Shotgun Self-Defense Shot Size
Dr. John Woods 03.28.16
Shotgunners are still reeling over the mandatory requirement to use steel shot for waterfowl hunting. It messed up everybody’s plans and most shotguns in trying to figure out which shot size was the most effective with which choke tube. It’s still confusing.
So, what does this issue have to do with picking the most efficient shot size for a shotgun to use for self-defense or any other purpose for that matter? I guess it boils down to a mindset thing, and in practical terms testing out different shot sizes to understand real shot patterning and penetration for the specific shotgun/choke you use. Then pick the best overall shot size for a wide range of uses so that you are not having to tote different ammo for different applications.
This is similar to the debate over the best shot size to use for dove hunting. Some wingshooters swear by the 6-shot, while others use the 7 ½ shot or even No.8s. This may all depend on how the guns pattern, the ranges at which dove hunters shoot, and other conditions. Various factors also have to be considered for self-defense uses, including which choke works best.
First of all, is a shotgun being used for self-defense inside a house or building or outside in the yard or on the street? This could make a big difference in the shot size you choose. Obviously over-penetration inside a dwelling is a huge issue. This is not the place to use 00 buckshot having lead balls flying through sheetrock walls with the potential to hurt innocents.
I have read and studied many recommendations for what shot to use inside. The best choices seem to be the 4-5-6 shot. So you know, I would get pieces of standard sheetrock, back off 10 feet and see which shot sizes go through. Of course, there are wood/steel studs and insulation as well. I cannot imagine any intruder not being repelled or slowed by the use of these shot sizes.
Likewise, outside you don’t want deer killing sized buckshot flying around the neighborhood or city streets. Heavy buckshot can travel quite a distance and certainly still kill a human being. So accuracy is also a factor in all of this. It might just be the best route to plainly consider the shotgun a close range defense weapon and limit the shot sizes to the same for indoor use.