The primary differentiation among buck shot, bird shot and dove shot is size, but you'll find other differences as well. The smaller the size of the pellet -- such as dove shot -- the more will be carried in your shotgun shell. Smaller pellets tend to scatter widely even at shorter distances. Buckshot is the largest of the three types, with pellets sticking more closely together as they fly through the air, and delivering maximum energy to the target.
By the Numbers
Buckshot ranges in size from .24 inch to .36 inch in diameter. Each shot size has a shot number, with the smallest shot having the largest number. Size 000 shot is the largest at .36 inch in diameter, and No. 4 shot is .24 inch in diameter. Bird shot runs from No. 1 shot, .16 inch in diameter; to No. 11, .062 inch in diameter. The recommended sizes for dove shot are Nos. 7 1/2, 8 and 9, which range in size from .095 inch to .08 inch in diameter.
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