Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Enough With The Gimmick Shotgun Ammo Already

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Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

An irritating trend within home defense ammunition is gimmick shotgun ammunition. Every year, some new bunch of cowboys cook up some New Tactical Terror, and a whole bunch of gullible yahoos think it’s somehow reinvented the wheel or somehow that buckshot or slugs is therefore too weak to be relied on anymore.

Hogwash, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

For instance, there is Dragon’s Breath, which produces an impressive fireball. There is a line of 12-gauge slugs which contain a .357 Magnum hollow point. There are actual chain and ball shotgun rounds, with pellets that are chained together. There are literal flechette rounds for shotguns.

It’s one thing to have stupid fun on the range, albeit in a safe fashion. It’s quite another to think that somehow you’re going to make a scattergun even “more deadly” with magic bullets.

The standard for shotguns used as a personal defense weapon is buckshot, with #4 through 000 buck being the preferred medicine for home invaders and hostile critters at close range. It has been this way for quite some time, and for good reason – they work.

Granted, some folks prefer a heavy solid projectile to shot, and therefore elect to employ a rifled slug gun for home defense. This also increases the effective range of a shotgun, as rifled slugs and sabot rounds are effective on game out to 100 yards if not 200 with the right load and in the hands of a practiced marksman. Some friends of mine in Iowa have put a number of whitetails in the freezer with just such a weapon.

But buckshot, slugs and sabot rounds aren’t new. They’ve been around for some time, and there hasn’t been any terrific advancements. Oh, there have been some incremental improvements of course; buffered shot loads, plated shot for less deformation and greater penetration, Federal’s Flight Control wad, better sabot and solid lead slugs, and so on. But the wheel has hardly been reinvented.

If you’re serious about defending yourself, be at least a little serious about your choice of ammunition. Buckshot or lead slugs are the standard for good reason, and will work if you do your job as a marksman.

Flaming shotgun rounds are liable to set your house on fire if you shoot someone in your living room. Putting a .357 Magnum bullet in a sabot is just using a sabot and paying more for the privilege.

As to chained ball rounds, chain shot – in fairness – can be very effective. That is, if it’s shot out of a cannon. That’s on a ship. And you’re in the British navy, in the 18th century. But for the typical person, are you anticipating having to defend your home from tiny pirate ships?!

Let us know if that happens. And watch out for scurvy.

Point being, gimmick ammo is fun to think about and a hoot to take to the range. But you don’t want to bet your life on it.

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Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit