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All About Shotgun Slugs

Slug Feature

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Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going to go over shotgun slugs today. Slugs are an iconic type of shotgun ammo which are utilized by shooters of all types. Our goal with this blog post is to provide a brief overview of shotgun slugs while delving into various things such as their traits, features, use cases, and more. Without further ado, let’s talk all about shotgun slugs.


What is a Shotgun Slug?

In terms of ammunition, the term “slug” refers to a solid, heavy projectile fired from a shotgun. These loadings differ greatly from other types of shotgun shells such as buckshot and birdshot as slugs typically just feature one projectile. The modern shotgun shell as we know it can be traced back to Wilhem Brenneke’s 1898 design. Slugs are generally made from lead, copper, and other solid materials. Due to their construction and nature, slugs will reliably reach out further than most other types of shotgun loadings. The additional mass of these projectiles also allows them to achieve a higher degree of penetration than most other loadings.

Shotgun slugs are intended to be fired through a variety of wide shotgun bores and chokes. Cylinder bore, rifled choke tubes, fully rifled bores, and improved cylinder chokes are optimal for use with slugs. Essentially, shooters will want to make sure that the bore or choke they use is open enough to accommodate slug projectiles. Typically, chokes and tighter bores are utilized to influence the spread of pellets fired from a shotgun.

These types of loadings have commonly been utilized for a variety of use cases across the years. Slugs have been utilized in addition to buckshot by law enforcement personnel for a variety of purposes for decades. Additionally, many shooters utilize slugs for recreation purposes and keep them on hand for defensive use should the need arise. Of course, slugs have been utilized to great effect by hunters throughout the years. Slugs are ultimately just another versatile and capable loading afforded to shotgun shooters.

12 Gauge Slugs
12 Gauge Slugs

Gauges and Bores Supported by Slug Loadings

Slug loadings can be acquired in a variety of popular shotgun gauges and bore sizes. 10 gauge, 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and .410 bore are among the shotgun chamberings supported by slug loadings. Simply put, an overwhelming majority of the shotgun chamberings employed by shooters are complimented by slug ammo offerings.


Are Shotgun Slugs Good for Hunting?

Slugs have been commonly employed by hunters for generations. There are many areas, specifically in the American Midwest, which restrict the use of rifles when hunting in certain areas. Hunters utilize shotguns and straight-walled cartridges in order to continue to hunt without running afoul of the law in these areas. In these areas and in others, slugs have been utilized to great effect when dispatching a wide variety of game.

While standard shotguns can certainly utilize slugs and be used for hunting, many hunters employ specialty slug guns for this application. These types of shotguns feature rifled barrels and are designed to be used with specific types of rifled slugs. These types of slugs are typically found in the form of sabot rounds which feature a plastic housing that engages with the rifling in the bore. By engaging with the rifling, the projectile will begin to spin and gain velocity. Additionally, this sabot housing provides a seal when firing, allowing a higher degree of pressure retention and increasing velocity. These types of slug loadings and slug guns allow users to employ slugs to great effect in the field, even reaching out to distances of over 200 yards. By contrast, standard rifled slugs are intended to be utilized in smoothbore shotguns to enhance the effective range of the shotgun.

The high velocities and heavy projectiles found in slug loadings make them optimal for dispatching medium and some larger sized game. Ammunition companies also produce loadings for hunting use, further optimizing slugs for use in the field in a hunting capacity.


Are Shotgun Slugs Good for Self-Defense?

When it comes to employing shotguns defensively, people generally consider slugs and buckshot to be optimal for this use case. Buckshot will generally maintain a tight pattern out to a distance of about 25 yards depending on the load and barrel length. The impact on target from a buckshot loading is the aggregation of all the pellets fired, spreading the force across multiple, smaller projectiles. Slugs are capable of reaching out to further distances and imparting a staggering amount of penetration and kinetic energy. Both types of loadings certainly are more than adequate for stopping a fight and protecting one’s life and property, but which one is better?

While both loadings are good for self-defense purposes, slug loadings are not as optimal as buckshot loadings for a variety of reasons. As mentioned above, slug loadings feature a single, solid projectile as opposed to multiple, smaller pellets. Additionally, slugs are traveling at higher velocities than most other shotgun loadings, granting them exceptional penetration potential. The high velocity of slugs combined with their heavy, solid projectiles means that they can potentially overpenetrate things such as walls and structures. A shotgun slug will make short work of something like a car door, meaning that they will be devastating when impacting features of a dwelling. We are always responsible for every shot and projectile we fire, and there is a wider margin for error and collateral damage with slugs. A projectile can potentially miss or overpenetrate a target only to inflict collateral damage elsewhere. This potential is diminished with buckshot loadings.

Additionally, in a home defense situation, one will generally not be in a position to benefit from the extended effective range granted by slug loadings. Most home defense encounters will occur well within the effective range of buckshot loadings.


Who Makes Shotgun Slug Ammo?

Currently, many companies produce slug ammunition in a variety of calibers. These ammunition companies range from those who strictly produce shotgun ammunition to those who produce loadings for various calibers. Companies such as Federal, Rio, Sterling, Troy, and Sellier & Bellot are among the many companies who produce slug ammo for shotguns. Additionally, companies such as Hornady produce purpose-built loadings optimized for defensive and tactical use. Specifically, Hornady produces a loading which combines a slug projectile with buckshot pellets, a loading which will have a devastating effect on target.

Sabot Slug vs Rifled Slug
Sabot Slug vs Rifled Slug

How Available are Shotgun Slugs?

When it comes to the availability of shotgun ammunition of this type, one will find slugs readily available in most cases. While not as common as general-purpose target loads, birdshot, and even some buckshot loadings, slugs are not impossible to find by any means. Ammo of this type tends to be popular among shotgun shooters, leading to it being bought out pretty quickly in many cases.

12 gauge ammo offerings in slug loadings tend to be the most common and popular slugs on the market. They are far more common than 28 gauge and .410 ammo offerings of the same type. 20 gauge ammunition in slug form tends to be more common than 28 gauge and 410 bore slug offerings. Slugs can be found at most places ammunition is sold as they are not obscure loadings by any means. Furthermore, one can always buy ammunition online if they are wanting to find something specific and not be at the mercy of local shelves.



All in all, shooters today will find slug loadings to still be viable for a number of use cases. These loadings continue to be well-supported by a number of companies with offerings which further optimize slug loadings for hunting, defensive uses, and more. Whether you are after slugs or some other form of ammo, we here at True Shot Ammo carry a wide range of ammunition for sale. Regardless of whether you need to buy 12 gauge ammo or another caliber we carry, we have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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