What is the best ammo for your Best 12 Gauge Ammo?

Best Ammo for Best 12 Gauge Ammo Hero Image The 12 Gauge shotgun is truly a versatile weapon. Depending on its ammunition, it’s as suitable for hunting a nine ounce woodcock as it is a 400 pound buck. Knowing which kind of shell to chamber under which circumstances is essential. Even if you were to hit a woodcock with a buck hunting load, you would have little more than a cloud of feathers to show for it. And if you hit a buck with a woodcock hunting load, you would only scare it away. Here is a quick guide on which 12 Gauge shells are best for each application.

Best 12 Ga Ammo for Target Shooting

We suggest: #9 - #7.5 Shot

Clays don’t require very much impact energy to shatter in flight, and the dense pattern that the smallest shot creates gives a shooter a more generous margin of error in target shooting games. For trap and sporting clays, #7.5 shot is considered by many to be the gold standard; shot as small as #9 is favored for skeet, and it is indeed favored for that game at Olympic sporting events. Many #7.5 shot loads can double as ammunition for upland game hunting.

Upland Game Hunting

We suggest: #8 - #4 Shot

When hunting for daintier game, you don’t want to use shot pellets that are big enough to mangle your trophy upon impact. The smallest birds call for the smallest shot: .09” diameter #8 shot will reliably fell rail, snipe, and woodcock. For slightly larger dove, quail, partridge, and grouse, a step up to .095” diameter #7.5 shot is suitable. Pheasant typically calls for .12” diameter #5 shot, which is substantial enough to reliably penetrate vegetation, and #4, #5, or #6 shot is advisable for turkey. For any of these birds, scaling your shot size up or down may be appropriate depending on the distance your shot will have to cover, as well as how large your game is that particular season.

Best 12 Gauge for Waterfowl Hunting

We suggest: #6 - BBB Shot (Steel)

Nontoxic steel shot is recommended, if not required by law, for hunting in sensitive wetland environments. Steel shot is less dense than lead shot, and accordingly carries less momentum downrange, but dedicated waterfowl hunting loads compensate for that fact by delivering a faster muzzle velocity -- often 1,400 fps as opposed to 1,200 fps. If you are firing upon ducks that you have lured nearby with decoys, #6 to #4 steel shot is generally acceptable. High flying ducks need the greater power of #2, #1, or even .18” diameter B shot to be grounded. For larger geese in flight, birdshot no smaller than BB shot is recommended, although T shot has got its place in the goose hunter’s chamber as well.

Best 12 Gauge Ammo for Deer Hunting

We suggest: 0-000 Buckshot & Slugs

Aptly named buckshot is ideal for hunting deer including whitetail and elk. 00 buckshot, frequently referred to as double-aught, is the most popular at .33” in diameter. Such lead balls possess the weight and thus momentum needed to penetrate to a larger target’s vital organs. Alternatively, slug projectiles which give a shotgun performance more akin to a rifle’s may be used to hunt for deer, and they are often implemented wherever rifles aren’t permitted during deer season. Smaller shot such as 4, 3, 2, and 1 buck are also available, which are typically favored more often for hunting lightweight deer and coyote.

Best 12 Gauge for Home Defense

We suggest: Buckshot but others can work well too

12 Gauge shotguns can be found at millions of Americans’ bedsides for very good reason. The type of shell that is best for a home defense shotgun depends on safety. When the homeowner is concerned about putting bystanders in harm’s way, birdshot or smaller buckshot may be preferable. When penetrating wallboard is less of a concern than maximizing stopping power, double-aught buck is widely used for home defense. And while slugs are typically used by law enforcement professionals who must engage more distant targets than a homeowner would, their efficacy against human-sized targets is indisputable.
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