Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense

Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense

This is a discussion on Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have a Remington 870 Express that has been sitting in my safe for about the last 15 years. I pulled it out the other ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Corytr's Avatar
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    Shotgun Ammo For Home Defense

    I have a Remington 870 Express that has been sitting in my safe for about the last 15 years. I pulled it out the other day, cleaned it up and decided to make it into a home defense gun. Trying to keep it simple and not tacticool; I set it up with a new 18" barrel, +2 extension tube, light, and a new Hogue stock and forearm.

    Now that it is almost built, I don't know what to use for ammo as I have never had a HD shotgun before this. I have a bunch of 00 buck coming and a bunch of slugs. I was thinking that I will put the slugs behind 3 or 4 of the 00 buck shells, but am seriously reconsidering that for my situation.

    I live in a 1800 square foot house in a neighborhood of half acre lots so my neighbors are relatively close. I also have two kids and a wife so over-penetration is a definite concern. I do plan on shooting it a lot in order to completely re-familiarize myself and to regain my complete trust and competence with the shotgun.

    So, my questions for you are:

    - Is my thinking on the 00 buck off for my situation?
    - Are the slugs a terrible idea, or should I keep them loaded as final rounds in my tube?
    - What size ammo would you use in my situation and why?
    - Is there a big difference amongst brands like there is with JHP rounds?
    - Anything else I really need to consider before I load this puppy up and consider it my HD gun?

    Thank you all in advance, and I am already learning a lot from all of you!
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    #00 will certainly have solid penetration in an assailant. #1 isn't far behind. But #4 has noticeably less penetration by comparison. Many recommend going to #4 if fewer/thinner barriers are between you and bystanders. Would depend on the nature of those barriers, and the distances involved in your situation. If stoutly-built block wall homes, there is probably far less risk than the average lightly-built "stick" framed house with thin drywall sheets.

    Also, consider your defensive zones and lines of fire. If intruders would be fired upon in certain spots, most likely, evaluate what the flight path would mean in terms of penetration risk. Bystanders might well not be in those lines, depending.

    Indoors, in a home where I were concerned about overpenetration, then based on penetration evals I've seen I'd opt for 2-3/4" #1 at most, possibly even going down to #4. Or, going 20ga instead of 12ga. And I'd skip the slugs, for indoors. But, that's me.


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    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array Caertaker's Avatar
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    ccw9mm's given a pretty good answer already - as always. My HD gun is a 870 Wingmaster with a short barrel loaded with 00 buck although I'd prefer #1. Here's a video of one of my favorite YouTube personalities demonstrating the myth about bird shot. How can you not like a guy that the local law enforcement turns to when they want to evaluate a new gun?

    "I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations” – James Madison 1788

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array 5lima30ret's Avatar
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    At inside your home range #4 should be more than adequate. Be sure to pattern that load at the distance you will likely have inside your home. Good luck!
    Retired Police Lieutenant, Former MH-53 Pave Low Gunner, Retired USAF Reserve, Glock Armorer, AL Retired LEO Pistol Permit, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, LEOSA Qualified
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    I prefer Federal Premium flight control #1 buckshot 2-3/4".
    Pattern your 870 with whatever load you choose to use. This is important!
    "Don't shout for help at night, you may wake your neighbors"

  6. #6
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    I played around with some and decided on #4 shot, not buck, just #4, gave a good density and was effective for "household" distances.
    Charlie P.

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  7. #7
    Member Array Corytr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molleur View Post
    Pattern your 870 with whatever load you choose to use. This is important!
    I'm not sure what you mean by this??

  8. #8
    Distinguished Member Array craze's Avatar
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    I keep mine loaded with standard 9 pellet 00 buck loads. I'd be comfortable using any buck shot load at hallway distances including #4 buck. I believe in keeping things as simple as possible. I don't try to stagger multiple loads in the magazine. I pick one round fill the tube. If one doesn't do the trick I'll send more of the same as needed. No slugs for me for home defense.
    "Some people go to bed with Lucifer..........then cry, cry, cry when they don't greet the day with God."

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    I personally have my HD gun loaded with 2-3/4" 00 buckshot. Honestly I haven't looked too closely at the smaller buckshot loads, but from what I know I don't see a big benefit in terms of reduced penetration through walls. Maybe #4 will penetrate fewer walls on average, but then you have something like 40 pellets to worry about instead of 9, and every one is potentially lethal to someone if it happens to make it through.

    I think any quality buckshot load would be fine. Brands don't vary as much as defensive pistol rounds. Slugs are probably not too beneficial, unless you're worried about a BG taking cover behind something very substantial.
    Edknn likes this.
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  11. #11
    Distinguished Member Array Chuck R.'s Avatar
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    I use #1 buck, but not just due to over penetration concerns.

    According to some testing I read #1 "reliably" obtains sufficient penetration to be effective, so does OO. Standard #1 load is 16 pellets at .30", so that's 16 chances of hitting CNS/Vital organ. Whereas OO buck has either an 8 or 9 pellet payload at .33 diameter. So doing the math for surface are of TGT covered by payload:

    #1 =16 x .30 = 4.8"
    VS.
    OO = 9 x .33= 2.97"

    So "in theory" the #1 load should be more effective as long as it's used within the distance that it achieves the desired amount of penetration.

    Number 1 buck is the smallest diameter shot that reliably and consistently penetrates more than 12 inches of standard ordnance gelatin when fired at typical shotgun engagement distances. A standard 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge shotshell contains 16 pellets of #1 buck. The total combined cross sectional area of the 16 pellets is 1.13 square inches. Compared to the total combined cross sectional area of the nine pellets in a standard #00 (double-aught) buck shotshell (0.77 square inches), the # 1 buck shotshell has the capacity to produce over 30 percent more potentially effective wound trauma.

    In all shotshell loads, number 1 buckshot produces more potentially effective wound trauma than either #00 or #000 buck. In addition, number 1 buck is less likely to over-penetrate and exit an attacker's body.
    Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo

    Chuck
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  12. #12
    Member Array Grizzly1922's Avatar
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    I would use the Federal FlightControl 00 Buck.

    Make your hits count and stop the threat.

    Over-penetration is a risk with handguns, shotguns, AR's...all you can do is mitigate the risk by knowing your backstop and putting the buckshot where you want it...

    I would not put slugs in the tube. I would only load up on slugs if I had to make a 50-100 yard hit, which for most civilians is probably not a realistic home defense scenario. I would keep some handy though, you never know...
    maxwell97 and Bad Bob like this.

  13. #13
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    3.5 inch number 4s 4 me! Are the 3.5s needed? Probably not! But if you have to sling some lead you might as well sling all that you can.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    I use Federal flight control 00 buck. I would not worry about slugs, when I do use them I just use 1oz Foster slugs. My 870 is set up similar to your, tube extension and a light.
    My rifle and pistol are tools, I am the weapon.

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  15. #15
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly1922 View Post
    I would use the Federal FlightControl 00 Buck.

    Make your hits count and stop the threat.

    Over-penetration is a risk with handguns, shotguns, AR's...all you can do is mitigate the risk by knowing your backstop and putting the buckshot where you want it...
    Though, that's easier said than done. It's simple enough to miss. And in a populated household or with neighbors nearby on the other side of thin walls, all it takes is one.
    Chuck R. likes this.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: Why the Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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