Cut Shells and Other Shotgun Nonsense

Shotguns seem to breed nonsense ideas more than any other type of firearm, except perhaps 1911s. That guy with a greasy John Deere cap who seems like his elbows are Krazyglued to the counter at your local gun shop is always happy to tell you about how shotguns are great because you can just rack the slide and criminals will poop and scoot. He may not have considered that scaring a person who is unstable enough to enter your home unbidden could have unpredictable consequences. Sure, they might just run away. Or they might empty their Hi-Point through your daughter’s bedroom wall. And greasy John Deere guy loves to tell you about how shotguns don’t need to be aimed. It’s almost like he’s never even fired one. Anybody who has spent five minutes with a shotgun can tell you that even a cylinder bore 18″ tube patterns tightly enough to cover with your hand at home defense range.

But one of that hillbilly’s most favorite things to tell you about is how his pappy made cut shells that turned birdshot into slugs. Cut shells, if you didn’t already know, are a Depression era trick where you cut through the hull, but not through the wad of a shotgun shell in a spiral cut that barely overlaps but does not complete the circle. A small portion of paper or plastic still holds the hull together until, when it is fired, that part tears and the whole thing goes down the barrel: wad, shot cup, and hull.



It does indeed hold the shot together on the way to the target but, as you can see above, it certainly does NOT function like a slug. When the assembly impacts the target, the shot instantly rips through the flimsy hull and the pellets penetrate about the same as they would if they were fired normally. That is, about 4″. That means that if you were afield when ruffians accosted you from a distance and all you had was birdshot, ringing the shells could make them a bit more effective. But it’s not remotely the sort of thing you should intentionally choose for defense, given other options. Not only does it penetrate far too shallowly to reliably incapacitate, the weakened hull can break in pump and semi auto shotguns, leaving tiny pellets to jam up the mechanism. Now this is the point where some folks are tearing their teeth out and madly typing a response daring me to stand downrange of a cut shell if I “think they’re so harmless”. Well, note that I never said they are harmless, just that they are far from a good choice. To achieve reliable incapacitation, you need to be able to get projectiles deep enough that they can put holes in vital organs even if they have to pass diagonally through a limb first or strike the torso at an odd angle or have to pass through bone. I mean, it’s not like the heart and lungs are encased in some sort of bone cage or something.

It may seem that I’m being unnecessarily harsh here but these myths really need to die a brief but painful death before they get someone killed. Hopefully this article can also put to bed the oft repeated and equally stupid assertion that at close range birdshot behaves like a slug. This test was not only performed at close range, but the shot was physically held together by the hull until impact and the pellets still behave like, well, birdshot.


Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block ( He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at


  • Vhyrus

    Barry is spinning in his grave right now.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Who’s Barry?

      • Other half of IV8888. He is well-respected, but he had lots of daft ideas.

        • .45

          If I remember correctly, Barry never claimed it would be a great idea, but simply said it was a trick used during the Depression by those who had to make do with what they had and couldn’t go get buckshot or slugs whenever they felt like it. Of course, it has been a few years since I watched that video, so maybe he did say something about using them for home defense, I dunno.

          • gunsandrockets

            IIRC he specifically warned against using cut shells in anything else than a single-shot or double barrel shotgun. Hardly a “daft” idea.

          • Bill Funk

            I watched them use cut shells in a pump gun, but there was a warning that they need to be inserted right, or they would bend and jam during loading.

          • RealitiCzech

            Which is the only place where it makes sense. When you can purchase proper buckshot and slugs, there’s no real point to cut shells, aside from novelty. It’s a poacher/poverty load.

          • Rick O’Shay

            “Poverty” load is right. I mostly hear this discussion pop up with folks looking to save a buck by buying the $20 boxes of target/game loads (100rd bulk packs), instead of the more expensive buck or slug loads. Cheap sh!ts also tend to be ignorant sh!ts. It’s not a perfect overlap on the venn diagram, but it’s how they justify it.
            If you want slug loads, just freaking buy slug loads. It’s not like they’re hard to find. Plus they function exactly how they were designed to.

          • RealitiCzech

            Again, buckshot/slugs are cheap. And since they are very effective loads, you’re unlikely to need more than one or two rounds of it. Skip one McDonald’s combo and you can buy a box of proper ammo. No reason to take chances when you have choices… choices that are quite cheap.

  • RSG

    I can’t stand people like Andrew who think their ideas are always right. And its certainly not just this article. His condescension is only rivaled by Liberal Terrorists™ And anti-gun zealots.

    • 1

      Since I’m not on disqus I can’t up vote this enough. What’s the deal with the condescending tone of this post?

    • Paul Rain

      I don’t support your argument, but I will defend your rhetoric to the death.

    • Greg

      This guy is a clown. No idea why TFB features him.

    • Chop Block

      “I can’t stand when facts contradict my feewings.”

      • loopydupe

        “Cut Shells Don’t Improve Penetration: Gel Tested” would be a choice title of someone leaving the rest to the wayside in concern of objectivity.
        The titles chosen instead are ones made to rile up far more views. The article paints pictures of unfashionable caricatures making vaguely related claims the audience knows better than, the dreaded Fudd boogeyman, who’s always wrong.
        What is the precedent for how valued “feewings” are in the discussion here at the expense of distracting from facts? Who set it?

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      Are you saying cut shells are as good as slugs in terms of terminal ballistics? Or are you saying that they will always cycle reliably in everyones pump guns? Or maybe you are just struggling to further explain your position because its hard to type with your elbows glued to the counter of a gun shop…

      In this article his “ideas” (I prefer the word facts) defintiely are correct. If you have a cylinder bore break action gun then cut birdshot shells are usually better than uncut birdshot shells, but that is where the advantages stop.

    • AC97

      Translation: You think that your emotionally charged rant somehow disproves what is stated in the article.

      Facts trump feelings, period.

  • Paul Rain

    But if we look at the actual use of cutshells- shooting soda bottles on youtube- we find that they are extremely effective, far better than birdshot for this use.


    • Chop Block

      Lol. Absolutely.

  • Waskoley Wallaby

    Cut shells are retarded. You should do a test of the Dixie Tri Ball. The load data is available online and so is loaded ammo. 3in shell, Three, 300gr .60cal balls @ 1100fps. People might find that interesting.

    • Chop Block

      Lol. Yeah, I’m sure that would do the trick. Not sure it’s worth the recoil, though.

      • Waskoley Wallaby

        I’ve shot about 3-400 of these over the years (handloaded). And they are surprisingly controllable in semis (11-87, Fn SLP) . But truthfully a bit much in pump guns. Just putting ideas out there.

        • Chop Block

          I can see that. And I don’t mean that the recoil would be unmanageable, just that it would likely be quite a bit more then Federal nine pellet 00.

          • Jared Vynn

            Would it be better or worse than slugs for recoil? I’m currently using rifled slugs in my “home” defense shotgun.

          • Chop Block

            I don’t know. Looks like a lot of mass. I honestly think that slugs could be dialed down a lot and still be effective for home defense. Obviously won’t fly as flat, though.

          • Waskoley Wallaby

            It’s a real push vs. how brutal some of the magnum slug offerings can be. These would be a bad idea for HD. Way too much penetration.

    • Bill Funk

      If talking about Home Defense, max effective range needed would be about 10 yards. We’re talking about inside a house; how many 30′ firing lanes do we have in our homes? I have one, and it’s highly unlikely I could ever find a perp in just that place.
      Buckshot (I use #4, 2 3/4″ 12 gauge) is extremely effective at normal in-home ranges (up to about 5 yards).
      Why go to the trouble of making exotic ammo? Dead is dead.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    Calling out IraqVeteran8888. Bold.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Not wise, but bold…

  • Dan

    Look at all the vids where people test birdshot or cut shells against human substitutes made of meat/ribs covered with denim. Birdshot is disturbingly effective and dumps all its energy into the target and not beyond. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an almost perfect home defense round because of the combination of energy transfer and overpenetration protection. Of course, you can ignore the grizzly tests, but you should look at those vids before dismissing them outright. Don’t go looking for the real fatal shotgun blast autopsy photos. Those will keep you up at night.

    I know someone will reply with, “But, this one time there was a guy/girls shot from 5 feet away with birdshot and they walked away.” Fine. Grizzlies get killed by .22 and guys on PCP survive 30 rounds. But on average, a birdshot hit to the face or torso inside 20 feet is a one-shot stop.

    • A slab of meat is not a “human substitute”, sorry.

      Ever shot, I dunno, a bird with birdshot? I have. When you clean it, you find a bunch of pellets still stuck in the meat. Of a little bird. A fragile, tiny little bird with tiny little bird bones stops bird shot cold. You could literally strap a double layer of dead mourning doves to your chest and it would be effective armor against bird shot.

      Do I want to get shot with birdshot? No. I also find hangnails unpleasant. That’s not an argument. The question is, do I want to depend on birdshot? For shooting birds, sure, but not for anything else!

      • PK

        “You could strap a double layer of dead mourning doves to your chest and it would be effective armor against bird shot.”

        Plus, you’re carrying around extra rations everywhere, and if you need to hide you only need find a group of birds somewhere. Genius!

        • FLdeepdiver

          ^ Best comment in a while…

      • Jared Vynn

        I don’t get why so many people swear by birdshot.

        • AC97

          Because they’re idiots that can’t do any critical thinking, end of story.

          • Chop Block

            Or a rib.

          • AC97

            Or even both.

        • PK

          Paying $0.30 a round for cheap buckshot is $0.05 more than birdshot, PLUS you have to keep two types of ammo around. TWO TYPES.

          I don’t get it either.

          • Samuel Millwright

            You’re my new favorite internet personality….

            You’ve just mortally insulted both the redneck shotgun set and cut to the core of why the GPC is such a stupid idea in 8 words!


          • RealitiCzech

            I just use a tourniquet and strangle my home invaders. I can re-use the tourniquets, and I don’t have hearing damage afterwards.

        • James

          I shot up a costume for Halloween one year with various ammo including birdshot. I found pellets in the pockets of the jeans. Think about that for a second… they didn’t even go through empty clothes. That right there made me 100% rule birdshot out as a defensive load. But people still carry Taurus judges loaded with .410 birdshot so whatever. Darwin will fix that line of non thought soon enough.

          • .45

            So a Canadian Tuxedo is good body armor for home invasion against the birdshot believers? Good to know.

      • David Il

        So would you advocate for mourning dove body armor against shotguns? Someone should test that. Also a John Deere cap against bird shot.

      • noob
      • Nashvone

        “You could strap a double layer of dead mourning doves to your chest and it would be effective armor against bird shot.”
        Why do they have to be dead? If they were alive, you could put them in a cage when you were back in a safe area and use them at a later date. They also wouldn’t stink from rotting.

    • Grant

      Energy transfer doesn’t kill or incapacitate. Poking big holes that bleed and breaking bones is what stops a fight. Energy is only useful because it can allow a bullet to penetrate far enough to do it’s job.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        THANK YOU.

        I’m so tired of seeing the “energy transfer” argument. It doesn’t mean SQUAT, and people don’t point it out nearly often enough.

      • kyphe

        Energy transfer and the hydro static shock it produces can both kill and incapacitate depending on the value of that energy. The level of energy is such that it is very close to immaterial in regards to common handgun loads but comes greatly into play with something like a 12 gauge. Baton rounds are lethal at close range.

        Rounds that go through and though without energy transfer are less lethal per mass of projectile than those that do.

        • Jeff

          If a slow bus bumps into you and knocks you down in a parking lot, you absorbed WAY more energy than a bullet or shot load, but you won’t likely be hurt, much less killed.

          • kyphe

            I am perfectly willing to talk about general laws of physics if we are generalizing away from terminal ballistics into the wider subject. Or talk about how vehicle design and energy diffusion systems effects the damage caused by energy transfer into a human body, relating to a vehicle of identical mass and velocity hitting a person at rest? Or how the unquestionable fact that a bus a sufficient speed will kill you with pure energy transfer which totally negates any claims to the contrary if we are treating vehicles and projectiles as comparable items. But I already mentioned in my prior post everything that covers your response. There must be sufficient energy and the energy must not be dispersed to widely as to drop bellow a useful level to quickly. Best effect is always a balance of forces.

      • Thank you.

    • cjleete

      Even the gaggles of gun magazine writers have written about “the Myth of Stopping Power”, as the FBI labs have debunked “energy dumping” or bullets “depositing all their energy into the target” as if you were a bank. If raw kinetic energy were a true metric of lethality, hardly anyone would survive an auto accident. It’s the 21st century, not 1982.

  • Arie Heath

    I’ve always considered cut shells to just be something you do for fun when you’re shooting. You can get a bit more plinking range out of them, and you’re using cheaper birdshot. I’ve never heard anyone say they were supposed to be used for defense.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Personally I’m a fan of birdshot with parafin wax. But they’ll tell me that doesn’t work, either.
      I still won’t believe them.

      • Chop Block

        They penetrate the same. Depends what you mean by “work”.

        • PK

          Ah-ha! I was wondering about that. I figured as much.

      • noob

        The wax slugs seem to be really good at, uh, securely erasing old hard disks.

        • PK

          That appears to be mostly recoverable. The platters are largely undamaged.

          • noob

            lol! it’s still good. 5 second rule!

          • Phillip Cooper

            The platters are taco’d. I don’t know how you call that “undamaged”?

          • PK

            The platters are deformed, yes, but the majority of the data on the pictured drive would be salvageable.

          • Kirk Newsted

            The folks at NSA once recovered a floppy disk that had been cut into several pieces. That was 20 years ago. Data recovery tech has advanced a lot since then. Those drives can still be partially recovered as long as there is surface to work with.

            Way back when I was a vault custodian we had a buttload of hard drives to get rid of. Advice at the time was to remove the disks from the cases, run them thru the degausser and then physically score the disks with a sanding wheel.

        • Turd Ferguson

          Um, yeah… Not even remotely erased. The only 100% reliable way to prevent data recovery from any hard drive is to slag it – i.e. melt it down until it is unrecognizable. Shooting it doesn’t work. Hitting it with a hammer doesn’t work. Shredding it is no guarantee. Data overwrite multiple times is not an effective or efficient method with a large hard drive. Demagnetizing comes close. Fire doesn’t work unless it’s hot enough to slag the drive. Thermite is your friend.

          • .45

            How much could you really recover if someone turned it into swiss cheese?

          • noob

            Depends on how much money you are willing to spend. If you pay someone about $400/hr to sit in a cleanroom and get a robot to move a magnetic head over the remaining platter surface you could get some files back intact out of a gb hdd. But it wouldn’t be easy and sometimes you pay $400/hr and the tech says “sorry it was too scratched up”

          • Turd Ferguson

            Considering that hard drive platters can store upwards of a terabit of data per sq inch, the answer is “a lot”. Shredding the drive still leaves magnetized fragments that can be recovered provided you have the money, time and equipment. Shredding is “good enough” for your average person or business. But if you’re really concerned about data destruction, slag the drive. If you can’t go that route, there are programs out there that will do a multi-pass overwrite on the drive. Start with that and then have it shredded. Even better, encrypt the whole drive and then shred it.

            But that applies only to mechanical hard drives. Flash memory cannot be demagnetized, nor do traditional overwrite methods work. Luckily, most flash drives are made of plastic and melt quite easily with a torch. Solid State Disks (SSD), not so much. Slag those too.

          • Qoquaq En Transic

            I’ve seen physically damaged media recovered with a special ferro-fluid and a very powerful microscope.

          • Phillip Cooper


            A trip through a certified degaussing machine makes the drive inoperable. Physical destruction is not required.

            That said, a BFH makes them unrecoverable as well.

          • Turd Ferguson

            Incorrect. While degaussing is considered a valid method for data removal, it does not completely remove all traces of data. Even after being subject to an extremely strong magnetic field, SOME recoverable data has been found. That is why the second part of proper media sanitation (per NIST) involves physical destruction by shredding.

            Degaussing does nothing for SSDs or any other flash type storage. Physical destruction is the only approved method of sanitation per NIST guidelines.

          • Chop Block

            There’s a great DEGCON video on drive destruction that culminates in the use of explosives.

          • Turd Ferguson

            If you’re referring to the DEFCON 23 video, their intent was HD destruction while contained within a computer or enclosure. Cool stuff. Proper slagging, however, involves removing the platters from the drive and melting them down. That process takes time. Thermite can do this, but not on its own.

          • int19h

            Do you actually have to melt them? IIRC merely heating up metals to a certain point will result in them demagnetizing.

          • Turd Furgeson

            Have to? Probably not. But slagging a HD platter is a guarantee no one will ever recover anything useful, and it’s way more fun. 😉

          • Chop Block

            Yeah, the idea was to find a fast way to destroy data as completely as possible while equipment was still racked. Say a data center gets overrun in a riot. I was surprised to see how much was still available for recovery after the thermite.

          • Douglas Cowdrick

            Just fill the drive with Justin Beiber songs and videos. After the third tech commits suicide, they’ll give up.

          • Bill Funk

            Data overwrite is effective. Do it once, and the average snooper is kept out. Do it twice, and a government agency with three letters is needed to get the data (and they will get only about 10%, and even that can only hopefully lead them to other areas of investigation, but can’t be used as evidence in a court), and four overwrites will flummox even them.
            Sometimes we are given the idea that miracles can be done to recover data from a “destroyed” hard drive, when such activity is extremely time consuming and expensive, and even then only provides so little actual data that, if anything, it only gives insight into other areas of investigation (for example, a partial name or address) that can be followed. So it’s very seldom done.

        • Phillip Cooper

          I prefer a degausser and BFH. Milspec and all that…

          Seriously, the only part of NISPOM that I enjoy.

          • Henry C

            Damn, there sure is a lot of knowledge of proper hard drive destruction on a firearms page lol.

          • Phillip Cooper

            I work in the industry.
            No, I haven’t read NISPOM chapter and verse. I was following instructions of the custodian of the devices. Perhaps it was wrong.
            Still don’t see any chance of recovering data when I’ve smashed the platters such that they are shattered and some parts are down to powder. AFTER they’ve been degaused to the point the drives wouldn’t function when mounted in another machine. _shrug_

        • Art out West

          Hard drives are surprisingly tough. I’ve shot them with Mosins before, and had the 7.62x54R fail to fully penetrate.

          To me, that means tough.

    • Jim_Macklin

      Just unfold the crimp and pour melted beeswax over the shot. Paraffin will crack, it’s too brittle. Maybe mix paraffin and beeswax. Careful, it is highly combustible.

      Get a blank adapter and shoot golf balls a 1/4 mile. Stupid things, Hey watch this!

  • Brett baker

    Next, Andrew tries to tell the POSTERS the radical new technology called “buckshot” works. They “prove” however Remington #8 game loads are better.

    • Chop Block

      Lol. Right?

      • Brett baker


  • Griz Hebert

    I don’t wear a John Deere cap.

    • Chop Block


  • PK

    I wonder how the other often repeated idea would work, of wax melted and poured into the cup and filling the gaps between shot helping to hold the mass together for better penetration. Would you be willing to try that, too?

    Prediction: same result.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      It’s been done by other people before.

      It doesn’t work. In fact, usually the wax slug comes apart in the barrel (even a cylinder bore has a very small amount of “choking”).

    • Chop Block

      The Wound Channel tested it. I did it way back on my own channel. Same penetration normally seen with birdshot.

    • Old Tofu

      spend some time on youtube , it’s all been done and tested

  • Will

    I use a shotgun for home defense. Round of choice is
    Winchester “Blindside” duck and goose loads in #2 shot. The shot is square with rounded corners. I’m sure there is a technical name for the shape. Good enough for a goose it’s good enough for a bad guy.
    BUT, need slugs? Load slugs. Don’t go cheap on defense loads. After all what is your and your families lives worth?

    • PK

      “The shot is square with rounded corners. I’m sure there is a technical name for the shape”

      Winchester calls it hex steel shot.

      • noob

        Hex shot because a cube has 6 faces? I feel like hex shot should have a hexagonal cross section so it packs into a circular shell more tightly

        • PK

          Who knows, but it’s what they call it.

      • Old Tofu


    • Old Tofu

      you think a goose is a good comparison to a bad guys torso? good luck with that

  • Gary Kirk
  • Edeco

    The counter guy at the local mom & pop gun shop likes to share erm, sage wisdom about backward wadcutters etc.

    The cut shell makes relatively a lot of sense to me. By holding the shot together it might extend the range by retaining velocity better, and still dump a lot of energy into the target fast due to the massive cross section of birdshot. That’s if it flies relatively straight and efficiently, prolly. The loss of spread is no big deal since we know it hardly makes up bad aim anyway.

  • Marko

    Holy Smoke, cut all the conjecture. Chamber pressures will be through the roof when you try to jam everything including the hull, through the chamber and choke. cut out the insanity! Get your medical insurance up to date.

    • Chop Block

      Not really. They real risk is a bore obstruction left for the next shot. Lots of people have been doing this for decades and I haven’t heard of a blowed up barrel due to cut shells.

  • David Il

    I only scanned the article, but let me just say that if he thinks they are so harmless why doesn’t he stand down range and let someone shoot him with one.

    • PK

      From the article:

      “Now this is the point where some folks are tearing their teeth out and
      madly typing a response daring me to stand downrange of a cut shell if I
      “think they’re so harmless”.”

      It’s like he can see the future.

      • Samuel Millwright

        This comment section is just so full of awesome that I’m gonna be a little depressed when i reach the end….

    • No one

      “I just scanned the article.” Opinion: invalid.

      Also, can you clowns who can’t defend your precious gimmicks finally up with something better than the massively fallacy ridden “HURR DE DURR DEN WHY DUN YOU DO IT!? CHEFKMATE!” Track? Fists and Mace aren’t supposed to be lethal either, If tjrybdont work, then why don’t you stand in line and let me punch you in the face as hard as In can followed by a full can of made?

      Oh, because it’s still stupid? Right, got it.

      • David Il

        Did you even read the article?

  • Jim_Macklin

    A cut shell isn’t a good fit in a shotgun barrel. If the gun is a 10 gauge with a 12 gauge chamber insert it might be safe to shoot. But grandad’s 12 gauge fine double is likely to split the barrel.

  • marine6680

    At contact distance… I don’t think the low penetration of birdshot would be an issue.

    All that gas exiting the barrel, at contact range, it would follow the shot into the body. That would rip and tear.

    If it reaches the abdominal cavity, it would shred organs. If not, its taking out chunks of flesh. Just look at the block in the video.

    It may not be immediately deadly, but it seems likely to be very painful and debilitating.

    Still, not the best solution to the self defense equation. I wouldn’t want to rely on getting that close to the bad guy, just to gain effectiveness from a poor firearm and ammo choice.

    • Chop Block


      • The internet also told me that firing a 9mm at PBR (point blank range) against body armor would penetrate, because all of the gases exiting the barrel would melt the Kevlar…..

        • marine6680

          I doubt that one… Most of the gas comes after the bullet. And the heat flash is too fast to do anything more than singe the fabric.

          High pressure is dangerous to direct skin contact though.

          High pressure injection injury… Its most common with hydraulic causes… Oils, paints, other liquids.

          But pneumatic systems can cause severe injury as well.

          A more practical example of this, though not exact in application, is the Mythbuster episode where they fire ping pong balls at supersonic speeds. The air pressure behind the ball entered into the flesh of the pig they were using to test the lethality. It separated the skin from the underlying muscles, and caused tissue damage, and that was only at a few hundred PSI at most.

          • No one

            “I doubt that one… just more internet BS.”

            It’s not just internet BS, It defies physics considering Aramids literally don’t melt.

          • Old Tofu

            he was speaking that elusive internet language . . . sarcasm

          • marine6680

            Yeah, I know… Sometimes I just like to quantify just how and why, just in case people begin wondering why such sarcasm is actually sarcasm and not a endorsement of fact.

            So it really wasn’t a comment aimed directly at the person who wrote it exactly. More of an in general thing.

            Maybe it kills the joke, but this is the internet, you can’t be sure people will pick up on things like sarcasm or satire.

          • Old Tofu

            for sure , I think we have all done it a time or two

          • Yeah I tested it, but I wanted to be sarcastic as point of more internet lore

  • gunsandrockets

    Despite shallow penetration, that gel block blowing apart and the huge crater left behind I thought was pretty freaking impressive.

    • Chop Block

      It certainly looks cool, but the purpose of using test media isn’t to see what looks cool. It’s to take measurements to gauge the relative effectiveness of ammunition.

      • gunsandrockets

        Looks cool? Uh, how about just the measurement of permanent damage indicated by that crater?

        That cut shell damage reminds me of the reputed 5.56mm permanent damage from combined bullet fragmentation and temporary stretch cavity.

        • Chop Block

          Yes, precisely. The measurement that is only about 4″ deep. Without sufficient penetration to RELIABLY reach vital organs, you don’t get RELIABLE incapacitation.

          • RealitiCzech

            Which is kind of important when you don’t get to choose exactly when and where you will need to shoot at a hostile.
            Skip going out to eat once in a week, and use that money to buy a box of buckshot. It’s not that expensive, and it’s been proven to be far more effective against humans.

          • Chop Block

            Nailed it. It’s not like it cycles or patterns any different.

          • noob

            Hmm what happens if you make a 00 buckshot cut shell?

          • Chop Block

            That’s something I’ve been meaning to test. It should perform in gel about the same. That is, it ought to arrive as a compact packet and immediately disperse, just as the birdshot did, but with greater mass : surface area it will penetrate adequate. Like birdshot cut shells it should fly relatively straight, extending the effective range of buckshot. The problem is that it could still come apart while cycling and it could still leave a bore obstruction. But if you had a shotgun loaded with buckshot and found yourself in a gunfight at 100 yards, it might work well.

          • noob

            🙂 if you get the chance, please test a buckshot wax slug as well – that might be something very interesting.

          • Chop Block

            I have one made up that I’ve been meaning to test.

          • And never forget — gelatin penetration vs. people penetration is NOT a 1:1 direct link.

            Skin is actually fairly tough… at least in the areas over the vital organs (not counting the scalp — that’s why you have a skull). About 3″-4″ of gelatin penetration represents puncturing the skin. Hell, the TEST BB shot to calibrate gelatin shoots a steel .177 BB at a measly 590 fps*, to a depth of 8.5 cm +/- 1 cm (that’s a range in Lunar Landing Units of 3″ – 3-3/4″).

            Which is why 4″ of penetration, regardless of how “wide” it is, is a ridiculous metric of “effective”. It means the pellets BARELY got through the skin… AT BEST, you have an inch of penetration remaining…

            And THAT is a large part of the reason the FBI specifies a MINIMUM of 12″ of penetration. (Which is also *after penetrating barriers”). You might have to shoot through part of an arm BEFORE you even get to the chest – now, a partial penetration on an arm own;t rob as much penetration as a through and through of the torso, but figure it on taking at least 6″ of (gel) penetration (equivalent) to get through… leaving you 6″ to get to vital organs — and you’re scrubbing 3″-4″ inches right off the gel penetration depth just to get into the thorax.

            * Note, I use cheap ass Crosman pellet pistol in the same velocity range to shoot frogs in my goldfish pond… and, as a dumb-ass teenager, have been shot with same at close range on a dare – the pellets didn’t get through the skin, and I popped them out like pimples afterwards… which is how I know how well this penetration depth compares to human skin. 😉

  • Why let the word retarded get through? I don’t have access to edit TFBTV videos. Not my department. I do remove that crude description from regular post.

  • No one

    Great, I see the buitthurt “Birdshot for self defense!” apologists who ignore all facts and logic are out in full force today!

  • Nick

    Forget whether it’s effective or not. This is just dangerous. How much extra pressure is generated by having part of the hull traveling down the barrel with shot and wad? Seems like an accident waiting to happen.

  • Old Tofu

    retarded = less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one’s age. if you don’t think there are retarded people out there then you should leave the house more. it DOESN’T have to do with mental illness. grow up.

    • Greg

      That’s literally EXACTLY what it means. You Googled it yourself. And while “grow up” is a compelling argument, you can’t possibly be trying to justify using that in this context. If you honestly believe using that here is acceptable, then you are the one that should “leave the house more” because you are a dirtbag that needs some perspective.

      • Old Tofu

        more likely you are someone who is oversensitive and needs to lighten up or in the words above “Shut up, pansy.”

  • Stephen Paraski

    In a 3/4″ piece of gas pipe.

  • SerArthurDayne

    I have had this battle over the years so many times and I have literally just given up. The idea of “birdshot acts like a slug at close ranges” and “birdshot will act as a mass and not open up!” is quite literally flawled logic at it’s most basic and junkety-junk application of “science” at it’s worst. I have taken so many people through it on forums – with and without success– I had got to the point I just pointed people to the very good thread somewhere on Shotgunworld where it is explained in depth and someone makes outstanding explanations and the other guy makes a fool of himself. — however, as we all know on the internet, some people just can’t be learned-up.

  • Edison Frisbee

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to fly into a rage at the mere mention of cut shells….

  • Jeff

    How is your use of “moron,” less offensive than someone else’s use of “retarded?” I won’t even start on the d-word.

  • Jeff

    “…shotguns are great because you can just rack the slide…”

    Say what? I have all kinds of shotguns, but none with slides.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Oh I remember this guy. I think he’s who I got the waxed birdshot idea from . Neat dude.

    “Other half of IV88”?

    • Derrick Bonsell

      Him and Eric used to do a series called Gun Gripes. Eric now does it with Chad. Mr. Moss was in a few but haven’t seen him in any recent videos.

  • Chop Block

    Dear smart person,
    I’m sorry that word upset you so much. I’d like to point out that it isn’t actually in the text of the article. It is actually used correctly though, no matter how you FEEL about it. What is odd to me is this modern belief that expressing offense is somehow anything other than an admission of weakness on the part of the offended. I am baffled when statements like this are met with any response other than “Shut up, pansy.”

    • Greg

      If respecting mentally challenged people by not making fun of them makes me weak, then sure I’m weak. But when both you and the editor point to the fact that the word isn’t isnt in the text of the article – as though that’s the distinction that justifies using it – it comes across as though you’re admitting it probably isn’t the best choice of word to use. But keep calling people weak and pansies on the internet, while disrespecting the one subset of the human population that cannot defend themselves. Truly inspirational stuff from you – TFB has a real winner on their hands.

      • NO WHERE did the article call ANYONE or ANYTHING “retarded”. The title of the video does say that the pellets will be retarded in tissue normally. Which is the proper use of the word, not making fun of anyone.

        You are just making up your butthurt offense over a non issue, because you are apparently funcytionally illiterate, and think the only meaning of the word “retarded” is in relation to mentally handicapped people.

        The proper response to you, Greg, is “Suck it up, Buttercup. Reality doesn’t change because you skim until offended and jump off half cocked.”

        • retfed

          That’s because the title has been changed. The original title was, “Are cut shells retarded?” or something like that. The title originally used “retarded” to mean “foolish” or “stupid.” That’s where this conversation comes from.

  • Chop Block

    That would be an excellent point, if the FBI protocol didn’t also include barrier events. But no, projectiles still need to reach deeply enough to damage vital organs to reliably incapacitate. Period. Full stop. End of mission.

  • Chop Block

    But you’re right about the last line. Birdshot strength: little birds.
    Birdshot weakness: everything else.

  • CapeMorgan

    And somehow in your world ‘douchebag’ is ok? You really need to be consistent when you are criticizing people.

    • Greg

      The difference is that he CHOOSES to be that way.

      • CapeMorgan

        In that respect, you are no different that he is. You choose to be that way too. At least have some introspection…like I said you are no different. Don’t be a ‘moron’.

  • Tassiebush

    I knew they don’t penetrate like slugs because on trees they just make an ugly wide mark but that was quite an eye opener. I reckon the depression era subsistence hunter using these probably had to chase a few deer down.

  • 22winmag

    Thank you sir. These same clowns label 11.999 inches of penetration as a “failure” when it comes to purpose-designed, high velocity defensive pistol ammo such as Liberty Civil Defense and Federal Guard Dog.


    • No one


      Now there’s a bit of irony.

      Also Liberty AMMUNITION is still terrible, sorry that you’re still shilling for nothing.

    • Chop Block

      Yeah, except Civil Defense and birdshot don’t get to 11.9″. It also doesn’t mean that it’s a failure, it means that points are deducted. Look up the FBI protocol so you can understand the scoring standards.

  • Blake

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. Who would think that just holding birdshot together it would act anything like something that’s massively heavier and made out of a completely different material? That’s just… so so stupid.

    • Chop Block

      One ounce of lead birdshot is heavier than a one ounce lead slug and a completely different material?

  • ozzallos .

    Sorry, I trust this guy more than I do most TFB correspondence. You know, the same guys who suggest the accuwedge that falls apart in your AR, doesn’t know why the flash occurs in ballistic gelatin and routinely dupes its own stories. It’s the website where its comments routinely have more knowledge than the people running it.

    • Claus Økær Holdt Hansen

      It’s sad but true, many of the new/prior less known writers suck imo, it’s everything from not knowing really common guns like the PPS43, to write wrong stuff about guns, and because TFB is a media that many people trust blindly, they begin to spread wrong info.
      Info like the Garand ping being a problem, japs throwing away the dust cover because of noise, the Arisaka AA sight being useless etc.

  • Old Tofu

    and no one has said anything about those people , have they? no the word was used in reference to the performance of the ammo. it is the definition over sensitivity if that “triggers” him to think about handicapped people because it certainly didn’t make any of the rest of us. as far as internet enemies , who cares?

    • retfed

      The relatives of mentally handicapped people all see the use of “retarded” to mean “foolish” or “stupid” as offensive. You can play all the “context” games you want, it won’t fly for them.
      I wasn’t talking about “internet enemies,” I was talking about enemies of the gun-rights movement. If these people see gun writers and gun enthusiasts as insensitive, disrespectful louts (and they will), why should they help us achieve our goals?

  • Cory Carlson

    Definately don’t use arrows either… they only penetrate 3 inches of ballistics gel! Definately not enough to kill an animal.. Noone is claiming you should use cut shells over buckshot. You guys are just the gun world’s tacticool snobs. Personally if I’m ever in an end of the world situation, and all I have is a shotgun and a box of birdshot… I think I will take Barry’s knowledge and make a cut shell. But trust me I will have your little voice in my head telling me “it doesn’t penetrate enough in ballistics gel”.

  • That particular word is flagged on Diqus so every time you use it the comment gets bounced into the line for approval.

  • Trey

    Make sure no one writes Glaser that their safety slugs really are bad idea. I’m not saying that cut shells are slugs but they have zero dispersion the shot and will tend to either hit or miss wax shells are probably a better choice.

  • CZfan

    Just because you assumed cut shells performed just like slugs does not mean they are useless, it means you made a stupid assumption. Cut shells hold a tighter pattern than birdshot by itself.

    If you only have birdshot, cutting the shell will give you extended range, and it will deliver the pellets to a smaller area than fired normally. Hence more effective.

  • praack

    guy also sounds like a 1911 hater- based on his preamble. sigh, have to listen to more whining and whinging i guess as he waxes poetic about his font of knowledge

  • jawman

    Lol Andrew you’re such a mouth breather. No one said it could be used defensively and replace a slug. Everyone knows it’s just for fun. Stop being butt hurt and making douche bag articles like this.

  • Paelorian

    So use buckshot. Maybe you’ll get a little more range by cutting the shell if you really need it.

  • Neil Hamilton Hightower III

    Need to see amount of trama it causes vs just birdsong.