Accurate Slug Shooting Made Easy

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

[ 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
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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  • OldSlugger OldSlugger on Dec 23, 2012

    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 Randy Ramey on Nov 23, 2013

    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!