Shotguns are a favorite type of firearm in the shooting world. Whether you’re talking about hunting or self-defense, shotguns are always going to have a lot of loyalty among gun owners.
But, if you’re like many people, you may not be familiar with the different kinds of ammunition available for shotguns. For example, one popular type of shotgun ammunition is bird shot, but for those interested in self-defense, will bird shot do the job?
If you’ve been wondering that very question, then Larry Case has a few thoughts for you. Why listen to him? Because Case decided to find out the answer to this question.
To do so, he built two different walls to try to simulate a real life situation. Case writes,
The walls were placed about four feet apart to simulate this scenario: If you fire at an intruder in your home with birdshot loads — and miss — what happens to the first wall on impact, what would the effect be on anyone in the simulated hallway, and how would the opposite wall stand up to the pellets? Also to be noted is the spread of the pattern at 10, 15 and 20 feet. Remember: We’re talking about confrontations occurring in the home here, and most would be at very close range.
I placed blocks of Clear Ballistics gel in front of the second wall to get some idea about what penetration would be like if a person should be standing in the hallway when the shot came through the first wall.
The entire test was done with a new Retay USA shotgun, the Masai Mara Warden. Retay makes a full line of the Masai Mara (named for a wildlife reserve in Kenya) shotguns in field guns, turkey and waterfowl models. The Warden is a tactical-home defense model and the latest of this line. All of the testing was done with a modified choke. I used 2¾-inch Aguila sporting clays shotgun ammo, packing 1 1/8-ounce of No. 7½ shot moving at 1,325 fps.
Case then shot at distances of 5, 10, 15, and 20 feet with shot of different sizes. And what did case find? Again, from Case:
All of the shot payloads penetrated both sides of the first wall, making a neat hole in the center of the pattern, very similar to that of a slug.
Pattern of No. 7½ birdshot, shot from 20 feet, entrance hole into first wall.
The shot then struck the Clear Ballistics gel and the second wall. Regarding the shot that struck the wall and not the gel: All of it penetrated the front of the wall. Virtually none of the No. 7½ shot emerged from the rear of the second wall, with the exception of one pellet.
In other words, when you’re dealing with the kinds of distances which occur in home defense, even small shot like bird shot is going to do the job. In other words, it’s going to hurt whoever it hits. A lot.
So, if all you have around the house is bird shot (probably because you’ve been using it for hunting), that’s perfectly okay. It will do the job for home defense.