Shotgun ammunition is the bullets/shells that are used in shotguns. Shotgun
ammunition is typically available in the form of big, lead slugs or cartridges
consisting of hundreds of tiny little pellets. A single projectile contained in a
shotgun shell is known as a slug, while a shell filled with several tiny pellets is
called a shot.
Shotgun Ammunition Types
There are many different types of shotgun ammunition out there. Some of the
more common types are:
Buckshot Loads – Buckshot loads are shells that contain lead balls with a large diameter. They are commonly used
for self defense and big game hunting. These loads can contain up to 27 balls or pellets measuring .24 to .36 inches.
Because of their large lead pellets, they are considered all-around defense shots. Buckshot loads are offered in
different diameter sizes with 000, 00, 0, #1 and #4 considered the most popular of the bunch. Larger models offer
effective penetration and a greater range whereas those used by law enforcement officers offer fast follow-up instead
of full power.
Birdshot Loads – Birdshot loads are shotgun shells that contain small diameter pellets. Commonly used for bird and
waterfowl hunting, these are considered field loads. These loads have poor stopping power, but work well at close
ranges (20-30 feet). Birdshot loads are usually recommended for self defense and behave like buckshot loads when
shot at close range.
Rifled Slug Loads – Rifled slug loads are shotgun shells that contain bullets made of solid lead. These are single
projectiles similar to rifle bullets. They have ridged sides that provide stability and rotation during flight. These loads
offer excellent stopping capabilities, but do not offer accurate hits because of the careful aiming required. Rifled slug
loads come in different types including sabot-type slugs, Foster and Brenneke. These loads are ideal for target
shooting in long distances.
Length – For a more powerful and acurate shot, choose shotgun ammunition with a length of 3 1/2 inches or more.
As a rule, the longer the shotgun ammo, the more powerful the shotgun ammo is. The length of the shotgun
ammunition is measured in inches based upon the firearms hull length.
Non-Toxicity – Due to environmental issues, many states and areas prohibit the use of lead ammunition in waterfowl
hunting and upland bird hunting. For environment-friendly shotgun ammunition, choose those that are made with non-
toxic properties such as steel, tin, bismuth, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-iron, and tungsten-polymer materials