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 Post subject: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:15 pm 
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Location: Atlanta, GA
I live in an apartment and I'm getting a 12 ga. Mossberg 500. I'm debating what kind of ammo I should be using for home defense, considering I have neighbors within close proximity. I've decided to go with either a #4 or a #1 buckshot, and I'm leaning toward the #1. Specifics aside (magnum rounds, low recoil, etc), does anyone have any opinion on which would be better? I have heard that #4 has a marginal stopping power and is not 100% reliable for lethality. At the same time, I found this, which seems to indicate the two are nearly identical for wall penetration:

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot3.htm

I also found these, which seem to indicate that they have a similar penetration in ballistics gel:
Dead links removed

If I'm to believe these, then #1 is the obvious choice since it has more stopping power but does not penetrate much more than the #4 based on that limited test. Right now I think #1 is my best choice, but this isn't entirely conclusive to me. Everyone here seems to be very knowledgeable, so I'd like to pick your brains. Any thoughts?

I'm convinced that birdshot is useless for this purpose and clearly anything powerful enough to stop a human is going to penetrate walls. I know I'm a n00b on this forum :D and I don't want to ruffle any feathers but as far as I'm concerned if you're not willing to take the risk of shooting through walls then you shouldn't be using a gun in that situation.

In my case a certain degree of wall penetration is acceptable -- the units here do share walls but because of the floorplans my neighbors themselves are separated from me by three walls in most places, or two exterior walls with hardwood siding. If I'm forced to shoot an intruder then I'm willing to injure an innocent person in that situation, but I'm not willing to kill them. If something will pass through three interior walls without being lethal on the other side, I'm okay with that. I'm under the impression that any reasonably conservative shot like #1 buck would be significantly deformed and traveling at a relatively non-lethal velocity by the time it has passed through four or six sheets of drywall. Correct me if I'm wrong.


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 9:36 pm 
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Personally I would choose #4's, but either would work well.

However, stopping power is nothing more than a myth. Watch a hunting show. No matter if the gun is a 243 or a 458. Lott, the animal will run just about the same distance. What kills an animal (or human) is lack of oxygen to the brain. This can be achieved quite a few ways. The heart getting shot stops the flow of blood, thus stopping the flow of oxygen, a lung getting hit stops oxygen flow for obvious reasons, and finally a loss of blood stops flow of oxygen. In all my years of hunting, I've never seen an animal no matter how big get actually pushed back or rolled from the impact of a bullet.

Wow, I know that was kind of long and confusing, but I'm trying to prove my point. #4's would kill just as well and you would get better patterns due to the larger number of pellets. I'm sure there's quite a few who would disagree, but if penatration is equal, then the two loads will kill equally well.

To adress what you said about birdshot being useless even at short range, you've obviously never seen anything that was shot with #8's at very close range (under ten yards). I've seen squirells that were completely torn to pieces. The shock of a load like that in close would certainly be enough to stop anyone for a split second. I'm not saying that's what you should use, but it's not completely useless if it's all you have.

I really hope that made sense. I'm certainly not a very good writer! :oops:

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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:16 pm 
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Makes perfect sense, thanks for your reply. "Useless" was probably the wrong word but based on research I wouldn't expect birdshot to do much. Since it doesn't penetrate organs a person who doesn't respond to pain would have to bleed to death before being incapacitated. I certainly don't want to wait for that, especially if they are armed and shooting back. I've read several stories of intruders who were shot with birdshot inside of houses and not only did they live but they remained conscious and were still able to walk around.

FYI when I say stopping power I mean its ability to stop someone's actions. There might be more than one use for that but in this context I'm talking about incapacitation. I definitely don't expect 30 grams worth of shot to send a person flying through the air like you see in the movies, no matter how fast it's going when it hits them. Anyway, thanks for your info, I will take it into consideration :)

I'm kind of curious about the penetration similarities between #4 and #1... since #1 is a much larger caliber shouldn't it be going much further? I've heard it's quite a bit more lethal than #4, but I guess that's because of the shot size instead of the penetration. Of course the one-shot stopping power of #4 is reportedly 81-83% so I guess that's pretty respectable.

Decisions, decisions...

EDIT: BTW, you said you would choose #4... is that because of the better patterning?


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:48 am 
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Peter Capstick said this about buckshot selection in Death in the Dark Continent
Quote:
"I would like to mention one very important factor in choosing a buckshot load for dangerous game, and that concerns shot size selection. Most people would automatically pick 00 buck simply becuause it's so well know through TV westerns. In fact, the 12-pellet 12-gauge "baby magnum" load of 00 is considerably inferior to the same maximum powder loading of small NO. 1 buckshot in the same shell. The difference lies in the simple and astonishingly obvious fact that at .33 caliber, 00 buck is so large in the shell that there is much wasted space that could otherwise be filled with lead if the bearing surfaces of the big, round pellets didn't have to come into contact with each other. But they must. No. 1 buck is .30 caliber, only ten percent less in diameter than 00 buck and but thirteen grains per pellet lighter. However, because of the way the pellet mass fits into the shotshell, the same shell can fire an incredible seventy-five percent more pellets than the Magnum 00 load! What this means is that when you need help in a big way, you're launching eight hundred grains of lead at better than three thousand foot-pounds at the muzzle with No. 1 buck compared with a bit over six hundred grains and not quite twenty-four hundred foot-pounds with the 00 buck. If you don't reckon that can make a significant difference, you've never had something try to eat you.

One might also bear in mind that eight hundred grains of lead in a swarm has the individual pellet impact area of an umbrella, for even though still in a solid mass at more or less ten yards, it covers a circular saturation point of about a 7-inch circle. Eight hundred grains, remember, equals a .458 PLUS a .375 at point blank, and you've got two barrels of the stuff, minimum."


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:22 am 
The penetration data of #1 buckshot in gelatin is compelling.
If you shoot a human with it you can pretty much bet on full penetration. But what of the pellets that do not hit their mark and go wanging off into the ether?

The same could be said to a slightly lesser extent with number four buck but complicated by more pellets.

I suggest you consider heavy birdshot. At across-the-room distances any mortal person whacked with a palm full of number #2 hard lead is going to be way, way more concerned about his own condition than following thru with assault of any kind. Armed or otherwise - if he can even regard his condition with a conscious mind. The benefit of choosing big bird shot over the heavy stuff is that probably you will confine most or all of it the room you shoot it in unless the door is open and then it'll stick in the hall wall instead of zipping thru the plaster board and sticking in the skull of someone you love.


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:35 am 
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Quote:
Quote:
EDIT: BTW, you said you would choose #4... is that because of the better patterning?


Yes. That's the exact reason I would choose #4's. All those pellets that miss don't do you any good. Now I understand what you meant by stopping power. If penetration is eqaul, the two loads should be about equally effective. If I was you, I would buy both and see which one patterns best and which one you like more.

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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:37 am 
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Wow! I finally figured out how to do a quote on this blog. It took me three edits, but I finally got it right! :oops:

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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:17 pm 
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I am glad I am not one of the neighbors you are willing to wound/kill/parapalegicize....why not use a slug?


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 Post subject: Re: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:19 pm
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leroyha wrote:
I am glad I am not one of the neighbors you are willing to wound/kill/parapalegicize....why not use a slug?


Okay first I specifically said I was NOT willing to kill an innocent person, which is why I'm bringing this question up to begin with... secondly, a slug? Are you serious? If I missed my target it would go clear through an entire apartment, walls and all. Even if I hit my target it would probably pass clear through and penetrate several walls besides.

mike modelle wrote:
But what of the pellets that do not hit their mark and go wanging off into the ether?


Those are exactly the ones I'm wondering about... I'm wondering how lethal they would be after passing through a few walls and if there is much of a difference between #4 and #1 in that regard.


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:52 pm 
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"I'm convinced that birdshot is useless for this purpose and clearly anything powerful enough to stop a human is going to penetrate walls. I know I'm a n00b on this forum Very Happy and I don't want to ruffle any feathers but as far as I'm concerned if you're not willing to take the risk of shooting through walls then you shouldn't be using a gun in that situation.

In my case a certain degree of wall penetration is acceptable -- the units here do share walls but because of the floorplans my neighbors themselves are separated from me by three walls in most places, or two exterior walls with hardwood siding. If I'm forced to shoot an intruder then I'm willing to injure an innocent person in that situation, but I'm not willing to kill them. If something will pass through three interior walls without being lethal on the other side, I'm okay with that. I'm under the impression that any reasonably conservative shot like #1 buck would be significantly deformed and traveling at a relatively non-lethal velocity by the time it has passed through four or six sheets of drywall. Correct me if I'm wrong."






OK I misread the part at the very bottom where you didn't want to kill innocents. Buckshot in an appartment building will ruin your life as well as any innocent neighbor who happens to be standing behind their door listening to you screaming at an intruder to halt. What is the longest shot in your appartment that could possibly be taken? 15 feet? Take a load of 2 3/4 high brass 6's and shoot a sheet of drywall at that range. It will be pretty much a big hole I have seen a .22 lr that went through siding,subsiding,insulation,drywall,across a living room and through another wall(2 sheets of drywall) across a kitchen and through a cabinet door. Anybody in that line of fire could have been dead


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 Post subject: Re: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:26 am 
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leroyha wrote:
SNIP


We have a nice comparison of tests located here http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=109958.

Also, there is an overview of drywall penetration located here:
http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot3.htm

The point is, when your life is threated you should use an effective round. Over-penetration is completely avoidable by simply hitting your target. There is NO reason to use birdshot except on birds, clays, and small game.

I have 00 Buckshot in my shotguns, Speer Gold Dots in my pistols, and M-193 in my AR-15s. I'm not taking a chance when my loved ones are in danger.

Of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:20 pm 
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The more I read the more I think I should go with #4... it might be the minimum that's recommended, but it is recommended and proven to be effective. The Box O' Truth test is interesting but limited and not entirely convincing. I'm sure if the #1 buck is more dangerous for my target, it's more dangerous for my neighbors as well, regardless of how many pieces of drywall it penetrates. If #4 buck is an effective defensive round, I would rather use that than take a chance with #1 buck. I'm under the impression that with the minimal difference between the two, just about anyone who could be stopped by a #1 buck would also be stopped by a #4, so if #4 would pose a slightly lesser risk to my neighbors, I suppose I owe it to them to use it. And if by some off chance I happen to be home during an intrusion and I happen to shoot the intruder and he happens to somehow be immune to #4, I'll take what comes. I really can't imagine that ever happening though.

556A2 is right, birdshot is for birds... if you're going to use a gun against someone I think you had better shoot to kill. Drugs can do amazing things, and people who are high enough can be shot several times and not be phased by it. People like that need to be killed to be stopped; it's not enough to cause them pain. It's a sad and morbid truth but that's the way it is.


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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:43 am 
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Not to stray from the subject but I've been looking at Federal ammo and I see two types of #4 buck, VitalShok and PowerShock. Anyone know what the difference is? I've also seen Classic here and there, but not on the official Federal site.


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 Post subject: Re: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:09 am 
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erick295 wrote:
Not to stray from the subject but I've been looking at Federal ammo and I see two types of #4 buck, VitalShok and PowerShock. Anyone know what the difference is? I've also seen Classic here and there, but not on the official Federal site.


Vital-Shok: Copper Plated Shot
Power-Shok: Non Plated Shot

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 Post subject: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:23 am 
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3" Steel BBs and let her rip. If you really think that a 3" mag birdshot load wouldn't stop somebody than you are fooling yourself. If you want to shoot through walls to defend your life, then you are going to have to take the risk of shooting a heavy enough load to be lethal going through the wall.

Honestly in your situation, I'd be shooting Dead Coyote.... Just a step or two under #4 buckshot, yet carries energy very well... I'd suspect that if someone was just on the other side of the wall... you'd get the job done... but much beyond that and it would start losing speed fast.

I don't know... I keep my HD shotgun stoked with 3" #4 steel shot... inside my house, small as it is... I wouldn't want to stand in front of it. Opinions vary... I hope you never have to use whatever you decide on.

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 Post subject: Re: re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:48 am 
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556A2 wrote:
Vital-Shok: Copper Plated Shot
Power-Shok: Non Plated Shot


Perfect, thanks :D


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 Post subject: Re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:30 pm 
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If one of you semi-liberalists want to use birdshot for home defense, I am very glad I am not one of your loved ones! I have personally shot those ballistic gel torsos you see on the tele, it didn't do much, and the torso didn't have bones! If you are so intent on using blasted birdshot on people, go no lower than BB, BBB or any other heavy goose load. Humans are coyote sized game, remember that. You take humans with .223s, number four buck, Dead Coyote, and other such. Now when people want coyotes dead, they use .308s, 00 buck (or number one whatever your gun likes), and other such bullets. Of course NO ONE wants to get shot with birdshot, or a 22 as someone mentioned, but when you have to shoot them, do you really care whether or not they want to be shot? Or what they'd rather be shot with? How about you blow the top of their head off and just hope that 2 layers of skull, about 5-6 inches of grey matter, and three layers of dry wall slows those pellets down enough. Or use low velocity loads that don't penetrate as badly and pattern tighter.
Now 556A2 is a smart man, use tight patterning, moderate recoil 9 pellet buck, and just kill him, never stop to think, "Will this finish him?". If that thought passes your mind imagine this:
A man larger than Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best, stronger than Chuck Norris at his best, who's hyped up on meth and cocaine, wearing a large leather jacket and is REALLY pissed decides he likes your stuff, and your daughter. So he merrily smashes your window at night, comes walking right in with an eight pound 2 foot segment of steel chain going to take your stuff and pawn it off for more meth, coke, and booze. Are you going to want a smaller shot size!?!?!?!
Nope, I'd bust out the 000 buck and put five rounds into that giant druggy. But, I really don't care what you use for self defense, because if by some improbable event we get into a fire fight, and you have #8 bird, #4 bird, or BBs, I could just blast you away and not give second notice.
It's not about what MAY kill them, it's about what WILL kill them. Shotgun projectiles don't pierce enough anyways to mortally wound your neighbors. Go with the number one, you'll thank yourself if you ever need to use it.

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 Post subject: Re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:42 pm 
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My 20" Stoeger 12 ga SXS, next to my head board is loaded with Rem Nitro 1 1/8 oz 7 1/2 shot.
Twenty feet is about maximum distance for a home encounter. Even 7 1/2 shot is DEVASTATING at that range. Don't believe it? Next time you are out somewhere where a gun can be fired, shoot at a jug of water at 20 feet and watch it EXPLODE! And the plastic in milk jugs is pretty tough stuff.
Anything larger than #6 will endanger people in other rooms as it will go through walls.

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 Post subject: Re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:02 am 
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That's great if you find yourself needing to ward off a maraudering band of milk jugs. If that's a threat in your area, then load up with the birdshot.
The FBI has established the 12" minimum of penetration in calibrated ballistic gel for a reason.
Birdshot may be lethal, but you have to consider if it stops the fight quickly, or quick enough. No birdshot has ever met the FBI minimum.
Anything that will reliably stop a fight without voluntary effort on the part of the bad guy will penetrate interior walls. Anything. Proceed accordingly.
Birdshot is a round intended for use against small, lightwieght, thin skinned avians with hollow bones. It is intended to do this without too much disruption of meaty areas. If this sounds like what you want to stop a large determined attacker knock yourself out.

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 Post subject: Re: #4 vs #1 Buckshot
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:02 am 
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Shiraku wrote:
It's not about what MAY kill them, it's about what WILL kill them.

Anybody reading this that may use it as part of their thought process in evaluating a home defense round and strategy/justification please remember that it is actually about what may/will stop, not kill.

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