Top 10: Worst Home Defense Shotgun Shells

What rounds do you load for your home defense shotgun shells?  We have some recommendations on that too.  But, maybe it’ll be easier to agree on what you shouldn’t use.

Here’s the top 10 in reverse order.

10. Taser Shotgun Round

If you watch any of the video this taser round looks pretty neat. But, there’s a reason that the dummy in the video is wearing a T-shirt. What happens if your burglar is wearing a leather coat or a thick jacket. It’s a neat, non-lethal round. But nobody in their right mind would have this without a backup option.

9. Blanks

Some criminals will run if they know a person is in the house.  Some will run if you say you have a gun.  Others will only run if you prove you have a gun and are willing to take a shot.

Blanks take care of the third type, but you’re still in a pickle if they 1) stick around long enough to know nothing is hitting them or whatever object you are presumably pointing at when you fire the shotgun or 2) has a history of being shot at and therefore, came prepared to fight.

8. Salt Rounds Shotgun

I’ve heard stories of my great-grandfather having rock salt rounds around to run off unwelcome visitors. But with thick clothes on and more than a few paces between you, 12 gauge salt shot or salt rounds shotgun shells are not going to do much to stop a determined attacker. Sure, they may run because of the fear that your gun is loaded with something deadly. But once the truth is out against a home invader, you’re in trouble.

7. Bean Bag Rounds

Think the big, squishy chairs you had back in the 80s except smaller. The bean bag holds the whole load together and makes sure that it doesn’t penetrate your target. I have no doubt that these really hurt and will stop most people. I would not have enough confidence though to trust the life of my family members with this home defense shotgun shell as my only round.

6. Flechette Rounds

shotgun flechette rounds for home defense

While they look pretty nasty, these flechette shells leave a bit to be desired in a self defense round. 

What is a flechette?

A flechette is a pointed metal projectile with a tail to stabilize it in flight.  The name is French in origin, meaning “little arrow”.

They consist of a bunch of arrow-like projectiles packed into a shotgun shell.  While nasty looking, they seem very inaccurate in the videos I’ve watched with them.  According to lore, 410 flechette rounds were used briefly by Marines until they realized that they lacked stopping power.

Are flechette rounds illegal?

Flechettes are in only a few states but perfectly legal in other places. Although they are generally legal, flechette shells are generally not the best option for self defense.

Are flechette shotgun rounds legal?

In most states, flechette rounds are legal.  Flechette shotgun rounds are banned in California. 

5. Bolo Rounds (AKA strung buck AKA macho gaucho)

Ever read about armies using cannonball’s attached with chains to mow down troops in close combat?  This is the scaled down version that can be fired from your shotgun.

What is a bolo shell?

A bolo shell is a shotgun shell that contains two metal balls connected with a wire.  Here’s an image below:

strung buck home defense shotgun ammo

For the bolo shotgun rounds, a cable attaches two round shot and theoretically goes spinning through the air at your target, cutting a slice through them on impact.  Trouble is, if they meet any kind of stiffer resistance like clothes or bone, the cable is more likely to snap and effectively leave you with two pellets.

Why not ditch the cool factor and use a traditional round instead.  You’ll save a lot of money and have more pellets going down range.

After all, there’s a reason that grape shot was so popular.

4. The Super Star

I don’t even know where to start with this one:

rubber projectile shotgun ammo

It’s pink . . . enough said.

3. The Departed Shot

The departing shot is not marketed as a home defense load, but I had to put it in the list just because it’s so bizarre.  You can work with this company to fire the ashes of your deceased hunting dog back over the fields that you shared together.

Hmmm . . . OK.  Why don’t I load it up with my departed Rottweiler and fire it at bad guys?

2. .50 cal BMG Tracer

  1. You can load a rifle round in a shotgun shell.
  2. You can load a tracer round in a shotgun.
  3. Why not do both?

Because the accuracy will be terrible, penetration will be excessive, and you might catch something on fire in your house.  How’s that for a reason?

1. And the winner is . . . Dragon’s Breath

Exotic home defense shotgun ammo marketed as “Dragon’s Breath” is a pyrotechnic round that sends a shower of burning sparks out of the end of the shotgun. While terrifying that you are being shot at in the face, the thieves will quickly realize that they aren’t going to spontaneously combust just because they are being showered with sparks. You are much more likely to set your house on fire than to stop a home invader.

Is Dragon’s Breath illegal?

Dragon’s breath rounds are not legal in four American states due to their inherent fire hazard. These states are Illinois , California, Florida and Iowa. So, if you’re a snowbird with a home in Florida, you’re out of luck anyway!

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Ready to get serious about home defense?

Don’t forget to check out the ammo you can ACTUALLY get behind for home defense.

How well do they really work?

If you’re still interested, here’s a video that goes through ballistics gel tests with a lot of the rounds in the list.  The strung buck round is pretty neat to see slicing through the ballistics gelatin.

If you want to play around with any of the rounds listed, you can check prices here (rubber ball, noise rounds, and cayenne pepper blast rounds), here (dragon’s breath, shotgun salt shells, flechette, strung buck, confetti, javelin slug, super star), and here.

Looking for other alternatives to enhance your home security? Then you might want to check out our post on dogs for home security.

If you know of a round we missed, let us know in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Top 10: Worst Home Defense Shotgun Shells”

  1. How about a nasty fart round ?

    Eat cabbage, brussel sprouts and baked beans for a couple of days.
    Open up the shell, drop out the ordinary shot then drop in a fart.
    Close her up and let rip at an attacker.

    A nasty fart has always been the quickest way to clear a room !

    I’m working on a way to ignite it as it leaves the barrel, then the world will know what dragon’s breath really could be !

  2. You missed one. It literally is just a rubber version of a 12 guage 3in barrel slug. To me it looks about like being hit with a paint ball gun. Would sting and bruise, but not much else.

    • I agree, that sounds pretty ineffective against someone with a heavy jacket or on drugs. I hope I never do, but if I’m aiming a gun at someone, it’s much more serious than rubber bullets.

  3. The writer of this obviously doesn’t have much experience with any of these rounds .Flechette rounds in cqc are very nasty especially at a distance of 10 ft which typically is about the distance a Home Defense Combat Scenario will take place . The bonus of the flechette rounds is they will not penetrate the wall behind the perpetrator making them much safer ….For the user . At a short distance like 10ft accuracy has little bearing on target acquisition with a 12g round !

    • Shots into ballistics gel that I’ve seen show otherwise on the penetration front. Drop a link if you’ve seen something different.


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