Best Shotgun Loads for Home Defense

Shotguns have been used for home defense for centuries in one form or another.
But the real question is, what’s the best home defense load for your shotgun? Let’s figure it out.

For a thug, nothing can be more terrifying than the sound of a pump action shotgun racking a shell into the chamber for sound deterrent? This will make even the most hardened criminals think twice. Obviously, sheer intimidation will not always solve your big problem. Well what do you feed your shotgun against your home invading foes? Well below are Remington 12 gauge shotgun shells opened up for you to see the actual payload. Impressive, isn’t it? Well, each load from size 7.5 on the left to even the mighty shotgun slug on the right has a purpose in home defense.

Birdshot is a favorite of many home defenders. At close range, the blast of these lightweight small pellets hit like a solid fist. The thug in the picture on the right caught a blast at close range. Certainly, this is a postmortem image. Now, a shotgun is called a scattergun by many for a reason. The shot fans out quickly. The fellow in the left picture caught a shotgun pellet blast at a farther distance. He is in pain, but certainly still breathing and ultimately quite angry.

Birdshot has excellent track record for up-close-and-personal with minimal penetration to household walls. If the distance is somewhat far, better think bigger, such as the smaller sized buckshot loads.

The handy size chart shows a size comparison of how these projectiles stack up against each other. All of these sizes in a pinch can be used for home defense, but personally, I would begin with nothing smaller than size 8 for close range. Number 4’s would be even better.

Remember as distances and any obstructions you might encounter get larger increase the size of your projectiles. Save the largest sizes for shooting through cover or barricades. Remember those larger projectiles will keep going and walls may not hold them. In urban settings, loads of 00 Buckshot get the job done against man and beast alike.

What about heavy shotgun slugs? Unless you are living in big bear country or have to shoot through heavy barricades save shotgun slugs for big game hunting. A thousand plus pound bear knocking down your cabin door takes more to stop than a home invader. As with hunting load for the target.

My advice to all who want to use a shotgun for home defense is to buy a selection across the different sizes of projectiles. Then, take various items, like drywall, plywood, gallon jugs of water, etc. and other materials and test what those loads do to them at the gun range if allowed.

This target practice will allow you to see how powerful your shotgun really is. Then you can make the right decision of what shotgun load will be the best pick for your own home defense situation.

Sources: Remington, Winchester, Eric Nestor

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