Federal’s OOO Buckshot: Bucking The System

The old 12 gauge has been a standby for many decades. Back in World War I, our doughboys were using it for close combat in the trenches. The Germans were so aghast at the idea of shotguns being used on people that they protested, saying the practice should be outlawed.

Even before that, there are accounts of shotguns being used in the Civil War.

Since then, the shotgun has been used in every war. A friend of mine carried a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun in Vietnam, and he swore by it; it gave him confidence and, from what he’s told me, was extremely effective.

And then there’s the hunting field. It’s impossible to calculate how many game animals the 12 gauge has accounted for over the decades. But just how many decades are we talking about?


It’s difficult to pin down the exact historical timeline of when the 12 gauge was invented. History shows us that shotguns have been with us for a very long time, dating back to the old blunderbuss from the 1600s.

The self-contained cartridges came about in the late 1800s and have been developed to this day. These days, we have many weights and varieties of 12 gauge ammunition to choose from, including light target and bird loads, buckshot, and slugs. Whatever you set out to do, within reason, using a 12 gauge can pretty much get it done.


There are currently a few different sizes of buckshot ammo. As per the chart below, the #4 buckshot on the far right is the smallest, with shells normally containing 27 .24 caliber pellets.

It seems the most popular size of buckshot, by far, is OO buck. At least, that’s what I see most of the time in gun shops and stores where I live. You’re lucky to find any other size buckshot around here other than OO. And OO buckshot seems to work quite well for most defensive uses. Companies who market it also state that it’s useful for taking medium-sized game, such as the whitetail deer that we see here so often in my state. I’ve never used buckshot on deer, instead opting for rifles for hunting. OO buckshot projectiles are .33 caliber (8.38mm) and usually have nine pellets per round.

Various sizes of buckshot.
Here are the sizes of buckshot currently available. OOO buckshot is at the far left of the photo. Photo by Lucky Gunner.

On the far left is OOO buckshot, with a .36 inch (.36 caliber, or 9.14mm) pellet.

Federal OOO Buckshot

Federal advises that their OOO buckshot load has eight pellets, and the overall payload of the pellets is 1.25 ounces. That’s a massive payload delivered to the target with one pull of the trigger, and it all arrives simultaneously.

Federal OOO buckshot and Remington 870.
Federal’s OOO buckshot is quality shotgun ammo. In the background is the author’s Remington 870. Photo: Jim Davis.

The muzzle velocity of the Federal OOO 12 Gauge Buckshot is listed as 1,325 feet per second, so those pellets are moving quickly. This is a 2.75-inch full power round with a plastic hull and brass casing. The buckshot is made from lead, and Federal explains that there is a granulated plastic buffer to keep the pellets uniform in shape. This method helps to maintain tight groups by preventing the pellets from careening into each other on the way down the barrel. If pellets hit each other, they will deform, which causes them to fly more erratically.

They also claim that their Triple Plus wad system provides better shot alignment.

Federal makes some bold claims, but how did the ammo perform on the range? Later, we answer that very question.


Buckshot has some advantages for hunting and defensive use.

The first and most obvious is that the pattern of shot spreads, making it easier to hit the target. We often hear “You don’t even have to aim, just point the shotgun in the direction of the target and you’ll hit it.” That is complete and utter horse manure. You do have to aim. Especially at close range such as inside a home if an attacker is trying to harm you. At such close ranges, the shotgun’s pattern will be about the size of your fist, making aiming a vital part of the equation. As a general rule, the pattern opens up about one inch per yard of travel. This does vary, though, so check your particular gun with various ammo types.

Author shooting the 870.
The trusty, old 12 gauge packs plenty of power for close-range defense. OOO buckshot is the largest buckshot size available today, and Federal’s version of it is excellent. Photo: Jeremy Charles.

The second advantage of the shotgun is that it delivers all the hits at one time. For example, those eight .36 caliber projectiles of the OOO buckshot hit at once, delivering a large payload into eight separate wounds (or at close range, one huge wound) of 1 1/4 ounces. The action of eight pellets hitting a target simultaneously proves to be devastating against attackers. It’s very rare for anyone to sustain that type of wound and continue their attack. I do know personally of one case where an attacker did not immediately go down, but those tend to be in the minority.

This is why people say the shotgun has unmatched power for home defense, and they are correct in that statement. Most buckshot rounds deliver well over 500 grains of whoop-ass in just one pull of the trigger. My Remington 870 will hold 6+1 rounds, so it can unleash 56 projectiles of OOO buckshot in just a few seconds.


While the buckshot projectiles are many, they are not very aerodynamic. Round spheres were never very efficient in flight, which is why muskets weren’t all that accurate at a distance. The pellets tend to become erratic in flight after a short time.

By the same token, when they do arrive and meet flesh, they don’t perform all that great. Unlike rifled bullets, which tend to penetrate, buckshot just kind of slams into the target and loses steam quickly. As we said above, the main claim to fame is that there are a lot of them hitting simultaneously, which is where they get their edge.

Recoil is another factor that comes into play. Full-power buckshot loads tend to have full-power recoil. Some people are averse to recoil, so full power 12 gauge loads may not be for them. I can still fire full-power rounds, but they’re not altogether pleasant at this stage of my life.

Probably the biggest disadvantage is the very short range that buckshot is effective at. Patterns open up quickly, and most shotguns are not effective past about 35 yards. Pellets can easily stray, causing injury to bystanders.

At The Range

We retired to the range to see how the Federal OOO buckshot performed. I’m happy to say that it did very well!

Recoil was about the same as for most OO buckshot loads, so the 2 3/4-inch OOO buck isn’t any worse on your shoulder than anything else out there.

OOO buckshot target, 20 yards.
At 20 yards, Federal’s OOO buckshot easily kept all eight pellets in the police silhouette target. Photo: Jim Davis.

We patterned the OOO buck at 15 and 20 yards, and it kept pellets easily inside a standard B-27 type NRA target. I did do a headshot at 15 yards, with not all of the pellets staying inside, but that’s a small target with the expected results. As it is, this OOO buckshot load should be effective against human-sized targets well past 20 yards. Pellets are going to begin straying the farther out we get, so plan accordingly.

15 yard OOO buckshot target.
Although some pellets went outside the head area at 15 yards, it’s still a decent group for a shotgun. Photo: Jim Davis.

The Federal rounds fed perfectly through the Remington 870, which was not surprising considering the quality of both the ammunition and the weapon.

Parting Thoughts

Federal’s OOO buckshot is available as this is written for $6.99 per box of five rounds, which is pretty reasonable compared to other 12 gauge offerings. It performs well, keeping pellets on target at reasonable ranges, and doesn’t impart any more perceived recoil than other buckshot rounds.

The larger .36 caliber pellets of buckshot would likely have more impact on a target than the next smaller size buckshot, which is OO buck.

Federal came through in fine style with this OOO buckshot, which was to be expected. I’ve used their ammunition for decades with outstanding results, so I expected the same with this shotgun ammunition.

If you’re looking for a buckshot round that’s a little different than the norm, check out Federal’s OOO buckshot. I think you’ll be pleased.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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