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Slugs or Buckshot

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For home defence, what are the pros/cons of using slugs comapred to using buckshut?
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Hello. Most full-power slugs penetrate pretty "good" and probably will pass completely through the average male torso with enough steam to cause problems across the street should they leave the confines of your home. I was fairly impressed when shooting 12-ga. slugs through car doors when testing them for my department some years ago
and am pretty sure that even after taking out the BG, they have enough velocity to penetrate a door and some walls and possibly harm another.

On the other hand, the round ball that buckshot is, even the big stuff like 00 and 000 will often stop within the human body. At normal in-the-home ranges, do not believe that it's not possible to miss with the shotgun and buckshot because it sure is. At normal distances, point blank to about 6 to 7 yards from a cylinder bore the pellets are not going to be spread out all that much.

Were I going to go the solid bullet approach with a long gun, I'd probably opt for a frangible bullet in something like .223. If using the shotgun (which I do), I'd go with buckshot.

Some opine that about anything from birdshot on is fine for the close ranges envisioned. At extremely close range, this is probably true. I've not really done much testing on this have been a little surprised at how limited buckshot penetration actually is in "soft targets."

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Jeff and Stephen,

I use a 9 pellet. OO Buck, "Low Recoil" for contollability. As far as magnums, all you get is a sore shoulder and no really positive benefits at the ranges we are talking.
Always carry a few slugs in case I have to fire outside the effective range of buckshot or have to shoot at an ensconced perp.

Mr. Pritchard,

May I suggest that Mr. Camp is right.

Buckshot is round. The worst possible (practical) shape for aerodynamics is a round ball. They don't slice through air well at all.

Given that they lack range in air (00 buck good to about 30yds max) they will lack overpenetrative qualities in meat also.

Knowing that, while the human body is not homogenous, it is 70-90% water, it's safe to assume that the shot will stop as water is much denser than air.

The Foster slug was invented for two reasons: Accuracy and weight. Until the point of the Foster, people were shooting round, .72 caliber lead balls from their 12 gauges, effectively turning the combination into an earlier type of firearm: The Musket. This was bad for both accuracy and penetration. You'll get an idea if you ever look at the old tests conducted by the US Army for adoption of the rifle over the musket. (As an interesting aside however, this is what Wyatt Earp used to hunt buffalo as he could get in close and shoot with reasonable accuracy. It save money over a Sharps or similar "buffalo gun.")

The Brenneke slug was another answer to the same problem; it uses a semi-wadcutter profile and an attached wad to stabilize the projectile.

Here's a summation of the common defensive projectiles used in 12 gauge shotguns:

00 Buck: Nine to 18 .32cal round lead balls. Not typically overpenetrative but the threat still exists at close range. In live game (Indiana whitetail) I've seen 00 buck vary widely. When used correctly (<25yds, heart/lung) the deer ran maybe 50yds before collapsing and bleeding out. When used incorrectly (long shots, bad shots) the deer was lost. 00 buck does not suffer fools or bad placement.

000 Buck: Varying amount of .38cal round lead balls. Perhaps a bit more penetrative than 00, but not typically enough for concern. I would not say the increase in individual pellet size and weight offsets the reduced ballistic payload over 00 buck. That said, I've not seen 000 buck in action. However, I would believe that the performance would be similar to 00 buck.

Foster Slugs: In deer, personally observed, Foster slugs expand flat about 50%-75% of the time and anchor deer with good hits about 25% of the time. Reports coming back to me indicate that the deer are almost never anchored on the spot and that the slug always expands. "Never" and "always" are viewed by me with a jaundiced eye.

Brenneke Slugs: These suckers are my preference. Though they do not expand they are of a semi-wadcutter profile and leave a larger wound channel from the get-go than do Fosters with their round noses. Typically penetrative, I've not recovered one, and must assume little to no expansion. I've not personally seen one fail to anchor a deer with a proper shot to the shoulder/heart area. There are those who still believe in hitting the lungs however and that takes the time you might expect for blood induced pneumonia. In other words, around an hour on average.

All that said...

My personal loading preference for my shotty is 2-3/4" 00 buck, 9 pellets, from an open cylinder.

I have this backed by Brenneke slugs for +25yd shooting.

I don't mess with birdshot. However, X-rays of victims indicate that birdshot acts much like a large frangible bullet at close range (<10ft): Shallow penetration, massive localized tissue damage with many separate tiny wound tracks. At a measured 25yds both #6 and #7-1/2 shot will stick in 1/4 inch plywood with several bouncing off. It appears to me that it could be a viable SD round at distances where its wad is retained and effectively enters the target as one projectile which comes apart (again, a large frangible).

In my opinion, the 12 gauge shotgun, properly loaded with either 00 buck or Brenneke slugs and shot by a practiced operator, is the best defensive civilian weapon to be had at distances in which the given ammuntion performs best. That said, if I were pressed to choose just one type, it would be the Brenneke slug as it performs from bad breath to ~100yds.

All that said: There are records of people taking hits from the .50BMG and staying alive long enough to fight.

Josh <><
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My preference is shot......slugs can miss, esp. when fired in low light conditions when adrenalin is flowing and all you have is a bead on the end of your gun.....just ask any deer hunter who has had a big buck sneak up on him at dusk! ;) This, combined with the high penetrative power of a slug when compared to buckshot, leads me to beleive that the latter is better, esp. from a safety standpoint.

I don't remember who the author was, but several years ago a gun writer wrote an interesting piece about the penetrative qualities of certain handgun & shotgun loads for home defense. He made several mock ups of walls and then shot at them with various calibers and loads. All penetrated; even the buckshot. He then went on to tout how a load of #6 birdshot wouldn't penetrate the wall, and felt this was adequate for close quarters combat with a perp. I never felt that way about #6 shot, but I have often wondered if an old lead goose load of BB or #2 shot would be effective at spitting distance.
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I'd want to use buckshot on people at close range - can't think of anything that would be more effective.

But for bears . . . slugs! :)
a gun writer wrote an interesting piece about the penetrative qualities of certain handgun & shotgun loads for home defense. He made several mock ups of walls and then shot at them with various calibers and loads. All penetrated; even the buckshot.

This (http://theboxotruth.com/main.htm) gent made some drywall targets to see how many walls each ammo type would go through. Interesting stuff, drywall pretty much does jack to stop just about any kind of bullet.

I did read a forum post somewhere that said birdshot from close range is still just a nice large peice of lead, and is pretty effective. I dont know, though. The other day I was shooting targets in the woods, there were some deer bones. As an experiment, shot the bones propped against a tree, the birdshot bounced off for the most part, only one actually penetrated the bone. :/

Maybe I should just add "decorative" steel plates to my sons crib, just in case. :)
3" oo buck is my choice. at across the room distances the 2-3" pattern will make a mess of someone. ive shot enough fuzzy critters with #6 shot to be unimpressed with its performance on anything much larger than a squirrel.
In an urban setting, if I was bound and determined to use a scattergun, I'd go with something on the order of #8 dove loads. At ten yards or less, these are pretty devastating, and a couple of them first up can be followed up by a few good 00 loads.

Personally, even though I live out in the country, I reserve the shotgun for times when I have to go outside, (which is at least one night a week). Inside the house I have a Ruger Speed Six .38 Special loaded with 147-grain +P+ Hydra Shoks.
I currently use 00 buck, but I have used 2 3/4 turkey loads previously.
My self-defense side-by-side is stoked with Federal Tactical 00 buck. The lighter powder charge is just about right for indoors -- short range and minimal over-penetration.
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