Until recently, the 12 gauge shotgun has remained the universally accepted shoulder fired weapon for United States law enforcement general purpose use. While law enforcement 12 ga. shotguns are typically loaded with #00 Buckshot and offer outstanding incapacitation potential and increased hit potential against moving targets at close range (no more than 15 to 25 yard), the shotgun is not an ideal general purpose weapon due to its short effective range, imprecise accuracy, downrange hazard to bystanders, small ammunition capacity, slow reloading, and harsh recoil. Recognition of the shotgun’s significant limitations as a general purpose weapon have prompted many American law enforcement agencies to adopt the more versatile semi-automatic carbine for general purpose use.

Yet despite their limitations, shotguns are still found in the majority of patrol cars in the United States and still have a valid role for law enforcement use, especially in close quarters combat (CQB) and to deliver specialized munitions (breaching, chemical, less lethal impact and electronic). A basic shotgun weapon system is already in place for most departments and the 12 gauge shotgun is one of the most cost effective weapons to obtain and operate.

Law enforcement 12 ga. shotguns using buckshot of #1 or larger size offer greater close range physiological incapacitation potential than virtually any other commonly used shoulder fired weapon-- this can be a significant advantage during urban entry missions and high risk warrant service in closely confined settings. Should the need arise to stop fast moving targets at close range, like aggressive dogs that could not be deterred through less lethal alternatives, 12 gauge buckshot of #1 shot or larger is the optimal ammunition choice. Keep in mind that buckshot, especially frangible types such as Hevishot, have less ricochet risk than shotgun slugs, as well as handgun and rifle projectiles when fired at objects close to the ground, such as charging dogs. In congested urban settings, buckshot is less likely to pose as high a downrange hazard as slugs in the event a missed shot exits a structure wall. Birdshot offers inadequate penetration and intermediate barrier capability and has no place for LE use.

On the other hand, slugs offer several advantages in other settings, including greater range when in open areas, more precise accuracy and control of projectiles, and in more rural settings if larger animals like cattle are critically injured and need to be rapidly euthanized in the field, shotgun slugs are an optimal choice. Shotguns loaded with good quality deep penetrating slugs like Brenneke or the Federal Truball Deep Penetrator (PB127 DPRS) are able to defeat intermediate barriers better than handguns, SMG’s, handgun caliber carbines, & . 223/5.56mm carbines--this particularly includes defeating laminated automobile and transit vehicle windshields. They are also the best option for defense against large U.S. predators like brown bears.

Brenneke THD slug through 2 x 20 ga steel per FBI protocol

The new Federal (PB127 DPRS) Truball Deep Penetrator 1 oz slug load @ 1350 fps (http://www.federalpremium.com/...ils/slug.aspx?id=902) penetrated 24" of gel after first defeating an automobile windshield, with no deviation from trajectory and outstanding weight retention. Accuracy is excellent out to at least 100 yds. It is the first slug to be prove an alternative to the Brenneke.

Brenneke Tactical Home Defense

Brenneke Classic Magnum

Note that while traditional Foster type slugs can be very effective against unobstructed soft targets, they tend to break apart and often fail to offer adequate penetration against intermediate barriers and tougher animals. Since slugs are typically selected with the goal of successfully penetrating something--often times intermediate barriers or large dangerous animals, Foster type slugs are NOT generally the best option for LE use.

The new Federal #1 buckshot, 15 pellet, 1100 fps "Flight Control" load (LE132-1B) offers IDEAL terminal performance for LE and self-defense use and is the best option for those who need to use shot shells for such purposes. In bare gel, all 15 of the 30 caliber plated pellets penetrate in the 14-18 inch range. Below are patterning shots at 7 and 25 yards fired out of a generic 18" 870P:

Through an automobile windshield at 3 meters, 2 badly deformed pellets were noted at 5", 3 pellets were at 8-9", while the remaining 10 pellets were found at 12.5-15"--not bad for a buckshot load. Keep in mind that slugs are the preferred option when engaging threats inside vehicles.

In bare gel when shot from 3 meters, we again saw penetration of all the pellets from 14-18", as noted in the photo below: