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Old April 18, 2014, 03:56 PM   #1
Join Date: October 3, 2013
Posts: 44
Shotgun paper plate accuracy 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards?

I have been researching long-range shotgun setups for a long time. In all the Internet research I'd done, it looked like 200 yards was a tough shot to make, and nobody speaks of 300 yards. Yet, then I'd see a Youtube video here and there showing a Foster slug hitting a gong at 300 yards.

So, why can't a sabot slug through a rifled barrel do such a thing at will? My guess was that it was deemed impossible because it is so difficult to guess how far it will drop. And even if you know, it is really hard to judge how high to aim at long distances. Throw in the extreme expense and recoil involved in shooting such rounds, and people probably rightfully give up quickly when not putting anything on paper.

I had to find out for myself, so I recently purchased an 870 Express with an HD barrel for just over $300. I then bought a Mossberg rifled barrel which fits the 870. This setup is nothing terribly impressive or expensive. Again, reading online, you'd think you need a highly expensive Savage bolt-action shotgun with a non-removable slug barrel to have a prayer at 200 yards. Also, based on my online research, the slow twist rate of an 870 Remington or Mossberg rifled barrel (1:35 and 1:36) means it is best suited for heavier, slower slugs. This was confusing to me, because the same people online will tell you that a slow twist Remington 700 in .223 (1:12 twist) can only handle lightweight, high-velocity rounds, maybe 40-55 grain. That makes more sense to me than the opposite. Low and behold, after taking the 870 to the 75-yard indoor range, I found that the high-velocity rounds were grouping much better than the heavier rounds. At that distance, the Hornady SST slugs at 2,000 fps were grouping about 1 inch.

That was an expensive experiment, and so was stocking up on the Hornady slugs for a trip to the outdoor range. Fortunately, they are relatively cheap ($13/box) compared to other slugs, which is surprising as Hornady is a top-tier manufacturer.

Anyway, being that compensating for drop seems to be the main hangup for shooting something at long range that people thing you can't shoot at long range, I bought a Nikon Shotgun Hunter 2-7x32 BDC scope. Well, that was the ticket. BDC. That Ballistic Drop Compensator is absolutely the ticket. Lots of scopes have markings like this, but Nikon is the only one I know about which has an online tool that can tell you exactly which markings to use on any bullet from any manufacturer on any of their BDC scopes. Further, you can tell it the target distance and the zero. It seems a little complicated, but if you have half a brain and the patience to understand the tool, the BDC is unreal, at least for a shotgun. Crystal clear, lots of eye-relief, and super easy to use. I sighted the gun in at about +2 inches at 100 yards. It was grouping around 2" at that distance, or 2 MOA. So what happens at 2 or 300 yards? Does the bullet tumble? If not, then it should still be at 2 MOA, right? So, I used my markings for a Hornady SSt slug sighted at 125 yards (+2 at 100 = 125 zero for this load), and poof, 4-inch groups at 200 yards (2 MOA). Mind you, I repeated this again and again. I shot 30 slugs today, which set me back almost $90. But hey, I really was interested in this.

After nailing the target repeatedly at 200 yards, I thought I'd try something for the hell of it. The berm at this place sits 340 yards out, and according to my cheat sheet that I printed from Nikon's Spot On website, that corresponded to the lowest marking on my scope almost exactly. So, I shot left of the target, holding that marking. Bam, a puff of dirt (big one) on the berm, right where I was aiming it. BTW, it took years of shooting to be able to recover from a shotgun slug recoil fast enough to observe the puff of dirt that quickly, especially through a scope. So, I had to take the time to set up a target at 300 yards. I shot three slugs, using my cheat sheet, and the picture speaks for itself. I realize it's not THAT amazing, compared to a rifle. But, I bet there are a LOT of people who think it's ridiculous to make a shot that long with a shotgun, especially a relatively cheap shotgun. Well, this looks like a 5" group to me. At that distance it is still just supersonic and delivers around 850 pounds of energy. I thought this was pretty cool, so hopefully you enjoyed the read.
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