This article was originally published by Jeremiah Johnson on www.thedailysheeple.com

This piece is going to explain the many merits of shotshells. This is not the same as shotgun shells, although they work upon the same general principle: a cartridge for a pistol either “tamped” at the end or with an extension containing pellets to fire. These “pellets” are shot: not the type of play-toy pellets fired from a kid’s plastic toy gun (if that’s even allowed anymore).

These shotshells come in practically all of the calibers, from .22 on up to your larger magnum handguns, such as .44 magnums. The principal is the same as a shotgun, but with a handgun: to throw out a cone of this shot (pellets) of steel or lead for a wider dispersion, thereby allowing your pistol to function in the manner of a shotgun.

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The purposes you would want something such as this may not be obvious, but we’re going to cover them here, so that you may look at these rounds in a different light. Let’s cover some uses:

  1. Survival hunting: Yes, you just may have to do some hunting and it may not be hunting season. These shotshells are excellent for smaller birds and animals that would be torn up or decimated by a regular round from a handgun. I have hunted dove in the Southwest with these shotshell rounds with success: the dove is killed without ruining the meat for the table. From a survival perspective, you may need just that small edge if you come upon a small flock of birds or even a squirrel at close range.
  2. Pest control/protection: This means rats or rodents in your supplies out in the shed or barn, or a venomous snake, such as a copperhead or a rattler if you’re menaced. That spread on the shot pattern gives you an edge and helps with your marksmanship when you’re hard-pressed.
  3. For Defense when you don’t want to kill: Such as a dog or group of dogs coming toward you in the woods. Send off one shotshell as a warning, and shoot if they keep coming or menacing you and you don’t want to kill them…perhaps a warning shot in the dirt at close range beforehand.  You can do more with them for defense, but that is outside of the scope of this article and of my advocacy for actions you may take.
  4. For Home Defense: you can use the larger calibers (such as .45 ACP, .44 Magnum, etc.) to have a “close encounters home load” that will not present as much of a danger to someone in another room if you miss as with a bullet.

The shotshells do have a drawback. If you’re using them in a semi-automatic pistol, the pressure is not strong enough to rack the slide enough to chamber another round. In this manner, only a revolver is a sure-fire way to ensure you will be able to fire rounds in succession. Once again, it will depend on the make and model of your revolver, as well as the size of the cartridge to determine whether the hammer will be all the way to the rear if it’s a double-action revolver.

Try it out, and pick up a box. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy enough to find at your local outdoor sporting goods or gun store. Throw a box in with your gear and when you’re out and about. You never know when they’ll come in more than just handy..and when they’ll give you the “win” in a situation where life and limb are on the line.  JJ out!



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  1. Please for the love of everything holy never give advice to anyone ever againif this is the kind of garbage that you’re going to spew. To start off with for self-defense if you need to pull your gun on fire you need to pull your gun on fire with a deadly round center mass because someone is trying to kill you. If they are close enough for the pattern to be effective with a shotshelland you can hit them in the face and blind them you could have hit them in the face with a normal bullet and done the job better with more certainty that it will work, without having to rack your slide to chamber another round, which if you missed is going to get you killed. The effective pattern from pistol cartridge shotshells even in 44 magnum is limited to about 5 yards at the most. They can kill rats and they can kill snakes but that’s about it. They might kill or disable a squirrel or bird but show me a squirrel or a birdit lets you get that close and I’ll show you a squirrel or bird that you could have shot with a normal round instead of taking the potential of wounding it and losing it or missing. point being if you’re going to hunt small game go get a 22 or a shotgun. If a dog just like a person is threatening your life you need to shoot it. If wild dogs are surrounding you their menace. They will kill wild game livestock and people.A dog that attacks people is going to do it again and you need to put it down. It is also an animal just as any other and blinding it with a shotshell is some cruel evil stuff. Take the shot shells and put them in your ammo storage, and keep them for in case you see a snake or get rats. Though they are really not even that effective on rats to be honest you would be better off with a pellet gun most of the time.

    1. I agree with almost everything that you said. And I will stress it again: If firearms are to be used for defense (animals or people) then you are in a life-threatening situation and you must use deadly force. If deadly force is not required, you probably don’t need a firearm.

      I use shotshells on a regular basis for rodent (rats, packets, mice, and birds) control in the barn. Sometimes, snakes. But bullets work best on rattlesnakes.

      You can use shotshells for (very close) hunting of birds or squirrels. But why would you want to. Many times you won’t get a clean kill and the wounded animal will escape and suffer. 🙁

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