Lightfield’s Rubber Ball Loads

By Bob Campbell published on in Ammunition, Reviews

I have often stated that the shotgun isn’t just a weapon, it is a weapons system. The new Home Defender products from Lightfield ammunition underscore this statement. The shotgun will digest birdshot, buckshot, slugs, bean bags and all manner of munitions. It is common to use rubber ball guns and tear gas guns in Europe. Again, non-dedicated adversaries such as those attempting an (unarmed) break-in and against dangerous animals that are roaming the property, these munitions have merit. On the basis of short range alone, they will serve. But make no mistake, the legal consequences of an injury by these munitions must be faced, and the same rules apply as with any lethal encounter. BB guns, lead air gun pellets, and even paintballs have killed individuals. In at least two unfortunate incidents, blank guns have killed movie actors.

Package of five rubber ball rounds from Lightfield Home Defender Series

Although generally considered less-than-lethal, Home Defender rounds are not toys and should be treated with the same caution given to any other round.

I mentioned some of the rubber ball guns in Europe. It was also common in Holland, prior to World War Two, for officers to load their five-shot .38 caliber revolvers with a blank, two tear gas cartridges, then two ball rounds. The concept of using nonlethal ammunition in a lethal weapon is long established. So is the concept of, “just have a bad guy go away.” The concept of taking a life is so abhorrent to some that they look for a nonlethal means of personal defense. For those of such a mind and others, a 20 gauge shotgun with this rubber ball ammunition just may be the answer.

If you keep these rounds in the pump shotgun, the act of racking the shell into the chamber has been known to make strong men flee. When you fire, that is another warning—and when he is hit, he may not realize it wasn’t a full load of buckshot. The good thing about the shotgun is the non-lethal round will be first up and you can back it up with buckshot. Now, if the perp is firing at you, all bets are off and go to the buckshot load. Otherwise, the rubber-ball load just may work. In police work, many agencies require the shotgun used for nonlethal beanbag loads and the like be specially marked and never loaded with slugs or buckshot. This is a good idea, and in all cases, you should be certain of the loading.

two Lightfield Home defense rounds

Less-than-lethal rounds have their place. Whether or not you decide to load them in your primary home defense they should be part of your arsenal.

Lightfield tells us the rubber slug is very accurate inside of a home defense situation. I have fired a goodly number of similar rounds, intended for practice, by a company that made slugs for European boar. They were very accurate to about 15 yards. Rubber slugs have a solid hit when striking steel reaction targets, will actually move an eight-inch gong. They also have been proven accurate enough to hit man-sized targets to about 20 yards.
Be certain you know the point of impact versus point of aim for these loads if you rely upon them outside of home defense distance. They may fire as much as a foot high or a foot low, although this isn’t noticeable at home defense ranges. If you have a large dog chasing your cattle, this is a good load to keep on hand, or even for introducing youngsters to the shotgun. Recoil is nonexistent. Remember—in certain conditions such as a hit to the soft areas of the neck, this load could be lethal.

By using this load, you have shown a reluctance to take a life in a life-threatening situation. On a final note, like most long-time trainers, I have suffered a number of hits by bullets that bounced off hard wooden frames— and once by a lead bullet that bounced off of a subjects car during an in service incident. Each left a bruise and carried far less energy than the 20 gauge ball loads by Lightfield.

They should be in the arsenal. Just in case.

Have you ever considered a less-than-lethal round for home defense? Tell us your choice in the comment section.


Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (16)



    I got it wrong. The rubber buck is #1 not 00.It moves at 1465 FPS.The #4 buck I like is 27 pellets not 21 it gives a thicker pattern. CTD sells all 3.




    I got a box of Seller and Bellot rubber buck shot. 15 pellets of oo buck. You would have to be at point blank range for this to hurt a motivated attacker . All you will do is tic him off. This would be good for crowd control {sting ball} or running off animals.It might take the place of rock salt loads? If you use this on critters that can eat you load a slug backup. It has NO recoil and was fun to shoot but I don’t want to risk the life of my family by not stopping a bad guy just so I can feel good about myself. The heavy rubber ball or rubber slug might do the job. For now i will load #4 buck. PS use the NRA roundup.


  • Mike Dodson


    Even a rubber ball (or other “non-lethal” load) can result in a fatality. Perhaps you’ll be in a better position, legally, but so what? If I have to fire a round in self defense it will be because I am in fear of death or damage to me or to my loved ones or of some other innocent. I want the bad behavior to stop immediately. Consequently, I will be firing live ammo and not something designed to look good on paper only. Thanks, but no thanks.


  • Yosemite


    When it comes t self defense and being a civilian…one has numerous options to choose from. From handguns, to rifles, to shotguns. Most people of lighter stature are most likely to stay away from shotguns….again most people THAT DO get a shotgun get a 12 gauge and load it with 00 buck magnum loads…simply because if they are good enough for the police or military then it has to be good enough for me. MOST people of smaller stature cannot effectively and accurately control the 12 gauge with magnum loads. Magnum loads DO OVER PENETRATE….THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR INSIDE ONE’S HOME,APARTMENT,BOAT,ETC! ( I prefer a load of # 4 BUCKSOT….NOT # 4 Turkey shot…

    All that being said most people of slight stature can easily handle a 20 gauge shotgun accurately and consistently with little problem of recoil…there will be little noticeable damage results on the bad guy. With most ranges being close inside one’s house, apartment, boat whatever…..ONE MUST REALIZE any miss or over penetration, can and will most likely endanger another person…NOT to mention damage to there dwelling. One must be familiar with any firearm they choose to defend and protect themselves, their family, etc., with. At distances of less than 10maybe 15 feet birdshot has not had time to fully separate and will leave a very nasty wound. # 3 buckshot in a 20 gauge shotgun is “GENERALLY” the largest buckshot available.. One can alternate the loads as they see fit. Even slugs! ALWAYS REMEMBER WHAT IS BEHIND THE BAD GUY/YOUR TARGET,YOUR CHILD’S BEDROOM MAYBE??? YOUR NEIGHBOR’S BEDROOM OR THEIR CHILD’S BEDROOM…..

    HOPEFULLY one will not be using a long barreled bird gun…..a shorter barrel say 18-20 inch barrel inside one’s dwelling is much better for home defense…The long barrel going corners can/will allow the bad guy to grab and knock it away or take the weapon from you.
    Opinions will always vary as to what one should use in cases of home/self defense, but one will often be using what they have at hand and not necessarily the weapon of choice they wish they had. ALLWAYS AIM FOR CENTER MASS! IT GIVES YOU THE GREATEST POSSIBILITY OF A HIT AND TO STOP THE THREAT!!! PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE,AND PRACTICE SOME MORE!!!! PRACTICE RELOADING DRILLS


  • mossyoakgangsta


    Dead men tell no tall tales. Ye intruders beware. No warning shots, no less lethal. It’s M193 from my M4 or 00 buckshot depending on what gun is closer to me. No chance of the intruder hiring a personal injury lawyer if he’s dead.


  • peteyraymond


    Mr. Boomer – If your in-laws are armed, I’d go with a lethal round!


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