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POLICE DETECTIVE (ret)
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Discussion Starter #1
Some promote #1B as being the best defense load, which is why I am posting this info. The complete report of this shooting can be found in the book, "GUNS SAVE LIVES" by Robert Waters.

This case was investigated by one of my old police buddies in 1999 (we were the two designated snipers on our high crime area Florida PD some years prior to that time). I read his official FDLE report of the shooting investigation he conducted as a Special Agent of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the main points of which follow.

A fleeing felon broke into a home late at night armed with a stolen .32 revolver. The homeowner shot the felon once with a 12ga pump loaded with #1B as the felon pointed the .32 revolver at him. Some of the pellets hit the felon in the left front chest and neck (exact number of pellets striking him not stated in the report). The felon did not fall or show any other sign of being hit other than exclaiming "Oh", dropping the revolver, and walking out of the house. He walked, did not run, 74 feet towards a wooded area before collapsing. He soon died, primarily from loss of blood from the neck portion of the wound. None of the #1B pellets exited the body.
 

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The data from this article is dated, and modern pattern-controlled loads give denser patterns than the ones available when this article was published, but the info on pellet energies and number of hits required is still solid:

"The Truth About Buckshot" - American Rifleman Magazine, October, 1982

This article summarized results from firing approximately 500 patterns with Remington Express 12-ga. buffered buckshot loads, without shot wrapper from Model 870 pump shotguns. Firings were conducted by NRA Staff, using test materials provided by Remington Arms Co. The article as published was oriented towards deer hunting, rather than home defense, for political reasons. Ten patterns each were fired at 25 and 40 yards, from cylinder bore, improved cylinder (1/4 choke), modified (1/2 choke) and full choked barrels. Cylinder and IC barrels were standard Police and Military Guard and Riot Gun barrels 20 inches long. Modified and full choked barrels were standard sporting barrels of 26" and 28", respectively.

Experimental modified and full choked 20 inch police and military barrels were also tested also, although the results with those were not included in the published article, because of the desire to maintain a "sporting" focus. Other than an slight, insignificant drop in velocity, results with the shorter, more tightly choked barrels was not materially different from common sporting-length barrels.

The same Remington 870 Wingmaster action was fired repeatedly interchanging the four different barrels.

Patterns were fired against a 48" square plate of AR500 steel 1cm thick, photographed and the oiled pigment rebrushed between shots. Pellet hits were plotted in relation to a clear plastic overlay having a 30" outer circle, positioned after each shot to to contain the greatest number of pellets, the clear patterning template having a 21.2" diameter inner circle, the 30" circle and 21.2 inner ring then being quartered by strung piano wires into eight equal-area fields. The 21.2" inner circle approximates the major torso area of a US Army "E" or FBI “Q” silhouette. Pellets striking inside the inner ring have a greater probability of striking vital organs, whereas those in the fringes outside the inner circle, but still within the 30" outer ring are more likely to cause non-life threatening wounds to the extremities.

A 100% pattern in which all pellets strike within the 30" ring may be ineffective unless the inner circle of the pattern surrounding the aiming point contains three or more pellet hits. The combination of soft buckshot, unbuffered loads and tight chokes increases pellet deformation which results in "doughnut" shaped patterns having weak centers. WW2, Korean and Vietnam-era Army experience indicates that fewer than three pellet hits of 00 buckshot do not produce “instant incapacitation,” unless one or more of those pellets strike vital areas of the head, neck, or chest. With random distribution of as few as three pellets in the 21.2" circle, hitting a vital spot depends on luck and random variations of chance. More hits are better!

A single 00 pellet (.33 inch diameter, weighing 60 grains) at 30 yards has a kinetic energy of about 120 ft.-lbs. Three pellet hits therefore produce 360 ft.-lbs., which approximates the kinetic energy of a single round of .45 cal. Ball ammunition fired from the M1911 service pistol. More than three pellet hits, when their combined effect is distributed over the body, produce greater shock to the nervous and vascular systems and vital organs struck than a single projectile hit having the same kinetic energy.

For law enforcement and military purposes 4 or more hits is considered "adequate" performance, producing a high probability of instant incapacitation. Any shotgun-ammo combination reliably producing 5 hits with 00 buck at realistic combat ranges from 25 to 40 yards is said to provide "good" performance. More than 5 hits is considered "excellent."

The standard Remington Express 9-pellet buffered load of 00 buck with no shot sleeve, fired from an 870 cylinder bore 20" riot gun averages 8.9 hits in the 30" circle and 7.1 in the 21.2" inner ring at 25 yards. This falls off to 7.5 and 3.3 hits at 40 yards.

Repeating the test using a 20-inch improved cylinder barrel, all nine pellets strike in the 30" circle and 8.6 in the 21.2" inner ring at 25 yards. Repeating the test again, at 40 yards, the IC barrel produced 8.0 and 4.4 hits, respectively. For civilian home defense purposes the 20" improved cylinder "Brushmaster" or "Deer" barrels with rifle sights give dependable performance.

For combat use the 12-pellet "short-magnum" load of 00 buck is a better choice in 2-3/4" chambered guns, if you can tolerate additional recoil. Even though the pattern percentages produced are lower, you can expect one additional pellet hit inside the inner ring.

If you wish to maximize pellet count to optimize pattern density, while still having adequate penetration to defeat interior walls or auto glass, the 20-pellet "short magnum" load of No.1 buck is the best choice. No.1 buckshot weigh 40 grains each, producing 103 ft.-lbs. at the muzzle, 69 ft.-lbs. at 30 yards and 61-ft.-lbs. at 40 yards. It takes twice as many pellet hits with No.1 to produce the same kinetic energy as half as many 00, so 6 pellet hits are marginal, 8 hit "adequate" and ten or more "good" performance.

No. 4 buck weigh only 20.7 grains each, and have 81 ft. lbs. of energy per pellet at the muzzle, 45 ft. lbs. at 30 yards and 41 ft. lbs. at 40 yards. Experience has shown that despite excellent pattern density, their penetration is inadequate to reach vital organs if major bones are hit, such as a sternum, rib or defensively positioned arm. The M257 buckshot cartridge with 27 pellets of No.4 is specified only for r interior guard and corrections system use where collateral damage to bystanders must be minimized.

As a general rule, soft lead, unbuffered buckshot spread about 1 inch per 1 yard of distance beyond the muzzle, when fired from a short-barreled cylinder bore police riot gun. Hardened shot assembled in buffered loads containing granulated polyethylene “grex” do better than that.

Typical 15-yard patterns on a military "E" silhouette using the current production Federal Pattern Control 00 buck from a 20" ¼ choke or Improved Cylinder barrel are about 8" in diameter!
 

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A friend shot a druggy at near point blank range when he came at him with a bat. Hit upper left chest between heart and shoulder. Through and through with shot cup not quite entering the chest. He said "**** man you didn't have to do that" turned around and crawled out the broken window. The police found him a couple of blocks away at an all night dinner on the phone. Ask Bob why he did not shoot again something to the effect of "Just shot him and did not even change the tone of his voice. People are supposed to fall down and go dead when shot like that just in shock."
Facts were the same from a LE friend who looked into the case.
 

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I've seen people all shot up. They don't die like magic. You drop pressure and volume ASAP and they collapse and then a competent surgeon fixes em up, if time and damage permit. Handgun kills people less often than you could imagine if cns or heart/aorta is not hit. Rifles and shotguns with buck or slug kill people.

See what I've seen in the ER, a rifle or slug/buck is something I don't see...unless a limb or digit is all that got tagged, a toe gets tagged.

Again though, it's about like a swift punch even with a 12ga slug. KE doesn't matter. It's cns disruption or taking out the pump house that gets results. Especially on psych or chemically altered.

Also on pellets and gel...I used to be a huge 357sig guy. I still love the round, just carry 9mm because it's more functional. However, the FAMS use the -918 sufficix loading. It's a 125gr bullet. Gold dot. From a 3.9" p229, pent ration is around 14 to 15 inches in gel. I remember only one time I read of a well documented case of it being used. Guy was filled in by a FAM.almost the whole magazine hit him. Nothing left his body or clothing. I always like to err on the side of overpenetration. 14-18" in gel. Means 00 or 000, for me personally, although #4 buck in a room is absolutely viable with hardened plated shot.
 

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Thanks for posting that, Neut. If I ever get reliable internet out in my part of the boonies, I'd love to set up a server for records of that kind of information, just for the folks who are interested in terminal ballistics data.
Why? The internet is full of war stories with little to zero documentation.

No need to set up a database for them. They're available with a click.
 

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Handgun kills people less often than you could imagine if cns or heart/aorta is not hit. Rifles and shotguns with buck or slug kill people.

See what I've seen in the ER, a rifle or slug/buck is something I don't see...unless a limb or digit is all that got tagged, a toe gets tagged.

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+1 for this. A person is much more likely to die from a knife wound than a pistol wound........... go figure.
 

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Why? The internet is full of war stories with little to zero documentation.

No need to set up a database for them. They're available with a click.
The kind of detail I'd want would be along the lines of the stuff Sanow and Ayoob were gathering, a bit beyond 'war stories'. I'd be after everything from police report information to autopsy reports, if the incident generated one. Hard data of that sort is not readily available.
 

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POLICE DETECTIVE (ret)
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Discussion Starter #11
Shooting info from high-crime police agencies are not exactly "war stories". The vast majority of such shootings are properly investigated and well documented.

Gel stats and other non-human target info are good for comparing one round against another, but don't tell us much of anything about real-life shooting results.

I've seen the results of multiple buckshot and birdshot shootings on human targets and those real world results have convinced me that #4B is best for close range in home situations (<15y) where innocents may be endangered by loose pellets. And deeper penetrating 00B for most everything else. (Birdshot is for birds & rabbits and is not suitable for serious self-defense due to shallow penetration).

And while 000B and #1B might be better under certain circumstances they are hard to find for sale at gun stores and do not usually show up in police shooting data.
 

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Home defense with a shotgun is under 15 yards, and likely under 10 feet, or about 3 yards, for your average shot. I agree with the retired detective above me, #4BUCK at home defense distances is an absolute man stopper. I keep my Benelli M2 tactical loaded with #4BUCK. Its also good for apartment living where you are worried about over penetration. The #4buck pellets are a lot less likely to over penetrate dry wall like a 00.

I've also read stories out of Vietnam that the south Vietnamese troops REALLY liked #4BUCK for clearing out jungles...they would leave 00BUCK behind and grab every last box of #4BUCK they could find.
 

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And while 000B and #1B might be better under certain circumstances they are hard to find for sale at gun stores and do not usually show up in police shooting data.
Number 1B is my preferred buckshot round. I've found that shell makers do a seasonal run of it once a year. When it shows up, I buy up what I want. When that year's run is gone, it's gone until the the next year. Not sure why they do it that way, but that's been my consistent observation over the past several years.
 

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On tv when someone gets shot with buckshot they get blown over car hoods and back through the window they just crawled through. I feel lied to.
Years ago I was a volunteer firefighter, we get a call 1 day for a wreck where a car ran out of the road and hit a tree, the driver had several hours before been shot in the gut while breaking into a home. He was shot with 12 gauge buckshot.
When we got to the scene he was out of the car, walking around smoking a cigarette talking normal, not even bleeding too bad. Kinda surprising once we learned what had happened to him. Made me rethink my home defence setup.
My 12 gauge has a beanbag round to let them know i'm serious then a slug as the 1st kill shot then 2 buckshots and another slug
 

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People hopped up on Adrenalin or drugs don't react to standard rules. It's best to keep shooting until they drop or run off.
Personally, I'd rather have 000 buck but I have to go online and order it because it is impossible to find in stores.
 

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People hopped up on Adrenalin or drugs don't react to standard rules. It's best to keep shooting until they drop or run off.
Personally, I'd rather have 000 buck but I have to go online and order it because it is impossible to find in stores.
People on adrenaline or drugs dont react the same to pain, but their body will react to the power of impact and the aftermath the same.

Sent from my Note 8 using Tapatalk
 

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Shooting info from high-crime police agencies are not exactly "war stories". The vast majority of such shootings are properly investigated and well documented.
Certainly. But that's not what's usually written in forum posts. It's usually anonymous, unsubstantiated war stories. I've seen shootings I'm extremely aware of the facts of, referred to on forums, sometimes by cops from the same department, or even in gun mags. They usually get the facts wrong, likely mostly on purpose. I tried arguing with a famous gunwriter once at an LE conference about a shooting from my department. He had no interest in the truth, and shutdown the debate, since the facts completely contradicted his written "true story" account.

The "Garcia shot that guy 5 times in center mass, and he kept trying to reload his gun" story, often refers to a shooting where 5 rounds were fired, with one or two peripheral hits. But the war story makes for a better read, especially if one is selling something, or trying to prove their opinion.

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