View Full Version : Setting up a pump gun for slugs...

Dave McC
October 29, 1999, 12:47 PM
In the last few years, I've been asked to tell how to set up a slug gun by a number of people. Since I've been in quest of the perfect slug gun for a few decades, here's a few points that help get that slug gun performing optimally.

First, and this is perhaps the only part that shouldn't be kitchentabled. Most pumps, even excellent ones, have good safe slap triggers. To achive good accuracy, have a qualified gunsmith tweak your trigger to a clean safe light as possible weight. On the average, 3 1/2 to 4 lbs is achievable and safe.

Second, many pumps show a bit of looseness in the bbls to receiver connection. Check by,

MAKING SURE THE WEAPON IS UNLOADED. Then, while grasping the receiver in one hand, grab the bbl by the other and seeing if moderate pressure will move it in relation to the receiver. If not, Huzzah! If so, then pad the jaws on a set of channellocks, and tighten ONE click or just enough to take the slop out. This serves the same purpose as the pinning some smiths do to "accurize" the weapon. And, it still means one can take down the weapon.

Next, consider the sight options. A plain bead is good for very close encounters, but lacks accuracy at more than say,15 yards.My old eyes find the handy short bbls with rifle sights little better, the sight radius is nit much better than a long bbled handgun. MUCH better, and my personal choice, is a peep sight and ramped bead front. A touch of bright enamel will make that sight accurate and fast. While some folks favor a scope,I believe only those of less than 3X work well on slug guns,and of good make. A shotgun will destroy cheap scopes rather quickly,and even the best add little at typical ranges.

Next, something I learned from an FBI school I attended. A mag extension serves to stiffen the bbl, oft cutting group size by 50%.This is with a clamp between bbl and tube,of course. You may get teased about "needing all those rounds" but the teasing stops after they see the groups or the deer.

Oh,yes, lengthening the forcing cone will reduce the recoil slightly,and oft improves accuracy, tho this might be due to less flinching.In any case, this is recommended.

Next,test ammo at the bench. Don't use the same as your best buddy does, each weapon is a law unto itself at to what ammo groups best. Buy a variety of those 5 packs,and shoot for groups. Remember that benchtesting slug guns is not much fun. Use whatever recoil protection you can, take an anti- inflammatory first, and work slowly, allowing the weapon to cool between shots. It's a lot of work, but well worth it. After finding out what groups best,buy plenty of it from the same lot number, if possible.And, even if you've been shooting since Davy Crockett was a tyro, practice! Ain't no substitute....

As for performance, no 12 ga slug is appreciably better acting than any other, with this exception...

Sabots are oft wonderfully accurate in rifled bbls. Unfortunately, my experience from doing some herd control is that the blood trails are longer. Those of us who hunt public land might want a full diameter slug like the Fosters or Brennekes to put the critter down well nigh immediately.The good news is no slug will fail if properly inserted on deer sized game.

Finally, remember that even the best slug gun is NOT a long range tool. Hunt and shoot responsibly and closely,and your season will be well spent.

Good luck and good hunting...

October 29, 1999, 01:20 PM
whats your opinion of rifled chokes?
my Nova has a 24 inch smooth barrel.
Benelli recomends a cylinder choke for slugs yet they don't include one with the package.
Should i buy a smooth cylinder choke or look at the rifled ones?

Dave McC
October 29, 1999, 02:51 PM
OK,here's my opinion. There's two shotguns set up for slugs here at Casa McC. #1 is a tactical with 18" smoothbore bbl,no choke whatsoever.#2 is a dedicated gun just for hunting,with a 20" bbl and a Rem Choke Rifled tube. Both are setup the same, with extended mags and peeps, lengthened forcing cones and good triggers.

Both give 2 1/2" at 50 yards, which, in my experience, is good.The smoothbore likes Brennekes, t'other Winchester Foster style. Go figure...

As for your piece,IMO, a rifled tube USUALLY helps, but there's no guarantee. What's the sighting arrangement, and how does it shoot now?

If it has decent sights, try it with a variety of slugs and an open choke first at realistic hunting ranges. If the combo works, you're done, go hunt. If not,get a rifled tube and test again.

Caveat, some gun rags give the impression that if you buy the stuff they're writing about(and having full page color ads) you can stick them into one ragged hole out on the horizon. Realistically, if you can shoot into 5 inches at 50 yards, the weapon will do the job if you do yours.We're looking not for minute of angle,but minute of deer....

Bennett Richards
October 29, 1999, 03:45 PM

Excuse my density... but when testing for barrel/reciever play on the 870 do you test with the magazine cap screwed in tight?


Dave McC
October 29, 1999, 03:49 PM
Oooopps! Sorry I wasn't clear on that. Screw the cap handtight,and try.

Sometimes handtightening isn't tight enough, If you do use the channelock method, just one click will do it.

B Shipley
October 29, 1999, 10:56 PM
This is a do it yourself plumbing tip that applies here: Wrap the tube (or pipe) in tape, including the fixed portion. That is, wrap the cap with one piece, then wrap the tube with another. The tape will ensure that the jaws of the channel-locks don't bite through their padding, and the tape on the tube masks it from any marring from slippage. If it (the tape shrouded part) feels springy, then there should be enough padding.

I've ruined some Delta faucets before I tried this, and it works well if not too much torque is required. Seems cross applicable.

[This message has been edited by B Shipley (edited October 29, 1999).]

October 30, 1999, 04:50 AM
'nuther tip.
Check State regs concerning the number of rounds you can load. I believe (I can't find my State Hunting Laws booklet) Ohio requires a plug to limit the number of rounds. I thought I saw mention of it when I paged through the booklet. Maybe some other Ohio hunter can confirm/deny it.

Thanks Dave. I'll check my 870 when I open the safe this morning to see which "Dates" go with me to the Saturday Morning range dance ;)

CCW for Ohio action site.

October 30, 1999, 06:04 AM
I'm sure your right about the 3 shot rule for deer hunting in Ohio. I don't hunt, but the local Game Protector told that.
Neil Casper

October 30, 1999, 07:11 AM
If you really want accuracy from slug gun buy Tar Hunt gun Far as I know it is fully glass bedded bolt free float barrel on McMillan Stock. Don't expect cheap, not it you want one ragged hole or clover leaves.

Dave McC
October 30, 1999, 07:36 AM
Thanks for the tip, B. I just use a scrap piece of leather, but your way is probably safer.

Md's laws state that up to 8 rounds may be loaded at one time,no limit on mag capacity.

Oberkommando, I'm sure that bolt gun is accurate. However, not all of us want to spend that much money, when we have perfectly good pump guns already just in need of some tweaking for service.

And, I disapprove of the current trend in trying to turn what will always be a relatively short range weapon into a sniper rifle. Traditionally, shotguns work well in thick stuff,and shots over 50 yards are rare.
While a tackdriving slug gun may be a nice toy, just how necessary is it?

At a guess, my average deer is taken, regardless of weapon, inside 25 yards.I hunt with longbows, recurves, muzzleloaders(no inline, just a traditional sidelock),rifles and shotguns. As memory serves me,I've taken no deer over 60 yards here in classic Eastern deer habitat.

Dave McC
August 14, 2000, 08:10 AM
It's getting to be that time of year,folks, so I brought this back up.....

August 14, 2000, 03:08 PM
A question that is sort of on topic.

My question: For my fiance deer hunting with shots under 50 yards. 12 gauge rifled slugs or 12 gauge 15 pellet 00 buckshot? If buckshot, what choke to use? Modified to full?

My experiences: I shot my first and only deer last year. I shot him with 15 pellet 00 Buck at 35 yards with an improved cylinder choke. The pattern was about 30 inches. 5 pellets through the lung, another broke the oppoite front leg, two more hit major blood vessels around the heart. This was a broadside shot and he fell right there and died in seconds.

My thoughts: She is not going to practice as much as I will. I'm happy that she wants to go deer hunting though. I'm not sure she will be accurate enough with the slug, but think she will be fine with buckshot. She will practice some, but probably only 5 shots or so.

So what do you guys think? Will 00 buckshot suffice? What choke is recomended?

Dave McC
August 14, 2000, 09:05 PM
15 pellet 00 loads will rip you a new one, but for those that can handle them they're effective when used inside their limits. And regardless of mods, choke,and sacrifices to the Red Gods, those limits are not much more than 25 yards.

I'm assuming both are legal where you hunt, so...

Let your fiance try both,and see what SHE prefers. While this is happening,run a few patterns and see where all the pellets go. By your testimonial, only 8 of the 15 hit that deer at 35 yards. There's no rule on a tablet of stone here, but my guess is that patterns will be BIGGER, not smaller, with a full choke. Try Modified and Full and go with the smallest.

August 14, 2000, 10:12 PM
Of course we are both legal to hunt. What would make you think we weren't? I always have my hunting license and immediatly gutted and tagged my deer last year. I hunt in a county that only allows one buck to be harvested per year. I took this one on opening day. Bummer. I won't do that again unless a 12 point decides to pass me.

Why would you guess that a full choke would actually spread the pattern? I will have to pattern the shotgun, but that is counter intuitive.

Why do you say that 25 yards is max range? From what I have seen it is extremely devastating at 35 yards and that was with a very open choke. I would think that a tighter choke would tighten the pattern and increase the range past 35 yards to about 50 yards.

I'm not meaning to be argumentative, just trying to understand things. I was always taught to discuss things from both sides and then see which side was corect and not to take everything at face value. So no disrespect intended.

Dave McC
August 15, 2000, 06:35 AM
Kilgor,here in Md only one county out of 23 has buckshot legal for deer. Dorchester Co is so brushy and swampy deer hunting shots are measured in feet, not yards. And, some folks are not as informed on local rules and regs as they should be.

Back around 91-93, I tested Departmental weapons and 00. Using the B-24 target, I fired at 25 yards,and checked the targets for effective hits, marginal hits and clean misses. NONE of the targets had all the pellets where it counted and most had complete misses. This didn't sit well with the brass due to liability concerns, so the test was repeated with some older full choke shotguns. Results were worse. Full chokes here were giving larger patterns, since the 00 was being squeezed into a smaller "Funnel" the pellets were deformed more and flew wild.

Some private testing followed, and one good combo was a modified choke bbl with forcing cone work.

Hardnfast rules on this do not exist. Unless you pattern your shotgun, you just can't say, and a seemingly identical shotgun can have differing results.

You've shot ONE buck with the combo. And you hit with only a skosh more than 50% of the pellets at 35 yards. My math may be faulty, but that means at 50 yards you'd hit with maybe 5. Buck depends on both multiple hits and good placement to be effective.

I've run across a few buckshot hunters that use custom bbls, chokes,loads, etc, to push the limits on buckshot.Some use the big 10s. Few seem to like shooting much past 50 yards, so let's think that's a practical limit for now.

August 15, 2000, 08:58 AM
Perhaps Federal's hardened 00 buck would be better in a full choke because it wouldn't change shape. That's what I shot my buck with last year. I'll have to pattern it out is what it boils down too. Thanks Dave.

BTW I hunt in Texas and there are no regs regarding the use of Buckshot as far as I know. I'll have make sure on that one but I have never even heard of such.

Dave McC
August 15, 2000, 10:51 AM
You're welcome, Kilgor. I'd be interested in hearing the results.

August 15, 2000, 11:24 AM
I'm a bit puzzled by one thing... I've benched slugs out of my M500, and had no pain afterwards. Am I doing something wrong?

The barrel is a factory 24" cylinder bore with rifle sights. The rest is an Outers Varminter. I did put a Pachmayr Decelerator on it some time ago, which helped smooth out the recoil with bird and buck.

Dave McC
August 15, 2000, 01:38 PM
I doubt you're doing something wrong, Coinneach, more likely you've got it all right.

That Pachmyer pad is one of the best around. Good form, reasonable gun weight and using 2 3/4" slugs means a comfortable session.

Note: When I make it to the range, I rarely test ONE weapon. More like 4 or 5. Continued thuds add up,even with the other variables in my favor....

Oleg Volk
August 16, 2000, 01:03 PM
I think I am going to take all the talk about 12ga slugs and pain as a sign to stay with 20ga slugs. not quite 45-70 performance but no worse than 454 Casull...and less flinch. Has anyone experience with deer or larger game and 20ga rifled slugs?

Dave McC
August 16, 2000, 01:10 PM
Oleg, I've taken a deer or two with a 20 ga, used Brennekes, and seen maybe 20 others taken.They work fine at ranges up to 75 yards,tho I recommend closer.

Like 12 gauges, 30-06s and nukes, one has to be aware of their effective ranges and stay within that.

For tactical purposes, the same cautionaries and caveats as 12 ga slugs apply....

Dave McC
August 14, 2001, 02:14 PM
Bringing this back up for Coop De Ville....

Coop de Ville
August 14, 2001, 03:13 PM
Thank you sir, much appreciated.

August 17, 2001, 07:39 PM
Ohio does have a three shell limit, but does anyone know of a reason why a person couldn't leave the clamped mag extension on, while using a longer dowel/plug to limit shell capacity to three? As Dave said, you might look a little silly, and get some grief from your buddies, but if accuracy is affected that much...then why not do it?

Dave McC
August 18, 2001, 06:00 AM
No reason at all, should work fine....

August 18, 2001, 09:32 AM
If you want to add weight, why not make a magazine plug out of steel rod? I wish I could remember which manufacturer used to sell guns with metal plugs.

If you want your friends to have a good laugh, show up for the first hunt with two shotguns plugged to the legal limit. A friend's father used to use two loaded shotguns in the duck blind. The game warden said it was legal :)


Dave McC
August 19, 2001, 07:07 AM
John,the early 870s came with a solid steel plug. I still have mine around here somewhere.

Dave McC
January 4, 2002, 11:34 AM
Back up for Labgrade...