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FIREARMS WEEK: Shot Patterns of Different 12 Gauge Loads

Remington 870 Express Tactical

 

REPOST: One of the big advantages to the shotgun is the ability to use different ammunition depending upon the application. Slugs can reach out and bird shot can cover a wide area at closer ranges. In an effort to gain a bit more knowledge over a few different 12 gauge shells – I decided to do a small test.

Up front – let me go ahead and state for the record I have always used #8 bird shot for inside the house, and 00-Buck for outside security.

OK – lets look at what I found……..

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First -the ammunition selection:

I obtained samples of standard 2 3/4″ shells of #8 shot, #6 shot, 00-Buck, and a specialty defensive load made by Winchester  – the PDX1 Defender.

Here are some pictures of the actual boxes. Yes – that Federal 12 gauge #8 box is old and still works great.

Remington 2 3/4″ #6 12 gauge/box

 

Federal 2 3/4" #8 shot 12 gauge/box

Federal 2 3/4″ #8 shot 12 gauge/box

 

Remington 2 3/4" 00-Buck 12 gauge/box

Remington 2 3/4″ 00-Buck 12 gauge/box

 

Winchester 2 3/4″ PDX1 12 gauge Defender/box

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Next – I wanted to see specifically what is inside each load:

What is inside a 00-Buck 12 gauge shell?               Click to Enlarge.

The 00-Buck (generally pronounced double-ought buck) in a 2 3/4″ inch shell holds 9 lead balls which travel in excess of 1300 fps. Each ball is .33 caliber.  Think about it………that is 9 .33 caliber lead balls traveling at over 1300 fps. Devastating.

What is inside a #6 load 12 gauge shell?                 Click to Enlarge.

The #6 shot load is typically used for taking small game such as rabbits, squirrels, and a variety of birds. The 2 3/4″ #6 12 gauge shell sends a load of .11″ mini-balls downrange at almost 1300 fps.

I did not get a picture of a #8 shot shell opened up. The #8 shells contains 1 ounce of .09″ lead shot and travels out the barrel at around 1290 fps. This shot is small – I mean very tiny. It would take more than 10 individual balls lined up next to each other to equal just 1 inch.

What is inside a 12 gauge PDX1 Defender load?    Click to Enlarge.

The Winchester PDX1 Defender is a unique shell in that it contains 3 00-Buck pellets along with a 1 ounce slug. This payload exits the barrel at 1150 fps. Here is a sales promo sheet for more information.

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Mossberg 500 and my Remington 870 Tactical

One of the main tasks that was planned was to document the shot pattern of these different loads at different ranges.

I ran several trials – 7 yards, 15 yards, and 25 yards. I took several pictures for each trial. Putting together this post I ran into a problem – many of the pictures just do not show the shot pattern unless the picture is HUGE.

With above in mind – I will summarize my findings and show some pictures that turned out good.

42″ inches cardboard target

All shots were taken at a piece of cardboard that measures approx 42″ inches across.

 

#8 12 gauge shot –  I shot from 3 distances……..7, 15 and 25 yards.

7 yards – At 7 yards the group was approx 16 inches and heavily peppered.

#8 – 7 yards    Click to Enlarge

15 yards – At 15 yards the group expanded greatly through the Remington’s cylinder bore barrel to close to 38 inches.

25 yards – I needed a bigger piece of cardboard  – many pellets impacted the cardboard however they were spread pretty thin.

 

#6 12 gauge shot – I shot from 3 distances……..7, 15 and 25 yards. Results very similar to the #8 shot.

7 yards – At 7 yards the group was approx 16 inches and heavily peppered – just a few rounds less than the #8 but larger holes.

15 yards – At 15 yards the group expanded to close to 36 inches or so.

25 yards – I needed a bigger piece of cardboard  – many pellets impacted the cardboard however they were spread pretty thin.

 

00-Buck – I shot from 3 distances……..7, 15 and 25 yards.

7 yards – At 7 yards the group was approx 7-8 inches.

00-Buck @ 7 yards    Click to Enlarge

15 yards – At 15 yards the group expanded to close to 14 inches or so.

00-Buck @ 15 yards

00-Buck @ 15 yards     Click to Enlarge

25 yards – Approx an 18″ inch spread. 

00-Buck @ 25 yards Click to Enlarge

 

 

PXD1 Defender

7 yards – At 7 yards the group was approx 10 inches. There are clear signs of parts of the wadding impacting the cardboard as well.

Winchester PXD1 Defense @ 7 yards Click to Enlarge

15 yards – At 15 yards the group expanded to close to 14″-15″  inches or so.

The PDX1 Defender load @ 15 yards                         Click to Enlarge

25 yards – The group opened up a lot. Spread was approx 28″ inches with the 3 00-buck pellets dispersed out and around the slug.

Winchester PDX1 Defender @ 25 yards Click to Enlarge

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Thoughts on results:

First – I was wanting to include 000 and 0000-Buck in the trial but was unable to locate any.

Second – 00-Buck continues to impress me with its power and shot pattern. As long as the shooter does their part – the shotgun filled with 00-Buck will do its part. I honestly expected the group size of the pellets to be much larger at 25 yards.

Third – The Winchester PDX1 Defender is an interesting concept – but overpriced in my book. I would rather load up with 00-Buck.

Lastly – I still like #8 or #6 birdshot for in-home use. Over-penetration is a concern of mine and these two loads certainly helps control that. I am planning on some penetration tests upcoming.

 

– – Rourke


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7 comments to FIREARMS WEEK: Shot Patterns of Different 12 Gauge Loads

  • CaptTurbo

    Nice job. Wish you had tested some #4 since that is what I keep for defense.

  • METHANE CREATOR

    Excellent review. I noticed Cheaper Than Dirt is now selling many, many different types of shotgun rounds that you can’t normally purchase in the big sporting good stores. Like Sabot rounds, flame throwers, fireworks, etc. Not sure of their advantages in defense, but the flame thrower that shoots a flame 100 feet would definately get someones attention!

  • Badger359

    Great work buddy, most people who shotguns havn’t a clue how there gun patterns except hunters.

  • Panhandle Rancher

    As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of shotguns for defense but will admit to having several 00 and 000 shot moulds by Lee along with moulds for 7/8 and 1 oz slugs. The shot moulds cast 12 at a time so it is quick work to accumulate pounds of the larger shot.

    PR

  • Rick

    good info, again. Thanks for what you are doing.I am thinking 00 and #4 for home defense.