Winchester 12 ga. 3.5" buckshot

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I'm a north Ga. hunter so I don't hunt with dogs but it seems more information is out there on this page about buckshot. I've got a Mossberg 835 that absolutely patterns the heck out of winchester 3 1/2" #4 buckshot with 54 pellets. At 30 yds I'm putting 37-42 pellets in a 9" paper plate with all of the remaining 9-14 or so scattered within 6 or so inches around the plate. Percentage wise I can also do about as well with the 3" Remington load(41 pellets) putting 34-36 on the plate and the rest scattered around it. I'm looking at using it in a swampy area where I've got a stand set up and the range shouldn't exceed 35 yards. Haven't got a deer with it yet though. Can I get some real world experiences on the #4 buckshot on deer? How is #4 on penetration? I see on the 3.5" the listed muzzle velocity is a little slower, 1050 fps. How about meat damage with that many (41 or 54) pellets? Is the 54 pellet 3.5" load really needed or is it overkill? Will the 41 pellet 3" or even the 27 pellet 2 3/4" do just as well or even better with their higher velocities?


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I use a #4 running dogs and its deadly esp with a 00 buckshot following up. Sitting in the stand id look into either #1 or 00. Sounds like your gun is holding an extremely tight pattern may have to go to a more loose choke if swap to larger shot
I seriously don't think a velocity drop of 200 fps would matter too much as long as you put more pellets on target,if your getting 75-80 percent of either 3 or 3.5 #4 buckshot I'd stick with the Remington's only cause the recoil. Now let's say 00 it makes more since cause every pellet counts more. For example a good pattern with 9 pellets averaging 1325 fps will be better than a 3.5 00 buckshot averaging 1085 with the same inch groups cause its more penetration per pellet. Hope this helps.
I have shot buckshot at deer and in combat. I have killed a bunch of deer with Winchester 2&3/4 00 buck and carried the exact same load that the Army issued me in Vietnam. The Army still issues the same load only the case is olive drab green
I also prefer bigger pellets. I know for a fact that a 00 pellet that starts out @ 1050 will go all the way through a deer and be against the hide on the far side @ 70 yards.
There is definitely something to be said, for a load that patterns well! At the ranges of 35 yards, and less, I would give it a try.

I have dog hunted all of my life, and I started with a 20 gauge shotgun at 10 years old. I deer hunted in a deer stand, by myself from day 1, so you can imagine it was a lot of trial and error, trying to figure out the best loads and effective ranges.:)

Believe it or not, I did ok with the 20 gauge, using #3 or #4 buckshot, but once I moved up to a 12 gauge, with 00 buckshot, not so good. Apparently my shotgun didn't pattern it well, and I didn't realize it until I patterned it a few years later to see. Shortly after that, in the next couple of years, I moved up to a rifle, and haven't ever went back to a shotgun.

My 20 gauge with #4 buck did quite well. I would give the #4 a try if it shoots a good pattern in your shotgun.
#4 3.5 Winchesters are devastating at 35 yards out of my Mossberg as well. I use to shoot the 3.5s but switched to 3s now that I am older and don't want the recoil of a 3.5. If you put it on them at 35 yards none will take another step.