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Old January 13, 2012, 05:36 PM   #1
JD Powell
Join Date: July 28, 2011
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Slug guns, rifled VS smoothbore?

In your personal experience, what are your observations on shooting shotgun slugs in smoothbore or rifled barrels?

I cant bring myself to scope a shotgun. Scopes are for rifles and handguns.
Also, I will not likely be taking shots farther out than 100yds.

I am going to take the mossberg to the range this spring to do a bunch of slug shooting. I currently have a 24" cyl bore slugster barrel and a 28" accu-choke field barrel. The only advantage the Sluggster has is rifle sites, adjustable rear site. It also lacks choke threads. I am thinking I may be better off with the field barrel. Or would it be worth investing in a actual rifled barrel?

I belive tru glo makes sites that will semipermanetly mount on the vent rib of the field barrel if I need the better accuracy of rifle sites.

What type of choke do you (or don't you) like to use with slugs.

Ideally I would prefer 1 shotgun barrel that can handle slugs for deer (Kentucky is a slug only, no shot state for deer.) And still be versatile enough for turkey, upland, and migratory birds.
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Old January 13, 2012, 05:45 PM   #2
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chokes in a slug gun are a no no as the slug will destroy them.

As far as scoping a shotgun: aim small miss small

if you go with a rifled barrel you will be shooting saboted slugs which can be just as accurate as rifle rounds out to 200 yards, with more kick per shot.

i have a 870 wingmaster with a smooth bore that i have taken deer with breneke ko cheap slugs and turkey with the same barrel. without shooting and patterning the barrel who can say how it will work out and you might end up with a single use barrel.
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Old January 13, 2012, 06:48 PM   #3
JD Powell
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No chokes at all in a slug gun? I hear a lot of talk of using IC, or MOD with rifled slugs.
Yes I realize I need to pattern the barrel for shot. Just trying to find out others recommendations as to a slug &shot barrel vs dedicated slug barrel.
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Old January 13, 2012, 07:06 PM   #4
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Chokes are fine, however which one will give you the best accuracy is determined by shooting a variety of ammo through each choke
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Old January 13, 2012, 07:13 PM   #5
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Starting with some basics, sabot slugs must spin to be stable (like a rifle or handgun bullet). Rifled slugs work like a badminton birdie. They are heavy at the nose end, and the drag on the lighter tail end keeps it stable.

A common misconception is that the rifling on rifled slugs add a spin to the projectile. This is not true. The rifling simply reduces drag as the slug goes down the barrel and, because the rifling is malleable, it allows the projectile to compress to fit barrels of slightly different diameters (shotgun barrel diameters are nowhere near as consistent as rifles) and different chokes.

A rifled barrel can shoot sabot AND rifled slugs. It is intended more for sabots which MUST be spun, but adding a spin to rifled slugs doesn't hurt and can, in fact, improve accuracy. A drawback is that the soft lead can foul up a rifled barrel quickly.

A smooth barrel is intended for rifled slugs only. It won't hurt a smooth barrel to shoot a sabot out of it, but since its doesn't spin the sabot, it will be unstable, inaccurate, and a waste of money (sabots are expensive).

There are rifled choke tubes (made by Carlsons among other companies) that can be screwed into smoothbore barrels that impart some spin on slugs, but not as much as a rifled barrel. You may use these to try making rifled slugs more accurate, or you can shoot some of the slower sabot slugs or oddball slugs such as Remington Buckhammers.

If you want to shoot out to 100 yards, a rifled barrel with good sights or a scope and sabot slugs may be your best best. But you may be able to get by with a smoothbore barrel, good sights or a scope, and good rifled slugs (Brenneke makes some stuff that will provide better range than most standard rifled slugs). Still, with this set-up, I'd maybe limit myself to 80 yards or so. I would never attempt a 100 yard shot with just a bead sight...probably not even a 50 yard shot, but that's just me.

Choosing between what you already have, I would opt for the slugster because of its rifle sights. The difference in barrel lengths shouldn't make much difference in terms of velocity or accuracy. However, if you added a scope or sights to your standard field barrel, you may actually improve your accuracy with choke tubes.

A rifled slug should NOT damage chokes in your field barrel unless they are very tight (like a turkey choke maybe). IC is generally recommended, but I've heard that some people get better accuracy with a MOD choke depending on the slug they are shooting. Rifled choke tubes might be your best bet of all chokes.

Last edited by idek; January 13, 2012 at 11:13 PM.
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Old January 13, 2012, 08:06 PM   #6
JD Powell
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Thanks, lots of good info there. I think I will take the two barrels I have to the range and see what combination works best. If I can get the field barrel to perform as good as the smoothbore slugster, even if I have to add sites to it. I will probably trade the slugster off.
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Old January 14, 2012, 06:30 AM   #7
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Rifled barrels allow you to shoot sabot slugs, which are usually more accurate than Foster slugs. However, sabot slugs are quite expensive.

I'd try your 24" barrel because it's shorter and already has sights. If you can find a slug that gives acceptable accuracy then go with it. I'd recommend Brenneke slugs.
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Old January 14, 2012, 10:52 AM   #8
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The only reason I have a smooth bore slug barrel is I also use buck shot. If I did not use buck shot I would have a rifled barrel. Compairing the field barrel and slug barrel would be a good experiement to get the absolutly best grouping. I only have a field barrel for my 10 gage and it groups pretty well, I forget with what choke though.
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Old January 14, 2012, 11:21 AM   #9
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chokes in a slug gun are a no no as the slug will destroy them.
This is incorrect. Guns with interchangeable chokes are just fine. You will most likely get best results with the more open chokes. They even make tubes designed specifically for slugs. The only thing that might cause problems would be one of the extra full tubes designed for turkey hunting. Even a full tube would not be destroyed, but accuracy would probably be poor.

I can't say for sure how much better a rifled barrel would be. My experience with shooting slugs is a bit limited, but I have used an 870 with a 20" rifle sighted IC choked barrel with regular cheap slugs at 50 and 100 yards. At 50 yards 3 shots usually leaves 1 very large ragged hole in the target. At 100 yards I can keep 3 shots within a 4-5" circle, which would be good enough for deer hunting at that range if I chose to use a slug gun.

If I lived in an area where slugs were required, I'd probably go to the expense of a rifled barrel, optics and the newer sabot slulgs. While I've never actually tried them, reports indicate that they have the power, accuracy and trajectory to make 200+ yard shots possible. Doing that with my rig would be more luck than skill.
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Old January 14, 2012, 02:54 PM   #10
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You don't need a tricked out slug gun with whistles and bells and rifling to have an efficient slug setup. I use Foster slugs in a smoothbore and it is eye opening how accurate they are with 29 gr of Unique. Using my no choke short police trade in barrel I can stay on a paper plate at 50-60 yds and on a 12 x 24 at 100 yds offhand (mostly)

The sabot types may be a tad more accurate, I'll give you that. But it's not enough to make a practical difference especially if you figure the added cost over fosters.
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Old January 14, 2012, 04:18 PM   #11
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Choosing a bbl., ammo combo and practicing with it is the most important.

Granted, rifled bbls. with Sabot rds may be able to achieve a bit better accuracy at further distance but if you know where your smooth bore with foster slugs is hitting at 100yds, deer hunting accuracy is very obtainable.

A couple things to consider:

If I hunted open terrain that offered mostly 100-150yd shots, I'd probably opt for a rifled bbl. and sabot rds. or use my inline muzzle loader(legal here in Ohio)) during shotgun season. But there's very few opportunities for a lot of shots past 75-100yds where I hunt. So since the shotgun I own is a smoothbore, no need in the investment of another bbl.

If I didn't already own a shotgun and was going out to purchase one, it would be a combo consisting of an accu choke field bbl. and a rifled slug bbl.

As has been previously stated, if you want to try your field bbl. with sabot slugs, I'd see what choke offered the best accuracy starting out with either the modified or Improved cylinder chokes....and don't forget to take plenty of $ with you to the LGS for your sabot slugs.
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Old January 14, 2012, 04:23 PM   #12
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IMO, dot sights are great for slug guns. I like your rifled barrel because it is shorter. Where I hunt, shorter barrels are better. Better to get through brush and also quicker to get on target.

In my Mossy auto, I run rifled slugs in a rifled barrel and get good 3-4" groups at 100.
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