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MrWray 06-03-2012 04:45 PM

what home defense (HD) load do you use and why?
I thought that this would be a good topic since people have different opinions on what will work for HD, and what will not. There are different variables that contribute to why people choose the load that they do, whether its barrel length, house layout "distance", structural integrity,etc. What load do you do use?

HockaLouis 06-03-2012 04:50 PM

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In my go-to gun I have square loads of #4 Buckshot. They are 1 oz./21 pellet (vs. common 1-1/4 oz./27 pellet) S&B in an 18-1/2" OC ported barrel top-folder 12 ga. pump-action Mossberg.

It is empty-chambered (snap cap) and has 5 in the tube +5 in the sidesaddle (for the time-being). For the most likely distances and threats in my circumstances these are ideal. Relatively short distance expectations in and around the home. Greater length barrels in a defense shotgun typically buys you nothing. Full loads of BB shot would run a close second. These shot sizes offer the optimal combination of hit probability and multiple wound channels which translate into effectiveness. They also balance penetration requirements vs. overpenetration.

So many unschooled folk tout #00 Buck. "Ain't bigger better"? Ummm, that's not in shotgunning. And why not #000 Buck then!? See above. Recently there's been a lawyer-inspired tacticool trend of flite control for really tight patterns. "Ain't tighter better"? Umm, that's not in shotgunning either -- gee do you have a one track mind! In fact, not having a dispersing pattern moves you away from the whole point of USING a shotgun in the first place! I also love the alternating of different kinds of rounds some folk are so proud of -- you've GOT to be kidding us. How's that gonna work realistically? Absurd! Then there's the Tactical Low-Recoil movement. If you can't deal with 12 ga. recoil, think contollability is the major constraint, or need olive-drab hulls then I'm glad you have a choice too, but these are all a little embarrassing to knowledgeable, skilled, male shooters with the right attitude. Sorry boys. Just load your gun with the most flexible ammo for your expectations, know what it is capable of, what not, and act accordingly.

Best overall in my opinion, if you don't know what to load specifically for what or where you'll be? Just in the bedroom, in a Zombie-ridden decommissioned factory, or out on the plains!? Gotta be the #0 (.32) Buck. More, which is important, big balls (12 vs. 9 .33's in #00 Buck) that are more than effective in the typical working range of a shotgun and the factory loads are a tad more controllable. Barring that I'd go to #1 Buckshot (16 .30's I believe). Pocket a pack of slugs if that makes you more confident for longer range shots you fear having to make, but basically leave the hunting-season ammo to the hunters unless it is all you can get.

In spots where overpenetration/down-range retained energy is a PROBLEM, #4 Buck is the largest I'd suggest. Remington still makes a cheap #2 (.15) lead shot Express load and there are HD loads specifically with alloy #2 shot and/or BB but they're expensive to practice with. Do not go less than #2 shot under any circumstances -- even at less than 15 meters it will not provide the necessary penetration to definitively stop an attacker.

kytowboater 06-03-2012 04:51 PM

Is this open to any weapon or shotguns? I can't keep guns laying around with my daughter. Have my 1911 loaded with 185 grain critical defense. If and I mean IF I can get to my shotguns, it's 00buck in 12 gauge. Remmington 870 express super mag modified choke, not sure of barrel length. Gun is stock no short barrel or anything. I have an apartment so I'm screwed anyway I go.

Or I will load #8 in low brass that I have too.

MrWray 06-03-2012 05:19 PM


Originally Posted by kytowboater
Is this open to any weapon or shotguns? I can't keep guns laying around with my daughter. Have my 1911 loaded with 185 grain critical defense. If and I mean IF I can get to my shotguns, it's 00buck in 12 gauge. Remmington 870 express super mag modified choke, not sure of barrel length. Gun is stock no short barrel or anything. I have an apartment so I'm screwed anyway I go.

Or I will load #8 in low brass that I have too.

Its for shotgun loads but your fine brother, thanks for the input

MrWray 06-03-2012 05:35 PM

I always keep 00buck readily available, as i do slugs. I have "zero" problem with using 00buck as a HD load, however i feel more comforfable using #4 inside my home because my walls are pretty thin and the greatest distance that i would more than likely engage an intruder is 10ft. Now is #4 better than 00buck?NO will #4 replace my 00buck?NO would i use #4 if my engagement distance was much farther? NO now after testing #4 with all of my variables, will it effectively take down an intruder for good? YES

MrWray 06-03-2012 05:44 PM

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I ran tests on a few loads yesterday to compare pattern and damage accessment at a certain distance. I posted it on another thread but this one is more suitable. I did the test using 12" diameter paper targets with a black area just shy of 8" diameter, backed with 1/2" thick plywood. Distance was 10yds with a Stoeger M2000 semi auto12g with 18.5" barrel, and using 2 3/4" shells

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MrWray 06-03-2012 05:46 PM

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Federal 00buck

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MrWray 06-03-2012 05:47 PM

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Winchester #6

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MrWray 06-03-2012 05:48 PM

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Remington #4

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SSGN_Doc 06-03-2012 07:50 PM

I prefer buckshot #4 and larger. #1 or 0 are my prefered, but 00 is most available.

I do like tight patterns to ensure I get the benefit of each and every pellet on a badguy. When you break down a shotgun payload to individual pellets, they aren't that potent by themselves and a shotgun derives it's strength as a defensive weapon from all of the energy and tissue damage it gets from having multiple projectiles striking a target all at once and making a larger traumatic wound, resulting in more blood loss and damage to organs. If using a traditional 9 pellet buckshot load, a loss of a pellet is a loss of 11 percent of it's potential.

As far a reduced loads go, some of it has to do with reducing recoil, but the side effect seems to alos be tighter patterns from less deformation of shot. Faster follow ups are another benefit. I personally don't mind shooting full power loads, as they are what I use in qualifications.

I don't trust bird shot in the defensive role because it lack penetration in flesh, or at least reliable penetration. Having the story related of a 5 foot 10 inch 200 pound male who was picked up on his front porch with a shotgun wound to the chest, where he walked to the ambulance didn't inspire a lot of confidence to me in bird shot. He was transported to the hospital, where he had been reported as a buckshot wound, but the surgeon found #6 shot in his chest. Most stopped before the ribcage. A single pellet made it to his pericadrium (Tissue surrounding the heart). No lung damage, no pneumo/hemothorax, just a big bloody wound, where he didn't loose that much blood.

To incapacitate a person you need to either hit the central nervous system or make them lose blood rapidly. The FBI and International Wound Ballistics Association have found that a minimum of 12 inches of penetration in flesh gives the best chance for causing incapacitation in a human. Buckshot , sized #4 and up meets this standard. No birdshot really does so reliably. Add clothing, shots that may encounter bones of the arms, intermediate objects and just meeting the minimum may not be quite enough.

As a defensive weapon shotgunning aint just shotgunning. It's about fighting. I tend to think of a shotgun more like a short range rifle that hits with multiple projectiles with each pull of the trigger.

Teh biggest drawbacks of a shotgun in a fight are it's limited ammo capacity when compared to mag fed rifles or pistols. It takes more manipulation to keep it fed. Ammo is bulky. Ranage is limited to short range with buckshot by the ability to keep shot on a target. So 25 yards is about it for a shotgun using shot if you don't have a modified gun that has been back bored and Vang Comped to get really tight patterns which may get you out to 40 yards.
Beyond paterning distances that will keep shot on a torso, it's time to switch to slugs, and we're back to using it like a rifle with potentially poor sights for precision.

Shotguns are good tools for fighting but a good understanding of them and heir limitations is essential. Aslo a good understanding of the shooters limitations are essential, and really choosing to use a shotgun in a fight requires a lot of training and practice if you really want to get good at it. I consider myself o.k. with a shotgun, but I've got a long way to go before I consider myself good with one for fighting. I'd rather stick with an easier to manipulate platform like an AR or AK. Slapping another mag in is much easier by comparison under stress than feeding individual rounds in the ejection port or in the mag tube. However I'm trying to improve my proficiency with any tool that may be available for defense.

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