Your Complete Guide For Buying Shotgun Ammunition

If you’re into hunting, then you should definitely know your shotgun ammunition. Shotguns are excellent tools for hunting, but they need the right ammo to function properly and accurately. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about shotgun shells so that you can buy the right one for yourself.


A gauge is a measurement of the diameter of a shotgun barrel. The gauge is expressed as a fraction of an inch, so if you have a 12-gauge shotgun, each barrel has an inner diameter of 0.729. This is larger than the average bore size of most other types of guns because they are designed to fire multiple pellets at once.

The gauge number refers to how many lead balls would fit into one pound of lead—the smaller the gauge number, the larger the bore (and vice versa). So a 28-gauge shotgun has less space inside its barrel than a 16-gauge one and will result in more damage when fired at close range.

You may come across terms like “light,” “medium,” or “heavy” shots depending on what type of ammo you’re getting for your weapon; these refer only to how tightly packed together those pellets are inside their cartridge casing before being inserted into your firearm. They don’t affect how much power they’ll deliver when they exit it after being propelled by expanding gasses created by combustion within that cartridge’s chamber.

Shell length.

Shell length is another important factor to consider when buying shotgun ammunition. You can find shotgun shells in many different sizes.

The length of a shell will affect how many pellets it holds, affecting its weight and performance. Hence, knowing how long your shotgun is and what kind of shooting you’ll do before selecting a shell length is important.

A longer shell gives you more precision because there are fewer pellets per shot; however, these longer shells tend not to be as fast or flat shooting as shorter ones with more pellets per shot.

Shotgun load type.

Shotgun shell load type. When it comes to shotgun ammunition, there are several different types of shells available. You will want to consider your purpose for using the gun when choosing the right kind of load for your shotgun.

Rifled slugs may be used for hunting or self-defense, but they are not suitable for both. Buckshot is best used when hunting with shotguns; birdshot should only be used for birds (and other small animals).

Shot size and pellet count.

Shot size and pellet count are two important measurements of shotgun ammunition. Shot size is the diameter of the individual pellets within a shell, usually expressed in millimeters or hundredths of an inch. Pellet count is simply the number of ammunition contained in a shell, which can be defined as weight or percentage by volume.

  • To maximize your shot spread, go with smaller shot sizes. Smaller-sized shots are more likely to backfire off your target and create maximum damage on nearby objects like trees or additional targets.
  • Choose larger pellets if you want to increase your chances of hitting your target dead-on with every shot. Larger pellets aren’t quite as likely to bounce off surfaces as smaller ones; however, they can penetrate soft targets much easier than their diminutive counterparts.

Shot hardness.

Hardness describes the amount of energy a pellet loses when it strikes something hard. It’s measured in pounds per square inch. The harder pellets will break apart more easily and spread out more, which is especially important for hunting and shooting clay pigeons.

However, they’re less likely to do damage at close range since they can’t penetrate as easily as softer pellets. Softer pellets are better if you need to kill someone quickly or want something that causes maximum damage at close range.

Powder and Primer

While they’re not a necessary part of your shotgun, powder and primer are instrumental to getting it to shoot. The powder is a mixture of nitrocellulose (gunpowder), nitroglycerine, and other ingredients that burn when ignited. A primer is an explosive cap that ignites the powder in the cartridge by exploding and spraying sparks into the chamber. Each type of ammunition requires its own kind of primer: rimfire uses rimfire primers, centerfire uses centerfire primers, etc.

Both powder and primer are stored separately from their cartridges because they’re highly combustible materials that could be dangerous if exposed to open flames or heat sources such as direct sunlight or lamps.

Velocity and Pressure

The speed at which the bullet travels is called velocity. The velocity of a shotgun shell is typically expressed in feet-per-second.

The amount of gunpowder in shotgun shells affects what we call “pressure.” Pressure is the force generated by the combustion of gunpowder and determines how much recoil you feel when shooting your shotgun. More so, it also determines how much noise and smoke is produced. The more gunpowder in a shell, the louder when it explodes.

Type of materials

Depending on what you’ll be doing with your shotgun, the material that a shell is made of can affect its performance and reliability.

  • Brass shells are more durable than steel shells, but they’re also heavier and softer, so they won’t perform as well in high-pressure situations. Brass isn’t recommended if you plan to use your shotgun for anything other than hunting or target practice.
  • Steel is less expensive, but it’s also heavier and less reliable—and because they’re harder to find at most stores, steel ammunition is not ideal for recreational shooting or hunting. For this reason alone, steel should be avoided whenever possible. But if cost is an issue for you, steel may be worth looking into further.


We hope this article has helped you to understand the many types of shotgun ammunition available today and how they work. There is much more information out there than what we have covered here, but we believe this guide will give you enough knowledge to decide how best to use your shotgun for hunting or target shooting.

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