The 12 gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot is the classic home defense tool, but the best shotgun slugs can turn your shotgun into a monster.
For hunting, or even home defense, slugs are now a real option and you should see just how far they’ve come and try some in your shotgun to see the sheer devastation.
Slugs have evolved for separate applications like home defense, hunting and 3 Gun Competition, because each discipline has wildly different requirements.
Defensive applications need stopping power without the range and overpenetration through walls. Hunting applications need more range and for sporting applications, accuracy is king.
Of course you can buy rifle bore slug guns specifically for the loads, but they’re not as versatile.
But what are the best shotgun slugs for every occasion?
Here are our top picks.
- Best Hunting Slugs – Hornady American Whitetail
- Best Self Defense Slugs – Winchester PDX1 Defender
- Best Competition Slugs – Sellier & Bellot Sport Slugs
And here are a couple of important explanations before you decide on your slugs.
12 Gauge Rifled vs Sabot Slugs
There are some exceptions, but most slugs are simple 12 gauge rifled or Sabot Slugs. What does that mean?
- Rifled Slugs – As the name suggests the projectile is rifled and is designed for use in smooth bore shotguns, rather than special slug guns. The grooves allow the slug to compress slightly to pass through the restrictive shotgun choke tube. A rifled slug can damage a rifled bore, which is worth remembering.
- Sabot Slugs – Designed to be used with shotguns with a rifled barrel, or a smoothbore shotgun with a rifled choke tube. The Sabot refers to the plastic sleeve which works with the rifling to spin the slug like a bullet. When it exits the barrel the plastic sleeve meets air resistance and spits out the spinning projectile for increased accuracy and range.
Best Slugs for Hunting
Hunting requires range, penetration, velocity and stopping power. A rifled slug is also normally a better option than a Sabot. but obviously you can use Sabot shells with a smoothbore and rifled choke tube.
1. Hornady American Whitetail Slugs
- Price: $11.99 for 5
- Weight: 325gr
- Type: Sabot Hollow Point
- Muzzle velocity: 1825fps
Do you want to drop bucks at up to 200 yards? Or even Elk and Muleys at closer range? Then the Hornady American Whitetail Slugs are the answer.
The shell contains 325 grain interlock oversized hollowpoint with a serrated design on the lead alloy core and a typical flower petal designed for maximum expansion on impact.
While it’s in the barrel, the rigid polycarbonate sabot ensures accuracy, a buffer disc keeps everything centered and in place and the InterLock ring keeps the core and jacket together to deliver controlled expansion.
Of course there’s a range of Hornady ammo: 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 410 gauge, they got it all.
2. Winchester Super X
- Price: $21.49
- Length: 2.75 inch
- Weight: 1oz
- Muzzle velocity: 1760fps
- Muzzle energy: 3010 ft/lbs
This is another full bore rifled slug designed for smooth bore shotguns that is designed for range and impact. It’s essentially a giant rifled hollowpoint for hunting and is a great gun for deer and other medium size game up to 125 yards, but it really isn’t meant for massive range.
It’s great for bear defense and can also do a great job for home defense, sending a lead projectile the diameter of a shotgun barrel at 1760fps with 3019ft/lbs of muzzle energy. That’s insane.
Best Shotgun Slugs For Self Defense
A defensive 12 gauge slug shares a lot of similarities to a hunting slug, but there are critical differences. Use a deer slug in your house and you could blow a hole in the wall and kill people on the other side of the wall.
Of course that is a powerful argument for using buckshot, or even birdshot, in a defensive round. They are both better for inside the house in all honesty, but if you’re settled on slugs for home defense then you should definitely look for a for a specialist slug that is tailored to the job at hand.
That means a slug that is already set up to cause multiple wound channels. And this is our top pick.
1. Winchester PDX1 Defender
- Price: $1.65/Round
- Length: 2.75
- Muzzle velocity: 1600fps
- Muzzle energy: 2484 ft/lb
Winchester PDX1 Defender slugs combine a powerful slug and shot shells in the same high density polyethyline shell casing.
As well as the rifled slug, they’re loaded with PDX1-designed black oxide high-base (HEAD) shotgun shells that have been proven by law enforcement officers and shotgun enthusiasts around the world.
It’s an intriguing combination that deals with one major issue with slugs. With just one bullet, even a massive one, it’s much easier to miss. And even if you do hit center mass, it’s one wound channel.
This simple idea provides multiple wound channels from multiple projectiles. It’s a slug and 3 pellets of plated 00 buckshot in one lethal package.
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