buckshot. I’m 6’6″ 375 pounds and not weak by any means and when i tried to one hand it my thumb felt like it almost got torn off lol, my hand was sore for a week. I would like to see someone one hand a 3 1/2 inch 000 buckshot magnum, i bet you wouldn’t have much of a thumb left afterwards.


Phatdaddy August 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Okay, I can see a 7 1/2 or 8 shot not being a non-lethal load but the birdshot I use is BB or BBB in 12 gauge 3 1/2 mag. I don't think any one with in 25 yards is going to walk away from a center body mass shot.


Pat August 13, 2010 at 7:17 am

These are pistol not shotgun but I thought they were kind of funny. I forget what movie it was (maybe Doomsday) this girl is running and firing pistols (one in each hand), to reload she throws the magazines up in the air (gotta love hollywood). Another is at the end of Zombieland when Woody Harrelson's character is fighting off the zombies (again a pistol in each hand) and stands up a bunch of magazines and to reload brings the guns down on them, this one I guess is plausible (I've only ever fired a shotgun so I don't really know) but would still be difficult to get the guns in exactly the right place to load the magazine rather than just knocking it over.


fourthrowe April 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

You missed the part where woody harrelson kissed the barrel of a gun that just fired a few dozen rounds and his lips didn’t catch fire.


wes harrelson September 21, 2010 at 11:55 pm

while in this discussion ,i noticed a few things to concider . 1 length of barrel . the longer the barrel the harder to control inside the home but in all other situations (hunting, outside fights ) the longer barrel may be best. so, buying a remington express with an 18 inch barrel for home defense and then ordering a longer barrel with interchangeable chokes to put in the bug out bag may be an option to concider. the chokes will change the pattern and give more range with a tighter pattern . i personally dont like a pistol grip on a shotgun as it dont work well as a club. also , you will want a good sling for the gun because they get heavy after a while . one more thing ,remington and mossbergs are easier to find parts for. so ,in a wtshtf situation, this will be very important


real world survival November 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I dare say you have never used a shotgun as a club, or at best never had a tactical situation where you used all your ammo and was forced into a situation where you had to use your shotgun in an improvised manor. The fact that the number one tactical firearm for the american forces is a assault rifle with "pistol grip" and the training for using it in an improvised manor is jab with the barrel and strike with the butt, and then make repeated blows, barrel butt, barrel butt, barrel butt, it would be unwise to use a long weapon in anyother manor. As for the choke tubes, where do you live? That you would have a CQC situation indoors that may lead to a CQC situation outdoors that you feel you would need to make a shot farther than 25yds. I just don't see why you would expend the additional resources to order a longer barrel for hunting only to try to open the choke to a modified in which your barrel would be too long for the CQC purpose.


Eric October 23, 2010 at 3:02 am

I have to disagree with the myth about carrying different loads in your shotgun. I carry 00 and slugs. I usually load at least one slug, usually last so it's my first round in the chamber. If I have to make an accurate shot at 25 yards the slug from an 870 will do it. From experience as a Law Enforcement Firearms instructor, I think its a good way to go.


Real World Survival November 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Do you mean that your slug would work in the effective range of 50 to 25yds first, then as the bad guy or guys enter your 24yd range to CQC the narrow spread of the 00buck would finish up? If so I agree 100%. maybe load 5x00buck then 2 or 3x slug start you off. So you are slugging at first then finishing with 00. the rough spread with a 3" 00buck load at 20yds would be approx. 20" the average body width and at 10yds 10" spread. too many people think you can close your eyes and point and take out anything on the other side of the room. At 5yds basically 15" the length of a living room you only have a 5" spread, the size of a hand span. People take your guns out set up some cardboard boxes or whatever and know what the loads you have purchased will do.


cbond November 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm

my self defense shotgun is a remington 870 with a 20 remchoke barrel with a KIcks brand turkey choke .655 constricton with 3 inch # 4 HEVISHOT in this particular setup my pattern is about the size of a big grapefruit at 40 yards, i cant pattern this setup any less than 30 yards,without blowing the pattern board all to my mind i think this setup is very lethal inside of 40 yards and you have 90 to 95 percent of the pattern on target. It WILL blow a turkeys head off at that range just imagine a human body.IT WILL WORK.


cbond November 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm

if no one does not no about HEVISHOT it is hevier than lead. it is made with a tungstun and iron base that way it is non toxic but it has a lot of energy and knockdown power. the only downfall is that it is expensive and comes in different size shot up to BB or T. real good stuff .


Real World Survival November 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm

RealWorld Survival is about facts and understanding the purpose and logic of a decision. With a cumulative knowledge base of FBI, Law enforcement, and special operations branches of the armed forces, Marines, Air commandos, Army Rangers, you can be sure what you are reading is accurate with no hype or bolstered egos. Just the facts to save lives from people who have been there.


235AR15 November 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Bad ass dude, straight facts from someone willing to drop the bullsh*t. Keep it coming. People take notes.


CaptBart December 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

Interesting posts. I have a couple of observations. If we are talking about a survival shotgun, we need to recognize the most likely scenario(s). Are you really going to be leading a breaching team? Really? If you need to use your shotgun at oh dark thirty in your living room are you prepared for several of your 00 or 000 shot to miss and penetrate into the next two or three rooms? Bird shot may be for the birds, but it will stop an assault without the risk of excessive wall penetration. If you live alone, no worries, but if your wife or children might be down range – just what level of risk are you willing to take? Pistol grips are OK, as long as there is a real stock to go into your shoulder. Or is your survival shot gun ONLY for close quarters combat with no need for hunting duties or even 'bayonet drill' if things get dicey? Cheny was using a 28 gauge at some distance when he hit the other hunter. Falling shot can hurt but is rarely fatal. A blast to the face with any shot size from any shot gun at fairly close range is blinding, if not lethal. A tube weapon like a lever gun or a pump can be continuously reloaded unlike a box magazine that is changed out.
Again, I am a supporter of training at a place like Gunsite or Frontsite but we need to remember what the primary purpose of our weapon is. If I'm LEO or military, I have a full support team backing me up and filling in the gaps in my weapon system with their weapon system. In TEOTWAWKI, I may well be solo or with only one or two more. A weapon system designed to fit into an effective combined arms team for purposes of CQC in a hostile, city environment is, in my not so humble opinion, radically different that the weapon a rural farmer needs for 90 % of his requirements. Remember the long barrel shot gun was the gun the farmers used as they settled the great plains. It did yeoman service as a basic survival arm, providing food and protection for the homestead. If I'm looking to fight off a few hundred MZB, nothing short of a fully automatic, belt fed, heavy caliber weapon will do me any good at all. In the defense, in a 1 on 1 or few on 1 situation, most shot guns will do the job nicely. The question is, will your gun of choice do the rest of what is required of a survival arm.


poorman April 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Thanks for the comment. I use a Mossberg 500 with only a pistol grip for home protection and keep #2 shot as the first out of the barrel for just the reason you stated,low penetration in the house. oo follows that but I figure I will be in better position for the next shot. I also have a longer barrel Winchester 1200 for hunting. I agree everyone seems to focus on battle when they talk about survival but putting food on the table is really what they should be focusing on.


CaptBart December 28, 2010 at 9:20 am

An advantage to the pump shot gun in a house with children is the ability to add a level of safety (at the expense of slightly slower reaction time). If I take my UNLOADED shot gun, rack the slide, put the safety on and then load it, I have a shot gun that cannot be made to fire without depressing the tang used to allow a cocked gun to be racked. That puts a round in the chamber, then once the safety is off, I can fire the gun. This prevents a little one from simply removing the safety and firing it or "bump firing" it if that is possible. Not saying this process is sufficient to leave a gun where it is easily accessible to kids (it isn't – and has the disadvantage of leaving the weapon cocked thus compressing the spring if that is a concern for your gun) but it does preclude a simple rack and fire or safety off and fire. Not a gun lock, but an additional level of security.


CaptBart December 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

My favorite myth is the infinite magazine. I guess it makes it's own rounds as space becomes available. Some movie I saw part of (I changed channels – couldn't take any more) has the hero spin in a circle while firing full auto with each hand into the floor to cut an escape hatch that he falls through! You have got to be kidding! Not sure what he had but he must have used a couple of hundred rounds in each gun and made a perfect circle, no outliers.
The other myth I like is the guy with the pistol grip 12 gauge who puts a couple of shots into the target at 15 yards and no discernible recoil. I may be a wimpy old guy at 61, but when I fire my coach 12 gauge, the barrel bloody well moves! It takes a little time to get back on target for a second shot and that's a double barrel. Seems to me, shooting from the hip while racking the slide is a good way to miss.


Mark February 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I had to look up MZBs. Pretty funny!


CaptBart February 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

Sorry about the buzz word. I usually try to explain my acronyms as I use them. I'd been at another site so I knew that MZB was Mutant Zombie Biker. I actually think the term came out of someone's observations on the Mad Max movie – it seemed to fit and stuck. Anyway, I'm glad you got a definition.


CBI January 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

My wife suggested replacing "TEOTWAWKI" by "ZA": Zombie Apocalypse.
I just do *not* understand this zombie craze . . . .


Zach February 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

Ask your wife, she knows haha


john March 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

I think if there was a burglar in the other room, and you KNEW where he was exactly you could fire through the wall and at least wound him….


joesph March 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm

or you could shoot your grandmom that was getting a drink of water


Bill October 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

Sorry Grandma doesn't live here!


junkedships March 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Any idea's about splitting No. 4 00 to make poor man's slugs?


CaptBart October 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I wasn't sure what you were talking about until I saw a video of it being done. Kind of impressive. They cut a circle around the the shell but left a small "bridge" to hold it together. When fired it acted like a slug that came apart in the gelatine. Impressive as all get out – of course the round is no longer water tight – storage for any long term would be difficult if not impossible but a fully frangible 12 GA slug makes an impressive hole.


Ross February 4, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I watched a court case where a guy was charged with murder 1 for doing that. Very ill-advised.


Steve February 21, 2013 at 12:32 am

Take a knife and cut about 1/2 way through all the way around about 1/2 way down(at the top of the wad). When you fire the whole top halfwill stick together like a slug.


Random Survival Guy July 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm

And it will greatly increase the chamber pressure as the front half of the shotgun case is forced into a barrel that is too small for it. And if there's any choke on the end of the barrel, it gets squeezed even more.

Probably won't blow your gun up the first time you do it, but it will stress every part far more than necessary and greatly shorten its usable life.


Randal March 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

I am former military and really only have experience using the M-16 and M-9 as far as combat go. This article is actually educating me a bit on CQB with shotguns. I made assumptions that seem to be in error if I am reading correctly. I thought I had read somewhere that the most torso trauma and cavitation came from 12 guage bird shot or No. 7 rounds at normal home invasion distances of 7-12 feet…is this wrong? If it is I have a hell of a lot of ammo that is not going to the right purposes. Maybe a duck hunt would be in order for the next couple of years…lol. Note to self: Buy more 00 and slugs…


CaptBart April 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm

The advantage to #7 is it isn't likely moving at lethal velocity after penetrating a wall – if it even gets through it. At 10 feet or so, the pattern is still tight enough in most guns that it is quite capable of doing major damage, especially to the face. Houston just had a BG who told folks he was going out in a "blaze of glory". His shotgun seems to have claimed the eye of a police supervisor – their service auto have eliminated any need for a public defender. Buck shot is more lethal at any range than #7. 00 is a .33 caliber round and #7 is about .1 caliber. If there are others in the house the #7 is safer. It will also get the job done. If the BG is wearing a vest, neither the buck nor #7 will get through it but both will do the job with a head shot or if a vest isn't in the way.


Bill October 20, 2013 at 11:05 am

use any shot size #6 to #00 in a sawed off no choke barrel 12 gauge and your going to have devastating results in any normal size room. Best to be in the #2 shot on up range. Cut the barrel as short as legal, although 8"-12" is best. Very few people are honest or even know the pattern or power at these specs. Also, always use the hottest magnum load you can find. Have them reloaded for you if possible, without shot cup. Shot cup restricts opening pattern. I also believe in keeping the standard butt, not going to pistol grip. Pistol grip is much more likely to injure your wrist. You can cut the butt off some if you want to reduce the profile but be aware you loose the ability to shoulder fire. Shoulder firing can be your friend!


bhawkpilot September 29, 2011 at 6:47 am

I would definitely agree that the application of birdshot needs to be rethought in the home defense situation. The size of the shot is a little bigger than cracked pepper, with not so much powder force behind it to propel into flesh. 00 and 000 Buck are .33 and .38 caliber round bullets propelled at normally 1350 feet per second (9-12 of them), which produces an absolutely devastating effect on impact. Basically it is the equivalent of 9-12 shots with a .357 magnum, even with soft body armor you can die of blunt trauma causing internal injuries. If the home environment includes small children, wall penetration is a concern, in which case #4 buckshot is recommended. Hope this helps….


Ben228 April 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

With practice a lot of "Hollywood" moves can be done. That being said they are best left in a movie! However at one time I was doing a lot of shooting with my Mossberg 500 Defender (18.5" barrel, 5+1) and I got good enough with it to be able to unload it from the hip in under 3 secounds and keep them all on target ( 10 yards). Tacticlly unsound, maybe, but very do-able. I can see a situation or more where that might have a use. (Giving cover fire to break contact in a losing CQB situation?). But HELLA fun when plinking!

Yes prepping and training are important but so is haveing fun with your life. Yes, guns are serious business and yet at the same time if anyone tells me that they don't enjoy shooting them, even alittle, then they are fooling themselves, but not me!


CaptBart April 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Agreed, shooting is FUN! I lean toward cowboy guns; my Sharps 'Big Fifty' is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. You should enjoy what you shoot; one of the reasons I'm looking at 20 GA is the recoil from my 12s is starting to make shooting them unpleasant. Trouble is most folks don't practice enough to be good with needed shooting skills let alone some of the more 'Hollywood' moves. Spraying rounds has a place – but it is a very limited role, usually in combat engagements and presupposes a lot of ammo. The machine gun is an area denial weapon in the defense and forces the defenders to keep their heads down in the offense. A mini-gun is a real hoot to fire (I couldn't bring myself to write 'a hoot to shoot') but it can cost $15 to STOP shooting as the barrels spin down. Very wasteful of ammo which is why the ordinance types were so opposed to semi and full auto weapons before WW2. By Viet Nam, spray and pray had become the rule of thumb for engagements.
Your last sentence is spot on. I've never met a kid (of any age) who didn't get a silly grin the first time they fire a Single Action Army with a black powder load. It is just plain COOL! If it was good enough for Hopalong Cassidy, it is good enough for me.


BigRich October 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm

the infinate magazine myth is called "plot-powered guns". or just "guns powered by plot" kinda wish i had one of those in real life…


bob May 7, 2011 at 10:33 am

OO or OOO ? both work wonders as does a rifled slug. i use a 410 and 12 g. for protection. both are good guns and my nine produces a quick lasting effect. as does my 44…


Seamus June 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I've personally witnessed bad guys take 12 gauge buckshot to the chest, (not armored) and still leg it another two blocks before collapsing.(on multiple occasions) There is no magic bullet or round that is going to work 100% of the time.


C.Gallimore May 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

.50 BMG !!! nuff said lol


Greg September 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Eh, if you take 00 to the center of your chest within 25 yards, you're not legging it 2 blocks. Maybe 2 feet but not 2 blocks. Penetration of 00 buckshot with standard load is about 18 inches in ballistics gel. All your vitals would be mangled. So unless you can walk around without a functioning heart or the shot is way further out or you were born with a steel or ceramic rib cage…


Collin December 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

hollowpoint .45ACP to the upper torso from close range, and noones legging anything anywhere.


Bill October 20, 2013 at 11:15 am

It had to be at some distance. Buckshot at close range rips a hole through most none heavy gauge steel objects.


stevedscross July 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I am glad that this aritcal brings to light the myths surrounding shotguns. As a Firearms instructor I stress to my students how bad an idea it is to "Rack the shotgun to scare them away". Giving away you posistion is never a good idea, you generally will not know the skill level of a criminal before you act in self defense. Any firearm used for home or personal defense should be ready to go RIGHT NOW. To the person who said that kids in the house are the reason their shotgun is empty I must disagree with. First it is the job of the parent to save gaurd their children. The best way to do that is to first make sure the gun is not a "Mystery" , or "vorboden". Anything a child is not suppose to touch it the first thing that they will reach for. I also know from personal experince that a very, very young child can figure out a way to rack the slide. When I was five I did this to my fathers Winchester 1894, that I was not allowed to touch. From then on he expained to me why I was not to touch the gun with out his permission, yet whenever I asked he would explian things to me and let me SAFELY handle the firearms. The other solution to this is the one that I am currenty using. I simply always keep a loaded firearm with me in the house. Home Invasions are a too common thing to not be armed at home. Than at night I get out the home defense guns and place them by the bed fully loaded. Then if need during the day I can unload all the ones that a person without permission cannot touch, and strap on my gun.


neal October 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

As a note to your response that children should not touch, I heard of a man that took his children into the field with a shotgun, and they spotted a rabbit. The man leveled the barrel on the rabbit, and shot. Then showed the children what that gun would do. I thought that was very wise, to show his children the power,and the damage the gun could do, and then explain the purpose of the gun, and the care that should be taken with the gun. That I see would be a lot more effective and safer than just, "Don't touch" which just fuels the curiousity.


CaptBart January 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

I did essentially the same thing with my kids. I shot a watermelon with a .410 and let the kids all do the same. Then I told them to put the melons back together – when they couldn't I pointed that anything they shot could not be put together again either. It worked.


CaptBart January 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

Excellent, sir. I also am never "not armed" unless I'm asleep – then the head of the bed is 'well dressed' but when little ones who have not been properly trained are in the house, the night firearms are in a safe.
I don't believe in "don't touch" since I sneaked into my folks room for a close look at a Beretta 25 Cal. My mom figured if I was curious I was old enough to know so she taught me to shoot. Then I knew and wasn't curious anymore.


mr_smashy August 18, 2011 at 7:38 am

I should have elaborated in the article regarding birdshot. The 12 year old girl received a point blank (aprox. 1.5 yards) dose of #8 shot from a 12 gauge hunting gun to the face. She not only survived the hit, but was alert and speaking to EMTs and PMs on the scene. She was even hit by the wad. I do not consider that a stop. This is all I can say about the incident.


BamaMan September 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Not saying that did not happen but something is not quite right. Maybe some old shells or I can't say other than I have seen, with my own eyes, what #6 will do to a wounded 185 lb deer we tracked and snuck up on. When we hit him with the light he froze and we got within 10 yards and leveled him with one round of 6 shot from a 12 gauge. Just my thoughts…


Rking December 15, 2011 at 12:13 am

there has to be more to that story. at 6 yards a 12ga load of 7/8 oz of #9 cuts a 3inch hole in 3/4 inch plywood. Gonna try the same on 2×6 tomorrow at 1.5 yards. I'm perfectly happy with 1 1/4 oz of #4 in the house with a max range of 10 yards ,if they are outside I will not engage ( with the shotgun) due to legal issues that would result.


Mark July 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I call bullshit, on the 1.5 yard shot to the face. I've personally fired 7 1/2 shot (12 ga) through 3/4" plywood at approx. 6 to 7 ft., and it makes a nice clean hole through it. A direct shot to the face at that range is unsurvivable. The wad would barely have had time to separate from the shot at that distance making it essentially a frangible slug. I think the facts on this incident were not presented factually by someone down the line.


Troy April 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Peter Capstick wrote some great articles on this subject, reprinted in books like Death in the Long Grass and others. If you don't know them, you OWE it to yourself to check them out…simply fantastic.
Anyhow, he writes credibly of shooting a lioness at very close range (like, chowmp range) with a 20-gauge loaded with birdshot. It blew her head in half. The gases, muzzle velocity, and mass of the (as yet undispersed) shot seems like it would do horrendous damage, even if you just consider it as a high school physics question.


navaree1492 September 16, 2011 at 11:53 am

I know this a survival guide but lets be realistic, survival also pertains to home defense. Living in Massachusetts I guess I look at things a bit differently when it comes to home defense. Why don’t we look at it from the Mass perspective of having to give the intruder warning of intent and/or attempting to leave your own house in stead of shooting the dirt bag that just broke in. 1) The sound, will deter many intruders, an easy prey is most often attacked. Keep in mind this dirt bag is looking for an easy target. And an armed target is not what they want to deal with. The possibility of prey with teeth, in a psychological perspective, will deter most attackers. Also, in Mass you cannot have a loaded firearm and it has to be locked up. So unless you have a revolver you’re going to make some sound racking a round. 2) Room clearing, while I agree marksmanship is priority lets face it, a grouping of pellets will spread out and cause a greater likely hood of injury than a slug, its all part of a thing called physics. My wife, mother, grandmother will have an easier time hitting a target with a five inch scatter than with a ½ inch slug. 3) Mix, 12-gauge bird shot at 4 meters, the most likely home invasion engagement, will most likely injure a terminator unit. A human will be breathing through a few new air holes at the very least. If the assailant decides to get closer after getting shot going to slugs will be a benefit due to the closer range. 4) Armchair tactics are for the uneducated an educated shooter will know the truth. 5) As to breaching in a survival environment, if I need to breach I will have backup and I certainly will not be doing it in my own home. Finally, what it all comes down to really is personal preference in an engagement. Get trained, shoot often and do what you feel most comfortable with to get out of the situation alive.


Archangel December 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

I have a vhs copy of a video called Deadly Weapons, which
shows the real life results of ammunition from .22 to 50 cal with a number of scenerios showing 12 guage ammunition.
The one thing I distinctly remember is using 12 guage slugs to penetrate a car door, from one side to the other with a ballistic vest in the middle – and a large hole in the vest.
The slug was the only projectile to do so time after time.

I do not know how available this video is today, but it’s well worth watching to debunk the “.357 mag will go through an engine block” myth and others.


Collin December 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

.50 BMG wouldnt penetrate sheet metal and a soft vest?


TinCan November 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm

1) If they break into a dwelling knowing full and well that it is probably occupied then, I seriously doubt that the sound of someone "racking" a round is going to deter them. 2) I concur, slugs are not great self-defense rounds for a shotgun. 3) I concur. 4) Again, I concur. 5) If I have to breach a door then, I'll just use my axe as ammo will more than likely be scarce and at a premium. Yep, practice, practice, and more practice with the weapons you own is your best defense. That is, as long as it is coupled with good ole' common sense.


bhawkpilot September 29, 2011 at 6:39 am

The rule of thumb posted for a shot-spread reference really needs to be rethought. Variables which affect the shot spread include: the shotguns barrel length, the choke of the tube, and composition of the shot itself including wadding. 1 inch per yard is not accurate. Choose a Mossberg 590 tactical pump with improved cylinder choke and a 22inch barrel, and you will have a significantly different result with buckshot than a shotgun with an 18 or 16 inch barrel. Also be very careful of the rounds you are using with the barrel capabilities of your shotgun, with specific focus on slugs. Pay attention to rifled or not rifled, sabot slugs, etc. Shooting incorrect rounds out of your shotgun can lead to a bad day at the range, and a devastating result in the home during a stressed invasion scenario. Bottom line, train with your gun, know its capabilities, and yours.


Bill October 20, 2013 at 11:22 am

Your so correct- shoot a 12gauge sawed of 8" with no shot cup shells and see what the spread rate is. People get tunnel vision when discussing spread.


juzcallmesnake October 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm

First I am a FAN of the 870 remington express pump 12 ga. all steel dual action bars reasonable price,
and the fact I have never been without an 870 Remington in 40 + years.
I also love the 37 Ithaca for the left and right handed shooter and the 97 Winchester but these are pricey.
16 inch barrel ? just a note of concern nothing less than 18 inches is legal unless special license or a pistol I wont get into it here.
technically speaking you measure a barrel from the closed breach face from inside the barrel.
most LEO's measure from the edge of the receiver to the end of the barrel so if cut at 18 inches the law will say its a short barrel and this is very very BAD you will get a free ride to the crowbar hotel until you get it strait if you can with the bureaucrats or judge so measure from the edge of receiver as the brainiacs do and add a 1/2 inch or in the case of a vent rib to the edge of rib support past 18 inches so it looks good this is cylinder bore, no choke will shoot any proper gauge shell want to argue then argue with the U.S. military this is what they used and the feds etc etc.with #4 buck and double ought buck and slugs or Flechets for years and years.
de-burr the inside of the muzzle use cold blue try to make it as square as possible. or take to a gunsmith and have them cut it and put in a front bead I like the large aluminum bead or white
check all screws pins and joints for fit and tightness if this is going to be a defense only gun remove the shell block in the mag tube so it will hold 5 shells as this is for hunting you wont need it but do not throw it away unscrew one of the butt plate screws and twist with a bit of paper towel
wrap the shell blocker and slide inside and re-screw down the kick pad, parts kept with the gun are never lost also it may be a good idea to have an extra extractor, spring and pin..
cylinder bore allows for the pattern to open faster to know you need to pattern the gun 15 yards 25 yards and 40 yards at least fire at least 50 to 100 rounds to test function and if there are any problems feeding or hanging in mag tube etc. I like to paint the end of the shell follower with hi viz yellow model paint.
any distance closer than 15 yards as stated earlier means you need to aim even more carefully and it better be close depending where you live your life is not in jeopardy the further you are away and if you have cover or can escape or unless your taking fire blah blah check your laws —-do not ask a cop look it up in your states criminal code.
unless your hunting birds use slugs and buckshot only, anything else is just going to confuse you unless your a real shotgunner.
I use2 3/4 inch # 4 buckshot NOT #4 shot there is a difference if you think you might have to shoot little birdies use BB shot I use this because I do not like spitting shot out of my food BB's leave a good mark that you can track in the bird and remove it also small shot may only wound a bird also BB's are copper or steel not lead so unless there are laws you can use them for waterfowl and in a last ditch zombie Apocalypse scenario for self defense…
I like the slow stuff 1180 to 1300 feet per second and 1 oz slugs Sellier & Bellow brand are great and buy 1 brand of both mixed ammo shoots to different point of impact shot spread blah blah just believe me on this also patterning and slug testing are wasted if you start using different brand ammo shell length etc.
100 rounds is minimum stock for any firearm
I like control, high velocity more kick less control for a follow up shot.
And last but not least PRAY you never have to use it because even if your right a wrongful death lawsuit is very costly even if you win,
and an umbrella insurance policy if you have a firearm in your home is a good idea some gun magazines have a deal where you get legal aid if your charged in a firearms related incident if your a member….
and last but not least little elves are not going to clean the mess up the police do not have a cleanup crew the body is removed and large chunks but the rest is your deal….


pat August 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

I find it hard to digest we have a right but fear our servants BS and become the criminal for self defense of life. Soon no one will report any incident and just start dropping bodies to keep outa the criminalized DO-unjustice.


juzcallmesnake October 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Sorry but just a few other points
a synthetic stock is better than wood
2 3/4 inch shells fit in all 12 ga. except the mini shell gun which are rare and in my mind I do not know why the made these the shells can be used in a standard shotgun but must be fed one at a time carefully or they can jamb. so in a zombie war you got trade stock that fits all 12 gauge..

a pump shotgun will feed dinged shells if you drop a shell on a hard surface it can swell and have a tight fit but a good positive cycle of the pump should chamber it but a semi auto does not like swollen shells and can jamb big time some semi autos are better but manual pump is my favorite.
you can roll the dinged shell on a flat surface and try to straiten it out……
try to get different color hull for buckshot and slugs for daylight identification or clear.
slugs should have a roll crimp at night you can feel the tip and know the one your loading.
a six shell elastic butt stock shell holder burn a little hole and put the swivel stud through the elastic where it should be helps from it sliding around.
have 4 buckshot and 2 slugs it………
a elastic bandoleer filled with both buck and slugs next to the shotgun
in a molle pouch on the bandoleer with a small bottle of rem oil or dry lube if you live in a dry dusty area as oil attracts grit and sand 12 gauge bore snake a tooth brush and a multi tool.
add a good waterproof bug out bag with survival kit and ammo can your emergency preparedness is good to go….
the shotgun should have a simple padded sling with butler creek rubber noise dampeners on the swivels
in conclusion this will give you a quiet powerful and flexible system if there is any doubt about the power of 12 gauge they go after wounded big game in Africa, and in Hawaii after a rouge circus elephant rampaged through the street he was downed with a 12 gauge with slugs and has taken all large game on every continent with slugs and birds of all sizes with shot
add a scope mount and red dot / scope you can have a 100 yard + hunting gun but you need to practice and become familiar with your ammo and shotgun.


eli November 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

0000 buck shot works really well for home defense, it provides the same grouping at short range( such as in a house) and its a large enough pellet to where it doesnt lose its effectiveness. at the same time though theres not as much penetration, so collateral damage is far less.


MethanP December 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

What about bird shot for apartments and close packed frame houses? Or is #4 buckshot recomended? I would like a reply on this.


CaptBart January 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

What you are see here is a difference in thought on home defense. Most of us aren't arguing about what bird shot or buck shot will do, we are arguing about whether it is enough for home defense. I don't think anyone is saying at bird shot will not alter the situation – It may not kill the bad guy, but even rock salt into the face from a 12 ga would blind, deafen and disorient a BG. My opinion is that anything from #4 to #8 will do the job.…
for an explanation of shot sizes. Bird shot is essentially .17 minus the shot #. Depending on what you are concerned about penetrating, I'd choose #4 bird shot (not buck) for maximum effect while not over penetrating. I keep 'turkey' loads for inside. I also have 00 and slugs on the stock in a sleeve. Does this help?


sono.caos November 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

What shot size to use is like asking what is the best hand gun round to use for self defense. Everyone has their personal preferences and none maybe the same.

I would suggest to get some sheetrock, 2x4s, make a frame, amd head to woods/desert. Measure the potential shooting distance (max distance you may have to shoot a intruder) in your apartment or home. now set your frame or frames at that distance and experiment with several difference shots. Remember to measure penetration and pattern size. This should give you a good idea on colaterial damage.

if you do not have the ability to test difference shot sizes then check youtube and see who is shooting what into sheetrock. Also, look for ballistic gel test for different shot sizes on internet.

Remember most shootings occur in 15 feet or less.


Trainer December 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

As a highly trained hand-to-hand expert, I recommend that if you carry a gun, you and all those around you become extreme marksmen with your weapons. I have seen more people injure and kill those around them by keeping weapons around them where they live. I am fully confident that in a closed environment situation, a gun is not a good choice. I have trained many people how to use a variety of ballistic weapons and how to disarm/jam/or seize them for personal use against an attacker. There are a variety of methods to turn a weapon situation against the person using them. I would rather a hard stick or knife due to silence and accuracy over a gun. Legal ramifications aside, there are few who can use simple weapons with as much accuracy or deadly force, so the threat level against misuse is very low. Still all issues come down to training to excessive degrees. Those who understand their weapons are more likely to take proper steps of precaution and use them more accurately when needed. A good training exercise for a true mock assault would be to use bean bag rounds or rubber bullets. Adrenaline makes keeping a level head very difficult. Malfunctions, threat of pain, ammo types, threat assessment, multiple weapon types, hand-to-hand combat, adrenaline response, reaction time, and layout are all very important topics to review heavily and automate. The best weapon users are consistent, quick, accurate, and level headed (during any situation).


CaptBart January 8, 2012 at 10:26 am

Yes …. and no. Most hand to hand exercises do not allow you to harm your opponent. Since you fight like you train, that last step can be hard to overcome. I don't disagree with the value of hand to hand training but part of learning to use a handgun is to keep it out of reach of your opponent. It is potentially as fatal for a poorly trained person to get close to the opponent in hand-to-hand as it is for a poorly trained firearm user. Extreme marksmanship is almost impossible because of loss of fine motor skills under extreme duress. Practice is required constantly. That said, I've not seen the aftermath of a knife fight where both parties were not bleeding. Use a knife you will most likely be bleeding.
A closed environment may be as small as a closet or as big as a living room. While I do not discount hand-to-hand training experience has taught me that those who think Karate or ??? is as good as a gun are frequently disappointed, sometimes fatally so.


Greg September 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Eh…My SHTF weapon at home is a Saiga 12 magazine fed shotgun. With a two point sling, 12 round mag, you're not 'seizing the weapon from me'.

You're not taking a loaded gun out of a trained combatant's hands without getting shot. And honestly its a lot easier to train someone how to properly use a weapon in a 2 point tactical sling than it is to teach them how to disarm someone bare handed and incap them.

With a decent shotgun, sling and some basic training you're going to win any defensive scenario indoors that involves un-armored civilians. The SWAT team will take you out but not some burglar with a 9mm.


scot78 January 16, 2012 at 4:53 am

I’ve had the ‘racking the slide scares em away’ argument several times referring to automatic pistols as well as pump shotguns & I say quiet is the way to go! My 1911 is cocked & poked all the time & sorry fellas but I think pump shotguns are for the movies….Saiga 12 here. Reliability of an AK with 8 rounds of 000 buck:-)


antares January 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Ballisticians disagree on the effectiveness of 000buck, and 00buck, shot and have tested all finding 0buck shot to be the best HD and short range load for 12ga. Hard to find in most stores, 0buck has the best effect on two legged predators.
00buck is the most available in most stores and is next in effectiveness, so it get the nod over 000buck.


Caliber is overrated January 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

Would anyone who thinks bird shot is not enough be kind enough to step up and volunteer to demonstrate?


Jbak November 24, 2012 at 2:14 am

Argument is invalid. A bb gun is not fatal, but you'll be hard pressed to find volunteers.


Ira February 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

has any one thought of a Poly-Choke for a shotgun? they have them for 12 and 20 gauge.


Roy March 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hi Gents,

This is a great article with some really interesting comments and feedback. I don’t own a shotgun at this time but it is certainly on my list of must haves, so all this discussion is helpful and interesting.

Not especially relevant but may be of passing interest to some. When I was very young my older brother was out with a friend hunting rabbits. The details have long faded but I do recall he took a full frontal shot from his ‘friends’ 12g to the upper torso. He survived. I remember all the scars to his upper chest and neck and remember seeing the x-ray to his throat area where much of the shot had to remain due to its proximity to major blood vessels. I’m sure there are many more experienced shotgun shooters here that are supporters of bird shot especially in a home environment. However from my recollection of this incident I think I’m going to lean towards a load that give me a little more confidence and leave the bird shot for the birds.

All the best, Roy.


Guest May 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I am still new to all of this. I have a Taurus Judge for in-the-home pest control. It has a barely rifled barrel with (3) .410 x 000 rounds first up, followed by (2) .45 LCPs. Both rounds are labeled for "Personal Defense". Recently I have begun to practice weekly with 25 rounds of each. They are hitting the paper @ 7 yards (the longest distance in my house). So … what am I doing wrong?


bobdacop June 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I know when I had to use an 870 to kill a car that was trying to run me over, the 00 buck followed by a slug effectively stopped the bad guys flight, and allowed me to take both occupants into custody.


Chris July 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

This would be a better comment for the 'loads' page, but all the problems with shotguns are easily solved by flechette loads. If those aren't legal where you live, and you don't care, you *could* make your own.


Greg September 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Honestly, a miss is a miss. It's really hard to miss with a shotgun unless you're trying to fire it one handed or something. If you have a lot of people in your household where you're worried you're going to have family standing behind an assailant its just more effective to teach them not to do that then try to find a magical round that'll know the difference between the bad guy and the good guys.


goodie1390 August 7, 2012 at 1:06 am

also i think that a very important thing to consider is, if in a home defense senario, the type of round as far as is it designed as a home defense round or a sport or hunting round


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Terry September 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Home invaders may not be in their right mind. Drugs, meth, speed, bath salts. I would bet that most criminals don't know what racking a pump shotgun sounds like let alone if they are in their right mind. Don't depend on criminals thinking normal, or reacting normally.


Dennis December 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Number 1 buckshot contains 16 pellets and each pellet is equal to a 30 caliber.
Number 1 buckshot produces 30 percent more wound trama than either 00 or 000 buckshot.
I hope that I never have to pull the trigger when pointing the gun at a human, but if I do it will be when my or my family's life it in immediate danger and if I pull the trigger I wan't to be sure the threat is removed.


christian prepper February 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

the sound of a pump shot gun should not be your only defens you should be ready to shoot the bad guy


Random Survivor Guy July 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

A good .177 air rifle will feed you better than a shotgun. Rabbits, squirrels, even raccoons, possums and similar-sized beasts.

And do it quietly, so no one else knows you're hunting and have shot something edible.

For fighting, you're better off with something like an AR15 or even just an SKS than any shotgun. More accurate, better sights, less recoil, ammo that's lighter and more compact.


Alexander Gudonov July 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm

"Safe" right up until the point that the kid squeezes the trigger and racks the slide just like he saw on TV.


Bruce July 31, 2013 at 4:13 am

While it is true people can survive a load of bird shot, at average in the house range (say less than 5yds), a solid hit with bird shot at such close range may not kill, but will interrupt the thinking of an attacker long enough to make a second shot, if needed. It has been proven that ANY size buckshot pellets which do not hit the perpetrator are capable of fully penetrating standard interior wall construction, and killing or injuring an innocent person on the other side..your child, perhaps. Bird shot is not likely to fully penetrate the wall.


Moretoys August 31, 2013 at 10:35 am

It's evident you have not shot a 12" sawed off shotgun which throws a huge pattern. Also, have blasted a door open in 1 shot. You need to know your shot and where to place it. 1 thing people need to use is shot shells without retaining cups, straight pack. Cups restrict expansion. Reload no cups and extra hot with powder and maximum mag shot load.


Logan September 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Well I agree with all but the different loads, I have a Mossberg model 590 with a smooth bore, I put 2 rifled slugs and then the rest number 4 buck shot then when he/he’s get in my home I shot him if he runs I pump the slugs in the chamber and bam then I call the polic.


edx013 September 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm

honestly i have a 3 foot mag light with fresh batteries and a machete standing by… don't wanna mess up my walls or risk collateral damage to my neighbors.


Ryan November 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

Wheres the documentation of a girl surviving the birdshot? I use 00 Buck just for the lethality. (My remington 870 magnum blew a armadilo in two pieces at 10 yards with 00 buck shot. I also did the same thing to a racoon at about 10 yards with my mossberg 500 with 7 1/2 birdshot in it. My uncle has a single shot .410 that can group a #8 birdshot and a .410 has a lot less pellets in a 8 inch targer at 20 yards. all bu 2 pellets went in for me and all but 3 for him same distance same box of shells. While I wouldnt use birdshot primarily as home defense, a well placed shot and distance means a lot, Like I wouldnt use it at 100 yards. but I also wouldnt use buck shot or a slug either. I call total BS on this article simply on the fact you have no variables. like I mentioned in shot size, the gauge. aiming which is about the only true thing besides the hollywood thing. distance. But If I had to use my birdshot at least I would have 5 and that would be in my 20 Gauge. or 8 in my 12 gauge remington or 9 in my 12 gauge mossberg. and 5 rounds of 20 gauge birdshot I got #7 for mine, will stop almost anyone.


Lariat63 January 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm

The myth about the "racking sound scaring someone away". Haha, now that's funny. I had always heard that one too. Very long story short, I was at work and ended up facing a drugged up ghetto rat who had beaten an employee into a bloody pool. He was a giant person. I am not, and I didn't exactly know what to do, but it looked like he had just killed this woman and was making way toward my company truck. We had been ordered by our mgt to dispatch coyotes on our company property, so I had, that day, a Mossberg 500 12ga with me. I pulled it, racked a round in the chamber and leveled it at the guy and told him to stop. He says "what are you going to do..shoot me?" Right then, another truckload of people showed up, and we all were able to subdue and restrain the bad guy. But if they hadn't…I would have had to do some quick thinking. Point is, the dreaded "racking sound" didn't faze this guy. In a SHTF situation, I doubt it will faze some post apocalyptic, near zombie either.


Krevok February 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

hevishot is amazing! have used it on turkey's for several years. Can only imagine what it would do to a human at range….


JNay March 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

A factor to consider would be what's being worn by your target. Different seasons bring multiple layers of clothing and different materials being worn.In tests that I have conducted in the past I have 9mm and 40S&W rounds have been stopped in the material we were shooting into at 25 yds..You also might wanna keep in mind that buckshot loses velocity much more quickly than a rifle or pistol round… food for thought.


Matt August 31, 2013 at 10:06 am

It would probably be like getting shot by like a hundred people at once with a high powered bb gun. Why is that a good idea? Sure that would seriously hurt, and may kill a person.. but who knows what a person on PCP and alcohol can tolerate.. I sure wouldn't bet my life on it.


Axe September 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

Actually, after seeing that very same movie I decided to try it with my XD .45. Not really all that difficult. The mags are tapered somewhat due to being double stacked, and give you a little bit of leeway.


bhawkpilot September 29, 2011 at 6:51 am

It may look sexy in a hollywood movie, but it is a great way to rip off your fore-end grip, then you have no way to consistently chamber additional rounds. Now, if your other arm is injured, by all means do it, but not for show.


East.TN.Patriot March 21, 2012 at 5:54 am

As a former LEO and firearms instructor, I tend to agree with Eric (perhaps this is a law enforcement practice for street officers who never know quite what they will be dealing with when they deploy a shotgun). I ultimately opted to leave the mag tube loaded with 00 buckshot and kept my slugs on a sidesaddle. If I ever felt I needed a slug, I could tac load it. However, using a slug is a good overall option against any target, but you must be accurate and in an urban setting, you need to worry a bit more about what's behind your target. A slug will do tremendous damage against a hard target, create devastating damage to a soft target, and is even effective against someone in body armor (the slug won't penetrate, but the back face signature is enough to cause grave internal injury at close range).


poorman April 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I have done it with my 500 and you are right. For one holding up an 18 in barrel fully loaded gun with 1 hand is tough. The kick will make you not want to do it to many times lol.


ttt June 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

If you shoot someone at 25 yds, you may have trouble in court justifying that.


pat July 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

I have all the above, P-R-S. For HD I grab my win 1200 loaded with #4×2 #1×6 and 525 grain x3 slugs and 2×1 0z slugs on the saddle. #4 for less wall penetration, #1 if heavy closed intruder, slugs if heavy armored or barricaded. Pistol for back up or to use while I locate another firearm and ammo. I have a 2 story and 2-4 of every caliber, one on each level. My entire family sleeps up stairs. Anything over #4 would bring caution for neighbors but if I am up stairs and with my floor plan layout for an intruder it would be like him walking into a deer hunting trap. I have also considered placing something on the back side of the house by my garden to prevent any overshot penetration on the neighbors. This thinking is because in Hellifornia to injury a murderer/robber or intruder even if my life is threatened would make me a criminal so I must make sure the intruder sleeps for good. Rubber boolits or anything NON lethal will get you sued criminally in Liberal Hellifornia. Only a few more years left in this decomposing state. I would suggest someone consider all thier surroundings before committing to a specific SD/HD round. If I was in the country ;) I would use a blunder buster outside and whatever inside.


Moretoys August 31, 2013 at 11:52 am

Have you seen what lead BB's will do to 3/4" plywood at under 10'???? BB guns my ass.


Moretoys August 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm

We use to use wrecked cars for target shooting. Buckshot at 25' rips through the metal. I am talking older cars before they became toy quality. In self defense your shots should be close. I basically shot the leg buck at 20yards with 00 buckshot. It was held on by some hide. Number 4 on up through the bucks are deadly at close range. Many people are vastly underestimating what lead shot and a shot gun will do. I have been shooting almost 50 years and seen a lot.


Bill October 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

Sorry Grandma doesn't live here!


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