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Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:15 am

Planning to run some pattern testing on a Remington 870 12 gauge home defense gun next weekend. The gun is a heavily modified Wingmaster with 20" smoothbore rifled sight deer barrel which now sports XS Big Dot sights. This barrel is a fixed choke Improved Cylinder. Improved Cylinder are typically designed to pattern birdshot into a 40" circle at 30 yards.

The pattern tests will be for various manufacturer offerings of 00 Buckshot ranging from standard lead shot to copper plated shot also to include several of the Federal Flite Control offerings.

Traditional pattern testing is done at a fixed range of 40 yards which is way too long for defensive purposes in my book and more suited to upland bird hunting with birdshot.

I'm currently thinking to do pattern testing at 7, 15, and 25 yards for each variety of shotshell on hand.

Interested in other folks opinions and thoughts on best distances to pattern buckshot loads.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:37 pm

My experience with the Remington 870 shotgun with the IC Choke is that the patterns may come out a l little tighter than you think. I have the 20 Inch Express model 20 Inch IC with Rifle sights. I have actually used this in North Carolina to Squirrel hunt and did very well at distance. I think the defensive distances you have mentioned, the 870 will do well. Have you considered any Slugs? I know a Slug could be dangerous in an urban setting, but in certain defensive situations, you should consider varying your ammo. Just a thought.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:43 pm

Thanks Marco... Sounds like the 870 barrel on my rig is basically the same as yours. I think the 7 yard target distance will probably wind up as a single ragged hole though want to test that as it's a likely distance for a defensive scenario inside the home. Should start seeing groups open up at the 15 and especially 25 yard ranges.

My current housing situation is a pretty tight subdivision with only 10-20 feet between houses so I can't really load slugs in good conscience. Even 00 buckshot has quite a bit of drywall penetration which poses a concern of exiting my structure and potentially penetrating a neighboring house.

That being said though, in the past I've found this barrel to be pretty effective for slugs. I have run a lot of slugs in training courses at distances up to 100 yards. Seem to remember that the group size at 100 yards was sufficient for center of mass accuracy. Planning to take a refresher course again in next two months or so where I'll need to bring some slugs for practice as well. Will record group sizes there for future reference.

If I can manage it in the meantime, will probably run a second round of testing with various slugs also when I get a chance to see if this gun has a preference for any particular ammo.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:44 pm

Self defense I would think 20 feet would be max?

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:50 pm

Hi Chuck I tend to agree. Inside the home I think 7 yards is actually a pretty long shot and ranges could be much closer in any reasonably anticipated self-defense scenario. Expecting 00 buckshot patterning at these distances to be basically one ragged hole on paper. Planning to take a personal day Friday at the local range to start the ammo testing and see if this holds true.

I'm just tossing in the 15 and 25 yard ranges because many of the loads I have on hand, particularly the Federal Flite-Control have a reputation for maintaining very tight patterns out to a considerable distance and I'd like to see if this holds true on paper.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:03 pm

My friend shot a 2X6 board at 10' with#7.5 and put a 2" hole in the board. You don't even need buck shot at that distance.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:02 am

That's a good point and there are definitely proponents of birdshot for civilian HD purposes, especially where homes are in close relationship. The basic conundrum is providing sufficient penetration to reach the vitals of a bad guy vs over penetration where buckshot pellets can leave a dwelling posing a risk to neighbors.

There is an interesting article I dug up this involving birdshot testing at close range on various thicknesses of plywood and also ballistic gelatin:

The article basically says that the birdshot pattern in plywood is single hole at 10 feet like you mention with indications of substantially reduced penetration at 15 feet. The penetration in ballistic gel ranged from around 5" at a range of 10 feet to 4" at a range of 15 feet. Compare this to the 12" minimum penetration for handgun bullets recommended by the FBI testing protocol.

Personally I'll err on the side of having enough penetration to take out a bad guy in the home. Buckshot provides more penetration, particularly if needing to take a longer shot down a central hallway or even if the bad guy just happens to be wearing heavy clothes.

It would be very interesting to test larger birdshot vs buckshot in ballistic gel.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:11 am

I stock #4 buck for my 20 gauge. You might consider it when over penetration is a concern.

Link to shotgun ammo testing. http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/0 ... us-rounds/

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:03 am

Thanks Shawn I'll read the article when I get a break from work later today. Appreciate the info and may re-evaluate my load choice for home based on the information.

I am seeing that Federal makes the PD156 4 Buck load in 12 gauge @ 1100 fps. Copper plated buckshot with buffering compound to reduce shot deformation. I will add this into the testing mix if I can find some locally.

We are also thinking of picking up a Mossberg SA-20 railed in 20 gauge. 12 gauge is the most popular chambering though I have heard a lot of good things about 20 gauge as well for defensive applications.

Re: Pattern Distances for Tactical Shotguns

Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:18 pm

golddigger14s wrote:Self defense I would think 20 feet would be max?
My M1S90 could take a head shot on a BG hostage taker at the range! :rockout:
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