Lightfield’s Rubber Ball Loads

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.

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.

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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (16)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. I bought some like these at a local outdoor store a couple of years ago. I’ve used them on stray dogs chasing livestock, and getting into the trash. They learn real quick they aren’t welcome, and I don’t have to kill somebody’s dog.

    And they are also wonderful for in-laws.

  7. The only way is a lethal round, if it warrants a shot, mine will be 3″ 12ga. OO buck out of a 18″ tube…followed by 5 more if needed. rubber balls are for tennis, handball, basketball etc….

  8. Just my opinion, but if you need to use a weapon, in your home, it had better be a lethal situation. If there is no lethal threat against you or your family, there is no reason to use a non-lethal round. Remember, at short ranges, non-lethal rounds can kill.
    The absolute longest unobstructed distance in my home is 44 feet. Subtract my body depth and the length of my shotgun with a 20″ barrel, then it is about 41 feet, if the problem has his back to the opposite wall. Most likely possibility based on the layout of my home will be about a 30 foot maximum shot from the muzzle to target.
    That could be lethal with a non-lethal round.
    If there was a child in my home I would keep all my shots high chest and/or head. Actually, that would be my target in any case. That should keep any overpenetrated pellets above a child’s head, also based on my height. I would never shoot from my hip.
    When you pre-plan what you would do in a situation, take time to think of all possible variables in you personal situation.
    Will you have time to get to your long gun? If it is locked in a safe, can you get to the safe and back to where you need to be without putting your family in danger (or taken hostage).

  9. My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter sometimes stays with us overnight. Regardless of how carefully you plan out a home defense strategy there is always the possibility of over-penetration (thru walls, doors, etc.) of a self defense round. A non-lethal rubber ball load could POSSIBLY make sense in some situations. When my granddaughter wasn’t with us I would not even consider using rubber ball ammo.

  10. The shotgun has had few major changes since the first muzzel loader was produced. Although it has evolved thru a number of platform changes it remaind stilI recognizable from that first firearm. With modern steels and advances in design can the breach loaded platform, which was hand in hand with individual shot shells. Over the history of this firearm it has likly seen every conflict where a firearm was used, may be responsible for several evolutionary changes in the bird populations around the world and along with the .22 cal. Rifle is likly the most owned firearm in the world. Non-lethel munitions is a logical extension of this history.
    Personally, I use several loads as defensive loads depending on my situation from #1 buck and the DDuplek Defense loads which include Monolit and Hexolit balistic staliblised slugs and the Kaviar 26L fragabile round. There are even 12gauge grenades available now to LE and Military organizations. Within my residence the chamber always has a rubber or “bean bag” round in it. This is backed up with a combination of #1 buck and Kaviar 26L munitions. You can always get rid of the non-lethal first round if needed but you can’t get back a first round mistake if one is made.
    If your looking for or may need a more agressive round for say . . . Stoping a vechical for instance. One might take a look at the DDuplex AP20. This projectile will enter a car or truck engine block, cause extensive damage and terminal damage to the internal parts, then exit the other side of the block. This round also is stated to have other capabilities in the category being able to penatrate hard targets.
    This platform I suspect will be around in one form or another for as long as the human race will be. I would also think that if I were to time travel a thousand or more years into the future I would recognize the “Shotgun” of that era.
    My point is that if your a user of this platform type, own one, use it, relie on it, and always expect to have one. Its a smart idea to look at all your options, know and understand them. The use of non-lethal munitions not only have an important place NOW but that position will expand and evolve in the future. Just taking a possible look a way down the line, I wonder what platform will be used in low gravity environments that are surrounded by vacuum for instance?
    Anyway, from this operators POV, the Non-Lethal munitions are extremely important tools in ones arsonal today. They extend ones ability to deal with an increased spectrum of scenarios that one might face as either as a privet individual or in an offical capacity.
    Anyway it’s just a thought from a current end user of this technology looking at my future.

  11. For home defense, I use 3″ magnum BB loads in my 12 gauge pump shotgun.. which has a 18″ barrel. That is approx. 80 steel BB’s [and a hard plastic cup] screaming down the pipe at about 1,350 FT per second. They will make a gallon milk jug full of water disappear at 15 ft. Obama Care sure won’t be able to put a bad guy hit with one of those rounds back together again.

    But if I were to want to go with something a little less powerful, then I’d go to #8 target loads. If the situation is serious enough to warrant pointing the weapon and pulling the trigger.. then its serious enough to put the bad guy down, and keep him there.

    With less than lethal rubber balls… I don’t see it as being a much different impact to a bad guy’s torso than what a police officer wearing a bullet proof vest [minus the trauma plate] might experience if shot with a .38 spl.+P. The officer could still get off a number of shots … and so could a bad guy if hit with a rubber ball in the torso area.. especially if he is wearing a hoodie over a sweat shirt like so many street punks do today.. even in the middle of the summer.

  12. If you are using a shotgun for short range defense, think about using #4 buckshot. It will put more holes in the objective that usually recommended loads.
    If you have a laser sight on your shotgun, think about pointing it at the objective’s right eye. It could disturb their aim at you and if you have to shoot, the shot has a good chance of ending the situation.
    I don’t like turning on a flashlight on a weapon. It can give someone an aiming point.
    If you are in your own home, think about getting a remote control switch for one light in each area of your home, set to all turn on together with one remote control. Attach the remote to the forend of your shotgun. If you need to identify an intruder, you will be able to easily and can turn off the lights quickly too and you can change your position as you respond as needed.

  13. There is a big problem with loading less than lethal rounds. They are in the way when you need a lethal load in most weapons. You will never know what the situation will be. In most cases, unless you are in law enforcement, if you need to use a weapon, it will be in a life threatening situation and any delay in your response could be fatal.
    There are a few weapons that can work around this situation. There are a few shotguns today that have two magazine tubes that can be selected. Also, any side by side or over/under shotgun could have one lethal round and one not. They would not be my first choice for a defensive weapon however.
    Secondly, please do not continue the myth that racking a shotgun will make anyone willing to go into or start a life threatening situation flee.
    Racking a pump shotgun will do two things: it will expel the round in the chamber, giving you one less round that you might need later, and if in a low light situation, will give a sonic clue as to your location. Neither is beneficial to you.

  14. But will you have defensible position in reference to Castle and Stand Your Ground laws if you use less-than-lethal rounds? If you use LTL on someone coming up to your house at 3PM on a Tuesday, they can claim their car broke down or whatever, and then sue your butt off for an injury. Then you have to prove you knew their intent when they walked into your house.

  15. I’ve read other “experts” also affiliated with CTD who wrote that the sound of racking the first round into the chamber scaring off the perp is nonsense, all you did with it was give away your location to the intruder, and possibly given up the 1 round you needed to finish him before he finished off you or your family. Not a chance I prefer to take. My HD pumper will be stored with all live rounds including the chambered one. Aim, activate strobe flashlight and laser aiming dot on his chest, and if he don’t hit the floor on his own at that point, ….

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