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Shotgun Ammo: Everything You Need To Know

Are you looking to improve your shotgun capabilities in hunting or self-defense? Fortunately, improvements in weapon technology may simplify your selection process. If you get this right the first time, you won’t need to experiment with different shotguns and uses.

Shotgun ammo can make or break a hunting or self-defense trip. The possibilities are endless, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Stick with what you know, and you can update later.

Read on to learn about shotgun ammo types!

Types of Shotgun Shells & Their Uses

Shotgun ammo has a wide range of uses, from hunting and recreational shooting to home defense and birding competitions. Knowing the types of shells and their uses is crucial for shooters to know, as the wrong type of shell can be dangerous or improperly used.

Shotgun Slugs

The most common types of shotgun shells are shotgun slugs, which are one solid piece of metal and are used for hunting and self-defense. S

Shotgun slugs are designed to provide stability and accuracy when shooting at a long-distance target. They are referred to as “slugs” because they are solid, cylindrical pieces of ammunition with no internal parts.

Slugs in the shotgun use large amounts of powder, combined with a wad, to launch a single, large metal projectile. With a larger diameter slug than a typical shotgun shell, slugs can penetrate deeper into a target and generate higher terminal energy.

Shotgun slugs come in two main types: sabot and foster.


Buckshot is often considered the ultimate in close-quarters self-defense, due to the spread of the shot pattern enhancing accuracy. It is available in a variety of sizes, from the very small #7 shot to the larger #000 buckshot. The size of the pellets varies based on the size of the shotgun shell, the amount of powder and the type of wadding used to propel the pellet.

It is important to know the size of buckshot that is right for your firearm, as too small a size could cause the pellets to spread too wide and reduce the potential damage to a hostile target.

Buckshot shotgun ammo is also designed to be used in smoothbore barrels while shooting slugs or sabot rounds require a different type of barrel.


Birdshot is a type of shotgun ammo that is typically used for hunting birds and other small games. It is available in different sizes, with sizes 6, 7, and 8 being the most commonly used. The size of the pellets determines the distance and accuracy of your shot.

Birdshot ammo is especially effective at close range, where its smaller pellets scatter more quickly and cause more tissue damage in the area. The pattern of the pellets spread out quickly at close range, increasing the chances of hitting the target.

When shooting at longer ranges, birdshot ammo is not recommended as it is less accurate and the patterns won’t spread out enough to hit the target properly. This ammo is generally less expensive than other types of shotgun ammo, making it an attractive choice for beginner or novice hunters.

Different Shotgun Chokes & Ammo Compatibility

Shotgun ammo comes in many different styles and is used for different purposes based on the type of shotgun and the purpose of the shot.

Different shotgun chokes and ammo compatibility is one way to make sure your shotgun is both safe and effective. Generally, it is important to use the correct choke with the correct type and size of ammunition.

Most shotguns come with an instruction manual that can be used as a guide when determining choke size and ammo compatibility. Some shotguns come with interchangeable chokes that allow the shooter to easily switch between shotgun barrel chokes and ammo. Knowing your shotgun choke size is essential to ensuring the ammunition used is safe and compatible.

Gauge vs Shell Length

When it comes to shotgun ammo, there are two main factors to consider – gauge and shell length. Gauge is a measure of how thick the walls of the cartridge are and is usually expressed as a number, with larger numbers indicating thinner walls. This can be important when it comes to choosing ammo for shotguns as different gauges may be better for different tasks.

Shell length is also very important, as different lengths can be better for different types of shooting. Generally, longer shells can contain more shot pellets, allowing for greater accuracy and range, but will also be more expensive and may not be suitable for short-range applications.

Ultimately, when choosing shotgun ammo, it is important to consider both gauge and shell length, as the decision can have a major influence on performance and cost.

Ammunition Recoil & Ballistics

Understanding the impact of ammunition recoil and ballistics when using shotgun ammo is essential. The type of cartridge used, the load, and the size of the gun must be taken into account.

If a shooter is using lighter loads, the amount of energy delivered to the shoulder is reduced and the shooter will feel less recoil. Heavier loads deliver more energy and more recoil that the shooter must overcome.

The shape of the shell will impact the trajectory of the pellets and the pattern of the shot. Wads, powders, primers, and even choke sizes must be considered in order for the shooter to be successful in their shooting endeavors.

Proper Storage & Use of Shotgun Ammo

Proper storage and use of shotgun ammo are essential for the safety and functioning of the firearm. When storing your shotgun ammo, it is important to keep the storage area dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight. Avoid storing ammo in humid areas such as a garage, attic, or basement.

It is also important to properly label ammunition and store them in a well-ventilated area away from other combustible materials. Proper use of shotgun ammo also involves being aware of the environment and appropriate target ranges when discharging any firearm. Make sure that you also have the best compstock for your needs.

Are You Ready to Take on a New Hobby?

Many enjoy hunting and if you are one of those who want to try this out, then you have to remember these things about different types of ammo and more.

Shotgun ammo is an essential part of shotgunning, and requires some knowledge to safely and effectively use. Understanding the specifics of each load type and the proper technique to shoot them can improve both accuracy and consistency.

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