A simple guide to shotgun shells and how to choose what we feel that is the best bang for our GRITS gang.  Please keep in mind that these are just some suggestions below for a good and consistent shotgun shell, especially for the ladies but really most shooters.

We definitely like ammo that doesn’t have much ‘kick’, or technically known as recoil. The kick/recoil comes from a couple of things: How much shot (pellets) that is in the shell in the shell and the speed that the shot leaves the barrel. We like to shoot a smaller amount of shot, at slow speeds, so we have less kick!


The type of ammo you chose to use can be impacted by the type of gun you shoot.  To keep it simple here, lets just think about semi-auto’s and over and under shotguns. An over and under shotgun works with pretty much all ammo but a semi-automatic sometimes needs a little more “bang”, (a bit heavier load), for the gun to function correctly.


First, let’s talk about the over and unders…..Generally we can shoot very light recoiling ammo, Look for a ‘low-velocity load’…. 1200 feet per second (FPS) or less. This is just a measurement of how fast the shot leaves the barrel.  The faster the FPS, the more “kick” you will feel. For a 12 gauge we like ⅞ ounce (metric is 24 grams) the best if you can find them but 1 ounce (metric is 28 grams) works fine. We strongly suggest staying away from 1 ⅛ ounce!!  In 20 ga, we like ⅞ ounce, somewhere around 1200 FPS.


For a semi-autos, sometimes the mechanism that loads the shell for you will need a bit of oomph, provided by the firing of the shell, to reliably cycle the action. Most 12 ga semi’s will reliably run on 1 oz / 1200 FPS ammo. For 20 ga, the baseline is generally ⅞ oz / 1200 fps. You can experiment with lighter ammo, but this is a good place to start.


Regarding shot size (the size of the pellets in the shell), the smaller the number, the bigger the pellets (crazy, right?). Sporting clay ranges limit the shot size to 7 ½’s as the biggest pellets. Also common are number 8’s. There are a few more pellets in the #8’s loads, and while either will work, if you have a choice, we suggest 8’s. The size of the pellets in these shells has nothing to do with recoil. So for 12 ga, look for SLOW- 1200 FPS or less- 1 oz or less. In 20 ga, look for ⅞ oz around 1200 fps, and we feel you will be happy with your ammo!


For a more in-depth description  of ammo please visit the BLOG section of

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