What You Need to Know About Hunting Slug Guns

What You Need to Know About Hunting Slug Guns

The most common reason to use a slug gun, a shotgun equipped for shooting solid projectiles, is because you are hunting in an area where high-powered rifles are not allowed.

Shotgun-only zones are found all across the Midwest, including states like Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and many others.  Many folks speculate as to why these areas are deemed shotgun only, but safety is the common explanation given by government agencies.  Shotgun slugs don’t fly as far as bullets fired from high-powered rifles and are therefore safer for use in areas with high densities of people, cars, and buildings.

There are a few different ways to get set up with a good slug gun, all differing in performance and price. The easiest and cheapest version of a slug gun is to take your existing “do all” smoothbore shotgun like a Browning BPS or Remington 870 and screw in an open choke that’s wide enough to accommodate a slug. There are several downfalls to this method, the greatest being accuracy. Shotguns firing slugs from standard open chokes have an effective range of only about 50 yards. Adding a scope to such a rig will do little to help, as the effective range of the firearm hardly warrants a magnified image. Open sights work just fine.

A better option is to buy a rifled slug barrel for your “do all” shotgun.  When deer season rolls around, just throw on your rifled slug barrel and you’re in business. Rifling is a term for the spiraled grooves cut into the bore of a rifle barrel. These grooves cause the bullet to spin, which stabilizes the bullet and gives it both better accuracy and longer range.

The above method works quite well, but there’s still a drawback. On convertible shotgun systems, the interface between the action and the barrel is not as tight and therefore accuracy can suffer. That—plus a few other reasons—is why many serious slug gun hunters choose the pricier yet more effective option of buying a shotgun manufactured specifically for shooting slugs.  This gun will come with a rifled barrel tapped for scope mounts and a crisp-feeling trigger. Many such readymade slug guns perform more like a rifle than a shotgun, with effective ranges in excess of 200 yards. (Hint: the Savage model 220F is an exceptional slug gun. It retails around $500.)

A Note on Slugs
Use conventional slugs when shooting a smoothbore shotgun. These slugs are cut with spiral grooves, which mimics the effect that a rifled barrel has on a bullet. Rifled slug barrels are meant to be used with “saboted” slugs – basically, a slug that’s wrapped in a plastic cup that makes contact with the rifled barrel and throws the slug into a spin. The sabot also helps to seal the barrel, minimizing the loss of barrel pressure that might otherwise escape around the edges of the slug. This increases muzzle velocity and range.


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