Which 12 Guage Shells for HD / SD?

Not open for further replies.

Boba Fett

Dec 9, 2008
Texas ~ Join the NRA & TSRA
Looking for a good HD/SD load. General consensus from what I've read seems to be that 00 or 000 buck are the best choices.

Having looked the largeselection of SD rounds out there, it's time to get some other people's opinions. I'd put a poll in, but there are just too many options out there.

The following contenders are what have pretty much caught my eye:
Federal Personal Defense Low Recoil 9 pell. OO Buck
Federal Vital-Shok Flite-Control 9 pell. OO Buck
Federal Vital-Shok Flite-Control 3" 12 pell. OO
Hornady Superformance Full Power 8 Pellet OO Buckshot
Hornady LE TAP Low Recoil 9 Pellet OO Buckshot
Hornady LE TAP Full Power 8 Pellet OO Buckshot
Centurion LE 2 3/4 Multi-Defense Buck

More info for the shells listed:

Other suggestions are welcome with the exception of anything Remington.
I posted in a similar thread a while back. Read this.

For me, it's a matter of what's available locally for volume practice, and what patterns best from my gun. In my case, it's a 9 pellet 00 load from Winchester, or Federal flitecontrol 00 loads.
Keep in mind that the Flitecontrol loads don't open up much at all in 7 yards or so... perhaps an 1" to 1.5". It's a great law enforcement loading and good for longer range defense use! But if your range will be 5 to 7 yards in a home, you may want a load which will open up to perhaps 3" or 4" in 7 to 8 yards.

Personally, I will only use FliteControl stuff outdoors where the ranges are beyond 9 yards. And really, I don't expect to be doing much "home defense" shooting with my shotgun outdoors at beyond 9 yards. But outdoor defense work on my property may be more likely when the SHTF in this fragile country of ours and all hell turns loose. Generally speaking, my in-house HD range is no more than 9 yards and much more likely to be about 5 to 7 yards. At that range, I don't see FliteControl as helping me any, in fact it could be argued that it's possibly less effective than standard 00 Buck at close range.

I would recommend you order a box of four or five different loads and test the patterning AND the feel in your Maverick. I just did this with my Stoeger Coach Gun, 18.5" Mossberg 500, and 20" Mossberg 590. Of the six or seven different 00 Buck loads I tested, the load I like the best is Winchester Ranger RA1200 Low Recoil, 9-pellet, 00 Buck. I like the spread at in-home distances and the load is comfortable to shoot. Price isn't bad either if you shop it right.

At in-home distances, probably ANY 2 3/4" 00 Buck 9-pellet load is going to perform relatively well for you. The bigger difference will be in felt recoil... standard velocity, or low recoil. I'm comfortable with either, but the low recoil stuff gets the nod.

Outdoors at longer ranges like 10 to 15 yards is where you will really see differences in the patterning. And here is where you'll want to change over to a FliteControl load. Regular 00 Buck is great at close range, but patterns too widely at greater distances.

Whatever the brand, I think you should stick with 00 Buck, 2 3/4" shells, and probably the low recoil stuff unless you are really comfortable and quick with heavier 12 ga. recoil. The low recoil stuff is very effective, comfortable to shoot, and quick to return to target. Standard velocity for 2 3/4" 9-pellet 00 Buck is 1325 fps. Low recoil stuff is about 1175 fps. Plenty fast enough!




Get some ammo and do some testing!
Last edited:
Stay away from 00 Buck except for intermediate to long range. #4 Buckshot for in and around the house.
Home Defense Shotgun Loads

If your an apartment dweller, over penetration will be a problem. Especially if you have others in the apartment, and the people across the hall too. Suggest heavy bird-shot loads for apartment dwellers, size #6 up to BB.
If you have a home and room around your property, then use 00 or 000 Buckshot. As posted above, buy some shell and test the pattern, and pray you never have to use them.
Last edited:
I get cases of the Fiocci low-recoil 8-pellet 00 buck shipped to me via mailorder; it's cheap enough to practice with, it shoots well, and it patterns well for my uses.

I am in the camp that says that bird shot is not an appropriate load for HD if you actually intend to, you know, stop an aggressor. We've done that subject to death, and rather than pollute this thread with more of that I will refer y'all to the search function. You will not lack for reading material.
Not open for further replies.