Shot Size for Home Defense


March 6, 2005, 05:32 PM
What would be a good shot size for HD. I'm in an Apartment now but will be in a house in 7-8mos. My local Academy has the usual bird shot #6-#8 and some Remington Buck shot #4-00.

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March 6, 2005, 06:16 PM
Well, since the shotgun forum seems to be pretty quiet I will try to answer...

00, 000, or slugs. 2 3/4" only.

This includes in the apartment.

The spread on that shotgun is not much at indoor distances, and buckshot penetrates less than most handgun rounds, so I do not see any increased risk.

You should always have some slugs for a defensive shotgun.

A whole mess of folks will soon pile on to disagree, but I got here first. :neener:

March 6, 2005, 06:23 PM
For what it's worth :D

March 6, 2005, 07:25 PM
Birdshot will work just fine. It also has less recoil to boot! :)

March 6, 2005, 07:33 PM
I'll generally agree with NMshooter.

A common standard is 00 (double naught :D ) buckshot for general use. Have a few slugs handy in case you need a big-bore rifle instead of a shotgun. I normally don't worry about overpenetration with buckshot and pistol ammo, but I'd be really careful with slugs indoors, especially the "sabot" type; those are capable of some serious penetration unless the cover is very dense like metal, brick, or thick wood.

EDIT: a link that seriously covers the subject:

March 6, 2005, 08:44 PM
I recommend the Box 'O Truth ( If you check out the third article(about shotguns, though I recommend them all) you should find what you seek. In his tests OO buck penetrated less than pistol or rifle rounds. Even those wonder JHPs just turn into FMJs once they are clogged up.

Zach S
March 6, 2005, 09:00 PM
I use the low-recoil 00B (3 dram) from Federal in mine.

March 6, 2005, 09:01 PM
Good stuff Fenaro

March 7, 2005, 01:05 AM
I recently picked up a new shotgun, so this weekend I put the 18 inch barrel on it and went out to test her. I set up some soggy telephone books at 20 paces, and let go. Birdshot shredded the telephone books without fully penetrating them. Buckshot went clean through.

Basically, my conclusion is that buchshot is good when you don't have neighbors, but in a condo or appartment, go with birdshot. It will make a mess of an intruder at close range but will represent less of a danger to your neighbors.

March 7, 2005, 01:08 AM
#3 buck

More than enough on a human target.

March 7, 2005, 02:17 AM
Thanks, :) good info here, box' o truth added to bookmarks.

March 7, 2005, 07:41 AM
Buck probably won't leave the body unless it's a headshot. But any miss will put it right through several drywall walls. Try the short 12 guages (minishells), smaller that 2 3/4" but would be fine for close range stuff. Test it out on targets to check the penatration. Try lining your walls with corragated steel then covering that with more drywall to cut down on uneeded scatter.

You could try an SKS or such loaded with frangible ammo.

March 7, 2005, 12:36 PM
You could try an SKS or such loaded with frangible ammo.

Frangible ammo might work but 5.56mm frangible ammo went through eight drywall boards, in the Box 'O Truth tests. #4 buck went through six.

March 7, 2005, 01:45 PM
Some ballistic gelatin tests on the firearms page to hopefully help you with your decision at: (

Regardless of what you choose, make sure to get out to both pattern and practice.

Good luck!


walking arsenal
March 7, 2005, 02:57 PM
The mini shells are neat in guns such as a double or single barrel barrel shotguns, they have cycling issues in all autos and even most pumps.

Steel walls??? :scrutiny:

Work for the mafia godfather?

March 7, 2005, 06:39 PM
Get your self some Fed Tactical OO Buckshot and Slugs and call it good! Make sure of your backdrop and do not mess with birdshot!

March 7, 2005, 06:43 PM
Thanks fellers, I'm gonna pick up some reduced recoil double ought at the next gun show.

March 9, 2005, 05:55 PM
"The mini shells are neat in guns such as a double or single barrel barrel shotguns, they have cycling issues in all autos and even most pumps.

Steel walls???

Work for the mafia godfather?"

One does not "work for" the Mafia. I know the minishells will probably not work in a semi, but a review I read seemed to make them OK in a pump.

walking arsenal
March 9, 2005, 07:00 PM
give them a try in somthing, reveiws can be misleading.

the only gun ive heard of them working semi reliably in is the winchester 1300, the shells seem to get turned around in other actions.

Bear Gulch
March 9, 2005, 07:08 PM
Steel #6, in chamber with #4 buck and alternating slugs after that first shot. If I need to go through a wall, I can easily shuck it out quickly. In the same room #6 will be a horrible wound.

March 9, 2005, 07:24 PM
I've got an old SxS cut down to 18.5 inches that I keep around specifically for this purpose - 4's in one barrell, 6's in the other. When in doubt, pull both triggers - empty it makes a great club. Sure to ruin someone's day at close range.

March 10, 2005, 03:27 AM
When you move into the house I'd purchase Estate Cartridge 9 shot 00 Buck. Good hot stuff if your really serious about protecting yourself. It's what I have in my HD 870 at the house. First introduced to Estate Shotshells in 70's in Marine Corps. A very well kept secret to most.

March 10, 2005, 07:40 AM
I guess this is as good a place as any- I have a Remington Model 11, and the only mag extensions I found were for Remington's 1100's. Does anyone know about extensions for model 11's?

Dave McCracken
March 10, 2005, 08:48 AM
Check the threads on the end of the mag tube, I believe they're the same.

In day of yore, extensions were made by firms like Pachmyer and LL Bean for the 11. Ostensibly they were for crow shooters, but lots were sold to LE and Prison depts and agencies. Charles Askins wrote of using an 11 with a long extension in the Border Patrol.

NOTE: I highly recommend using a clamp on most shotguns with extensions. With the recoiling barrel on the 11, you can't do that. In your shoes, if I had to add an extension, I'd go with a two shot to keep that unsupported weight down..

March 10, 2005, 07:50 PM
aight. thanks for the tip. only prob with checking the threads is that the only one's I can find are in catalogs or online. I guess I could check w/local stores. Though most son't sell accessories round here.

March 10, 2005, 09:26 PM
AFAIK the Agulia Mini-shells were designed for the WInchester 1300 shotguns. The supposedly cycle reliably in those guns, but the Remington 870's apparently do not like them very much.


March 12, 2005, 12:02 AM
I'm just repeating what my instructor said:

In the magazine tube, use Bird as the first shell, follow it up with Buck all the way down, and then finally a Slug.

March 12, 2005, 01:53 AM
In the magazine tube, use Bird as the first shell, follow it up with Buck all the way down, and then finally a Slug.

Did he give you any idea why he thought you should start with birdshot?

March 12, 2005, 08:44 AM
If you want a frangible round that will not over penetrate drywall, take a look at I have used their slug and buckshot reloading components and have been impressed with the results. Use their 00 buck in my home defense shotguns and have also started to work with the 5.56 components.

Always looking for the round that has stopping power, but will not penetrate multiple walls.

March 12, 2005, 09:15 AM
Always looking for the round that has stopping power, but will not penetrate multiple walls.

I don't see how you can make ammunition that works well on people and badly on drywall. Maybe with a "smart" bullet of some type. But anything that can't penetrate one or two layers of brittle drywall doesn't sound like a great manstopper to me. Everyone has different priorities, I suppose, and I don't have a clear "shot" at my neighbors, so I can load as I please.

March 12, 2005, 06:12 PM
I live in the city and have Speer Lawman #4. I also have Federal "Tactical" 00.

If you ever shoot at someone who is far enough away to miss, you're going to have bigger problems than what size pellets you have in there.

March 12, 2005, 08:00 PM
My Mossy 500 12 ga is loaded with 00 buck and slugs, since I'll be doing the 'investigating' of what ever "noise" has just sent the dog into hysterics. Mrs. Scout26 has her Mossy 500 20 ga loaded with #8 trap loads, since she's going to be hiding behind the bed with the kids, with just her eyeball and the barrel above the bed. At <18 ft. (distance from edge bed to door) that's going to hit like a slug, but not kick like one and allow her quick follow-up shots in case there's more then one goblin (the second or third goblins would have to be really stupid, to just charge into the room after watching their cohort just get cut in half :what: ).

March 12, 2005, 08:15 PM
About the Birdshot first:

I think it was the overpenetration issue, as well as the "less lethal" nature of Bird vs. Buck. If a "less lethal" bird isn't enough to stop, then you follow it up with about 5 Bucks. If that doesn't work, then finally a slug.

March 13, 2005, 03:23 AM
If a "less lethal" bird isn't enough to stop, then you follow it up with about 5 Bucks.

My only concern, and the reason I have a shotgun in the first place is that I would rather not have to use that second shot. If the first shot doesnt work, then I would rather not get myself shot while working the slide. I've always believed that if you need to shoot someone you need them down ASAP. I can see the overpenetration argument though, that makes sense.

Fred Fuller
March 13, 2005, 10:52 AM

The idea of "less lethal" shotgun loads for private citizen applications is a snare and delusion. In other words, in every jurisdiction I know of, if it is necessary for John Q. to shoot someone, the assumption is that lethal force was both required and justified. The purposeful application of anything less, delivered via a potentially lethal instrument, is likely to be problematic from a legal standpoint. In other words, it is entirely possible that ANYTHING fired from a shotgun at close range (including blanks) CAN be lethal, so no matter what you load a shotgun with you are in fact delivering potentially lethal force. I suggest eliminating the term "less lethal" from your vocabulary entirely unless you are a LEO acting in the line of duty. A private citizen is not legally justified in shooting an intruder "just a little bit" to dissuade them from continuing their activities.

Birdshot at close range is LIKELY to be lethal. I have seen its effects when I was working as an EMT and it is devastating. Surgeons used to call shotgun wounds inflicted at close range "rathole wounds." Within 0- 15 feet or so the shot charge is still travelling as a single mass. I suggest measuring the likely distance across the bedroom at which shots would be fired and patterning your shotgun and preferred load at that range. Try it on a piece of 1/2" plywood.


Let the dog do the investigating of any noises, join the missus and the kids behind the bed in barricaded position and wait. No need to be out prowling around in front of the wife's gun and within range of possible intruders. Stay put in the dark, if the noises turn out to be real dial 911 on the bedside cell phone and wait for the blue lights to show up, stay on the line till the officers are there and continue to communicate. Entry teams used to call doors they had to go through "the funnel of death." Leaving the bedroom and your barricade means surrendering a _huge_ tactical advantage, where in order to reach you any assailant has to enter a 'funnel of death' that you have covered with a shotgun. DON'T DO IT! Stay put, don't roam around. Dividing your forces is a mistake, stay with the family, stay on the phone, work together to guard and communicate.


The problem with shotguns at close range in tense situations is not being too far away to miss- it's being so close that you are essentially shooting a rifle, because patterns haven't had room to open up. And it IS possible to miss at close range with a shotgun. Not only that, but periperal hits may well not stop assailants- I know of cases of shotgun suicide where the person had to shoot themselves more than once. Shotguns are not magic wands, not guaranteed one shot stoppers, you still have to hit center mass or other critical areas and followup shots may be necessary to stop. And there may be more than one target as well. Be prepared for failure drills even with a shotgun, as long as there is a target, SHOOT.


In general...

Usual home security stuff applies- good doors, good locks, on windows too, no concealing shrubbery.

A good dog inside the house is better than any burglar alarm.

Choice of gun, gauge, action, shot size and load for HD is a personal decision, weigh your choices in terms of what you need to accomplish. Give some thought to what the load of choice really will do and won't do, test and pattern your load and gun at realistic ranges, and do not overlook penetration both in intended targets and drywall etc. in the process.

Consider arranging furniture, bookshelves etc. to create both cover and backstops.

Work out useful and do- able tactics to be sure you can gather family members in safe spaces and stay between them and any avenue of approach in the event intruders do show up. Consider communication and movement in your plans. Consider 'sheltering in place' as an option, a solid core door on an older child's bedroom closet with a good sliding lock on the inside might work. You do not have to have a purpose built million dollar "safe room" to do this. Use what you have to the best possible advantage. Practice this along with other family emergency plans (fire evacuation drills etc.).

Plan to be able to get your back against a 'friendly wall' (solid, no doors and windows in the wall behind you) opposite the door and establish a barricaded position there. Rearrange the bedroom furniture if you need to. Behind the bed is good, other substantial furniture will work well too. Build yourself a fighting hole in your bedroom, don't let stuff accumulate there so you can't get into it if you need it.

Prepare in advance to use lighting to your advantage and even to control external lights from your barricaded position. Keep the room you are in dark, use background lights to silhouette the doorway. Night lights are one easy option. Plug- in remote control devices are available at any Radio Shack as well as other places which allow you remote control of lights all over the house, and are pretty inexpensive. Mirrors can work for you too, don't overlook them.

Prepare in advance to be able to communicate with law enforcement even if would-be robbers disable your telephone line. Even a cell phone with no paid service can call 911. Have one charged up at your barricade position. Working cell phones with no service are cheap if not free.

Do not plan to "clear the house" on your own. Stay barricaded with your loved ones behind you and _wait_. Waiting in the dark is hard, much harder than doing something/anything. But not as hard as dying. If a threat materializes in the backlit doorway, shoot it. If not, wait. Even if someone makes off with Aunt Mary's china, wait. Let trouble come to you, stay on the phone with 911 if there really are intruders in the house, and wait. Try to figure out how many there are and pass this and any other useful information along, while you wait. It is much easier to do all this if one person is on the phone and another is handling the gun. Stay together, wait together, work together, live through the nightmare together.

Some advocate challenging intruders from the darkened barricade room, warning them there is someone there with a gun. Again this is an area where personal decisions are required. Personally I do not plan on advertising my presence beyond a quiet conversation with the 911 operator and the muzzle blast of a 12 ga. if required.

If you haven't practiced firing your weapon from a barricaded position, you are overdue for the experience. Duplicate your home barricaded position at the range, a large cardboard box or two will do to simulate furniture. Don't overlook the fact there is a wall there somewhere too, keep accurate distances between walls and furniture in mind when you assume a firing position. Manipulating your weapon at a barricade is different than assuming other positions. For example, those who favor Ithaca Model 37/87s etc. will find bottom ejection might be a problem at the barricade and need to back up enough to clear the bottom of the receiver.

Re. all of the above, YMMV. No skin off my back no matter what you do. Not posted to be argumentative, trying to be informative and helpful. Hope none of this is ever needed by anyone here.


Black Snowman
March 13, 2005, 11:26 AM
I'm in a house alone, all 1 oz slugs in mine. For an apartment, where I can't set up a somewhat safe field of fire I'd go with 00 or 000.

It's my opinion that an under-penetrating round is more likely to cause loss of life do to an inability to rapidly stop a hostile target than even missed rounds having the unlikely result of striking an unintended target.

March 13, 2005, 11:40 AM
lee, excellent post.

i generally use 00 buck. i'll keep slugs handy as well, if my location calls for them.

remember...regardless of training, weapon choice, or load used, there are never any guarantees in a gun fight.

March 13, 2005, 07:21 PM
Birdshot at close range is LIKELY to be lethal.

Thus, the quotation marks around "less lethal".

I wouldn't know from first hand experience, but the instructor said that at close ranges, within say 7 yards, Bird can be the same as Buck in effectiveness. It does have certain advantages too, like being less likely to overpenetrate into your neighbors.

March 14, 2005, 07:51 AM
Lee Lapin;

Great post, great advice.

But a question came up on another forum, that wasn’t answered over there.

What do you do when the police get there?

Do you go to the front door with your gun and let them in? If so do you leave or take the gun with you? If the BG is still in the dark house, are you exposing your self to getting jumped?

Do you let the cops try to get in the same way the BG did?

Someone knocks at your locked safe room door and says they are the police, open up. Do you, and if so do you with or without the gun? How do you know it is not the bad guy claiming to be the police? Do you try to get names, badge numbers from the police dispatcher on the phone?

If the police see you with a gun, are there going to think you are the BG, even if you try to tell them you are the home owner?

I believe I understand what to do at the beginning of a HD situation, but I’m not sure on the end game.

Fred Fuller
March 14, 2005, 11:09 AM
Good questions, and critical to a good outcome.

Continued communication and coolness in a tense situation is vital once contact with 911 has been established. "Brain lock" (a nice name for panic) can happen, be aware of that fact, keep yourself aware of changing circumstances, avoid desperate moves and above all keep thinking clearly. The point in preparing for this emergency is to reduce variables to a minimum and put yourself at the maximum advantage to control the situation. There are definite physiological changes that happen with adrenalin dump, you have to deal with all that and stay in control of yourself in order to control the situation successfully.

Remember that communication can be either active or passive. A handheld scanner with your local PD or SO frequencies might be useful to monitor radio traffic to let you know the status of arriving LEOs, for example. My wife and I live in a rural area, and a weather alert radio and a scanner are useful tools here in keeping aware of what's going on around us. If you do use a scanner in the safe room and are on the phone with 911, keep its volume low and keep it away from the phone or you might generate feedback.

Most likely the 911 operator or dispatcher will keep you on the line specifically to assure that everyone knows where everyone else is and what they are doing during the course of the response. Most likely a given radio channel will be reserved for traffic responding to your call and every officer in earshot will head your way to back up the officer(s) who caught your dispatch. Most likely arriving LEOs are going to close in quietly and attempt to surround your house, in order to grab anyone who exits. Once enough help is available on the perimeter, someone will begin entry. If it isn't obvious where the goblins came in the officers may have to make their own entry. If a K9 is available, likely that's who will come in first. The responding officers will systematically clear the house. All this will take time. Don't get upset if it seems to take forever. Response times vary in different areas, so do numbers of LEOs available at any given time.

It should be possible to get unit call signs, badge numbers or last names from the operator to ID someone knocking at your safe room door, by the time they get that far the operator should have told you they were there. Trust me, no one is going to be in a hurry in a case like this save perhaps the burglar(s). You shouldn't be in a hurry either. Stay put in the dark and keep talking. If an identified LEO wants you to open your door, turn on a light in the room, leave your gun and open the door empty handed. Remember everyone else will be at least as tense as you are, coolness in is order no matter what.

Keep ol' Murphy in mind too. Whatever can go wrong, may well go wrong. That's why coolness is paramount, so that the situation doesn't devolve into a tragedy. That's why I think it is far better to gather the family and stay put 'till help shows up- it reduces variables. If you go out ramboing around the house, the first person you encounter might be a nervous cop with weapon in hand who is really intent on making it to the end of shift with no extra orifices. That's not even counting whoever broke in to start with, if they are still hanging around.

That's why it is important to keep communicating, let the operator/dispatcher know early along you are holed up with your family in a room with a shotgun covering the doorway and that ANYONE unidentified who appears therein is going to get blasted forthwith. It may be that once responding officers establish their identity and reach your door they will want you to toss out your shotgun first. If that's what they want then unload it, leave the action open and do what they want you to do. They may want to handcuff you till they get everything sorted out, folks in uniform get real careful sometimes. Personally I wouldn't argue at that point, it should be evident who is who but fewer and fewer LEOs take anything at all for granted these days. I can't say as I blame them.

What happens if the crackhead who kicked in your front door at 0200 shows up in your bedroom doorway before help arrives? Well, your front door should be such that it took a while to kick in, and by then everyone should be gathered in the dark in safe places with someone on the phone to 911, the household artillery covering the safe room doorway, and lights outside the room blazing. Now no rational person is going to hang around with lights coming on all over and no one there to turn them on. But not a lot of rational people kick in strangers' doors at two o'clock in the morning...

It is up to you to keep up with who is in your house and where they are if odd things start happening. It should be an ironclad understanding that NO ONE comes and goes after lights out, no boyfriends/girlfriends sneaking in and out, no nothing like that ever under any circumstances. It is up to you not to panic and lose control of yourself at strange noises in the night. It is your responsibility not to over-react at every creak and rattle. It is up to you and your family to have a simple do-able plan in case of intrusion and to execute that plan if it seems to be happening.

And if you have taken care of all this and the many other details that vary from home to home, and that crackhead does show up in your backlit safe room door, then blast him COM. And be prepared for another one to appear, or for the first one to need shooting again, and if he does need shooting again then blast him again. Whoever is on the phone needs to let the dispatcher/911 operator know exactly what is happening because the call that will immediately go out is "Shots fired at that location" and the responding officers will kick it up another notch. Let the operator know that the intruder is down and to roll rescue and an ambulance also. Be prepared for whatever happens next, stay in barricade but make sure the operator gets an _accurate_ running description as events unfold BECAUSE THIS IS ALL GOING ON TAPE. And it will be transcribed as part of the record if you get sued, and you might well get sued. It sounds ugly to worry about such things in the middle of a crisis, but it is one more thing to keep in mind.

My wife, a PhD with a background in use of force and criminology professor at a local university, spent much of this past weekend reviewing documents from an expert witness standpoint in a police involved shooting lawsuit that is going to court in another state. The 911 tape transcript was a major part of the evidence. It is a simple fact that strangers who don't know you, people with all the time in the world, seated in comfortable nonthreatening surroundings, will get to review your actions that took place in seconds during a life-threatening crisis. But there it is. You have to do everything right in the process of defending your family to survive both the crisis and the possible aftermath. In today's world a gunfight might well not be over when the shooting stops. You have to live through the gunfight AND be prepared to survive the aftermath. Both of them are difficult. That's why I so often say,

Stay safe,


walking arsenal
March 14, 2005, 02:26 PM
Jeez lee

you got the NRA guide to home defense memorized? :)

Excellent post

Fred Fuller
March 14, 2005, 02:37 PM


No, not memorized- but I did take a few of the NRA instructor courses once upon a time. 8^)


March 16, 2005, 06:03 PM

The Dog is the noise. Any critter that comes within a 100' of the house, sends the dog (a full throated Beagle) into hysterics. Someone could break a window and I wouldn't hear it over his howling. That's why standard procedure is for me to grab the shottie (just in case) and go see why the dog is being stupid. ("It's a f#%@-ing rabbit in the yard, you can chase it tomorrow, now GO :cuss: LAY :cuss: DOWN :cuss: !!!"). Mrs Scout26 and the kids knows that if they hear anything other then me yelling at the dog to "SHUT UP AND GO LAY DOWN", to gather up the kids and retreat to our bedroom (if they are not already there). 911 gets dialed and the phone dropped, as it is on the "wrong" side of the bed, police will respond and in the meantime, everything gets recorded. I know I have to stop and say the password to get back into the bedroom.

It's our plan, maybe not "by the book", but the dog will not tolerate anyone or anything getting close to the house without going nuts. And once he gets going he will not stop barking until I investigate and drag him back to my son's room (the dog sleeps on my son's bed). It's either that or let the dog bark until everyone's awake and the dog is hoarse.

It works for our circumstances.

March 20, 2005, 11:02 PM
Even bird shot at realistic "apartment" distances (15' and under likely) will hit your target as one large shot "mass." There will be little spread even in 18" cylinder bores. The damage inflicted by the shot mass at that range will be devastating. Buck (0, 00, #4) would cause the same type of vicious wound. Of course, as range increases and shot pattern opens, buck comes into its own.

I've seen #8 birdshot hit the inside of an exterior wall from 5' and go right through the plaster/lath, insullation, exterior plywood, aluminum siding, and still have enough energy to blow out a next-door neighbor's window. Don't tell me birdshot won't penetrate... I had to write the police report!

Be warned about firing any type of firearm in an apartment building. Overpenetration for any type of centerfire weapon is a serious concern.

March 21, 2005, 06:39 AM

Interesting info on the site-I'm going to send away for my free samples. You say you've used it, so here's a question for you. It's frangible ammo-powdered metal held together by a bonding agent (sintered)-so it will disintegrate upon impact. Yet much of their stock is hollowpoint! How can this stuff can possibly mushroom?

walking arsenal
March 21, 2005, 11:41 AM
I'm not sure i buy the "bird shot is one solid mass" theory.

I patterned my mossberg with 7 1/2 federal low base out of an 18" cylinder bored barrel at 15 yards and the spread on that was already 8-10" in diameter.

The pattern might be different with different loads, and i cant hold all standards based on my guns alone but that was the results.

The same shot out of my browning BPS with a 23" inch barrel and improved cylinder bore at the same range patterns a 2-3 inch hole.

Dave McCracken
March 21, 2005, 01:35 PM
This is Zen Shotgunning, more than one way to get there. Here's what I recommend for picking your life saving ammo.

First, MEASURE, not guess the longest possible shot opp in your home. Add a yard for GPs and pattern the candidates at that distance. Go with the tightest. This is your HD ammo.

What we want is a palm sized pattern or smaller. Spread's a disadvantage, not an advantage. We want the energy concentrated in a small area near to the target's CNS.

Once you have a top performer lined up, repeat the tests at ,say, 25 yards with slugs and buck. Once the best in YOUR shotgun is picked, you have your CD ammo. Get plenty of that lot and keep it handy with your other militia equipment.

March 21, 2005, 03:09 PM
Lee, Excellent Posts!
Dave, Great input and advice as usual.

Since I am the only idiot that seems to run stock shotguns - 99% of the time mine are loaded with slugs only.

Yes even when I lived in an apt., mag tube full of slugs, and one slug in the chamber, snick and shoot.

MY situation I felt dictated a different "approach" to the the threats I might enocounter.

RELIABILITY is #1. 200 rds of a given load is shot, before I allow myself to use said load for serious situations. I DO NOT do mini- shells, MY pattern board said for ME - NO.

I have worked in an OR, seen the dead and dying of gunshots, knife wounds and stabbings. PLACEMENT - is always the key. Be it the fellow dead of a .22 short bullet wound, the ice pick to the heart that caused death, the Carotid Artery cut by a jagged broken long-neck Beer Bottle.

Seen the folks survive, the 00 buck, the 4 rds from a .45ACP, and 12 rds of 9mm. PLACEMENT was not "there".

In order For PLACEMENT to occur, Gun must be reliable with the ammo it is loaded with. Shooter must know how to shoot, and how to keep the gun running. With shotguns, one must listen to the Pattern Board for the distance they may encounter + 1 yard.

I only use 2 3/4" shells in 12, 20, 28 .410*

Mom's 20 ga is loaded with #3 buck.

When I used a 20 ga , again slugs were my first choice. I did have some handloaded , grex buffered #1 buckshot that worked real well. AEB ( as evidenced by) game I shot with these, and the pattern board. 2 3/4"

28 ga, I had a great load of #4 buck , grex buffered - pattern board and game proven.

.410, slugs.

*.410 I had some elderly folks that just could not handle any other type of HD gun except a single shot . 3" heavy hunting loads in # 4 shot for some these folks that THEIR situation dictated was best for them.

Now I been in situations. MY deal is seek safe cover and wait for the Calvary, BGS comes into immediate area and I am threatened...

I have used ID words to communicate with the Calvary. Communicated with dispatch, and Officers arriving on site.

Keep it simple, go slow, LISTEN to instructions, and keep communicating.

NO sudden moves. Ground / concrete is hot/ cold/ wet, muddy. Handcuffs do come off. The officers will apologize when matters are sorted. Main thing is/ was everyone went home - including me- afterwards.

Firearms are tools, they do get scratches and all - it is called "character".

March 21, 2005, 04:05 PM
There was a police study about 10 years ago that determined that for indoor use, #1 buckshot offered the most lethality with least overpenetration. Unfortunately, I don't remember who conducted the tests. I'll look thru some of my old documents to see if I still have a copy of it.

March 21, 2005, 04:59 PM
Walking Arsenal,

I was talking about 15 feet, not 15 yards. There's a quite a difference there. I don't know too many apartments where 15 yards is a realistic shot. Of course, I'm not a residential building contractor either. Most apartments in my area are smaller and even a 10 yard shot is pushing it. Of course, I live in the city and living space is at a premium. Things may be drastically different in your neck of the woods.

When I spoke of "solid mass" I meant that the shot had not begun to meaningfully disperse and would hit the target collectively as a "mass"... I suppose roughly the size of a lemon (or smaller) just for reference sake. If you've ever seen autopsy photos of such a wound you'd have no doubt as to birdshot's lethality at very close range. Hunting accidents prove this on a regular basis. Even the wad is fully capable of inflicting a serious wound at close range and it's just a piece of plastic.

I wouldn't suggest that birdshot is a great choice for personal defense. Certainly there are better options out there. Do not, however, underestimate the ability of such a "shot mass" to penetrate residential structures. If it will punch a hole clean through the exterior wall of a house, it will most certainly penetrate deeply into a human torso.

Stay safe and train hard.

walking arsenal
March 22, 2005, 02:48 PM

March 23, 2005, 09:57 AM
I dug out the 870 just for grins and tried to refresh my memory of how some of the loads would pattern. It has a sighted, smooth bore slug barrel and a 30 trap job. I hadn't been much impressed with 9 pellet 00 buck at 25 yards, so I tried the S&B 12 pellet load. Like that one.
The Combat! Experts! seem to like #1 Buck better. It was not as tight from my open choke barrel but really laid in a dense pattern from the full choke trap barrel.

When I group slugs, I just sit down on the ground and use my knees for a rest. if their is a back rest available, I lean against that. It seems like every 50 yard group with whatever foster slug goes 4"

Back when I was carrying this around in a hidden rack behind my truck seat, I used Magnum 2 3/4" Number 4 buck with 34 pellets. Kicked a lot but was a real saturater

Redneck Revolver
March 23, 2005, 12:02 PM
i have another question, not sure if its already been answered here or not. does tungsten shot have more penetrative capabilities then steel or lead? i ask this because the standard armor piercing bullets are now tungsten cored.

March 23, 2005, 12:26 PM
I'm not sure i buy the "bird shot is one solid mass" theory.I was out this weekend dumping 8 pellet 00 Buck Federal low recoil shells onto paper at 15 yards. In the 30-40 shells I fired 3 of them acted like slugs - after -15- yards mind you. This was from a 20" barrel SxS -- no choke.

March 24, 2005, 07:43 PM
Lee & Dave gave what sounds like real solid advice.

I have a question, though.

First some info about my situation.
I cannot run to a panic room in my current set-up. I will eventually live in a house, but for a year or so more I am stuck in an apartment. No pets allowed, and unfortunately the kids bedroom is closer to the front door than my bedroom. So unfortunately that means I have to "clear" the house (To at least the kids room,) everytime my wife or I hear "something." "Clearing" the house, (<1k sq ft apt, actually) consists of me grabbing a Mag-light and either my KA-BAR or a handgun. (Lately that has been the knife, as I don't have a separate quiet handgun safe yet.) I have no weapon lights yet, and the 28"barrel 12ga is a simply not practical to get out of the safe or weild in the tiny hallways. (Everything else I own is C & R.)

Now I live in a "nice" area, but not rich, so I doubt I will ever get hit. But I don't want to get complacent. My Jeep was broken into just a couple weeks ago, (Too bad for them I have nothing worth stealing in there.) But, I am not going to wake up the kids everytime I hear a "noise," they have enough trouble sleeping through the night.

So my question is, how would you (And I mean Lee Lapin, here,) apply your advice to a situation where ensuring my children are safe puts me within eyesight of the living room and entryway?

Fred Fuller
March 25, 2005, 08:32 AM

Tough one. When you build or buy your house, keep ideas about securing the family in mind as you choose a floorplan and assign bedrooms.

In your current situation there are some things I'd need to know before being able to offer much help- is your apt on the ground floor? What is your background/history/training? How many kids/how old or more importantly how mature? How many bedrooms w/people sleeping in them, just two or more than two? What's the rest of the floorplan like? What kind of shotgun do you have and are barrels easily interchangeable and widely available for it? Is your handgun of a sufficient caliber and how good are you with it? How about your wife? Is she a shooter too? Do you have a cell phone and if so where do you keep it? What are your threats and how likely is it your number will come up? How good are the local LEOs, what is their response time?

Not knowing those things...

If you are on the ground floor, every window and door is a potential access point. Secure your perimeter by securing every possible access point- not so much worry about making them entry-proof as that's not possible, especially in rental property. But you can make sure no one can come in without you being awakened and _knowing_ an attempt at entry is being made due to the noise they make. Make sure all doors and windows are locked at bedtime without fail. You should know the tricks for securing windows and doors that are not adequately locked at present- drilling a small hole in the window track/frame to insert a nail, dropping a broomhandle in the track of a sliding door to block it closed etc.

There are various alarms and devices that will make noise if triggered- door- wedge shaped alarms and individual window alarms etc. None of these necessarily require permanent installation either. And there are other devices that can be adapted to such use- the little pull-pin type battery powered 'personal alarms' can be rigged with a tripwire for example. But however you do it, make sure no one can gain illicit entry without waking you up. You should not have to be in doubt as to what the source of 'a noise' is if you accomplish securing your household against the likelihood of silent entry by intruders.

With things in place so that silent entry is unlikely, you have to think about what to do if one of your noisemakers goes off. You have to decide on a secure position to operate from. The closest secure position is always your own bedside with your back against the wall and the bed between you and the door. Since this is not a good choice in your case as it leaves your children vulnerable, I would suggest an immediate move to the childrens' room by you adults is in order if an alarm sounds, since you will not want the children to have to come to you. This puts you at a significant disadvantage of course, and you should of course move carefully in executing a plan that the kids are aware of and in which they are active participants. But you have to get everyone in sight and under control before you hunker down.

It may mean rearranging the furniture in the childrens' bedroom so there is a place large enough for all of you to occupy that provides cover between you and the door. It could be arranged by using the beds, or loaded bookshelves or toy chests- you get the idea. But you need to have a space to get them into so you can secure them, and you need to be able to get there quickly without having to worry about the children wandering around looking for you in the process. And if you are to make preparations for controlling external lighting, arrangements for that should be in place in your secure space. If there is a phone jack in the room, an extension phone would not be out of place either.

Just as with a family fire evacuation plan, your children should know what to do in the event of an intrusion. And if they are old enough to be sleeping in a separate room, that should not be a problem. Your plan should be explained in the same fashion as a family fire plan, not to scare them but to make sure they know what to do if something happens. And rehersals are in order for this plan also.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, how exactly do you go about making this move to the kids' room if something happens? What do you take with you? Go fast or go slow? That's where your plan comes into play. Since the easy way (hunkering down at your own bedside) is not open to you, allowances have to be made in your planning. You need to figure out how to arrange the things you will need with you so you can find them readily. You need to plan how you will get those things to the childrens' room, that is, who carries what (unless you have three hands), who goes first etc. Think of it as a combat patrol down the hallway. At minimum you will need gun/light/cell phone. The old infantry requirements come into play- you need to be able to shoot, move and communicate. Those things are up to you, there isn't much else I can offer as to getting it done in your own particular circumstances. Tactical movement indoors is not my favorite thing to do, I assure you. It can be hazardous even if you are good at it (and I am not), that's why I advise finding ways not to have to do it.

I would keep the Ka-Bar as a fallback and work with the handgun no matter what its caliber. The gun can be secured when no one is home to attend it, it should be available when an adult is at home. Consider carrying it holstered while at home and awake, transferring it to the bedside at night, and putting it in the safe when you leave home. I have a small lockbox (a freebie from an insurance company) that I have kept for several decades. It has an easy-to-manipulate three disc combination lock, at times when I shared houses with children I kept my handgun in it with the combination set one number away from opening. My mother still uses a similar container from the same source to secure her handgun at her bedside. There are far better containers available now to serve such a purpose.

The Maglight will work as a close range weapon if it comes to that and it should already be in your hand if anything happens. Keep its batteries fresh and work on one handed and light assisted shooting techniques, if you are unfamiliar with them try to find Andy Stanford's _Fight at Night_, Louis Awerbuck's _Tactical Reality_ or any of several other useful sources that cover the subject. And practice... .

Develop a plan that suits your situation, abilities and your family. Be realistic and practical, none of it requires a lot of expense if you think about it and improvise carefully (oldest improvised noisemaker is an empty tin can with rocks in it after all). Your own and your wife's courage and skills are your biggest asset in protecting your family, plans and tools can be worked on and honed. Assess your threats, develop a plan, practice the plan. Keep your eyes open to weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and what-if your situation/plan/preparations in a realistic manner.

Stay safe,


March 26, 2005, 12:19 AM
I bought some low recoil OOOO buck that the police use at a gun show. I have houses on both sides of me, and don't want it to go through my house, and hit a neighbor....the perp, will not walk away from a good hit with a 12 gauge, but don't want to get the neighbor also....

March 26, 2005, 12:36 AM
0000 buck? I've never heard of such a thing. How big are the pellets? :confused:

March 26, 2005, 12:52 AM
0000 is too big to stack in 12ga. .38" if memory serves.


Fred Fuller
March 26, 2005, 10:07 AM
Maybe he meant #4 buck?


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