For years, those of us that are interested have known that 00 buckshot was the “best available” load for most shooters for defensive purposes. Federal’s 00 buckshot load in their great FCW (Flight Control Wad) was the “best of the best”, as the FCW would hold the buckshot in the tightest patterns of any buckshot available.
But we also knew that #1 buckshot would be even better, especially of loaded in the Flight Control Wad, but there was none available. They just didn’t make it.
Several years ago at the SHOT Show I spoke with a very nice gentleman named Hal at the ATK booth. These are the folks that manufacture and market Federal ammo. I explained to Hal why #1 buck would be an improvement over 00 buck.
Here’s an explanation from the AR15.com, Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo:
“Number 1 buck is the smallest diameter shot that reliably and consistently penetrates more than 12 inches of standard ordnance gelatin when fired at typical shotgun engagement distances. A standard 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge shotshell contains 15 pellets of #1 buck. The total combined cross sectional area of the 15 pellets is .964 square inches. Compared to the total combined cross sectional area of the nine pellets in a standard #00 (double-aught) buck shotshell (0.77 square inches), the # 1 buck shotshell has the capacity to produce over 20 percent more potentially effective wound trauma.
In all shotshell loads, number 1 buckshot produces more potentially effective wound trauma than either #00 or #000 buck. In addition, number 1 buck is less likely to over-penetrate and exit an attacker’s body.”
I explained all of this to Hal, and he totally agreed with me. He was very knowledgeable about the whole issue.
I asked him, “Then why don’t you load #1 buck into the Flight Control Wad and make a great round?”
He said, “Because we have no market for #1 buckshot loads. The military and police departments request 00 buckshot. No one asks for #1 buck.”
I told him that no one was buying it because no one made it, and he explained that no one made it because no one asked for it. Kind of a vicious cycle.
I told him that lots of people wanted such a load and that if they made it, it would sell well. He said they would consider it.
I saw him the next year, and he remembered me and when I asked him how the #1 buckshot project was going, he said they were looking into it and might just make such a load.
This year at the show, he told me they were definitely going to make the load. My good buddy Zhukov and I also spoke with him at the LaRue Range Day and Hal said it would be on the market in a couple of months and that he would send me some of the ammo to do some tests.
This week I got the ammo. Boy, was I excited. I will not do penetration tests, as they have already been done and the #1 buckshot makes the FBI minimum penetration standards.
But I wanted to test the patterning of this load against non-Flight Control ammo.
I took one of the rounds apart and here’s what we find.
I also cut open a 00 Buckshot load to do some comparisons.
Notice the unique shape of the Flight Control Wad.
The load has copper plated buckshot with a white powder-type filler to prevent deformation of the shot when fired.
The individual lead shot are approximately .286 inches diameter and weigh approximately 33 grains each.
f the #1 buck weighs 33 grains times 15 pellets, that means the total weight of this #1 buck load is 495 grains. The 00 buck is 50 grains times 9 pellets, for a total weight of…….450 grains.
They fit well into the Flight Control Wad.
Some folks may mistakenly think, “I want the shot to spread out a lot so that it will make it easier to hit a target with at least some of them.”
But this is a bad idea. We want ALL of the buckshot to hit the bad guy, as any that miss him are our responsibility as we are responsible for every projectile that goes down range. As Clint Smith wisely notes, “Every projectile that goes down range has a lawyer tied to it.”
And no matter how close the buckshot are together when they hit the target, each pellet will make its own individual wound channel. To see an illustration of this, see The Best Choices for Self Defense Ammo , and look at the third illustration down the page.
As you will see, the FCW is designed to hold the pellets close together for longer, resulting in very tight (and very desirable) patterns.
The flaps on the side of the FCW open in flight, resulting in the FCW “backing off” of the buckshot, without causing them to spread more.
I will shoot this ammo against some non-flight control wad ammo to show the difference. The other ammo is 00 buckshot, as I didn’t have any other #1 buck.
I will be using my 870 Remington marked CYL (Cylinder Bore, i.e., no choke) choke, a very “standard” shotgun for the tests.
Okay, time to start shooting.
First, I shot at 6 yards, a typical in-home “across the room” distance.
Notice that both the Federal FCW round on the left and the 00 buck on the right both make a tight pattern at this close distance.
Let’s move it back to 15 yards, which is a long distance inside a home.
Now the 00 is spreading out a lot
The FCW #1 is still very tight.
But if we move it back to 20 yards, we see why the FCW works so well.
Seven of the 00 buck are still on the target at 20 yards, but just barely.
And at 35 yards, (not likely inside a home, but very likely for military or police use), we see the problem with non-Flight Control Wad ammo.
Only 4 of the nine 00 pellets hit the target.
I wonder where the others went, as I am responsible for them.
Notice that all 15 of the #1 buckshot pellets are on the target.
This new ammo is listed as Federal Premium, Law Enforcement, LE132-1B. Or more exactly, “12 GA 2 ¾ IN BUCKSHOT, Low Recoil, 15 Pellets – 1 Buck.”
Muzzle velocity is listed as 1100 fps.
On a related note, let’s talk about recoil.
Many shooters mistakenly shoot a shotgun like it was a .22 rifle, laid back and leaning back.
It is much better to place your left foot forward and lean into the shotgun.
This will make the recoil much easier to deal with.
My lovely wife, Mrs. Young_Painless, agreed to try her hand at shooting the #1 Low Recoil load.
She is not a big gal, only about 5 feet tall.
I used her camera with a fast shutter to catch her as she shot the shotgun.
I had her lean into the shotgun and touch one off.
She said it was “not bad at all”. There is no reason a lady cannot learn to shoot a shotgun for home defense.
I don’t usually recommend a particular brand of ammo, but if you have made the choice to use a shotgun for home defense, then this load is the “Best of the Best” available.
You may have to specifically ask your dealer to order some for you, but it will be worth the wait.
Get some and load up the old street howitzer with it and you will have the best ammunition available for your home defense or police/military shotgun.