Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

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CountryBoy55
 
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Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

Postby CountryBoy55 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:49 am

I will be deer hunting with my shotgun for the first time this year and I am planning on using rifled slugs in my smooth bore barrel.  I have been reading how testing out various brands to see how they do is recommended but it seems to be more specific to rifled barrels.  My question is: Do I need to test various brands or should I pick a brand and spend time at the range seeing the resulting trajectories?
 
Thanks for any imput. 
 
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shaman
 
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RE: Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

Postby shaman » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:16 am

The answer is maybe.  I had a rig like yours, went to the range with a few boxes of Remington 12 GA Slugger and got cloverleafs the first time out. In 27 years, I've changed nothing.  A lot of it is your shotgun, and a lot of it is your expectations.

1)  Set some goals,and be advised that easier also means cheaper.  4 in groups @ 50 yards is much easier to achieve than 1 inch at 100 yards.  Both are acheivable, but each has an inherent cost. 
2)  Start with the cheapest ammo and work up.  Remmie Sluggers kill them just as dead as Remmie Buckhammers. Rule out the cheapest solutions first.
3)  If you think of your smoothbore shotgun operating in a slight extension of the range afforded by archery you will never be disappointed.  If you think of it as a rifle, you will be perpetually let down. 80 yards is not out of the question with a rig like yours, but somewhere along the way you'll find a load that tells you "that's good enough."

Everything I've said has been true of rifled barrels as well as smoothbores.  They're all finicky-- load to load, lot to lot,  barrel to barrel, year to year.  Some are just more finicky than others.
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Ohio farms
 
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RE: Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

Postby Ohio farms » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:53 pm

Shaman,
I've use slugs all my life. Started with an 870 with a redfield scope and eventually bought a Ithica Deerslayer II with a fixed barrel.
You stated that "smoothbores are finicky from load to load, lot to lot, barrel to barrel and YEAR TO YEAR".  The reason that I mention this is that I remember that my 870 would be zeroed in one year then the next year when I shot it, it was way off.  I could never figure out what happened..made my crazy. A agree, but why is it finicky year to year?

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shaman
 
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RE: Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

Postby shaman » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:20 am

There are several reasons:

In my experience slug gun ammo seems to be particularly susceptible to variations in manufacture.  I'm not sure why that is, but I have consistently heard complaints over the years.  As a reloader of centerfire rifle, I can tell you that there are differences from one lot of powder to the next, not as much as I was warned by the old timers, but it's there.  Coming from somewhat of a manufacturing background, I can tell you that small changes in setup from one batch of product to the next can have dramatic effects. The slug load is also a fairly complex product, more so than centerfire rifle ammo.  Sabots make it even more complex.  So I can understand the variability.

The shotgun itself changes.  Most people have a setup where the barrels are removeable and interchangeable, and this will change the point of aim. If my Model 70 rifle was built like my Model 870 shotgun, I'd be fighting to stay on a pie-plate at 50 yards.   Some die-hard slug hunters spot weld their barrels to the receiver to take care of this. Most guys put up with it and don't  expect all that much out of their shotgun.  You have to remember that this is a system that is built to primarily spray shot at a fleeing or flying bird, not deliver a precision shot at a great distance.  The guys who go for maximum accuracy steal a cue from the bench rest shooters and use a dedicated bolt action gun to minimize these problems.

There's also the problem of sights. I started with an 1100 with a smooth bore and rifle sights.  Year to year, that barrel has stayed true in part because the barrel and the sights are all hooked to each other.  My Mossberg has a scope mounted on the receiver.  Anything that changes the alignment of the scope to the barrel (like cleaning) is going to change the point of aim.   I look at all the convoluted ways people try to stick scopes on shotguns, and I'm surprised any of them work.

Lastly the whole thing is predicated on somewhat of a flimsy technology.  I reload.  I spend a lot of time trying to make brass and bullet just so.  Then I pick up a slug load and I have to kind of chuckle. Shotgun and rifle used to be the same technology. You used to be able to cram pebbles or whatever down the barrel, and if you wanted accuracy, you used a piece of pillow ticking to jam it in good, so your ball wouldn't rattle down the barrel.  Modern centerfire rifles show every bit of the last 200 years of innovation.  Slug loads coming out of an average shotgun show how far we've come.

If it were me, I would have all the states like Ohio that mandate shotguns take second looks at states like Indiana and Kentucky.  In the former, the state has now allowed some centerfire pistol cartridges out of rifle-length barrels.  In the latter, everything centerfire goes.  I've hunted all three.  I seriously doubt Ohio would suffer greater casualties if it adopted Indiana's model, and a really doubt that Kentucky's model would create any greater carnage either.  The problem in Ohio  remains the same as Kentucky in that the vast majority of casualties do not come from stray rounds traveling great distances. It comes from hunters not identifying their target properly and shooting another human and extremely close range.  That's still something that 12 GA slug does quite well.
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Ohio farms
 
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RE: Slug testing for smooth bore barrels?

Postby Ohio farms » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:55 am

Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me. I certainly appreciate it.
Since I switched to the Ithaca with the fixed barrel, it seems to be on target when I shoot it prior to the deer gun season every year. Thanks again.
Dennis 


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