Best Shotgun Ammo

Because it fires multiple spheric projectiles of the same size, a shotgun is an excellent choice for home defense and hunting purposes. But how do you know which shotgun ammo to use in any given situation when there are so many different types and loads to choose from.

Before we help you navigate through a vast number of shotgun ammo choices, we need to cover some basics first.

Shotgun ammo 101

Shotgun ammo is called a shell. The shell is filled with little metal balls of the same size, called shots or pellets. Upon firing the shotgun, these pellets act like projectiles and inflict multiple wounds. The exception is a slug shotgun shell, as we are going to discuss shortly.

Shotgun ammo is typically divided into these three types:

  • Birdshot
  • Buckshot
  • Slug

A slug is the only shotgun ammo that fires a single projectile. Other types hold pellets of different diameters. Birdshot pellets’ diameter sizes include:

  • #9 – 0.079’’ 
  • #8 ½ – 0.085’’
  • #8 – 0.90’’
  • #7 ½ – 0.95’’ 
  • #7 – .1’’
  • #6 –.11’’ 
  • #5 –.12’’
  • #4 –.13’’ 
  • #3 –.14’’
  • #2 –.15’’ 
  • #1 – .16’’ 
  • B shot – .17’’ 
  • BB shot –.18’’
  • BBB shot – .19’’ 

You will notice that the smaller the number, the larger the pellets’ diameter. The same principle goes for buckshot pellets’ diameter sizes:

  • #000 – .36’’ 
  • #00 -. 33’’ 
  • #0 –. 32’’
  • #1 – .30’’ 
  • #2 – .27’’ 
  • #3 – .25’’
  • #4.- .24’’ 

Shotgun ammo is also divided by shotgun gauges it is used for. So, we will have:

  • 10-gauge shotgun ammo;
  • 12-gauge shotgun ammo;
  • 16-gauge shotgun ammo;
  • 20-gauge shotgun ammo;
  • 28-gauge  shotgun ammo;
  • .410 bore shotgun ammo.

Let’s look at the best shotgun ammo for home defense and hunting. If you are looking for in-stock shotgun ammo, click here.

Best shotgun ammo for home defense

Here is the list of top three shotgun ammo for defense purposes:

Federal Power Shok 12-gauge #00

This Triple Plus wad system shotgun ammo provides supreme shot alignment while its granulated plastic buffer keeps the pellets consistent in shape for tighter shot patterns.

The shells are loaded with 15 #00 pellets that can reach a velocity of 1210 fps. They are an excellent choice for home defense as their large number of pellets ensure hitting the target even with a slightly inaccurate shot.

Winchester Super-X Buckshot 12-gauge #00

These shells come with 9 #00 pellets and can reach a velocity of 1325 fps. Winchester super-x buckshot excels in home defense situations when you have to stop the intruder with a long-range shot.

Remington Premier Expander Sabot Slug Shotshell 12-gauge

This all-copper-tipped expander slug shotgun ammo contains six cutting petals that deploy on impact to inflict massive tissue damage. It will bring down any intruder, regardless of their size. 

Best shotgun ammo for hunting

The type of ammo you choose for your hunting adventures depends on the game you are after.

If you looking for shotgun ammo for waterfowl hunting we recommend:

Remington Wingmaster HD Shotshell 12-gauge

The Remington Wingmaster HD  are high-density shotshell rounds. Their combination of pallet energy and pattern density produces an efficient shot pattern for duck and goose hunting.

For deer hunting, we recommend:

Winchester Super-X Buckshot 12-gauge

This ammunition line offers a dependable and consistent shot pattern for long-range deer shooting. The shells are loaded with 18 #00 pellets and can reach a velocity of 111,200 fps.

If you are brave enough to go bear hunting, we recommend:

Federal Premium Vital-Shok Sabot Slug 12 ga

These shotshell rounds deliver massive penetration and deadly expansion, the two performance features you need to bring a bear down. 

Designed with a profile that delivers a flatter trajectory, these rounds produce strong performance across various ranges of velocity.


A shotgun is a powerful firearm, but it needs to be loaded with proper shells for maximum results. Not all shotgun ammo can stop a man or a bear. 

This is why understanding different types of shotgun ammo and their loads is crucial for a successful hunt and effective home defense. 

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