Shotgun Ballistics

Basic Ballistics of Shotgun 

Normal Shotgun shells contain a gunpowder, shot, and wadding which is packed in a cardboard or plastic container. They come in 3 universal sizes, 2.75 inches, 3 inches and 3.5 inches. This size is for the amount of gunpowder (in ounces) present inside the cartridge in which there are several small pellets. There is a load named Magnum, which has a little bit more gunpowder and amount of pellets so the velocity doesn’t increase much while the amount of kinetic energy will increase drastically. More the number of pellets inside the casing, higher will be your chances to get targets at longer distances since, the bullets get scattered and thus, more bullets equals’ higher chances of hitting by luck.

In general, the sizes of those pellets lie between large to small and have their respective metric measurements. Larger ones carry more kinetic energy, but since the number of pellets is less, the chances of hitting a target at far away distances can get very low. If the shell has a smaller number of pellets, they will carry less kinetic energy since it will be divided among the number of pellets, but the chances of hitting the desired target will be higher. These shots can be of lead or steel or even with a mixture of different types of metals. Steel is used because it’s cheaper than lead, but again, its ballistic properties are low in case of its energy. This can be solved by increasing power loads and velocities.

The gun has a choke, which determines how much the pellets will scatter. More will be choke be; it will scatter less. At 20 yards, a full choke gives a spread of 15 inches, and that’s the maximum.

Shotgun Choke Table

Choke Type Size (inches) % increase over the cylinder
Skeet 0.005 13
Modified 0.020 27
Full 0.040 35

Slugs of Shotguns can cause some serious damages because of its size and mass. If the target is near, chances of survival are negligible. A shotgun’s cartridge casing can be packed with rubber pellets, rock salt, pepper or even steel pellets, which are good options but their effectiveness is not guaranteed.

As the kinetic energy produced by the gun is divided between the pellets, larger ones will carry more kinetic energy, but it will be more scattered and might not hit the target. Since the pellets are round, they have a poor performance in taking someone down easily at distances and after traveling 80 yards, the pellets won’t even penetrate human skin. Thus, near attacks are more dangerous than the distant ones, but even in some cases, the effect might be very less even at short distances.

Those shotgun projectiles which have a bead made of lead at its core is cased within a plastic casing projectile. On impact, the lead shatters and the small pieces are scattered over a petite area. This pellet product a single wound which is painful and it is not affected by the range of the target.