1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Birdshot For HD?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Fred Fuller, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus



    24 Oct 07

    Birdshot for defense? This is from an LEO, and one of our instructors, in WY:

    "One occasionally hears the suggestion that birdshot, from a shotgun, is an effective home-defense load. The argument is that is won't penetrate excessively, that it is 'effective' at close range, ad nauseam.

    I'm currently involved in a murder investigation that has convinced me, beyond all doubt, that the use of birdshot as a defense load is a poor idea indeed!

    Our perpetrator, in a high state of intoxication, decided to settle an old score with the victim. After informing the victim of his intentions, he armed himself with an old, Winchester M97 and charged the tube with WW, full-power, 9-pellet, 00 buckshot. Meanwhile, the victim locked himself in his auto-repair shop, and, anticipating the confrontation, also armed himselfwith, of all things, another Winchester M97, but he charged his tube with low-brass, #6 birdshot. The evidence suggests that the victim didn't know much about guns in general, shotguns in particular, and virtually nothing about shotgun ammunition. He obviously thought 'ammunition is ammunition.'

    The lethal confrontation took place in the repair shop, with the two combatants separated by less than two meters.

    The perpetrator opened festivities by using his shotgun to blow the lock off a locked door. It took two rounds of buckshot. The lock was demolished, and the door blown open.

    There was a refrigerator just inside the door, and the victim was a few feet away, on the other side. As the perpetrator advanced, the victim fired one round at him. His aim was poor, and most of the lead shot hit (and failedto penetrate) the refrigerator door. A few struck the perpetrator in the face, destroying his right eye.

    The startled perpetrator pulled his head back but immediately rolled back out from behind the refrigerator and fired a single shot. All nine pellets of 00 buckshot struck the victim in the center of his torso. The victim probably suffered a fatal injury, falling where he was hit. The perpetrator then walked over to the victim, who was laying on his back, and fired a second shot into his face from only a few inches. The victim's head was blown to pieces. When we found the body, he was, long since, DRT!

    Our perpetrator then walked out the shop, got in his truck, and drove nearly one hundred miles to the small, ranching community where he lived. Only when his eye injury was pointed out to him, as well as the fact that his shirt and trousers were soaked in blood (mostly his own), did he grudgingly concede that he might need medical attention. Hours later, we arrested him at the hospital where he sought aid. He is now on trial for murder and will most likely spend the rest of his life, with only one eye, in prison.

    Just another local idiot who had too much liquid courage!"

    Comment: When it is your intention to defend yourself successfully, particularly against evil and determined individuals, you're well advised to use a weapon and load that will end the fight quickly and decisively. And, and you better be an adequate marksman too, as you'll likely not get a second chance!

    It's an age-old lesson that this victim learned the hard way. Unhappily, he didn't live long enough to put his new-found knowledge to work!

  2. So much for the "birdshot acts luck a slug at HD range". However, the victim didn't have to worry about over-penetration.

    Good info.
  3. ilmonster

    ilmonster Well-Known Member

    Not saying that birdshot is necessarily effective, but the story describes that most of the shot struck the refrigerator, only a few hitting the criminal. I'm not sure that proves that birdshot is ineffective at dropping a criminal, just that they weren't mean't to penetrate refrigerators, cars, etc. What if due to a bad shot by the perp. only one or two of the buckshot pellets hit the victim instead of all of them hitting center of mass?
    Again, not saying I wouldn't rather have buck in the tube rather than birdshot, just that this unfortunate story really doesn't make the case for most home defense situations where someone is just down the hallway, or in a doorway vs. behind pretty heavy cover.
  4. littlegator

    littlegator Well-Known Member

    There's a reason why it's called "bird"shot and not "people"shot.
  5. While it may have made a difference if the full pattern had hit him, I would still contend that if taking a few pellets in the face will leave one with the wherewithal to roll out, fire a shot center mass, walk up for a coup-de-grace, and then drive 100 miles, I would call it ineffective.

    I tend to believe that one or two pellets of buckshot to the face from "few feet away" would at least prevent the shootee from driving 100 miles.

    Certainly one shouldn't base everything on one anecdote, but this isn't the first time we've had stories discussing birdshot being ineffectve.
  6. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Well-Known Member

    This kind of information isn't merely anecdotal. This isn't the only "birdshot sucks against things weighing in excess of 30 pounds" story. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to disprove, based on common sense, that birdshot would not act like a slug at close ranges.
  7. campbell

    campbell Well-Known Member

    Just ask yourself what's likely to work. Shot designed to kill a duck? Or shot designed to kill a deer?
  8. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Well-Known Member

    Though I agree that birdshot is not as good as buckshot on people, this story is not a case that proves it.
    Had the victim been a better shooter and hit the perp square in the face... landing most of the small birdshot in his nasal/ocular cavities. The perp would have been blinded in both eyes and suffered such intense trauma that he would likely have gone into immediate shock. Instead, he was basically shot with a BB gun a couple of times.

    This is not a good argument that buck is better than bird.
  9. campbell

    campbell Well-Known Member

    As Dick Cheney demonstrated, a full load of birdshot to the face doesn't even kill a 72 year old.
  10. sacp81170a

    sacp81170a Well-Known Member

    I think the point was that the bird shot failed to penetrate an obstacle likely to be found in any home and therefore failed to do sufficient damage to stop the fight. Whether or not a facial hit with a full load of bird shot would have caused immediate shock and stopped the fight is immaterial. What is material is that using birdshot for HD "because it's unlikely to penetrate walls and injure someone you don't want to hurt" is a double edged sword. It's just as unlikely to penetrate an obstacle and hurt someone who needs hurting.
  11. Pete409

    Pete409 Well-Known Member

    As has been pointed out by several members, this is hardly a valid test or comparison. Had the victim's shot placement been in the center of the chest, face, or abdomen with no refrigerator door in between, then he wouldn't have had much worries about the perp rolling to the floor and firing a shot at him.

    Personally, I choose #1 Buck for my home defense shotgun loads.
  12. Titan6

    Titan6 member


    A 12ga slug will drop a bear at close range, certainly inside your house.

    If you have to use bird shot for some reason #2 lead goose (old) is of a lot better than #6. But you have to find it.
  13. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Well-Known Member

    If the birdshot shooter had aimed a little better.........:scrutiny:
  14. GTSteve03

    GTSteve03 Well-Known Member

    He wouldn't have needed to aim better if one of those pellets had been 00 buck sized.

    I have a feeling that would have stopped the fight right then and there. A .33 caliber to the face generally does that.
  15. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    As others have pointed out - declaring birdshot ineffective on the basis of the performance of a few pellets is invalid.
    Also - expecting to shoot through a refrigerator to take out an intruder is silliness right out of Dirty Harry.:banghead:

    At two meters a full load of #6 shot will take all the fight out of anyone who ever lived (including Clint Eastwood). Prove it to yourself if you care too. Go shoot a piece of 1/2" plywood at 2 meters with 6 shot and see how the experiment turns out. And nobody's hide is tougher than 1/2" plywood.

    P.S. Taking a tip from African hunters who have to follow-up wounded lions etc., my choice is for #3 buck rather than a larger size with fewer pellets.
  16. zinj

    zinj Well-Known Member

    Then birdshot is ideal for plywood defense. After shooting a few raccoons point blank with birdshot loads (they like to tangle with bird dogs) and seeing them carry on fighting I wouldn't trust the stuff for my security.
  17. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    Holy smokes a Winchester 1897 duel!!! You don't see those everyday!
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Birdshot for birds, Buckshot for a man size animal.
  19. gb6491

    gb6491 Well-Known Member

    :) ain't that the truth!
  20. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Well-Known Member

    Now if both of them had the bayonets (read, swords), perhaps it would have worked out differently.

Share This Page