Cheap Tract Apartments: .223 or 12ga for HD?


January 29, 2003, 02:29 AM
Something I think about. Short of a Red Dawn scenario, I don't even bother leaving the M1A loaded.

In the event of an urban skeet shoot, my .308 will go thru the BG and possibly harm the neighbors. Rule #4, know your target...AND BEYOND.

12ga is good, but if I miss, there's a chance the buck will go thru the walls. Slugs are out of the question.

Handguns...:rolleyes:...well I have my Benelli there so why bother?

When I relocate and possibly end up at a cheap tract apartment with walls I can literally punch through...will a .223 be a safer bet for HD, or should I stick with my Benelli loaded with 12ga buck, or should I go with #7.5 bird?

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January 29, 2003, 02:37 AM
Skunk, try a little test. If you can, find someplace where you can have a mock-up of a wall, or build it.

Shoot it with .223. I'm willing to bet it goes clean through, unless it's frangible ammunition.

All .223 FMJ ball ammo does NOT reliably fragment when hitting hard cover. Shoot through an old steel pot helmet, or through a 55 gallon drum, and you'll see what I mean.

Small hole in, slightly larger hole out. And I'll bet the steel of a helmet or drum is harder stuff than what a typical apartment wall is made of. Note too that the rifle round goes through both walls of the helmet or drum.

If it'll do that to steel, imagine what it'll do to drywall. Or sheetrock.

I believe, based on my own observations of .223 and 5.56mm penetration, that a .22 caliber bullet moving at 3100 feet per second is going to have SUBSTANTIAL PENETRATION of hard cover. If you're worred that a 00 buck pellet will penetrate your walls going at 1200 feet per second, imagine what something going almost thrice that will do.

My house has thin walls too. I go with bird shot for home defense.

Now, I've never tested .223 JHP or frangible. But TEST the ammo before you decide on it; don't bet on what you read in the magazines, or what the manufacturers claim. Sure, all the AR makers claim that .223 will penetrate less than pistol rounds. THey're trying to sell AR-15s! 9mm or 12 gauge won't slide through a kevlar vest; .223 will. Because it's a high velocity rifle round with a very small frontal area and s pointy tip.

In the end, it's up to you. I would not, however, trust in the INABILITY of 5.56mm to penetrate multiple layers of hard cover, based on my own experience.

January 29, 2003, 02:43 AM
Skunky, stick with the 12ga and buckshot. Is your Benelli an 18"er? If so you're not pounding a load so tight, like you may with a 28" bbl, that it's going to much of a problem after it goes through walls. The larger pellets will loose more velocity when penetrating thru a wall than they smaller shot anyway.

January 29, 2003, 02:55 AM

Aluminum baseball bat backed up with 870 pump and birdshot


January 29, 2003, 07:09 AM gives good reasons--including overpenetration issues like those you express concern about--to load a shotgun with a couple of rounds of #6 or 8 bird, backed up by #1 buck (which is a nice medium; the power to penetrate 10 or 12" of geletin; more pellets than 00 or 000; and not so much risk of deadly overpenetration). They convinced me (though I live in a house, so I start with #1 buck up front).


Art Eatman
January 29, 2003, 07:34 AM
What's the longest "shooting lane" inside one of these apartment? Twenty feet or so?

What's wrong with a 20-gauge with #9 Skeet? Even that would penetrate a wall, but the remaining energy of the pellets would far less harmful for a neighbor in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And at twenty feet it will ruin a Bad Guy just as well as would anything else. If you're doubtful, find a buddy to pull trigger and test it on you. :D


Ron L
January 29, 2003, 08:35 AM
Art's on the right track. I keep field loads in the SG, generally number 6's to 8's.

Even at close ranges, a shot column is similar to a slug in that it's still very compacted and dense.

Kahr carrier
January 29, 2003, 09:25 AM
12guage birdshot.:)

January 29, 2003, 09:51 AM
Been there, tested that.

A friend was rehabbing a house in the city, and built a few wall sections. 2x4s and two sides of drywall.

Everything from a .22LR on up breezed on through.

#6 shot (this was at a range of about 7 yards or so) had a few pellets make it through.

I load AA #8 or #9 Lite skeet loads in my social boomstick. At a 7 yard range, it spread to maybe 6" to 8" or so, and makes big holes in drywall, but it is stopped by the 2nd layer.

January 29, 2003, 10:42 AM
It ain't scientific, but I had to try it out a couple of years ago, when I got a nice used Browning pump for trap and HD.


I took a couple of pieces of scrap wallboard I had in the basement and nailed them to some 2 x 4's to simulate an uninsulated interior wall.

From about 15 to 20 feet away, the largest room in my house, about half of the #6 went through the first piece of wallboard and none went through the second piece. When I got down to less then 10 feet some of the shot went through both pieces of wallboard.

But 10 feet is awful close to be shooting someone in your home and you'd have to be a pretty nervous shot to miss at that range with a scattergun.

Even my little KelTec P 32 (32 ACP) went straight through both pieces of wallboard using FMJ ammunition. I didn't even have to try the 45 ACP after that or the 00 shot to know what they would do to the "wall".

All this might be different in an older home with lath and real plaster, but for most modern apartments with thin walls it's probably a fair guage of penetration.

I seem to remember a story on TFL about an older woman, somewhere out West, a couple of years ago that shot a home invader through her hollow core bedroom door with a .410 and sent him to his maker. It doesn't take much to get the job done I guess.

Don P.

January 29, 2003, 10:46 AM
Sinsei Skunk, go w/ the birdshot.

January 29, 2003, 10:50 AM
.50 BMG!!! Oh, oops, what was the question?? :D

Federal 00 Buck. Just ask the men in prison who've been shot with it.:neener:

January 29, 2003, 11:42 AM
Although the lighter bird shot loads may work in the summer time, I would definitely give some consideration to using a heavier load during the winter time. Heavy leather or denim jackets plus multiple layers of clothing may soak up much of the shock of the pellets. I also consider obesity. A high body fat percentage will act as a buffer before any internal organs are hit.

A #4 or duplex turkey load would be a good choice in the winter if overpenetration is a concern.

Good SHooting

Bartholomew Roberts
January 29, 2003, 11:46 AM
Well, the big issue here is what will pentrate deeply enough to hit the organs needed to reliably stop the fight and yet not penetrate drywall if you miss... near as I can tell, the answer is nothing.

Rounds that are stopped by drywall may not end the fight because they will just cause shallow surface wounds - perhaps ugly and large shallow wounds; but there you go.

Rounds that have the potential to stop the fight are liable to keep on trucking through drywall if you miss.

I don't think most 5.56mm FMJ is a great choice because it has to yaw before it will start the fragmenting process. If the barrier isn't deep enough or solid enough to make the round yaw as it passes through, it will have plenty of zip after penetrating. Even rounds like M193 may fail to fragment about 15% of the time and need some space (at least 3-4") to fragment enough that they no longer present a serious threat. Now add in the joys of firing off a rifle indoors for flash and noise.

Stuff that yaws early and reliably (like the 75gr Hornady Match BTHP) but that still meets FBI penetration standards would probably be my first choice in 5.56mm for home defense.

However, my current choice is copper plated #4 in a 12ga.

January 29, 2003, 12:12 PM
#4 bird/turkey or BB shot. Maybe in a bismuth or tungsten alloy mix...

January 29, 2003, 12:29 PM
Overpanetration, esp with a miss, is a serious concern for me. I'd like to believe that I will hit what I shoot at almost every single time but the wife may not. Our primary house gun, the one which my wife has easiest access to is a 686 with four rounds of blue Glasers for the first four shots and two rounds of 158 Gr LSWC for more, uh... permanent... wound channels, through skull if neccessary.

Our house shotgun is loaded with 2 3/4" #7 1/2 shells. Lead, not steel or tungsten or any of the exotic loads. I have to believe that this will penetrate less than any modern centerfire rifle and probably more than most handguns with non-frangible bullets. At the same time, I can't help believe that any shotgun load is going to act as one projectile at a distance of 7 or 12 yards and I'd imagine that modern houses and apartments would give very little resistance to any such projectiles.

Next house we build is going to have thin sheets of 1/8" or so steel between every wall and 3/8" between downstairs and in all exterior walls. Don't think it will cost that much and you just never know... you know? ;)

January 29, 2003, 01:35 PM
load it up with bird shot in a cut shell. You old timers will know what I mean. Take a #8 or so shell and right above the brass make a 1/2 in cut in the hull on opposite sides of the shell. This way, the whole shebang, hull, wad, and shot will go downrange like a slug but does not have the penetrating force of a slug. Will leave enough lead in the body to get their attention.....chris3

January 29, 2003, 02:36 PM
Massad Ayoob did an article on this very subject a while back (I'll have to dig it up when I get home from work).

Anyway, based on the penetration experiments he did, he recommends .223 for home defense over a 12ga. because it is less likely to overpenetrate.

January 29, 2003, 02:43 PM
I like the shotgun with the birdshot. Remember if the first one don't stop 'em you can keep firing till one does. I especially like the sensory value that racking a shotgun has. Everyone who has watche TV knows that distinctive sound. I believe most bad guys would move along upon hearing that lovely sound alone.

January 29, 2003, 03:29 PM
I'm a little wary of field loads, because the Benellis are known to not cycle as well with low base stuff. While I've had no malfs after break-in, still, me gets a little worried.

What penetrates less, #4 or 00?

Bartholomew Roberts
January 29, 2003, 04:13 PM
If you haven't found it already

is a great resource on 5.56mm ammo.

What penetrates less, #4 or 00?

#4 will penetrate less than 00 in just about every medium as long as you are comparing shot made out of the same material.

January 29, 2003, 04:43 PM
I use 00 buck (12 pellets) mixed up with slugs. So it is loaded like this; 00, slug, 00, slug, 00. So the wife or I don't miss at 0 dark thirty I have mounted a laser at the end of the loading tube of an 18 1/2 inch barrel shotgun. The laser is a Laserlyte that has either the pin point red light or the pin point center with other pin points of light around it in a circle at about eight inches from center (perfect for my shotgun!). I turn that second one on and I'M NOT MISSING!:what:

January 29, 2003, 05:06 PM
The only way to settle the matter is to shoot at the medium yourself. You can spend hours hearing "Like This and Like That" on the Errornet but only you can do a definitive test with your guns, your loads, your materials.

As for my choice, I have a Benelli Nova stoked with 7 1/2 field loads and sometimes 4 Buck Federal Tactical. My 1911 is on the nightstand loaded with 230 gr. Golden Sabers in case I can't get to my shotgun right away.

January 29, 2003, 05:22 PM
The only way to settle the matter is to shoot at the medium yourself. You

Now how the heck do you suppose I can do that? :confused: :D

Cut out a portion of my wall and bring it to the range?

Nathaniel Firethorn
January 29, 2003, 06:11 PM
Fifty Bee Em Gee. :evil:

- pdmoderator

January 29, 2003, 07:53 PM
My uncle who happens to be cop one picked up a perp that had been shot at rather close distance in the groin with #7.

The wall behind the perp had some traces of red, but no lead traces. Go figure. :)

January 29, 2003, 09:27 PM
Skunk- Don't you know anyboy that owns a large tract of land? Networking my brother, networking :)

January 29, 2003, 09:55 PM
Anyway, based on the penetration experiments he did, he recommends .223 for home defense over a 12ga. because it is less likely to overpenetrate. -- ZundfolgeDing, ding, ding, ding!

We have a winner.

Many such studies have been conducted and reached the same conclusion. Counter-intuitive...yep, but valid nonetheless.

January 29, 2003, 10:32 PM
Met a guy who now goes around high schools, telling people not to commit crimes.

His body is riddled with scars... He broke into someone's house, and he got shot with "bird spray"... ???

Art, someone, shed some light on this stuff?

He says it wasn't solid BB's, but small metal shards??

I can tell you, about 80% of his body has little holes that look very nasty..

Good for him though; requested that he serve his time, setting himself as an example of why crime doesn't pay..

I don't think this stuff will penetrate walls... It also didn't kill him, but he told me, when he was shot, he wish the guy would finish him... Not all the metal was removed, some were too deep... So he must be fun at the airport to walk behind through the metal detector...

January 29, 2003, 11:13 PM
While I have always been a proponent of the shotgun with #4-#7 as possibly the best house gun/ammunition the articles on .233 use in this area at Tech Info on Olympic Arms' site was startling.

If you want to test the differences in your weapons with various loads just go to the home repairs warehouse store (Builders Square/Home Depot/Lowes) on the way to the range and get a 4X8 sheet of dry wall and a 12 ft. 2x4s. Have the folks there cut the 2x4 into 4 equal pieces and nail 2 4x4 ft. pieces of drywall to the 2x4s configured to make a stand. Perform tests and invite others at the range to "play along". You'll get plenty of data.

BTW Most cheap apartments can be had in the prestessed/concrete block varieties also. And, if you move to the proper part of the country you could even find a comfy shack to rent that has it's own range in the back yard.

January 29, 2003, 11:40 PM
I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate as well as .308, and I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate less than pistol rounds.

All of which apparently with FMJ ammunition.

So which is it? I'm confused. From a military point of view, you don't want a rifle round that can be defeated by soft cover as easily as the Olympic Arms article states. Sometimes, you know, badguys hide behind things, so as to make themselves less vulnerable.

January 30, 2003, 08:00 AM
I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate as well as .308, and I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate less than pistol rounds.
It depends greatly on which particular load you are using. As far as I can tell, lightweight JHP's are great if you want to minimize overpenetration in wallboard, etc., whereas FMJ would penetrate more deeply. It mostly depends on sectional density and how robust the particular bullet you are using is.

I think in the situation mentioned (wanting to minimize the risk to people in other apartments), I'd go with the Federal 40-gr JHP. (Yes, gelatin penetration is also less than 55-gr, but it's been used by SWAT teams for years with acceptable results, and it breaks up easily when it encounters walls.)

For an in-the-apartment situation, I'd place less emphasis on the ability to penetrate soft cover.

Just be aware that shooting any .223 indoors will be LOUD.


Bartholomew Roberts
January 30, 2003, 09:32 AM
I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate as well as .308, and I've heard people say that .223 will penetrate less than pistol rounds.

All of which apparently with FMJ ammunition.

So which is it? I'm confused.

5.56mm FMJ (such as U.S. military issue M193 and M855) can do both. It all depends on whether the round yaws or not as it passes through a barrier.

M855 will penetrate the old steel helmet at 600m thanks to the steel penetrator insert; but if it passes through several inches of drywall, it will start to yaw since physics wants it to travel base-end first for stability.

If the round is still going fast enough, the small diameter bullet can't survive the stress of the tumble and it breaks at the cannelure, spraying fragments everywhere. However, if the round is going slower (the threshold is around 2700fps for M193 and M855), it just deforms a bit but stays intact.

For home defense there are a few things to remember - if the round doesn't start the yawing and fragmenting process (either because velocity was too low to fragment or the round didn't yaw for any number of reasons), then it still retains good potential to wound or kill someone.

Check out the Ammo Oracle link mentioned earlier in the thread - it goes into quite a bit of detail on these issues.

January 30, 2003, 11:04 AM
In order to insure someone is Dead Right There (DRT)
you need 7-12 inches of human penetration

Yes, a 5.56 will go through a 2x4 and sheetrock wall

the question that has yet to be asked is:
What is the bullets condition and velocity after travelling though the wall?

a good test would be a Ballistic gelatin slab on the other side of the wall

but the round may yall way off of course

January 30, 2003, 05:40 PM
there was an article by massad ayoob in one of the gun rags a while back, he asid that when they tested the .223 it went clean through the drywall but didn't have enough energy left on the other side to penetrate a body. one of the worst ones in the test was a 9mm hollowpoint, the cavity fills with sheetrock and allows it to overpenetrate.

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