Shotgun ammunition has come a long way from its black powder days. With highly engineered shot wads and a plethora of shot sizes, shapes and materials, there is a shotgun load made specifically for just about any shotgun application you can imagine. Hunters appreciate the versatility of the shotgun, as it is capable of taking almost all North American game when using the proper gauge and ammunition. People who use the shotgun in self defense applications appreciate the hard hitting, high energy loads that are specifically built for their needs.
The hunter has many choices when it comes to shotgun ammunition. Traditional shot, like lead and steel have been joined by copper and nickel plated lead or tungsten based shot to improve performance and retain energy for longer distances, Remington’s Premier Turkey Loads are a great example of this technology. Shotgun wads, like Federal’s Flitecontrol, help to maintain an even, dense pattern by which range is increased. The shotgun slug has gone through an extensive reworking to allow it to take advantage of rifled slug barrels. The Hornady SST slug is a prime example, the manufacturer claims accuracy out to 200 yards, and according to testimonials on the website, it delivers.
Self defense ammunition has come a long way in the past few years. With .410 bore handguns like the Taurus Judge and Smith and Wesson Governor, the .410 has made a huge comeback. Remington, Federal and Winchester have 000 Buck loads that are very popular for defensive use. Another shot shell aimed at the .410 pistol market is the Winchester PDX1. This ammunition has three 000 Buckshot sized discs backed by 12 BB sized pellets, or an alternate load has a one ounce slug with three 00 Buck pellets. The 20 gauge shooter is not forgotten, as several companies make self defense loads for the lighter, more controllable cousin of the 12 gauge. Federal has a 20 gauge load that is comprised of 24, #4 copper plated lead pellets that will achieve excellent penetration without the harsh recoil of the 12 gauge.
The most versatile gauge, in regard to ammo, of all modern shotguns is the 12 gauge. There are virtually countless numbers of loads available on the market. If there is a particular shotgun load in another gauge, most likely you will also find a similar load in the 12 gauge. The 12 gauge delivers quality performance over a wide spectrum of user demands. From breaking clays, to breaching doors and stopping bears, the 12 gauge is arguably the most versatile of not only shotgun ammunition, but of all firearms ammunition. It can be had in birdshot, buckshot, and slugs of many different metal compositions and charge weights. Specialty ammunition includes duplex loads that combine shot sizes or shot with slugs. Flechette loads are available for self defense use. Law Enforcement personnel have used rubber ball and beanbag loads as a less lethal option with great effectiveness. For military and police needs, Federal has recently introduced a shell that produces effects similar to a flashbang grenade. This along with Fiocchi's door breaching load, followed by Hornady Critical Defense ammo, will theoretically allow one person to breach a room, cause a diversion and clear it, without removing their hands from the same weapon.
With highly advanced technology and the most advanced materials available, shotgun ammunition can meet almost any need of the competitor, hunter, homeowner or armed professional.