#4 Shot for Emergency Self-defense?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by BlackHand1917, Jul 19, 2022.

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  1. BlackHand1917

    BlackHand1917 Member

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    During the first ammo crisis during the Obama Admin when the ammo shelves were entirely bare, I started buying the only ammo I could find at the big box stores, which was 12 guage birdshot. After the crisis passed I sold of some of the 7 and 8 shot stuff at the local gun shop and they were happy to buy it. However, I kept some of the shells wth the larger pellets. Just how useful would something like #4 shot( non-buck )or BB be for self-defense? Marginal? Useless? In recent weeks I have been augmenting my stocks of 00 Buck but doing it gradually for money reasons. Should I use the smaller stuff just for training or is it basically useless?
     
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  2. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Better than a sharp stick.
    Seriously, at 10 yards and under, it's still gonna put the hurt on someone.
    Of course the BB and #4's will still be useful for training, shoot em up as you stock up on 00 Buck.
     
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  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    #4 is Better than #8 shot… BB is nothing to sneeze at. I’d not select it over buckshot unless I was really worried about overpenetration through walls, but I would not feel unarmed with it either. That will mess a target up quite badly up close.
     
  4. kudu

    kudu Moderator Staff Member

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    From hunting experience, have killed red and gray fox at 50-55 yards with #4 birdshot, copper plated lead. Killed a coyote with BB at 40 yards, it was also copper plated lead. At those distances had several pellets penetrate 3-4", which is half way through those particular critters. Inside of 30 feet the trauma damage would be significant on a human target, 10-15 feet a large gaping wound with 50-70 pellets in a 5-8" circle several inches deep. Ideal for self defense? not really but it would do the job if I had nothing else available.

    I keep quite a bit of #4 buck available, does well out of most of my shotguns, have some 00, but would prefer the pattern density of #4. If it's past 50 yards I have an assortment of rifles to choose from.
     
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  5. Electrod47

    Electrod47 Member

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    No. 4 Shot is a lethal load. LAPD had this in cruiser shotguns for years, ( Back in the day. )
     
  6. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    There are two good videos I have found to help answer this question. First is by the late and great Jeff Quinn, that tests #8 birdshot. Now #8 is smaller than #4, but it still would be an effective load if that is what you have. I keep a couple shells of Winchester AA Heavy-8 on my HD shotgun as a just in case everything else fails or I have to shoot a small 4 legged critter.



    And here is a more in depth look by Paul Harrell. Specifically looking at the penetration capability of using #4 and #8 birdshot.

     
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  7. Barbaroja

    Barbaroja Member

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    I use #4 shot as an all around size for hunting and farm defense. I load 1 1/4oz for 12ga. Largest thing I’ve shot has been some very large raccoons at about 40 yds. Plenty of energy to penetrate the skull at that distance. At normal self defense range it would stomp a mud hole in someone. Better than buckshot for self defense? Nah, but a viable option all the same.
     
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  8. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    I ask, how would you feel after some 4 shot entered your frontal side at 10 feet? I sure wouldnt want to be on the receiving end of it. Even 6 shot is gonna F some stuff up at that range.

    I have my HD shotgun, a 20ga pump, loaded with two 3" 4 shot turkey loads followed by a few #4 buck rounds.
     
  9. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    No. 4 BIRDSHOT or #4 BUCKSHOT? I'm going to assume you're talking about the latter. They aren't the same thing.
     
  10. BlackHand1917

    BlackHand1917 Member

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    BIRDSHOT Actually. I know #4 Buck is good for self-defense.
     
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  11. gwpercle

    gwpercle Member

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    At the distances inside a house ... we are talking house protection so I'm thinking 40 - 50 feet inside a house is about the range ... 50 feet not yards .
    At say 15 yards ( 45 feet ) Shoot some targets with #4 shot .... just may surprise you how tight the patterns are . Shoot a couple water jugs ... it will do more damage than you think .
    At that range a 12 gauge w/ #4 shot is very viable ... shoot center mass and if centered a person will not turn and walk away .
    I would hang onto the #4 bird shot . I keep mine loaded with #4 Buck shot only because it was on sale and I didn't see any #4 bird shot !
    Gary
     
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  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Well, if for EMERGENCY self defense, you have to go with what you have on hand.
    Fortunately I had some 4 Buck to repulse Covid Zombies.
     
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  13. gila_dog1

    gila_dog1 Member

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    That's what I have in my 20 ga. It's job is to deal with bad critters up to the size of coyotes. I killed a coyote at about 30 yds near my chicken pen with it a few months ago. It really whacked the coyote. The main reason I use the #4 birdshot instead of bigger shot is because I have neighbors all around me, maybe 100 yds away. And I don't want to send projectiles flying in their direction. I don't even use a .22 rifle around here for predators. It's just too dangerous. But the #4 bird shot will do the job within 30 yds or so and be much safer beyond that. The trees are pretty thick around here and they eat up the small shot before it goes too far. But bullets or large shot are harder to stop. I have buckshot handy if I need it, but what comes up first is #4 lead birdshot.
     
  14. Phaedrus/69

    Phaedrus/69 Member

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    All self defense is an emergency; if it's not an emergency it's not self defense. There are vanishingly few self defense situations that can't be resolved with a dozen rounds of 00 Buckshot so I can't see why one would deliberately choose something less effective. Good buckshot isn't cheap but you don't need a ton of it. Ideally you'd train with the same stuff you're keeping for HD but in a pinch I'd use full power hi-brass birdshot to train. You can debate the best loading, for sure. 00 is more or less the standard but an apartment dweller might be better served by #4 buckshot, some something in between. But unless you have really unusual mitigating circumstance I see no good reason to keep anything but buckshot in the gun for defense (note: one of those circumstances might be your shotgun is for camp defense in bear country; then slugs are a better choice).
     
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  15. skfullen

    skfullen Member

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    I always preferred number six shot for squirrels, rabbits, etc. Number four tore them up too badly. I would not consider myself badly armed if I had to use the number 4 bird shot on an intruder at close range. Granted, number 4 buckshot would be ideal. 0 buckshot would also be fine. 00 & 000? Well, now you are able to keep them away from your house while you load your rifle.
     
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  16. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    #4 buckshot used to be the go-to working load for social stuff. FBI and many other agencies liked it for more pellets, and reduced past-target hazard over the heavier buckshot rounds.I had it back when I was a shotgun for home defense type guy. But then the science era of terminal ballistics took over, and it became obvious that once ranges open past conversational, where you are more likely to be using a long-arm, the lighter pellet is awfully shallowly penetrating. In addition, the reality of the risk of liability (being responsible for every shot) became clear, that a wide spread is no good and bystanders are real likely to take a #4 pellet in a gunfight. Hence the reduced-recoil 8-pellet 00 that rules the roost now: better control so all the rounds are where you expect them to be, adequate penetration to reasonable ranges.

    #4 birdshot is quite small. As stated by many: in an emergency you dance with the one you brung, but I'd be reluctant to consider anything over 10 yds to be covering fire and by 25 it's practically a less-lethal round on humans. At 0 - 7 yds or so (depending on your gun) its a single column so will put a moderately deep 18 mm wide hole in someone, so slow them down pretty well. At near contact ranges, even people with soft armor won't enjoy it at all, though it won't penetrate.

    A box or two of good defensive buckshot should not be unaffordable. Practice with the other stuff but keep the 8-pellet 00 loaded up when you get home, for bad days.
     
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  17. N555

    N555 Member

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    My grandfather would poach deer with high brass 1.5oz "pheasant shells" as that was the picture on the box, loaded with number 4 bird shot. From about 15-20 feet away it will put a hole in the chest of a deer.
    I have tested number 2 lead "bird shot" on coyotes, it was probably worse than buckshot. It's was just holes and blood everywhere.
     
  18. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I don’t have any #4 for an emergency but if that’s all I had, I suppose I would do the best I could with it.

    Would not be my first choice but not at the bottom of the list either.
     
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  19. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    My personal opinion is I do not want to be shot by number four or number eight. I think both are likely to be relatively effective self-defense loads if all you have is a shotgun and that particular load.

    A face full of number eight shot is a whole lot better than begging for your life and hoping the miscreant is willing to let you live.
     
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  20. Weflyfast

    Weflyfast Member

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    #4s on ducks and crooks ! .....#4 Buck is better on crooks....but at living room distance....#4 will make a mess out of things-
     
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  21. 270OKIE

    270OKIE Member

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    Honestly 3.5in BB would be a pretty wicked close range round cause a crap ton of 17 cal pellets at 1400fps at 7 yards would be pretty incapacitating unless the dude is on meth. But that would be for an emergency use, like oh no I just got back from goose hunting and am making dinner and that's the only gun within arms reach type of thing. But for real, as others have said, get some 000 or 00 buck. 3in 000 buck is pretty nasty, 10 36 cal pellets at 1200fps will hurt for sure, lol.
     
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  22. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I much prefer buckshot. But if it isn't available, or if I ran out of buckshot, I'd start using the largest birdshot size I could get my hands on. I have some 3" steel BB loads and some #2 and #4 steel loads left over from when I was doing a lot of waterfowl hunting. I might have a box or 2 of lead #6 loads, but after that I'd have to go to #7 1/2 or #8 skeet loads.

    Birdshot can work at very close ranges and if the person you have to stop isn't wearing heavy winter clothes. But I'd not make it my 1st choice by design. Maybe by necessity. IMO even buckshot is overrated, not that it can't be effective, it's just not a magic death ray.
     
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  23. jar
    • Contributing Member

    jar Contributing Member

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    #4 shot is what I choose for my Night Time bedroom shotgun and just a double barrel 20 gauge with Mod/Full chokes.

    At night it is always there beside the bed along with whichever handgun I carried that day. I chose that setup since I will not be using it to fire further than four or five yards and the goal is to gain time to get one or more of my handguns and put on my glasses. The chances of facing anyone wearing heavy clothing is virtually nil, maybe three or four night a year. At that range the #4 shot should get someone's attention and even without my glasses and in the dark I am relatively sure I would make an impression.

    [​IMG]
     
  24. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Any 12 gauge shells that fire in your shotgun are not useless for training. #4 is typically used for things like turkeys and ducks. It would not be ideal for antipersonnel use- the win would definitely go to buck for that application. At very short range, any shell would be devastating to a human. Push it further out, and the effectiveness would start to sharply decline in terms of potential lethality, but definitely would be very unpleasant to say the least. Several of them to the face would be really bad, and any in the eyes would blind the opponent and make him/her ineffective in continuing the attack.
     
  25. GJeffB

    GJeffB Member

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    I seldom disagree with BigBlue 94, mainly because he has a kewl Bronco. Having said that, when he said
    I was ready to reply. [stay with me] I really reject the "how would you like to be shot with [--insert anything--] " argument. BUT, he very correctly followed with, IMNSHO,
    Well stated

    I've often touted a mid-gauge scattergun of choice, with a mid-sized game load (#4 shot to #4 buck) as a reasonable HD solution to stopping, penetration, and sufficient spread in extreme stress situations, so he won my vote.

    -jb, shotguns aren't just close eyes, yank trigger and clear the whole living room
     
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