12 gauge shotgun shells are by far the most preferred type of ammunition for all smoothbore gun applications, such as hunting, sport shooting, home defense, security and military use.
Originally made of brass, or brass with paper hulls, modern shotgun shells are now generally made with a brass base and thin plastic hulls. Shotgun shells offer an almost endless spectrum of loads, including birdshot, buckshot, various slugs, less-than-lethal loads (for instance tear gas and soft projectiles), signal flares and so on.
The modern standard for 12 gauge loads is a 70mm / 2 3/4″ case length, with typical loads ranging from 24 to 44 grams. ‘Magnum’ shells with a case length of 76mm / 3″ can hold up to a 54 gram payload, and sometimes they can even handle a bit more. It must be noted that 12 gauge ammunition is backwards compatible across various case lengths. This means that a gun chambered for 3″ / 76mm shells can safely handle 2 3/4″ / 70mm shells, but not vice versa.
below are just a few of the myriad of shotgun loads available in 12 gauge worldwide, to give an idea of the power of typical shotgun loads.
|Designation||Load weight||Muzzle velocity||Muzzle energy, J||Comments|
|70mm, slug||1.25 oz / 35.4 g||1500 fps / 458 m/s||3 700||standard load, Remington|
|76mm, slug||1.375 oz/ 38.9 g||1500 fps / 458 m/s||4 080||Magnum load, Remington|
|70mm, 00 buckshot||1.5 oz / 42.5 g||1290 fps / 393 m/s||3 290||standard load (12 pellets), Remington|
|76mm, 00 buckshot||1.875 oz / 53 g||1225 fps / 373 m/s||3 710||Magnum load (15 pellets), Remington|
|70mm, “Reduced recoil” 00 buckshot||1 oz / 28.3 g||1200 fps / 366 m/s||1 900||Tactical reduced recoil load (8 pellets), Remington|
|70mm, “TAC-8” 00 buckshot||1 oz / 28.3 g||1325 fps / 404 m/s||2 315||Police / tactical load (8 pellets), Remington|