Accurate Slug Shooting Made Easy

[ This guest post was written by Michigan Slugger ]

After 20 years of shooting about every brand of sabot slug out there, our group of four has 2 favorite slugs we shoot. So far the best we have found for accuracy and power with our 12 ga. slug guns is the Winchester Platinum Tip-1700 fps and the Remington Solid Copper, 1450 fps- all 2 3/4 inch shells. We use Remington 870, Browning BPS and Browning Gold shotguns shooting cantilevered rifled barrels only-1 in 28″ twist. 1 1/2- 2″ groups is the norm at 100 yds. 3-4″ groups at 150yds. are the norm.

These groups are shot with very little wind. Do not shoot in windy conditions because you will get inconclusive results and for the fact these shells are expensive! We sight in 2″ high at 50yd. , which will put these slugs at about 2″ high at 100 yd. 150 yd groups will be 2-4″ low. For 150 yd. zero sight in 2.5″ high at 100yd. Both these sabot slug brands shoot to about same point of aim

Most people should forget about 200 yd shots because of wind deflection , poor rest setup, and inability to judge distance. We shoot 3 shot groups because barrel heat will spread groups out after 3 shots. Shoot in weather below 60 degrees. Wait 10-15 minutes between groups. Recheck groups in cold weather when it gets close to deer season. Slugs can shoot a little lower in extreme cold.

Some of us are going to a custom 1-26″ twist barrel and then we should be able to shoot 1800-2000fps slugs more accurate. Only thing is , you get considerably more recoil which I detest. Our 1 in 28″ twist barrels are factory barrels made by Browning and Remington. Hastings barrels are 1 in 34″ twist. They seem to shoot Hastings and Lightfield slugs much better which are medium velocity and use a heavier slug . These slugs also use a special wad for stability down range.

Winchester Platinum Tip slugs are 400 gr. and Remington Copper Solids are 438 gr. You will get very good expansion at all ranges up to 150 yds. I feel you lose too much velocity and energy at 200 yds to get good knock down power . Use 1900-2000 fps. slugs for shooting beyond 150 yds. They will expand better and produce more energy at 200 yds. I particularly like Remington Solid Copper sabot slugs-1450 fps. in 2 3/4″ and 1550 fps. in 3″ slug. They have enough power and acceptable recoil. Also, they are faster on 2 nd. and 3 rd. shots because the barrel does not rise much after each shot.

Only shoot 1800-2000 fps slugs if you can tolerate recoil and muzzle blast, have a heavy gun, have a very good recoil pad, or heavy muzzle blast does not bother your ears. These high velocity slugs will cause your barrel to rise considerably. Wear ear protection on the bench for all slug shooting and especially for high velocity slugs.

Our preference for slugs comes from 4 people after hundreds of shots on the range over a period of 20 years. Other people may get different results with their guns. Every gun is different and you must shoot various sabot slugs out of your gun to determine the best for you. Start with the slugs I suggested as a starting point. Buy 1 box of Winchester Platinum Tips and 1 box of Remington Solid Copper and find which one shoots the best out of your barrel. If you are recoil intolerant , go with 2 3/4″ Rem. Solid Copper, providing this slug shoots good out of your gun. This shell is a pleasure to shoot.

Weaver Grand Slam and Bushnell Elite are two good scopes I can recommend for slug hunting. We have used these with good results. Some scopes are not meant for slug hunting and can not take the punishment. Try to use a premium scope and not the cheap ones. Cheap scopes will lead to erratic results with your groups. They will not hold point of impact. The crosshairs will shift after shooting, leading to frustration on your part because you will be unable to get decent groups. You will end up with fliers. You might as well have a good scope because you will pay for it in shell cost. If you are having problems grouping slugs, try a different scope before buying different brands of slugs. Check screw tightness and make sure you have good rings. Buy a premium scope that can take the punishment of slug shooting. Slugs can generate 35-45 ft.lbs. of recoil. Call a scope manufacturer about the models that can take slug shooting.

Bushnell 1.5-6×36 Elite 4200 Shotgun Scope

We also use Leupold PRW scope rings on our cantilever barrels. We strongly urge you to use cantilever barrels because the scope comes off with the barrel and is sighted in for the barrel. Otherwise if you mount to the receiver and take off the barrel you will have to resight in each time. Not good. Do not use cheap rings. Use rings that have 2 screws on each side for a total of 4 screws for better holding power. Check screw tightness on rings and bases before each season. Slugs produce a lot of recoil and will loosen screws.

We use a 3 legged portable rest mounted on a plywood platform with a bag of shot mounted on the platform for recoil absorption. It slides back about an inch when the gun is fired thereby taking up recoil. We just sit behind the rest and look through the scope, but we do not put our shoulder into the gun. The rest takes up all the recoil, so we don’t have to! When sighting in fire one shot at 25yd. Move crosshairs to center of hole in target while not moving shotgun. Slug gun will now be centered dead on at 25 yds. Use a friend to move scope adjustments while you hold gun steady . You must hold gun absolutely steady! This will sight gun close to where it should be. Readjust at 50yd. This sight in method will save you a lot of expense due to the high price of these slugs.

Scrub out bore with a good solvent that takes out plastic residue from sabots along with gunpowder. Use a brush and rags to do this. Finish up with rubbing alcohol on a rag to take out all residue. Failure to do this will lead to plastic build up which will lead to inaccuracy. I hope this helps you slug shooters that are having problems with your shotgun or with your slugs.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • jason carr

    Dear Steve,

    I just purchased a SAVAGE 210F rifled bolt-action 12 gauge. It is set up with a BUSHNELL DUSK TO DAWN 3-9-40 scope. I also have rings with 4 screws per ring for clamping force. My brother has re-free floated the stock. I plan on using HORNADY SST sabot slugs and have added 4 lbs to the buttstock.
    My question is this..advertised barrel length is 24.. but it says rifling is only 1 in 20.5 inches. If this is true…what kind of accuracy/groups can I expect from this 10-12 lbs slug gun? Please e-mail me with any information you might find. (Was hoping for 200 yards or greater.)

    I live in Michigan and fire-arm deer season is November 15th.

  • jason, I have not used that rifle/slug gun but I have read good things about it. This thread may answer some of your questions:

  • Brian

    Hey MI Slugger, great post. You stated “some of us are going to a custom 1-26″ twist barrel”. Have you tried that yet? I see badger barrels have that twist is that the barrel you are talking about?
    I shoot an 11-87 with a remington cantalever rifled barrel. I used to use lightfield slugs and it was very accurate. I went to Hornady SST’s and they are bad. I tried the High velocity Remingtons and they were about the same. I was wondering if you guys actually had tried some of the 1900 fbs and above slugs out of the badger (or other 1-26″) barrel. Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Eugene

    I have a Remington 11-87 with a Cantalever rifled barrel and it shoots the remington 3″ copper soilds great out of it!!

  • Has anyone used a rifled choke tube in a smooth bore barrel with good results?

    • Doug

      I wrote the article in the Firearm Blog called, “Accurate Slug Shooting Made Easy”. In response to choke tubes for shotguns. They do work but do not cause enough spin to accurately shoot todays slugs with excellent accruacy. You are better off with a rifled slug barrel. These barrels will produce better results than a rifled choke tube. Thanks.

  • Dean

    I’ve shoot a 870 Remington with the rifled barrel for several years and get fair results ( 2-3″grouping) at 100 yards with several different Sabot Slugs. This year I purchased the New H&R 12 gauge Slugmaster with a bull barrel, mounted a Nikon Sluggun Scope with BDC and an Shooting Remington Accurpoint Sabot Slugges. I’m now getting 1/2″ grouping a 100yards and 1.5 grouping at 200 yards. this new Accu-point sabot is 375 grain bullet with polymer tip. Try these new Sabots they come in 2 3/4 and 3″. I’m shooting the 3″ because my gun is chamber for this size and itdoes make a difference on spacing accuraery.

  • Hello,

    I would like to take a moment to introduce our Association to you. ASSA is a National organization promoting shotgun slug accuracy competitions and working to advance the state of the art where shotgun slug accuracy and range are concerned. We are in our sixth year of operation, and have seen steady membership growth from the beginning, with over 850 current Association Members, of whom about half have also signed on as ASSA Forums members.

    At this time we are working on methods of bringing more traffic to our site and encouraging more people to take up the slug shooting competition discipline to improve their skills and hopefully get the niche of target shooting slugs to grow a bit. We are working on the optimistic assumption that we may someday reach the size of the SASS Cowboy Action Shooting clubs, since we offer the same kind of fun with guns, and don’t make anyone dress up in Cowboy outfits to join in……….

    One method of growth we are considering is to approach the experts such as yourselves for permission to post reprints of some of your old articles on slugshooting or related subjects on a “Guest Author” page on our website, so our members can share your unique insights and gain some knowledge that they otherwise would not obtain. The arrangement on the “Guest Author” page would be a short biography of the author followed by a full or edited article from past publications. This is open to all comers, so I expect we’ll get a number of folks wanting to have an article about their latest hog hunt published, which is fine with us, as long as there was a shotgun and some slugs involved somewhere.

    We have already found a few outdoors writers who were feeling charitable when we contacted them, and the program launch is underway. ( You can visit the first Guest Author Page featuring outdoor writer Dave Henderson on our website right now, to see what YOUR page might look like) We have agreed in these cases to append the articles with links to their book sales sites etc., so there is at least some potential for the exercise to be useful as more than just publicity. I was curious to know if you might want to participate in this?

    The Guest Author invitation is extended not solely to professional outdoors writers, but also to any one of you with a tale to tell that relates in some way to what we do at ASSA. Got the gift of gab, and maybe pictures too? Send your article in and if it doesn’t put us to sleep, there’s a good chance you will get published.

    By the way, it might interest you to know our group was the subject of a very nice article in the November issue of Field and Stream Magazine, which is a source of great pride for us.

    Best Regards,

    William Davis
    American SlugShooting Association
    PO Box 321
    White Marsh, Maryland 21162

  • Scott

    I recently purchased a Remington 870 12 ga. with an 18″ smooth barrel. I use it for home protection. As I have never owned a firearm before I was wondering what the pros and cons for the Winchester Platinum tip sabot slug were. Will this round fire from my non-rifled barrel accurately and with no ill affects to my gun? I don’t do any long range target shooting but I do enjoy medium range “fun” shooting (melons, canned goods, etc). Thanks in advance for any info. Scott in Raleigh

  • Hello I’m goung to purchase a 20ga slug gun, I’m thinking on a 11-87 fully rifled cantilever gun. I want a auto , do you have a better gun that you would suggest. Also what slugs would you recomend in Remington . If you suggest a different gun what load should I use. I have a Remington 12ga fully rifled slug gun that shoot Federal barnes 1450 good but I don’t like the recoil, thats why I going to 20ga Any help or recomdations will be greatly appreciated Doug email or call me at 612-554-2584

  • Hey just wanted to check. I have an 11-87 with a fully rifled barrel with a leupold shotgun scope and have tried the platinum and the gold Winchester slugs and am not having luck with consistency. I read in your article that the Remington barrel twist was 1 -28″ but the Remington website says their 12 guage barrels are 1 – 35″. Is there a misprint in your article? As you wrote the slugs are very expensive and I am getting ready to go to the range within the next few weeks. I was anticipating trying another slug but am somewhat confused by your article. Can you shed a little light on what you wrote as far as the twist, barrel manufacturer and recommended slug for the Remington barrel Thanks!!!!!!!!

  • William Barkenbush

    I have sx3 Cantilever deer slug gun, and I’m having a hard time with
    the iron sights. Every shot seems to be high. I’m new to hunting and don’t
    want to take out the deers spine looking for clean kill but have to aim under the deer to hit vitals. is it the gun or am I aiming wrong thru the sight. any feed back would be appreciated by the deer. I was told by a gentleman at range some guns just shoot high.

    • Jeff

      Your sights probably just need to be tweaked a bit . good news is you know where the problem lies. Now all you have to do is correct the sights.

  • Louie Grant

    I use a Mossberg 500A 12 ga cantilever with a Tasco 3-9×50 scope and Remmington 2-3/4 copper solid sabots. I got 9 deer (Michigan 2010 season) including a 12 pt buck. The last deer I got was a cripeld doe at 300 yds. (She looked a lot closer in the scope) I put the horizontal crosshair level with her back and the vertical behind the front leg. The slug hit about 2″ below where I was aiming. This is the first year I have tried this combination. Only 2 of the deer ran about 100 yds. before they droped. The rest of them droped in their tracks including the long shot. This is an awesome gun. I am trying to find information on the acuracy of these slugs at longer ranges. I’m not having any luck. I may have to do this on my own. Those slugs are expensive. I am looking at some varmit scopes. I think this gun is capable of bringing down deer at 200 – 250 yds. I don’t want to cripel any deer and want to be sure of my shots.
    I was wondering if anyone else has tried shooting these at long range.

  • Frank Gillen

    I have just discovered you and am tickled pink. My H&R 20 ga slugster has been exceptionally accurate with the Winchester Supreme Platinum Tip slugs, and the deer hit with that slug never go more than 10 feet. The expanded slug is very lethal, and when sighting in they enter the target like a rifle bullet – straight and true.

    BUT I can’t find any more. It seems Winchester stopped production. Is that true? If so, why? And what do you suggest for a comparable replacement?

  • OldSlugger

    I currently use a 12ga H&R Ultraslug topped with a 3 to 9 Nikon Slughunter scope and have taken numerous deer in 4 different states with this combination. My Ultraslug prefers the 2 3/4” Federal Premium Barnes Expander hollow point Sabot slug. Now I know that 200 yd kills are possible when all conditions are right but when I read through the numerous articles I see about how easy the newer guns and slugs make it to accomplish clean 200 yd kills, I have to laugh. If you have a standing deer, with no wind and great light, and have a good rangefinder with the time to use it, and then have good accurate scope and can judge holdover correctly . . . yes, it can be done. There are those competitive shooters who can make such a shot with some regularity and if you are one of them, God has blessed you for sure. However, reality tells me that when I am hunting, I am not shooting from a bench rest and the right combination of conditions rarely (if ever) presents itself. I would strongly recommend that most hunters (myself included) keep their shots to 100 yds or less to guarantee a clean humane kill. God had provided a great game animal for us and anything other than a clean humane kill would be disrespectful of His gift.

  • Randy Ramey

    Has anyone noticed that some Hornady SST 12 ga shotgun shells actually rattle. The bullet moves inside the shell. I just bought 10 boxes and 41 out of 50 rounds, the bullet will move when you touch it. I don’t see how you could achieve accuracy like this. It has been an on going problem but someone told me Hornady had corrected it, but nope it hasn’t. I’m not the only one to have this problem, some of my friends have too. Pick up the shell and shake it and it actually rattles!