Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rio reduced recoil buckshot loads.... lets take a look

An e-mail arrived from the folks at, and it asked if they might have anything I'd like to write about here on Carteach0. Looking over their inventory, I noticed the reduced recoil 12 gauge buckshot ammunition. Having never tried it myself, the obvious answer came to mind.

Not long after, a box showed up on my doorstep. Printed on the side, the wonderful ORM-D signal of fun ahead!

The good folks at sent along not only the reduced recoil Rio loads, but also some Sellier & Bellot standard buck, and some S&B 3" magnum buckshot as well. The three loads nicely stack into a good comparison of reduced recoil loads vs. standard, and the 3" magnum shells add a 'spice' to the mix.

Despite being a reduced recoil load, the Rio was the only high based shell of the samples. Having ripped the bases off shotgun shells on extraction before, I heartily approve of high based shells for defensive loads. There is no such thing as 'works too well' when it comes to self defense.

Dissecting one of each sample to check payload, I was a little surprised to find both the Rio shells and the S&B standard buck loads carrying exactly the same number and size of pellets. For some reason I had it wedged into my brain that 'reduced recoil' meant lighter payload. In this, it does not. Both shells have nine OO pellets above the wad, although there is significant difference in the wad structure itself.

The 3" S&B magnum load carries fifteen OO pellets. Like most shotgun shells, 'Magnum' really means 'bigger payload' more than higher velocity. This is a change from what shooters know with pistol and rifle cartridges, where magnum means a bigger powder load and higher velocity.

None of the three loads carry any buffer amongst the buckshot. As cheaper shells, this does not come as a surprise. Does it matter? Really? I would suggest that at defensive distances (25 yards and less) the buffer contributes little. If I was choosing a buckshot load for hunting, and wanted to reach out to 50 yards, I might sing a different tune.

Now, why is buffer used at all? It's there to help reduce the deformation of shotgun pellets under firing shock, in order that they stay round and fly straighter. Get that... buffer is used to help keep shot round..... because round shot flies more true.

So... what happens if the pellets are not round to start with? That leads us to the OO pellets loaded in the S&B casings, especially the 3" magnum loads. In each S&B shell I cut apart, there were one or two buckshot that were deformed significantly. Fly true? Not likely.

Now, again, let us consider the intended use of the shotgun loads we are looking at here. 25 yard defensive... more likely across a room of a house. Would a wobbly OO pellet matter? I doubt it greatly. In my judgement, while I dislike seeing sloppy work at any time, I am not terribly concerned about a few malformed pellets.

The Rio payload, on the other hand, was uniform and round... each and every one. Also noticed, the wad in the Rio load seemed built to higher standards. This was evidenced by the powder flakes that had migrated into the shot on the S&B loads, but not on the RIO shells.

As for function, they were all flawless in several shotguns tried. One, a Remington 870 set up for home defense, the other a Mossburg 500 base model hunting gun. Both shotguns ate up the buckshot rounds without a care nor worry. Feed and extraction were smooth and easy.

How about the main point of the comparison.... the recoil reduction of the Rio buckshot loads? When it came time to shoot, the reduced recoil rounds were just that.... easier on the shoulder. The standard loads were noticeably sharper in recoil, with slightly slower recovery time. The magnum rounds? Impressive recoil, even with the advantage of the Knoxx recoil reduction stock mounted on the Remington 870. Of the three rounds, the magnum load is the only one that offered any discomfort at all.

How did Rio achieve their reduced recoil goal? Quite simply by taming down the load and cutting velocity back by 150fps or so. Once again... will that 150fps matter at 25 yards? Perhaps more important might be the quicker follow up shot, and better control. A cloud of nine OO pellets fired from any shotgun at any significant velocity is a fearsome thing to face from the downrange side, but with the reduced recoil shells it need be a little less scary from the shooters perspective as well.

To demonstrate the recoil properties in a totally non-scientific but real world way, here is a very short video which shows firing two rounds of each load, with the same stance, from the 870 house gun:

On another day, and in another post, I will compare patterning between the loads, and perhaps find a way to demonstrate their 'authority' on the downrange side.


Caleb said...

I would offer that in a defensive situation, a wobbly pellet would matter if your only weapon was a shotgun and there was a hostage. Sure, in 99% of circumstances it won't, but we don't carry guns because we're optimists.

Carteach0 said...

Caleb, I can't argue that scenario. You are correct. Then again, those are Looooong odds... much longer than 1 in a 100. More like 1 in several million. Shooting a hostage taker off a hostage... not your everyday fare.

The S&B shells had some odd pellets, and will likely show some fliers when I pattern them. Does this make them bad shells? Hard to answer that one. At the very least, they would be good for practice ammo. If my house gun were loaded with them right now I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

That said, I am considering shooting up my present supply of buckshot in practice, and replacing it with a case of the Rio reduced recoil. It's pleasingly controllable, and certainly had no problems cutting a tree in half while I was shooting that short video (g).

aubrey said...

thanks for the review, I think I'll order a couple boxes

TrueBlueSam said...

Thanks,CarteachO; I need some of these loads for my coach gun. Keep up the good work!

ASM826 said...

The plastic jugs that anti-freeze comes in, relatively flat surface, 1 gallon each, shot from 10 yards. It makes a satisfying reactive target for a shotgun. If you had several, the response would give some idea of the downrange effect. I've used them that way, although never to try to compare various loads, just to test the effect on one load I was considering.

Wuulf said...

Good review. I've often wonder what the translation of "reduced recoil" was on buckshot, knowing that its still 9 pellets will help me change over. My shoulder thanks you sir.

Also, Rio just makes good shells period. I've used their no.6 shot shells with pleasing results.

Carteach0 said...


You were reading my mind!

Old NFO said...

Good report Carteach0, and agree with you and ASM826. You 'could' fill them with jello to get at least a look at penetration and patterning...

Hartley said...

Nice article - I've wondered about "low recoil" for a while..

I bought a couple boxes of the S&B 3" 00B, and ended up disposing of them - in my almost-new 870 (the "marine" version) they simply would not extract - I had to either beat them out with a rod or pry at them with my multi-tool. Examination of the hulls showed significant expansion of the bases. I also shot both Remington & Winchester 3" magnum 00B and had zero problems - and some of those were waaay more potent than the S&B.


Firehand said...

From what I've read, there are two ways of getting reduced recoil: either one fewer pellet(8 instead of a standard 9) or loading to a lower velocity.

I've fired Winchester and Hornady RR loads, and VERY noticeable difference from standard buckshot. I've got Winchester in my home scattergun now(very tight patterns from them, too).

Anonymous said...

Just 2 quick comments. First, the ammo works well. I used about 400 of the Rio reduced recoil buckshot at Gunsite for the 260 shotgun course w.out any problems. I had no problem clearing plates and pepper poppers as long as I did my part.
Second, the Rio shells are a bit longer than normal 2.75 inch shells. I mention this as they did not fit in the speed loaders my fellow classmates used.


Colorado Pete said...

Mr. Carteach, study yourself carefully in your video, regarding the technique you are using to pump the shotgun.

Shoot, recover from recoil, pump the handle pushing the muzzle down below the line to the target, bring the muzzle back up, then shoot again.

Try working the pump rearwards as the shotgun is recoiling, then forward as it is recovering from recoil. This has the effect of aiding the recovery of the muzzle on target. The chamber will be reloaded by the time the shotgun recovers back on target, much like an autoloader. If you need to depress the muzzle to assess the effect on target, you'll be ready to shoot if you have to.

Just trying to help out.

Slappy said...

Well, to be fair, one should probably think twice of using a tactical shotgun to shoot hostage takers off of hostages anyway, as there's almost always some fliers in any load.