What Types Of Shotgun Shells Are Available?

Shotguns are commonly used weapons for both home defense and for hunting. However, the effectiveness of a shotgun is affected heavily by the type of ammo that is used. The right type of ammo needs to be used for the situation under which you will use your shotgun. 

The Gauge and Length

The ammo used with a shotgun is measured by gauge instead of being measured by caliber. The gauge determines how powerful the shot is and also determines how much range the shotgun will have. You will also need to choose a shell length that is compatible with your shotgun. For example, a 12-gauge shotgun can handle shotgun shells of all lengths.


The type of ammo you choose should also be based on the type of animal that you want to hunt. For example, birdshot is ideal for shooting birds and small animals. It is not usually used for self-defense but is useful when engaging in target practice and when shooting clay pigeons.


Buckshot is used for hunting larger game. It can also be used for self-defense purposes because buckshot has a lot of stopping power. It also has the ability to penetrate metal plates. However, it also has greater recoil, because of how powerful it is, and you may need more training to be able to use it effectively. 


Both buckshot and birdshot use pellets. Therefore, your aim doesn't have to be as good because there are multiple pellets hitting a broader area. However, if you would like to fire a single projectile that travels a farther distance, another option is to use a slug. While you'll need to have better aim with a slug, it can be more effective under some circumstances. This type of ammo is often strong enough to stop large animals, such as bears.

Smooth and Rifled Slugs

Shotgun slugs can also be smooth or can be rifled. A rifled slug will spin and will be more accurate when it hits the target.

Lead, Tungsten, and Bismuth

Shotgun shells in the past have largely relied on lead. However, newer shotgun shells have used other materials, such as tungsten or bismuth. These shells should only be used with new shotguns because older shotguns can be damaged by them. However, if you are using the shotgun for hunting and intend to eat what you kill, they can be considered less toxic.

Contact a local gun store to learn more about ammo.