Barret Kendrick

Birdshot for Personal Defense

Barret Kendrick
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Duration:   6  mins

Birdshot for home defense or personal defense is not recommended. PDN members and regular viewers probably know this, but you may have heard birdshot for defense recommended in gun shops, online, or at ranges. This video is for you to share with anyone who thinks birdshot is a viable defensive option or is wondering about it.

And don’t just take the word of Rob Pincus and Barret Kendrick—they do a gel block test with birdshot so they have empirical evidence that everyone can see for themselves.


They’re shooting a Grizzly Bear 45LC/.410 with 2.5-inch barrel for the test. It fires bullets as well as birdshot shotshell. The shotshell is almost as long as the barrel of the gun, so we already know the birdshot won’t build up much speed as it is fired and moves toward the gel block. Even before the gel block test, we know birdshot for home defense or personal defense is probably not a good idea.

Just a reminder from Rob that firearms are intended to be lethal devices for stopping a threat. They are not signaling devices, noise makers, or for use as intimidation. For more on that, watch Rob’s video on Warning Shots.


From about 15 feet, a typical home-defense distance, Barret fires a .410 birdshot shotshell into the gel block. A target is set up behind the block to catch pellets that don’t go into the block. A look at the target after Barret fires shows pellets all over it, in about a 36-inch pattern, with none concentrated in any one area.

In a 16-inch gel block, 14 inches of penetration will reach far enough into a human body to cause real damage. A total of five pellets entered the block and penetrated about 3.5 inches. Could this stop an attacker? Yes, but it would most likely be what is called a psychological stop. This birdshot is not going to reach the central nervous system and cause instant incapacitation, or reach any other organs.

Birdshot for home defense or personal defense? Rob and Barret say “pass.”

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