Slug Guns—Smooth Bore or Rifled?

There are several areas in the US that mandate slugs for deer hunting, and even where it’s not law, there’s just something about smacking a buck with such a big hunk of lead. Hit well, they go down HARD.

A Foster-style slug is designed for smoothbore shotguns. It stabilizes by having its weight forward and the “rifling” is only there to give the lead somewhere to go if the slug has to squeeze through a tight choke.

A Foster-style slug is designed for smoothbore shotguns. It stabilizes by having its weight forward and the “rifling” is only there to give the lead somewhere to go if the slug has to squeeze through a tight choke.

There has been so much advancement in slug technology in the past two decades that you do have to ask yourself if you’re properly matching the right slug to your gun. The old Foster-type slug is designed to be fired from a smoothbore, and no, the “rifling” on a rifled slug does not cause them to spin in flight. That “rifling” is there so the lead has somewhere to go if the slug gets squeezed going through a choke. These type of slugs are stabilized by having their weight forward. To illustrate, take an empty soup can, fill it 2/3 full of water and freeze it. Once frozen, try throwing the can with the ice-filled end forward, then turn it around and see what happens when you try to throw it with the ice at the rear. You’ll see that it naturally wants to fly ice end forward, and that’s how these slugs are stabilized.

There are other slugs designed for smoothbore shotguns that are drag stabilized. These style slugs usually have some sort of plastic wad attached at the base to create base drag and keep the slug point-on. Lots of times the wad separates from the slug, but don’t worry about it because these slugs are typically designed so that if the “wad” breaks away, the slug stabilizes like a Foster.

This slug appears to be a drag-stabilized slug, but it will stabilize with the weight forward like a Forster slug. It is designed for smoothbore slug guns.

This slug appears to be a drag-stabilized slug, but it will stabilize with the weight forward like a Forster slug. It is designed for smoothbore slug guns.

Lastly, there are saboted slugs. Their designs usually is in the shape of a conventional bullet or air rifle pellet encased in a plastic sabot. Just like a regular bullet or pellet, these are spin stabilized and you have to shoot them from a rifled bore or they’ll tumble in flight and your accuracy will suck.

These slugs are designed for a smooth bore, but were fired from a rifled slug gun. They hit the target sideways because they were not stable in flight.

These slugs are designed for a smooth bore, but were fired from a rifled slug gun. They hit the target sideways because they were not stable in flight.

 

Scott Mayer

www.tacticaltshirts.com

www.john1911.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

 

 

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • Trent Jacobs

    Good read. I definitely didn’t know that saboted slugs needed rifled barrels for performance, but then again I don’t have any experience with them so I guess that’s to be expected.

    I wonder how many guys and gals out there by percentage are actually running rifles barrel slug guns as opposed to smoothbores?