Top 8 Best Shotgun Ammo Guides

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Ammunition

Argue with me if you wish, but I think the shotgun is the most versatile firearm on the planet. (Are you going to take an AR-15 dove hunting? Okay, I didn’t think so.) Now, along with versatility comes a mind-blowing amount of choices in shotgun ammo. It is difficult to figure out which load is appropriate for all the different tasks. Skeet shooting requires a different load than turkey hunting. You won’t—and sometimes legally can’t—use anything but a certain type of shell, like slugs when hunting deer. That is why I have collected our top eight shotgun ammo posts to help guide you through the confusing task of buying shotgun ammo.

How Gauge is Measured

How Gauge is Measured

Shotgun Ammo Guide

Shopping for shotgun shells—especially for newbies can be confusing. Unlike rifle and pistol ammo, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different loads to choose from. It’s a wonder the mind doesn’t blow when trying to make a decision. Birdshot, slugs, triple aught buck, #4 lead? What’s right? If you need to know what type of shotshell is best for home defense, bird hunting and everything else in-between, read this shotgun ammo buyer’s guide to lead you in the right direction.

Green box of SB Buckshot

SB buckshot

Defensive Shotgun Ammunition

The shotgun is probably the most widely used firearm for home defense. I know plenty of people who have no interest in taking up shooting as a hobby, but still have a 12-gauge pump action in the closet. Though easy to learn, many incorrectly believe you do not have to aim a shotgun to hit your target and that just the simple act of pumping it is enough to scare an intruder. Written for the beginner and first-time shotgun owner, “Defensive Shotgun Ammunition” helps you pick out the best shotgun ammo for home defense.

 

Tan box of Hornaday Buckshot with red lettering on a white background

Buckshot rules in personal defense

Using the Shotgun and Shotgun Loads

Dispelling myths and offering sound advice on what type of shotgun to buy for home defense, writer Bob Campbell stresses practice, training and choosing the right load for your shotgun for the ultimate in self-protection.

 

Seven different recovered shotgun slugs on a mottled white-to-gray background.

These are recovered slugs

Slug Up! Shotgun Ammo Choices for Self Defense

It is a common myth that birdshot—the smallest pellet size—is best for home defense. However, birdshot fails to penetrate effectively. In “Slug Up! Shotgun Ammo Choices for Self Defense,” Bob Campbell defends his favored choice of self-defense shotgun ammo—the shotgun slug. Read Bob’s take on why the 12-gauge pump-action shotgun loaded with Hornady Critical Defense 1-ounce slugs is his go-to home defense combo.

 

Three sizes of buckshot with the largest on the left, the smallest on the right on a white background

These are the buckshot sizes you may choose

Rio 12 Gauge Buckshot

When you teach and train frequently, you need a reliable round that you can also afford. Rio shotgun slugs are inexpensive and generally easy to find. Tested at 7, 10 and 25 yards, find out why the writer concludes Rio 12 gauge buckshot is worthy and effective for home defense in this range report.

 

Federal Premium 3rd Degree Turkey Shotgun Shell

Federal Premium

Turkey Loads

Spring turkey is right around the corner and hunters are gearing up—cleaning and patterning shotguns, dusting off decoys and laundering the camo. Much of your gear you use year after year, however, you will need to stock up on shotgun ammo. The right load is essential to bagging a turkey. From lead-free to traditional lead shot, we break down our favorite turkey load shotshells from Winchester, Hevi-Shot, Remington, Federal, Estate Cartridge and Fiocchi in “Turkey Loads.”

 

 

Shotgun Slugs

Shotgun Slugs

Best Slugs for Deer Hunting

Though the AR-15 is gaining popularity and the bolt-action rifle is unbeatable in terms of reliability, the shotgun is still favored by many hunters. Award-winning outdoor writer, Lisa Metheny presents her three favorites shotgun slugs for deer hunting—the Federal Premium Vital-Shok, Lightfield Commander and the Winchester shotshells.

PDX, Winchester’s Buck-and-Ball Loads (AND MORE!)

A handful of black tactical PDX shot shells on a target

Winchester’s PDX

Buck and ball loads are a mix of large and small shot, intended to get the most lethality out of both. The spread of the little shot is for shorter distances and the single, larger projectile is for longer ranges. Americans have used buck and ball loads since the days we fought with muskets. Today’s buck and ball loads are much more effective. Using a trench gun, Remington 870 shotgun and a 1911 handgun, Bob Campbell tests Winchester’s PDX Buck and Ball load for shotguns and pistols.

What are you favorite shotgun loads? Tells us what works best for you in the comment section.

SLRule

Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (23)

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    […] Top 8 Best Shotgun Ammo Guides – Mar 8, 2015. In “Slug Up! Shotgun Ammo Choices for Self Defense,” Bob Campbell defends his favored choice of self-defense shotgun ammo—the shotgun slug. Read Bob's take on why the 12-gauge pump-action shotgun loaded with Hornady Critical Defense 1-ounce slugs is his go-to home defense combo. […]

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    […] Top 8 Best Shotgun Ammo Guides – Mar 8, 2015. It is a common myth that birdshot—the smallest pellet size—is best for home defense. However, birdshot fails to penetrate effectively. In “Slug Up! Shotgun Ammo Choices for Self Defense,” Bob Campbell defends his favored choice of self-defense shotgun ammo—the shotgun slug. Read Bob's take on why. […]

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    […] Top 8 Best Shotgun Ammo Guides – The Shooter’s Log – Top 8 Best Shotgun Ammo. “Defensive Shotgun Ammunition” helps you pick out the best shotgun ammo. Read Bob’s take on why the 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. […]

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