Here are some ammo options for your home defense shotgun.
When it comes to home defense situations, most people like to rely on shotguns to protect themselves and their family members. It makes sense. Most self-defense scenarios take place in close quarters and happen quickly. Odds are, you aren't going to have much time to think in a home invasion. Any shooting you do will likely be instinctive.
Today we're going to discuss the best shotgun ammo for home defense on the market today. These are shells that are reliable and will serve as a great deterrent from any scattergun during a home invasion.
We'll also give a brief overview of some other factors to consider when determining the type of shotgun ammunition that is best for your home and situation.
Factors to consider.
Normally, we'd just hop right into our recommendations on an ammo list like this, but we feel there are some things you need to consider before buying your shotshells for your self-defense gun besides close range stopping power. The big one is the layout of your home. Most home invasion scenarios will likely happen at night, so where are other family members sleeping? What are the dangers of over-penetration though drywall or wood? You don't want to shoot at an intruder and accidentally hit a family member.
If you live in an apartment or small house with tight hallways and small bedrooms, you might be better off considering birdshot than buckshot loads or shotgun slugs just for the safety of others living in the home. Experts like Jerry Miculek consider No. 6, 7.5, or 9 birdshot to be more than adequate for personal defense. These smaller pellets may not have the knockdown power, but it's still going to painful for an intruder and likely more than enough for them to second guess their life decisions.
If you live in a home with few others or alone and have no worries about wayward pellets hitting bystanders, buckshot or 3-inch Magnum shotgun slugs may be a more viable option. Consider also the type of gun you are using. Pump action shotguns like the Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 will generally shoot almost anything. Some semi-autos can be finicky about what you feed them depending on the make and model, especially if it's a low recoil load. Some shotshell lengths will also cycle more reliably out of some guns than others. It's worth racking through a variety of different ammo types at the range to find out what shotgun loads work best in your firearm. Shoot the ammo on paper to see how it performs. Are you getting a wide or a tight pattern? What's going to work best for your home and your situation? You owe it to yourself and your family to figure that out ahead of time.
We know ammo is tough to find right now, but if you can locate any of these shells, you can rest assured that they will keep you safe in an emergency.
Hornady Critical Defense 12-gauge 00 Buckshot
We're going to start things off with shells made specifically for home defense. You may already be familiar with Critical Defense since the ammo line is extremely popular for concealed handguns and AR rifle platforms. This is a 00 round with eight buck pellets in 2 ¾-inch shotgun shells. With a muzzle velocity of 1,600 fps, you're looking at some serious stopping power from almost any 12-gauge shotgun. The only downside is the price. You're looking at nearly $2 a round or $18.99 for a box of ten. Expensive, but reliable when you need it the most.
Winchester Defender PDX1 Slug & Buck
The eternal debate among gun enthusiasts about shotguns for defense has always been: slug or buckshot? Slugs offer more stopping power while buckshot offers more room for error in a stressful scenario. Winchester decided: "Why settle?" The result is the slug and buck. This 2 3/4-inch load has a one-ounce rifled slug and three plated 00 buckshot pellets out of the same round traveling up to 1,150 feet per second. When something goes bump in the night, you can rest assured you're covered at both close and long range.
Federal Premium Personal Defense
You'll find that many law enforcement agencies around the country trust Federal Premium for their shotgun ammo and they offer several different varieties of their "Personal Defense" line of shotshells in both 12 gauge and .410 bore handgun loads. The 2 ¾-inch, 12 gauge loads deliver up to nine pellets of copper-plated lead 00 buck at the target at 1,145 fps. They also sell a variant called "FLITECONTROL" that delivers even tighter patterns for anyone who demands accuracy.
Fiocchi Extrema Aero Slugs
If you are looking for the knockdown power of a slug in your self-defense rounds, the Fiocchi is a solid choice. These 2 ¾-inch shells allow you to fit more in the magazine tube. These shells hold a one-ounce rifled slug with what Fiocchi calls an "aero" wad. The company says this helps stabilize the slug in flight. These slugs have a blistering 1,560 feet per second muzzle velocity, so they're going to offer more than enough stopping power for most defensive scenarios where you have space and don't need to worry about where your rounds are going.
Fiocchi Game and Target
Technically, this more of a dove and clay pigeon round, but if you live in apartment or anywhere else where over-penetration is a concern, this is a solid option. Consider 6 or 7.5 shot size. Depending on the circumstances, a shell like this may be less than lethal to humans. However, the shot is moving at 1,250 fps. It's going to hurt and it's likely going to scare an intruder from continuing an attack. The great thing about this round is that you're looking at only about 32 cents a round. Plus, it's going to be easier to find during shortages and it has a plethora of sporting uses beyond just defense. Grab a few boxes when you can and keep them around for emergencies.
The great thing about this load is that it can be found almost everywhere ammo is sold and it is usually always available, or more is on the way, even during shortages. Again, this is a game bird round, but it's a simple option for making an intruder think twice about their life decisions. Consider a one-ounce load of 6, 7.5, or 9 shot. Winchester says the muzzle velocity is just under 1,300 fps, which is probably going to dissuade 99 percent of attackers. You can get Super-X for around 34 cents a round, making it a great budget conscious option.
Remington Express Magnum 00 Buck
Ammo shortages are a fact of life and when other rounds are available, these Remington shotshells usually are. These are magnum 3-inch deer loads pushing about 1,225 feet per second in velocity. There's nothing fancy about these shells. They're designed for close range stopping power and that's what they deliver in a simple, and reliable no-frills package.
Winchester Super-X 3.5-inch 00 Buck
If you're looking for pure stopping power in a more affordable package, these 3.5-inch magnum buckshot rounds should do the trick. These rounds deliver 18 pellets of 00 buck at 1,200 feet per second. Many hunters use this round on feral hogs and other tough animals. If it will stop a hog, it will also stop a home invader. The only downsides are that it is expensive and it can be hard to find during ammo shortages.
Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 00 Buck
We already mentioned Fiocchi's defensive slug. They also make a quality low recoil 00 buckshot round specifically for defense purposes. Each shell packs nine pellets of nickel plated lead shot going 1,150 feet per second. These are 2 ¾-inch shells and the price point is good considering the type of ammo being sold here.
Winchester Defender PDX1 Segmenting Slugs
One of the more unique self-defense options on the market today. Winchester says they wanted to combine the best features of both slugs and buckshot into one defensive round. The one-ounce slug from this 2 ¾-inch shell travels at a blistering 1,600 fps until it hits a target. Then it segments into three pieces to cause more damage. We've heard of deer hunters having some good success with this one because of how the segmented pieces damage internal organs. They are expensive, but that's to be expected of a specialty self-defense round like this.