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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 11/03/2018 in Ammunition

Buckshot Patterns, Recoil and Home Defense

Buckshot Patterns, Recoil and Home Defense

Ask the experts what's the best weapon for home defense and a majority will say a shotgun with buckshot. Ask the experts what the average person would use for home defense and pretty much every one will say a shotgun and buckshot.

"A shotgun is best for home defense. We've settled that a long time ago," said Bill Ryder, a police chief in the small town of Sycamore, GA.

Why? A shotgun is easy to use. A 20 gauge can be fired by just about anyone. A 12 gauge with light loads recoils about the same as a 20 gauge with standard loads.

The sound of a pump shotgun cycling has got to  be one of the most terrifying sounds around if you know you are about to be on the receiving end. Well, the sound of it firing is probably more terrifying.

Enter Federal's proprietary wadding FliteControl. Pair this with a good pump shotgun loaded with FliteControl Law Enforcement 00 8-pellet buckshot is at the top of the list.


FliteControl 3 Shots

First of all, FliteControl simply works. The pictures here show how it patterns. Need more proof? Jeff at Taofledermous on YouTube shows these rounds in slow motion so you can see how well the wadding works.


A major concern with home defense is over penetration. Federal's Law Enforcement FliteControl rounds are loaded light. The chance of over penetration drops dramatically. This is a must for the Thin Blue Line as collateral damage has to be avoided.

Combine the tight pattern and reduced penetration and the chances of taking out a family member along with the home invader drop substantially.

These light loads have another purpose. As Chief Ryder says, target re-acquisition is much faster compared to the standard buckshot loads. The 3-inch magnum loads are, in a word, punishing. The recoil is enough to rock a person back on his heels. We are talking dangerou-game ammo levels of recoil.

With the light recoil, the shooter is able to get the gun back on target much faster than with heavy recoil that cause the muzzle to jump wildly.


Federal sells a variety of loads in buckshot. The No. 1 choice in law enforcement in 00 buck eight-pellet loads.

At home defense range, this is the equivalent of pulling the trigger once and shooting something eight times with a 9mm. 00 buck is .33 inches and a 9mm is .35 inches. The buckshot has a listed muzzle velocity of 1,145 FPS and a 9mm averages around 1,200 FPS.

Mike Moore, a gun enthusiast with plenty of situational training under his belt, explains it this way. The eight pellets stay on target. The nine-pellet load always throws a flier. Imagine keeping eight pellets in a 12-inch circle at 25 yards, but that ninth ball zooms off as much as two feet away. That is spells potential collateral damage.



In range work, it was quickly obvious the FliteControl buckshot prefers an open choke. Test shots were fired through a Police Model Remington 870 with an 18.5-inch open barrel and a Mossberg 835 with a turkey choke. The Remington consistently threw much tighter patterns.

Why? As best Chief Ryder figures, the choke is the issue. The turkey choke constricts the wadding as it flies out, This probably weakens the shot cup, if not break parts of it. The already affected wadding then opens sooner, allowing the pellets to begin spreading that much sooner.

Possibly, the constriction in the choke also jostled the buckshot in the cup.


At the range, the Sellier and Bellot 3-inch magnum 00 buck with 15 pellets threw respectable patterns. The Mossberg with the turkey choke as tighter than the Remington. Recoil was horrible.

The Remington in 2&3/4 also threw a tighter pattern with the Mossberg. Recoil was manageable.

The Nobel Sport (NSI) buckshot from Italy was listed as law enforcement grade. Recoil was less than the Remington and S&B ammo. The #4 buckshot patterned extremely well from the Mossberg and not so much from the Remington. Given the choice of these loads, the #4 buck from NSI is a preferred home-defense round if the FliteControl is not available.

The Federal ammo was like shooting a 20 gauge. Anyone capable of shouldering a 12 gauge could easily fire these rounds and get back on target almost instantly. Combined with tight patterns, this is the perfect home defense ammo in a 12 gauge pump.

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