Will This Shotgun Ammo Work For Home Defense?


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.



  1. While I will agree the shotgun is adequate, I prefer the Taurus Judge in ’45 Colt/.410 #5s, with a backup of .38 spec in a S&W mod 10-5. The S&W is a former FBI issue pistol that shoots accurately & easy. Only 2 of us in the house, & one doing the shooting, ADEQUATE!

  2. No you have a skeet or bird gun for home defense by a Morris Custom gun works tactical home defense or of course the Wilson Combat both built on Remington 870 pump shotguns each hold 7 rounds you stack the the magazine were you first shot will be number 6 shot this is less likely to go through the walls of your home and hurt your own family after the first shot the family should get as low as possible the next rd if needed number 3 buck shot less shot more lethal then down to a 00 buck for your final shots in a home invasion unless the have serious issues with you the first and second shot will set them on there hills then you will be controlling the situation act with intent on stopping the situation don’t lay back go to the fight end it the only thing in your home that cannot be replaced is your family train practice set up scenarios refuse to be a victim when comes to your family and you are all that matters

  3. Most folks waking up to gunfire are not going to be alert or coordinated. I would prefer something that did not go through the walls. That being said, it will not be as lethal as slugs or rifle fire. The Judge and .410 seems like it would be a good first shot solution. If that does not bring them to a stop then the next could be .45 with good aim. The right bullet should stop on something or at least use up most of its energy in the victim instead of traversing the house. Of course, practice and good aim are essential.

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