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Newbie 12 gauge questions

Discussion in 'Ammunition' started by Bruski, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. Bruski

    Bruski .22LR

    Hi guys,

    Go easy on me as these questions are elementary. I've shot shotguns before (12guage) but I have no idea what the specs of those shells were. I'm about to receive my mossberg 500 combo gun and I'm looking to get some ammo. I'd like ammo for home defense and skeet/clay pigeon shooting and maybe some target range practice (slugs?). Can you guys tell me what I need to know or give me a general breakdown of the many different types of shells out there? Or even a general starting direction of what to buy would be great. Thanks!

    Btw I live in Southern California with many restrictions.

    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  2. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator Sponsor

    Hi Andrew!

    By combo I'm guessing it's a home defense/field combo? The HD barrel will be an open choke or cylinder bore barrel and I couldn't say about the field barrel but it will say somewhere on the barrel where it lists the chamber as being 2-3/4 or 3" for the size shells you can use. The constriction of the field barrel will affect pattern size. It could be a fixed choke or it could have choke tubes giving you more options.

    For home defense nearly any buckshot will work. My preference for s for the tightest possible pattern but within 10 yards almost all buckshot loads will make a single hole. Federal FliteControl will definitely make a single hole while a few will open to the point you can count individual pellets. Because of this some prefer a slug to buckshot. Some like #1 or even #4 buck.

    On the slugs, you'll want to use foster type or rifled slugs. They may even say hollow point rifled slugs but not sabots.

    For shooting flying targets, #6 to #8 birdshot generally works.
  3. Bruski

    Bruski .22LR

    Thanks for the response! Ok so for home defense I think a tighter spread is good but something that doesn't penetrate the walls easily for safety issues. I definetly want to put down an intruder tho. Yes I have the defense field combo with 2 interchangeable barrel sizes I believe 18 and 24 inches and pistol grip option. What is difference between the numbers for shells like #1 and #4? What's foster or rifled type slugs and what's the other option if you're suggesting these two? Thanks again - I know I can google these but a human response is nice once in a while.
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  4. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

    Shotgun will penetrate walls. Probably even if you hit the attacker in the process with it.

    Birdshot is for birds. Slugs, 0/00/000 buck are the only real choices for shotgun and home defense.

    Handgun is going to penetrate walls.

    Rifles are going to penetrate walls. Perhaps a little less so with certain calibers and is why so many police agencies use .223/AR15's because they are moving at high velocity and fragment better than some others. Other rifle calibers will go through many many many walls.

    At close distances that you will experience in a home invasion and with a shotgun, are all going to be a pretty tight pattern and won't spread out much regardless of what choke you are using. You still have to aim shotguns regardless of how close proximity you are, just as you would a rifle or handgun. If you expect a shotgun to spread out and fill an average size room with pellets, they simply won't. You'll have a pattern about the size of your fist at best.

    If you are worried about over-penetration, you may want to consider a tomahawk or baseball bat, or sword or something of the sort. That may sound smart alecky in print, but if you could hear my voice, it is not meant that way. I understand if you have to consider over-penetration, a firearm is probably not the most ideal choice if you have to worry about what's on the other side of that sheetrock.
    Bruski, SHOOTER13 and Rossignol like this.
  5. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator Sponsor

    00 buckshot is around .30 caliber. It will definitely penetrate drywall a couple times. I'm not positive the size of #1 buck but #4 is .24/25 caliber I think and #1 is a little bigger. There are lots of options in buckshot, I'd get a few or several kinds to practice with and see what looks optimal for you.

    Slugs will work too. But over penetration could be a concern for you there as well. On this topic, the two I mention are foster/"rifled" or sometimes referee to as hollow point rifled slug. In your smooth bore 18" barrel, that's the slug you want to use. Usually in a 2-3/4" 1 oz load moving about 1600 FPS. Federal makes a load using their TruBall which is a ball nestled in the cavity of the slug. The rifling of the foster slug is really swagged to help the slug fit or conform to the barrel. 12 gauge dimensions aren't the same across the board. Sabot slugs are expensive and are intended for rifled barrels. So rifled slug in smooth bore guns. Sabots in rifled barrels.

    Biggest thing, invest in ammo and practice. At home defense distances, even a load a buckshot can be precise making a single hole.
    Bruski likes this.
  6. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 Guest

    I've seen 12 gauge ammo tests by Guns & Gear / Gun Venture Guru Tom Gresham / Ryan Gresham and Top Shot Champ and Police Trainer Chris Cerino where all types of ammo...Bird Shot / Buck Shot / Slugs ...as well as rimfire and centerfire cartridges... were shot at and through different components of a modern dwelling...to include drywall / studding.

    99% of every type of ammo listed above totally penetrated one sheet of drywall / studs...traveled through an empty space of a few feet...and then continued to penetrate another sheet of drywall and studs...only to wind up penetrating water bottles or breaking balloons on the other side.

    The ONLY type of ammo that did NOT go through ALL the above listed components that most house interiors are built was BIRD SHOT !!

    Yup...Bird Shot.

    At combat distances...in your house or apartment...front to back...side to side...through a 12 gauge SD bore...you should use ONLY BIRD SHOT .

    The constriction of the lead leaving the bore will only open up a few inches in those few yards between you and the perp...hitting tight and hard.

    I didn't believe it until I saw it...and it changed my whole perspective on using 12 gauge ammo in a Home Self Defense environment.


    Don't know if your cable provider runs these channels / shows...Sportsman's Channel...and Outdoor Channel...but I DVR and watch them all "religiously"...lots of good ammo testing info.

    The videos I'm talking about can probably be found below...or on YouTube. Check them out and be fore warned


    Bruski likes this.
  7. Bruski

    Bruski .22LR

    I really appreciate the thorough and thoughtful responses guys. I think I just need to dive in and buy and try at the range. Maybe I'll consider rubber bullets (if such a thing) until I move out of my condo in a single family residence. Maybe the sound of a mossberg shotgun cocking will cuz the perp to surrender without shots fired lol.
    SHOOTER13 likes this.
  8. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator Sponsor

    I kind some stuff about birdshot at home defense distances;

    I did an image search for "birdshot at close range".

    Here's a not very in depth reference of shot penetration in gel;

    And a video,

    The image search will yield a number of photos (graphic) depicting trauma from close range shots. I didn't go through all the information to see what is from one kind of load or another but what the information points to is that at close range, 5 yards and less, birdshot can penetrate deep enough reach vital organs. It leaves a nasty hole. A heavy weight goose load doesn't seem to do much more than a lighter load of 7-1/2 target shot.
  9. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    I'm going to start reloading shotshells and one of the reasons is I'd like to test some lower-power shot shells for home defense situations.

    If I step out of my room into the hall and open up with the 12 gauge cruiser, any pellet that misses an intruder will go through my bay window, 20 yds & through a dry cedar fence board, thru my neighbor's kid's bedroom window, and their bedroom wall, too.

    If I'm standing up and they're laying down it might just all go over everyone, but there is very little except sheets of glass and the board fence, between me and my neighbors.

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