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Buckshot vs. Slug for Home Defense | Which Is Best?

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There are many different options to choose from when it comes to home defense, but shotguns are popular because they offer a lot of stopping power. However, if you’re in the market for a new weapon, you might be wondering which type of round is best, buckshot or slug? 

Buckshot is best for home defense because it contains tiny pellets that spread out when fired, making it easiest to hit close-range targets. More importantly, buckshot is less likely to penetrate walls and injure other persons in the house such as family members.

So, which should you choose for home defense? It depends on what you’re most comfortable with and your needs. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between buckshot and slugs so you can decide what would work best for you.

What Is Better for Home Defense, Buckshot, or Slugs?

Buckshot is better for home defense because the intruder will be in the house and at close range in most cases. Since buckshot disperses tiny pellets when fired, you have a better chance of hitting the target, even in the dark. That said, it’s only effective if the target is closer than 30-50 yards.

Per a live test done by Tactical-Life, they estimate that buckshot will reach a “1 inch of spread for every yard from the target.” And since it is typically effective under 30-50 yards (90-150 feet), your chances of reaching an intruder inside are significantly increased, even if you can’t aim properly.

Still, slugs can also be effective for home defense, even though they’re not as versatile as buckshot rounds. In fact, they have a potential reach of around 1,200 yards (3,600 feet), though they begin to drop after 300 yards (900 feet). 

So, if you’re looking for a round that can do damage at a distance, slugs may be a better option for you. However, keep in mind that slugs are not as effective as buckshot rounds when taking down an intruder close by. In that case, you’ll need to be able to aim properly.

Ultimately, the best choice for home defense depends on your needs and what you’re most comfortable with using. 

For example, if you live on a large plot of land, you may prefer to have the ability to reach further. But if you’re just looking to protect yourself and your family in the event of a home invasion, then you might be better off with buckshot. 

This video eloquently explains why buckshot is best for home defense:

Why Is Buckshot Best for Home Defense? 

Buckshot gives you several advantages over slugs. For example, it’s typically less expensive than slugs and more widely available, which means your local firearms dealer probably carries buckshot rounds. 

Buckshot is best for home defense because it’s easier to handle than slugs. In addition, buckshot rounds are better at close range because they spread out, so you don’t need to be as accurate with your shots. 

Also, since buckshot likely won’t penetrate a wall, it’s best for those who live with roommates, family or for people living with neighbors sharing a wall. In this case, you won’t have to worry as much about hitting an innocent in the scuffle.

Best Buckshot for Home Defense

Shotgun Shell With Buckshot Spilling Out

Buckshot rounds vary in size, but the most common are 00 and 000. These rounds deliver a devastating amount of force at close range, making them an ideal choice for home defense

Number 1 Buckshot

Number 1 buckshot is the best option, delivering slightly less power than 00 or 000 rounds but with greater accuracy. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, consider using a mix of 00 and 01 buckshot rounds. 

Since number 1 buckshot is slightly more accurate than the larger alternatives, it’s often considered to be the most effective option for home defense. However, with the proper shot placement, it may not matter what kind of projectile you use so long as it delivers enough force to incapacitate an intruder quickly and effectively.

As a general rule: 

  • 00 buckshot is too powerful for home defense. 
  • In those cases, 000 buck can be used as a better alternative. 
  • 000 buckshot is said to be ideal for close-range defense but can’t effectively reach out past 50 yards. 
  • No matter the choice, you’d be hard-pressed to find a shotgun that allows for pinpoint accuracy at greater ranges. 

Choose Lead-Free Rounds

When shopping for buckshot rounds, look for high-quality products that don’t contain lead or other heavy metals. Not only is it illegal to use these in California and some other states, but they’re also extremely dangerous when fired at home or around people. 

Lead ammunition can also leave a residue when fired, leading to long-term health risks when left untreated. 

If you want the power of 00 buckshot without the added danger, try using lead-free fragments instead. These fragments won’t spread as much as regular shots and are less likely to cause injury.

It’s also important to consider the shot size. For example, 00 buckshot can be very effective at close range, but it won’t penetrate walls or damage targets that are further away. For this reason, you may want to consider smaller shot sizes, so you have a wider margin of error when firing at longer ranges.

Flat vs. Round Buckshot

The choice between round and flat-based Buckshot is largely one of preference. The projectiles spread less with flat base rounds but deliver greater power with round projectiles. 

Which you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Similarly, some shotguns are explicitly built for tactical purposes and have raised sights for easier targeting. These are also a matter of preference, but if you plan on using yours in this way, don’t skip out on these features. 

They might seem like an added expense now, but they’ll really come in handy if there’s ever an emergency requiring self-defense!

00 Buckshot Is the Best Option in Most Cases

Whatever type of buckshot you choose, make sure to test it out at the range before relying on it for home defense. The last thing you want is to aim at an attacker and have your round fizzle out before it reaches its target. 

In general, if you’re looking for around that will provide maximum stopping power at close range, then 00 Buckshot is your best bet.

I recommend buying firearms, ammo, and accessories at a reputable online dealer, like my top pick, Palmetto State Armory. They are well-respected in the community and provide a 100% lifetime warranty on every weapon they sell. Just click here to see their latest inventory.

What Shotgun Shells Do Police Use?

Shotgun With Tactical Shell Holder on Side

Many police departments issue buckshot rounds during standard patrols and even train with them in the event they’re needed to take down an assailant. 

Police typically use 2-3/4 inch (5-2 cm) 12-gauge buckshot rounds with nine pellets ranging in diameter from .32 to .35 caliber. Police utilize these rounds because of their high stopping power and wide spread. 

That said, since buckshot offers more coverage and slugs are better for distance, many police departments issue both, giving them the ability to choose the most appropriate round for each situation. 

Police-issued shotgun rounds are typically less powerful than those used for hunting since police shotguns fire rounds at shorter distances, and officers need to be mindful of the safety of bystanders.  

The most common rounds police issue are: 

  • #1 Buckshot (9 pellet, .30 -.36 cal) 
  • 00 Buckshot (9 pellet, .33 cal) 
  • #4 Buckshot (12 pellet, .24-.27 cal)  

Police shotguns can also fire bean bags or plastic bullets in addition to buckshot and gas shells in order to control crowds and fires. 

While a police-issued 12 gauge pump shotgun is a versatile and capable weapon, many citizens would prefer to have different rounds available for their home defense shotgun. 

Are Slug Rounds Good for Home Defense?

Slug rounds are good for home defense in terms of stopping power but are less effective than buckshot. This is because they do not spread, which means there is a higher chance that you’ll fatally wound another person when firing in the dark.

However, if you live alone, this shouldn’t be an issue. 

Slugs are also more effective at penetrating walls and other obstacles than buckshot. So, this makes them ideal for reaching a target that might be hiding behind cover. 

Benefits of Slug Rounds for Home Defense

Slug rounds generally have more stopping power than buckshot rounds because they are larger and travel at a higher velocity. 

The benefits of slug rounds for home defense include: 

  • A higher chance of stopping an intruder immediately 
  • Greater accuracy at longer distances 
  • Less risk of over-penetrating walls and other objects and injuring innocent bystanders 

Choosing the right ammunition for home defense can be tricky. There are various factors to consider, such as: 

  • The type of firearm you are using 
  • The distance to your target 
  • The size and shape of your target 

Will a Slug Go Through a Person?

Slug rounds will go through a person as they are designed to do as much damage as possible. They’re often strong enough to embed into or make it through a solid wall. In contrast, buckshot rounds are more likely to stop in the person, but they won’t do as much damage.

A shotgun slug is a solid projectile roughly the size of your palm. They’re meant to be fired out of smooth-bore or rifled barrel shotguns, not fully automatic or semi-automatic ones.

A rifle cartridge will spiral as it leaves the barrel, making it spin much as a bullet fired from an air rifle does. 

Buckshot rounds are designed to spread out as they exit the muzzle of a gun, which means that more of them will strike your target than if you use a slug round. 

Slugs have great penetrating power, but only if the target faces the shooter and nothing stands between him and his target (like drywall). 

Are Slug Rounds Legal?

The legality of slug rounds varies by location and by weapon. For example, high-penetration rifle rounds like those found in the UK are illegal, and this is because of their destructive power. 

In contrast, slug rounds, like the .50 caliber BMG, are legal in most states, but a few have restrictions on their use. California, for example, prohibits the use of slug rounds in handguns. 

Slug rounds are legal for people hunting with shotguns but not handguns or rifles. They tend to be used only by hunters, as they give them a better chance at taking down larger prey. The most popular slug round is .50 caliber BMG, which is the largest commercially available shotgun shell on earth. 

The bottom line is that slug rounds are more deadly than buckshot rounds, and they can cause more damage to your target. So if you’re looking for something that will inflict maximum damage, then a slug round is the way to go. 

Just be sure to check your state’s laws before you head to the range. 

Which Shotgun Shell Is Best for Home Defense?

Boxes of Slug Shotgun Shells and Buckshot Shotgun Shells

Multiple shells are effective for home defense, but some stand out from the rest. 

12 Gauge Slugs or 00 Buckshot rounds are best for home defense as they are the most effective. The only difference between the two is their size; 12 gauge slugs are around 0.79″ (20 mm) where 00 buckshot is 0.33″ (8.32 mm) in diameter. Buckshot contains 8-9 pellets on average within its shell. 

Slugs only contain one large projectile compared to the many found in buckshot. And while some people think this makes it superior to slugs for self-defense purposes – but that’s not always true.

When choosing between buckshot or slug rounds, you should consider how and when you’re most likely to need the weapon. As mentioned, you’ll be better off with buckshot in close quarters.

However, some shotgun barrels designed for home defense have rifled slugs to help control the shot pattern and maintain accuracy at longer ranges. 

Parting Shot

When it comes to shotguns and home defense, there are two main types of rounds: buckshot and slugs. Buckshot is a type of shell that fires multiple pellets or projectiles at once, and slugs are single projectiles that are larger in size. 

Both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation, but generally speaking, for close range, buckshot is the best option as its wide spread will ensure multiple hits on the target – and even if some shots miss, they’ll still do.

For more, check out How To Choose the Best Gun To Buy (Based on Your Needs).

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