Shotgun Shells Explained – Types Of Ammo (Birdshot, Buckshot, Slugs)
Reduce Noise and Recoil on Your Shotgun The Differences Between Buckshot, Birdshot, and Slugs The TL;DR version is that shotshells containing buckshot and birdshot have multiple projectiles of varying sizes, covered more later instead of just one projectile inside of them.
Buckshot has bigger and fewer pellets, while birdshot has smaller and more pellets. Slugs, on the other hand, are more like a traditional cartridge. They contain one large projectile. Shotgun Shell Sizes: 12 Gauge vs 20 Gauge Two of the most common shotgun shell sizes are 12 gauge and 20 gauge. This all has to do with weight — specifically, one pound. In a 12 gauge shell, it will take 12 spherical balls or shot or pellets or projectiles of equal size and weight to equal one pound of shot.
In a 20 gauge, it will take 20 balls of equal size and weight to equal one pound of shot. This is where the smaller-is-bigger concept becomes clearer.
Because the individual pieces contained within a shotshell are bigger in a 12 gauge than in a 20 gauge, 12 is bigger than Shotgun Ammo Types: Buckshot vs. Birdshot vs. Slug The three main types of shotgun ammo are buckshot, birdshot, and slugs. Buckshot vs. Birdshot Shotshells loaded with buckshot contain larger and fewer pellets or balls than a shotshell loaded with birdshot.
This is because of the size difference between the main types of game that each shotshell was designed to hunt. The larger pellets found in buckshot would decimate a bird. This increases your chances of a successful harvest while minimizing the damage done by each individual pellet.
Buckshot takes advantage of the multiple larger size projectiles to accomplish what is generally able to be done by one slug. Birdshot and slugs are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to their intended purposes. Hunting quail with a slug would be just as inefficient as hunting deer with birdshot.
Birdshot: An Overview As the name implies, birdshot is designed for shooting birds. The smaller size of pellets in each shotshell means that there are more of them in each cartridge. This increases the likelihood of hitting your intended target, but with the benefit of each individual piece of shot inflicting less damage.
This is important because large pellets would produce significantly more damage, rendering the shot bird unsuitable for food purposes. What is Birdshot Used For? There are a lot of uses for birdshot, including but not limited to: Bird hunting ducks, geese, pheasant, etc Sporting games skeet, trap, and sporting clays Small game hunting squirrels, rabbits, etc Pest control dangerous snakes, etc How Many Pellets are in a Birdshot Cartridge? This depends on the size of the pellet and the shell in which they are loaded.
For example, a 12 gauge 2. That same shell with No. There are a ton of variables, but if you had to put a number on the average, it would be around pellets. Common Sizes of Birdshot Just like shotshells themselves, the numbers associated with the sizes of birdshot are the opposite of normal numbers. For example, No. It depends on several different factors, but a commonly-cited average effective range of birdshot is 40 yards. The design of the cartridge is the same as birdshot, but the size of the shot within the shell is comparatively larger because of its intended purpose.
What is Buckshot Used For? There are a lot of uses for birdshot, including but not limited to: Large game hunting deer, etc Target shooting Home defense Common Sizes of Buckshot Just like shotshells and birdshot, the numbers associated with sizes of buckshot are the opposite of normal numbers. How Many Pellets are in a Buckshot Cartridge?
Because the shot is larger in general than birdshot, buckshot cartridges have considerably fewer pellets in them. A typical gauge, 2. Because shotguns were originally designed to shoot multiple projectiles at once, they spread out after leaving the barrel, thereby limiting their effective range.
Slugs, on the other hand, perform more like standard bullets. They can even be fired from special slug barrels that contain rifling grooves to help stabilize the slug in flight. This means that a slug can deliver significantly more energy upon impact than buckshot or birdshot, and do it at a greater distance as well.
What are Slugs Made out of? Slugs can be made from a variety of materials. Lead and steel are two of the most common, but there are others.
Slugs designed for more precise shots, like those required in competition or hunting, can be made of brass and may even be contained within a plastic sabot for more stabilized flight. How Far will a Shotgun Slug Travel? Because of its design, the average effective range of a shotgun slug is 75 yards — further than buckshot or birdshot. Because the projectile is more similar to that of a regular bullet, it will perform better at longer distances than the multiple smaller projectiles that make up birdshot and buckshot.
What are Slugs Used For? There are a lot of uses for slugs, including but not limited to: Large game hunting deer, bear, boar, etc Home defense Situations where a rifle would be ideal, but you only have a shotgun.
Breaching barriers, such as doors, cars, etc Common Slug Sizes Slugs are generally used in larger bore shotguns, like the 12 gauge. Slugs in these shells are commonly found weighing 0. For comparison, a standard.
Birdshot for Home Defense Some people may disagree, but we do not recommend that you use birdshot for home defense. When your life is on the line, the purpose of making a shot for self-defense in the home is to end the threat.
Many cases have been seen in hospitals the world over where a patient comes in filled with tons of little pellets found in birdshot.
As long as no major organs, arteries, or veins are compromised, the patient will undergo a painful procedure to remove the many pellets, but they will go on to make a full recovery. A good example of this is the hunting accident involving Vice President Dick Cheney. He shot one of his partners with birdshot and the man went on to make a full recovery. Buckshot, on the other hand, delivers far more stopping power in a self-defense situation in the home.
Far fewer patients have been seen in hospitals with buckshot wounds who go on to make full recoveries. You might only get one shot in a self-defense situation. In that case, birdshot is certainly better than no shot at all.
What about Slugs for Home Defense? If multiple large projectiles are good for home defense, then one even larger projectile must be even better, right? Well, sort of. With any shooting situation defensive or recreational , you have to be aware of your target, your surroundings, and what lies beyond your target.
A slug will do a good job of neutralizing a threat in a home defense scenario, but it also has the highest likelihood of overpenetration. Whether using buckshot, birdshot, or slugs, you always have to be aware of the consequences of overpenetration, as loved ones in the next room could be impacted by your shot.
Reduce Noise and Recoil on Your Shotgun Regardless of how you choose to use a shotgun, one thing is certain across the board: a suppressor helps reduce its noise and recoil. At Silencer Central, we are passionate about compliance, knowledge, and community education in firearm sound suppression. Hopefully, the information in this article helped answer a lot of your questions.
Or, we might have overlooked your question altogether. Our experts are ready to help you by phone or email , Monday through Saturday from am — pm CT.
Shotgun Ammo Types: Buckshot vs. Birdshot vs. Slug
As a style of firearm, the shotgun is both popular and versatile. It is used in a wide variety of sports, game hunting, and has very common usage in home defense. This popularity and versatility have bred a wide array of cartridge ammunition, one of which is the slug round. Being considered a short range weapon, the slug is more of a bullet, so this naturally increases distance. So what exactly are the 12 gauge slug ballistics?
A 12 gauge slug of one-ounce weight fired from a standard Federal cartridge will shoot over yards. The ballistics are flat for around yards and at the yard mark the slug has dropped 4 feet. The absolute maximum it can travel is probably around yards. Pellets are then dispersed over a wide area when fired. The shotgun is thought of a short range weapon, but by firing a slug you can make a shotgun compete with a rifle for range, It also vastly increases penetration.
With birdshot, the penetration diminishes because of the light weight of the individual weight. Making birdshot rounds into a cut shell increases the power and thus the distance, so a slug round uses the same physics. What Is A 12 Gauge Slug A shotgun slug is simply the act of turning a shotgun load into a single projectile. Normally a shotgun shell has many pells, like birdshot, or a few pellets, like buckshot. It will turn a shotgun into a crude rifle, as the shotgun launches a single slug over the projected distance.
With the increased weight as a projectile, there is a dramatic increase in range and penetration power. Each cartridge can be thought of like rifle ammunition in that each round is fired individually, and unlike cut shells, will keep the cartridge intact after firing so it can be ejected normally. Although there are many different slug rounds, as they are more for the distance they are generally tapered to some extent and made to have the aerodynamics of a bullet.
Often they are rifled, and in a rifled barrel, you can improve accuracy at range. Because of all this, they are extremely lethal, even at range, and as such, they are mainly used by hunters who need the power at distance.
It compares the ballistics trajectory of the 1oz slug from a 12 gauge to q 9mm round. What it shows is that the 12 gauge slug will travel pretty flat for up to yards with perhaps 10 to 12 inches of drop at yards.
At yards the chart shows a drop of about 4 feet. I also found this chart This was from a firearms study and suggests the absolute maximum a slug can travel is around feet yards. Finally, I found this useful little chart. So at yards, a 12 gauge slug is traveling 5 times the speed needed to break a bone. How Much Does A 12 Gauge Slug Drop At Yards As the above ballistics prove, a 12 gauge slug has a flat trajectory out to about yards, so if you are a good shot with an iron sight, then you should be good to go.
So the actual answer is zero. The team tries slugs at yards, yards, yards, and yards to determine their range and lethality. The slugs used are 1oz slugs from Federal, birdshot, and 27 pellet buckshot. Allow me to summarize the findings. The round will travel and is still lethal at over yards though. After that, it becomes a little prone to wind and other aerodynamics. If you are shooting at yards or so, you have nothing to worry about as it has a lovely flat trajectory.
SHOTGUN SHELL SIZES: COMPARISON CHART AND COMMONLY USED TERMS
Cunningham July 25, Do you know how your favourite hunting bullet behaves when it hits its target? We do. We used gelatin to test the terminal performance of several popular hunting rounds, and to demonstrate how distance affects terminal energy — in other words, what happens to your bullet at its target.
Bullet science: a few things every shooter should know Terminal velocity is the speed of the bullet at the target. For varmints, you may want to look at bullet performance a little further out. Then we clamped the board to a table. This provided sufficient weight to keep the block from flying off the table. For some ammunition at qgd distances, we needed a second block behind the gel to capture the bullet.
To measure the speed of the bullet in flight, we use the Canadian-designed LabRadar, which uses Doppler Radar. It is a product of the velocity and the bullet mass. Because the formula calls for velocity squared, velocity has a greater bearing on the energy produced than does the mass.
So, the velocity of your bullet is more important than how much it weighs. It also means that as velocity decreases, the bullet energy decreases rapidly. Heavy bullet fans will be quick to point out that heavy bullets have more momentum than light bullets and will tend to retain their velocity.
Before we get started, I have an administrative note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support. Additionally, I recorded an entire podcast episode on this exact subject. Back then, cannons were named in accordance with the mass of the projectile they shot, not by their bore diameter.
For instance, a 12 pound cannon aka a 12 pounder shot a round ball that weighed approximately 12 pounds. The same principle applied to 8 pounders, 6 pounders, 4 pounders, etc. Shoulder fired weapons that fired projectiles weighing less than 1 pound used a closely related system. Large bore black powder rifles were named in this manner and this also is where the system for measuring shotgun gauges comes from.
This is also true with a 10 gauge or 10 bore ball compared to a 12 gauge or 12 bore round ball. In short, the smaller the gauge of a shotgun, the larger the bore diameter. This is why a 10 gauge shotgun has a larger diameter than a 12 gauge shotgun, which has a larger diameter than a 20 gauge shotgun, etc. A different way of saying the same thing would be to describe shotgun gauges in terms of the number of lead balls of a certain diameter necessary to weigh 1 pound.
There is one exception to this rule: the. If it were named like all the other popular shotgun bores, it would be approximately 67 gauge. Just reference the chart below for the nominal bore size of 10 gauge, 12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and. Those numbers are great for making an overall comparison between the various shotgun gauges. However, the actual diameter of the bore will sometimes vary. In addition to gauge, shotgun shells also come in varying lengths with different loads of powder, shot weight, shot size, and shot composition.
For example, take a look at the photo below of a box of 20 gauge shotgun shells. Winchester markets this particular ammunition for upland bird hunting, sporting clays, skeet, and trap.
Lets break down what each of those things means. The shell lengths and gauges listed below are standardized by SAAMI and are therefore the most widely available and easy to find. Sizes other than those listed below are sometimes available in limited numbers. Look on the barrel or chamber of your shotgun to determine the proper length shell it can use.
A shotgun with a longer chamber can generally safely use smaller shells, but the opposite is not true. Aside from shotgun slugs, shotgun shells are loaded with a large number of pellets. The exact number of pellets depends on their size and composition as well as the weight of pellets loaded into the shell. To determine the size of birdshot, just subtract the shot size from.
Shotgun Gauges Explained: 10 vs 12 vs 16 vs 20 vs 28 vs 410
This is not the case with other types of shot like BB and buckshot. That being said, while there are exceptions, those other shot sizes larger than. Reference the table below to see the diameter of some of the most common shot sizes as well as the approximate number of lead pellets of that size that weigh one ounce.
Because of all this, they are extremely lethal, even at range, and as such, they are mainly used by hunters who need the power at distance.
It compares the ballistics trajectory of the 1oz slug from a 12 gauge to q 9mm round. What it shows is that the 12 gauge slug will travel pretty flat for up to yards with perhaps 10 to 12 inches of drop at yards. At yards the chart shows a drop of about 4 feet. I also found this chart This was from a firearms study and suggests the absolute maximum a slug can travel is around feet yards. Finally, I found this useful little chart.
So at yards, a 12 gauge slug is traveling 5 times the speed needed to break a bone.
12 Gauge Slug Ballistics – How Far Do They Shoot?
How Much Does A 12 Gauge Slug Drop At Yards As the above ballistics prove, a 12 gauge slug has a flat trajectory out to about yards, so if you are a good shot with an iron sight, then you should be good to go.
So the actual answer is zero. The team tries slugs at yards, yards, yards, and yards to determine their range and lethality. The slugs used are 1oz slugs from Federal, birdshot, and 27 pellet buckshot.