On the WarriorTalk forum, a number of people have asked the following question:

What ammunition works best in the Stakeout?

But before we talk about the ideal ammo for the Stakeout, we first need to define the role of the Stakeout and of shotguns in general. Gabe Suarez sums it up the best in his book Fighting with Shotguns: “A shotgun is a short-range power tool that allows you to take some shortcuts with the fundamentals of marksmanship, and with shot placement, to a degree, and still bring your man down through sheer volume of damage via mass of the shot pattern and area impact,” Gabe writes. “It is a baseball bat to the face, not a stiletto to the eye.”

In short, we don’t want a super-tight pattern that negates the benefits of a shotgun. If I want a really tight pattern, I’ll just grab my rifle.

In my opinion, a wide pattern is even more important for a Stakeout shotgun. Since it doesn’t have a stock, this isn’t a gun you’re going to shoot at 50 yards; it shines at 10 yards and in.

Given the wide variety of buckshot available, testing was in order. I patterned 12 different loads at 3, 5, 7 and 10 yards in my search for a wide-patterning load with low-to-moderate felt recoil. For most loads, I shot different areas on the target to make the pattern more visible. I used an IPSC-style target for each. Loads were chosen using the following criteria: 1) The ammunition had to be easily available; I wasn’t going to test some exotic $10-per-round load that you could only find at one store. 2) I selected a cross-representation of major ammo brands.

Load 1: Hornady American Gunner 8 Pellet #00 Buck, 1350 FPS

Hornady American Gunner

This load had a very tight pattern. Too tight, in my opinion, for most applications with the Stakeout.

Load 2: Winchester Deer 9 Pellet #00 Buck, 1325 FPS

Winchester Deer

What really stood out about this ammo was the non-uniform patterns. At 5 yards, I even had a pellet that landed completely off target. This non-uniformity also occurred to a lesser extent at 7 and 10 yards. I would not recommend this round for the Stakeout.

Load 3: Remington Ultimate Defense Managed Recoil 8 Pellet #00 Buck, 1200 FPS

Remington Managed Recoil

These were the lightest-recoiling rounds that I shot in the Stakeout, but even with that perk, it couldn’t make up for the tight patterns.

Load 4: Remington Buckshot 27 Pellet #4 Buck, 1325 FPS

Remington 4 Buck

This round had nice, wide patterns. The patterns weren’t quite as uniform as I’d like, but if you’re shooting at relatively short distances—the range at which the Stakeout dominates—this shouldn’t be a problem.

Stay tuned for Part II, where I cover practical applications for the Stakeout and test four other loads.

To purchase a Suarez International Stakeout Shotgun, click here.

Photos by Terry Thompson.

Eric Tull is the Suarez International Staff Instructor for Iowa.
Find out more about training with Suarez International here