16 shotgun loads patterned for SD with a twist...

This is a discussion on 16 shotgun loads patterned for SD with a twist... within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; For those that are new to shotguns, let me explain what patterning means. Patterning only applies to shot or buckshot. We fire a certain load ...

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Thread: 16 shotgun loads patterned for SD with a twist...

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    16 shotgun loads patterned for SD with a twist...

    For those that are new to shotguns, let me explain what patterning means. Patterning only applies to shot or buckshot. We fire a certain load at a target at some distance(s) to see where the pellets strike the target. And that’s called patterning a shotgun.

    I’ve recently experienced a renewed interest in shotguns and decided to see for myself what loads do what. So I went to two stores and wound up with 16 loads that I felt appropriate for HD (Home Defense) and headed to the range.

    Purpose:
    Just about every shotgun patterning session I’ve seen deals with the spread of the load at some distance as do the patterns I shot and will show here. A good bit of my motivation to do this was to identify the best rounds to meet my goals for HD. I have two simple goals: minimize recoil and maximize spread at 7 yards. Some consider 5 yards to be about right for SD; some homes could justify 10 yards, - combined rooms, long hallways, etc. so I think I’ve picked a happy medium at 7 yards. That’s not the twist, but I'm getting there, hang with me a bit.

    I not only wanted to see the pattern, but I wanted to see what would happen with a near miss. Unlike some that believe in a life or death gunfight, they won’t miss a shot, and in the case of a shotgun ALL pellets will not only hit the threat but, no doubt will be perfectly centered on the COM (Center Of Mass). However I believe it’s just possible I might miss, just barely of course, never by a whole inch or anything that huge . So I wanted to know what to expect from a near miss with each load.

    A shotgun is very unique in that you can miss and hit at the same time!!! . I’ve done a bunch of reading and research lately and I get two impressions of what is commonly believed about shotguns. One is the belief that a shotgun should produce tight patterns. I read time and time again about how tightly this load or that load patterns. Some manufacturers have taken advantage of that ill conceived notion and produced very tightly grouping loads. And, tight patterns might be spot on for hunting, but this is commonly believed for SD (Self Defense) ranges and applications too.

    THAT MISSES THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE SHOTGUN!!!!

    The heart and soul of the shotgun is that it fires multiple pellets in a spread pattern. If it won’t spread the pellets, you might as well be shooting a big bore rifle with limited range.

    Pellet spread as a desirable thing, seems to be lost lately. Why have they been referred to in the past as scatterguns? The spread pattern of multiple projectiles is a good and desirable characteristic. The spread is more forgiving, as we shall see, for POI (Point Of Impact) error, it spreads the impact out over a larger area which should produce more trauma to larger portions of the body, and if our aim is off a bit, and we’ve chosen the right load, the spread catches the threat and inflicts serious wounding. They may not be incapacitating, but the will certainly degrade his abilities and probably momentarily disorient him – it may even incapacitate him.

    Here's the twist:
    Soooo, it is important to me to find a load with a wide spread at 7 yds, so here's the twist of a twisted mind - I fired three shots, one low center a complete hit for pattern clarity followed by two intentional near misses to see what I get from various loads. The first miss is on a shoulder and the second a near miss on the head. For the shoulder miss, I aimed at the edge of the silhouette where a bullet would just graze the arm at just about the point of the shoulder. For the head, I aimed at the ear lobe. I think when you see the pics, you’ll see where the term ‘shotgun effect' comes from.

    WHAT OTHER GUN CAN YOU MISS HALF YOUR SHOTS AND HIT HALF YOUR SHOTS ALL IN ONE SHOT!!!

    So you can miss and still hit with up to 10 or so shots depending on the load used! That’s why we want spread, not tight groups.

    The following pics cover two posts because I can only get 12 pics per post and I have 16 pics.

    Ok, because my preface has been fairly long, I’m going to the second post for the first 12 pics.

    The test gun is a Benelli Supernova Tactical with a pistol grip. It's essentially a pump shotgun with an 18.5" barrel and I think it's a fixed modified cylinder choke - I'll have to look that up.
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    All the info I have on the loads are included with the pics. Remember there are three shots with each load, a low center, centered on the lower ‘9’, and two near misses. You’ll see I occasionally got a load a bit left or right so you may have to use your imagination to visualize the miss a bit nearer, or simply based on the pattern realize that sometimes, with the right load, even a bad miss is still a hit.

    And, for those that are not quite as familiar with buckshot loads, especially at close ranges, what you're looking for is the small holes - those are the pellets. The larger, quite impressive holes, are made from what is called wadding. I'm not sure what damage we could expect from wadding at close range, but I have seen wadding about 6 inches deep in ballistic gel. I expect if the wadding hit an eye, the BG (Bad Guy) is done.

    As you look through the pics, keep this in mind: unfortunately all the low recoil loads I patterned, while very appropriate for 7 yds, exhibit objectionably tight patterns. This also includes Hornady TAP reduced recoil but I don’t have a pic to include for the TAP, but it does produce ‘too-tight’ patterns.

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    I always figured the purpose of a shotgun was that something's gonna hit the target. Eagerly awaiting your pics.
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    Thanks for taking the time to post. I'm interested in your findings on specific loads. I have 3 mossy pumps with 3000 rounds of Rio Royal 9 pellet "00" buck for SHTF. I would like to add a few cases of other loads as well. Looking for "4" buck at the moment but the market is a bit tight now. Cant wait too see what your finding are.

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    Cool thread did I overlook the firearm specs

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    A shotgun is very unique in that you can miss and hit at the same time!!!
    This is why my shotgun is my #1 go to for HD.
    Don't believe what you hear and only half of what you see!
    -Tony Soprano

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alien1 View Post
    Cool thread did I overlook the firearm specs
    You didn't - I forgot to put them in - added to the OP. Thanks for catching that!
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    Quote Originally Posted by varob View Post
    This is why my shotgun is my #1 go to for HD.
    I understand that now!
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    Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post it up. Maybe we should all pass the hat to pay you back for this volunteer effort. Kudos mr moderator.

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    Seems to me this is a bit contradictory to your previous post on shotguns as there's no "stacking" of pellets and you demonstrated the lack of penetration of individual pellets. I doubt those miss/hits would stop an intruder who is high on drugs. Two things not being addressed is the construction of a .223 copper jacketed bullet vs. a pellet and the interesting things that happen over 2000 fps. If you look at the center of those miss/hits, where a bullet would strike, it would do a lot more damage - tearing out meat and bone. I would much rather have a marginal hit with a bullet to a shoulder/jaw bone/side of skull than a shotgun pellet. Would really like to see some gel blocks that are only hit by 2 or 3 pellets.

    Is it great that the pellets spread out despite the lack of penetration or great that they penetrate better when stacked? Always seemed funny to me that people who praise the shotgun for the spread of the pellets, with resultant loss of penetration, criticize 32 acp's. WRT marginal hits, what about all the talk of 32's being ear/eye guns?

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    Senior Member Array Chuck R.'s Avatar
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    Really couldn’t disagree more with wanting more spread for an HD shotgun.

    Since you “technically” own every pellet fired, why would you choose a choke/load combo, that both decreases your potential number of pellets on the target, thereby decreasing your effectiveness, while at the same time increasing your odds of hitting something unintentional, increasing your liability?

    Seems to run counter to what I was taught in 2 combat shotgun classes and pretty much everything I’ve ever read about defensive shotguns.

    Chuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by nedrgr21 View Post
    Seems to me this is a bit contradictory to your previous post on shotguns as there's no "stacking" of pellets and you demonstrated the lack of penetration of individual pellets.
    Well then you've missed the point of the threads. I made it clear in my other post, it was NOT undermining the stopping power of a shotgun. The point of the first thread to keep the shotgun in perspective and not to over-estimate low recoil rounds at long ranges.

    When has there ever been any doubt about penetration at 7 yards? Again, the point is to keep a safe perspective. Shotguns are proven stoppers within their range, and that range is dependent on what it's loaded with. This thread deals with 7 yards - even low recoil has ample penetration at 7 yards, unfortunately it could use a bit more spread. The other thread looked at the shotgun over longer ranges, which requires more powerful or a different kind of ammo. Remember the 40 yard example? And that was exactly the point - don't let the power of a shotgun be deceiving, especially low recoil rounds, and at longer ranges.

    I think I see what this is really about though. You've somehow taken this to mean that your .223 would not be a good choice for a HD gun. This is not about that at all. I have carbines myself.

    I, as well as many others, understand the shotgun, its capabilities, and its limitations. If you prefer a .223 that's fine, but this isn't about choosing a shotgun over a .223; this is about choosing a load for a shotgun for HD ranges.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck R. View Post
    Really couldn’t disagree more with wanting more spread for an HD shotgun.

    Since you “technically” own every pellet fired, why would you choose a choke/load combo, that both decreases your potential number of pellets on the target, thereby decreasing your effectiveness, while at the same time increasing your odds of hitting something unintentional, increasing your liability?

    Seems to run counter to what I was taught in 2 combat shotgun classes and pretty much everything I’ve ever read about defensive shotguns.

    Chuck
    I know it does. In a perfect world all that liability is in the forefront. When your life and your family's life is on the line and things are happening at flash speeds before your eyes, I doubt many are going to be thinking about liability.

    I'm not talking about being reckless here, I'm talking about we're trying to shoot to stay alive and protect our family.

    I've been to Gunsite 6 times, one was a 5 day shotgun course, Thunder Ranch, Blackwater twice, and Tactical Shooting Academy. so I am familiar with the liability thing. The problem with that is, schools don't really deal with misses. They warn of a lawyer attached to every bullet, but they don't bother to mention that LEO only get about one hit out of four shots - that means they missed three times.

    The schools assume if you shoot in a desperate life or death situation, that you will ALWAYS hit the threat, be it a handgun, shotgun, or carbine. But that's not real is it?

    Were you taught to pick the tightest grouping load? If so, wouldn't that be a slug? What if you miss with that? And if you're going to shoot with a slug or a buckshot load that groups like a slug, why use a shotgun at all?

    What if you miss with a .223 for that matter? The BoxOtruth shot a .223 through 12 drywall boards and never did find the bullet - it didn't stop.

    Most consider that a 9mm will penetrate walls better than a .223. If that's true, what if we miss with a 9mm? A 9mm has far more momentum and energy than a 00 pellet. That makes a stray 9mm more dangerous through more barriers and over longer ranges than a 00 pellet.

    It's unreasonable to assume that in a dynamic, life or death gunfight that every shot is going to be a hit. I'm not at all suggesting we be careless or reckless. I am talking about choosing loads to maximize the probability of getting .30 caliber (or larger) rounds on the threat even if they have to be peripheral until I can get a better shot off.

    I think in a life or death situation, we do what we have to do to survive. I doubt we're going to be giving much thought to liability if we miss a shot if we're desperately trying to saver our life and our loved ones. What if the BG misses you, while you're waiting to shoot when he gets in a safe direction to minimize liability of missing him and his shot hits someone?

    There's enough shotgun loads so that each person can choose something to fit their situation. If you feel the tightest load is best to protect your family, then use that.
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    Misses do happen regardless of caliber or platform, but based on your theory, you’re setting yourself up by increasing the odds that you’ll miss.

    And if the target is beyond the 7 yard mark? What happens if you must exit your house and take the fight to a longer distance? What happens IF you must take a shot past a family member that’s been taken hostage?

    Would you really be happy then with a loose pattern then?

    Do you do a slug drill or change loads?

    So we have to ask: Is the benefit of getting a hit that should have missed, because we chose a loose patterning load/choke combination, more beneficial than a tight patterning load/choke that remains on a target at a greater distance, thereby increasing the effective range of our shotgun and decreasing potential liability?

    I’m subscribing to the latter.

    Chuck
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