Shotguns are one of the most preferred firearms for home defense today. Their ease of use, reliability, and hard-hitting power make them a viable option even for beginner marksmen. In fact a shotgun can adapt to many different situations including hunting, self-defense, or sport shooting. However, choosing the right ammo for your shotgun directly reflects how well it performs in different scenarios. In other words, you need to choose the right shotgun ammo for your intended purpose and performance.
Buying Shotgun Ammo
Unlike rifles and pistols, the ammunition for shotguns is measured in gauge instead of caliber. The gauge number denotes the power and range of the shots which is measured by how many lead balls the shotgun barrel can hold to be equal to 1 pound. Additionally there are different lengths of shotgun shells, the most common being 2 ¾ inches, 3 inches, and 3 ½ inches. A 12 gauge shotgun should be able to handle shells of all of the above lengths with relative ease.
In general, there are three types of shotgun ammunition: Birdshot, Buckshot, and Slugs. Birdshot, as the name suggests, is used by hunters to shoot birds or small animals. A birdshot shell carries the smallest shotgun pellets, typically made of lead or steel, which scatter outward when the shot is fired. With this type of shotgun ammo, the range and damage to the target are dependent on the number of pellets in the shell. Although birdshot is not recommended for home defense, it can be perfect for target practicing and clay shooting in addition to small game hunting.
Buckshots, on the contrary, can be used for self-defense because of its superior stopping power. Buckshots are generally used for hunting deer, coyote, and other game animals and they are powerful enough to penetrate car doors and metal plates as well. The pattern of buckshot increases with range, and the larger the buckshot is, the greater its stopping power. However, the extra power here translates to more recoil as well, which is why buckshot is not recommended to beginners using a shotgun for clay shooting or target practicing.
The third type of shotgun ammo, slugs, characteristically denotes a shotgun bullet that usually weighs around one ounce. Slugs can replace the projectiles in birdshot or buckshot, and effectively increase the range and power of the shot. However, you need to have good aim to shoot using shotgun slugs, as it uses a single projectile and not a set of pellets. Additionally, the recoil is also higher when compared to using shotgun birdshots or buckshots. Regardless, slugs can be a fantastic option meeting the needs of an expert shotgun user. Whether you’re hunting, target shooting, or concerned with self-defense from wild animals, a slug is often enough to stop a bear in its tracks.