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Thread: Slug barrel smooth or rifled ?

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Slug barrel smooth or rifled ?

    I have an old smooth bore 20" barrel on my Rem 870 3" magnum and am wanting to get a Deer Barrel with rifle sights, mine has just a bead and feels like I am kind of winging it.

    I am fairly accurate with it out to 50 yds but wondering if any have experience or comments on the difference between rifled or smooth bore barrels for mostly slugs, looking for greater range and confidence in accuracy out to 100yds (?)

    Not really planning to shoot Deer with it but it is my brush gun for Bear Protection and I remember having a Slug barrel with rifle sights yrs ago that was great to use

  2. #2

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    I have an 870 that I put a Hastings rifled slug barrel on. I have been very happy with the results.

    I hunt on land in upstate NY that used to be shotgun only. This barrel changed hunting dramatically. I first had the 20" smoothbore Remmy barrel that you have. With any manu Foster or Brenneke type slugs, 100yd groups were 10-12" groups and inconsistent.

    With the rifled barrel and Lightfield EXP slugs, my groups are 3" with little effort.

    My father saw this and put a Remmy Rifled barrel on his 870 and experienced the same.

    Both of these barrels have a cantilevered scope mounting surface. Buy a good scope. Cheap ones break down quickly to slug gun recoil. A red dot, holo or fixed, low power scope should work well for bear duty

  3. #3

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    You won't need the rifling or the sights for bear protection. If the bear is far enough away to need those, it's too far for "protecting."

    On the other hand, you'd be surprised how useful it will be when deer move into tight country. Most shots are inside 100 yards and bears like the thick stuff too. If bears are active in close cover, I'd be more comfortable hunting deer with slugs from a rifled bore and good sights than most rifles folks carry. Your call whether to scope it or not, but in my hands that slows it a little for bear.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Good Point

    Good Point Brown Bear,

    I don't want to start feeling I need protection at 100yds as I do believe more people get in trouble taking shots at Bear that are only bluff charging so there is something to say for leaving it the way it is knowing I am carrying a brush, close range gun may keep me pointing at the ground a little longer.

    I guess I am just feeling the open sights give more confidence that my slugs are going where I sight them versus looking at a tiny bead on top of the barrel. Also the rifling seems to make sense even at super close range at a running animal that I need to hit well to stop.

    Have you guys seen what slugs do to a Deer and is it reasonable for damage to meat? I imagine a good vitals shot is the key but I can't really imagine hunting with it unless working heavy Alders as you mention which is where a slug gun probably would really excell.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    The only reason to get a rifled barrel on a bear defense gun would be if you wanted to use sabot slugs. Some are basically equal or even slightly pass the basic ballistics of a 45-70 (only in a 50-cal bullet I think). Many probably think the bigger non-sabot slugs are better (not sure what the opinions on here on that one are; and I'm not stating an opinion), but, if you want to shoot sabot slugs, you probably need a rifled barrel. Otherwise, not, unless you are actually hunting bear with it and want to shoot out to 100yds or so. I was able to get 4.5" groups at 150yds with my 870 with a rifled barrel with sabot slugs, but wouldn't need that setup for bear defense.

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    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
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    If you're going to buy a barrel with rifle sights, you might as well get the rifled barrel if you only plan to shoot slugs through it. Rifling will cause buckshot or birdshot to pattern terribly, if that is a concern. Another option is a smoothbore barrel with screw in chokes. I have tried that combo with a rifled choke. With Remington Buckhammer slugs I can get 3-4" groups at 100 yards.

    As for damage to meat, it depends a lot on the slugs. The old Foster style slugs will tumble once they hit and can cause a good bit of damage. Most of the sabots, and possibly Brenneke's, should fly straight and not do too much damage.

    As a side note, do NOT use the Foster style slugs for bear protection. They do not penetrate well. I once hit a whitetail in the lungs broadside with one of them from a 12 gauge. The deer weighed maybe 125 lbs, and the slug didn't even touch the ribcage on the far side. Fine for a little deer, not fine for a big, nasty bear.

  7. #7

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    I've only whacked half a dozen deer with slugs, and those were all Brennekes, so I'll defer to those with more experience. No qualms about meat distruction, though, but all were broadside lung shots. I've whacked enough deer with traditional muzzleloaders and larger caliber round balls to say I don't think you should expect damage anywhere like that with a high power rifle of almost any caliber.

    I'd go for the new barrel and better sights, just for the opportunity to hunt deer with it. I'm a fan of close range hunts, so there would be bonus points simply for making the shotgun more capable for that. If you're not using it for shot or buckshot in the first place, no demerits.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    If you use Brenneke slugs you really do not need a rifled barrel. My old smooth bore M-1100 shoots a group the size of a pie pan at 100 yards.

    The rifling Hastings type barrels were really meant for slugs like the solid copper sabot slugs. Which have the problem of occasionally not releasing the sabot.. That is why most police dept will not use them.

    If you use a rifled shot-gun barrel, the gun is no longer worth a s%&* for shooting buck-shot. The rifling twist spins the buckshot out and makes a huge doughnut shaped pattern. With a big hole in the center.
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    What about rifled choke tubes? Do they work?

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    I canít think of a sighting system better for acquiring a close in moving target that the standard shotgun bead. In defensive pistol you learn to use the front sight like a bead for a reason. So if itís just a bear defiance gun I would stay with the bead but maybe on a shorter faster swinging pipe.
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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    If you use Brenneke slugs you really do not need a rifled barrel. My old smooth bore M-1100 shoots a group the size of a pie pan at 100 yards.
    I think that's right. In fact, if you are talking about the rifled slugs, I think you are not supposed to shoot those in rifled barrels.

    I shot my first deer at 70 yards back in 1987, when I could not afford a rifle, with two Brenneke rifles slugs out of my smootbore 870 with just a vent rib and a bead.

  12. #12

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    I agree that for close quarters bear defense, the 20" smooth bore barrel with rifle sights will work fine with Foster/Brenneke style slugs. I was just offering my experience with rifled barrels and sabot slugs. I think a rifled barrel will do just fine and the accuracy improvement gives you more flexibility.

    I've never seen a foster slug under penetrate. I've shot and seen the carcasses of many, many whitetails and a few black bear shot with Foster slugs and they all had exit holes. ****Assumption warning**** Never seen what they'd do on a large bear but I couldn't imagine them not being able to penetrate heavy bone.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Never seen what they'd do on a large bear but I couldn't imagine them not being able to penetrate heavy bone.
    Foster type slugs are a hollow bowl of soft lead. They fly like a dart because of this fact. They are not hard enough, nor solid enough for 90-100 % reliable penetration of heavy bone.
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  14. #14

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    Wow. I always thought they were solid. I never seen a recovered one other than in a dirt mound and it was just a solid glob of lead. Thanks for the lesson.

    Disregard my assumption.

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    Default Have any of you hav expirence with the 2 or 3 ball shot?

    I have a single barrel shot gun short barrel smoothe bore H&R, strictly a self defense gun. Shoot from the hip only.
    I can't even emagine what pushing a heavy slug would feel like with this gun . buck shot alone is got a pretty nasty kick.

  16. #16
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Default Kodiakrain

    I live in IL where we have slug deer hunted forever. I have had just about every set up new to come along and many of the post so far being very on target.
    The rifled barrel will increase your accuracy a lot if you intend to use it for a deer gun at times.
    The slugs are no more devastating to meat than high powered rifles are - it all depends on shot placement with any bullet. However, hollow point sabots seem to be the popular sabot slug and a HPoint will do more damage for sure vs a spire point bullet.
    Std slugs and oo buck do not pattern very well in general from any rifled barrel.
    If I was mainly wanting bear protection the std smooth bore with a nice round bead may have an advantage for sure - you are talking about saving your life so you can hunt again another day.
    I use an 1187 scoped - rifled - win 385gn slugs - 1900 FPS and can shoot 1 1/2" groups at 100yds all day long, however where I hunt a charging opposum in the willows hardly compares to Mr Brown Bear!
    I think you need 2 guns!

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    Shotgun

    1. For hunting: a rifled barrel with slugs that can only be fired from rifled barrels.

    2. For defense at close range: smooth barrel is fine, but you can't shoot slugs designed for rifled barrels.
    ------
    The only reason for shotgun rifled barrels is to increase slug accuracy.

  18. #18

    Default My take

    I have a lot less experience than most here but here goes anyway:

    I actually went through the decision process of using the 870 for deer here on Kodiak so that it could serve the double duty of BB protection.

    I put a Hastings rifled barrel on my 870 years ago when they first came out. Also put the Pachmeyer pistol grip set to make a hard hitting small package.
    I figured loaded with the (solid) copper sabots they would hold together for good penetration. Did all this to carry for while trout fishing.
    Tend to hunt rainbows in amongst the salmon in the fall. Thought I would be sharing the fishing with bears a lot.
    Actually didn't quite work out that way. I have seen my share bears tromping in the woods but never really had a problem. Made sure there were no surprises. All ways made a lot of noise giving them the chance to leave me alone. Good Lord has allowed me to enjoy quite a bit of the outdoors here in Alaska with out problems. Keep a CLEAN camp and use your head.
    Any way after getting in to hunting a bit and learning about bullet construction and applicable speed I realize that the sabot loads I have been packing were probably not the ideal protection load. The hollow points on most all the sabots would tend to open up on impact and thus significantly reduce penetration.
    Many have testified good results from Hard cast type slugs by Brenneke and others. There is no substitute for real life experience so I concede all to those testimonials.

    I still look around for a short non-rifled barrel for using the recomended Brenneke slugs as well as hoping that someone will make some 385g hard cast sabots with a large meplatt (WITHOUT HOLLOWED POINTS) for close in work. I am not holding my breath. I may have to make my own.

    I have since somehow aqquired a horrible 35 caliber bug. Swift makes their A-frames in both 250 adn 280 grain weights in .358 which will make some pretty potent bear medicine. (I hope I get it under control before I end up with a Newton.) I figure this would be a great GP caliber for valley bottoms and shorter hunts as well as defense. Still eying the 416 Ruger though.

    Long story short, stick with the smooth bore and use Brennekes. Any real defense should be pretty close anyway so rapid acquisition and ease of use would be top priority.

    Here is a thread with some good info:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ead.php?t=3607

  19. #19

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    For defense of any kind, smooth bore (versatility). A couple of years ago I found Tru Glow sights orginally for Turkey hunting. They are rifle type sights that are very bright and easy to pick up. Not terrilbly adjustable but really speed up accurate target aquisition. They attach to the rib. You might check those out for a good compromise.

  20. #20

    Default Accuracy

    I get 2-1/5" 3-shot groups @ 100yrds. with my 870 equipped with a smooth bore (cyl) @ 18.8" shooting 600g Brenneke`s. Sabot slugs and rifled barrels will help if you aren`t a confident shooter however great #`s can be had with a smooth bore....practice, practice, practice. Brenneke makes a non-sabot slug for rifled barrels as well so you can get quite a bit more punch than a sabot.

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