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Shotgun shells (shotshells) use a slug or shot as the projectile(s).

  • A slug is a solid projectile, usually of lead, used for hunting big game with a shotgun.
  • Shot are multiple pellets fired through a shotgun barrel. Shot size is adaptable to the game being hunted. This type of projectile is used typically to hunt game birds and small game animals.

The shotshells must match exactly the gauge and shell length specified by the manufacturer. This information usually is found on the barrel of the shotgun. Shotguns may be chambered for 2½-inch, 2¾-inch, 3-inch, or 3½-inch shells. This refers to the length of the shell after it has been fired. Never load a shotshell that exceeds the approved shell length stamped on the barrel of your shotgun.

lead balls on scale weighing one pound
Cutaway view of shotshells