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Ammunition (cartridges, shotshells) for tactical shotguns

Shotguns are widely used for hunting various game, for sport, as well as for a variety of military, police, security and civilian home defense purposes. Actual spectrum of shotgun ammunition produced worldwide is extremely broad, although actual number of calibers (gauges) is quite limited.
Shotgun caliber (gauge) is an old measure that lists a number of full-bore lead ball projectiles that can be made for a specified bore from a pound (454 gram) of lead. therefore, the smaller the gauge number, the larger the bore diameter, and vice versa. Today, the most common shotgun gauge in the world is 12 (bore diameter about 18 - 18.5 mm), with 20 and 16 running for 2nd and 3rd places. Bigger bore gauges (10, 8) is seldom used for anything but hunting, although one Russian police / anti-riot weapon fires 4 gauge (23mm) shotshells. Smaller bores (28, 32, .410) also seldomly used for anything but hunting or sport. In police / security / military shotguns, the 12 gauge is the king of the game.
Shotgun shells in the same gauge also can differ by material (plastic with brass base, paper with brass base or all-brass, the latter two gradually sliding into obsolescense), and by shell length (uncrimped), which usually equals to chamber length. Today, the most common chamber / shell lengths in 12 and 20 gsuge are 70mm / 2 3/4" and 76mm / 3" (also known as 12 / 20 gauge Magnum). Older guns may have 67 mm chambers, and some newer hunting guns may have 89 mm / 3 1/2" "Super-Magnum" chambers. Most modern tactical shotguns usually feature 76mm / 3" magnum chambers and proofed to fire "Magnum" loads, but also can safely fire shorter, standard shells.
Typical load for shotgun shell is shot (number of small ead balls), buckshot (larger lead balls, usually above 5mm in diameter), full-bore slugs made of various materials (lead, frangible metallic alloys, rubber or soft plastic for less-lethal applications), or sub-caliber slugs (usually made from lead, brass or hardened steel for LE / Military applications).
Most typical loading for use against human targets is a buckshot, with load consisting of several round lead balls 6-9mm in diameter, with about 5 to 27 ball pellets to the shell, depending on the buckshot size, gauge and shell lenght. Effective range for buckshot rounds is about 20-25 meters, although single pellets can cause serious body damage beyond this range. Lead slugs can be fired with good accuracy at ranges up to 50-70 meters, and are lethal against human targets at bigger distances. Effective range for less-lethal rounds depend on the type of projectile (single slug or multiple rubber balls, material, etc) but usually varies from 5-10 meters (minimum safe distance) and up to 20-25 meters.
 

Typical modern 12 gauge shotgun shell with translucent plastic hull and brass base, loaded with 8
Typical modern 12 gauge shotgun shell with translucent plastic hull and brass base, loaded with 8 "00" size buckshot pellets

Most common buckshot sizes and weights

Buckshot size Nominal pellet diameter Pellet weight
0000 .38" / 9.7 mm 87 grain / 5.67 g
000 .36 / 9.1 mm 73 grain / 4.7 gram
00 .33" / 8.4 mm 55 grain / 3.5 gram
0 .32" / 8.1 mm 49 grain / 3.15 gram
1 .30" / 7.6 mm 44 grain / 2.8 gram
2 .27" / 6.9 mm 29 grain / 1.9 gram
3 .25 / 6.4 mm 24 grain / 1.6 gram
4 .24" / 6 mm 16 grain / 1 gram



12 gauge shotgun ammunition

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below are just few of the myriads of shotgun loads in 12 gauge made worldwide, to give an idea of the power of typical shotgun loadings.


 

Designation Load weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy, J Comments
70mm, slug 1.25 oz / 35.4 g 1500 fps / 458 m/s 3 700 standard load, Remington
76mm, slug 1.375 oz/ 38.9 g 1500 fps / 458 m/s 4 080 Magnum load, Remington
70mm, 00 buckshot 1.5 oz / 42.5 g 1290 fps / 393 m/s 3 290 standard load (12 pellets), Remington
76mm, 00 buckshot 1.875 oz / 53 g 1225 fps / 373 m/s 3 710 Magnum load (15 pellets), Remington
70mm, "Reduced recoil" 00 buckshot 1 oz / 28.3 g 1200 fps / 366 m/s 1 900 Tactical reduced recoil load (8 pellets), Remington
70mm, "TAC-8" 00 buckshot 1 oz / 28.3 g 1325 fps / 404 m/s 2 315 Police / tactical load (8 pellets), Remington





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