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NAT’L – HOME DEFENSE – Which Type of Shotgun Load is Best for Home Defense?

Adding two layers of sheetrock, as would be found in most residential construction, paints a more complete picture of what makes for penetration—and overpenetration. While most defensive shotgun gurus load 00 buck in their gun and call it good, others believe specialized circumstances warrant specialized loads. That’s the beauty of the shotgun: Some loads are brewed to penetrate less, for example, while others are made to spread more. But, before deciding what load is best for you, you should at least have accurate data available, not just marketing hype.
In this column we’ll cover four popular projectile sizes by shooting them through two pieces of sheetrock (simulating a wall) into ballistic gelatin to get an idea what each load actually does after it leaves the muzzle. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive test—nor even apples to apples—but rather an overview of what you can expect from similar loads. The following loads were fired from an 8-pound Mossberg 590M with an 18.5-inch barrel at a distance of 7 yards. 00 Buckshot: 12 gauge Winchester Super X 2 3/4-inch, 1,325 fps, 9-pellet 00 buck; Average pattern spread 3 inches
Average penetration 13 inches; Muzzle energy 1,887 ft.-lbs.; Recoil 25 ft.-lbs. This tried-and-true, pure-lead buckshot load performed as predicted. Compared to gelatin-only tests, the .33-inch-diameter projectiles flattened slightly more and penetrated a few inches less after busting through two sheets of half-inch sheetrock. All nine pellets were found in the gelatin, with 8 to 15 inches of penetration. What is notable is the small, 3-inch pattern this 00-buck load averaged. [full article]

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