What You Need to Know about Home Defense Ballistics

Home defense ballistics always come up when you talk about shooting in a building.  Is a pistol better than a rifle? Is birdshot better than buckshot? The questions (and arguments) go on and on.home defense ballistics

We found a great video that shows you what exactly happens when you shoot.  It isn't going to end the arguments, but it will give you a good basis to talk from.

Take a look at the video and let us know in the comments what you think or have experienced.


  1. Great article

  2. The video is useful insofar as how projectiles interact with drywall but the host is misleading about the effectiveness of birdshot on human beings. Bird shot DOES NOT penetrate deeply enough to reliably incapacitate.

  3. shannon wilkins says:

    I would like to have seen some insulation in the walls and the effects.

  4. Check out http://www.theboxotruth.com/ for another take.

  5. I think it’s meant to simulate interior walls. Besides, I doubt insulation would have much effect because it is very low mass by design.

  6. Your mother.. says:

    I agree, its dumb to have a test and not include insulation. If your going to make it like the real thing, make it like the real thing…

  7. Most interior walls do not have insulation in them. I’d say 99 percent do not. As far as what birdshot will do to a human goes I can guarantee at close range a perp won’t know what hit him.

  8. poor demonstration — they failed to show what would happen if the intruder were shot w/each round — the 9mm, because it is a hot round, will go thru the intruder (that’s why the 9mm is considered the wounding round) and possibly strike a bystander. the .45 will not – the intruder being hit w/the .45, will drop like a hot potato in their tracks. that is why the feds went back to the .4 acp — too many innocent bystanders were getting hit by the fallout of the 9mm weapon……..

    • Unfortunately, people don’t just drop like a hot potato. There is a lot more that goes into it – whether the attacker is determined, on drugs, etc. The demo was showing what happen if you missed the target. It is a lot harder showing what happens when a bullet goes into a body. There are bones, bullets do weird things.

  9. There are plenty of “studies” conducted by YouTubers showing what shotguns loaded with birdshot can do – check out those using ballistic gel targets and the like. I saw one where the shooter fired through layers of denim into large pieces of animal tissue, and another into ballistic gel situated on the other side of a mock-up of an interior wall. Thank you very much, I’ll stay behind the gun loaded with that stuff. Mine is loaded with BB shot – anything more will go through too many UN-insulated interior walls.

  10. I disagree with the comment about 9mm going thru. Watch the news and read the papers about how many street thugs have been shot with 9mm about live and brag about it. A .40 going thru (depending on round) is a lot more believeable,

    • You are assuming that news reporting is accurate and truthful which it is not. News programs are no place to educate yourself especially in deadly matters. A careless statement such as yours might leave the impression of a 9mm not being deadly. Harkens back to a time when a common phrase was “Its just a .22”.

  11. I’d like to see what happens with a .22 for home defense? That’s what I switched to specifically because it was my understanding that it could inflict enough damage as a defensive round without penetrating through walls and putting others at risk.

  12. James Renteria says:

    I think to many people don’t look to deeply into the issue and go off videos like this. Situation dictates. And each situation is going to be different. I truly believe that you should spend the time to find out what areas in your house you can shoot and which ones you cant; one of the main walls in my living room has a gas line and furnace, left or right of that wall is bedrooms. I also practice with air guns “pieing-off” corners to see what it looks like and what areas of my house I can defend. Dogs are a warning, also I use rifles with all the fixings because its more effective. So that is what I train with and plan to shoot with from the main point of dominance in the house. the area I can defend the house best from and still shoot should I need too. I have been telling people that setting up your guns to your advantage, is a must. I switch from pistol caliber carbines, compensated, with full frangible rounds; or a semi-automatic shotgun with full choke, red-dot sight and high velocity target loads. I can get 6″ groups at 15 yards. They carry a lot of energy at room distances and easy to control and get rapid , accurate follow on shots. The key being effective hits, groin to nipples….

  13. Try Cut Shells.

  14. Basically a useless and unrealistic video. Yes most projectiles will pierce chalk and paper. If you own and have fired a weapon you know this already. If you are planning to buy your first firearm find a qualified instructor and read “In The Gravest Extreme” 10 times.

  15. I live alone. My neighbors house on the direction I’d likely be shooting is about 10 feet higher than mine with a concrete retaining wall between us. 20 feet or so outside my front door is another, eight foot high or so concrete wall with a roadbed behind it. As such, I’ll keep what I have: .357 Magnum & .45 ACP both full of Hornady FTX rounds, 20 ga. loaded w/#3 Buckshot, and a Mini-Thirty w/7.62×39 123 grain JHP. ;)

  16. Pierre Ferron says:

    I would trust the FBI recommendations; a handgun with hollow point ammunition must penétrate and fully expand in the first 12 inches of 10% gelatine. That is very clear. A .357 magnum round has a 98% probability of killing on the first hit. To expand fully, a hollow point must exceed 1,000 feet per second or so. No mention or consideration about composition of walls; its about your survival.

    If your property warrants it, a shotgun with the right ammunition can be used in or out of the house. We used to load 0000 buckshot in all our 12 gage shotguns but with the chamber empty. This was loaded with a buckshot or a slug round at the last moment. A slug loaded 12 gage shotgun is merciless. Make sure your shotgun can fire such a load. Birdshot was designed to cope with birds.

    Be careful and survive.

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