Buckshot: Minimum Pattern = Maximum Effective Range

going to make me test!

That's it !!!
You guys have spiked my curiosity and caused me to recognize that my memory isn't what it used to be.
I don't remember if I ever patterned my shotgun or not.
I am going shooting tomorrow.
I will take the shotgun (with the longer sporting barrel with a "modified" choke) and pattern it with buckshot.
My goal will be to answer this question:

"How far can I shoot and still get a clear majority of my pellet load in a 20-inch circle."

And, if I have time, I'll stack up some soft pine boards or sheets of scrap drywall and see how much less penetration there is at 40 yards (what I consider about max distance for buckshot hunting) compared to 50 feet (an easy point blank distance for scatterguns).
 
done-- I was wrong

Done! But, not with my 12 gauge with the fixed bored choke.

I used my 20 gauge, 22" vent rib barrel, that uses short little screw-in choke tubes.

I put in the "FULL" choke tube and shot Federal 3" magnum 20 ga. buckshot, #2 buck (the largest size I can find at most retail locations). That's an 18-pellet load.

RESULTS on PATTERN (shooting at large sheets of white paper) and PENETRATION (shooting at a baffle stack of 3/4" soft pine boards, spaced about an inch apart from each other .


25 yds pattern: way too wide. Over 24" and beyond the edges of my target paper. Gaps in the pattern the size of a football. 15 out of 18 pellets landed on the poster-board paper. Only "one" pellet would have hit an 8" circle around my aim point.

25 yards penetration: weak. Pellets penetrated two of the 0.75" pine boards and bounced off the third.


50 feet- pattern: better. 17 out of 18 landed in a 20" circle, and "four" were in the 8" center kill zone. So IF my pellets had sufficient penetration, I'd say this pattern would be OK for deer hunting. But it's only 50 feet! I expected this kind of pattern at 25 or 35 yards.

50 feet-- penetration: same lack of penetration. Two boards totaling 1.5" of soft pine wood got penetrated, but the next board in line was just dented.

30 feet pattern: Now THIS gave a pretty tight pattern, but man is it close. Ridiculously close. Spitting distance, it seemed like. The pattern was about 8" wide. So all 18 pellets hit together in group the size of a canteloupe.

30 feet penetration: Still unimpressive. They drilled through 1.5" of soft wood (I shot both the stack of 3/4" boards and another test -shot at some 2x8 lumber (not pressure treated). In comparison, I shot my 3.3" barreled compact 9mm at this same wood, and it went through 4.5" of wood and embedded itself in the last board for a total of nearly 5 inches (hollowpoint, but it didn't expand with a plugged nose).

BOTTOM LINE: My shotgun throw much wider patterns than I expected, and while I knew that #2 buckshot (only .27 caliber) was only throwing about as much lead as a .22 short, I just expected more penetration.

Pics later. They're in my phone with a million others and I don't feel like sorting them out right now.
 
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The last deer I shot with buckshot was about 40 yds. 2 shots did the job, one thing I noticed was 1 round was plated and the other was just lead, the plated buckshot penetrated through deer and was found under hide, almost full penetration where the regular lead pellets where found in the deer's chest cavity, but had flattened out somewhat, now that being said, the plated shot was 2 3/4, and the non plated was 3", difference in speed or harder shot, not sure, but shoot nothing but 2 3/4 loads of plated now.
 
After doing this for almost 38 years I can honestly say, I don't know. I've seen older gentleman kill them DRT with the same gun they've been shooting for 40 years and WHATEVER buckshot they happened to have. I've seen seen folks with the "latest and greatest" not be able to hit sand falling off a camel. There are just too many variables that come with each situation to know for sure. I've stood on the dog box with my Dad and watched him roll them up at 70-80 yards and watched folks COMPLETELY miss at 12 steps. As I've gotten older I've started leaning more towards "it's the Indian and not the arrow".
 
agree 100% tmj!! too many variables to put most of the weight on the gun and its pattern
 
With conventional small buckshot, (1, 00, 000), penetration without a concentrated core pattern is a recipe for wounded and lost game. Which is why I find the "pattern does not matter" attitude of many buckshot users to be appalling.

That most factory buckshot is formed from soft lead does not help pattern or penetration.
Why waste your time being appalled at what other hunters do if they are not putting people at risk and not breaking the law?

Lots of hunting and fishing practices carry greater risk of lost game than my preferred practices, but if other sportsmen are safe and legal and having a good time, then more power to them. Who are we to judge?

The PETA types are a bigger threat to hunting and fishing than safe and legal sportsman who occasionally lose an animal. "Holier than thou" sportsman who pretend to have the moral high ground are a threat too, especially when they push for their personal ethical views codified and enforced by bigger government.
 
Yes, I will admit, you can spend alot of time checking your pattern, I also think you can get too tight of a pattern as well, in my early years, most of my deer were killed with regular 2 3/4 00 and improved cylinder.
 
Thread starter #29
Excellent example of why patterning buckshot loads is vitally important to deer hunters. This particular Gun/Load/Choke combination is obviously lacking in effective pattern density much beyond 20 yards!

With a different choke constriction the picture could be very different!





Done! But, not with my 12 gauge with the fixed bored choke.

I used my 20 gauge, 22" vent rib barrel, that uses short little screw-in choke tubes.

I put in the "FULL" choke tube and shot Federal 3" magnum 20 ga. buckshot, #2 buck (the largest size I can find at most retail locations). That's an 18-pellet load.

RESULTS on PATTERN (shooting at large sheets of white paper) and PENETRATION (shooting at a baffle stack of 3/4" soft pine boards, spaced about an inch apart from each other .



25 yds pattern: way too wide. Over 24" and beyond the edges of my target paper. Gaps in the pattern the size of a football. 15 out of 18 pellets landed on the poster-board paper. Only "one" pellet would have hit an 8" circle around my aim point.

25 yards penetration: weak. Pellets penetrated two of the 0.75" pine boards and bounced off the third.


50 feet- pattern: better. 17 out of 18 landed in a 20" circle, and "four" were in the 8" center kill zone. So IF my pellets had sufficient penetration, I'd say this pattern would be OK for deer hunting. But it's only 50 feet! I expected this kind of pattern at 25 or 35 yards.

50 feet-- penetration: same lack of penetration. Two boards totaling 1.5" of soft pine wood got penetrated, but the next board in line was just dented.

30 feet pattern: Now THIS gave a pretty tight pattern, but man is it close. Ridiculously close. Spitting distance, it seemed like. The pattern was about 8" wide. So all 18 pellets hit together in group the size of a canteloupe.

30 feet penetration: Still unimpressive. They drilled through 1.5" of soft wood (I shot both the stack of 3/4" boards and another test -shot at some 2x8 lumber (not pressure treated). In comparison, I shot my 3.3" barreled compact 9mm at this same wood, and it went through 4.5" of wood and embedded itself in the last board for a total of nearly 5 inches (hollowpoint, but it didn't expand with a plugged nose).

BOTTOM LINE: My shotgun throw much wider patterns than I expected, and while I knew that #2 buckshot (only .27 caliber) was only throwing about as much lead as a .22 short, I just expected more penetration.

Pics later. They're in my phone with a million others and I don't feel like sorting them out right now.
 
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Thread starter #30
"heres why i think a "pattern" does not really matter"

Perhaps this earlier post will provide some context for your position:


i shoot 3 inch OO buck and have a extra full choke and i've killed a few over 100 steps running dogs..probably more luck than anything but if I was still hunting I wouldn't try one over 50 yards, but dog hunting as long as I can see the horns i dont care how far he is as long as its a safe shot (i've shot 5 times at one over 200 yards)--->i just couldnt stand him not at least being shot at
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heres why i think a "pattern" does not really matter

how many true dog hunters out there get those nice and stopped poses at 20 or 30 steps?? not many.. so why would you pattern a gun when almost none of your shots are like they are when you are patterning your gun?? everything comes into effect...wind, rain, humidity, deer speed, top of box shooting downward or shooting on a level, bushes or trees in the way, full out sprint or trotting, and 10,000 more conditions....

my point is that to me it is more important how that particular person feels and shoots with his gun in the field than just saying i put 9 of 12 shot in a pie plate at 40 yards... just my 2 cents!!

another thing that annoys me (i'm sure i'll get bashed on this one too) is all these folks wanting to take clean ethical shots dog hunting.. geez folks.. maybe 10% of all dog hunting shots are ethical.. i know nobody wants to wound a deer but if you wait on complete ethical shots, you may not ever shoot!!
 
Thread starter #31
Pattern testing can provide a basis for having two different buckshot loads with you. Depending on the cover, you would then have the choice of using the wider patterning load or the tighter patterning - longer range load.



Yes, I will admit, you can spend alot of time checking your pattern, I also think you can get too tight of a pattern as well, in my early years, most of my deer were killed with regular 2 3/4 00 and improved cylinder.
 
Pattern testing can provide a basis for having two different buckshot loads with you. Depending on the cover, you would then have the choice of using the wider patterning load or the tighter patterning - longer range load.
so your going to keep several different shells in your pocket and when you see the deer run across the road you will 1st decide buck or a doe 2nd decide if it has forks (depending on club) and 3rdly decide what the distance is and then finally decide which shell to put in your gun??:pop:
 
Naw, for me I just like to know what will give me the best all around pattern out to 40-45 yds. But I do carry a couple extra chokes along with me, do to the fact I have hunted places that you would be lucky to get a 30yd. shot and then would be in clear cuts and thinned planted pines later, but I think probably any gun with a modified choke shooting 00 with shots around the 40 yd.,mark would be just fine.
 
Thread starter #34
Getting back on topic:

What size circle would you choose to represent the vital zone of a deer for the purpose of pattern testing?

And:

When pattern testing your Shotgun/Choke/Buckshot combination - what would you consider to be the minimum number of hits, with your favorite buckshot pellet size, needed in that vital zone target to represent a reliable quick kill?
 
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Not sure if you're asking me or not, but I'll answer for myself, I use a sheet of plywood and staple two sheets of poster paper to it, then draw a 24 inch circle in the middle, then measure off 40 yds., and shoot. My two loads will put every pellet in that circle, as for pellets in vitals, 3-4 00 or 000 at 40-45 yds. will do just fine.
 
Also knowing how my gun patterns, I've only had a few that I put the whole load of buckshot in the chest area, a big difference between controlled conditions and reel world shooting in the woods with them darting all over.
 

jfish

Senior Member
I used to use (years ago) a dog feed sack turned sideways to simulate a deer. I patterned it at 50 60 and 75. Winchester XX in black box used to be the best. No white buffer crap came out either like federals.

My dad always said shoot till you couldn't see them anymore. Within reason of course which was inside 75 but try them over that of it was a biggun! Guy my age now we were teens then had a 20ga that would kill the crap out of one at a 100yds he did it several times. It was like a model before an 870 or so. Have to dig to find model. Wasn't long barrel either. 26" I think.

Just was awesome. Had a Springfield pump that did same but was a 12ga and would kill one at a 100yd. Those are freak guns. Some used to use Brownings with 32" barrels for extended shots also.

Try the feed sack. It works. Dog hunting used to be so much fun. My kid and my nephews will never know. It's just not the same anymore.

Good luck
 

jfish

Senior Member
By that I mean say 9 or so out of 15 from 00 hitting it solid where a deers vitals would be. Or number 1's you would want more at best. Don't expect 13 out of 15 to be there at 75 yds is what I'm saying. It is also possible to have to tight a choke it will make buckshot cross each other right after leaving the barrel.

Copper plated is the way to go. They don't dissipate when they hit bone like lead buckshot.
 

Big7

Senior Member
Are you saying that 25 % of deer shot at are missed or unrecovered?
Need to find another sport.. Like Golf. That way if you are only 75% you won't be wounding animals only to die a slow, agonizing death and the meat never being utilized.

Fishing? Miss one.. No harm, no foul.

If 75% was the best I could do, I would just quit!facepalm::smash:
 
Need to find another sport.. Like Golf. That way if you are only 75% you won't be wounding animals only to die a slow, agonizing death and the meat never being utilized.

Fishing? Miss one.. No harm, no foul.

If 75% was the best I could do, I would just quit!facepalm::smash:
You must not dog hunt much is only thing I have to say. 75% is an outstanding number for the way we run down here and using shotgun only. 3 out of 4 is good even still hunting. These deer are usually running and usually 20-75 yards away. I'll take that any year. Shoot most of the time id like to have 4 chances to shoot. Any real dog hunter knows you kill some, you wound some, and you flat out miss some. If you can't stand it, then don't go or don't pull the trigger!!
 
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