I went camping with friends a couple weekends ago. On the way to the property, we stopped at Cabela’s and I picked up a box of the Herter’s Multi Defense load, which is a modern incarnation of buck and ball that was used by the US Army in its smoothbore muskets. The Herter’s load consists of one .650” caliber round ball and six No.1 buckshot, each of which is a .30” caliber ball.
As described on Wikipedia:
The intent of the buck and ball load was to combine the devastating impact of the full-size (normally .65 caliber) ball with the spreading pattern of a shotgun, and served to greatly improve the hit probability of the smoothbore musket used in combat, especially at closer ranges, where the buckshot would retain significant energy, and against closely packed troops where the spread of the buckshot would be advantageous
Obviously, the extra hit probability against massed troop formations is no longer of concern, but the Multi Defense load’s combination of a single large projectile with a half dozen smaller pellets may be advantageous in certain environments. I wouldn’t choose it for use in a city or suburban area due to the potential for stray pellets. But for rural or campsite defense it may be a viable option.
The Multi Defense loads may also be found marketed under the Centurion brand name, and I think also Nobel. They are made in Italy and appear to be well made, high quality ammo. I’d like to see a reduced recoil version.
I put a couple of them through my cut down H&R Topper. Thank G-d for the Pachmayr Decelerator slip on recoil pad, because the recoil of these high brass loads in the lightweight H&R was truly vicious.
I’m pleased to note that the Truglo fiber optic bead sight that I put on the H&R stayed put after putting two of the Multi Defense loads plus two Federal reduced recoil Tactical OO buck through it.
Aside from the self abuse inflicted by shooting high brass shells through a 5.5 pound 12 gauge shotgun, we did some bird and small game hunting. This reinforced that yes, you can in fact miss with a shotgun. The four of us flushed about a dozen ruffed grouse, got off several shots, and wound up having the beef we brought along for dinner.
I got one shot off with my H&R 20 gauge Topper at a grouse but missed. I might have had better luck with a more open choke. The range when I fired was no more than 20 feet. It’s tempting to have the barrel sent off to get threaded for choke tubes and stick an IC tube in the gun.