Could someone school me on slugs and rifled barrels?


November 28, 2010, 08:23 PM
Hey guys. Sorry, but i'm a shotgun newbie, and though i have learned quite a bit about different types of shot and such, i know pretty much nothing about slugs...and what kinds work with what barrels

i know i have heard of rifled slugs and sabot slugs; which is meant for a rifled barrel and which is meant for a smoothe barrel?

What happens if i shoot a rifled slug through a rifled barrel? or a sabot slug through a smoothe barrel? are those the correct match-ups?

yep, im ignorant, but i dont wanna stay that way :o

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November 28, 2010, 09:47 PM
Rifled slugs are for smoothbores. Sabots are for rifled barrels.

November 28, 2010, 09:59 PM
Both types of "slugs" can be fired through a rifled barrel.
The sabot will frequently not stabilise well through a smoothbore & for best results should be used only in a rifled bore. Sabots CAN stabilise without rifling, accuracy when they do will usually not be equal to shooting with rifling.

Sabots were designed to extend distance & accuracy by imparting spin. They are actually more aerodynamically efficient bullets in most cases, not slugs, and as such won't have the weight & generally not the penetration of a heavier Brenneke slug. Once the sabot has dropped off on exiting the muzzle, the bullet diameter is markedly smaller than the bore diameter.

Foster slugs are usually hollow, and lighter in weight than a more solid design slug.
They are also much softer & deform on impact with heavy bone much easier.

If you shoot a rifled slug through a rifled bore, it'll gain spin & CAN (depending on the gun) increase accuracy over using the same slug in a non-rifled barrel.
If you shoot a saboted round through a smoothbore, some brands will keyhole & strike a target sideways, some will fly nose-on & strike nose first.
I've found that even when they keyhole, accuracy at 50 yards can still be quite good.


November 28, 2010, 11:59 PM
will shooting shot through a rifled barrel cause any sort of damage?

November 29, 2010, 01:23 AM
Damage, no.

It'll spin your pattern into a large doughnut with little coverage in the center because the shot column will be rotating when it comes out & centrifugal force will expand it rapidly.

It'll also build up a certain amount of plastic wad material in the rifling. How much depends on how many rounds you shoot through it.
If you shoot shells that do not have the shot enclosed in a wad cup and where the shot contacts the rifling, you'll also create some lead buildup in the bore.


November 29, 2010, 06:40 PM
will shooting shot through a rifled barrel cause any sort of damage?

Most automatically says no, but they are probably thinking of standard lead shot, and the fact that there is probably not widespread experience doing so because the patterns are so horrible.
I would venture that the steel shot required for a significant portion of shot hunting would drastically shorten the life of a rifled barrel. A lot of small hard pieces of steel would be directly impacting a lot of rifling. It may or may not eventually lead to small chips in the rifling, but even if it did not it would certainly slowly remove the rifling.
Even with a shot cup some shot can be ahead of it directly impacting the rifling, and as the rifling bites into the shot cup it will touch steel pellets still in the shot cup grinding steel against steel.
Steel or other hard metal bullets in rifles and rifled handguns significantly reduce barrel life and destroy rifling. That is why they are typically only used for cores or have a significant layer of some softer metal or something like teflon that is at least the thickness of the rifling it is intended to encounter.
I do not think a shotcup will reliably perform that role with loose shot, nor be thick enough to prevent all contact of shot with rifling.

However since rifled barrels create doughnut shaped patterns that are horrible for any type of shot density in hunting, I imagine hunters loading rifled barrels with steel shot is a very rare thing.
Even an unchoked cylinder bore barrel is rare in the most common bird hunting (though fine in thick brush where the range would be close), and a rifled barrel is many times worse than that.
You won't hit what you are aiming at with a rifled barrel very much as the pattern density is minimal in the center and doughnuts, and the centrifugal force pulling the shot outwards will inhumanely wound things around it in a relatively uncontrolled manner.

November 29, 2010, 07:15 PM
Steel shot will wear rifling faster than lead, IF it makes contact with the rifling, but I seriously doubt anybody's done enough of it to make any difference.
10, 20, or 30 rounds shouldn't do much.

Also, the rifling will not cut through a shot cup to touch any pellets inside it.


November 29, 2010, 07:37 PM
As for slug types:

You have your foster slugs and brenneke style slugs (there is a brenneke brand but not all of the brenneke brand or the brenneke style slugs) and your sabot slugs.
There is also some special purpose slugs like sintered metal slugs for breaching and some with a harder metal button on top for added penetration.
As well as some hardened or jacketed full bore diameter slugs for better big or dangerous game hunting/protection with added penetration from a shotgun, but these are rarely sold directly to the public for liability reasons (as they will lodge in forcing cones or create an obstruction in choked barrels damaging or blowing up the gun if used in the wrong barrel.)

Foster and brenneke style are also referred to as "rifled" because they will often have "rifling" on the slug. The main purpose of this "rifling" is to provide the correct overall diameter but still have minimal resistance in being swagged down to a smaller diameter in choked barrels.
That "rifling" can readily be deformed, but rarely imparts any significant spin.
Foster slugs work by having most of their weight forward and being hollow in the back. This keeps the front pointed forward like a badminton shuttlecock.
Brenneke work similar but instead of being hollow in the rear they are solid and have a lighter wad material or a tail attached to the rear.
This removes any requirement for spin stabilization to remain relatively accurate.
Both designs are very unaerodynamic with a low ballistic coefficient and rapidly lose velocity to drag so are limited to relatively short ranges of ~100 yards to remain hard hitting stoppers.
Rifled slugs are meant for non-rifled barrels.

Sabot slugs are sub bore diameter projectiles often a bullet in a larger sabot or shoe. Typical shotgun slugs as described previously are unaerodynamic but do not require spin stabilization. A bullet does, or it wobbles or tumbles and becomes extremely inaccurate.
So these need rifled barrels.
The rifled barrel engages or bites into the sabot, imparts a spin, and this stabilizes the bullet.
The sabot then falls off after it exits the barrel.
Because this allows far more aerodynamic bullet shapes the projectile has much less drag and loses velocity much slower. This extends the accurate killing range much further.
It also takes less pressure to reach the same velocity a rifle of the actual bullet's diameter would require because the sabot gives a much wider surface area to apply pressure to inside the barrel.
Essentially turning the shotgun into a low pressure rifle firing bullets instead of slugs.

However the sabot slug's bullet while at higher velocity than a typical slug is still at relatively low velocity for a rifle bullet.
Since typically most of a shotgun's energy and killing power comes from high payload, and most of a rifle's energy and killing power comes from velocity a relatively low velocity moderate payload rifle that such a rifled shotgun with sabot becomes is far from ideal.
The primary benefit is longer range from the ability to use a more aerodynamic shape. From a "shotgun" as required by some state laws for hunting.
A higher payload traditional slug is better up close at damaging more tissue, and a real rifle better at accurately knocking them down at range.

November 29, 2010, 07:53 PM
thank you very much zoogster. that was just the info i needed and nothing else.

much appreciated man, much appreciated

November 29, 2010, 08:25 PM
I was just about to ask a similar question as the OP. To verify, if I want to use rifled slugs in my rifled barrel, it will be safe and produce solid results (accurate), right? What kind of range could I get out of a 12 gauge 24" rifled barrel with rifled slugs? I can use sabots, but they're much more expensive around here, and if I can get satisfactory results from rifled slugs and a rifled barrel, I'll take it. So what's the deal?

November 30, 2010, 03:51 PM
If you have a rifle sighted slug barrel for a remington 870 or Mossberg pump that's set up for choke tubes you can buy and install a choke tube with rifling in it. This is cheaper than buying a whole new rifled slug barrel and doesn't sacrifice any versatility as far as shooting buckshot out of the same shotgun barrel.

November 30, 2010, 07:38 PM
To repeat: Yes it's "safe" to use rifled slugs in a rifled bore, why would it not be?

Accuracy depends on your individual gun mating with a projectile it likes, the type of sights you have (bead, rifle sights, scope), and your own ability.

Range will be dependent on the sights, too.
The slug will arc more, the saboted bullet will shoot flatter.
100 yards with a good load and decent sights should be very do-able, beyond that it can be iffy. Some can shoot their combination with good results at 150 yards.

Rifled slugs have been explained here, what's the "deal" you're looking for?

November 30, 2010, 07:44 PM
I apologize for coming across as more ignorant to the subject than I actually am; I understand the ballistic differences of slugs and sabot slugs, and I get all the peripheral factors of sights and such. What I am asking is, how much more accurate range do you suspect I can gain with a rifled barrel and rifled slug, vs. a smooth barrel and rifled slug? I will be using an EOTech 511, mounted on a Mossberg 5500 with a 24" fully rifled slug barrel. I realize sabots will shoot much flatter because of their better ballistic coefficient, but I want to know the boundaries of accuracy using just rifled slugs with my 24" rifled barrel? Thanks a lot :-)

November 30, 2010, 07:55 PM
No need to apologize.
How much more accurate your combo would be over using an identical Foster slug in a comparable smoothbore is hard to answer.

People post occasionally about 4 inches with slugs at 100 yards with smoothbores (some are capable of surprising accuracy), but I can't get that out of any of mine.

Your setup should AT LEAST give you that, which is decent hunting accuracy, and could easily do better with the right load.
You'd need to do some testing, in which case YOU could come back here & tell US the answers. :)

Remember the trajectory will be relatively high, and that can change your POI markedly at varying distances. You'd need to experiment some with holdover as part of your accuracy envelope.

November 30, 2010, 08:09 PM
Sounds good! I'll see what I can come up later this week, then report back. Thanks for the ideas.

November 30, 2010, 08:16 PM
I'd be interested in seeing your results.
Again- try more than one slug brand, and you may find you get better results with one of the Brennekes.


December 1, 2010, 01:08 PM
RE: shot damage to rifled bore...

The Rossi Circuit judge can come with a rifled barrel with removeable straight choke for shot, overbore thread protector for .45 ammo...

While I don't really know why you'd want to spin your shot column, I doubt it's going to hurt anything.

December 1, 2010, 03:25 PM
You don't want to spin your shot column, it's just the result of shooting shot through a rifled bore.

June 6, 2011, 09:16 PM
I know the thread's a bit long in the tooth, but I did want to throw this in: some of the people who shoot at my club report that if they use rifled slugs in a rifled barrel, they get lots of lead buildup. Since that's a chore to remove, they avoid the practice. They don't feel they get improved accuracy, at least not enough to make the lead clean-out worthwhile.

June 7, 2011, 10:05 AM
i shoot hornady sabots and wolf brand rifled slugs through my shotgun with no problems

my shotgun is a smooth bore side by side remington spartan with interchangeable choke tubes

the hornadys are expensive compared to the wolf slugs and similar centurian slugs, and for a smooth bore gun, are not as accurate as the cheaper rifle slugs, at the same time, i have never had an accuracy problem when using a smooth bore shotgun, and could not justify buying another shotgun so i could have a rifled barrel

June 7, 2011, 12:30 PM

WARNING!! 12 gauge slugs kick real bad.

But LimbSaver slip on pad takes the painful jab out of the shot. Still recoils heavily but won't hurt you.


June 7, 2011, 12:31 PM
This is a Kansas boy here, we don't shoot slugs that much out here. But I thought the term rifled slug refered more to the fins on the outside of the Foster type slug,put there with the hope it would impart some spin, and some help with accuracy. I kind of had the idea Rifling in this case was a marketing gimmick for the shells. Not a mechanical function of the barrel, but an airflow dynamic long after it left the barrel.

I would guess rifling in a shotgun barrel, would depend on bearing surface, twist rate, velocity and wether the projectile stripped or jumped the rifling. Is there the slightest chance the grooves on a foster type slug, could match the rifling in the barrel? Wouldn't it deform to a somewhat irregular shape?

I took it that foster type slugs were best answer to smooth bore.

Sabot/spool type if you had an actual rifled barrel.

In order to take best advantage of the rifling. Like the plastic case/sabot worked kind of like the patch in roundball black powder rifle. Gripped the rifling, and protected the projectile.

June 7, 2011, 12:53 PM
Rifling, on any slug Foster or Brenneke, is there to swage down through a choke & was never intended to add spin.

There's no chance whatever a slug's rifling can match a barrel's rifling.

And, lead buildup in shotgun rifling is a function of the type of slug and the sharpness of the bore's rifling.
It will build up to at least some degree eventually if you keep firing a bunch without cleaning, but more likely to happen with soft hollow Fosters than harder solid Brennekes with wads.

Since slugs are not a recreational pasttime for most of us, I've not found leading to be a problem. Shoot a few in your rifled bore for familiarization, zeroing, or practice, brush out the bore, use a good cleaning fluid designed for shotgun bores (Brownells has several), and repeat as necessary if you use slugs in the field.

Most slug use is either for hunting or self protection, which doesn't require 100-round shooting sessions.


November 24, 2012, 04:14 AM
i got mossberg 20g 24in rifled bore barrels can i run sabot slugs out this yes or no

November 24, 2012, 08:00 AM

November 24, 2012, 01:29 PM
can somone tell me how fast a 20g riffled slug comes out of the barrle and how far i can shot with a riffled barrle i got rem riffled slug will the hurt my riffled barrel if i use in my gun.

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