View Full Version : Shotgun Slug types

Jeff Cox
January 14, 1999, 05:18 PM
I'm new to shotgunning and was wondering if anyone could list several of the different types of slug and the differences between them.

Rosco Benson
January 15, 1999, 08:26 AM
There are three basic types of slugs in common use. The most common is the Foster-style slug. Available from all the major ammo-makers, the Foster slug resembles an inverted lead shot glass. It requires no "spin" to stabilize. It flys point-on for the same reason a badminton "birdie" does...most all the weight is at the nose.

The "sabot" slugs are smaller in diameter than the Foster style (usually around .50). They are usually "wasp-waisted" and are enclosed in two halves of a bore-sized plastic sleeve (the sabot). The sabot falls away after the slug exits the bore. Spin can be imparted to the sabot-style slugs by using a rifled barrel. This generally increases the accuracy with which the sabot slugs can be delivered. However, a rifled shotgun barrel will not pattern well with shot.

The last common type is the Rottweil/Brenneke slug. It is a solid lead projectile with a thick felt wad screwed to its base. It functions like the Foster slug, with the attached wad performing the same function that the thin skirt walls of the Foster slug...that is, ensuring that most of the projectile weight is forward, so it'll fly nose-first. The Brennekes, like the Foster, are best suited to smoothbores.


Jeff Thomas
January 15, 1999, 04:10 PM
Rosco - then what are 'rifled' slugs? And, are all these different slugs just variations on the same theme, or do we have (I assume) different types of slugs for different applications?

Rosco Benson
January 15, 1999, 04:31 PM
The typical Foster-style slugs sometimes have striations impressed into their skirts, angled to make it look as if they are to impart some spin. They do not, but I think the term "rifled slug" comes from this practice.

All of the slugs have the same function; that is to permit a single projectile to be fired from the shotgun, thus turning it into a sort of substitute rifle. As I stated earlier, rifled shotgun barrels ususally work best with a sabot-type slug.

This begs the question of why would anyone fool with slugs instead of just selecting an appropriate rifle. Some states do not permit rifles to be used for deer hunting. Typically, such states have fairly dense populations and the lesser maximum range of a slug is thought to be safer. So, one reason to use slugs might be because the law requires it. A bird hunter, hunting in an area with problem bears, might want to have a few slugs readily accessible. In defensive or police use, the shotgun is usually loaded with buckshot. A shotgun thus loaded provides a great deal of power to its user, within its effective range, and allows, at optimal patterning ranges, targets to be addressed very rapidly, due to the spreading pattern permitting a bit less precision in aiming. The defensive shotgunner should also have some slugs readily available so that he can engage target which pose a threat and which are beyond the effective range of buckshot (20-25 yards...sometimes less). In a carefully zeroed shotgun, the slug can also be selected for engaging a threat with has innocent or uninvolved parties in close proximity (such as a "hostage" situation).

Slugs can also be used to breach doors by blowing off the hinges and/or lock mechanisms at near contact distances. This is an improvisation, however, and is best conducted with specialty, frangible, "breaching" rounds to minimize danger to persons inside.


January 15, 1999, 04:31 PM
The foster type slugs have a rifeling pattern on the outside of the slug which upon entering the air stream (theoritically) cause the slug to spin up thereby increasing it stability. The fins on the 120mm tank rounds have a cant angle cut on them for the same reason and it works real good in that application. The sabot slugs work best with some spin imparted via a rifled "choke tube" or a rifled barrel.


Rosco Benson
January 15, 1999, 04:49 PM
As Vinny and I have pointed out, the sabot slugs can benefit from stabilizing spin imparted by a rifled barrel or a rifled choke tube. Shotguns thus equipped are pretty much "sabot-slug-only" affairs. They won't pattern shot (bird or buck) well at all. The rifled shotguns are substitute rifles for "slug only" hunting. They have little utility as a defensive shotgun. Clearly, they CAN be pressed into service defending oneself, as can a .22 short ISU target pistol, but they are less than optimal for that use.

The defensive shotgun will be a smoothbore. It will handle buckshot (its primary load) and slugs with aplomb. Its smoothbore barrel may have some degree of choke, to better keep the buckshot together. This will not typically hinder decent slug accuracy.


January 17, 1999, 07:28 PM
with regards to slugs,
i have a benelli M1 S90 shotguns that has 3 kind of chokes, what choke should i use when using a slug.


January 17, 1999, 09:35 PM
most recommend the cyl bore or skeet with slugs


Shawn Dodson
January 20, 1999, 02:01 AM
We're about to conduct a performance evaluation on a French designed saboted slug called the Balle Fleche Sauvestre Sledgehammer. It was designed by Jean-Claude Sauvestre, the French engineer who designed the U.S. Army's M1 Abrams fin stabilized depleted uranium saboted anti-tank projectile.

The Sledgehammer shotgun slug is fin stabilized. It is touted as being as accurate when fired out of a smoothbore barrel as a rifled barrel. The slug itself is approximately .45 caliber, and weighs about 400 grains. The shotshell box indicates a velocity of 1640 fps (barrel length unknown). These specifications are similar to a .45-70 Government cartridge.

I was given 45 rounds of this ammunition by the importer for law enforcement performance evaluation. I recently destroyed two of my skyscreens attempting to measure its velocity from my 18" Vang Comp barrel equipped 870. My fear was realized when one of the sabot sleeves damaged the sensor assemblies on the skyscreens. I suppose I'll have to protect the skyscreens with plywood armor.

You can learn more about the Sledgehammer slug by visiting: http://www.sauvestre.com

/s/ Shawn Dodson
Firearms Tactical Institute

Rich Lucibella
January 20, 1999, 08:24 AM
It'd be great if you'd give us a sneak preview of the results, once thy're in.