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Home Defense Shotguns: Do I Use Slugs, Buckshot or Birdshot?

Even though crime rates in the US according to FBI statistics are falling, the need for home safeguarding and defense is still a very real one. This is particularly dependent on where in the country you’re located. Where there are places where home invasions and other such crimes may slowly be becoming a thing of the past, there are other regions and locations which have not been so fortunate.

In any case, it’s better safe than sorry!

Shotguns and Home Defense Rounds

Shotguns are usually a standard go-to when it comes to firearms for home defense. This is because shotguns are relatively easy to handle and offer the kind of stopping power that you would need to stop an attacker at close range.

This being said, if you want to get the most out of that home defense shotgun, one of the things to pay attention to is the kind of rounds you’re using.

The Usual Suspects: Which is Best

When it comes to home defense shotgun rounds, the choices you’re left with broadly speaking are birdshot, buckshot and slugs. The question is which of these is most appropriate for home defense purposes. Let’s find out.


We’re going to address slugs first and foremost for one reason. If you’re looking for a round to use within the home and you live with kids or in a place that is populated and may even have thin walls, DON’T use slugs. Slugs when fired out of a shotgun provide the same degree of penetration that you would expect from a rifle.

Though slugs will do well to stop any assailant, chances are they will tear right through and could injure anyone else in proximity. Further, slugs can easily rip through drywall and into the home of your neighbors. For this reason, unless you’re defending a ranch or large open estate, slugs are a no-no!


Birdshot can actually be quite useful for home defense in smaller spaces. This is particularly so if there are children in the home as well as if you have thin walls with neighbors on the other end. The reason for this is because birdshot rounds are extremely effective close range but lose velocity and power a lot quicker than other round types.

For this reason, exiting the target and over penetration are not something you will need to worry about too much. Furthermore, your birdshot spray will likely be less lethal than say buckshot once the optimal range has been crossed.

We do recommend birdshot as a home defense round for homes that are tighter and more closed off.


The most popular choice for a home defense round, as any seasoned firearm enthusiast will tell you, is 00 buckshot. Buckshot will not rip through the target as well as your dry wall like a slug. This reduced penetration power at longer range makes it a safe option for home defense.

Buckshot can be a little tricky to use in tight spaces however is great for medium sized homes, corridor defense and even home proximity defense. Buckshot provides enough stopping power and is quite an effective option when it comes to home defense rounds.

The Upshot (No Pun Intended)

There are other shotgun rounds like duck shot that people have experimented with however we feel between 00 buckshot and your standard birdshot, you should be okay. Just remember to always buy shotguns online from a reliable and recognized vendor.

Gold Mountain Arms is a veteran owned firearms and accessories store based in Washington focused on an improved customer experience offering firearms and optics for sale online to customers across the US.

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