View Full Version : Rifled slugs vs. Sabot slugs

February 20, 2008, 08:28 PM
Is there any real difference in shooting rifled slugs thru a smoothbore barrel versus shooting sabot slugs thru a rifled barrel?

I've got a few boxes of different rifled slugs to put thru my smoothbore barrel. See what shoots good, what's accurate, and what I like.

Also, why a price difference? Sabot slugs seem to be alot more expensive than rifled slugs. What gives with that?

February 20, 2008, 10:16 PM
there is only a few things i can think of here. smoothbore vs. rifled barrel

accuracy and range between the 2 barrels i would say the rifled would be better using the sabots. yes you pay more for a box of them. like 10.00-23.00. you can't shoot buckshot or any shot in the rifled barrel.

the smoothbore you can get good accuracy to maybe a limited distance as compared to the rifled barrel. but you can shoot buckshot or any shot through it. like 2.30-7.00 a box for the slugs. and maybe the same for the buckshot. when i hunt deer i usually have my smoothbore barrel (20") on and load with buckshot in heavy brush or if i am stalking. if i am stand or sitting on the ground hunting i load a slug in the chamber. if i am small game/waterfowl or only using buckshot for deer i use my vent rib barrel (28").

if you have both a fully rifled and a smoothbore barrel with sights or a scope try different brands/loads to see what results you get and go with what you feel is going to be effective for what you need. i feel that the major cost difference between the ammo prices is the maker and the product. i guess you pay for what should be the most accurate. each gun will shoot different from one another even when using the same ammo.

February 21, 2008, 12:37 AM
I currently have 2 boxes of each of the following:

Federal Vital-Shok Truball 2 3/4 inch, 1oz Maximum

Federal Power-Shok 2 3/4 inch, 1oz Maximum

Federal Power-Shok 2 3/4 inch, 1 1/4oz Magnum

Federal Power-Shok 3 inch, 1 1/4oz Magnum

All are rifled slugs I'm gonna try out with my smoothbore barrel.

If I find one that shoots accurately and that I like, I may never use my rifled barrel. Save me some cash on ammo that way. No having to buy sabot slugs at 3 to 4 times the cost of rifled slugs.

I think my first chance to take the new shotgun out is gonna be in like 2 weeks. Me and a few guys from work are going up north for the weekend to have some fun and blast off our new guns we all have.

February 21, 2008, 01:07 AM
AS TAUGHT.... Plastic sabot slugs were made to run thru a "slug" barrel with rifle grooves... the plastic gets into the grooves and spins...
Rifled slugs are not as tight of a fit so they just "run down the smooth barrel" and once in air the grooves "hook" the air and that imparts the spin...
Running the lead rifled slug down a rifled slug barrel will load it with lead and the rifling in the barrel will not match the slug grooves so a wobble may happen. Once a smooth plastic projectile leaves the barrel there is nothing to impart spin which is like a badly tossed football... NO SPIRAL=NO ACCURACY...
Does that help?

Bill DeShivs
February 21, 2008, 01:16 AM
Sabot slugs were not developed for use in rifled barrels- rifled barrels were developed to better utilize the sabot slug.
The rifling grooves on rifled slugs do nothing. The slug is heavier in front, so it remains stable in flight.
When a saboted slug is fired in a rifled barrel the sabot engages the rifling, which inparts spin. When the slug leaves the muzzle, tha sabot separates and drops away, leaving the slug spinning.

February 21, 2008, 07:51 PM
Thanks for the info y'all.

I'm gonna see what my rifled slug selections shoot like and go from there.

BTW, does anyone know if any company/companies make a 3 1/2 inch slug cartridge? All I can seem to find in 3 1/2 inch is lead shot loads.

February 25, 2008, 11:41 AM
Don't get worked up about not finding 3.5" slugs. There is no benefit in a 3.5" slug. Though they do probably exist out there. Does a 180 grn bullet fired from a 30-06 have the same FPS as a 150 grn? No because max pressure must be considered. A 2 3/4" shell will do all a slug needs to do. A 3.5" shotshell only shines a little when shooting steel shot.

February 26, 2008, 04:11 PM
The biggest difference between a 3 to 3 1/2 inch slug load is the recoil. If you like getting your teeth rattled loose, by all means buy the long ones. I shoot 2 3/4 inch Federal Hi- Shok 1 oz. Foster slugs in my smoothbore. I've killed every deer they ever hit, and I never had one get up and saunter over to complain that it wasn't shot with the uber slug-du-jour. If you feel the need to shoot at deer over 100 yards away, then go with the sabot slugs. Just be sure your wallet is fat when you get to the register. A rifled barrel for my A5 is pushing $400 right now, and I can buy another shotgun with 2 barrels for that. I just wait until the deer get closer or hold my fire until I know I can hit them correctly. I'm a rabid reloader, and I'm working on slug loads for my A5 to stop having to buy them OTC.

February 26, 2008, 04:24 PM
Like the others have said, sabots shoot poorly out of a smooth bore however if your barrel will take a rifles choke tube you can find pretty good pattern with them. Some time ago I read a review in a Field and Stream which claimed accuracy close to full rifled barrel. I used one in my 870 with very good success, not as good as friend with a rifled barrel but better than foster slugs and no choke.

February 26, 2008, 04:37 PM
45Dave, I have both smooth and rifled barrels for my Mossberg 535.

I haven't bought any sabot slugs for the rifled barrel yet, but have bought a few different rifled slugs for the smooth barrel to try out.

chris in va
February 26, 2008, 04:48 PM
The rifling grooves on rifled slugs do nothing. The slug is heavier in front, so it remains stable in flight.

So why would they groove the slug if it does nothing?

I'm just asking, I know nothing about slugs.

February 27, 2008, 03:07 AM
"Is there any real difference in shooting rifled slugs thru a smoothbore barrel versus shooting sabot slugs thru a rifled barrel?"
I get a 4" grouping at 200yrds with the sabot ammo I shoot from mine. A rifled slug will get some sort of grouping at 50yrds, and will not have consistent accuracy past that (By the way, to the one that is about to post a response here, I've killed deer with rifled slugs beyond 50yrds too.) I wouldn't hesitate to take a smooth bore while on a push through the woods, but if I thought I would have to cover more range, I would leave it in the truck and go with my rifled bore.

I'm not sure if anyone would even use the term "grouping" in shooting rifled slugs.

" Also, why a price difference? Sabot slugs seem to be a lot more expensive than rifled slugs. What gives with that?"
This is the real draw back with sabot slugs, they cost so much, and it costs even more to zero your deer gun and find the brand/type it likes. I'm not sure why, other than the bullet, I think they are loaded with much the same amount of material as a turkey load or buckshot.

Sabots also have a huge price difference between different brands, but I think it is due to that it is relatively new concept of trying to get accuracy from a plastic hull, and newer designs actually have bullets made for sabot/shotgun performance, not ones adapted from something like muzzle loading.

There is a difference in performance, and you will have to find out what brand/type yours shoots best. I had some Hornady that shot a 12" group at 50yrds, probably the worst performance I saw in mine. The best was the Hornady SST and the Winchester PG, both with 4" groups at 200yrds. And the 3" actually performs worse than 2.75" shells, even though my chamber is a 3".

I know with my rifled barrel gun I can choose exactly where to place my shot, and know it will hit there, out too 200yrds+. Also, since I have sighted it in and figured the best ammo for it, I've only needed one shot per hunting trip to get my deer tag filled.

Dusty Rivers
February 27, 2008, 10:13 AM
I have a 12 GA with a rifled barrel. It is designed for sabot slugs. What do you recommend for a home defense load for this barrel?

I see that you can buy 12 GA rubber pellets or one rubber slug. I imagine these wouldn't do much damage to the rifling. anyone have experience with the rubber shot for home defense?

February 27, 2008, 07:27 PM
The rifled barrel is ment for sabot or some full gauge slugs, and shooting accuratly at longer range. Yes you could shoot shot through it, but I think it would wear on the barrel more. And the shot would probably get deformed more and just fly off into space leaving the pattern you want.

There are some shot loads that come in a sabot type wad, but I think the wad would spin with the rifling and when the shot exits the barrel it will be all flung out in a spiral, not all just shot forward at your target.

That is all my guess, maybe you can find a ballistician to ask, afterall if its for defence of your life...

Personally I would just stowe that rifled deer gun for hunting and indend to rely on a smooth bore or pistol, both had long track records of personal/home defence.

But if you insist on using the rifled barrel for HD, I would go with a low velocity load like a low recoil Buckhammer, or something with as little FPS as you can. Most sabots are pushed to or near 2000fps, that would probably shoot through your whole house and into the one across the street, drywall barely stops bullets.

March 2, 2008, 12:38 PM
The rifling grooves on rifled slugs do nothing. The slug is heavier in front, so it remains stable in flight.

So why would they groove the slug if it does nothing?

I'm just asking, I know nothing about slugs
Those grooves are there to swage down if the slug passes through a barrel with a choke. They have nothing to do with aerodynamics or flight stability..

@ Dusty Rivers - For rifled barrels Remington Buckhammers look promising, and are available in low recoil versions. Rubber buckshot is a bad bad idea!! Use buckshot and slugs for bad guys with the potential to shoot back at you..