Best Home Defense Shotgun Ammo

Best Home Defense Shotgun Ammo


Mathew R Reed
January 27, 2022

Defending your home from intruders or attackers must be high on your priority list. If you’re looking for the best weapon to protect your family and your property, a shotgun is the best choice.

Shotguns provide unparalleled force and accuracy, and they require little skill or background knowledge to wield efficiently.

They also offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to ammunition. If you already have a shotgun that you use for hunting, you can easily change out the ammo to use it for home defense.

Home defense is a complex task, and many elements can affect how effectively you can keep your family and property safe.

Are you an experienced marksman, or are you specifically buying a shotgun for protection? Where do you live, and what kind of security do you need?

There’s no predicting what sort of intruders you will face—if you live in a bustling city, your primary worry would be human attackers.

If you have a home in the suburbs or the country, you can expect many different types and sizes of wild animals. You need special kinds of ammo to keep them away from your home.

So how exactly do you choose the ammo based on all these factors?

In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of home defense shotgun ammo options that will suit various situations.

We’ve taken out the guesswork and compiled a list of the best options for you.

Let’s jump right in!

What Are the Best Home Defense Ammo Options?

What Are the Best Home Defense Ammo Options?

Your choice of ammunition is crucial if you’re thinking of using your shotgun for home defense purposes.

Whether you want to scare away human intruders or stop wild animals in their tracks, there are specific types of ammo perfect for every purpose.

Finding the best ammunition for home defense need not be difficult. Most shotguns used for security have 12-gauge barrels, so you just need to find 12-gauge ammo.

Make sure you get ammunition that will pair well with your firearm. This is important for accurate shooting and to ensure no harm will come to the shooter or any bystanders.

Best Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense

  • Winchester Super-X 12-Gauge #1 Buckshot: The Winchester Super-X does not over-penetrate like #00 buckshot but will inflict enough damage to stop an attacker.
  • Remington Express TAC 12-Gauge: The Remington provides versatile #00 buckshot pellets that deliver tighter shot patterns that will do considerable damage to home intruders.
  • 12 Gauge – Winchester PDX1 Defender line: The PDX1 Defender line from Winchester has some great options for home defense. Check out their slug and buck combo or one-ounce rifled slug.
  • Hornady Critical Defense 2-3/4″: Hornady products can provide reliable shot delivery even in challenging conditions.
  • Federal Power Shok 2-3/4″ Rifled Slug: This rifled slug will keep bears and other wild animals at bay.
  • Winchester Super X 2-3/4″ Rifled Slug: Winchester also has affordable slug options that provide good performance.
  • Federal Power Shok 2-3/4″ #4 Buck: This buckshot is unlikely to over-penetrate the target.
  • Federal LE Tactical with FliteControl 12-gauge 00 Buck 2-3/4″: This is the best choice if you’re looking for a tight pattern, reduced recoil, and optimum penetration.

Shotgun Ammo/Shell Types for Home Defense

Depending on what you are aiming for, the damage you want to inflict, and the distance from which you will shoot, there are a variety of options for ammunition.



Birdshot is the smallest type of shotgun ammo designed to target small birds. These pellets are best for targeting small objects at a 15 to 30-yard distance.

They have a short penetration range of fewer than 5 inches, which means they will not effectively deter large wild animals or even humans.

The FBI recommends at least 12 to 18-inch penetration for home and self-defense ammo.

Birdshot is ideal for bird hunting light-skinned birds, small animals, or clay targets.

It is the most affordable type of ammo in the market today, so if you have a limited budget, you can use birdshot to make loud noises that may scare away potential intruders before they enter your home.

However, if you’re looking for ammo that you can defend with in face-to-face situations with human attackers or wild animals, you need heavier ammo with deeper penetration.


Buckshot has a 16.5-inch penetration range, which will neutralize intruders without overpenetration. While similar in construction to birdshot, buckshot is made up of larger pellets with greater firepower.

Buckshot can be used at a 30 to 50-yard range, and are designed for hunting large, moving game such as deer and rabbit.

It is also a popular choice for home defense, as its penetration range can deter human intruders or wild animals in an instant.

The size of the buckshot can affect pattern tightness and penetration. Buckshot sizes range from #4 (.24 inches in diameter) to triple-aught #000 (.36 inches diameter).

The larger the pellet size, the fewer the pellets in each cartridge. Buckshot rounds of #0 and #00 are commonly used by the military and law enforcement against close encounters with human threats.

If you want the best home defense shotgun ammo, you should go with a #1 buckshot.

It has the ideal payload, penetration (over 12 inches), and cross-sectional area to produce effective wound trauma to your target.

There is little to no risk of over-penetration, so you need not worry about legal risk.



Unlike birdshot and buckshot, slugs aren’t made up of pellets. Instead, a slug is a single large metal bullet loaded in a plastic hull.

Slugs are powerful projectiles that can penetrate 30 inches in gel tests with little to no recoil. They remain lethal for hundreds of yards and are strong enough to penetrate walls and standard body armor.

A standard 12-gauge slug can travel up to 1200 yards. They have grooves on them that provide higher accuracy even through long distances.

Slugs are used in law enforcement and for hunting large game. They come in rifled or sabot varieties.

Rifled slugs are soft lead with angled riflings molded into the sides that allow the slugs to travel through the shotgun choke safely.

Sabots are slug cartridges with smaller diameter projectiles and hollow points. These cartridges are contained in a plastic housing called sabot.

The housing breaks away from the slug once it leaves the barrel, making them much more accurate in their projection.

Most shooting ranges do not allow birdshot or buckshot shells, so slugs are the best ammo for practice.

If you want to protect your family and your property against large wild animals such as bears, then shotgun slugs are the best choice.

The penetration and firepower of a slug will do great damage to your home if you shoot it indoors, so it’s best to stick to buckshot to defend against human intruders.

What Are the Best Ammo for Confined Spaces

What Are the Best Ammo for Confined Spaces

Whether you plan to practice your shooting skills in a shooting range or you want to arm yourself with a home defense weapon, you need ammo for confined space.

Shotguns are excellent weapons to deter short-range targets, and you need the ammo to match. Here are three options to consider if you want the best ammo for confined spaces:

  • Federal Top Gun Target: Made for target or competition shooting, this 12-gauge lead shot produces minimum recoil and makes practicing a breeze.
  • Fiocchi Game and Target: You don’t have to worry about fatalities or over-penetration through walls with these 12-gauge lead rounds.
  • Federal Power Shok #4 or Vital Shok: Both varieties are great if you live in a confined space with thin walls that bullets can easily pass through.

Best Ammo for Beginners and Novices

Best Ammo for Beginners and Novices
  • Estate Dove and Quail Load: Estate Ammunition has designed a range of high-quality yet affordable ammo for upland hunting or range shooting.
  • Rio Low Recoil 12 Gauge – 2-3/4″: You get reliable function at a great price from this 12-gauge ammo that can be used for hunting, training, or self-defense.


There is no single best home defense shotgun ammo for all—your choice will largely depend on where you live, what types of intruders you need to defend against, and how much experience you have with firearms.

We hope our guide can help you find the right shotgun ammo for your specific needs.

Where to buy shotgun ammo online?

You can buy in websites like Palmetto State Armory, Brownells, and There’s been a shortage in ammunition recently so you’ll have to check different websites for the specific ammo you’re looking for. Best to stock up when you do find availability as well!


Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.