Better technology makes slug guns a surer shot now

OUTDOORS

November 14, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Deer hunters must use a shotgun in 15 of Maryland's counties, and Anne Arundel is one of them.

It is probably a safe bet that by the time the century turns, all but the most remote sections of the state will be on the shotgun-only list.

The slug story has changed dramatically over the past few years. In fact, the coming year's project is going to be to put together a semi-customized slug shooter that I plan on using quite often.

Hitting a deer with a slug isn't a virtual accident any longer, thanks to sabot-type slugs and rifled shotgun barrels. It wasn't that long ago that the best shooting slug combo involved mating a skeet or cylinder-choked smooth barrel with a Foster-type slug.

I remember playing with an Ithaca Deerslayer, one of the few reputable guns expressly for the deer hunter back in the '60s and '70s, that generally put three Brenneke slugs into a 6-inch pie plate regularly at 50 yards.

Today, though, many companies make special slug guns that will beat that mark by a considerable margin when fed the right ammunition.

A few that come to mind are the Browning BPS Deer Special, the revamped Ithaca Deerslayer II, Mossberg's 9200 Trophy Slugster, Remington's 11-87 and 870 SPS Deer guns and the Winchester 1300 slug Hunter. Or, you can purchase a special-purpose, rifled barrel or slug choke tube for the gun you own.

The most accurate slug gun I have shot matched a Remington 1100 Magnum action with a Hastings Company 22-inch rifled barrel and a Timney trigger. It put the Winchester Sabot offering into two inches at 100 yards consistently. Such accuracy from a shotgun slug was unheard of in the past.

The most popular slug choice involves the standard or magnum 12-gauge. The 20-gauge has a legion of fans, but I think it's marginal on deer. My rule on all game shooting is to plan on having to make the difficult shot.

The old Foster slug came along in the 1930s and is a heavy lead cup rounded on the nose and hollow on the base. The sides are grooved, but little stabilizing spin is imparted to the slug.

For years the best, and still right up there in performance and popularity, was the Brenneke, which dates into the 1800s. It is pointed and features ribs and grooves along the sides that constrict as the slug moves through the choked portion of a barrel, making it a good choice if you are stuck with a modified or full-choked barrel. Until the sabot-type slug arrived on the scene, the Brenneke was the Rolls Royce of slugs.

The sabot slug and use of rifled barrels turned the shotgunning game around in a big way.

The sabot is a .50-caliber necked-down lead slug encased in a two-piece plastic sleeve. This sleeve, effectively seals the barrel upon firing and carries the slug through the tube, then drops off shortly after leaving the muzzle. When used in a rifled barrel or choke tube, accuracy is revolutionary.

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