There’s a lot of crappy gun advice out there. One example I hear all the time is, “Load your home defense shotgun with birdshot. It’ll mess up the home invader, but it won’t go through the walls and endanger your children.”
Let me get this straight. You can put your fist through sheetrock, but try as I have on occasion, I’ve never been able to put my fist through a human opponent. And if what you’re shooting will go deep enough into a large, aggressive human male to stop him, what makes anyone think it won’t go through sheetrock, and in any case what are they doing firing in a direction where their children’s bedrooms are the backstop?
I said as much back in the 1980s when I wrote “StressFire II: Advanced Combat Shotgun,” and I stand by that advice today.
Greg Ellifritz, one of the brightest stars in modern self-defense training today, agrees. Here’s what he had to say on the matter last week in his very useful blog:
https://www.activeresponsetraining.net/bird-shot-for-self-defense. Please take the time to follow the links Greg encloses therein.
My recommendation is #1 buckshot in the standard “express” load for the 12 gauge semiautomatic defense shotgun: 16 .30 caliber projectiles that seem to give optimum penetration in homicidal humans and in most shotguns I’ve tried it in, optimum pattern density. I seldom see an autoloading shotgun that is absolutely reliable with the lighter “low recoil” or “tactical” loads, but those work fine in pump guns and of course give softer recoil. The Federal #1 Buck low recoil load is hard to find, but worth looking for. In a 20 gauge, the most readily available buckshot load is #3, which consists of 20 .25 caliber pellets, and at home defense distances, that’ll do.
Make sure the home defense plan is for the family to hunker down if there’s a home invasion, and you have pre-planned an interdiction point at which to confront the intruder(s) where you have cover, they don’t, and your loved ones aren’t anywhere in your “shooting background.”