RIO 12 Gauge Buckshot

By Bob Campbell published on in Ammunition, Reviews

Not long ago I took my younger daughter and a cousin on a trip to a kid’s resort in the mountains. As usual, I loaded the truck with a top-notch first aid kit, spare clothes and the tool kit. I also loaded a Remington 870 shotgun. (The TriStar Raptor has since replaced it.) The 12 gauge was loaded with buckshot for the first two rounds, followed by two rounds of 12 gauge slug. My daughter didn’t blink, but her cousin Danielle gave her uncle an inquiring look. “I would like to stay at the top of the food chain,” was the only comment necessary.

Shotguns kick!

Shotguns kick, no doubt about it, but the effect at the other end of the range is awesome!

A 12 Gauge Shotgun is a Great Problem Solver

A 12 gauge shotgun is a great problem solver. It will take small game with game loads, larger animals with buckshot at moderate range and kill any animal in North America with a 12 gauge slug. A well named western Republican, lawman and buffalo hunter named Wyatt Earp used a shotgun with slugs during his time as a buffalo hunter—it suited his tastes and budget. (It isn’t well known that Wyatt was a Republican and that the cowboys were Democrats. Politics haven’t changed much—although the backbiting isn’t done with a shotgun these days.) The shotgun is a weapon and a weapons system, with the possibility of using flares, blanks, rubber ball and flash bang loads.

Zombie Target

This Zombie Industries target shows the effect of buckshot. Ouch.

A year or so ago, I purchased a good quantity of RIO 12 gauge buckshot for use in my training with the 12 gauge shotgun. I purchased it because it was inexpensive and readily available in times of shortage. It isn’t easy to find affordable 12 gauge buck and I simply wanted something to send downrange and to use in training young men and women on the shotgun. While I used inexpensive birdshot that doesn’t kick much for beginning training, it is necessary at some point to use the real deal. Buckshot has interesting properties. Buckshot tends to travel in strings. The leading balls might zip past a running target while the next balls in line in the string might hit it. When they strike a body, they tend to travel in pairs. They also do not carry as far as a rifle or handgun bullet. After firing several boxes of the shells, and watching my students do the same, I was impressed—never a failure to feed, chamber fire or eject. I wondered if this stuff goes bang every time—then perhaps it is good enough for duty use.

There are Three Ranges of the Shotgun

The first is a range at which the shotgun must be aimed as carefully as a rifle. This is usually about 7 yards with my open choked riot guns. By 10 yards, the pattern is set at about 4 to 6 inches with the pattern opening about an inch a yard after that. The RIO buckshot opens to about 16 inches at 25 yards with the Remington 870. Naturally, results from a shotgun with a full choke—or a choke at all—would be much tighter. The RIO shells get the nod for home defense. At any reasonable home defense range, the pattern is cohesive and effective. At longer ranges, the pattern is ideal for taking out a running coyote or other pest.

The bottom line—the shells are high quality with a full powder burn in the shotgun barrel. They burn clean and they always go bang.

That is all we may ask.

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RIO Buckshot Specifications

Product Length # Pellets Shot
Diameter Velocity
at 3 Feet
12 Gauge
Royal Buck RB129 2.75″ 9 00 .34 1345
Low Recoil Royal Buck RBLR129 2.75″ 9 00 .34 1200
Royal Buck RB1221 2.75″ 21 4 .245 1345
20 Gauge
Royal Buck RB209 2.75″ 9 1 .29 1345

Source: RIO Ammunition

Tell us about your shotgun and buckshot experiences 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 (4)

  • Meathead


    I got my first 12 gauge when I turned eleven. That was 62 years ago and I still hunt with it. It’s a double barrel full choke Utica with 32 inch barrels. I’ve always used either 0, 00, or slug for big game and #5 shot for squirrel, rabbit, fox, coon, possum and turkey. #5 shot works for most medium to small game and there’s less pellets to puck out of the critter


  • MDC


    Works like a charm in Saiga 12. Stick mags only, but works.


  • Michael J.


    I use shotgun for small and medium game. Buckshot is usually the best choice for most situations and the short range of the woods. I bought a case of RIO, cheap, effective, patterns well, its very high quality shot for the price. The only thing I noticed was that it seemed quite dirty, but that’s a small problem for a high quality round at that price.


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