I’ve heard people say shotguns are a thinking man’s weapon, and I tend to agree because I have a bias to shotguns. Seriously, shotguns rule, and you do have you engage the space between your ears before you engage your weapon. When you use a shotgun for defensive or duty purposes, you need not only choose a good shotgun but also an excellent defensive load. The best shotgun ammo for home defense (currently available anyway) is the Federal Flitecontrol 00 Buckshot 8 pellet load (colloquially referred to as Federal flight control 8 pellet).
EDIT: This was before we went black; Please also read up on Hornady Black 12 gauge ammunition.
Note: This is a good load for any defensive situation, but we’re using that terminology specifically so we get better love from the search engine gods.
First and foremost, the most crucial part of any shotgun load is using the correct type of shot. With a defensive shotgun, it’s either slugs or buckshot. Birdshot is for birds, but many not-so-smart people still say to use birdshot. Don’t, and you’re a dandy if you do.
For home defense, buckshot is the way to go. Unfortunately, slugs are a bit much for a range of 10 to 15 yards. Good buckshot does wonders, but your pattern is the main problem with buckshot. After you choose a buckshot load, you have to go pattern it. Patterning involves you firing your load at several ranges, including at the longest possible range you’ll take inside your home.
For duty and home defense use, you want a tight pattern. Federal FliteControl promises a tight pattern. In fact, they promise one of the tightest patterns that could be developed for a load of buckshot. The FliteControl load utilizes a specialized wad that wraps around the 8 or 9 pellets of shot.
This FliteControl wad leaves the barrel with the shot inside the shot cup just briefly. This keeps the shot together longer and promises to produce a tighter pattern.
Best Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense?
i.e. does FliteControl deliver?
Different shotguns pattern differently. So I took out a variety of designs, including a Remington 870, a Benelli M4, and a KelTec KS7 to test the Federal FliteControl loads. I patterned each gun at 5, 10, and 15 yards with each weapon. Each gun utilizes a cylinder bore choke.
Yes, it delivers.
At each range, I fired one round into a piece of 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper, with a new piece of paper for each shot fired. I wish I had more to say, but the ‘pattern’ was one big hole at each range. It looks almost as if a slug went through each target. The load performed the same from each gun and essentially put one big hole into the target.
If I whip out a micrometer, the big hole might be a little bigger at 15 yards, but I don’t think we need to go that far, right? The FliteControl patterns deliver nine pellets of buckshot into one large hole.
How’s the Recoil?
It’s absolutely pleasant. The load comes in a few different FPS ratings, but the Premium Defense load is a low recoil 1145 feet per second loading. This is downright pleasant. In fact, even in pistol grip only guns, the Federal FliteControl premium defensive loads are just utterly delightful.
Federal also makes 1,600 feet per second loads aimed more at hunting than defensive use. If there is a nice buck on the box, then it’s the hunting load. Also, the Personal Defense load says Personal Defense, but I know a few knuckle draggers out there have trouble with that many syllables.
The low recoil loads don’t just save your shoulder. They make following a second shot much easier. The recoil reduction and the muzzle rise ensure you can engage multiple threats or give the bad guy a second shot if necessary. If someone is worth shooting once, they are worth shooting until they change their behavior.
Why A Tight Pattern is Important
Why would you want a tight pattern? Shot spread can be used to hit moving targets. Even buckshot can be used for that task, and in that role, you want a wider spread, right? Sure, if you are in Fallujah or open warfare, then that can be an advantage.
For use in the regular world, an extremely wide pattern reduces accountability and increases the chance of a missed pellet. A single pellet can kill a bad guy, and a single pellet can also kill an innocent person. A tight pattern increases accountability. FliteControl provides the tightest pattern possible. Contrary to the “wide spray of shot” lore of old Westerns, the shot pattern of the Federal Flight Control 8 pellet shell is a big factor in why we say it’s one of the best home defense shotgun ammo options available.
A tight pattern also increases lethality. Dumping 8 or 9 pellets into the target dumps a ton of energy and power into that threat. As the projectiles travel through the body, they do spread and cause massive internal damage. It’s like dumping half a mag of 9mm into a bad guy with a single trigger pull and all of them landing in a group the size of a 50-cent piece.
Word to the Wise on Chokes and FliteControl
Before we depart, let me drop some wisdom on you. Federal made FliteControl to function with cylinder bore chokes. Typically when you increase the choke, you get a tighter pattern. However, FliteControl is different. I shot a few rounds through a gun with an improved choke and got inconsistent patterns that opened instead of tightened up.
Stick to the cylinder bore chokes with FliteControl.
Anyway, this is the best 12 gauge ammo for home defense yet (within my experience).
Check it out and let us know what you think.
Where to buy FliteControl
(Assuming it’s in stock.)
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