Winchester 20 Gauge Segmenting Shotgun Slugs for Defense
Russ Chastain 03.24.14
Winchester‘s “Defender” ammo has been around for a lustrum (fans of John Wayne will know that a lustrum is five years), and the line has recently seen the addition of a new load. This time, it’s a 20 gauge shotgun slug that goes to pieces when it hits something.
The company has had 12 gauge segmenting slugs on the market for a while now, and they must be fairly popular or else they wouldn’t have expanded into 20 gauge.
The slugs are designed to break into three pieces. Naturally, this would create three wound channels and reduces the likelihood of a heavy shotgun slug busting on through the bad guy and hitting someone or something behind him. Ballistic tests show impressive results.
Personally, I am on the fence about these loads. There is no doubt that shotgun slugs hit very hard, but most defensive shooting is done at close range under extreme stress, which argues for the greater “accuracy forgiveness” that buckshot offers.
I’m reminded of a time when a Federal agent asked my father what kind of gun Dad would want if he had to go into a house where armed bad guys were known to be. Dad was a long-time student of the gun, and he knew his stuff; this agent knew that. Dad’s answer: “I’d want a reliable 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun with an extended magazine crammed full of number 4 buckshot.”
I can’t say I disagree, and the agent in question followed that advice.
The new 20 gauge Winchester load leaves the muzzle at around 1600 FPS (feet per second) and is sure to knock hell out of anything it hits. Advantages of a slug are that you can reach a little farther with accuracy, and if you miss your target there are fewer projectiles to punch through walls and/or cause property damage or injury to others.
I think segmenting slugs are good, but in my mind I don’t see them eliminating buckshot as the best close-range shotgun defense round. What do you think?