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Guns For Sale - Hinterland Outfitters Online Gun Shop

Buy Shotgun Ammo at Hinterland Outfitters, Your Outdoor Headquarters!

When it's time to find ammo, your search begins and ends here! Our firearms and ammunition store is always expanding, and we sell the most reputable brands at bargain prices. Top quality, low prices, outstanding selection – with Hinterland Outfitters, you really can have it all!

Let's look at some different applications and factors to consider before you buy shotgun ammo. But first, a quick trip down memory lane to see how shotgun ammo has developed throughout history.

Shotgun Ammo Through the Years

What we know as modern shotgun ammunition was developed in the 1860s, during the American Civil War. Production methods were time-consuming and very expensive, and mass-produced shotgun shells wouldn't be developed until the turn of the 20th century. Most early shotgun cases were made with paper, while some contained wax to provide water-resistant properties. By the early to mid-20th century, ammo manufacturers started using plastic shell cases; the basic appearance of a softshell from 1930 doesn't look that much different from today's typical shotgun ammo.

Major manufacturers of the first mass-produced softshells were Winchester-Western, the Federal Cartridge Company and Remington. The two gunpowder producers in the 1950s and 1960s were Olin and Dupont. Despite just five manufacturers dominating the shotgun ammunition industry for generations, there was enough variety – "color-coded" shotgun shells were developed around this time – to keep sporting enthusiasts and regular shotgun users well supplied, with plenty of ammo to spare.

Anatomy of Softshell Shotgun Ammo

How does shotgun ammunition actually work? The modern process is much different in practice than its historical predecessors, but the theory is relatively the same. The exterior of a softshell's major components:

  • Rim – the outer top edge of the shell.
  • Brass head – the metal encasing that usually covers the upper portion of softshell ammo.
  • Shell case – made of plastic or vinyl, the case holds the actual "shot" inside.

That's the exterior; inside is where the magic happens. Here is how a softshell shell actually works: The firing pin strikes the primer, located on the brass head. Immediately under the primer is the gunpowder, which is separated from the shot by a wad. When the primer and gunpowder ignite, the wad helps keep the shot in place until it leaves the shell case. When the wad and shot exit the gun barrel, the wad immediately drops away, allowing the shot to reach its intended target.
The other components of a softshell include:

  • Hull: Paper of plastic with a brass base.
  • Shot: Ranges from tiny #12 to buckshot and slugs.
  • Wad: Protects the barrel from shot and vice versa, and provides a power seal.
  • Gunpowder: Fast burning for light loads, slow burning for heavier ones.
  • Primer: Contains combustible material and a little anvil inside.

So what determines shot velocity? Take two softshells, identical expect for the gunpowder inside. Softshell A has a lower-quality gunpowder, while softshell B contains a high-performance gunpowder. Everything else being equal (including the wad, primer and shot), softshell B will provide greater range and (quite possibly) better accuracy. Remember, when you're comparing softshell shotgun ammo, it's all about the gunpowder.

Shotgun Ammunition Gauges

The term "gauge" refers to the measure of the bore diameter of the shotgun. The exception is the .410-bore, a caliber commonly misnamed .410-gauge. The gauge number is equal to the number of lead balls of the bore diameter and add up to weighing one pound. For example, 12-gauge, the most common shotgun gauge today, is the diameter of a ball of lead weighing 1/12-pound of lead. A 20-gauge is the diameter of a lead ball weighing 1/20-pound of lead.  Shotgun ammo comes in six different calibers/gauges, each having its pros and cons depending on the shooters needs, personal preferences and shooting application.

10 Gauge (.775 inches): The largest legal gauge in the United States. The 10 gauge was an all-around gauge in the blackpowder days. The 10 gauge is popular with waterfowl hunters since the larger shell can hold the much larger sizes of low-density steel shot needed to reach the ranges necessary for waterfowl hunting. The 10 gauge is one of the least popular gauges out of the six.

12 Gauge (.729 inches): This is the standard and the most versatile of all gauges. The 12 gauge shoots everything from a ¾ ounce practice loads to 2 ¼ ounce turkey stompers. Ammunition is available everywhere and the volume of 12 gauge sales keeps the prices low. The 12 gauge is the most popular gauge with up to 50% of the overall shotgun market in the United States. It is also a favorite for tactical applications and home defense.

16 Gauge (.662): The 16 gauge is an upland classic squeezed ballistically speaking into a tiny, overlapping niche between the 3" 20 gauge and the 12 gauge. Some will say the 16 is a dying gauge and currently the least popular amongst most shooters.

20 Gauge (.615): The 20 gauge is a capable upland performer with a 7/8 ounce of shot. At 3 inches, 20 shoots an ounce of steel,  enough for hunting ducks.  Some of the advances in slugs have made the 20 gauge equal to a 12 gauge in a lower recoil package.  The 20 is also a popular gauge for home defense use and a favorite of shooters who are uncomfortable with the weight and recoil of a 12 gauge. The 20 gauge is the second most popular gauge and is the best fit for a starter shotgun.

28 Gauge (.550): The 28 gauge is the third most popular amongst the gauges. The 28 is great for female or older shooters than may be recoil sensitive.  It's also a great choice for younger shooters. Some people call it "the thinking man's 20 gauge" because it may be hard to hit targets as well as further ranges due to its smaller size.  At ranges out 30 to 35 yards, the light kicking 28 gauge hits with authority.  It's also popular for pheasant hunting, other smaller birds and short range clays.

.410 Bore (67 Gauge): Although many kids start with a .410 because it is lighter and has little recoil, the .410's light payload, poor patterns and expensive ammo make it a poor choice for kids and a better one for expert target shooters.  The .410 gauge is popular with pistol shooters who have revolvers capable of shooting .410 shells. Many will use these revolvers and gauge for personal defense.

Shotgun Ammunition Shot Size and Type

The number of little pellets a shotgun fires are collectively called "shot." They are often pure lead, sometimes lead coated with another material like copper, or of non-lead components such as steel, bismuth, tungsten and other materials. The shot sizes are numbered beginning with the smaller "birdshot." Eventually, the sizes are stated in letters. Finally, there are the largest "buckshot" sizes, popular for use on deer in the southern U.S., for hunting varmints and for self-defense. Here are the three main type of shots.

  • Birdshot – Birdshot is the smallest type of shotgun pellets. It is typically used by hunters who want to shoot birds or other flying wildlife. Hunters also use birdshot for smalls animals such as rabbits or squirrels. Inside a birdshot shell are small steel or lead spheres that scatter outward once it is fired from the shotgun. The scatter of pellets gives the shooter a higher probability to hit their flying targets. Birdshot sizes are similar to how shotguns gauges are measured. The larger the number, the smaller the shot and vice versa. These higher numbers would be better suited for shooting close up targets because you have more pellets that will scatter through the air. The lower numbers will be better for long range shooting.  Bird shot ranges from #10 , #9, #8 ½, #8,  #7 ½, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, and BB.
  • Buckshot – Buckshot is similar to birdshot as it also uses metal pellets in the shotgun shell that scatter outwards. The only difference is that the buckshot does more damage than the birdshot because it uses larger pellets. The bigger the pellet, the more impact it will have on the target.  Buckshot is typically used to hunt bigger game, such as deer.  It also popular for tactical and home defense applications. The size of buckshot is referred to be a number or letter. The smaller the number, the bigger size metal pellets. The larger numbers contain smaller pellets. This sizing system is similar to the way gauge and birdshot is measured. With buckshot, the largest pellets are typically labeled as #000. As you go to smaller pellets, you have #00, #0, #1, #2, #3 and so on. The bigger the number, the more pellets. It means they will spread further out of the shotgun. The type of buckshot to use will depend on the type animal you will be hunting.
  • Slugs  –  A slug is actually a word that describes a shotgun bullet. Most people use the term "shot" when describing the ammunition of a shotgun, while slugs are a different type of shotgun ammunition. The difference between birdshot and slugs is that slugs have one solid lead or steel projectile that gets shot out. This makes them the most powerful and damaging ammunition you can use with your shotgun. Slugs do not scatter the way pellets do and are therefore closer to bullets.  Hunters typically use them for longer distance shooting because of their accuracy and knock-down power. Some local governments will not allow hunters to use slugs for hunting. Many shooters opt to use them for target practice or tactical applications. There are many slug variations on the market. They are based on the material they're made from and their type.

Shotgun Shell Length

Shotshells come in many different lengths. The length is measured based on the spent hull of the shell. The three most common lengths are 2 ¾ inches, 3 inches and 3 ½ inches. The difference between the shell lengths has to do with the amount of pellets and gunpowder the shell can hold. The bigger the shell the more pellets it will hold; thus creating a wider, more effective spread for some applications.  Usually a bigger shell translates into being more powerful. Not all shotguns are capable of shooting all three sizes.  Always make sure to check the chamber size of your shotgun before selecting a shell length to shoot.

Shotgun Ammunition – Purchase Considerations

With so many types of shotgun ammo for sale at Hinterland Outfitters, it helps to have some purchase guidelines in place. They'll ultimately help you make the "right" decision. Keep these factors in mind before you complete your checkout.

  • Find the best supplier – Well, we can't really offer any advice here. You're already at the Hinterland Outfitters website to buy shotgun ammo, and we're known for our enormous selection of quality ammunition, exceptional value and unmatched customer service. So pat yourself on the back – you're already on the way to finding the best shotgun ammo, regardless of your firearms application.
  • Application – Speaking of firearms application, this is a big one. Essentially, you should have a good idea of what your shotgun ammo will be used for. Hunting big game? Federal Premium Power Shok buckshot ammo is a good choice, and we have plenty of other large prey shells to choose from. How about quail or waterfowl? You may want to consider Aguila 1CHB1212 Standard Velocity 2 Shot 12 Gauge ammunition, renowned for its high level of accuracy and dependable performance under fire. Then again, you may require something different altogether. No worries – with the selection at Hinterlands Outfitters, you're sure to find exactly what you're looking for!
  • Gunpowder – As we've already mentioned, your shotgun ammo performance is directly tied to gunpowder quality. Hinterland Outfitters sells top-end softshell ammo throughout our store, including Estate High Velocity Hunting HV286 shotgun ammunition, prized for its high-velocity output.
  • Budget – At the end of the day, your shotgun ammo purchase will require a personal investment. Whether you want to spend $10 or $100, it's always a good idea to analyze the "price per shot" (pps) ratio. Divide the price by the total number of shells to arrive at your pps benchmark. All shotgun ammo online at Hinterland Outfitters is priced to deliver optimum pps value!

Find Ammo & More at Hinterland Outfitters Firearms & Ammunition Store

With Hinterland Outfitters, your shotgun cabinet is always stocked with the best ammunition, at the best possible prices. Browse our shotgun ammo for sale today, and choose from the most trusted names in the firearms industry. To connect with our shotgun ammo experts, just give us a call at 877-446-8370 and we'll be glad to help!

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