Infantry Drills

H-96: Shotgun Reduction

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H-96. Various shotgun rounds can be used for ballistic reduction. Breaching and clearing teams need to be familiar with the advantages as well as the disadvantages of each type of round. Leaders must consider the potential for over penetration on walls and floors in multi-story buildings to avoid potential fratricide incidents or killing of noncombatants:

  • Rifled slugs. Rifled slugs defeat most doors encountered, including some heavy steel doors. However, rifled slugs present a serious over penetration problem and could easily kill or injure anyone inside the room being attacked. Rifled slugs are excellent AP rounds and can be used accurately up to 100 meters.
  • Bird shot. Bird shot (No. 6 through No. 9 shot) is used in close-range work up to 15 meters. A 2 ¾-inch shell of No. 9 shot typically contains an ounce of shot (though it can be loaded to 1 ½-ounce with an accompanied increase in recoil). The major advantage of bird shot is it does not over penetrate. Therefore, bird shot poses little hazard to fellow team members in adjoining rooms. When used at close range, bird shot offers the same killing potential as buckshot, especially in a full choke shotgun intended for dense shot patterns. Another advantage of bird shot is low recoil. This feature allows for faster recovery and quicker multi-target engagements. A disadvantage with bird shot is rapid-energy bleed-off reducing penetration at medium and long ranges. Moreover, the small size of the individual pellets requires hits be made with a majority of the shot charge to be effective. A hit with one-third of the No. 9 shot charge may not be fatal, unless the shot is at extremely close range. These disadvantages are negated when birdshot is fired from a full choke shotgun where it will produce a pattern quite small inside of 10 meters. Inside five meters, all of the shot will be clumped like a massive single projectile.
  • Buckshot. Buckshot is used in close- to medium-range work, up to 30 meters. Because of its larger size, buckshot is more lethal than bird shot. A 2 ¾-inch shell of buckshot contains nine .30-caliber pellets. One .30-caliber ball of the 00 buckshot charge hit can prove fatal. Buckshot also retains its energy longer. Therefore, it is lethal at longer ranges than bird shot. A disadvantage of buckshot is over penetration. Because buckshot typically is loaded with heavier shot charges, it also has heavy recoil. This problem becomes apparent when numerous shots have been taken and can result in fatigue.
  • Ferret rounds. Ferret rounds contain a plastic slug filled with liquid chemical irritant (CS). When shot through a door or wall (drywall or plywood), the plastic slug breaks up and a fine mist of CS is sprayed into the room. The effectiveness of one round is determined by the size of the room on the other side of the door or the wall and also the ventilation in that room.
  • When using the shotgun as an alternate reduction method to gain entry, shooters must consider the following target points on the door.
  • Doorknob. Never target the doorknob itself because when the round impacts, the doorknob has a tendency to bend the locking mechanism into the doorframe. In most cases this causes the door to be bent in place and prevents entry into the room.
  • Locking mechanism. When attacking the locking mechanism, focus the attack on the area immediately between the doorknob and doorframe. Place the muzzle of the shotgun no farther than one inch away from the face of the door directly over the locking mechanism. The angle of attack should be 45 degrees downward and at a 45-degree angle into the doorframe. After breaching the door, kick it swiftly. This way, if the door is not completely open, a strong kick usually will open it. When kicking the door open, focus the force of the kick at the locking mechanism and close to the doorjamb. After the locking mechanism has been reduced, this area becomes the weakest part of the door.
  • Hinges. The hinge breach technique is performed much the same as the doorknob reduction, except the gunner aims at the hinges. He fires three shots per hinge, the first at the middle, then at the top and bottom. He fires all shots from less than an inch away from the hinge. Because the hinges are often hidden from view, the hinge reduction is more difficult. Hinges are generally 8 to 10 inches from the top and bottom of the door. The center hinge is generally 36 inches from the top, centered on the door. Regardless of technique used, immediately after the gunner fires, he kicks the door in or pulls it out. He then pulls the shotgun barrel sharply upward and quickly turns away from the doorway to signal the breach point has been reduced. This rapid clearing of the doorway allows the following man in the fire team a clear shot at enemy who may be blocking the immediate breach site. (Refer to ATTP 3-06.11 for more information.)

H-97. When the assault team members encounter a door to a “follow-on” room, they should line up on the side of the door giving them a path of least resistance upon entering. When the door is encountered, the first Soldier to see it calls out the status of the door, OPENED or CLOSED. If the door is open, Soldiers should never cross in front of it to give themselves a path of least resistance. If the door is closed, the No. 1 man maintains security on the door and waits on the No. 2 man to gain positive control of the No.1 man. The No. 1 man begins the progressive breaching process by taking his nonfiring hand and checking the doorknob to see if it is locked. If the door is unlocked, the No. 1 man (with his hand still on the door) pushes the door open as he enters the room. If the door is locked, the No. 1 man releases the doorknob (while maintaining security on the door) and calls out the breacher, BREACHER UP.

H-98. Once the breacher arrives at the door (with round chambered), he places the muzzle of the shotgun at the proper attack point, takes the weapon off safe, and signals the No. 2 man by nodding his head. At that time, the No. 2 man (with one hand maintaining positive control of the No. 1 man) takes his other hand (closest to the breacher) and forming a fist, places it within the periphery of the breacher and pumps his fist twice saying, READY BREACH. This action allows the breacher to see if a flash-bang or grenade is to be used. Once the breacher defeats the door, he steps aside and allows the assault team to enter. He then either assumes the position of the No. 4 man if he is acting as a member of the assault team or remains on-call as the breacher for follow-on doors. He should keep the shotgun magazine full at all times. There may be several doors, and stopping to reload will slow the momentum of the assault.

The shotgun should not be used as a primary assault weapon because of its limited magazine capacity and difficulty of reloading.

Next: H-99: Exterior Walls

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad