Buckshot & Bullets

24 Sep

Looking at the ads in the newspaper, Gander Mountain has 175 rounds of Federal 00 Buckshot (12 gauge) for $99.99. It comes with a free military ammo can. I’m not sure if Gander Mountain exists outside of Minnesota. That’s $0.57 per round. Mills Fleet Farm has a box of five 00 buckshot for $3.99. That’s $0.79 per round.

Years ago, a friend, who was big into hunting deer with rifled slugs, went out before every deer season and purchased 50 to 100 boxes of five rifled slugs. I always remember them being $2 a box. Anything more just feels too expensive to me now! For preppers who need to stock up on ammo, stores catering to hunters often have good sales before hunting season.

The standard 12 gauge loading of 00 buckshot has 9 pellets. That’s more than adequate for home defense. In the day, some shooters liked the smaller number 4 buckshot better. They felt the larger 00 buckshot wasted too much space inside the shotshell. You could cram in more of the smaller pellets. If I recall correctly, Mel Tappen, a popular survivalist author years ago, liked number 4 buckshot.

These guys reasoned that multiple hits were significantly more effective than fewer. So 27 pellets of number 4 size beat only 9 of 00. The guys who favored 00 felt the larger pellets had better ability to penetrate and disable. Size 00 is the standard used by police.

Even 00 isn’t perfect. I recall one police officer saying he knew of a case where a suspect was hit in the forehead with a 00 pellet. Don’t recall the range, but I’m guessing it was at least 40 yards. The pellet didn’t penetrate the skull but just bounced off. Don’t know if the story is true.

For comparison:
No. 4 Buckshot has a weight of 20.5 grains, a diameter of .24 inches, and a muzzle energy of 77 foot pounds. No. 00 Buckshot has a weight of 54 grains, diameter of .330 inches and an energy of 211 foot pounds. Both loads exit the barrel at about 1,300 feet per second. This data is commonly available, but I took it from an older book I had called The Shotgun in Combat by Tony Lesce. (There’s a lot of BS in this book too, like using “poison loads” in your shotgun.)

Two things the book does that I like is that it pattern tests some loads. If you wonder how well your shotgun patterns buckshot, you can take your scattergun and some big sheets of paper and test it. For home defense, expect the range to be ten feet to maybe 10 yards. The book’s author constructs some temporary walls with sheet rock to show that 00 buckshot will easily penetrate two sides of 1/2 plasterboard.

I looked at the shotshells I have near my 870 and they were the 12 pellet magnum loads of 00 buck. All these loads are for the standard length 12 gauge. You can purchase even more powerful loads that come in 3″ length shells. If I remember correctly, the 00 loading has 15 pellets and the No. 4 buckshot load has 41 pellets. The downside is the recoil.

Another choice is to get the rarer No. 1 buckshot which is a size between 00 and number 4 buckshot. It’s diameter is 0.30 inches. Then you have either the best of both worlds or the worst of both worlds, depending upon whether you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty sort of guy.

If you hate recoil, several options exist. You could omit the shotgun entirely and rely on a defensive handgun. For most self-defense situations, that’s an acceptable choice. Otherwise, you could move to a 20 gauge shotgun. A few feel the 20 gauge is under powered, but ballistics don’t bear this out.

A 20 gauge rifled slug weighs 282 grains and exits the muzzle at 1,600 feet per second with a muzzle energy of 1,555 foot pounds. The big slug does loose velocity rapidly. This is why many areas require slugs for hunting deer: it’s safer. By comparison a 44 magnum might fire a 240 grain bullet at about 1,400 feet per second with an energy of about 1,000 foot pounds. (I don’t actually remember this stuff: I looked it up in Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia by Outdoor Life Books published in 1980)

Another option is a recoil-reducing autoloading shotgun. Many shooters say an autoloading 12 gauge has about the recoil of a 20 gauge pump shotgun. How much recoil you feel depends upon many things. How heavy is the gun? Does it have a good recoil pad? Are you holding it properly and does it have a correct length of pull for the shooter?

Nothing is wrong with seeking out an autoloader in 20 gauge.

I planned to write more about rifle calibers, but this post is getting long. I will mention that Gander Mountain’s “Gun World” has a neat looking Sig Sauer 716 “Flat Dark Earth” rifle in 7.62 mm NATO. It’s a bit out of the budget for many of us: Price: $1,999. It looks like an AR-15 on steroids (i.e. the AR-10). The ad says it’s chambered in 7.62 x 54 mm, which I think they mean 7.62 x 51 mm. But maybe it’s in 7.62 x 54R or some other caliber. There are a huge number of different 7.62 rifles. But that discussion will have to wait until next time. (Just googled it and, yep, it’s good old 7.62 NATO)

Charlie P., author The Prepper Next Door.

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I don’t plan to make this blog at all political. I have nothing against unions or teachers. But this caught my attention: Chicago teachers are on strike. They earn an average of $72,000 per year, have full benefits, have the summers off, and work the shortest school day in the country, six hours. They will get a 16% salary increase over the next four years. Only 8% of the graduating students are considered prepared to enter college. At least to me, it seems there’s something wrong with this picture.

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