Shotgun Shells are self-contained cartridges loaded with shot or slugs designed to be fired from a shotgun. Most shotgun shells are designed to be fired from a smoothbore shotgun barrel, however rifled shotgun barrels are gaining popularity and to that means many saboted shotgun shells have been designed for their use in rifled shotgun barrels.
Modern shotgun shells typically consist of a plastic case, with the base covered in a thin brass covering. Often the more powerful shotgun loads will use "high brass" shells, with the brass extended up further along the sides of the shell, while light loads will use "low brass" shells. The brass does not actually provide a significant amount of strength, but the difference in appearance provides shooters with a way to quickly differentiate between high and low shot weight ammunition. Typically high brass references the ounces of shot contained in a shotshell.
Whether you are target shooting, skeet shooting, trap shooting, hunting for deer, turkey, doves, ducks, pheasants, bears, elk or quail there is a shotgun shell designed for those uses and many more. Some of the more popular brands of shotgun shells are; Brenneke, Estate, Federal, Fiocchi, Hevi-Shot, Hornady, Kent, Lightfield, Remington and Winchester. These manufacturers produce shotgun shells for 10 Gauge Shotguns, 12 Gauge Shotguns, 16 Gauge Shotguns, 20 Gauge Shotguns, 28 Gauge Shotguns and 410 Shotguns.
Birdshot shotgun shells, the shot sizes are numbered similar to the shotgun gauges; the smaller the number, the larger the shot, see table below, lead shot.
Note: Also see Shot & Choke Game Guide for correct choke tube and shot sizes needed for hunting applications.
|oz. of shot
|#2 - .148 Dia.
|#4 - .129 Dia.
|#6 - .109 Dia.
|#8 - .089 Dia.
All shotgun shells that contain shot, may have a different types of metal shot in them, lead, steel, bismuth, iron, nickel plated and copper plated, they will pattern differntly from each other so no matter what shotgun shells you use, the shotgun needs pattern tested accordingly. Shot Patterning, once you have pattern tested your shotgun shell and shotgun combination go here to evaluate your shotgun shell and choke combination Shot Patterns.
Lead free shotgun shells are loaded with steel, bismuth, or tungsten composite pellets instead of more traditional lead-based pellets. Due to environmental regulations, the use of lead shot is banned in Canada and the United States when hunting migratory game birds, such as ducks and geese, forcing the use of non-toxic shot for upland waterfowl hunting.
Lead Shot Shotgun Shells to Steel Shot Shotgun Shells Conversion Chart.
This is very important because of the different shot size diameters between types of shot used in, birdshot, shotgun shells
Note: Also see; Shot & Choke and Steel versus Lead.
|Relevant Lead Shot to Steel Shot ammunition ballistic equivalency conversion chart for small game hunting applications.|
#6 .11 Dia.
#4 .13 Dia.
#3 .14 Dia.
#2 .15 Dia.
1 1/8 oz.
|Energy 40 yds.
# 7 1/2
#6 .109 Dia.
#5 .120 Dia.
#4 .129 Dia.
|Energy 40 yds.|
1 1/8 oz.
|Energy 60 yds.
|Energy 60 yds.|
Buckshot shotgun shells are used primarily for hunting larger game, such as deer, however it is also used in riot shotguns and combat shotguns for defensive, police, and military use. Buckshot is categorized by number, with smaller numbers being larger diameter shot.
Slug shotgun shells use a heavy lead projectile, usually with pre-cut rifling, intended for use in a smoothbore shotgun barrel and often used for hunting large game.
Much later shotguns were produced with rifled barrels, and slugs were designed to be fired from them with spin stabilization.
Saboted slug shotgun shells usually use a lead-cored, full copper-jacketed projectile supported by a plastic sabot, which is designed to engage the rifling in a rifled shotgun barrel and impart a spin onto the projectile.