Do you go along with the myth that a Birdshot is more effective for home defense? This guy actually tested it out.

Tom McHale, Outdoor Hub – This week’s Mad Gun Science experiment has to do with the idea of using birdshot for home defense. This one has two “hearsay” truths:

Birdshot is effective at short range because the shot acts like one big projectile before it has a chance to spread out too much.

Birdshot is not effective for home defense because the small and light pellets won’t penetrate enough to stop a determined home invader.

Rather than discuss the theoretical merits of each argument, I decided to go shoot some stuff with birdshot at very short ranges.



  1. I prefer not to be shot with any of these.
  2. Using birdshot against an attacker will likely make a huge mess.
  3. For this “solid mass of pellets” theory to hold up, you really need to be inside a range of 15 feet, preferably 10. The ability to blow large holes through plywood was far more consistent at 10 feet than 15. At 10 feet, shot size didn’t seem to matter a whole lot.
  4. As to effectiveness for home-defense, you have to make your own call. The short range performance was certainly devastating to plywood, but the gel tests showed nowhere near the level of penetration that a traditional handgun bullet would achieve.
  5. Blowing stuff up with shotguns is fun, even though I get strange looks at the range.

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