How Many Pellets In Buckshot?

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If you have a shotgun, you might be wondering what buckshot is best to use in the shotgun. This might also lead you to question how many pellets are in buckshot and if different numbers of pellets are useful for different purposes, such as hunting or home defense. We have done some research to determine the answer to these questions.

The number of pellets in buckshot depends on the size of the shell. The most common shell for home protection is a two and ¾ inch shell with #00 buck. This kind of buckshot is loaded with eight or nine pellets. In some cases, this type of buckshot can also have twelve pellets.

There are many factors to consider when buying buckshot for a shotgun. Below, you can read about the different shell lengths, pellet sizes, and pellets travel velocity. 

Additionally, there are other things you need to consider when purchasing buckshot for home defense, such as your shotgun’s firing pattern.

How Many Pellets In Buckshot

Different Sizes Of Buckshot And The Number Of Pellets

Before reading about the different sizes of shells and the number of pellets, you must consider the size of your shotgun.

Shotguns come in various gauges. A shotgun’s gauge refers to the barrel’s diameter. The two most popular shotguns are those with a 12-gauge and shotguns with a 20-gauge. Of these two, 12-gauge shotguns are more prevalent in general and are specifically commonly used for home defense.

12-gauge shotguns are bigger than 20-gauge shotguns, and their shells will therefore be able to take more pellets. Thus, for this article, you can assume that we are referring to a 12-gauge shotgun regarding all the measurements and information.

There are a few different sizes of buckshot. The dimensions of the shells are not the only differences, but so are the sizes of the pellets. How the buckshot is crimped also influences the number of shells you can load into a shotgun at once.

Different Shell Sizes For Buckshot

There are four different shell sizes in which buckshot is available: 1 ¾ inch, two ¾ inches, 3 inches, and 3 ½ inches. Of these four, the two ¾ inch shells are by far the most popular for home defense. Shells that are one ¾ inch long are considered mini shells.

They are not able to fit in any shotgun. In addition, 3 inch and 3 ½ inch shells also only work in shotguns with suitably calibrated barrels. Even though these longer shells have a higher velocity, the two ¾ inch shells are the most sufficient when used over short distances.

The measurements of shotgun shells are slightly shorter when they are loaded because of the way they are crimped. For example, if a two ¾  inch shell is star-crimped, it will measure about two ¼ inches when loaded into a shotgun.

If the same size shell is roll crimped, it will measure at 2 ½ inches when loaded. Therefore, the most common crimping method for home protection is star crimped, as the shorter shell will allow you to load more shells in the barrel of the shotgun. Thereby giving you more chances to fire the shotgun.

Different Sized Buckshot Pellets

There are many different sizes of buckshot pellets. The smallest pellets are #4 buck, and the biggest pellets are #000 buck. For defensive purposes, the most common buckshot is the #00 buck, known as “double naught buck.” #00 buck has been used by law enforcement for many years and with good reason.

The other two commonly used pellets are the #1 buck and #4 buck. #00 buck pellets are 0.33 inches in diameter. #1 buck pellets measure 0.3 inches in diameter and #4 buck pellets are 0.24 inches in diameter. For interests’ sake, here are the measurements of the less commonly used buckshot pellets:

  • #3 buck pellets are 0.25 inches in diameter
  • #2 buck pellets are 0.27 inches in diameter
  • #0 buck pellets are 0.32 inches in diameter
  • #000 buck pellets are 0.36 inches in diameter

As you have likely noticed, the size of the pellets and shell size determine the number of pellets that can fit into a shell. The longer the shell, the more pellets fit. The bigger the pellets, the fewer fit into the shell. The pellet size to pellet number ratio is the best in 2 ¾ inch shells loaded with #00 buck.

Here are the number of each size pellets that fit into a two ¾  inch shell

  • A shell filled with #000 buck can have around six to eight pellets.
  • If the shell is filled with #00 buck, it can fit eight or nine pellets.
  • If the shell is filled with #0 buck, it can fit roughly nine pellets.
  • A shell filled with #1 buck can contain as many as eleven pellets.
  • If the shell is filled with #2 buck, there will be about fourteen pellets.
  • A shell filled with #3 buck can have as many as eighteen pellets.
  • If a shell is filled with #4 buck, there can be as many as twenty-one pellets in the shell.

You might also be curious to know if the different-sized pellets travel at different speeds. For example, are bigger pellets more effective? Or do smaller pellets travel at faster speeds?

The Velocity Of The Pellets In Buckshot

Of course, you should also be aware of the speed at which buckshot pellets travel. In a two ¾ inch shell filled with #00 buck, pellets will travel between 1100 and 1200 feet per second (FPS). Even though pellets with an FSP between 1000  and 1600 are considered low velocity, they are suitable for home defense.

These low-velocity shots shells are easier to control. They are just as effective over short distances as high-velocity buckshot. If you are shooting over long distances, it is best to opt for a higher velocity buckshot.

One advantage of using lower velocity buckshot shells in a home defense situation is that they are less likely to travel through a human target. This means that they should not hit anything behind the target. Therefore, it is safer to use this kind of buckshot in a home where other people or pets can be present.

When you have purchased the correct buckshot to load in your shotgun, you must also know how your pellets are grouped when they are shot.

How Are The Pellets In Buckshot Grouped

How Are The Pellets In Buckshot Grouped?

The patterning of a shotgun refers to how the pellets spread when a shotgun is fired and how they hit a target. For example, if your buckshot has eight pellets, the buckshot pattern will be determined by how far apart those eight pellets hit the mark.

Shooting your buckshot from various distances will help you see the pattern of your shotgun and indicate the distance at which you can accurately hit a target.

Ideally, you want your pellets to hit close to each other to affect the target better. A smaller pattern means that the pellets don’t spread as far as they would if the shotgun had a larger pattern.

Therefore, if your buckshot has eight pellets, you want them to hit a target grouped relatively close together. In addition, a smaller pattern implies that the mark you hit will feel the full force of the ammunition you fire.

Can You Change How Buckshot Pellets Are Grouped?

If you see that your pellets hit a target too far apart and you want to make the pattern tighter, you can adjust the choke of your shotgun.

The choke of a shotgun is the part of the shotgun barrel that constricts the shells as they move through the barrel. The tighter a choke is, the smaller your shotgun pattern will be. If your pattern is tighter, your pellets will hit closer together, having a more significant effect on your target.  

However, you also don’t want your choke to be too constricting. If your choke is too constricting, you can completely miss a target if you don’t shoot with extreme accuracy.

It is better to have a few pellets hit the mark than none at all. You can take your shotgun to a professional gunsmith to have the choke altered before testing it again.

One bonus of a tighter choke is that the choke increases the pressure that builds up in the barrel, thereby also increasing the velocity at which your pellets will hit the target. This also contributes to the need for more accuracy.


There are many considerations when it comes to the number of pellets in buckshot, such as the type of shotgun, the size of the shell, and the size of the pellets. In addition, the velocity of the pellets and the shotgun’s pattern play a role in the accuracy at which you can hit a target.

You can set the choke on your shotgun to make the pattern tighter and increase the damage you do to a target. However, a stricter pattern requires more accuracy when shooting.

Therefore, it is best to test different buckshot shells and different choke settings to determine what works best for you.

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