The Average Spread Pattern
First and foremost, the shotgun spread pattern (the actual size and density of the shotgun pellets) is influenced by a.) Barrel length b.) Choke selection, and c.) Type of shot shell used…
With that said, there is a common pattern that all shotgun spread patterns follow. Often, it’s defined as three successive zones: Zones A, B, and C.
In Zone A (roughly 5-15 feet), the pellets will stay tightly bunched together, moving almost as if they were one, really big bullet. Many shotgun naysayers often point to this effect as proof that you do have to aim a shotgun carefully, just as you would a handgun or rifle. My rebuttal is simply this: Were you really planning to hit your target without aiming in the first place?
Clearly, you must aim your weapon in order to hit your target, whether its a handgun, rifle, or, yes, even a shotgun… But who ever said that you didn’t need to aim? What’s more, at 10 feet, you don’t have to be much of a marksman to hit your target with any of these firearms.
And even at 10-feet, many tactics shotguns have a 5-inch spread (as you can see in the video).
From 15-25 feet (aka Zone B) the individual pellets really begin to separate and move in a larger swarm, spreading to a pattern over 1 foot in diameter. Translated, this means you can miss your precise target by 6-inches and still do massive, possibly fatal, damage.
If your shotgun is loaded with 00 buckshot, the diameter of you pattern may be slightly smaller than with lighter loads. Still, you can see why I say the shotgun is more of a point and shoot weapon than a pistol or rifle. It’s unlikely to miss your target entirely in Zone B.
In Zone C (25 -35 feet), the pattern can reach a diameter of 18″ or greater. Clearly, this is a very effective range in terms of spread diameter and shot density. Considering the dimensions of the average American home, this is also probably the longest conceivable distance you would shoot in a home defense scenario.
UP NEXT, the Video Demonstration