Smoothbore - VS - Rifled barrels for slugs.


December 4, 2010, 09:43 PM
I have a Mossberg 500 and I've been looking for a rifled slug barrel but I got thinking today...if I get that rifled barrel, I have to use expensive sabot slugs. But, I can use a smoothbore barrel and use standard slugs. I'm guessing the rifled barrels are far more accurate but I may be wrong so...the question is, what's the difference? Can I use my 26 inch vent rib full choke barrel with a regular slug? Is there a smoothbore slug barrel? Is it worth the extra $$ for the rifled barrel?

What's it for? Well, I may go hog hunting with it...maybe. It'll definately be a range barrel. Nothing like huge holes in the targets at 100 yards to bring a smile to a kids face.

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December 4, 2010, 09:53 PM
You can use either type of slug in either type of barrel, you'll get better accuracy with a standard rifled slug in a rifled bore.

Fred Fuller
December 4, 2010, 09:56 PM
More depends on the shooter than on the hardware most of the time. Try a few different brands of rifled slugs on paper and see how they do for you. I've had good results with every shotgun I've used Brenneke KOs in, and they can be found pretty inexpensively from time to time.

Hint- don't bench rest a shotgun with slugs at the range like you would a rifle. Stand up and use a padded rest- your shoulder will thank you. And don't overdo it at any one session- developing a flinch won't help the situation.


December 4, 2010, 11:06 PM
I, too, have a Mossy 500. I have done a ton of reading about shotguns before I bought it, and found the following PDF from Remington very helpful.

In it, they state that saboted slugs are extraordinarily accurate in a rifled slug barrel; and that rifled slugs should be fired from a smoothbore barrel. Considering how long they've been in business, I would trust that much information.

Just my feedback on your question. :)

December 4, 2010, 11:55 PM
Regardless of how long Remington has been in business, people have been shooting rifled slugs through rifled bores with good results for decades.
The SWAT team at the PD I retired from had a rifled barrel on an 870 with scope set up as a glassbreaker in support of a sniper for hostage situations.
They can be quite accurate.

I've put rifled slugs through rifled bores & gotten decent accuracy.
On the other hand, I've also put sabots through smoothbores with decent accuracy. :)

Pete D.
December 5, 2010, 06:44 AM
I was shooting both saboted and standard rifled slugs out of a rifled SG barrel on Friday. The rifled slugs shot very well at 100 yards. At least as well as the saboted rounds.
You can use either type of slug in either type of barrel,
You can but many, maybe most, of the saboted slugs are not going to shoot well without spin stabilization.
The Brenneke K.O. is a great choice.
The recommendation to practice "off the bench" is a good one.....once you have a sense where the slugs are going.

December 5, 2010, 07:41 AM
Depends on how much you plan to use it. I hunt with rifles, but have played around with regular slugs from a 20" smoothbore slug barrel at 100 yards. I can get 3-4" groups and feel I could use the gun successfully at that range. I doubt If I will ever actually use it however and the added expense is not worth it to me.

If I hunted a lot and lived in a shotgun only area I'd go ahead and get the rifled barrel. Never actually used one, but understand that with sabot slugs they offer realistic 200 yard accuracy.

December 5, 2010, 09:32 AM
I've read that a lot of European slugs for smoothbore guns are exceptionally accurate within their intended ranges. In many European countries, a smooth bore shotgun is the only arm allowed for hunting, so necessity being the mother of invention, they improved the technology. Rifling is not the only way to stabilize a projectile.

Dupleks slugs look interesting and they are on my "to test' list

I have experimented with these, but my tests were only for terminal performance and not accuracy. My supply was limited and I had to come up with a load from scratch as all existing data was for powders not widely available in the US.

December 5, 2010, 01:43 PM
I said "can". :)
In my experience with a handfull of smoothbores & sabots, the sabots CAN fly true & offer decent accuracy within certain ranges. Some will do that, others will keyhole. Even in those that keyholed during tests, they still provided very nearly the same accuracy at 50 yards as those that did not keyhole. Three-shot groups were maybe an inch larger at most when keyholing than when not keyholing.

When they do keyhole (varies from load to load & barrel to barrel), obviously the bullet can't use the expansion built into it, but it still strikes sideways & imparts some serious damage going into a deer or whatever the target is.

There are fairly regular threads posted on gun forums asking which to shoot in what, and when the answer comes back as a dogmatic "Has to be rifled slugs for smoothbores & has to be sabots for rifled bores", I jump in & try to correct the statement. :)

It's BEST to use saboted rounds in a rifled barrel, but not an absolute.
Rifled Foster slugs & the Brennekes can be fired with sometimes surprising accuracy in either barrel- rifled or not.


December 5, 2010, 11:38 PM
Can I use my 26 inch vent rib full choke barrel with a regular slug?
I believe standard slugs work best with improved cylinder chokes over any other choke.
I've been contemplating this issue for some time now myself. I am not relegated to using a shotgun for deer hunting here in TN, but was when I lived on the eastern shore of MD. I had so-so results, a successful 100 yard shot was a gamble.
I've heard about alot of 20-gauge 870's making incredible shots at 150+ yards with standard slugs in smooth-bore barrels. I didn't believe it until I saw it myself, must be something to do with the weight or size or shape of the slug in that gauge.
A while back I bought a replacement 21" Hastings barrel with the rifle sights and screw-in rifle choke and got so-so results from it, I think I'll stick with the IC choke tube if I ever have to shoot slugs from it.

Pete D.
December 6, 2010, 06:54 AM
Denis: Thanks for that last comment. You've just added another "gotta try it and see" to my list of things to do at the range. At the cost per shot for sabots, I have avoided using them in smoothies; maybe I have something to learn.

Jason: I would love to get a few boxes of those Dupleks slugs. I found them at

December 6, 2010, 12:13 PM
In the shotgun world it's important to understand that you can run into all sorts of variations & vagaries.
Shotgun barrels, particularly with buckshot but also with slugs, can be ammo sensitive.
The Brenneke KO has been top dog in one smoothbore I've tested, the Remington BuckHammer in a couple others.
Fosters are usually not as accurate in my experience as the different Brenneke rounds.
Inside the range of Brenneke offerings, one may work better in one gun, another one may work better in a different gun.

Overall, in a rifled bore you SHOULD get better "long" range accuracy from the more aerodynamically efficient saboted bullets than the blunt-nosed lead slugs. But- you can easily run into a barrel that may do better with one particular slug than one particular saboted round.

If you're looking for best hunting results, don't be discouraged if one or two loads don't print tight enough, try several.
Costs a bit, but once you get the right combination of gun & load, you're there.


December 7, 2010, 12:25 PM
Foster style slugs in smoothbore, sabot's in rifled barrels. I grew up in Iowa, where we can only slug hunt, and from all that I've seen, this will provide you with the best results.

December 7, 2010, 01:17 PM
Not all sabot slugs are super expensive. Lightfields and the Remington Buckhammer non-discarding sabots are about half the costs of other sabot designs. Both hit like runaway cement trucks, and work well in shotguns with inexpensive rifled choke tubes (less than $30 bucks, most places).

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