Shotgun Patterning, Part 7: SlapShot Home Defense High Velocity Shot

Several weeks ago, I read about SlapShot USA LLC‘s new high velocity buckshot on Greg Ellifritz’s Facebook page. He was questioning whether anyone had conducted formal gel tests with it, reasoning that its published velocity should be enough to defeat body armor, something that most conventional buckshot won’t do. In reading the description of the ammunition, what immediately struck me is that it was a 9-pellet load, which led me to believe that pellet deformation would lead to flyers. Nonetheless, I was intrigued enough to acquire some for my own testing purposes. I should note that they now offer an 8-pellet home defense load, but alas, I won’t be buying any.

I should also note that in my opinion, this ammunition borders on being a gimmick. One of the things that I’ve observed over the past two decades is that while legitimate advances in ammunition design and construction have occurred, many new designs and concepts simply don’t live up to the hype. Also, I can’t even find the load that I discuss here for sale on their website anymore. Instead, they now appear to offer a 3″ 8-pellet load with an even higher advertised velocity, as well as some unique specialized slug loads. I applaud the company for their innovation, but I’m content to stick with the proven performance of established loads and manufacturers for now. Read on to find out why…

I took my Remington 870P SBS to the range, along with a “box” of the SlapShot buckshot. While I acknowledge that it will no doubt perform differently out of a different shotgun, the results with my gun were quite frankly abysmal and on par with some of the cheapest and worst performing buckshot that I’ve already tested.

But first, let me talk about what I liked. SlapShot USA, LLC shipped the ammunition I ordered quickly and their packaging is quite good. I was impressed to see a commitment to safety with an included brochure detailing the traditional four safety rules as well as a warning regarding shooting slugs out of choked barrels. I also like the name, since I assume there is an implied hockey metaphor. (Then again, we all know what ass-u-me means!)

I continued with my established five shot patterning protocol, that is, one shot at five yards into the head box of an IDPA silhouette, a three shot pattern at 15 yards, and a final shot at 25 yards. As I’ve detailed in previous posts, this lets me evaluate whether the ammunition will allow me to make a potential hostage rescue shot across typical room distances, whether all pellets are on target at the longest shot possible in my home, and what the pattern might look like at greater distances but still within the curtilage of my property.

Right off the bat, I was surprised at the muzzle blast that the ammunition produced. I would say it is akin to shooting magnum loads out of a snubby big bore revolver. This was on an outdoor range, and it was still quite loud and concussive. I didn’t particularly notice any increased recoil, but I also use the push-pull technique to mitigate recoil.

I’ve written before about the predictive value of my first shot at five yards, and my observation continues to be valid. Needless to say, my first impression wasn’t all that favorable. I’m assuming the wad was propelled through the target along with the shot column, and you can see small flechette impacts from the material that they buffer the shot with. Even at this relatively close range, a flyer or two was evident.

One shot at five yards…

I next fired a three shot pattern at 15 yards, the mean distance of my overall pattern testing regimen. Again, wad impacts were obvious, but I also had several pellets obviously impact outside the -0 area of the target. I circled the ones I could find in red on the photo. These pellet impacts so far outside the vital zone of a target do not inspire confidence on my part…

Three shots at 15 yards…

Finally, I taped the previous hits on the target and fired one shot at 25 yards. Here, I didn’t see a single pellet impact anywhere within the -0 of the target. Rather, all the impacts that I did find were on the periphery of the target. Again, I circled these in red in the photo. I definitely would not take a shot at anything much beyond room distances with this buckshot.

One shot at 25 yards…

In reading other reviews of the ammunition, I understand that the manufacturers designed the ammunition for ideal performance at close range, but I contend that enhanced terminal ballistics are irrelevant if I can’t hit what I’m aiming at. This ammunition may be great at close range, but if we knew what or where our gunfight was going to be, then we probably wouldn’t get in gunfights in the first place!

Just for control purposes, I also fired one shot of Hornady BLACK 00 buckshot at 15 yards. All eight pellets hit within the -0 area of the target, reaffirming my choice to use this ammunition for home defense purposes.

Hornady BLACK at 15 yards… all pellets in the -0.

I had initially contemplated ordering some Clear Ballistics gel to do an informal “backyard” gel test of this ammunition, but I’m not going to spend the money to test ammunition that I don’t intend to use. My investment in a Clear Ballistics gel block and remelting kit will have to wait until I have a little more disposable income.

Instead, on my next range visit, I decided to see what results I could obtain with my Winchester 1300 with its Vang Comp modified barrel. If it’s possible, the pattern was worse! I repeated the same 5, 15, and 25 yard shots that I described above. Tangentially, something that became quite obvious during this exercise was how high my bead sighted Winchester hits, at least with this ammunition. Tim Chandler has discussed this in depth on and his comments are worth reading. At any rate, the head shot at 5 yards would have scalped someone, and I only counted five additional pellet impacts on the target from the remaining four shots! That’s only five out of 36 pellets that I could account for. In fact, all of those impacts occurred with my 15 yard three shot pattern, since no additional hits were visible on the target after the 25 yard shot. No doubt, much of the pattern went through the target backer and target frame (even though I held low), but I still expected better out of my Vang Comp barrel. I’ll eventually have a proper set of sights installed on the gun, but that will require a gunsmith and I’m concentrating my resources on my 870P SBS for now. This ammunition is probably devastating at room distances, but again, I would not want to use it for anything further than that. I personally want to be good with buckshot out to around 20-25 yards without having to worry about a select slug drill. My only other observation was that, again, muzzle blast was impressive, especially with a ported barrel!

At the end of the day, I cannot in good conscience recommend this ammo. I hope all the writing that Robert and I have done so far on shotguns (and there’s more coming) emphasizes why accountability with a shot pattern is important. I can’t rely on this stuff even inside the confines of my home, no matter how impressive it’s terminal ballistics might be. I really do wonder what effect the increased velocity has on pellet deformation, as well as whether the lighter pellets are more susceptible to pellet deformation. I have no way of knowing, but I’m inclined to believe so.

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