I realize that 7 yards is pretty standard for testing performance and I generally agree on that but for home defense, well, I don't know for sure. The way my house is arranged, there's only 1 place that I can get a 7 yard shot. 3 to 5 yards would easily be the average.
This is not to be argumentative but consider this: You do your testing at 3-5 yards and see if your chosen load is acceptable. If you like it, good. That means that any pellets that miss won't be doing much damage beyond that. Birdshot will almost certainly not OVER-penetrate except at point-blank range.
Since frozen turkeys are so cheap, buy 2 or 3 of them and do the same thing with #4 buck and 00 buck.
No, I am not trying to convince everyone that #7.5 birdshot is the best home defense load by any means, but I surely do NOT believe that 00 buck is either. At least not if you have people in other parts of the house.
Or if you live a trailer park with another trailer right next door.
Or if you live in an apartment or duplex where the neighbor's kid sleeps just 8" away on the other side of that wall.
I think #4 buck or #2 birdshot might be a better choice.
I took a couple good-sized, thawed, bone-in pork shoulders approximately 7" thick and put them a pedestal at the customary 7 yards. The first one was shot with the #4 buck and the second with #2 birdshot. The gun was 12 gauge Mossberg 590 with cylinder bore. Without seeing the video, you will never be able to appreciate what we saw but both sizes of shot would be more than adequate. The difference between the two was pretty much indistinguishable. The shoulders both blew up like they had grenades in them. We found pieces of meat as far away as 17 yards forward of the pedestal and 20 yards behind it. Most of the pieces were between the size of a marble and golf ball and they were EVERYWHERE, including the back window of my truck which was 13 yards behind where the meat was. A half dozen pieces were slabs the size of your hand. I will have to review the video in slo-mo to see for sure but we all agreed that the #2 birdshot was more dramatic than the buckshot.
We also shot some 5 gallon jugs of water with 7.5 and #2 birdshot; and #4 and 00 buck. The results were pretty inconclusive because the plastic was so thick.
The 7.5 caved in the front of the jug a little but only a few of the pellets entered it with zero exiting. The jug tipped up but did not quite fall off the stand.
Quite a few of the #2's entered, zero exits and the energy transferred to the jug knocked it off the stand and about 3' from it.
All of the #4 buck entered, most exited with a few bouncing off the inside of the jug and remaining inside. The distance that the jug was knocked off was virtually identical to the #2 birdshot.
All of the the 00 entered and 75% of them exited (these were 12-pellets loads). Three of them bounced off the inside and remained in the jug. The distance that the jug was knocked off was virtually identical to the #2 birdshot.
I bought 4 turkeys the night before to test all 4 sizes of shot but they weren't thawed enough to use the next morning. We left them in the conex out at the range so that we could continue the tests the next day.
Here is more of the original poster's comments...
|This afternoon, I am going to use my 12ga Winchester model 12 (at least 28" barrel, so we'll be getting MAX velocity)|
Contrary to very popular belief, you'll find that going to a 3" magnum doesn't usually give you any more velocity either and in most cases is slower than the 2 3/4". The 3" shell gives you more shot, not more speed. A 3" Federal Power-Shok with 00 buck runs 1210 fps. The same size shot in a 2 3/4" shell runs 1325. Different manufacturers and configurations will vary slightly but not that much.
I would never, in my wildest nightmares, use slugs in a home defense gun!
I have killed way more animals in my life than some folks would think was ethically necessary. The whys and wheres and whens of all that are irrelevant right now but suffice it to say that that kind of thing just comes with living on a ranch and hunting for 50 years. What does this have to do with anything?
About 25 years ago, I shot a coyote that was terribly stricken with mange near San Augustine, TX, from a moving pick-up at about 35 miles an hour with a full-choked 20 ga loaded with Federal Express #6 birdshot. The animal was standing, broad-side, just up from the bar ditch and I was driving down a 2-lane hwy so she was around 40-50' away. A few of the pellets went completely through her and she died instantly. I still have pictures. I shot another one with the same load also from around 40' away. He was sitting facing me and I hit him dead-center chest. He was thrust back on his haunches and died instantly. I didn't do an autopsy to see what the damage was but from the way he died, I'd say his giblets got stirred up pretty well. Does this make #6 birdshot the ideal coyote load? Certainly not but it does kinda give you an idea of the relative effectiveness of small shot in living tissue.
Originally Posted by Xxxxxx
Something else I just thought of...
It may be apples and oranges to compare the damage bird shot does to coyotes and turkeys to what it could do to humans. I think it's fair to call humans "Big Game", so testing the penetration on a deer rib cage might be a good idea.
If a human's 'parts' are twice as big as a coyote's parts, than the birdshot compared to a human is the equivalent of shot twice as big when fired at a coyote.
Anyway, it could be argued that a .10 caliber pellet hitting a coyote is the same thing as a .20 caliber pellet hitting a human...an animal twice as large. A turkey? Maybe it would be like a .40 caliber pellet hitting a human. A rabbit? Maybe it would be like a 1.10 caliber pellet hitting a human.
Do you see what I mean?
We shot 4 - 13# turkeys and the results were pretty much what we expected although the #4 buck didn't do exactly what I thought it would. They were all dressed up a T-shirt and Carhart style jacket. The gun was a Mossberg 590, cylinder-bore 12 gauge firing from 7 yards. #7.5 shot is .10" in diameter and there is about 350 of them in a standard 2.75" shell. The #2 is .15" with 87 pellets. The #4 buck is .25" with 24 pellets. The 00 buck is .33" and there are normally 9 pellets in a shell. For those not familiar with shot sizes, here's a comparison photo.
The #2 birdshot did very well as far as I'm concerned. Because of the clothing, it was difficult to tell exactly where the breast was and we missed the center a little bit but the #2 made a very impressive entrance by severing a leg and in turn causing a gaping entrance wound. Pretty much all the shot went all the way through, even after going through the leg and bone. Some of the shot exited and large portion of it stopped right under the skin on the off-side. I have no doubt that the over-whelming majority would have exited had we been 2 yards closer. This load rolled the turkey end-over-end off the table.
This test just confirmed my thoughts on this subject. While #7.5 is far from optimum, I think it would work fine in the majority of cases. I'd a hell of lot rather have that than a .380. The way the bird left the table indicated that all of the energy was absorbed by the body even if internal damage wasn't as much as the others. The #2 did just what I had hoped and expected. Almost total penetration and 100% energy transfer which was apparent by the way the turkey was rolled off the table. The danger of over-penetration was minimized while offering good terminal performance. The #4 buck also did well with more damage to the inside than the #2 but less energy transfer because most of the shot exited. This was the only bird that didn't leave the table. The 00 with total penetration did a lot of damage with a LOT of danger behind the target. If those pellets hit hard enough to deform and go 7" deep into soil, there is some concern for me in the home. I'm with everyone else as far as the effectiveness of heavier buck but I am very comfortable with a little sacrifice in terminal performance for the peace of mind that I am not sending .33 caliber lead balls into the next room or trailer house or apartment addressed to whom it may concern..
Cope Reynolds (Desertscout)
Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona
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