View Full Version : Buckshot: How Many Hits Are Needed?

10-10-2004, 04:06 AM
I've been asked to write an article about the new, tighter grouping Law Enforcement Buckshot loads. One of the current tactical theories I've heard is that shotguns are often used at close range by shooters who are moving while shooting at moving targets. Therefore, the argument goes, the best shotgun to use is one with a very open choke in order to spread the pellets in a wide pattern. The idea is that getting even one hit on an opponent may be enough to slow him down sufficiently to gain the tactical advantage and finish the fight. So...it's basically a scenario that inovlves two hits: one to slow the opponent down and one to finish the engagement.

This does not fit with what I've observed in the field while hunting deer. The animals that I've seen harvested have all had at least four hits in the chest area. Now deer are not humans, but I've come to the opinion that at least four and preferably more than six hits in the torso with 00 buckshot are needed to quickly end the fight and prevent an assailant from getting to cover and returning fire. I'm not sure that a peripheral hit with a pellet or two would provide sufficient assurance of preventing return fire. Two-shot tactics may work sometimes, but what is the chance of consistently getting an opportunity for that second shot? Is going for any hit, even just with one pellet just wasting ammo? Or...is the Vang Comp barrel or the use of one of the new, tight-patterning loads the way to go with buck???

I'd appreciate the opinions of any of you with tactical shotgun experience.

10-10-2004, 06:15 AM
FWIW I believe in the tightest grouping possible, that is why I use slugs.:)

Al Lipscomb
10-10-2004, 09:16 AM
Shotgun ammunition can be tested using the same tests for penetration as other types of ammo. Once you have enough penetration the damage done will determine what the BG will do.

combat effective
10-10-2004, 01:42 PM
I want a very tight pattern. That's why I had my barrel threaded for choke tubes.

10-13-2004, 11:43 AM
Others here know more than I do, but for my two cents:

Hits are what stop the threat; misses are a threat to innocent bystanders.

If someone is inaccurate, then they need to train more. Tight groups allow me to extend the distance I'm effective at, and also allow better results with smaller targets (threat behind cover or a hostage, etc...). I keep slugs loaded when I can and some of those low recoil, accurate, buckshot rounds when I can't.

Mark Young
10-14-2004, 06:35 PM
You do have an obligation, legally and ethically, to account for every projectile you launch. A shotgun with a pattern designed to spread as wide as possible would be ethical only in a battle in which you have soldiers involved on both sides, with no civilians in the field.

As far as the actual number of pellets needed to bring down an opponent, one buckshot pellet which strikes the medulla would do it. As with any projectile, placement is everything.

I remember reading about a fellow officer involved in a gunfight in which the felon was hit by approx 11 .38 slugs and 2 full buckshot loads from the Ithaca 12 gauge, and he was still up and shooting.

Aim small, miss small and keep safe.

Celtic Warrior
12-09-2004, 06:12 AM
I agree with both of the Marks who've posted above! I also tend to use slugs (sometimes Buckshot...for certain things) But you do have a responsibility for every round launched (outside of a field of military combat...in which case launching a lot of projectiles downrange might be a great thing - not that you'd want them to injure or kill non combatants but it does occur)

In answer to your question (IMHO) Might a hit slow someone down or stop them from fighting? Possibly...but it also might not (remember one of the shooters in the FBI Miami shootout recieved a lethal wound right off the bat and still continued to inflict devestating damage) In this country if it does stop him then there is no legal justification for a shot to "finish them off" so it would be a "one shot stop". There have been people who recieved full loads of shot and still didn't stop right away...so??? I personally believe that the larger the projectile you can place into someone...and the more you can impact different areas of the torso (unless you hit the CNS initially) the more likely you are to end the oppositions aggressive actions against you.

Gabriel Suarez
12-09-2004, 07:30 AM

A quick perspective. I've used a shotgun a number of times operationally. Here are a few observations and opinions.

1). I think the Modern technique of the shotgun is flawed in that it seeks to make the shotgun into a rifle. The shotgun is no more a rifle than the pistol is a rifle.

2). If the only weapon you have is a shotgun (hereafter SGN) then you can certainly configure it for long range but it will never do the job of a rifle. The shotgun is a weapon you take to an expected pistol fight.

3). If you intend to load with slugs exclusively, leave the SGN in the safe and employ the rifle instead. The rifle makes a better rifle and solves the tactical problems of the shotgun.

4). The forgiving nature of the shotgun's ammo (buckshot) allows you to obtain hits when no other weapon system would allow you to stay up with the tempo of events. Examples - darkness, shooting on the run, shooting at moving adversaries, etc.

5). Worrying about background is all well and good, but when they are shooting at you trying to kill you, the issue about background will never cross your mind.

6). A shotgun with buckshot can deliver a conclusive wound at CQB distances (mostly unsurvivable). As well, it can allow you to hit with a few pellets in deteriorating and dynamic situations.

7). Those of you who've been to the Interactive Training know what I mean. What you can do standing tall on the range with a shotgun is only marginally interesting. What can you do with it in a FOF situation? Suddenly things may not be as black and white, nor as clear as they are at the shooting school's drills.

Again guys, just a perspective. The farthest shotgun shooting I had was 15 yards with Winchester 00 12 pellet magnum. 9 pellets hit, 3 pellets continued into the ocean, 3 pellets traversed the adversary through-and-through. The closest was 5 feet (very conclusive indeed). The most dynamic was on the run in the dark in a South Central L.A. parking structure.

12-09-2004, 01:31 PM
3). If you intend to load with slugs exclusively, leave the SGN in the safe and employ the rifle instead. The rifle makes a better rifle and solves the tactical problems of the shotgun.
One is sometimes limited by departmental policy and has to make do with what is allowed.