Friday, June 14, 2013

Birdshot For Self Defense?


An interesting video on the use of 12 gauge birdshot for self defense. This video makes a pretty compelling argument that birdshot is adequate for close quarters type self defense. A several inch deep hole the size of a fist is nothing to sneer at. If you are only worried about close distances and penetration is a real concern this might be something to think about.

We could probably call 00 buck the standard in terms of defensive shotgun loads it's 9x .33 caliber pellets is definitely not something to sneer at. Personally I like #4 Buck Shot it typically has 27x .24 caliber pellets. I like #4 buck for two reasons. First it has a lot of pellets that are IMO still amply sufficient. More pellets means more wound channels. The reason I like this is that it increases the chances a pellet or pellets will hit something very important (vital organ or essential bone) stopping the threat as quickly as possible. Sure 00B's shot is larger with more penetration but there are fewer chances a pellet will hit that artery or bone and stop somebody. Personally I think any sort of 2 3/4 inch BUCK SHOT is a fine choice for self defense. Slugs work too if that is your thing. Right now the bag of shotgun shells by my gun are 00 buck, not the preferred #4 buck, just because when I was digging for shotgun ammo that was the first sort of buckshot I found.

I can not in good conscience endorse loading defensive shotguns with bird shot. The reason is twofold. A lot of really smart people tend to agree bird shot does not penetrate enough to be a good choice for a defensive load. Second and more significantly my concern is that we are turning a 35-40 meter gun into maybe a 10 meter gun. That it's your home defense shotgun which theoretically will not leave home is a fine idea. However when you get into a fight things happen. Both the enemy and Murphy have a role in deciding how fights go. All of a sudden you could be behind a tree shooting at some meth head with an SKS behind a big rock 30 meters away with a shotgun loaded with birdshot. Granted one doesn't want to fight anybody carrying a rifle using a shotgun but that same gun loaded with buck (maybe with some slugs onboard) can fight at that distance.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe the 3" 12 ga. #4 buckshot gets you around 40 pellets, as well.
Pretty diggity-dang-dong-devistating, if you ask me.

Snoop-Digity-DANG-Dog

Ryan said...

Snoop, I am not a fan of 3" shells for defensive purposes. Just don't see the reason. First the extra power/ payload isn't needed. Second they recoil more which means a slower rate of fire. Third you get fewer shells in the tube.

Aesop said...

I have a co-worker who was shot at 3' with birshot.

The fail on that scenario was probably the notation that he was shot at 3' with birshot, and is yet my co-worker.

He has a metal shoulder stap, and a truly spectacular x-ray of the wounding pattern of birshot splattered throughout his shoulder, still there some 30 years afterwards.

But anyone who advocates using birshot for any sort of defense against anything without wings is an unreconstructed jackass, and doesn't know his @$$ from a hole in the ground where simple ballistics are concerned.

A leather jacket and a pair of Oakleys turns birshot into nuisance wounding, and inside of 20' versus a knife-wielding thug, will get you killed deader than canned tuna by a far more effective attack.

3rdman said...

The bottom line is if your jusitified in using deadly force than use the 00. Only a fool would somehow think using birdshot is an ok option.

tweell said...

I've seen the effects of birdshot at 20 yards - the guy walked into emergency. His chest was missing a lot of skin, but nothing penetrated past the ribs.

00 buck will go through most kevlar vests at close range where handgun bullets (and shotgun slugs) are stopped. I think I'll keep the 00 buck. Are you selling yours?

TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf said...

#1 buckshot is supposed to be the most effective in terms of ballistics, but I doubt a bad guy shot COM with 00 would know the difference.

Any kind of ammunition can kill, birdshot included. But, it's silly to use the wrong ammunition to the task when others are available.

Bret said...

First some reality about buckshot. Tweell was incorrect in assuming that buckshot will penetrate better than a bullet. buckshot, being round, penetrates less than a bullet therefore one should use the largest shot available, ie, 00 or 000. This is proven ballistics. Buckshot will not go through good soft armor. the larger pellet size is need to get penetration. #1 is nice but not as heavy as 00 or 000 so not as good penetration.

Joshua Tolley said...

I'm not necessarily advocating this, but you could certainly put birdshot in as, say, the first shell, and fill the rest with some sort of buckshot.

Ryan said...

Brett, I didn't bother to correct that one but you are right. Buck shot will not go through soft armor, at least on the first shot. Hips n' heads, hips n' heads.

Joshua, I've heard of folks doing something like that. Personally I want the same load throughout unless I make the conscious choice to load a slug.

Anonymous said...

Sure sounds like a number of commenters haven't spent much time with shotguns or just are in the habit of making grand proclamations to show their smarts.
Out until 3 yards or so depending on the barrel length/choke and shell design, the pellets are largely still in the configuration that they left the barrel in. They hit similarly to a slug, but transfer their kinetic energy far more rapidly translating to greater damage but less penetration. Same concept used with hollowpoint rounds or even those Glaser (sp?) rounds sold for home defence. Birdshot has faster kinetic energy transfer than buckshot which has faster energy transfer than slugs. Penetration runs in the opposite direction naturally. As long as your impact distances are prior to the pellet spreading beyond adequate penetration, birdshot is devastating to any target. #6 bird shot will put a 1-2 inch diameter hole in 3/4" plywood at less than 3yards with signficant blowout. A simple experiment you should due yourself with any shotgun round you chose is take an old sheet of 3/4" and blast away at various ranges and compare with what you may face. You might be surprised at what you see.

I have done this and found birdshot to be ideal for every room/hallway in my house. I am not a fool as some commenters have proclaimed. Birdshot is ideal for when you have to worry about loved ones behind the drywall in another room. tough situation to be in when you have are facing an armed intruder who is between you any your little one's room. In that case buckshot is the absolute worst thing you want as you have to worry about multiple projectiles heading in a really bad direction.
Aesop, your coworker is wrong on his distances. A 3 feet, the birdshot will still be in the wad.....he wouldn't have a shoulder.

And naturally, to jump on the bandwagon of grand proclamations, only an unmitigated fool would keep only one weapon handy for defending his castle.

Expat said...

While Grouse hunting in the Colorado Mountains I cam across a deer sized sheep that had a hind quarter gnawed on by coyotes. Had a load of #4 shot in the 12 ga. From 50' or so the head shot killed it stone dead.
My home defense shotgun has 1 7/8 oz. of #4 BIRDSHOT up the spout with 00 backup.
Course I live on 20 rural acres and that shotgun has multiple uses but I have had enough confidence in it to have kicked full grown black bears out of the house with it. As you might expect, my aim point isn't center of mass on large critters - 4 or 2 legged.

pdxr13 said...

At close ranges (10M?) with an 18" cylinder barrel, it's very possible to just plain miss with a shotgun under worse than well-lit square-range conditions. Then, it doesn't matter what kind of pellet/slug you are using. If the BG with a knife is advancing on you, perhaps the M16 bayonet attached to the Mossy 590 lugs will be most effective at getting a retreat/ surrender going? No reload required.

On the topic of ammo, has anyone done a comparison of steel/tungsten/lead pellets vs. BG soft armor (NIJ 3a) at knife-range (10M)? The short range makes ballistic coefficient less important, but sectional density would still be.
I would ass-u-me that the harder pellets would do better at not deforming to be "caught" by the strong fibers in soft armor, but I've been wrong before. :-) How about tungsten fin-stabilized darts fired as part of a plastic slug carrier?

I don't have a range friendly to such testing, nor a surplus of LIIIa vests to sacrifice. Plenty of documentary capability if you do.

Cheers.

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