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. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    4 In stock now

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    Image For 250 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $206.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 82.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XB1200
    • UPC 020892007208
  2. Remington 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    70 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Shotshell 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $4.15 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Discount Slug
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • Shotshell Primer
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 2361 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • 83¢ Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU SP12RSB
    • UPC 047700347951
  3. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 150 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    1 In stock now

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    Image For 150 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $125.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 150 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 150 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 83.3¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XB1200VP
    • UPC 50020892014669
  4. Winchester Drylok Super Steel High Velocity 12 Gauge Ammo - 25 Rounds of 1-1/4 oz. #4 Shot Ammunition

    31 In stock now

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    Image For 25 Rounds Of 1-1/4 oz. #4 Shot Boxer 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $21.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Waterfowl
    • 1450 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1-1/4 oz.
    • #4 Shot Bullet
    • Boxer Primer
    • 3" Shell Length
    • 84¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU SSH1234
    • UPC 020892013834
  5. Rio Ammunition 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    73 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
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Rio Ammunition
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1345 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  6. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    79 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
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Discount Slug
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 2361 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • 85¢ Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU SP12RS
    • UPC 047700020907
  7. Federal LE Tactical 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    65 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.25 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 85¢ Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LE127 00
    • UPC 029465025076
  8. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of Rifled Slug Ammunition

    38 In stock now

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    Image For 10 Rounds Of 7/8 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $8.75 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Discount Slug
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 87.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12LESLUG
    • UPC 762344703794
  9. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of Rifled Slug Ammunition

    23 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Discount Slug
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 87.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FLESLU
  10. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    28 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Discount Slug
    • 1150 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 87.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FLRSLU
  11. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    48 In stock now

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    Image For 10 Rounds Of 1 oz. Rifled Slug 12 Gauge Fiocchi Ammunition
    $8.75 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Discount Slug
    • 1150 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 87.5¢ Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12LRSLUG
    • UPC 762344706092
  12. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 250 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    15 In stock now
    Image For 250 Rounds Of #00 Buck Shotshell 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $219.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • #00 Buck Bullet
    • Shotshell Primer
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 88¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU Q1544
    • UPC 50020892018803
  13. Winchester Blind Side 12 Gauge Ammo - 25 Rounds of 3" 1-1/8 oz. #3 Shot Ammunition

    1 In stock now

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    Image For 25 Rounds Of 1-1/8 oz. #3 Shot 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $22.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Waterfowl
    • 1675 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1-1/8 oz.
    • #3 Shot Bullet
    • 3" Shell Length
    • 88¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU SBS123HV3
    • UPC 020892021440
  14. Remington 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    67 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $4.49 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 89.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU 12BT800 - 20662
    • UPC 047700327600
  15. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    62 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
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Discount Slug
    • 1610 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 2518 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • 90¢ Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F127 RS
    • UPC 029465009915
  16. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    63 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
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 90¢ Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU 12B00
    • UPC 047700019604
  17. Federal LE 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of FliteControl 00 Buck Ammunition

    84 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Buck Shot
    • 1145 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 90¢ Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LE132 00
    • UPC 029465018665
  18. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    78 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $4.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Buck Shot
    • 1290 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 90¢ Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F130 00
    • UPC 029465009687
  19. Winchester Winchester Drylok Super Steel Magnum 12 Gauge Ammo - 25 Rounds of 1-3/8 oz. #4 Shot Ammunition

    20 In stock now

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    Image For 25 Rounds Of 1-3/8 oz. #4 Shot 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $22.90 Price

    Qty:

    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Waterfowl
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1-3/8 oz.
    • #4 Shot Bullet
    • 3" Shell Length
    • 91.6¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XSM1234
    • UPC 020892007789
  20. Winchester DryLok Super Steel 12 Gauge Ammo - 25 Rounds of 1-3/8 oz. #2 Shot Ammunition

    18 In stock now

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    Image For 25 Rounds Of 1-3/8 oz. #2 Shot 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $22.99 Price

    Qty:

    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 25 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Waterfowl
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1-3/8 oz.
    • #2 Shot Bullet
    • 3" Shell Length
    • 92¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XSM1232
    • UPC 020892007765
  21. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 15 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    36 In stock now

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    Image For 15 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $14.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 15 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 15 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 93.3¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XB1200VP
    • UPC 20892014664
  22. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 80 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    21 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 80 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Discount Slug
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 93.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12FSLUG
  23. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 250 Rounds of 000 Buck Ammunition

    5 In stock now

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    Image For 250 Rounds Of #000 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $235.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 94¢ Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F127 000
    • UPC 50029465009774
  24. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 100 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    6 In stock now

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    Image For 100 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $95.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 100 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 100 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1200 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 95¢ Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU RL12BK00
    • UPC 047700336527
  25. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    1 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $4.79 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 95.8¢ Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XB1200
    • UPC 020892007079
  26. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    79 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • #00 Buck Bullet
    • Shotshell Primer
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F127 00
    • UPC 029465009731
  27. Federal 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    61 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Slug
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1642 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LE127 RS
    • UPC 029465018689
  28. Fiocchi 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    9 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi

    • New Condition
    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Fiocchi
    • Shot
    • 1560 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Fiocchi SKU 12SLUG
    • UPC 762344704067
  29. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    76 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F127 4B
    • UPC 029465009762
  30. Winchester 12 Gauge Ammo - 10 Rounds of #5 Shot (Lead) Ammunition

    16 In stock now

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    Image For 10 Rounds Of 1-7/8 oz. #5 Shot 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $10.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Turkey
    • 1210 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1-7/8 oz.
    • #5 Shot Bullet
    • 3" Shell Length
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU X123MT5
    • UPC 020892017573
  31. Federal LE Tactical Truball 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 2-3/4" 1 oz. Rifled Slug Ammunition

    7 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Slug
    • 1300 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 1644 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LEB127 LRS
    • UPC 029465025304
  32. Winchester 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 1-1/8 oz. 00 Buck Ammunition

    38 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

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

    72 In stock now

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

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Slug
    • 1610 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • 1 oz.
    • Rifled Slug Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • 161 ft lbs Muzzle Energy
    • $1.00 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LEF127 RS
    • UPC 029465025496
  34. Federal LE 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of FliteControl 00 Buck 8 Pellet Ammunition

    60 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.05 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Buck Shot
    • 1145 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.01 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU LE133 00
    • UPC 029465023157
  35. Remington 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 000 Buck Ammunition

    19 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #000 Buck 12 Gauge Remington Ammunition
    $5.45 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Remington
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.09 Cost Per Round
    • Remington SKU 12B000
    • UPC 047700019505
  36. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    53 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #00 Buck Shotshell 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $5.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • #00 Buck Bullet
    • Shotshell Primer
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU Q1544
    • UPC 020892018808
  37. Winchester 12 ga Ammo - 5 Rounds of #4 Buck Ammunition

    38 In stock now

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    Image For 5 Rounds Of #4 Buck 12 Gauge Winchester Ammunition
    $5.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Winchester
    • Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • #4 Buck Bullet
    • 2-3/4" Shell Length
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • Winchester SKU XB124
    • UPC 20892007109
  38. Hornady 12 ga Ammo - 10 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    67 In stock now

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    Image For 10 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Hornady Ammunition
    $11.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady

    • New Condition
    • 10 Rounds
    • Made by Hornady
    • Buck Shot
    • 1600 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • Hornady SKU 86246
    • UPC 090255862461
  39. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 250 Rounds of 00 Buck Ammunition

    1 In stock now

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    Image For 250 Rounds Of #00 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $275.00 Price

    Qty:

    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 250 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1140 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU H132 00
    • UPC 50029465016499
  40. Federal 12 Gauge Ammo - 5 Rounds of 000 Buck Ammunition

    41 In stock now

    Submit A Review

    Image For 5 Rounds Of #000 Buck 12 Gauge Federal Ammunition
    $5.50 Price

    Qty:

    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal

    • New Condition
    • 5 Rounds
    • Made by Federal
    • Discount Buck Shot
    • 1325 FPS Muzzle Velocity
    • $1.10 Cost Per Round
    • Federal SKU F127 000
    • UPC 029465009779
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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.

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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