Rounds of Authority: Shotgun Ammunition

This video, produced by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, shows how different shotgun rounds impact ballistic gel. They show standard rounds as well as specialty flare and breaching rounds and the exotic bolo, flatteche and dragons breath shell.

Flare rounds look nasty. They do not look like they would kill, but they have enough energy to embed themselves in soft tissue and burn inside the body.

Hat Tip: Migs at

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jim

    Looks like a good way to get yourself killed. Novelty ammo is more like it.

  • Fred

    I think the penetration tests for the flachettes had the opposite effect for me. Those things just don’t have enough mass to do much harm. It looked like they’d hurt like a SOB even with soft armor, but they’re not going to stop somebody.

  • XxleoxX

    Those exotic rounds are extremely nasty! seeing this i really don’t agree that those types of ammuntion should be available to the public,especially the armor piercing,why would civilians ever need that?!

  • Greetings from Texas,
    I have seen these rounds advertised, and have even tried out a few. This is like a video version of the Sears Christmas Catalog for gun nuts! Even my wife wants to try some of these.

  • Kyle Huff

    So, today’s lesson is, don’t get shot by a shotgun. It will suck.

  • i call BS on the slug being stopped with soft armor. i’ve performed similar tests, and it punched a hole clean through.

  • jdun1911

    Kyle, let me ad to that. Getting hit by any firearms will suck.

    The entire video was melodramatic. My eyes roll up on the induction of the video.

    All the exotic rounds that was shown on the video are very bad at stop an attacker. All it does is piss your attacker off. As a rule of thumb at least 12″ of ballistic gel must be penetrated to be an effective round (FBI). Those exotic rounds doesn’t even penetrated 4″ inch. Save the money and use 00 buck just like this lady (I think).



    Flachettes are neat ammo. Fun to shot because it is different but like you said it is not good at stopping anyone.

    Any bullet that have a small facial area (ie pointed) will defeat softbody armor that have enough power. Any bullet that have enough power will defeat any softbody armor. Any knife will defeat softbody armor. The vast majority of rifle bullet will defeat softbody armor.

  • Brad


    Thanks (NOT!) for the politics. Perhaps a gun-control website would suit your tastes better than The Firearm Blog.

  • I’d not heard of the strung buck before. It looked to me like the buck and ball would be great for the home defense shotgun.

  • I’ll stick with Buck shot. Affordable and it works.

  • SpudGun

    Just as mynameisfoxtrot pointed out, plenty of slugs can go through soft body armor and I know for a fact that 00 buckshot can easily pass through a car door.

    Shame they didn’t shoot the car’s gas tank with a rifled slug and then followed it up with a dragon slug – that might have been interesting. But this video looked like it was made on the cheap, hence why it was so dull.

    That Strung Buck looks particularly nasty, would like to have seen what it would do if it entered a human analogue, such as a dead animal, and what would happen when it hit bone.

  • Matt Groom

    “Here is important information that all federal agents need to know:

    Getting shot with Birdshot will suck,
    getting shot with Buckshot will really suck,
    and getting shot with a slug will not hurt you at all if you are wearing soft body armor, even though it can shoot through both sides of a heavy sheet steel mailbox. You’ll feel a slight tingling sensation if you get shot with buckshot or slugs. You probably won’t even notice it!

    Exotic ammo, while it is totally worthless for hunting, will kill you like a laser beam from a space cannon! Flecettes, while completely abandoned for military applications after billions of dollars worth of experiments in the 1960’s-1980’s confirmed that they are terribly ineffective for combat purposes, are more lethal than slugs! Be afraid! These must be outlawed immediately! If you find anyone with this ammunition, seize it and waterboard them until they tell you what terrorist organization they belong to!”

    Typical 90’s anti-gun propaganda. Your tax dollars at work.

    Incidently, Flecettes are illegal here in FL. Why? Because the Florida Dept. of Fish and Game was tired of finding deer that were dying of infections after being hit with flecettes and not dying until weeks later.

    Bolo rounds have a tendency to boomerang if you shoot anything that isn’t flesh. Just an FYI.

    Dragon’s Breath starts fires, but doesn’t do anything else. You’d do better to douse the target in gas and throw a lit cigarette. Or better yet, shoot them with your shotgun!

    Stand Gel block on it’s side for dramatic effect when penetration is limited. Lay down flat to show dramatic wave effect for hard hitting rounds. Alternate between thin and thick blocks of gel for maximum ‘scientific’ accuracy. These same techniques may be used to prove Anthropogenic Global Warming hypotheses.

  • Scott

    Correct me if I am wrong but I heard somewhere that flechettes were used for jungle warfare in Vietnam to kill VC and NVA hidden in deep brush.

  • jdun1911

    Most policemen wear level 3A body armor. It is rated to stop shotgun slug. I’m not sure if a lvl 2 rated armor will. Depend on the range I would think.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    I still think this stuff is neat even if it would never become my go to ammo. My trouble gun here at HomePlace is a Winchester 97 or Mossberg pump loaded with staggered 00 and slugs. Visiting neighbors have seen me practice with this load and the word locally is that there is eaiser pickin’s elsewhere.
    Buck and ball is a time tested load going back to the days of flintlocks. I would not replace the above staggered load with them but wouldn’t sweat if a box of them was all I had.
    A bunch of this is just interesting stuff to experiment with. As noted by several people, flecettes were tested and found ineffective.
    Like I said before, it’s a fun video.

  • Jim

    This also makes me recognize what a load of crap the dragon’s breath is. I was almost convinced that it was magic by the photo of a guy shooting what looks like a massive flame jet, but after this video I recognized that it was just a time lapse shot over a couple of seconds. Not impressive.

  • jdun1911

    It’s all marketing, Jim.

    To the uninitiated the video with the announcer talking in the background make those exotic ammos look fearsome. But if you take a second and think about it, they are actually crap.

    Take for instance the flecettes with the bullet proof vest. The flecettes did penetrated and sticking out behind the vest. Look terrible right? If you study it closely you will come to the conclusion: it doesn’t have enough power left to do any serious damage to the person wearing the vest. Why? It didn’t fully penetrate through the vest. The vest captured the flecettes thus limiting any damage to vital organs. However it still hurt but you won’t be out of the fight.

    Stick with 00 buck. 00 have a proven record of taking down people.

  • Kipling

    Just a note on the bullet proof vest concept: Soft body armor is designed to be worn, it requires a dense, flexible backing like modeling clay, ballistic gelatin or you to work properly. If you just string it up on a piece of wood or cardboard like they did with the flechette demonstration, it is much more likely to be penetrated. It’s not conclusive to put a hole through kevlar if it isn’t properly backstopped.

    As for the specialty ammo, if this stuff were truly more effective than basic buckshot or slugs, the police and military would have figured that out by now and issue it. After all, they’ve spent a lot of time and money researching it and lives depend on it. Instead, they issue buckshot and slugs.

    Perceptions aside, this is still a fun video to watch because of all the stuff they shoot up. =)

  • I’d have liked to see the performance characteristics of the AP slug.With the bad guys wearing vests these days a little extra penetration would be a nice thing to have.

    And while they did not cover them Firequest (I think) has Glaser style shotgun slugs — expensive but if they work — ugh ..

    I suspect that of all the exotics only time honored buck and ball (or buck and slug) and AP slug look useful

  • scotty davis

    Interesting video. I was thinking of the benelli nova youth 20ga. Can any of you gentelmen or lady’s recommend defence load’s for 20ga. ? Thank,you all for your time. regards scotty

  • Frank

    This is interesting, but I question the overall value. I’d prefer a video where they’re taking more time to point out ranges, penetration, and so forth. The question of what level of soft armor is being used also comes up in my mind.