Numbers Game: Buckshot For Home Defense | USCCA

The shotgun is regarded as the “ultimate problem-solver” when it comes to personal and home defense. There is no denying its wound potential or hit potential. However, the shotgun is underutilized because many shooters do not take the time to master the piece.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

#4 00Buck is arguably the best home defense round.


Justin–which one? My understanding is that #4 and 00 are two different sizes of buckshot.
I’m more a fan of #4 for home defense.

This is a good read.

From speaking with folks in and outside of my classes, I have very few that consider a long gun (shotgun, AR, other) as a home defense firearm. It does have it’s place but isn’t as popular.

Hypothetically, if your home is under siege, no doubt it would be the firearm of choice. Don’t forget your extended ammo tube to hold an extra 4-6 rounds.

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I have been told that slugs should not be used in a barrel with a choke. What is your advise on that?


I wouldn’t advise slugs with an interchangeable choke tighter than Improved Cylinder simply because of the thin wall that is left after threading. Even then it would take many rounds to cause any noticeable cosmetic damage.
However, a slug in any shotgun with a fixed choke, even Full, isn’t going to hurt anything other than your shoulder. Slugs are really soft and meant to deform. They also will not be as accurate after passing through a choke. You’ll not likely notice that, though, inside of 30 yards.


Agree with Robert on the ‘nothing bigger than IC’.
The toughest thing about a shotgun shooting slugs is the second shot. LOTS of recoil, and getting on target for a second shot take practice. Punishing practice.
Please remember that a 12 gauge shooting a 3in slug gives the shooter more recoil than a .375 H &H magnum. I love shotgunning. I don’t like shooting slugs.
There are options that hurt a lot less that don’t compromise much stopping power.

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Any idea on the merits of the steel shot verses the lead?

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@Joe61 , I almost addressed this in my previous post but, thought it TMI. I guess not. :slightly_smiling_face:

Most newer manufactured shotguns will be perfectly capable of handling steel shot and should be noted as such in advertising material. This is due to steel shot or other being required for waterfowl and other reasons (lead cancer in California).
Older shotguns, with barrels of milder steel, can often develop a bulge just behind the choke due to the hardness of the shot that it must compress. Again, this is only an issue with repeated firing. In an “emergency situation” , it’s fine to use whatever you have.

As for the ballistics of the shot, lead will retain it’s velocity, and therefore energy, for a greater distance due to weight.
For a home defense situation, though, that’s really a non-issue. And thick books have been written on the subject.

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I have went with Steel T-Shot in my house guns, both have fixed IC Chokes. In a 2 3/4 in. has 54 .20 cal. pellets. A 3in. has 74 .20 cal. pellets. In my Ithaca Defender at 50 yds. it shoots a vertical, elliptical pattern of 4 ft. up and down. I have taken Coyotes at 60 yds with T-shot.
Less over penetration with steel shot but better killing power then smaller lead. Just my opinion from my observations and tests. :+1:

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I have Hornady Critical Defense 00 buck shot that has a fps of 1600. This will be my self defense ammunition. Consideration not only when your firing in a residence to cease a threat, the family members throughout household, but if the ammunition will fire past your target and become an issue to neighboring houses. Slugs are not suggested in Home defense because it can go through walls and potentially outside the home. And while bird shot is cheaper, it’s more likely not to stop a threat.

Also to note, when in a defensive situation, a shotgun will not have enough liner feet to actual throttle open and spread in a living space. Your pattern will most likely be a tight grouping on the target.

My target at 25 yards shooting 00 buckshot 1425 FPS with a bullpup shotgun. I still have a 18” barrel length but designed to be close quarter self defense.


Thanks guys.

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I like using the Mimi slug’s and Mimi buckshot in my Mossberg 500 mine will hold ,8 in the tube and one in the chamber making it nine and you don’t have the recoil

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That was a really great read - thanks!

One thing I would love to find out is what are the effective ranges for each type of load? I understand the pattern spread, but I also know that a 12 gauge doesn’t have the range of an AR-15.


First thing, Tom, welcome to the community! You’ll find a lot of good info and conversation here!

When you ask about “effective range”, do you have something in particular in mind? That’s an awful lot of info to cover in general.

ETA: you may not have noticed - in the OP, there is a Continue Reading button that will display the entire article. You’ll find some of that explained there.

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Wow - thanks for the quick response! in terms of range, I was thinking about impact/lethality. I would expect the pattern spread for 00 buckshot to be pretty broad at, say, 50 yards. But at that distance would the shot still give effective penetration?

I understand that there are a LOT of variables involve. From experience, for example, the range of bird shot is pretty short.

Thanks for the info!

@Tom73 I thought this was a good test, well done. :+1:

That was pretty good, Bruce. I also saw several in the Up Next column that looked interesting.

@Tom73, yes, still a lot of variables involved - shell length, load weight, powder amount, velocity, choke constriction, barrel length, etc, etc…

In keeping with the thread title, though, let’s stay with Home Defense and Buckshot. Is that okay?

In response to your question in comparison to an AR - 5.56 or .223 is going to have MUCH greater range than even a 12 ga slug from a 28" open cylinder barrel. That slug will hurt bad even at 250 yards but, as far as being ‘lethal’, I would not count on that much past 75 yards. I’ve taken a deer at that yardage.

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That video told me exactly what I was looking for - thanks so much.

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Got it - thanks for the help :slight_smile:

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