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

birdshot question

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Mag_357TX, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. Mag_357TX

    Mag_357TX Member

    I have a question about bird shot, since it is one of the most readily available and least expensive loads out there today. I have heard from quite a few people that birdshot (although not as devastating as buckshot), can pack quite a punch and can be excellent for home defense.

    If this is true, I'd like someone to let me know what birdshot loads are the best for HD. Remember I know nothing about birdshot whatsoever, but I do have a shotgun so that's at least some progress lol...

    I have a little stash of 00 buckshot set aside for "rainy days", and that is what is currently in my Mossberg 500. But the 00 buckshot in the stores right now is nearly $1.00 per round, maybe more.

    The birdshot, however, is much less expensive. I just don't know what one to get. Trying to build a house out of full ammo boxes (just kidding).

    Help is appreciated.
  2. kyhunter

    kyhunter Well-Known Member

    Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration.
    Bird shot doesnt have enough mass to penetrate deeply and reliably inot a threat to stop it. It has been done and will be done again but I dont trust it. You dont have to use 00 buck. There are a lot of 1 buck and 4 buck shot loads out there and would serve you well.
    The smaller the number the bigger the shot just keep that in mind and realize a number 4 buck shell and a number 4 field load "bird shot" are not the same size in diameter.
  3. theblakester

    theblakester Well-Known Member

    The smaller the number birdshot, the larger sized(and fewer number) pellets. The larger the sized pellets, the more penetration. The more penetration, the more your chances increase in stopping an immediate threat immediately. Stick with buck shot. Bird shot is for little birds. It won't guarantee you enough penetration to reach the vitals. What if the bad guy is 250 lbs of big boned man and he's wearing extra clothing? Bird shot might not penetrate through his ribs and into his chest cavity.

    FYI #4 bird shot is smaller than #4 buck shot. #4 buck shot is smaller than #1 buck shot. #1 buck shot is smaller that 00 buck shot. 00 buck shot is smaller than 000 buck shot.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  4. Bobson

    Bobson Well-Known Member

    I know a decent amount about shot sizes and that confused me lol :uhoh:. The OP is gonna need a cheat-sheet to remember that.

    Here you go, OP. The picture was taken from http://www.info4guns.com/shotgun_gauge_ammunition.html

    Don't be confused by the middle row. Note that "BB" in the top row is the same size as "BB" in the middle row, and that's true of all the duplicate sizes.

    The smaller the shot size, the more pellets in the shell.
    In 12 gauge, 2.75" 00-Buck shells hold 12 pellets. A 3" 00-Buck shell holds 15 pellets.

    Buckshot is arguably the most effective HD tool you can use, but you need to understand that buckshot will blast through sheetrock walls and redesign furniture in the next room. Be sure of your target and anyone beyond it, please.

    I wouldn't feel comfortable going any smaller than BB. It's a personal choice though. I stock 3" 00-Buck for my shotgun.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  5. Virginian

    Virginian Well-Known Member

    I have no problem with whatever anyone want's to use for "home defense", but I will never understand why you guys think you need buckshot or slugs to practice with and blast jugs and such. I shoot $3.50+ each loads at waterfowl, but I sure don't practice with them.
  6. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

    If birdshot was all I had available to me, I have no doubt it would be pretty effective at stopping a violent attacker.....however if I had the choice, I would keep it loaded with 00 buck...

    Now if all you have available is birdshot, the common thing these crazy kids are doing nowadays is cut the crimp off the shell and pour out the shot, the mix the shot with melted wax and repour it back into the shell, creating a poor-mans glazer slug...... Now I have no idea as to the safety or effectiveness if said round, so proceed at your own caution.
  7. huntsman

    huntsman Well-Known Member

    birdshot wouldn't be my first or second choices for SD in normal times but I keep well stocked in 1-1/4oz #6 just for when times aren't normal and slugs/buck become rare or nonexistent, I'll take a 12 gauge with birdshot over a .22lr rifle for everything anytime.
  8. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    OP, another way to look at it is that the smaller the shot, the closer you have to be to the bad guy. Number 8 birdshot is deadly at 3 feet, 30 feet, not very much.

    FWIW, our state prison guards use #5 birdshot, but they accept the range limitations as most of their interior shots are close (cell) and the threat will have only a contact weapon.
  9. Mobuck

    Mobuck member

    How often do you think you'll need to use the shotgun for HD? Keeping it loaded with buckshot doesn't use up ammo unless you fire it. Using birdshot for practice is acceptable. Before I suffered shoulder injuries, I would do high speed short range practice on pop cans or clay birds. At 10 yards, with this type of practice, shot type has no bearing and the lower recoil allows more practice.

    I hesitate to get the birdshot defense thing started again. I've used #6 and #4 in a couple of instances on large animals and it worked. The #4 pushed pellets completely through a smallish deer @ 10 yards. The #6 shattered a bovine skull @ 10'. Birdshot is devastating to soft tissue at short range. Even if the shot charge fails to penetrate the clothing and heavy muscles of an agressor's torso, the sledgehammer impact is still there. Such a blow is bound to slow/stop the advance allowing followup shots to more vulnerable areas.
    Just remember, defensive shooting means stopping the threat which may not be killing.
  10. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    No matter what kind of ammo you use for defensive purposes, the three most important factors are reliability, reliability and reliability. In other words, the ammo HAS to run reliably in your gun. Some guns do not get along well with some loads, especially pumpguns and some semiautos - it seems the least expensive Winchester birdshot loads are the most common offender in that regard.

    Shoot enough of whatever you plan to use for defense to know it will work reliably in the gun - I have found that a "Rolling Thunder" drill equivalent (15 rounds as fast as you can load shoot and hit) will tell you if a given load will be reliable in your shotgun or not.
  11. Takem406

    Takem406 Well-Known Member

    I'd have no issue using a high performance upland load with a tighter choke in 4 shot. Inside decent home defense distances, it should work good.

    Like your Prairie Storm with the flight stopper wad patterns very tightly. It's almost like a slug for the first few yards.

    Tom Gresham says it works, so it must!

    In God and Glock we Trust
  12. 303tom

    303tom member

    I don`t have a problem using #2`s or BB`s in my HD shotgun................
  13. moonpie

    moonpie Well-Known Member

    I would prefer to use buckshot but i feel a certain amount of responsibility to my trailer trash neighbors. as long as i live in a mobile home park i will accept the limitations of birdshot.
  14. ball3006

    ball3006 Well-Known Member

    I will be nice and not give my opinion on what alot of you are saying about bird shot. At HD ranges, about 15 feet, bird shot makes a big hole in whatever you are shooting. It will kill you just as dead as buckshot. My HD shotgun is loaded bird shot, buckshot, slug. That is to allow for followup shots at possibily longer range. Don't believe me? Go to the range and see for yourself.....chris3
  15. Mag_357TX

    Mag_357TX Member

    @ ball3006 that's what I was thinking. Then again I've only shot birdshot at a duck and a paper target. Blew a hole the size of a basketball in that paper target at 25 yards. So I couldn't help but wonder what it would do to a thug at 10 yards or less.

    Obviously this would be a last resort, I'd go for 00 or #4 buck first.

    Like someone mentioned above, I live in a tight space with neighbors very close (urban 1 bedroom apartment) so honestly my shotgun is locked up and it wouldn't be my go to gun for HD. The only thing seperating me and my neighbors is a few layers of dry wall so I worry about over penetration. I have the 357 magnum for HD. I will NOT miss with that gun so over penetration is not a concern. Although I do pity the fool who God Forbid I ever have to shoot with that. But when I do finally get an actual house (which will be this year hopefully), I'll likely have the shotgun as the go to home defense weapon. From what I've read here I think I'll just stick with buckshot for HD cause reliability is always my #1 priority and although I know a birdshot can cause serious damage there are just too many factors to consider.
  16. GCBurner

    GCBurner Well-Known Member

    At across-the-livingroom ranges, an ounce of lead hits like an ounce of lead, whether it's a glob of pellets or a solid shotgun slug. Much further than that, the glob starts to spread out, and the energy dissipates, spreading the impact zone and reducing penetration. At 20 feet or less, it doesn't much matter what load you're using for home defense; at more than 20 yards, buckshot and slugs would be the way to go, but justifying shooting at someone at that range becomes problematic, unless they are also armed and shooting at you, or someone else.
  17. Inebriated

    Inebriated Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it hits like anything else, but you'd be hard-pressed to get any meaningful penetration out of birdshot. And I don't know about your state, but in mine, if they're in my house, they're in my house... doesn't matter if they're 20 feet or 50 feet away...
    Suck up the price and buy the buckshot. Where else do you find defensive ammo for less than $1/round? Buy enough to keep the gun loaded, and do some patterning tests at varying distances.

    Birdshot, while it "can" cause major damage, it more often than not just causes a psychological response by the person being shot. They don't become incapacitated, they just realize what happened and run away. And that's fine, when your intruder is some punk kid just looking for dollar bills, but when someone with more enthusiasm is down-range, you're going to wish you had something better. Practice with all the birdshot you want, but keep buckshot in the gun.

    And I'm over all the discussions about over-penetration... Training and having a home defense plan go a much longer way in keeping your neighbors safe, than choosing to use birdshot.
  18. highorder

    highorder Well-Known Member

    Until it hits ANYTHING. Anything at all. Shredding paper at a few paces gives people way overinflated confidence in birdshot. A big part of the hole is the wad. Tack your target to 3/4" plywood and fire that load of birdshot again. Look at the back of the plywood. See ANY exit holes?

    Shot does NOT penetrate. It's not like a slug. Its tiny pellets, close together.
    Each only has its own tiny mass to use for penetration.

    For some, not explanation is required; for others, not explanation will suffice.

    I load 00 buck and #4 buck for HD.
  19. Hunterdad

    Hunterdad Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't hesitate using a #4 turkey load in a pinch for HD. Other than that, it's 00 buck for me.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2013
  20. Texan Scott

    Texan Scott Well-Known Member

    I don't hunt birds. I have birdshot (#6 at the moment, not that it matters) strictly for paper. 7 1/2 or 8 would be fine if that's what's on the shelf and cheap.

    I keep #4 SHOT for stray dogs and vermin. It'll put down small (20-30 lb) critters well enough.

    For life & death applications, I have (currently) exactly 5 shells of 000 Buck. If I need any of them, it'll be a bad night; needing ALL of them is almost unimaginable. For $7.50 plus tax, even I can afford the peace of mind that 000 affords. My life and the lives of my wife and kids are worth it.

Share This Page