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Meh....it comes down to what you've trained with, tested, and are competent shooting.

And perhaps I'm not the best person to listen to because whether I'm 'responsible' or not depends on the eyes of the beholder. To me I'm quite a 'responsible' gun owner but to a liberal I'm always an 'irresponsible' whatever (pilot, driver, gun toter, shopper--I pay no attention to lines or arrows on floors, steak griller, grass cutter, carbon belcher). Then again, barring a situation with very small children who haven't been taught proper gun safety (and only a parent can determine when a child is competent and safe around firearms)--or kids visiting the house who might have had irresponsible parents NOT teaching them about gun safety--I'm a leave the gun on the desk and shotgun on fireplace mantle kind of a guy.

I certainly think birdshot CAN be effective at shorter ranges but have read about enough encounters where it doesn't penetrate enough that it's not for me in a shotgun used for HD. When in doubt it's 00 buck. And it's not just two-legged varmints it might have to be used against (in fact it's much more likely to be four legged in many places I am). So in a defensive shotgun it's SOME kind of buckshot (regardless of apartment complex, hotel, or house, etc). It's fairly unlikely that I'm going to be IN a situation where overpenetration becomes THE overriding concern--and if I'm obsessed with this a much better choice of gun would be an AR platform with 55 grain bullets (which are some of the least likely to over penetrate of anything). So an AR pistol build or rifle--with decent optic to fit the situation and weapon mounted light--would be a much better choice for HD with someone believing over penetration to be the overriding concern. There are all kinds of online studies and banter about 1, 2, or 4 buckshot; any of these would be fine (so long as you aren't going up against a bear that got into the place--in some places I live this is a possibility though and more likely than a 2-legged threat).

I lean more towards the 'birdshot is for birds' camp (I certainly wouldn't tell someone ELSE what to do though); some of this is because the ranges of shots I have to take is wildly variable and I never seem to get what I might expect in life.

Going out and patterning the shotgun is a VERY good idea with whatever you're going to use to get an idea of how it behaves at ranges you might use it.

And not all 00 buck is created equal (the Federal LE rounds pattern VERY tightly in the guns I use; significantly different that other off the shelf brands).
 

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https://www.pewpewtactical.com/best-shotgun-ammo-home-defense-target-shooting/

The above resource recommend #4 BUCK, not bird, for home defense if over-penetration is a prime concern. I have #4 bird which is much smaller than #4 BUCK.
Hear we go again!!!:rolleyes: BIRD SHOT IS CALLED BIRD SHOT FOR A REASON!!! DO NOT use bird shot to TRY TO STOP AN ATTACKER, period! There are to many variables in these dynamic situations to risk your life. and lives of your loved ones, on BIRD SHOT!:rolleyes: To answer your question, nothing smaller than BB shot, more bigger than #4 buck in the 'apartment' or a trailer park. REAL LIFE shootings have proven this MANY times!:) When considering shot gun ballistics you MUST look at the INDIVIDUAL pellets ballistic characteristics, primary depth of penetration in MANY different situations, when deciding what 'shot' to use.
Ranger, you can WHAT IF all day long, but that does not change the facts/truth about ballistics. I have witnessed people shot with bird shot and it DOSE NOT PENETRATE, especially if the person is wearing heavy clothes.! IF, which is a big IF, you shot them in the face it would probably 'stop' the fight. But at close range the 'pattern' of a shot gun is VERY tight, so you have to consider the fact that, contrary, to common belief, it will not 'spread' and get 'them all' (which you hear all the time from the uneducated/inexperienced)! The question here was about use of a shot gun in an apartment. Thus my answer (which is backed by both ballistics and reality) stands. I have shot two people with a shot gun loaded with 00 buck, and it even lacks good penetration when compared to handgun and rifle rounds unless you have a TOTALLY uncovered target with a perfect frontal presentation.
IMOA, You should peruse the you tube videos of using shotgun loads for home defense. They've done the testing for you.
I was going to respond to these individually, instead I'm just going to pile on.

First and foremost, you can not have a viable kinetic self defense round that won't penetrate walls. This is basic physics and not debatable.

Anyone who has hunted pheasant has heard their birdshot bouncing off the birds feathers. A leather jacket will turn a lot of bird shot. It's still going to hurt because of the kinetic energy of course. But the fact is bird shot is not a *good* self defense load. #4 is certainly better than #8, and even #8 is likely to dissuade anyone not on PCP. But, it's not a good choice.

The best home defense shotgun round is the biggest slug your gun will handle. But, in the real world we have to consider what's on the far side of a bad shot. If you are worried about what's beyond your walls, then maybe #4 is what you are most comfortable using. If you live in the country by yourself then maybe you want pumpkin ball slugs. I live in a brick facade house and use buckshot.

Edit to add - @Get Out - That's how I found the Box O' Truth website back in the day. I wanted to know how many walls a round would go through, and found someone doing real-world tests with drywall! Pretty cool.
Box O' Truth probably has the shotgun vs wall questions covered pretty well with his earlier articles. It would be a good place to start I think.
 

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My wife in the apartment was using Them 870, her load out was #4, 000, foster slug, #4, 000, and another foster slug. The choke was the max I could get for the slug. What it did to a ham with skin in was great with the slug, okay with the buck, and looked painful with #4. But, the most important part to me was she was comfortable with the Combo.

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Going to disagree with some here a bit. Before discounting a load of # 7 1/2s or 6's, any shot in an apartment is going to be up close and personal. Certainly inside of 15 ft. If someone is shot at a range inside of 10 feet, they are going to be done. The mass of shot is tight at that distance and does a lot of damage. If, however you are worried about the effectiveness, load up with low brass number 4's. I honestly would recommend (for non hunters) a double barrel with a legal minimum length barrel. Like any other firearm.....go somewhere and learn to use it. A first encounter is no place to be figuring out how to use a pump gun.
 

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Moments in musing.
Heathen break into house.
My firearm goes boom
Am I to guess a gun battle will ensue!
Should the heathen-heathens want to continue
I’ll not be over-thinking all the above

using what you got and being practiced with your first line defenses

My wish. The heathens all waste away into trash compactors. Never to be seen nor heard from again

As the realist. My wish. Leave me and mine alone
Cause
I don’t need the pain and suffering brought into my nor my friends homes
My ego will remain intact
 

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Moments in musing.
Heathen break into house.
My firearm goes boom
Am I to guess a gun battle will ensue!
Should the heathen-heathens want to continue
I’ll not be over-thinking all the above

using what you got and being practiced with your first line defenses

My wish. The heathens all waste away into trash compactors. Never to be seen nor heard from again

As the realist. My wish. Leave me and mine alone
Cause
I don’t need the pain and suffering brought into my nor my friends homes
My ego will remain intact
I love it !!! A good short shotgun (double or auto) loaded with experience (practice) by the shooter, AND and Industrial Strength Fully lined (think 20 to 50 mil) Trash compacter that will easily accommodate a 220 lb carcass, and a good friend to help you to the dump...... Life is good !
 

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Old trick from the hills of various states. Can't find a slug...no problem. Just use a "cut shot". Take a # whatever, and make a cut at the base of the shot culumn that goes all almost all the way around but leaves a small tiny connection. Carefully chamber in a double gun and pull the trigger after being real sure what you are shooting at. If you need to, you could run a piece of tape around the cut, and yes they will feed. Doctor doing the autopsy will have some questions......as in WTF.
 

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My wife in the apartment was using Them 870, her load out was #4, 000, foster slug, #4, 000, and another foster slug. The choke was the max I could get for the slug. What it did to a ham with skin in was great with the slug, okay with the buck, and looked painful with #4. But, the most important part to me was she was comfortable with the Combo.

Sent from my Pixel 4 using Tapatalk
LOL, YOU CAN NOT PLAN YOUR SHOOT OUT!!!:( This the silliest thing I had to deal with with cops. They would 'stagger' the rounds in their guns and tell you HOW THE SHOOT OUT WAS PLANNED'!!:rolleyes: You may need the most powerful, best SD, round first, not the 'harassing' bird shot round. JUST COMMON SENSE AND EXPERIENCE TALKING HERE! Choose the ammo that is best suit for the environment you may have to use it in. In the thread we were talking apartment living. SO, like I said, unless you are just trying to 'warn/harass' the attacker DO NOT USE BIRD SHOT!! Again, the smallest I would recommend would be BB, and largest I would recommend would be #4 buck. If you are in an environment where your primary goal is stopping the attack, 00 buck and/or slugs are hard to beat.:)
 
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I g

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on whether bird shot is an option to stop a threat when all shooting is inside an apartment. The discussion the OP presented is about his choice to use #4 heavy field loads as a defensive round, in an apartment when over penetration is a primary concern. Perhaps I am older than most but back in the day, I was in federal law enforcement and sky Marshall duty was the fad of the day. If you are 33,000 feet in the air and a couple guys pull out box cutters and start slashing passengers, what round do you use to stop them? Sky Marshals usually sit toward the rear and any miss or penetration would go toward the back of the pilots head, right? So, in addition to some secure cabin for the pilot what could we do to stop the bad guy and not have bullets penetrating the cabin or killing the electronics in the plane. Similar issue here. MY comment is I can teach anybody to hit a coke bottle size object at 5-20 feet with a short shotgun, and that level of accuracy would shred the hand of any bad guy with a gun. Could other people do that under stress? Who knows?

Truth about guns did a shot test years ago looking at penetration. They recommend #4 Buck or larger for actual penetration into the vitals of a human torso, I agree. But I also agree with OP, His choice is reasonable for him, and if he can hit that hand the first shot, he is even better off.
https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/shotgun-penetration-with-various-rounds/

If not he can just keep shooting at that gun in hand, knowing that the bad guy will be soaking up those little shot, and each time getting his eyebrows singed by the muzzle blast. Most people have never been inside a house at night when a gun is fired, it changes the environment a bunch. Nothing like a shooting range.

His choice may not be the best for stopping a direct attack, but given the over penetration worry, it is reasonable. The Marine I mentioned that killed the big hog with # 7.5 dove shot said he did not need a follow up shot. He shot the hog in the head.
Just my humble opinion.
IMHO.
I can't agree to disagree when I see advice given that could get people killed by their attacker. Just because a person makes a discussion you consider 'reasonable' does not mean it is based of fact and reality. I have been to many autopsies and ER's and have seen first hand the effects of 'terminal ballistics' on the human body, not to mention two combat tours in RVN, and I have had to use a shot gun to stop people several times (none of them died). So like I have said many times. We have to make our own decisions and then we have to LIVE with the consequences. That said I try to give advise to those making those decisions that will SAVE their lives.
 

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LOL, YOU CAN NOT PLAN YOUR SHOOT OUT!!!:( This the silliest thing I had to deal with with cops. They would 'stagger' the rounds in their guns and tell you HOW THE SHOOT OUT WAS PLANNED'!!:rolleyes: You may need the most powerful, best SD, round first, not the 'harassing' bird shot round. JUST COMMON SENSE AND EXPERIENCE TALKING HERE! Choose the ammo that is best suit for the environment you may have to use it in. In the thread we were talking apartment living. SO, like I said, unless you are just trying to 'warn/harass' the attacker DO NOT USE BIRD SHOT!! Again, the smallest I would recommend would be BB, and largest I would recommend would be #4 buck. If you are in an environment where your primary goal is stopping the attack, 00 buck and/or slugs are hard to beat.:)
If you read, that was what she did when we were in an apartment. That was what made her comfortable with her protection. Now she has several shotguns around the house, they are all either 410 or 20's as she doesn't like the recoil of 12, but she is small. She also has various 22LR pistols and rifles, 22WMR pistols and rifles, 380 pistols, 9mm pistols, her own 223, and a 243 and that makes her happy now. She still staggers her 20 gauge pumps with 00 and a Foster slug. Her 410 and a self defense round with discs and buckshot. She loads SD rounds everywhere else and we were going to the range twice a month before ammo became scarce. Her old habit was to get 2 boxes and shoot 1, so she has a reserve but is scared that it is not coming back again. Now, placement of her weapons is all over the house, you should see her getting ready for grandkids, every weapon back into her safe.

Oh, and she does PMCS on maybe half of them because she hands me weapons when I am cleaning to clean more. And this makes me happy.

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Many years ago my uncle had his brother in-law living with him. They got into an argument and my uncle kicked him out of the house. Later that night the brother in-law returned high on drugs and tried breaking into the house. He had a knife and was going after my uncle. My uncle shot him with a single shot 20ga with bird shot. The guy had just entered the house and my uncle was down the hallway so maybe 20' away. He hit him in the abdomen with most of the shot but several pellets hit elsewhere. He didn't kill him and in fact the guy ran outside and threw a large rock through my new born cousins window sending a large piece of glass into her crib and sliced her arm badly. He was picked up by the police walking down the street a few blocks away.

I wouldn't use bird shot for any home defense situation. If over penetration is the main concern then look into the reduced velocity/recoil loads offered by various companies. I know there are the Mini shells that are like 1-3/4" long vs the 2-3/4" of standard loadings. They produce less energy and less chance of over penetration while still producing more energy than most handguns.
 

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What I have been recommending to my students (mostly women), and have in my house, is a 20ga pump loaded with the 20 pellet #3 buck load. I teach the 'tactical tuck' and the women love it and feel comfortable using this shot gun in this way.:) Many were afraid of shot guns becasue someone in their past had them shot a 12 ga from the shoulder.:(
 
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I can't agree to disagree when I see advice given that could get people killed by their attacker. Just because a person makes a discussion you consider 'reasonable' does not mean it is based of fact and reality. I have been to many autopsies and ER's and have seen first hand the effects of 'terminal ballistics' on the human body, not to mention to combat tours in RVN, and I have had to use a shot gun to stop people several times (none of them died). So like I have said many times. We have to make our own decisions and then we have to LIVE with the consequences. That said I try to give advise to those making those decisions that will SAVE their lives.
Here is a group of pictures of people actually shot with shotguns, most with bird shot and I think all of them indoors, exactly what the OP is discussing. If you look at the photos some of them actually state the distance, 10 feet etc. Just typical shotgun wounds in humans. Should answer any questions anybody has on that issue.

https://www.mussenhealth.us/gunshot-wounds/shotgun-injuries.html
 

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Here is a group of pictures of people actually shot with shotguns, most with bird shot and I think all of them indoors, exactly what the OP is discussing. If you look at the photos some of them actually state the distance, 10 feet etc. Just typical shotgun wounds in humans. Should answer any questions anybody has on that issue.

https://www.mussenhealth.us/gunshot-wounds/shotgun-injuries.html
Thank you for proving my point. For every time you get a 'stop' with birdshot you get MANY more that do not stop the attacker. I have seen the x-rays of 'contact' shots with birdshot and they are devastating, but anything but a contact shot are NOT GOOD!!! Just because you have a FEW times it worked does not change the 'science' here!!! But nice try!;) Can you say 'probability' not ' possibility'???
 

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Why are you so angry? There are lots of vets and cops and retired cops on this site and many of us have been CCW instructors for decades just like yourself. We have seen lots of shootings and investigated them and written reports of them and sometimes testified about them. We each have an opinion on what to carry and what to use for home defense. Nobody disputes the value of the 12 gauge slug or the 45-70 for that matter. If you do not feel safe using a 12 gauge loaded with heavy field loads, then do not use them. Incidentally, the power of the 12 gauge 1 and 1/4 ounce bird shot at 1,200 fps is 1,737 foot pounds, about the same as six (6) 9mm rounds at the same time. Just the science of the deal.

I feel OK with my ability of stopping an intruder with that load. If is does not work, then I can just fire a second round into the face, you have seen the pictures. Just my humble opinion. Nothing more to add. Carry on.
 

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Why are you so angry? There are lots of vets and cops and retired cops on this site and many of us have been CCW instructors for decades just like yourself. We have seen lots of shootings and investigated them and written reports of them and sometimes testified about them. We each have an opinion on what to carry and what to use for home defense. Nobody disputes the value of the 12 gauge slug or the 45-70 for that matter. If you do not feel safe using a 12 gauge loaded with heavy field loads, then do not use them. Incidentally, the power of the 12 gauge 1 and 1/4 ounce bird shot at 1,200 fps is 1,737 foot pounds, about the same as six (6) 9mm rounds at the same time. Just the science of the deal.

I feel OK with my ability of stopping an intruder with that load. If is does not work, then I can just fire a second round into the face, you have seen the pictures. Just my humble opinion. Nothing more to add. Carry on.
I sure hope that this 'plan' you have for your shooting goes as you 'plan', but I have news for you, IT PROPERLY WILL NOT!;) You MAY not get a chance for the 'second' shot!!!:eek:
I am not angry, just frustrated when I see bad information/advise posted which could get someone seriously injured or killed. You said it is 'reasonable' to use bird shot for SD, your advise from a previous post. Well is it reasonable to advise people to use a 22LR as SD caliber, or to use FMJ/non-expanding bullets for SD?? They CAN both stop an attack. If you think bird shot is 'reasonable' to use for SD then you agree that a 22LR and FMJ bullets are 'reasonable' for SD.
The point is THERE IS A BEST TOOL (in this case ammo) FOR A GIVEN JOB! If you are going to give advise on the this subject PLEASE give good advise, as people my actually give you some credibility!:rolleyes:
This thread is asking what is the BEST ammo for this situation, not what ammo CAN WORK. It is a question of probability verse possibility. So if you want to use substandard tools (ammo) for the job that is your RIGHT, but PLEASE do not advise others to make the same mistake!!!:)
 
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