Sunday, July 25, 2021

Home Defense Shotgun Qualification

Since I use a shotgun as a home defense weapon, I periodically fire qualifications with my shotguns. It is a good idea to demonstrate and document your competence for record with any firearm you might use for self-defense.

Pursuing that goal, I fired the Department of Energy Shotgun Qualification Course twice (click here for the DOE Shotgun Qualification Course of fire). One time with my Remington 870 pump that has a cylinder bore using the Speer Law Enforcement 8-pellet FliteControl buckshot load and once with my Beretta 1301 which also has a cylinder bore using the Federal 8-pellet FliteControl using the standard DOE target.

The 870 qualification target contained 79 pellets which is 98% and a passing score. The Speer load threw a one pellet flyer off the target from one of the 25-yard shots (see left picture below). The Beretta 1301 target contained all 80 pellets for a 100% score; however, four 00 buckshot pellets landed low on the target from one of the 25 yard shots as you can see in the picture on the right.
I believe the other four pellets from that round likely struck the target’s center.

Remington 870 Pump                                      Beretta 1301

The shotgun’s power makes it a great choice for a home defense tool. When you employ it correctly and within its proper range envelope the shotgun is very effective. However, you must know your shotgun's range limitations with the load you are using. 

Multiple projectile loads require particular attention to what is behind your target. YOU are responsible for every pellet you fire. This is where target distance and the pattern of a particular load in your shotgun come into play. 

Ideally you should pattern your shotgun at 5, 10, 15, 20 yards, and perhaps beyond targeting an 8-inch circle. The distance where your gun with the particular load you are using throws pellets outside of the 8-inch circle is the maximum range for your shotgun with that load. 

My Remington 870 and my Beretta 1301 have both patterned acceptably out to 35 yards with the Federal FliteControl in the past. However, I have noticed some erratic behavior from the Federal 8-pellet FliteControl load at times and it causes me some concern.  I will post some additional thoughts after some research.

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