Double-barrel defensive shell length?


October 9, 2014, 11:22 PM
Hey guys! I know the 12 gauge double barreled shotgun is not exactly... the most popular defensive shotgun option out there, but I know some guys (and gals) love a good double barrel shotgun for home defense uses. What I'm asking is this:

What shell length do you use for your defense neeeds? Do you use 2 3/4", or 3" magnum shells? This provided your shotgun can accept 3" shells of course. If not, would you use the 3" shells IF your shotgun could take them?

I know 2 3/4" buckshot loads are the standard defensive shotgun shell length in 12 gauge, but I figure that with a double barrel why not have the extra payload of the 3" shells? You aren't going to be limiting the guns capacity like you would with a tube-fed shotgun, and you only need one more follow up shot before a reload so recoil seems a moot point.

So what do you guys think? I am currently in the market for a short double barrel shotgun for home defense. I am a #1 buckshot kind of guy for this purpose, but am unsure weather or not I should use 2 3/4" 16 pellet #1 buck shells or the larger 3" 24 pellet buckshot shells.

I'd love to hear your guys opinions on this, thanks so much! :D

PS: Please don't post things like "a double barrel shotgun is bad for home defense" and all that. This thread is not about that, but about weather or not you would use magnum shotshells for defense if all you had was a double barrel. Thanks!

If you enjoyed reading about "Double-barrel defensive shell length?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
October 9, 2014, 11:32 PM
Inside the house where my wife might need to use it?

October 9, 2014, 11:35 PM
^ :eek:

A .65 round ball shotgun load? That's like a modern Brown Bess LOL! I need to pick me up some of them!!! :D!

October 10, 2014, 01:30 AM
Ever shoot a 3" mag 00 Buck in a double barrel shotgun?

I thought not!

They kill all right, on both ends.

Flip a coin with the BG, and see who has to shoot it first!!!
The other guy will probably win.


October 10, 2014, 06:49 AM
I keep my 20 gauge coach gun stoked with 3 buck 2 3/4". Don't need 12 gauge, let alone 3", for home security.

October 10, 2014, 07:12 AM
If you need more than the two shots at HD ranges, it won't be for lack of power of the 12ga 2 3/4" shells. If you need more, you need more capacity, not more power. It would be because you missed the target, not because the round wasn't powerful enough. Going to 3" or even a 3.5" would not make up for missing the target.

To put it more succinctly, if you do your part, the 2 3/4" shells have enough power to get the job done. If you don't to your part, the 3" shells aren't going to help.

Sav .250
October 10, 2014, 07:28 AM
No matter the length (assuming they "fit" your shotgun, either will do the job!

October 10, 2014, 08:48 AM
The basic 2 3/4" round with 9 00buck pellets is the absolute standard for close quarters defense (less than 15 meters). There's a reason it's the standard issue in any agency that equips its officers (or guards) with riot configured shotguns. It's all I carried in my poppers for more than 20 years. Nothing beats it, period.

That round in any 12guage shotgun is a fight ender....

October 10, 2014, 08:30 PM
Agreed, no use trying "Cute" little 12ga Mini shells, the standard "00"Buck 2 3/4" shell is devastating!
Recoil isn't that bad either.
I also use 2 3/4" #3Buck in my 20ga SxS and it's good!
Those are pretty much readilly available loads ( especially th 12ga) so you can get em with little effort. No use going exotic.
Remember, if you ever need the damn gun, use what the Pro's use! It's gonna be serious, fast, and sloppy. You're going to be more scared than ever, and you BETTER be able to hit!

October 10, 2014, 08:50 PM
I got a Weatherby pump 18 1/2" 12 ga. about a month ago, 6 rounds total. I've got 2 3/4" #4 shot in mine, plenty devastating at HD ranges, the 36 cal balls in 00 buck seemed a tad bit much at HD range. YOMV :evil:

October 10, 2014, 09:43 PM
Standard 00 Buck is just about perfect from a penetration standpoint.

I had occasion to get some inside knowledge from an Army doctor at Ft. Carson in 1968.

A stockade guard shot a prisoner in the back at less then 10 yards with standard Winchester 00 Buck while the prisoner was in the act of climbing over the wire.

My friend the Surgeon found 9 through & through holes in the body.
And all 9 00 Buck pellets were recovered inside his T-Shirt on the off side down around his belt line.

It don't get no better then that from an over-penetration and stopping standpoint.

The surgeon carried them in his pocket & played pocket pool with them for some time afterwards.

We called him Caption Queeg from then on!


October 10, 2014, 09:45 PM
but in 00buck, from 2 3/4 to 3, what do you really pick up? 2 pellets?
In #1, more pellets, but if you can't hit 'em with 16 of em, is 8 more gonna save yer bacon?
Dunno for sure, but probably pick up another couple bucks in price on a 5 round box....

October 10, 2014, 10:47 PM
You will gain 2-3 pellets, and insufferable recoil in a double-barrel.
Neither are necessary, or desirable.


October 10, 2014, 10:54 PM
Three inch shells give you significantly more recoil, blinding muzzle flash, and no real terminal advantage. No thanks.

There have been more than a few 'defensive shell' comparison threads done here - a search through the forum may yield some additional useful information to anyone that's interested....

October 11, 2014, 12:03 AM
I would use a reduced recoil Federal flight control wad buckshot round in either #1 or 00

but in 00buck, from 2 3/4 to 3, what do you really pick up? 2 pellets?

In the standard Remington shells you gain 3. From 12 --> 15.

October 11, 2014, 12:49 AM
Some years back a new shooter brought over the shotgun he'd just bought for the End Of Rule Of Law he was expecting to start within a few weeks. With it, he proudly plunked down multiple boxes of three-inch shells he'd purchased for it and asked me what I thought.

I told him I thought he'd never fired a magnum 12-gauge round, judging by the fact that he didn't have any of standard length. He said I was right but that his understanding from some survivalist website or other was that they were necessary for a shotgun to be useful in a defensive role.

End of the day, after firing a round or two, he left all his ammo with me so that I could introduce others to it before they bought it for themselves.

And yes, standard rounds will do the job just fine.

October 11, 2014, 12:54 AM
A double barrel, single shot, pump, etc, shotgun will have a lot of recoil (vs semi auto, which will have a lot but less).

I put a Knoxx recoil reducing stock on my pump (it really works, noticeably, at reducing recoil).

I still don't have any 3" shells in the tube or on the side saddle.

They are just...painful and slow and unnecessary.

The 16 pellet 2 3/4" #1 buckshot is a GREAT choice.

October 11, 2014, 02:11 AM
Lots to be said about the federal flight control 2 3/4 in #1 buck. I plan on picking up a few boxes the next time I come across them.

October 11, 2014, 05:00 AM
2 3/4".

October 11, 2014, 09:30 AM
Lots to be said about the federal flight control 2 3/4 in #1 buck. I plan on picking up a few boxes the next time I come across them.


At 75 feet through a cylinder choke 18" Rem 870


Nom de Forum
October 11, 2014, 12:03 PM
I used to own a cheap Chinese Double 12 gauge that was fairly heavy at approximately 9lbs. It had working exposed hammers (not the fake hammers on another brand) and a sliding firing pin safety. It was the only double I really felt was safe to leave loaded. If you don't own any really heavy recoiling (5000+ ME) rifles one way to discover how heavy recoil effects you is to simultaneously fire two 3" Brenneke Slugs. Other than doing that or hunting heavy game (not deer) or SD against bears I do not know why 2.75 would not be more than enough for SD against humans.

October 11, 2014, 12:09 PM
I'll pile on 2 3/4" is all I need, I have a mix of flite control 00 buck and regular old 9 00 buck

October 11, 2014, 02:16 PM
I voted 2 3/4" because after shooting a good number of both during an highly motivated session my shoulder clearly preferred them and the cardboard boxes could not tell the difference. 2 3/4" 00 buckshot is available, it can be inexpensive and it is clearly efficient.

Black Knight
October 11, 2014, 05:30 PM
The 2 3/4" shell is plenty for home defense. My HD shotgun is a Remington 870 Wingmaster loaded with 00 low recoil Buckshot. This load was originally designed for close quarters combat by tactical teams. It was created to give good performance at shorter distances with rapid repeat shots without sore shoulders.

October 11, 2014, 08:10 PM
I have a Rossi Coach with 18" tubes. It has a very slender stock, and weighs a very whispy 6 or so pounds. Shooting 3" magnum loads nearly broke my color bone. I have a decelerator on that gun, I was wearing a shooting vest with a heavy pad, and I folded an empty ammo box and tucked it in tight. It was still ridiculous. I was still hurting enough two weeks later to make dove hunting with a soft shooting 1100 painful enough to quit. Never again.

Float Pilot
October 11, 2014, 08:14 PM
A short double barrel is perfect for home defense. It is shorter than most any other long gun. I keep mine ( 18.1 inch barrels ) loaded with 2 3/4 number 4 buck or BB shot. The pattern at 15 yards is shoulder to shoulder.

The shorter 2 3/4 inch shells extract faster and can be loaded slightly faster. They have less of a tendency to develop lumpy or deformed sides.

If you enjoyed reading about "Double-barrel defensive shell length?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!