Here are a few bits and pieces that have crossed my path, or my consciousness, in recent weeks.
First off, buckshot. I highly recommend Federal's Flite Control rounds as one's primary buckshot load for defensive use. I prefer the #1 buckshot reduced-recoil (i.e. slower muzzle velocity) cartridge (15 pellets per load), but others choose 00 buck in standard-velocity or reduced-recoil rounds. The special Flite Control shot cups hold the load together quite a long distance from the muzzle, so that even out to 30 yards, most of the pellets will hit a human-size target. Most 'conventional' buckshot is lucky to get half as far without some of the pellets drifting off target, and at 30 yards, you'll be lucky to get two or three buckshot pellets in the kill zone.
However, it's often hard to find Federal Flite Control buckshot. Many stores simply don't stock it, partly because it's a premium round (and therefore more expensive), and others because they concentrate on hunting rather than tactical firearms and ammunition. There's a good, and reasonably low-cost, second choice; Sellier & Bellot's 12-pellet 00 buckshot round. It's also hard to find, but if you do an online search, you're likely to locate some. (Note that I'm talking about the 12-pellet round here, not the cheaper 9-pellet load. Be sure to search for the former.) It patterns very tightly in most shotguns in which I've tried it. Tamara tried some a couple of years ago, and found the same thing (and also noted the superior tightness of the Federal Flite Control pattern).
So, if you want good defensive buckshot rounds, Federal Flite Control is still top of the heap; but the 12-pellet 00 buckshot Sellier & Bellot load isn't bad, and it may pleasantly surprise you (or unpleasantly surprise someone on the other end of your muzzle). As always, test some of the rounds in your own shotgun to find out how it patterns for you. Here's an article on how to pattern your shotgun for birdshot rounds; for buckshot, I recommend shooting at 25 or 30 yards instead of 40, and a human head-and-torso life-size silhouette instead of a 30" circle.
Next, a couple of folks have complained that ported firearms such as the Taurus Tracker or Model 44, which I've reviewed and recommended in their .44 Magnum versions, are too 'noisy' for prolonged use. I have to admit, they have a point; but I don't know anyone who uses these things for casual plinking, without ear protection! They're meant to be used with earplugs and/or muffs. Given that protection, the louder noise from the ported barrels isn't a problem at all. Certainly, I'd hate to have to fire one inside a car, or in my bedroom at night - but I don't use them for that purpose. I have other firearms, better suited to such environments. The ported barrel does make recoil control easier, and enables faster repeat shots. That's what it's there for. The added noise is not pleasant, but given proper equipment, it's not a problem, either.
Finally, here's a US Marine showing us how to cook bacon in the field . . . er . . . sort of.