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What does "shot size" mean in shotgun ammo?

What does "shot size" mean in shotgun ammo?
Shot size for shotgun ammo refers to the size of the individual pellets or spherical projectiles contained within the shotshell. It is commonly denoted by a number, such as #2, #4, or #8. The shot size determines the diameter and quantity of the pellets, which affects their weight, density, and pattern density when fired.

The shot size numbering system varies depending on the country or region, but generally, a lower number indicates larger pellets, while a higher number indicates smaller pellets. For example, #2 shot is larger than #4 shot, and #4 shot is larger than #8 shot.

The selection of shot size depends on various factors, including the intended use of the shotgun. Here are some general considerations:

1. Game and Target: Different shot sizes are suitable for different types of game or targets. For example, larger shot sizes, such as #2 or #4, are often used for larger game like waterfowl or turkeys, where increased pellet size and energy are desired. Smaller shot sizes, such as #7.5 or #8, are commonly used for smaller game, upland birds, or clay shooting sports like skeet or sporting clays.

2. Distance and Spread: Shot size also influences the spread pattern and effective range of the pellets. Larger shot sizes tend to have a more concentrated pattern and longer effective range, while smaller shot sizes have a wider pattern but shorter effective range.

3. Penetration and Payload: Larger shot sizes generally have greater penetration and knockdown power, while smaller shot sizes offer more pellets in a shell, increasing the chances of hitting the target but with reduced individual pellet energy.

4. Local Regulations: Some hunting regulations specify the minimum or maximum shot size that can be used for certain game species. It's important to be aware of and comply with these regulations when selecting shot sizes.

When choosing shot size, it's important to consider the specific requirements of the shooting activity, the game or targets being pursued, and any applicable local regulations. It's recommended to consult with experienced shooters, hunting guides, or local authorities for specific recommendations based on your shooting needs.

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