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Thread: 3 1/2" Shotgun round for home defense?

  1. #21
    Boolit Master

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    Um, I have a load with 15 00 in a 2 3/4" shell, and believe me, that is all I want, things kick like a mule. Only thing I use 3" shells for are my Tri-ball loads, I seriously don't want to think about 3 1/2" shells after those 2 loads. Freaking things go 30' out of my 930...

  2. #22
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peregrine View Post
    I'm surprised to see so many people advocating for bird shot here. Stick to #4 buck at least.
    The OP mentioned people in other bedrooms. With birdshot you won't run the risk of killing a family member if you miss the bad guy.
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  3. #23
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Have you guys who knock birdshot ever actually shot anything with 7.5's at inside the house ranges? Really, have you?

    Doves flying at 50-60 yards are a far cry from a meth head in a cotton tee shirt at 12 feet.

    Not that someone might not be picking shot out of him too. But at close range birdshot, any birdshot tears a bloody rat hole. Or at least it did in everything I shot at too close a range.

    And when your talking inside the house, we are talking exactly that, too close a range.

    Once they are out of the house and fleeing you will have a hard time convincing a Judge and Jury that you were in danger of losing your life.

    So inside the house, what size houses you guys live in?
    If I picked the right spot I could fling a cat into any of the 5 rooms on my main floor. Total distance from center to any corner less than 15 feet.

    So why do I want a load for 40-50 yards?

    Think it through guys. Then go shoot that chicken in a pants leg at 15 or 20 feet and tell me what you find.

    My final word on this subject is this. Thanks to the Grace of God I have never been in that situation where I had to pull the trigger. But I have a friend who has. Kid was 19, too drunk to talk, lost, confused, and slammed my buddy's door hard enough to pop the lock and let him in. When my buddy told him to get out the kid hit him in the head.

    My buddy then warned he was calling the cops and getting his shotgun, he got hit again. So he went for his shotgun, turned, and the kid grabbed the barrel. At that point my buddy was right up against it. He pulled the trigger.

    Kid made it down one flight of stairs and maybe 20 feet distance before curling up in a corner and dieing.
    He was wearing a blue jeans jacket, and a denim shirt over a tee shirt. Got shot in the abdomin with a a load of 2 3/4 7.5's.

    Cause my buddy and me had talked this subject to death. He was living in an apartment house, 8 units in that building with another 8 units across a driveway. He could not take the chance of buckshot or slugs.

    Thats good enough for me guys. Not quite DRT but close enough.

    You want to load buck or slugs, your life. Me I'll leave mine loaded with 7.5's YMMV.
    Last edited by GhostHawk; 03-10-2017 at 10:50 PM.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master
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    I use an H&R Topper 18-1/2" ported 12 ga all the time on our farm on skunks, feral cats,etc. #4,#6 work great out to 30 yards. I guarantee they'll do indoors just fine - along with #7-1/2. Best, Thomas.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master
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    I have to agree with M-tecs.

    At very short ranges a column of shot behaves more like a solid slug than a mass of individual pellets. At very short ranges it doesn't matter what is in that shell unless we're talking about shooting something like steel plate. Against a human at very short range it's going to do a LOT of damage regardless of the pellet size.

    As for penetration of interior walls, pretty much the same thing. I wouldn't count on a couple pieces of 1/2" sheetrock stopping any load fired from a shotgun within a house. Even #8 pellets are likely to penetrate if the ranges are short. That being said, if I must use deadly force within my residence my primary concern would be to hit my target. Not missing will eliminate any overpentration issues.

    As for 3 1/2" shells, I'm not sure they would be any more effective at those incredible short ranges.
    Longer shells reduce the capacity of a tubular magazine but unless you're missing a lot, how many shots do you really need. I would go for 2 3/4" shells just for the reduced recoil and higher capacity.

    It's also important to have a realistic understanding of the pattern at short ranges. The pattern of 9 pellet 00 buck stays very tight regardless of the choke used at short ranges. No choke or full choke will make very little difference inside of 10'. Most buck shot patterns open about 1" for every yard beyond about the first yard from the muzzle but they're all very tight inside of 3 yards. A shotgun is an excellent home defense tool. It doesn't need to be concealed, it doesn't need to be carried long distances, it's simple to use under stress and it's very effective.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master Blood Trail's Avatar
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    True, at close distances,, within 7 yards or so, birdshot is like a solid mass. After that, it spreads and energy drops off. So unless you only plan for firefights with intruders at a few feet, then you gotta be prepared for a gunfight that might extend beyond that range.

    With all the specialty HD loads on the market, I still dont know why people rely on birdshot.

    When it comes to protecting my family and property, birdshot just doesn't fit my needs.


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  7. #27
    Boolit Master leeggen's Avatar
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    Set up an experment and see what you shot gun loads will do. In most houses it will be like a slug, the shot will not have time to open up much at all. I suggest setting up some plywood or just drywall set up you home distance and run the gamet. You might be fooled when you see the results.
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  8. #28
    Boolit Master
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    I know this is off of what was ask but for bird shot I seen what it did not do to a coyote.Just to state that it only sit under the skin and the coyote was all heal up from it.Just to give you a idea of it.I know at close range it will be different. just to let you know what bird shot if it is not close range.I have taken bird shot out of a few coyotes i trap.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    Possibly relevant story:
    My wife's grandfather is a purebred hunter not very interested in self defense applications. He mentioned to me that when a murderer escaped near his house, he took one of his shotguns and had it loaded next to the bed. He chose the .410 on the grounds that it was handier. Wouldn't be my choice, but he's put more rounds into things that were alive than I have. That's not nothing. And a handy .410 load of birdshot in the face would blind even if it didn't kill, a blind threat may sue you later but will have a hard time hurting you and your family right now.

    Now that I have kids, I don't have my shotgun for SD anymore, I changed to a handgun so I could have it in a quick access safe. I'd rather have my shotgun cruiser ready by the bed, but with toddler that's not a great idea. If your needs have changed it might be time to consider changing weapons. The Pistol Caliber Carbines might be something to look at, or possibly even a handgun.

  10. #30
    Boolit Master

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    I'm in the 2 3/4" camp here also. My home defense shotgun is loaded with 2 3/4 # 4 buckshot. At most home defense ranges there wont be much spread to the pattern more of a slug hit than a shot hit. I would recommend doing some patterning and testing with square paper targets made from a 3 ft roll of construction paper ( available at lowes home depot menards) at actual distances. It will be an eye opener. Also test several different loads in your shotgun as they all perform differently in different guns.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master
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    Why waste a chicken --stick a 1/2 gal.jug full of water ,inside a pant leg, and watch what a load of H.V. 12 g #4's does inside 30 ft.. Translate that into what a baddies liver would look like..!! Onceabull

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerpetualStudent View Post
    Now that I have kids, I don't have my shotgun for SD anymore, I changed to a handgun so I could have it in a quick access safe. I'd rather have my shotgun cruiser ready by the bed, but with toddler that's not a great idea. If your needs have changed it might be time to consider changing weapons. The Pistol Caliber Carbines might be something to look at, or possibly even a handgun.
    That's a good point. I do keep my Glock 21 for my primary home defense. And to someone else's point, I don't plan on missing my target. But the hollowpoints in my Glock are designed not to over-penetrate. I guess I was thinking about taking special precautions for the shotgun because as the shot spreads most pellets might hit the bad guy while one or two might be too spread out and miss. But I think my thinking is wrong now. At the short ranges in play in a HD situation there won't be much spreading going on. And if I abandon my 3 1/2" shells in favor of something milder I'll be less likely to over-penetrate my target in the house. I'm starting to get more comfortable with 7-1/2 in 2 3/4" shells.

    That being said I really like those Aguila 1 -inch 12 gauge minishells. But this article says some people have trouble with them feeding in their shotguns I may have even more of a problem than most with my 3 1/2". But I did a little Googling and found this guy running them flawlessly in my exact shotgun. After a little more research ruling out the Aguila minishells in slug or buckshot I think I'm sold on the 7 1/2 Aguila minishells for home defense.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    So I swapped out my 3 1/2" 00 buck with 2 3/4" 7-1/2 shells I had on hand. Then I went online to see where I could buy some of the minishells. It appears that nobody carries them anymore.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master


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    I'm no expert on shotguns but recently got interested in hunting coyotes with them so patterned some #4 buckshot loads at about 25-30 yards (didn't measure carefully). I was using a full choke so maybe not realistic, but I'm also guessing average home defense ranges is less than a third of that. Anyway, it patterned well and there was a big wad in the bottom edge of the pattern where the wad went through the target cardboard.

    I think inside a house, ANY 12 gauge load is going to be instant death with a solid hit. I'd opt for the lowest recoiling loads I could find in order to get second or third shots off if there are more than one intruder.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master

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    If your worried about penetrating walls ... why not reinforce the walls?

    Put a layer of 5/8" plywood on next to the existing sheet rock, then another layer of 5/8" dry wall ... with them all three sandwiched together ... it will be alot more resistant than three seperate layers ...

    You said one distance was 50' while the other two were 12' ... test your chosen load at the 50' range ...

    Remember shooting inside is loud! Shooting inside without hearing protection is really loud! I'm just guessing ... but the 3.5" will make more noise than the 2.75" ...
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  16. #36
    Boolit Master

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    Remember all 12 guage shells have the same pressure limitations, the difference is strictly payload, the longer shells hold more shot.

  17. #37
    Boolit Master



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    http://www.shotgunlife.com/shotguns/...pressures.html

    SAAMI tells us that whether using 2-inch or 3-inch 12-gauge loads, the maximum allowable pressure level of such shells is 11,500 psi

    SAAMI allows 14,000 psi max pressures for 3-inch, 12-gauge shells.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    A short 20 ga double barrel aka coach gun with 1 oz of #6 lead or #3 buck is gonna end any threat at 30'. Quick handling, one hand if need be, and quick reload with good ejectors. Get a piece of 5/8" plywood and do your own testing.
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  19. #39
    Boolit Master Tenbender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7Acres View Post
    I wanted to ask my question here because I trust the experience you all have. So... I've got a good "shotgun house" where I can stand at my bedroom door and I've got a clear shot at all 3 doorways to the outside. I have a Benelli Supernova that can accept 3 1/2" shells. I liked the idea of dumping 18 00 pellets into a bad guy with one pull of the trigger. So I keep 3 in the tube and 1 in the chamber anytime I'm not hunting or practicing with it.

    I wasn't worried about penetrating drywall and killing one of my two boys sleeping in their bedroom because up until 3 months ago they slept in bed with my wife and I. No people downrange from the bedroom. But we had a baby girl 3 months ago and the boys now sleep in a downrange bedroom. I occasionally sleep with the boys; in which case that would have my wife and daughter downrange possibly depending on where the bad guy was. I feel I'd be more comfortable with No. 1 now instead of 00 shot. I've heard that No. 1 has a low likelihood of penetrating drywall.

    Ideally I'd like to stick with 3 1/2" shells. But I don't want to put my boys at risk. From the bedroom to the mudroom door at the far end of the house it is about 50'. To each of the other doors it is about 12' from the bedroom. What would you recommend I keep in the shotgun for home defence?
    Why not a chainsaw ?

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    Let me suggest something:

    Take your "home defense" load and pattern it through your cylinder bore (no choke) "home defense" shotgun. It makes a ragged hole only at near powder burn close ranges.

    Try 10 feet, 15, 20 and 25 feet, which would be long range for most homes. At 25 feet the pattern is about 8 inches. At 20 it's about six or seven. Individual pellets are evident at that range rather than an "en masse" hole. Penetration starts to be not so good when birdshot pellets make individual rather than "en masse" holes

    At 10 feet and beyond the birdshot loaded shotgun gets a little dicey penetrationwise, especially through jackets and any amount of outerwear. If the problem is closer than that be prepared for a disarming attempt unless you have the gun leveled and finger on the bang switch.

    If individual pellet holes and a broad 3-8" or bigger swath of impact is evident birdshot isn't a good idea. Please do not take my word for it. By all means quantify what is happening yourself. Some terminal ballistic authorities don't even like it at close range.

    Since possible shots at my place may double 15 feet, birdshot is out. 4 buck for 30 feet or less and this passes penetration minimums birdshot cannot get close to.

    If you are barricaded in a small room I pity whoever tries to break in there even if you're loaded with birdshot. But if that scenario is not what you are doing buckshot shows the needed superiority in penetration and is more versatile otherwise.
    Last edited by 35remington; 03-15-2017 at 06:58 PM.

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