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A modern shotgun slug is a heavy projectile made of lead, copper, or other material and fired from a shotgun. Slugs are designed for hunting large game, self-defense, and other uses. The first effective modern shotgun slug was introduced by Wilhelm Brenneke in 1898, and his design remains in use today. Most shotgun slugs are designed to be fired through a cylinder bore or an improved cylinder choke, rifled choke tubes, or fully rifled bores. Slugs differ from round-ball lead projectiles in that they are stabilized in some manner.

In the early development of firearms, smooth-bored barrels were not differentiated to fire either single or multiple projectiles. Single projectiles were used for larger game, though shot could be loaded as needed for small game and birds. As firearms became specialized and differentiated, shotguns were still able to fire round balls though rifled muskets were far more accurate and effective. Modern slugs emerged as a way of improving on the accuracy of round balls. Early slugs were heavier in front than in the rear, similar to a Minié ball, to provide aerodynamic stabilization. Rifled barrels and rifled choke tubes were developed later to provide gyroscopic spin stabilization in place of or in addition to aerodynamic stabilization. Many of these slugs are saboted sub-caliber projectiles, resulting in greatly improved external ballistics performance.

A shotgun slug is typically more massive than a rifle bullet. As an example, one common .30-06 bullet weighs 150 grains (0.34 oz; 9.7 g). The lightest common 12 gauge shotgun slug of ​78 oz. weighs 383 grains (0.875 oz; 24.8 g). Slugs made of low-density material, such as rubber, are available as less lethal specialty ammunition.

A Remington 870 12 gauge with sighted cylinder bore barrel suitable for Foster Slugs and Buckshot.

A 'Foster slug, invented by Karl M. Foster in 1931, and patented in 1947 (U.S. Patent 2,414,863) is a type of shotgun slug designed to be fired through a smoothbore shotgun barrel, even though it commonly labeled as a "rifled" slug. A rifled slug is for smooth bores and a sabot slug is for rifled barrels. The Foster slug was designed to enable deer hunting in the Great Depression using smoothbore, choked shotguns. Foster cast them by hand from soft lead, filed grooves on their exteriors, and sold them to his neighbors to improve hunting potential to feed their families. The Foster is the standard American domestic shotgun slug; they are sometimes referred to as "American slugs" to differentiate them from the standard "European slug" design popularized earlier by Brenneke. Some sportswriters have consistently referred to these slugs as a "Forster" slugs, conflating the name with the Forster Brothers who manufactured reloading tools during the same time frame, so "Forster slug" is an alternate spelling that is commonly seen in the popular press of the 1930s for describing these slugs.

The defining characteristic of the Foster slug is the deep hollow in the rear, which places the center of mass very near the front tip of the slug, much like a shuttlecock or a pellet from an airgun. I

The Brenneke slug was developed by the German gun and ammunition designer Wilhelm Brenneke (1865–1951) in 1898. The original Brenneke slug is a solid lead slug with ribs cast onto the outside, much like a rifled Foster slug. There is a plastic, felt or cellulose fiber wad attached to the base that remains attached after firing. This wad serves both as a gas seal and as a form of drag stabilization. The "ribs" are used to swage through any choked bore from improved cylinder to full. The lead swages and fills the grooves. It does not impart any spin at all. Many manufacters have used marketing ploys to imply that it is a form of rifling but that is incorrect.

Since the Brenneke slug is solid, rather than hollow like the Foster slug, the Brenneke will generally deform less on impact and provide deeper penetration (see terminal ballistics). The sharp shoulder and flat front of the Brenneke (similar in dimensions to a wadcutter bullet) mean that its external ballistics restrict it to short-range use, as its accuracy is similar to that of an American Foster slug while retaining the improved penetration and slug integrity of the Brenneke design.

Foster / Rifled slugs

Wax slugsCut shell slugs

Yet another expedient shotgun slug design is the cut shell. These are made by hand from a standard birdshot shell by cutting a ring around and through the hull of the shell that nearly encircles the shell, with the cut traditionally located in the middle of the wad separating the powder and shot. A small

Yet another expedient shotgun slug design is the cut shell. These are made by hand from a standard birdshot shell by cutting a ring around and through the hull of the shell that nearly encircles the shell, with the cut traditionally located in the middle of the wad separating the powder and shot. A small amount of the shell wall is retained, amounting to roughly a quarter of the circumference of the shotshell hull. When fired, the end of the hull separates from the base and travels through the bore and down range. Cut shells have the advantage of expedience. They can be handmade on the spot as the need arises while on a hunt for small game if a larger game animal such as a deer or a bear appears. In terms of safety, part of the shell may remain behind in the barrel, causing potential problems if not noticed and cleared before another shot is fired.[6][7]

Guns for use with slugsLarge game (deer and wild boar) hunting is only allowed with large caliber rifles; shotguns are only allowed for small and medium-sized game, up to foxes and geese. However, when a shotgun has a rifled barrel, it is considered a rifle, and it becomes legal for hunting roe deer, minimum caliber 5.56 mm and 980 joules at a 100 meters, and deer and wild boar, minimum caliber 6.5 mm and 2200 joules at 100 meters.

Sweden

Slugs fired from a singl

Slugs fired from a single-barrel shotgun are allowed for hunting wild boar, fallow deer and mouflon, although when hunting for wounded game there are no restrictions. The shot must be fired at a range of no more than 40 meters. The hunter must also have the legal right to use a rifle for such game in order to hunt with shotgun slugs.

United Kingdom

Rifled barrels for shotguns are an unusual legal issue in the United States of America. Firearms with rifled barrels are designed to fire single projectiles, and a firearm that is designed to fire a single projectile with a diameter greater than .50 caliber (12.7 mm) is considered a destructive device and as such is severely restricted. However, the ATF has ruled that as long as the gun was designed to fire shot, and modified (by the user or the manufacturer) to fire single projectiles with the addition of a rifled barrel, then the firearm is still considered a shotgun and not a destructive device.

In some areas, rifles are prohibited for hunting animals such as deer. This is generally due to safety concerns. Shotgun slugs have a far shorter maximum range than most rifle cartridges, and are safer for use near populated areas. In other areas, there are special shotgun-only seasons for deer. This may include a

In some areas, rifles are prohibited for hunting animals such as deer. This is generally due to safety concerns. Shotgun slugs have a far shorter maximum range than most rifle cartridges, and are safer for use near populated areas. In other areas, there are special shotgun-only seasons for deer. This may include a modern slug shotgun, with rifled barrel and high performance sabot slugs, which provides rifle-like power and accuracy at ranges over 150 yards (140 m).

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