Dave McCracken, others, your opinions please for 870 slug barrel


December 31, 2002, 11:49 AM
Hey Ya'll,

I've almost accumulated enough cabelas visa club points to get a slug barrel for my 870 Express! :D :D (been saving 'em for months)

Anyway, I looked at the Remington factory replacement 12EXP Deer Rifle Sights, which is 20" or 21" and Mossberg's 870 exp replacement slug barrel which is 24." Both are fully rifled IIRC.

Will 3 inches make that much of a difference in velocity and accuracy? What about quality? I expect both brands will be well made, but have no experience with either when it comes to slug barrels, only field barrels for bird hunting. This 870 is my all-around go-to, workaholic shotgun and I want to add the slug capability to its resume'

humbly awaiting your sage advice....

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December 31, 2002, 12:07 PM
The length will make NO difference in accuracy. I would suspect that it will only make a very small difference in velocity also, and no deer or whatever you shoot will know the difference. Most slug barrels are in the 21" range, so the ammo is loaded to get most if not all of its velocity in that length. Slug barrels are heavy, so I would lean toward the shorter lengths. The sight radius is plenty long for the effective range of slugs on even an 18" barrel.

I would also bet that you could take 10 of each barrel and the most accurate 3 would be one of each type from each maker. In other words it will be luck of the draw as to which will be the most accurate. I only know of one Mossberg made slug barrel owned by my shooting buddies and it is darn accurate. The Mossberg branded slug guns are pretty respected around here for accuracy as well, leading me to believe that their barrel quality is good. The Remington barrels do well too, but the serious slug shooters I know ALL shoot Hastings barrels. Hastings is said to be the best available by the guys I know that should know what is the best.

On another note, I have seen with my own two eyes a remington 20" (or so, not sure the exact length) smoothbore rifle sighted rem-choke barrel with a remington rifled choke tube put 5 slugs in 3 inches at 100 yards when shot from an 11-87. I was impressed.

December 31, 2002, 12:07 PM
I also have a question that fits in here. Do the extra long rifled choke tubes work well? At all? Will they stabalize a sabot good enough to hunt deer at 100-150 yds? Or are they a waste of money? Anyone with experience please give a shout.

December 31, 2002, 03:39 PM
HSMITH covered much of what you asked, I will try to delve (is that a word??) into the rifled vs. smoothbore issue.

A rifled barrel, shooting SABOT slugs, is a very effective, accurate tool out to over 100 yards. So accurate, in fact, that I would suggest optics on the gun (red dot or low powered scope). The shotgun performance/accuracy reaches centerfire rifle with a rifled barrel. Now the cons of a rifled barrel. They will only shoot SABOT slugs well. Sabot slugs are expensive, and several different brands/types and lengths need to be tested out of your barrel to find what is suitable for your needs. I realize that FORSTER type slugs can be fired from a rifled barrel, but I certainly wouldn't suggest it because in my limited experience, (Mossy 9200 w/ fully rifled barrel) barrel leading gets severe with just a few round fired, accuracy deteriorates and cleaning the barrel becomes a chore.

Next choice is smooth-bore barrel. They can be had with interchangable choke tubes for more versatility. Accuracy can be quite good out to 100 yds. As with any barrel, different ammo must be tested to see what works best. IMO, the smooth-bored barrel, with either rifle sights (more versatile) or scope mount makes a great multi-use barrel, capable of hunting large game and turkey, and also letsa the gun be effectively used to defensive purposes. For economy's sake, a rifle-sighted, fixed choke smoothbore would be a good choice as well.

December 31, 2002, 06:04 PM
I would also cast my vote for a rifle-sighted 20" smooth bore, improved cylinder actually.
I use this type of barrel on all my 870's. I have a few and they have been modified to different degrees. All have had the forcing cone lengthened. One is back-bored and one was sent to Vang.
They all shoot slugs well with the Vang being the most accurate. The POC on that one make it practically Modified.
I put Express Sights (formerly Ashley Outdoors) on two of them and they are quite nice.
Non-sabot slugs come in a variety of flavors and are cheap.
From what I've read, a rifled barrel does not pattern shot very well (I do not own one) and slugs are pricey.
Good luck,

Dave McCracken
January 1, 2003, 09:20 AM
The guys gave good info, let me hopefully add to this....

Rifled bbls are good for Sabot slugs, period. The do very well at what they do, but flexibility is quite limited.

A rifle sighted smmoothbore bbl equipped with tubes is ready for anything. My "Deer" has the 20" RS bbl,forcing cone lengthened, the rear sight's been removed and a peep installed. With the rifled tube in, groups are slightly more than 4" at 100 yards with the KO Brenneke, and a simple tube and ammo change has me ready for "Serious" use, or game from turkey to squirrels.

If your eyes work well with open sights, you may even be able to wingshoot with the thing.

If your deer hunting gives you mostly close shot opportunities,go with the smoothbore for its versatility. If you need to reach out a bit to hit them, get the full rifled bbl. Test ammo for each to find the best grouper.


January 1, 2003, 08:54 PM
This year was my first experience hunting with a rifled slug barrel. I had previously used traditional barrels for all of my slug shooting. I even used a standard bead for all my shooting.

Now I have an 870 Express Mag with a fully rifled barrel topped with a Bushnell Elite 3200 3x9 40mm scope and I couldn't be happier. With Winchester Super X/BRI Sabot slugs it allowed me to take a deer this year at a range that I wouldn't even think about with a standard shotgun.

I got really lucky and my shotgun loved the Win/BRIs the first time I tried them. Perhaps the only downfault is that the Winchester Sabots are rather anemic, 1oz @1350fps when compared to other sabot and rifled slugs. Still, at 100 yards and under I have plenty of energy and can hold dead on and expect a hit.

Good Shooting

January 2, 2003, 09:55 AM
Thanks for your input, gentlemen. I've been offline since Tuesday pm, and just had the chance to check this thread this morning.

I had considered getting a smoothbore with sights and Rem-choke for greater versatility, but then started leaning toward the fully rifled for the best accuracy. Now I'm back to the smoothbore. Didn't realize non-saboted slugs could be problemmatic in full rifled barrel. The areas I will be hunting with it have max ranges of 80 to 110 yards, and I'd prefer not restricting myself to shooting only sabots with it; 4" groups @ 100 yds is acceptable accuracy for me. If I need better, I have my rifle. Also, I already have an assortment of choke tubes for my 28" vent rib barrel.

So, it appears that I'll be adding the smoothbore DRS barrel, with the rifled choke tube. Since deer season closed here yesterday, I now will have eight months to test and find the best load for the barrel before next season. (Yep, season here lasts 4 months)

Thanks, again. I knew I could get good, reliable information to make an informed decision from here.

And thanks to Oleg, Dave, Sam, and the rest of the THR staff for their efforts and commitment to this board. You are providing an incredibly valuable resource for the hunting and shooting "community" and, for that, I thank you. Even if I don't talk much, I'm glad I can still hang around and listen. Where else can one glean knowlegde from the experience and perspective of those all across our United States and beyond?

Dave McCracken
January 2, 2003, 07:31 PM
You're welcome, JB. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say it's a pleasure putting the word out..

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