12 Gauge Shotgun Shells For Sale

The most popular shotgun gauge in the world is the 12 gauge. Not only is it manufactured in a variety of loads that make it a great choice for hunting any North American game, but the 12 gauge is also effective as a home-defense cartridge. Learn More

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  1. Rio Ammunition 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    70 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Rio Ammunition Ammunition
    $4.25 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Rio Ammunition

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1345 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Rio Ammunition SKU RB129
    • UPC 8435101600026
  2. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    35 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $4.25 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 2361 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Remington SKU SP12RS
    • UPC 047700020907
  3. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of Rifled Slug Ammunition

    10 In stock now
    Image For 80 Rounds Of 7/8 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $70.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • Made by Fiocchi
    • 80 Rounds
    • 87.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • 7/8 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • Discount Slug
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FLESLU
  4. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    4 In stock now
    Image For 80 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $70.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1150 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FLRSLU
    • UPC 762344855615
  5. Remington 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    74 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $4.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU 12BT800 - 20662
    • UPC 047700327600
  6. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    60 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1610 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 2518 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU F127 RS
    • UPC 029465009915
  7. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    46 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU 12B00
    • UPC 047700019604
  8. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    5 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $225.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • Winchester SKU X12RS15
    • UPC 020892005976
  9. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    5 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $225.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • Winchester SKU RA120085
  10. Federal LE 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of FliteControl 00 Buck Ammunition

    80 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1145 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU LE132 00
    • UPC 029465018665
  11. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    64 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1290 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU F130 00
    • UPC 029465009687
  12. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 15 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    1 In stock now
    Image For 15 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $14.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 15 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Winchester SKU XB1200VP
    • UPC 20892014664
  13. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    8 In stock now
    Image For 80 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $75.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FSLUG
  14. Federal Shorty Shotshell 12 Gauge Ammo - 10 Rounds of 1-3/4" 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    64 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of 1 oz. #1 Shot 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $9.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • Made by Federal
    • 10 Rounds
    • 94.9¢ Cost Per Round
    • 1 oz.
    • #1 Shot Bullet
    • Slug
    • New Condition
    • 1-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1200 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU SH129 RS
    • UPC 604544651454
  15. Federal LE 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of FliteControl 00 Buck 8 Pellet Ammunition

    65 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.75 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1145 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU LE133 00
    • UPC 029465023157
  16. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    44 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $4.79 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Winchester SKU XB1200
    • UPC 020892007079
  17. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    3 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $239.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • Made by Remington
    • 250 Rounds
    • 96¢ Cost Per Round
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU 12B4
    • UPC 047700019956
  18. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    1 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $250.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • Winchester SKU RA12RS15
  19. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    76 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $5.00 Price
    • $4.75 each if you buy 5 -  save 5%
    • $4.50 each if you buy 10 -  save 10%

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • Winchester SKU RA12005
  20. Sellier and Bellot 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    76 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of 1-7/8 oz. #00 Buck 12 Gauge Sellier and Bellot Ammunition
    $10.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Sellier and Bellot

  21. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    71 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck Shotshell 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • Shotshell Primer
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU F127 00
    • UPC 029465009731
  22. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    64 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1642 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU LE127 RS
    • UPC 029465018689
  23. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 0 Buck Ammunition

    11 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #0 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1275 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU 12B0
    • UPC 047700019703
  24. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    36 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $10.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Fiocchi SKU 12SLUG
    • UPC 762344704067
  25. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    68 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • Made by Federal
    • 5 Rounds
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU F127 4B
    • UPC 029465009762
  26. Winchester 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1-1/8 oz. 00 Buck Ammunition

    14 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1-1/8 oz. #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • Made by Winchester
    • 5 Rounds
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • 1-1/8 oz.
    • #00 Buck Bullet
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Winchester SKU XB1200TG
    • UPC 020892022379
  27. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Slug Ammunition

    69 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1610 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 161 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU LEF127 RS
    • UPC 029465025496
  28. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 000 Buck Ammunition

    10 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #000 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $5.45 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU 12B000
    • UPC 047700019505
  29. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    44 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $5.50 Price
    • $5.25 each if you buy 5 -  save 5%
    • $5.00 each if you buy 10 -  save 9%

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • Winchester SKU RA120085
  30. Hornady 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    27 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Hornady Ammunition
    $11.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Hornady SKU 86246
    • UPC 090255862461
  31. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 000 Buck Ammunition

    2 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #000 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • Made by Federal
    • 5 Rounds
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • #000 Buck Bullet
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU F127 000
    • UPC 029465009779
  32. Remington 12 Gauge Ammo - 250 Rounds of 1 oz. Magnum Rifled Slug Ammunition

    3 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Brass 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $285.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • Brass Casing
    • 1760 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Remington SKU S12MRS
    • UPC 047700311852
  33. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 7/8 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    79 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 7/8 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $5.75 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1800 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 2751 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Remington SKU SPHV12RS
    • UPC 047700327204
  34. Hornady 12 Gauge Ammo - 100 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    12 In stock now
    Image For 100 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Hornady Ammunition
    $115.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 100 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • Made by Hornady
    • 100 Rounds
    • $1.15 Cost Per Round
    • #00 Buck Bullet
    • Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Hornady SKU 86240
    • UPC 10090255862406
  35. Hornady 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    10 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Hornady Ammunition
    $11.75 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • Made by Hornady
    • 10 Rounds
    • $1.18 Cost Per Round
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1350 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Hornady SKU 86243
    • UPC 090255862430
  36. Federal Premium LE 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    60 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 161 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU LEB127 RS
    • UPC 029465025298
  37. Hornady Critical Defense 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 2-3/4" 00 Buck Ammunition

    65 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Hornady Ammunition
    $12.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Hornady SKU 86240
    • UPC 090255862409
  38. Fiocchi 12 Gauge Ammo - 10 Rounds of 2-3/8 oz. #6 Shot (Lead) Ammunition

    8 In stock now
    Image For 10 Rounds Of 2-3/8 oz. #6 Shot 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $13.25 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • Made by Fiocchi
    • 10 Rounds
    • $1.33 Cost Per Round
    • 2-3/8 oz.
    • #6 Shot Bullet
    • Turkey
    • New Condition
    • 3-1/2" Shell Length
    • 1210 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Fiocchi SKU 1235TRC6
    • UPC 762344703763
  39. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    77 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $6.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • Made by Federal
    • 5 Rounds
    • $1.40 Cost Per Round
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • Buck Shot
    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1100 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • Federal SKU PD156 4B
    • UPC 029465027407
  40. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1-1/4 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    75 In stock now
    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1-1/4 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $7.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1520 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 2805 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • Federal SKU F130RS
    • UPC 029465009946
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You're free to republish or share any of our shotgun shell caliber histories (either in part or in full), which are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Our only requirement is that you give Ammo.com appropriate credit by linking to the original article. Spread the word; knowledge is power!

Used by hunters, sport shooters, military, and law enforcement – the 12 gauge is the most used shotgun shell today and it has existed in its current cartridge configuration since the late 1800s.

Twelve gauge rounds, often seen written as 12ga, are used in a variety of situations, including hunting birds and small game, recreation shooting, and home defense. These ammunitions provide a variety of options in close quarters, but don’t perform well at long distance shots. , Because the projectiles quickly lose their velocity, they require a close-range target, typically 45 yards or less.

What Is a Shotgun Shell?

A shotgun shell is a self-contained cartridge that’s filled with metallic “shot,” small spherical projectiles contained in a plastic or paper tube called a hull. The shot is often metal and can consist of lead, steel, tungsten, or bismuth. Non-lethal shotgun shells are available and can be loaded with rubber, rock salt, or small bean bags. Shooters can also find shotgun shells loaded with slugs – large, single metal projectiles.

Beneath the shot lies a wad or wadding, made from paper or plastic, which creates a barrier between the shot above it and the powder beneath it.

While original shotgun shells used black powder, today’s 12 gauge ammo uses smokeless powder.

This tube, and all it contains, is mounted to a brass base that houses the large shotgun primer, which is longer than both pistol and rifle primers.

Understanding Shotgun Gauges

Shotgun shells are measured in gauge, which equals the number of lead balls (with a diameter the size of the shotgun’s bore) it takes to make a pound. So for a 12 gauge shotgun, which has an internal barrel measurement of .73 inch, it would take 12 lead balls, each with a diameter of .73 inch, to weigh a pound.

To say it another way, if one were to create a pure lead ball the same size as the bore of a 12 gauge shotgun barrel (.73 inch), that ball would weigh 1/12 of a pound – making it a 12 gauge shotgun.

So when discussing the differences between a 12 gauge vs. 20 gauge, one can determine that the 20 gauge is smaller, as it would take 20 lead balls the diameter of the barrel to make a pound, where only 12 are needed with the 12 gauge.

Development of the Modern Shotgun Shell

Shotgun shells originated from the German blunderbuss, which was a shotgun-like, shoulder-firing musket gun, that developed during the 1600s. By the 1700s, similar firearms spread throughout Europe and bird hunters in England were shooting fowling guns that fired small shot.

Finally, in 1776, the term shotgun was used to describe a firearm that propelled shot. The gun’s popularity soared through the American Civil War and the Wild West. By the mid 1800s, shotgun shell casings were made from full-length brass. And by around 1877, paper hulls with brass bases started to replace the brass shells.

In 1884, Frank Chamberlin patented a machine with the ability to load 1,500 shotshells per hour, a remarkable feat when all shotgun shells of the time were still hand loaded, with supplies only available in the U.S. by Winchester and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company.

With Chamberlin’s success, he was soon in direct competition with the two companies. By 1887, Winchester and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company refused to sell Chamberlin any hulls, primers, or wads, forcing him to purchase supplies from England.

What’s more, both companies, realizing the world of shotgun shells was changing, jumped on the machine-loading bandwagon and bought their own equipment to mass produce shotgun shells. Soon, all three companies were producing box after box of 12 gauge shells.

Winchester and Union Metallic Cartridge Company didn’t just copy Chamberlin’s machine concept. They even mimicked how he shipped ammunition. Because shotgun shells were large and heavy, the average 12 gauge ammo case was fragile and collapsed under the weight. This led Chamberlin to package the shells in boxes of 25, packing 20 together in wooden crates, creating his own case of 12 gauge shells.

Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end for Chamberlin, as he was competing against his suppliers. By 1900, Chamberlin left the ammunition industry and focused instead on trapshooting devices.

But his influence remained, as he made factory shotgun shells that were quality made, effective, and inexpensive. Although some continued to handload their own wildcat cartridges, most shooters opted for premade shotgun shells.

Today’s 12 Gauge Shotgun Shells

Shotgun ammo technology grew by leaps and bounds in the first 50 years of the 1900s. Brass hulls were replaced by paper hulls, and smokeless powder (cleaner and more powerful) replaced black powder.

By the late 1960s, plastic cases grew in popularity and soon became universal, with fewer shooters, both in hunting and sport shooting, opting for paper hulls.

As time went on, 12 gauge ammo became available in a huge variety of forms and functions, mostly a variation in shot size – which refers to the measurement of the individual projectiles inside the shotgun shell.

There are numerous ways to measure shot size, including the American, Euro (which is sometimes called the Standard system), Spanish, Australian, Italian, and more.

With the American system, which is what is used here at Ammo.com, the smaller the number, the larger the shot. For instance, a #8 shotgun shell has smaller shot than a #4 shotgun shell.

Types of 12 Gauge Ammo

The 12 gauge shotgun has been called one of the most versatile firearms ever created, mostly because of the versatility of the ammunition. From fowl hunting and trap shooting to taking whitetail deer and self defense, 12 gauge shotgun shells come in a wide range of uses.

Shotgun shells containing pellets, aka shot, come in sizes ranging from 000 Buck at the largest size to #9 shot at the smallest (it should be mentioned that there is #12 Shot, which is commonly known as snake shot or rat shot and is designed for handguns, but can be found in small bore shotgun shells).

This range of pellet size is often divided into 12 gauge buckshot and birdshot, as well as rounds for trap and skeet shooting. The rounds with the smallest projectiles, like #9 and #8 shotgun shells, are often used in skeet shooting and are known for their short, high-density patterns. Trap shooting, which requires a longer shot, typically sees shooters using a #7.5 shotgun shell.

Birdshot is used for fowl and other small game, including squirrel and varmint. It contains a large amount of fairly small projectiles, ranging from #9 shot at the smallest end, used for doves, to #4 at the large end, appropriate for large birds such as turkey and geese.

Shot found in #3 bridges between birdshot and buckshot, and can be used in brushy area to hunt duck or in close-quarter whitetail deer hunting, where permitted by law.

Those who hunt medium-sized game with shotguns often opt for bulk 12 gauge buckshot, of which the 12 gauge 00 buckshot is the most popular. These rounds can be found in multiple sizes, including (from smallest projectiles to largest):

The .4 buckshot is slightly larger than the 000 (.4 inch projectiles compared to .36 inch) and, while it can be used for deer hunting, is primarily seen as a self-defense round.

Before hunting with buckshot, check with local jurisdictions, as some places do not allow shotguns for medium or large game and others restrict certain types of ammunition, including lead shot.

Some shooters chose to shoot a 12 gauge ammo slug, which features a single solid projectile designed for hunting large game closer than 100 yards. They work well in hunting because the large size transfers high energy into the target.

Most shotgun barrels spin the slug with rifling. For added accuracy, other slugs are wrapped in a sabot – which is designed to increase range and accuracy of the slug in exchange for projectile weight and energy transfer.

Knowing What 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell to Use When Hunting

When hunting with a shotgun, it’s necessary to understand what ammunition is best for the specific hunting expedition and why. Hunters should consider multiple factors, including range and size of the game, to ensure that the ammunition provides a humane kill (which is most reliant upon penetration).

In most cases, lead shot gives the best ballistic performance, but many hunting areas have environmental restrictions, especially in wetlands where waterfowl hunting is popular. When lead isn’t an option, opt for bismuth, tungsten, or steel. Be aware that when using steel shot, most hunters phase up to a larger shot. This matches the performance of lead shot and provides a good option for cheap 12 gauge slugs and shotshells.

Hunters should choose shotgun shells within a specific range, depending again on their expected range and hunting environment. In addition to shot size, hunters may also look for narrow or wide patterns, again depending on what they are hunting and the environmental conditions.

Narrow patterns, which keep the projectiles closer together, provide a harder shot with reduced deformation. This ammo is best for medium-sized animals and slower-moving game. To achieve the narrow pattern, ammunition manufacturers add buffering like sawdust or plastic to fill the space between the shot.

For wider patterns, which are ideal for smaller animals that move quickly, hunters can opt for ammo that uses a softer lead, which can often be found in cheap 12 gauge shells. Spreader wads can increase the width of a shotshell pattern, as can using projectiles that are deformed, elliptical, or cubical in shape.

Shooters can also find brush loads. Designed for dense cover, this type of 12 gauge ammo combines spreader wads with non-spherical projectiles to blast through vegetation in short-range shots.

Shotguns that Made the 12 Gauge Popular

Multiple shotguns lead to the consistent popularity of the 12 gauge shotgun shell. In the early 1950s, Remington blazed the trail with new products for shotgunners, including the Model 870. Since its introduction in 1950, the Model 870 has proven to be long lasting and smooth, and has become the world’s best-selling shotgun with over 11 million sold.

A decade later, Remington introduced shotgun shells with plastic hulls – which featured a more robust case and kept the contents of the case dry even in the field. Within the next year, O.F. Mossberg & Sons introduced their iconic pump shotgun, the Model 500.

The iconic Model 500 is the only pump action firearm to be given military specs and has proven itself versatile and effective in the field, in the home, and on duty with over 10 million sold throughout the years.

One of the qualities that make 12 gauge shotguns stand out, is their versatility. From the same firearm, shooters can engage in shooting competitions like skeet and trap, they can hunt everything from squirrels to deer, and they can even protect their home – all without doing anything other than changing the gun’s ammunition.

12 Gauge for Self Defense

The use of the 12 gauge for self defense was once the norm, but fell away through the latter half of the 20th century. It’s once again on the rise and for good reason. Shotgun proficiency comes quicker than it does with a handgun, mostly due to the greater accuracy of a long gun.

Twelve gauge shotguns also enjoy the advantage of imparting greater energy than a handgun, as well as an increase in velocity. The average 12 gauge shotgun shell has twice the velocity of a .44 Magnum.

Plus, shotguns are easy to use: Pump the gun. Flip the safety. Pull the trigger. And let’s face it, the telltale click-click sound of a pump-action shotgun is enough to stop most perpetrators in their tracks.

Opting for birdshot can give shooting novices the time to adjust to the firearm’s recoil, as well as reducing the risk of over penetration, especially in self-defense situations.

Because of the resurgence of the self-defense shotgun, specialty ammunition is being produced and includes options for low recoil and combinations of buckshot and smaller pellets. Shooters can choose between rounds like the Personal Defense Buckshot Federal 12 Gauge shotgun shells, which use Flight Control wads and are engineered specifically for in-home use, or the PDX1 Winchester 12 gauge shotgun shells, which features both #00 shot and 12 gauge slug ammo.

From personal protection to many different types of hunting, the 12 gauge is a good choice for many tasks – which is why this shotgun ammunition will remain popular for years to come.

FAQ

What does 12 gauge mean?

Shotgun shells are measured in gauge, which represents the number of bore-size lead balls it takes to make one pound. In the case of a 12 gauge shotgun, which has a bore (the term for the interior diameter of the barrel) of .73 inch, it takes 12 lead balls, each with a diameter of .73 inch, to make a pound of lead.

What caliber is a 12 gauge shotgun?

Except for the .410, shotgun shells aren’t measured in caliber, they’re measured in gauge. In firearms, caliber measures the internal barrel diameter, or the bore of the barrel and is the measurement used in handguns and rifles. For example, a .223 has an internal barrel diameter of .223 inch. A 9mm has an internal barrel diameter of 9mm. Gauge, on the other hand, is a measurement of how many bore-sized balls can be formed out of a pound of lead. So with a 12 gauge, the internal bore measures .73 inch and it takes 12 lead balls this size to make one pound of lead.

How many pellets are in a 12 gauge shotgun shell?

The number of pellets in a 12 gauge shotgun shell relies on the type of shell being shot and primarily, the size of the shot in the shell. Shot comes in a variety of sizes. The largest is 000 shot (pronounced triple aught), which measures .36 inch in diameter. The smallest is #9 shot, with a .08 inch diameter. There is #12 shot ammo, commonly called snake shot, but it’s not available in 12 gauge. In a one ounce 000 12 gauge shell, there are six pellets. In a one ounce #9 12 gauge shell, there are 585 pellets. The heavier the cartridge, the more pellets the shooter can expect.

What are the different types of 12 gauge shotgun shells?

There are many types of 12 gauge shotgun shells. They can differ in size of pellets, with common options available in buckshot (sizes 000, 00, 0, #1, #2, #3), birdshot (#3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #7.5, #8, #8.5, #9), and slugs. Twelve gauge shotgun shells also come in different lengths (primarily 2 ¾ through 3 ½ inch shells) and different weights. There are also specialty 12 gauge rounds, many with a focus on self defense, including .4 buckshot which can be found by ammunition manufacturers like Remington, Hornady, and Sellier & Bellot.

What is the best 12 gauge shotgun ammo for home defense?

Choosing the best 12 gauge shotgun ammo for home defense depends on a variety of factors, including how much power the shooter can handle, if overpenetration is a concern, and finding an ammunition that is both reliable and affordable for the shotgun in use. While most buckshot and birdshot ammo can cause significant damage during a home invasion, there are specialty rounds made just for home defense. Examples include Federal Premium Personal Defense, Hornady Critical Defense, and Winchester PDX1 Defender. Those who struggle with recoil may opt for Remington Managed-Recoil Buckshot while a frangible slug reduces the risk of overpenetration.

What is the best 12 gauge shotgun ammo for skeet and target shooting?

The best 12 gauge shotgun ammo for skeet, trap, and target shooting often depends on the shooter and their shotgun. Because 12 gauge shotguns push out a lot of power, fatigue plays a role for both the skeet and trap shooter, especially in competition shooting, and many may opt for a load that offers reduced recoil. Many skeet shooters use a shot size of #8, #8.5, or #9, which are known for their short, high density patterns, while trap shooters, who must make a longer shot, prefer a shot size of #7.5 or #8. Some of those who have been shooting at clay for years like to reload their own ammo, getting the perfect fit for their specific shotgun. When shopping, consider options like Winchester AA, Remington Premier Nitro Sporting Clays, or Federal Top Gun Target Loads.

What 12 gauge shotgun ammo has the least recoil?

When a shooter is looking for the least recoil possible in a 12 gauge shotgun shell, they can opt for a reduced-recoil load. While almost all manufacturers of shotgun shells make these lighter loads, some of the most reliable include Fiocchi LE, Hornady TAP, and Remington Managed Recoil. When a shooter really wants to reduce recoil, opt for the Aguila Minishell, which, due to its small size, has significantly less recoil than full-sized ammunition.

What is a 12 gauge slug and how far does it travel?

A 12-gauge slug is a solid projectile that can be fired from a shotgun. The shotgun slug allows the shotgun to be used in situations where shot being fired is not effective, such as when hunting medium to large game or when firing at a target beyond the traditional range of a shotgun. Rifled slugs reach extreme powers and can range, on the low end, to the energy output of a .45 ACP and, at the high end, a .30-06. While traditional lead slugs lose much of their killing velocity by 100 yards, modern sabot slugs, which travel faster and hold their shape, can still be deadly at 200 yards or more.

What is the difference between 12 gauge and 20 gauge?

The difference between a 12 gauge and 20 gauge is found in the bore, or in the shotgun’s internal barrel diameter. The bore of a 12 gauge barrel is .729 inch while the bore of a 20 gauge barrel is .615 inch, a difference of .114 inch. While just over one-tenth of an inch may not seem like much, it makes a significant difference in power and recoil when shooting, and many find the smaller 20 gauge easier to handle.

12 Gauge Ballistics: Chart of Average 12 Gauge Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type loads.

s
Shell Length Shot Ozs. Shot Sizes Load Style Dram Equivalent Velocity (fps)
3-1/2" Magnum 2-1/4 4, 5, 2006 Premium Max 1300
  2 5, 6, 2007 Lead Max 1250
  2 4, 5 Multi-Combo Max 1300
  2 4, 5, 2006 Copper-Plated Turkey Max 1200
  2 00 Buck Coated Lead Max 1100
  1-3/4 BB, 2, 4 High Density Max 1225
  1-3/8 T, BBB, BB, 2, 4 Heavyweight Max 1450
  1-3/8 BBB, BB, 2 Steel Max 1500
  1-1/2 BBB, BB, 2, 3 FS Steel Max 1475
  1-1/2 n/a Supreme H-V Max n/a
  1-3/8 BB, 2 H-Speed Steel Max 1625
  1-1/4 1 Buck Steel Max 1100
3" Magnum 1-3/8 Slug Buckhammer Max 1700
  1 n/a TruBall Slug Max n/a
  1 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1550
  1 n/a Saboted Max n/a
  385 Grain Slug Gold Max 1700
  1-1/8 Slug Rackmaster Max 2100
  300 Grain BBB, BB, 1, 2, 3, 4 XP3 Max 1275
  1-3/8 BB, 2, 3, 4 Steel 3-5/8 1635
  1-1/8 BB, 2, 4 Snow Goose FS Max 1500
  1-1/8 T, BBB, BB, 2, 4, 5, 6 Steel Max 1450
  1-1/8 BB, 2 Steel Max 1400
  1-1/8 3, 4 Steel Max 1600
  1-1/8 Hex, BB, 2 FS Lead Max 1400
  1-3/8 T, BBB, BB Blind Side Max 1400
  1-1/4 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 Steel 4 n/a
  1-1/4 n/a FS Steel Max n/a
  2 BB, 2, 4, 6 Premium 4 1210
  1-3/4 4, 5, 2006 Turkey Max 1200
  1-3/4 5, 6, 2007 Coated Lead Max 1250
  1-3/4 BB, 2, 4 Multi-Combo Max 1450
  1-3/4 BB, 2 High Density Max 1450
  1-1/2 T High Density Max 1300
  1-1/2 BB, 2, 4 Hevi-Shot Max 1300
  1-1/2 BB High Density Max 1300
  1-1/2 Slug Coated Lead Max 1604
  1-1/2 3, 4, 5, 6 Slug Max 1350
  1-3/8 5, 6 Heavyweight Max 1300
  1-3/8 B, 2, 4, 6 High Density Max 1450
  1-3/8 Slug Slug Max 1476
  1-3/8 Hex, 1, 3, 5 Blind Side Max 1400
  1-1/4 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1600
  7/8 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1875
  1-1/8 BB Low Recoil Max 850
  1-1/8 BB, 2, 3, 4 Steel Max 1550
  1 4, 6 Steel Max 1330
2-3/4" 1-3/8 4, 5, 2006 Lead Max 1250
  1-3/8 4, 5, 2006 Turkey Max 1400
  1-3/8 BB, 2, 4, 5, 6 Steel Max 1300
  1-3/8 BB, 2, 4, 5, 6 Bismuth Max 1260
  1-1/2 Hex, 2, 5 Magnum 3-3/4 1400
  1-1/4 n/a Blind Side Max n/a
  1-1/4 BB, 2, 4, 5, 6 Supreme H-V Max n/a
  1-1/4 B, 2, 4 High Velocity 3-3/4 1450
  1-1/4 4, 6 High Density Max 1325
  1-1/4 6, 7-1/2, 8, 9 High Density Max 1220
  1-1/43, 4, 5, 6 Standard Velocity 3-1/4 1350
  1-1/4 5 Bismuth Max 1350
  1-1/8 n/a Hevi-Shot Max n/a
  1-1/8 2, 4 Standard Velocity n/a 1390
  1-1/8 BB, 2 Steel Max 1450
  1 n/a Steel Max n/a
  1 n/a Standard Velocity 3-1/4 n/a
  1-1/4 Slug Target 3-1/4 1900
  325 Grain n/a Barnes Max n/a
  300 Grain Sabot Slug Sabot n/a 2050
  3/4 .73 Rubber Slug Tracer Max 600
  130 Grain Zinc Slug Less Lethal Max n/a
  3/4 6-1/2, 7 Non-Toxic Max 1200
  1-1/8 7 Steel Target 3 1145
  1-1/8 7 Steel Target 2-3/4 1235
  1 T, BBB, BB, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Steel 3 1275
  1-1/4 BB, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Steel 3-1/2 1365
  1-1/8 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Steel 3-3/4 1390
  1 n/a Steel 3-3/4 n/a
  7/8 n/a Steel Max n/a
  1-1/8 7-1/2, 8, 8-1/2, 9 Spreader 3 1200
  1-1/8 7-1/2, 8, 9 Target 3 1200
  1-1/8 7-1/2x8 Target 2-3/4 1145
  1-1/8 7-1/2, 8 Low Recoil 2-3/4 1145
  1-1/8 7-1/2, 8, 8-1/2, 9 Target 2-1/4 1080
  1 7-1/2, 8, 8-1/2, 9 Spreader Max 1300
  1 7-1/2, 8, 9 Target 3-1/4 1290
  1 7-1/2, 8, 8-1/2, 9 Target 3 1235
  1 7-1/2, 8, 8-1/2, 9 Target 2-3/4 1180
  7/8 8 Light 3 1200
  1 Slug Segmenting, Slug Max 1600
  1 Slug Saboted Slug Max 1450
  1-1/4 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1520
  1-1/4 Slug Slug Max 1440
  1-1/4 Attached Sabot Saboted Slug Max 1550
  1 Slug, Magnum Slug, Rifled Max 1680
  1 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1610
  1 Slug Slug Max 1640
  7/8 Slug Slug, Rifled Max 1800
  400 Grain Sabot Slug Platinum Tip Max 1700
  385 Grain Slug Patrition Gold Slug Max 1900
  385 Grain Sabot Slug Bonded Max 1900
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