Home Defense with a Shotgun: A few things I’ve learned over the years. For self-defense inside the home at short distances, the brand of ammo, type of choke, or size of (#1 or larger) buckshot isn't as critical as shot placement from a well-fitted 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with a simple weapon light (i.e. Streamlight TLR1 or etc...). An open Cylinder (C) or Improved Cylinder (IC) choke with Low Recoil (LR) buckshot is preferred for quicker follow-up shots. While #1 buckshot offers the best overall terminal performance for civilians, LE Agencies still prefer hardened 00 buckshot due to its superior penetration. Sales is the driving factor as to why there are not more #1 buckshot loads to choose from for civilians. The International Wound Ballistics Association advocates “#1 buckshot as being superior to all other buckshot sizes.” Shotgun Home Defense Ammunition, .357 SIG -- A Solution in Search of a Problem? Home Defense Shotgun Ammo 12 gauge The Box O' Truth #45 - Shotgun Chokes and Buckshot Part Two - Page 1 As for a shotgun, keep things simple! A lot of fancy stuff on a Home-Defense (HD) shotgun isn't necessary! A plain-jane / reliable pump or semi-auto shotgun with a short barrel will do just fine! (SIMPLICITY … and … RELIABLILITY are the operative words here.) An open-choked 18 1/2" - 20" barrel is ideal and an illuminated front bead sight provides the fastest sight picture. Make sure the rear stock fits you OK (shorter aftermarket stocks are available from Hogue, Remington, or Knoxx Industries). A shorter LOP (Length of Pull) stock might be needed so that things can quickly line-up (straight) using YOUR natural Point of Aim (POA). Pattern your shotgun at the range with buckshot. Practicing with #8 target loads is perfectly acceptable and saves a lot of wear and tear on the shoulder. Pistol grips and slings reduce your reactionary and follow-up times (They have proven to be a liability inside the home!). Slings are useful over longer distances outside the home, but get in the way in close quarters. If you insist on a sling, get a quick-disconnect model for removal inside the home. A full-size stock with a pistol grip is a better overall setup than just a small stub mounted to the receiver. Most civilians will do just fine with a standard OEM stock that fits their size. Federal's LE 9-pellet LE132-00 load @ 1,145 fps with LR Flight Control (FC) wads offers outstanding performance in and outside the home (civilian version is PD132-00). These hardened copper plated buckshot pellets penetrate plenty and full-power loads are not needed unless your semi-auto won't function reliably with LR shells or you need extended range in more open areas. The full-power version of 00 buckshot with FC is LE127-00 @ 1,325 fps. LE - Tactical Buckshot "Birdshot, because of its small size, does not have the mass and sectional density to penetrate deeply enough to reliably reach and damage critical blood distribution organs. Although birdshot can destroy a great volume of tissue at close range, the permanent crush cavity is usually less than 6 inches deep, and this is not deep enough to reliably include the heart or great blood vessels of the abdomen. A gruesome, shallow wound in the torso does not guarantee a quick stop, especially if the bad guy is chemically intoxicated or psychotic. If the tissue crushed by the pellets does not include a vital cardiovascular structure there's no reason for it to be an effective wound. "Many people load their shotguns with birdshot, usually #6 shot or smaller, to minimize interior wall penetration. Number 6 lead birdshot, when propelled at 1300 fps, has a maximum penetration depth potential of about 5 inches in standard ordnance gelatin. Not all of the pellets penetrate this deeply however; most of the birdshot will only penetrate about 4 inches." Shotgun Home Defense Ammunition, .357 SIG -- A Solution in Search of a Problem? The whole point of self-defense (SD) is to IMMEDIATELY stop the threat and a shallow wound from birdshot doesn't put as many odds in your favor as buckshot does! While still deadly at a slower pace, birdshot is more likely to leave the BG additional time to inflict harm (than buckshot). Use what you want for SD, as it's your life on the line. Most people want to put more odds in their favor and buckshot is more effective at preserving life than birdshot.