Shotgun Load and Gauge Considerations for Home Defense

Help your shoppers pick out the right load for home defense — no matter what gauge they're comfortable shooting.

Shotgun Load and Gauge Considerations for Home Defense

When a shopper is choosing a new shotgun for home defense, he or she has the luxury of selecting a specific gauge or bore. Ideally they will use a 12-gauge shotgun for self-defense purposes because 12-gauges will provide the greatest ability to stop a threat. Guns chambered in 20-gauge or .410 bore are somewhat less effective and are more likely to simply injure the assailant instead of stopping them. Of course, in order for your 12-gauge to perform as needed, it should be loaded with something like 00 Buck, not birdshot. Birdshot is sometimes suggested as a safer option for innocent bystanders in the home, but extensive evidence proves it isn’t a good idea for defensive use.

If all a customer has on hand is a shotgun chambered in 20-gauge or with a .410 bore, help them find and test the best possible ammunition for it. Some manufacturers do make defense ammunition for smaller shotguns. Hunting and clay target loads are not a viable option. Speaking from the perspective of a hunter, I’ll say I’ve had far greater success on feral hogs with shotshells developed for home defense than with other loads such as heavy turkey or coyote loads. They flat-out do not perform to the standard necessary to save a life. Shooters can work with what they have, but do consider that cutting corners on ammunition quality puts their life and the lives of their loved ones at risk.


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