can bird shot kill you

I received an email from a reader of this site, telling me about the Taurus Judge, which is a revolver that can fire either the .45 Long Colt, or a .410 shotgun shell (often loaded with birdshot). By chance I happen to have handled a Taurus Judge right before I read that email. Below is is the email I received, along with my thoughts on the use of birdshot for home and automotive defense.

The Email from “Walt” “Taurus has a 5 shot revolver called The Judge that also chambers .410 shot shells. Seems to be perfect for home defense.”

Birdshot for self defense Insofar as self defense is concerned, I do not consider birdshot to be effective, and this opinion is shared by many other people. The reason is simple: To stop an attacker right away, before they can kill or seriously injure you, you must disrupt their vital organ(s). The small birdshot pellets are unable to penetrate an attacker deeply enough to reach a vital organ.  Birdshot will cause a painful and messy looking wound, but it simply won’t reach the vital organs. Some people will argue that at close range, birdshot is “like a solid column of lead”, but this is not the case either. While it is true that the pellets are close together and nearly touching, they will still behave as individual pellets as they penetrate the target, and ballistic gel testing demonstrates this. The birdshot, even at extremely close range, will only penetrate about 6 inches of ballistic gel, while penetration of 12 inches of ballistic gel is generally considered the minimum effective depth to stop an attacker. With birdshot, the attacker may well be fatally wounded, but in the many minutes or hours it takes before the attacker succumbs to their wounds, they still can kill you or a loved one. That is why I generally recommend at least 00 buckshot for self defense, when using a shotgun. I discuss self defense ammunition for shotguns, as well as rifles and handguns in greater detail here.

The Exceptions to my No-Birdshot Suggestion Please note that I said that I “generally” recommend buckshot, but I can envision some scenarios in which birdshot may be acceptable or even preferred over buckshot. One such scenario would be for vehicular defense. Since a citizen faced with a car jacking often has a means of escaping from the car jacker, it might be sufficient to simply incapacitate the car jacker for a few seconds in order to allow for an escape. This differs from the home invasion situation, where the home owner may have a sleeping family to stay with and defend, along with an escape route blocked by the criminal. In the car jacking scenario, the greater likelihood of a hit that birdshot provides may be beneficial, and the limited stopping power of birdshot may be less of a problem. Similarly, the limited penetration of birdshot may help protect innocent bystanders who are in nearby cars. This is the rational for using birdshot advocated by many users of the Taurus Judge. Another scenario where birdshot may be acceptable is in an apartment building or house with very thin walls and many innocent bystanders on the other side of the walls. In this scenario, the only benefit of birdshot is that it will be less likely to over penetrate and hit an innocent victim, but is is also less likely to stop the attacker. I’m less confident that bird shot is the ideal solution in such a scenario (I would rather rely on buckshot and good aim), but some people in this situation will opt for birdshot.

A reader of this blog sent me an email introducing me to the Taurus Judge revolver, which can fire either the 45 Long Colt, or a . 410 shotgun shell (often loaded with birdshot). Just so happens, I just finished dealing with a Taurus Judge before reading that email. The email I received and my opinions about using birdshot for home and vehicle defense are included below.

The Email from “Walt” “Taurus has a 5 shot revolver called The Judge that also chambers .410 shot shells. Seems to be perfect for home defense.”

The Exceptions to My No-Birdshot Suggestion:

Although I “generally” advise against using buckshot, there are some situations in which I can see where using birdshot instead of buckshot might be appropriate or even preferred. One such scenario would be for vehicular defense. Given that most citizens who are the target of a carjacking have a way to get away from the criminal, it may be enough to just render the carjacker temporarily unable to act as a barrier to escape. This is not the same as a home invasion, where the homeowner might have to protect a sleeping family as well as a blocked escape route from the intruder. Â In the event of a carjacking, birdshot’s increased chance of a hit might be advantageous, and its weak stopping power might not be as much of an issue. In a similar vein, birdshot’s restricted penetration might shield innocent bystanders in neighboring cars. This is the justification for using birdshot that many Taurus Judge users support. In an apartment complex or home with extremely thin walls and lots of innocent bystanders on the other side, birdshot may also be permissible. The only advantage of birdshot in this situation is that it is less likely to overpierce and strike an innocent person, but it is also less likely to stop the assailant. In my opinion, birdshot is not the best option in this case; instead, I would prefer to use buckshot and accurate aim. However, there are individuals who will choose to use birdshot.

Birdshot as a self-defense tool I, along with many others, do not believe that birdshot is a very effective self-defense tool. The explanation is straightforward: You must damage an attacker’s vital organ(s) in order to stop them immediately and prevent them from killing you or gravely hurting you. Â An attacker cannot be penetrated deeply enough by the tiny birdshot pellets to reach a critical organ. Â Â Birdshot will result in an ugly and painful wound, but it won’t get to the important organs. Â Some may contend that birdshot appears “like a solid column of lead” up close, but this is also untrue. Ballistic gel testing shows that even though the pellets are close to one another and almost touch, they will nevertheless behave like individual pellets as they penetrate the target. Even at very close range, the birdshot will only pierce about 6 inches of ballistic gel, whereas 12 inches is generally thought to be the minimum effective depth at which an attacker can be stopped. Even though the attacker may be critically injured by birdshot, they still have the ability to murder you or a loved one during the many minutes or hours that pass before they pass away. That’s why, when utilizing a shotgun for self-defense, I usually advise carrying at least 00 buckshot. I go into more detail about self-defense ammo for shotguns, rifles, and handguns here.

After being shot, people cease attacking for a variety of reasons. Some stop because of pain. Others stop because of shock. Some are rendered physically incapable due to organ damage or blood loss. Shock or pain won’t deter a highly motivated, mentally unstable, inebriated, or drugged attacker. We must achieve physical incapacitation. Either the brain or upper spinal cord is struck, resulting in death or paralysis, or the organs and blood vessels are damaged to such an extent that the enemy collapses from blood loss.

Birdshot doesn’t consistently pierce deeply enough to hit those crucial targets, particularly if they are hidden behind a piece of cover or are wearing heavy clothing.

Although birdshot is rarely the best option, it can be effective as a close-quarters self-defense round against unarmored targets. I’ve shot birds that continued to fly after being hit by birdshot. Do yourself a favor and buy a box of buckshot. Is $5. 00 too much to pay for your life?.

What transpires during a normal birdshot defensive shooting can be seen in the link above. The attack was halted by the birdshot, which was the intended reaction, but the burglar was not rendered helpless. Do you believe the burglar would not have been involved in the altercation if he had been armed?

Take a look at this article. Tacoma man shoots would-be burglar in the face


How effective is birdshot for home defense?

One study on 12-gauge shotgun effectiveness in actual shootings found that: Birdshot (all types): 17% of shots led to an immediate incapacitation. Buckshot (all types): 54% of shots led to an immediate incapacitation.

Can 12-gauge birdshot stop an intruder?

A 12 gauge shotgun can deliver a devastating wound, no matter what kind of shot is in the shell. If the intruder is close enough (say within 10 yards – 30 feet) a hit to anything but the extremities could be fatal. A hit to center mass or the head would most likely be fatal.

Will birdshot kill a coyote?

22 LR or a shotgun with something like quail loads or squirrel loads if I was hunting coyote. Especially with small birdshot, the kill is not quick, and you would have to be right up on them. A #2 high brass load would be more like what you’d want.

Will buckshot kill a human?

Buckshot is definitely not a long range weapon—and its maximum effective range is substantially less than most people think—but it is pure murder at close range. Even bird shot will decapi…