Shotgun slug choice for whitetail deer


December 23, 2002, 01:59 PM
Some of us are limited to shotguns for modern long-arm deer hunting. Ammo companies have capitalized on this and offer everything from whizbang super-slugs to plain ol' Foster slugs.

For those of us who are forced to use shotguns on deer, what slugs do you prefer?

I'm a fan of Remington's Copper Solids, but have taken to using the Remington Sluggers quite a bit as well. They seem to hit pretty similarly out of a rifled barrel to about 50 yards, so you can use the $2 per box Sluggers to get on the paper and then fine-tune and hunt with the $8 per box Copper Solids.

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Art Eatman
December 23, 2002, 05:38 PM
Seems to me there's no particular concern about expansion when using slugs. :) In a way, they remind me of using early-type .45-70 or Sharps cartridges: Big ol' things, moving slow and going all the way through. (All the way through Bambi, a mule, two dogs and a cord of wood.)

Accuracy would be my first priority, and then group-size for two or at most three shots.


Dave McCracken
December 23, 2002, 05:54 PM
All 12 gauge slugs are effective, find the one that YOUR shotgun "Likes" by bench testing, It's the only way to determine the best.

Buy lots of diverse 5 packs, shoot groups until a winner emerges, buy lots of that one, preferably from the same lot.


December 23, 2002, 06:51 PM
Art n Dave nailed it.
Try em all.
What works for you in YOUR gun is the winner.


December 23, 2002, 07:53 PM
Thanks guys, you all make good points and I've found what works for me based on many of the same criteria you present.

However, I am still curious as to what slugs other people are using on deer.

December 23, 2002, 11:41 PM
I like the Remington Copper solids, because they are as accurate as I am out of my gun, and I have taken a deer with them so I know they will work. To change course a little has anyone else seen the new slugs offered by Remington? They are called "Buckhammer" or something along those lines. I saw a picture of them in a gun magazine with a New in 2003 cover. They looked interesting.

Dave McCracken
December 24, 2002, 04:09 AM
Cordex, with over 40 years of deer hunting behind me, I'm not sure I can recall all the different ones.

Latest slug of choice, the KO Brenekke. Previous choices include the Rottweil Brennekes, the Forster style Winchester 1 oz HPs, the similar Fed load,all in 12 gauge.

I've gotten a few deer with a 20 gauge, and I believe the Rottweil Brenekke was the load for all. Works very well.

As for sabot style slugs, I've seen some herd control does taken with them, and note that the blood trails were longer. These are wonderfully accurate, but the full bore slug seems to work better for terminal performance.

Where I hunt is very thick, I might prefer the sabots in the open for their better accuracy at long range. But with 30 yard shots typically, the older, full bore diameter style slugs do the trick nicely.

December 24, 2002, 04:36 AM
I'm a smooth bore guy who has a couple 870s that take screw-in chokes.

After reading up in a flower-shirt magazine, I had to try a couple Rem & Win Super-Duper whiz-bang sabot loads.

$30 for the rifled choke & another $5/5 pack for the slugs. Had to buy at least a couple to do any kind of honest test. Right?

These sabot loads tout a 1 ounce slug at 1900+ fps & a trajectory froma shotgun rivaling "a .243" (yeah, but ... pretty darned good nonetheless)

Everything key-holed at 25 yards = zip sale.

Mind you, a fully rifled bore (what these things were designed for), they likely would have performed a bunch better.

I couldn't see the benny with a rifled choke.

My best bet has always been a modified choke. I can use a wide variety of bird-pellets & it'll usually do pretty good with a decent slug.

Slug use, what I'll do is pattern with whatever choke I think is my best bet combo-choke for that barrel/choke & just stick with it - for that particular set-up.

Using that shotgun, I get to have the option of anything from all birds (load dependent) & the accurate slug option - easily past 50+ yards & all that in a smooth-bore/no choke changing.

Simplicity at its best.

Find a slug that shoots best in what choke you normally shoot. Best bet.

You can always tailor a slug load to a specific choke, yade, but doesn't that give up so much of the shotgun's versatility?

December 24, 2002, 01:56 PM
I use Federal Premium Barnes Expanders, very accurate out of my Mossberg 500.

Any 12 gauge slug thats accurate in your shotgun will be just fine for whitetail.

December 24, 2002, 05:34 PM
I'm useing Lightfield slugs right now, in my rifled barrel shotgun. Used Remington Soild Cooper in the past.

Back before I got my Rifled Shotgun, I mainly used Brenekke slugs.

December 24, 2002, 11:58 PM
I use an 870 with a smooth barrel and a screw in rifled choke tube (no diff over smooth IMO). I use the Remmy $2/box sluggers and they group 3-4" at 80yrd which is about my max. most deer shot at 20yrd or less and are pretty thoroughly thumped. I don't need rifle-like performance here as deer are very plentiful. I live 1/2 mile from a state park and eat alot of venison :D

December 25, 2002, 10:59 AM
Personal preference for me are the Brenneke KO rifled slugs for my Remington 870. I seem to get the best accuracy out of them from my 26" smooth barrel.

December 25, 2002, 01:48 PM
I got lucky with the Winchester Super X/BRI Sabots out of my Remington 870 rifled barrel 12 GA. The 2 3/4 as well as the 3" groups beautifully.

If you choose the Winchesters do go with the 2 3/4". You only gain 50 fps with the 3" mag and a lot more recoil.

Good SHooting

December 26, 2002, 07:26 PM
Well..the Winchester Sabot Slugs definitely do work. Just shot a doe this evening and got clear through penetration at 100 yards.

Good Shooting

December 27, 2002, 10:15 AM

I would suggest the above, test your shotgun to see what performs best.

I listened to Dave Henderson last spring at the Deer and Turkey show, he recommended

1 have a gunsmith PIN the barrel.

2 Brenneke if you shoot smoothbore. (Assuming they group well)
if you have a rifled barrel try different ammo until you get the best groups.

I just got a new Mossberg 835 and intend to follow this advice...


December 27, 2002, 07:33 PM
I just got a new Mossberg 835 and intend to follow this advice...

The last I checked the standard 835 barrels were backbored. On the barrel there is a warning "Not For Slug Use" or something similar. I do believe that they make a non backbored barrel for the 835 but it is in the 3" chamber and not 3 1/2".

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I wanted another 835, but the no slugs warning deterred me. I used to have one of the original 835s that came out with the tang safety that required you to push a release button before you could move the safety. They have since gone back to the old style.

Good Shooting

December 28, 2002, 12:04 AM
I a deer a couple weeks ago with a slug. This was my first experience doing so. I was really impressed. I now have to buy myself a shotgun with a rifled barrel. I was using a plain old Winchester 1 oz. slug. I don't know what you call them, but the same slugs that have been around for 50 years. I was using a scoped Remington 1100 with a rifle barrel of I guess about 24-26". I shot the deer from about 30 yards in the chest. Of course the slug penetrated the full length of the deer and the deer dropped in it's tracks. I can't imagine a better set up for short range hunting of anything.

December 28, 2002, 03:59 PM
I shoot a rifled Winchester 1300. I tried a bunch of differtent sabot slugs and wound up with the Federal Supreme 2-3/4 inchers. They consistantly shoot a nice tight group, 3 inches high, at 70 yards.

I like the Barnes expanders the best for hunting. I have found that with 12 gauge slugs shot placement (on whitetails)is critical if you worry about meat damage. The 12 really opens them up.

December 28, 2002, 08:46 PM
It's been said, but you have to test different brands in your gun. My Mossberg 500 loved the original Remington copper solids, but wouldn't group worth beans with the redesigned version (I understand there is a third incarnation of this slug that I now have to test). This past season I shot Federal Premium Barnes Expanders, which grouped adquately, but nowhere near as nicely as the original Remingtons. All this, of course, through a fully rifled barrel.

I also keep several boxes of Remington Sluggers around for my 18.5" smoothbore barrel. This is the one that gets carried in the brush. But even these will group well at 50 yards.

December 29, 2002, 07:38 PM
I've got Hastings fully rifled, cantilevered barrels on three guns, a 12 GA Browning BPS, a 20 GA Remington 1100,and a 20 GA Remington Wingmaster. They all shoot great using Lightfields.

I had the BPS first and tried 5 different makes of sabots, settling on the Lightfield. I tried the new winchesters that came out the last two years. Those velocities may be nice, but killed my groups and my shoulder. Lightfields are 100% with me so far, no misses, all one shot kills.

December 29, 2002, 09:01 PM
The last I checked the standard 835 barrels were backbored. On the barrel there is a warning "Not For Slug Use" or something similar. I do believe that they make a non backbored barrel for the 835 but it is in the 3" chamber and not 3 1/2".


Thanks for the warning, For any who read this and didn't see my post on TFL or FFF,

MY new 835 is the buck n tom special,

There is a rifled slug barrel with a cantilever scope mount


a smoothbore barrel with an extra full turkey choke. (And as RED mentions, the regular barrel IS marked NOT FOR SLUGS...)

Thanks for the warning, I have a barrel for slugs and a barrel for shot, but for anyone else reading this, I am NOT going to shoot slugs thru a barrel marked otherwise.

Hope this clears up any misconceptions. (And when I get to shoot it I will post results.)

Happy new years!

December 30, 2002, 01:40 AM
There is a rifled slug barrel with a cantilever scope mount

Just curious, are the rifled slug barrels chambered for 3 1/2" or standard 3"?

But then I would be afraid to shoot 3 1/2 slugs. Heck I'm not even sure there is such a monster.

Good Shooting

December 30, 2002, 10:05 PM
C'mon Red,

Go for the gusto!

the slugster barrel is marked

"chambered for 2 3/4, 3 & 3 1/2 in. shells"
"-12 ga. - 24 in rifled bore"

I have shot 3 in slugs thru my other shotgun (smooth bore),
Seemed remarkably similar to the 2 3/4 to me. But I don't shoot 100 at a time...

I intend to visit a limbsaver recoil pad and try the 2 3/4 and 3 in shells first. 3 1/2 will wait... and wait.... and maybe wait some more. My uncle has a weaver 2.5 scope that has a very large FOV, I am going to see what I can find, then shooting will commence, maybe by the end of May.


January 3, 2003, 08:20 AM
My wife and I both use the interchangeable barrel NEF single shots in 20 guage for one area we hunt. The others are rifle areas.

For deer in slug country we have the rifled barrel "Tracker" barrels that I had drilled and tapped for a scope rail. We both have 1-3x20mm Weaver scope on these barrels

Her barrel likes the Federal Premium Hybrid saboted slug. The accuracy is fantastic, performance is so-so. The hour glass shaped slugs have not expanded in any deer she has shot with these slugs. Trailing has been mandatory with everyone. But they are accurate.

My gun has a preference for the Winchester Supreme Partition Gold Saboted Slug, but will not shoot as accurately as hers with any of the saboted rounds. Performance on deer is great with this load.

I had shot some Foster style slugs in the wifes gun to sight it in and leaded the barrel up so much it took me a day to "get the lead out" Never again.-------------Chainsaw

January 3, 2003, 06:57 PM
I have a Mossberg 500 with rifle barrel that loves Remington Copper Solids. They shoot stright and knock down deer!

December 1, 2006, 12:11 AM
I just puirchased a remington 870 express with the standard 28" modified rem choke barel. Can I shoot slugs and sabots from this gun without damaging the choke/barrel?

December 1, 2006, 01:12 AM
tom, i have the same gun, but just to be safe I bought an improved cylinder choke tube, and it shoots slugs fine with no damage. I also have a Winchester 1200 with a modified choke, and I have shot dozens of slugs through it with no problems.

December 1, 2006, 04:09 AM
You cannot (accurately) fire sabots out of this bbl, and it would be best to get a cylinder choke (wide open) for the rifled slugs. Also check your local game laws, some states require adjustable sights on a slug gun. Best of Luck.

December 1, 2006, 03:59 PM
Don't Use the sabots in a smoothbore. In fact - I did a whole bunch of testing this Summer and I'm now wondering why I spent so much money on a fully rifled barrel and sabot slugs.

Box of 5 Federal Premium Sabots = $11.00
"" "" TruBall or PowerShok = $3.25

My 12 ga. Winchester 1300 smoothbore shoots a good 3-shot 6" group at 100 yards with the Federal Tru-Ball slugs (PB127RS). The PowerShok slugs shoot just about the same. I'm pretty sure I can shoot a better group with practice.

Go here to get a ballistics chart and comparison for Federal Slugs (

December 6, 2006, 02:55 PM
NEF Tracker II 12 guage rifled barrel - 3" Activ slugs (No longer made, but I've stocked up on them)

Mossberg 9200 autoloader, 24" rifled slug barrel (no longer made, found it in a now out of business hole in the wall gun shop, the buttstock has the nicest wood I've ever seen on a Mossberg) - Best load - 2-3/4 Winchester Partition Supremes, also shoots 3" Brenneke Gold well, but even with rear sight at lowest position shoots 3" high at 100 yards. Also does well with my roll your own lyman mold sabot loads using standard wad as the sabot. My wife likes to use it with the Brenneke 2-3/4 KO slugs (and they're cheap, too)

Mossberg 695 bolt action 12 guage rifled barrel - I used the Lightfield EXPs in 3" until Winchester introduced the 12 guage partition in 3". The Winchester 2-3/4 partition loads stunk. The first Hornady loads stunk. All editions of Rem copper solids stunk. It also shoots the Brenneke gold 3" and Brenneke 2-3/4 KO well. The KO slug is $1.99 for a box of 5, so I can practice with it. It also shoots the hand loaded lyman sabot loads well, but only for about 5-10 shots and then the wads used for a sabot really gum up the rifling.

December 7, 2006, 12:07 AM
i sighted in my 1100 20 gauge with :what: remington sluggers (smoothbore double bead sights) as a backup gun to the mossberg 500 12 gauge that i borrowed from a friend. i had my father come with me one day and let him use the 12 gauge and i used the 20 gauge that grouped a modest 7 inch group at 50 yards and 6 inches to the right:cuss: :cuss: i was all worried that i would have to get the deer close to make a clean shot. well lucky me, i had a small doe run up from behind my stand, and i yelled at it to stop at about 12 yards. the thing stopped dead and i hit it in the vitals. it sure didnt go far. although it was an extremely close shot, i was still amazed at the size of the whole it made, i not only found a blood trail(of about 5 yards), but i found the remains of the stomach coming out of the whole. i was shocked at what the little 20 gauge slug did to the poor thing.

December 7, 2006, 05:39 PM
I've gotten a few deer with a 20 gauge, and I believe the Rottweil Brenekke was the load for all. Works very well.

Yuper's - they fly out of my smoothbore very well and knock 'em down.
Unfortunatly they seem to have also flown off the shelves as well. On my last box.

December 8, 2006, 12:32 PM
As others have mentioned, try a few different ones.

Having said that, I have always gotten good results (in bothe 20 gauge and 12 guage for the Brenneke skugs.

December 31, 2006, 03:27 AM
kind of a old thread but i wanted to add my input

my 870 special purpose with 23inch cantillever mount heavy contour barrel shoots Winchester supreme Platinum tips. 400 grains at 1700fps, but i never chrono'd it.

i shot one deer so far and it was thru the top of the heart at like 30-35 yards. deer went about 10-15 yards and slid down the snowy hill another 5-10. lol complete pass thru but i was expecting that.

groups seem to be around if not just under 2 inches at 100 yards thru my 3x9 bushnell scope. this gun is accurate and those loads provide great velocity/energy and penetration

however last year they were 11 bucks a box or so. now they are around 15-16, not sure why the sudden increase in price. these top end sabot slugs are gettin expensive for 5 shells. I'm not forced to use a shotgun, i just like it alot. but at this rate, i might go back to using a rifle...either my 6mm, my 6.5mm, or my 35 whelen.:)

January 15, 2007, 09:51 PM
I got it straight from H&R (makers of the NEF guns) that we cannot drill and tap shotgun receivers. Called this year cause I wanted to get my brother a scope mount for his 12 ga slug gun. They said the barrels are too thin and that only silver-soldered mounts are OK.
As far as trying different brands go, I found out the hard way (three shots at bow range and the deer walked away bemusedly) that Federal Expanders group a full foot lower at 50 yards than do Winchesters out of my gun. The old style Winchester lead sabot in 2 3/4 (looks like a hex head recess in the nose of the projectile) works best in my rifled 870. One warning though: I shot a doe Friday directly under my tree stand. She hit the ground like a ton of lead, but didn't die until I cut her throat about a half hour later. The soft lead slugs grenade when encountering bone at near muzzle velocity, and don't penetrate as you'd expect. It never got past her spine.

January 19, 2007, 12:28 AM
Check here:

American Slug Shooting Association (

People there seemed to be high on Hastings slugs for rifled barrels. I had great luck with Remington and Winchester cheap Foster slugs with a 20" IC bbl on my 870, then decided to get fancy and get a rifled bbl and try sabots. Many dollars later, I'm thinking of going back to the cheapies.:banghead:

January 20, 2007, 03:43 PM
smoothie mossberg loves federal truballs,1.5 inches @ 75yds.My 12 gauge ultra slug hunter will shoot lightfields like a laser,can touch holes @ 125 yds.

January 20, 2007, 06:35 PM
My Mossberg 500 put its first two shots- 3" Magnum Remington slugs- into touching holes at 25 yards from offhand. (Byron Q on the trigger.)

I do think good sights play an important part. My 500 wears a nice big ghost ring atop my cylinder bore barrel.


December 3, 2009, 01:50 PM
i have a Remington 870 Express i am going deer hunting tmw for the first time this year. last year i went hunting with my Winchester model 70 in .243 WSSM i sold it for a Bushmaster so i have to hunt with my shotgun this year, i bought 2 boxes of Remington Sluggers rifled slugs - i was told by the manufacturer to only use Remington slugs for the 870 they said they work the best with that gun with modified choke.

December 3, 2009, 05:36 PM
My son took this nice buck last year with a 2-” 20 ga Remington Buckhammer. The rig is a 20 ga Rem 870 “Youth” Express shotgun, 21” ribbed smooth bore barrel, Cation extended rifled choke, B-Square scope base and 2.5x scope, Brownells leather cheek pad to raise the comb (in the photo you can see the cardboard and duct tape underneath it, to raise it even a bit more), and a Uncle Mike 1-1/4” nylon sling & studs

This rig would not shoot discarding sabots, like the Rem Copper Solids, worth a darn. Keyholed terribly, 20” groups at 50 yds. Switched to the non-discarding sabot Buckhammers and groups tightened up to about 3” at 100 yds.

The Buckhammers hit like a freight train, make a full 20 gauge hole, decent ballistics out to 125 yds, and the accuracy is excellent. Price is about $7 per box of five. Twice the price of simple rifled slugs, but half the price of the more fancy sabot slugs.

We’ll be using the same when we go this year. :)

December 3, 2009, 10:39 PM
I started with the Remington Foster type, in smoothbore single shot Savage .12 ga.
Then Mossberg 500 .12 with Federal 3" Sabots, rifled slug barrel....they were solid sabots
that cut like hot butter through deer an they ran for ever...they were 9.00 a box back
around 1988...went with 2 3/4" Brenekke's Foster type an really liked them..then later
tried the Winchester Super X Foster type, got great accuracy at 100 yds. And they seem
to have the power of the Brenekke's...last buck I hit at 40 yds. dropped him dead on the spot. An those Winchesters were 10 yrs. old.....guess they were still good.

December 4, 2009, 07:46 AM
I use what the local gun store stocks the most of, and luckily, they work well in my gun.

Winchester Super-X (2-3/4"); 1 ounce Foster at 1600 feet per second.

They're really good for soft and squishy things (seriously, they expand to like twice their size, and considering they start off at 18.5mm...).

I've been meaning to try their 3" version, but all it seems to add is another 150 feet per second, which doesn't seem enough to bother with if the 2-3/4" ones work well.

Mike U.
December 5, 2009, 12:05 AM
Necrothreadia, zombie-thread, undead thread, dawn of the deadthread.

Why not just start a new thread instead? 'Nuff said?

Tim the student
December 5, 2009, 12:40 AM
Holy old thread Batman!

Anyways, I have also heard good things about the Buckhammers Kernel. Your son got a nice deer with them.

December 5, 2009, 02:29 PM
Expansion is not the big issue with slugs, but accuracy is. About a year or so ago Outdoor Life magazine had a big article about slug accuracy by Jim Carmichael. He tested just about every slug on the market and gave a frank and honest report on them. It's the best and most inclusive investigation of slug accuracy I've ever seen, definately worth looking up.

Tim the student
December 5, 2009, 02:43 PM
Expansion is not the big issue with slugs, but accuracy is. About a year or so ago Outdoor Life magazine had a big article about slug accuracy by Jim Carmichael. He tested just about every slug on the market and gave a frank and honest report on them. It's the best and most inclusive investigation of slug accuracy I've ever seen, definately worth looking up.

I read that, and it is good reading.

However, IMO you still need to figure out what is most accurate in your own gun.

December 9, 2009, 12:10 PM
Oldie, but goodie. Took a nice 8-point this year with same gun I posted about "earlier" (... uh, seven YEARS ago ...), shooting 1 oz. Federal Barnes Expanders. Never did re-try the Remington solids!

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