The reporting on gun-related aspects of the “Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face” story has been woeful. Few reporters seem to know much at all about hunters, shotguns, shotgun shells, or anything else that might be helpful in explaining this story to laymen. I’m not incredibly knowledgeable about guns, either, but I know enough to know that the reporting has been atrocious.
According to the game warden’s report, Cheney was using a 28 gauge shotgun loaded with 7 1/2 shot, which is birdshot (not buckshot). Gunshop.com has a page listing shot sizes. As you can see, 7 1/2 shot and buckshot are not really comparable. The hospital also reported that the shotgun pellet lodged near Harry Whittington’s heart is 5mm in diameter. That’s not right, either. Unless it grew somehow, it’s about 2.5mm in diameter.
A little research on 28 gauge shotguns revealed that they use a 3/4 ounce load (it also reveals that 28 gauge shotguns are quite the trendy choice for discriminating hunters these days). Looking back at the reference page for various shot sizes reveals that there are 350 pellets in an ounce of 7 1/2 shot (317 if you’re using steel shot rather than lead). That means that the shell Cheney fired had around 250 pellets in it. Some articles say that Whittington was hit by up to 200 pellets, which would mean that Cheney got him with nearly every pellet in the shotgun shell. I expect that number to be revised downward.
None of this has much to do with the aspects of the story people seem to be interested in, but I’m a pedant.