Less lethal 12 gauge HD rounds


November 18, 2007, 11:25 PM
Overpenetration is of significant importance as my neighbors' walls are just 6' (2 yds.) from mine. No one's house walls are brick or cinderblock. Just stucco over chicken wire and styrofoam over 5/8" exterior grade sheathing on 16" center wooden studs. 1/2" drywall inside throughout. Such is life in a development.

All that said, what are the best choices for a home defense Mossberg 500 12ga? The entire house is barely 50' long (17 yds.) by 30' wide (10 yds.).

Are these exotic less lethal rounds that contain rubber projectiles worth a look? Slugs?

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November 18, 2007, 11:28 PM
well id wait for others input, but certainly not slugs..

November 18, 2007, 11:32 PM
Consider bird shot. 6 and 8 is usually effective at in-house ranges without overpenetrating. I'm not sure that I would be using anything that would just PO someone for HD.

November 18, 2007, 11:35 PM
I'd just say to be sure of your target and don't miss. It's not like you're gonna be taking random potshots.

November 18, 2007, 11:46 PM

Birdshot would not be very effective. See above discussions.

November 18, 2007, 11:49 PM
For real world penetration testing check-out this site:


November 18, 2007, 11:58 PM
Birdshot would be very ineffective. Same with rubber bullets or beanbag rounds. I'd suggest making some kind of plan on what rooms to hole up in (and plan for different rooms, depending on where you are if a break in happens), so that the only direction a bad guy can come at you is not the direction the neighbors' house is in, if that's at all possible. #1 buckshot is the smallest that will consistently penetrate to the FBI's minimum specification.

November 19, 2007, 12:09 AM
Birdshot is most assuredly effective at typical indoor ranges. I would be hard pressed to find a better round inside of twenty feet then a typical 12 ga.game load. 4 or 6 shot will be fine.
At that distance your pattern would be about 8-10 inches accross.

Fast Frank
November 19, 2007, 02:29 AM
I think that we need to decide what the number one priority is for our home defense load, and then match the round to that priority.

Let's see... could that number one priority possibly be stopping a life threatening attack?

(It better be, or you have no business firing that shotgun)

If you want to trust a shotgun shell that was designed for hunting doves to stop a life threatening attack, go for it.

Personally, I would prefer a shotgun shell that was designed to stop a life threatening attack.

Why would I send buckshot through the wall?

I will not fire my defensive weapon unless I am actively defending against a life threatening attack. That puts me in a defensive position and the bad guy moving toward me.

I will not miss.

Practice with your shotgun, and use 00 for bad guys.

November 19, 2007, 07:58 AM
Just throw a brick if you want less than lethal.
WHAT'S THE POINT??????????????????????????

November 19, 2007, 10:12 AM
Discussed here: http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs10.htm

November 19, 2007, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the info and the links, folks. I appreciate the response. In answer to my question, it would seem then that the first round should be #6 birdshot and, if necessary, the follow-up rounds #1 buck.

November 19, 2007, 02:13 PM
I don't know that having the first shot be birdshot is such a good idea. The first shot in a gunfight is most likely to be the decisive one. It's also the most likely to hit, since you'll have more time to aim than with follow up shots. So your first shot should be as effective as possible.

And birdshot will not do all that well. Here's #8 birdshot at close range, for instance.


Note the calibration BB penetrated 12.5 cm. Optimum calibration is 590 fps and 8.5 cm. Corrected penetration depth of the birdshot is 3.5". That is not enough.

#4 birdshot.


Deep calibration again. Corrected penetration depth is 5.4". Once again, not nearly enough.

bad LT
November 19, 2007, 06:56 PM
See if you can get your hands on some shells with smaller BUCKSHOT (Possibly #4-#1 Buck). They do not penetrate quite as much as OO buck, but penetrate much better than bird shot. When living in an apartment, my shotgun was stocked with #4 buck.

November 19, 2007, 07:44 PM
First round less-lethal? Why? Birdshot? Why? :banghead:

What if a home invader is shot with said less-lethal round? He's mad now and shoots back at you... What do you do then? What if the bad guy is tweaked-out on meth or coke[or both!] and doesn't think your less-lethal rubber balls will dissuade his criminal activities.

Forget the birdshot that may 'get the job done' BS and opt for a minimum of #4 buckshot for home defense.

birdshot may cause a serious wound
birdshot may stop or halt the threat
birdshot may end hostilities

At least with buckshot it rules out many of the "if's" regarding the terminal effects of birdshot. Buckshot may not work 100% of the time, but the odds will be stacked greater in your favor.

November 19, 2007, 07:49 PM
"Birdshot would be very ineffective."

Tell that to Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch. He recommends #6 shot.

November 19, 2007, 08:35 PM
Birdshot is most assuredly effective at typical indoor ranges.

It _may_ be effective, but it will not _most assuredly_ be effective - at least, not fast enough at those distances to be useful. Check the link above for details. While it's probably true that nothing is guaranteed to be effective all the time, there are better and worse choices.

The old LAPD No. 4 Buck load has been pretty well discredited, at least in comparison to larger buckshot payloads, but it might be a better balance.

The key is not missing, since as you point out at those distances _anything_ is going to be in a near-laser cone. The original poster would be well served by getting good, professional training, if he hasn't already had some.

Fred Fuller
November 20, 2007, 08:51 AM
With all due respect- Clint Smith ain't gonna be present if I have a gunfight (but Louis Awerbuck will be the angel on my shoulder, yelling in my ear :D ).

I use 00 buck, with slugs in the SideSaddle if needed. YMMV of course.


November 20, 2007, 09:13 AM
Same...00 buck or slug used here. No messing around for me with a balancing act of lethality vs not hurting my neighbors. I want the scales tipped in my favor as much as possible with every shot I make at the BG's.

November 20, 2007, 09:38 AM
I sincerely thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. Obviously, the issue of ammunition is not as cut and dried as I thought it might be. But, the replies and information within the links have given me a lot of food for thought and so I've decided that I will forego the use of a shotgun for home defense and stick with a handgun instead.

In my particular case, there are simply too many variables too close by for me to consider and those concerns may contribute to a subconscious hesitation factor that, in a split second, could make all the difference in the world and get me hurt or killed in the process of defending myself and my home.

Thanks again for the input, folks. It's been very helpful.

The Ruckus
November 20, 2007, 10:20 AM
I do not know what variables made you choose the handgun if over-penetration is of concern but the #6 shot penetrates what, 6 boards? The 9mm and 45ACP punch through 12 boards, if not more. The 6 shot will have more than enough power to drop a BG in home defense ranges.

November 20, 2007, 05:45 PM
Handgun bullets will actually penetrate more walls than even 00 buckshot. You're probably best off with #1 buck.

November 20, 2007, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by esq_stu

If it's any consolation, when a good guy gets shot by another good guy in the course of stopping a bad guy, the bad guy is charged with the murder. It's called the Felony Murder Rule - any death that that occurs in connection with the commission or attempt to commit certain felonies is blamed on the person committing those felonies, even if the felon did not pull the trigger.

November 20, 2007, 07:56 PM
Handgun bullets will actually penetrate more walls than even 00 buckshot.

Was gonna make that point as well...

The Box o' Truth website might be worth reviewing, comparing different cartridges from the point of view of penetration of walls.

November 20, 2007, 10:21 PM
I live in a fairly dense housing development myself (not as dense as you describe), so obviously I am not going to chose a .308 or 300 WSM as my primary HD gun (currently, that duty falls to my trusty S&W 686 loaded with 38+P). I am currently in the market for a 12 ga HD pump shottie, and from all the reading I've done online, the absolute bare minimum load I choose for a 18-20" shotgun would be #4 buck. Then again, I may just go with good 'ole 2 3/4" 00. #1 seems to be a good all-around choice as well. God forbid I ever have to defend my family against an intruder, my goal will be to stop the attack immediately and decisively.

I always get a kick out of the guys that load a whole variety of different loads in the primary HD weapon, escalating in effectiveness a bit with each round. I met a gent at the range once that kept his Ruger Security Six loaded with the following rounds:

Chamber #1: A brass shell casing with just a primer loaded in it (no powder and no bullet). Ya know, just to scare him away :scrutiny:.

#2: lightly loaded, wax bullet round. Just to sting the BG a bit if he isn't scared off by #1 :uhoh:.

#3-4: 38 Special snake shot. Escalate the stinging factor a little bit more :what:. Never mind that 38 snake shot isn't really effective past 7 to 10 FEET ... and that's against snakes!

#5: 158 grain 38 +P LSWCHP. Finally, we're gettin' somewhere (if you make it that far).

#6: 357 Mag (don't recall the weight or bullet type). Probably moot by this time.

So of the six rounds, to me, the only ones I'd consider effective were the last two. In a life or death situation, you may only get one shot. That first one had better count.

November 20, 2007, 11:56 PM
Birdshot is most assuredly effective at typical indoor ranges.

You've shot someone with birdshot and physically incapacitated them?
Or you can link me to multiple police reports stating the same?
You're friends with people who've done so enough times to be statistically valid?

Then how the hell do you know it "most assuredly" is "effective"?

Oh wait, I forgot - this is the internet and no one needs to back up statements of fact with actual proof. Hearing it from someone else on the internet or reasoning that an inch or two of penetration in gelatin is enough to kill someone by shooting them point-blank in the face is good enough.

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