A Guide to the Modern Slug Gun

News & Tips: A Guide to the Modern Slug Gun

What makes a slug gun different than the run of the mill shotgun of today? Plenty, let's look at the modern day slug gun from end to end and point out the differences, as well as the similarities.

H&R Ultra Slug Hunter Deluxe Shotguns
H&R Ultra Slug Hunter Deluxe Shotguns

Unconventional Gun Stock

The modern slug gun, like other shotguns, has a stock. It is the design, however, of the stock that gives the modern slug gun the edge when shooting slugs. The modern slug gun is often equipped with a telescopic sight of some sort, making traditional stock dimensions of a shotgun very uncomfortable at the least — painful is actually a much more common description. The modern slug gun utilizes a Monte Carlo type stock that gets the shooter's eye on the same plane as the scope. On a conventional stock, the shooter would almost need to stick his chin on the stock to acquire a sight picture through the scope.

Attaching a Scope to a Slug Gun

Cabela's Muzzleloader Rifle Scope - 3-9x40mm
Cabela's Muzzleloader Rifle Scope - 3-9x40mm

Rifle scopes are quickly becoming commonplace on slug guns and manufactures like Nikon, Leupold Optics, Simmons, Burris and others have introduced shotgun models. Many of these scopes have reticles matched with the new ammunition available which takes much of the guess work out of holdover (aiming over the targets back) at longer ranges.

Though gunsmiths and slug gun enthusiasts have been drilling and tapping shotgun receivers for decades, many manufacturers have been reluctant to do the same; however, strides are being made and many consider it the optimal method of attaching a scope to a slug gun. Other types of mounts are "clamp-on" styles that bolt to the side of the receiver. However, the most popular trend seems to be the cantilever, which attaches solidly to one end of the barrel while the scope base floats over top the receiver to permit the use of a conventional scope.

Gun Trigger Control

Shooter sighting in a rifle scope
The business end of a modern slug
gun. Today's slug guns are effective
to 200 yards, and a scope is almost a

The proper method of firing a shotgun is by slapping the trigger — not very conducive to accuracy, especially with a shotgun with an eight pound trigger pull. On many of today's slug guns, this is no longer a concern; guns like the Ithaca Deer Slayer have a crisp trigger much like a rifle trigger, and the Mossberg 500 LPA has an adjustable trigger.

Other aftermarket triggers and sear kits are available for guns like the Remington 870.

Rifle Choke Tubes

In 1967, Winchester introduced the first successful interchangeable choke system, which today is commonplace among shotguns. Some manufacturers even produce fully rifled choke tubes for their choke systems. While not all rifled choke tubes are created equal, many of these rifled tubes will shoot as well as fully rifled barrels.

Shotguns Have a Harsh Recoil

While I don't claim to be a physics professor, I do know that a slug gun tends to kick — HARD — and there are many things that contribute to this, such as improper stock fit. There are many things that a shooter can do, though, to reduce the pain and suffering that a slug gun delivers.

Shop Caldwell The Lead Sled Solo Recoil-Reducing Shooting Rest at basspro.com
Caldwell The Lead Sled Solo Recoil-Reducing Shooting Rest

As discussed earlier, a proper fitting stock will help the perceived felt recoil of a slug gun as will a good quality recoil pad, and today most slug guns have well designed recoil pads on the butt of their stock to ease this abuse.

Little will shield you from the harsh recoil when firing a shotgun from the bench; however, if you find yourself behind a slug gun and want to reduce the pounding you are about to take, Caldwell makes a great shooting aid called a Lead Sled. The slug gun is placed in the device, allowing the shooter to fire the gun, but the recoil is delivered to the back of the device eliminating the nasty kick associated with slug guns from the bench.

If you don't have a Lead Sled, slip on a floatation device to sight in slug guns. The thick foam absorbs the recoil. The only thing you have to watch out for the scope coming back and crowning your eyebrow. This can usually be avoided by keeping a firm grip on the gun.

The Evolving Slug Gun

Many changes have evolved the modern slug gun in a relatively short period of time. Rifled barrels, sabot slugs and shotgun scopes are now the norm on today's ultra accurate slug guns. For those of us regulated by law to use slug guns, we are no longer looked upon as second-rate hunters. Our slug guns have definitely come of age, and one thing is for sure — this ain't your Daddy's slug gun.