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SlugShooting Stories and Articles by Guest Authors - The Famous, the Infamous, and ASSA Members with the Gift of Gab. Call it Our Cyber Campfire, the Storytelling Corner, or Maybe Just the One Source for Real Knowledge on Our Favorite Subject. Read On!

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Following is a short article by one of our newest Members, reporting on his African Hunt.

Read, Enjoy, Become Inpired. Let's have some of you other "Big Shooters" come up with your own hunt report, and we'll give yours space here too!.

Now on to Bill's Excellent Adventure:

As my flight left Atlanta July 29, 2008, I thought back to the planning of this new adventure.  Previous hunting trips across the continental USA, Alaska, Argentina, and Canada did not prepare me for Africa.  I wanted a select set of trophies. Hippo, Cape Buffalo, Eland and Kudu had long been my dream animals. Plus, I would take any other nice ‘horned’ trophies that I could not resist. {Though I hunt internationally, never anything endangered, or where the meat would be wasted.}  Bahati Adventures offered a 15 day African hunting experience (10 days in Mozambique, 5 days in northern SA), that could supply the game for this varied list.  So, with this preamble, here is a brief summary of my hunt.

Living in Georgia I have become a fan of big heavy projectiles (this is probably why I enjoy "Slugshooter".)  Very often I shoot a Model 870 with a 2.5X Leupold scope and a Hastings barrel that will group MOA at 100 yards.  With a 3" Remington AccuTip 12 GA 385-Grain Sabot it is a "one shot = one deer' solution.  However, for Africa I needed heavy penetration, so I turned to a 45/70. 

I used a "Co-Pilot" model 45/70 with a 18.5" barrel, tuned for Garrett Ammunition.  Easy to carry, very accurate, but with awesome penetration the 45/70 becomes a "flying anvil" with Garrett's 540 grain Hammerhead ammo.  

First was my Cape Buffalo.  Hit solid at ~125 yards late one evening he ran into the papyrus swamp, and the next day we had to go through the swamp and into chest high saw-grass to finish him.  This part of my hunt was a real 'sphincter tightening' experience.  Moving in a 'fan-shape' with me in the center we eased into the grass until the guide on my left shot and hollered for me.  I ran over and the buffalo tried to come toward me.  He was big, mean, and ~1,800# - I shot him four times with my 45/70 at close range.

Next was my Hippopotamus.  We were hunting across a crocodile infested, tidal-river from a stand.  The hippos would surface (~40 yards) blow for air and go back down.  About every fourth blow, they would shake their head to clear their ears and give you about five seconds to get a shot off.  Not much of a target, but one 540 grain 45/70 placed directly between his eye and his ear did the job.  

He was a big ~8,000+# bull Hippo.  Almost 12' long, the local population thought it was Christmas and that I was Santa Claus.  They consumed everything but his teeth and toenails. I wanted to bring back the dried skull as a trophy, but it weighed about 450#, so I just mounted the teeth with a photo.

{PS: Hippos kill more of the African population that any other dangerous animal.  The bull Hippo is big, belligerent and territorial, he gets very unhappy when a native paddles a dug-out canoe through his territory.}

While in Mozambique I also took a nice Waterbuck and a Reedbuck, using my guides .375 H&H rifle.  Both of these animals are basic plains game and we could not get closer than about 250 yards before they would scatter.  (Too far for accurate placement with my 45/70. - - The 540 grain projectile has the trajectory of a 'thrown brick'.)

Next we transferred to South Africa, and I hunted for my Eland.  We were in a stand, close to a water-hole when it sounded like a herd of cattle stampeding toward us. Wrong, just eight or nine big Eland... They are really big critters, and remind me of a mule with horns.  Livingston Eland are the world's largest antelope.  My bull was about 1,900#.  He took a solid 45/70 hit in his 'boiler-room' and dropped after about a 75yard run. 

Next was my Kudu at ~650#, but with magnificent spiral horns.  We were driving along slowly and spotted his head and horns in the brush.  Once again one solid hit from the 540 grain 45/70, and "game over"...

In net: Africa is really "something else".  If the good Lord allows me to go again, even at my age it is worth the effort.  Great hunting and great memories.   


- -Bill Hackaday (aka, “Thump”)

Benefactor - National Rifle Association

Life Member - Safari Club International

Life Member - BullsEye Marksman Gun Club

NRA Certified Instructor - Rifle & Pistol


Guess from the pictures above, everyone knows Bill sometimes strays from the true path and uses actual rifles intead of the slug guns we all prefer. Just to clarify, while ASSA is focused on shotguns as the primary shooting tool, we welcome Member reports on hunts like Bill's whatever the weapon of choice might be. Thanks for the great PICs and discussion, Bill, and please feel free to let us in on "Bill's NEXT Excellent Adventure"

Welcome to the first of what we hope will be a continuing series of great slugshooting related articles by well-known outdoor writers and our own members who have something important to contribute here as well.


Dave Henderson is a lifelong resident of upstate New York and is well into his fifth decade as a professional writer.  He has hunted in 29 states and nine Canadian provinces -- most of them with shotguns.  He has taken more than 120 whitetails with a shotgun and, after several thousand magazine articles and five books on shotguns and hunting, is considered the preeminent writer on the subject of shotgunning for deer.  He can be reached through his website, www.HendersonOutdoors.com.


We’re very pleased to present below his article on slug shooting, published originally in 2006, reprinted here with his kind permission. Hopefully we’ll be bringing you more of his writings as the series continues.

NOTE: We had a little issue with HTML compatibility of Dave's pictures, so you have to mouse-click the photo panel for them to display. Our Webbies worked on it awhile, finally decided to leave it alone so we could get this published on time. Hope the one-click per photo inconvenience will not spoil the article for you.


State-of-the-Art in Slug Shootin

State-of-the-Art in Slug Shooting

Shotguns with a fast rifling twist, like this Benelli Super Black Eagle II (1-turn-in-28 inches) tend to handle high-velocity slugs like Federal's 12-gauge 3/4-ounce Barnes Federal Expander.
By Dave Henderson

Ask today's shotgun deer hunters which slug is best, and you're apt to get 4.1 million answers. According to research by the Hastings Barrel Co., that's how many of the nation's approximately 10 million whitetail hunters go afield each season with shotguns. Each, it seems, has a different opinion on the subject.
Long-range accuracy is the ultimate quest for some hunters, while others hunt in thick woods where 50 yards is a stretch. There are also differences in hunting techniques, brand preferences, shotgun barrels, and the priority any hunter gives to slug shooting. Thus, state-of-the-art in shotgun slugs is many things to many people.
Contrary to what you might have heard, most slug hunters don't use a dedicated deer gun. They use one shotgun for hunting birds and small game, and simply switch loads when the deer season rolls around. They typically keep their shots short, use smoothbore barrels and rifled or full-bore slugs and no optics.
Others switch to a rifled choke tube for deer hunting, or pull the entire barrel in favor of an aftermarket rifled bore. Most of these folks also use high-tech sabot slugs and scopes on their guns.
Last are the hunters who are truly serious about slug shooting and carry a dedicated deer gun. They typically use rifled barrels, sabot slugs and sophisticated optics, and take frequent off-season trips to the range.
Thus, the ultimate slug to a smoothbore shooter hunting in deep woods would not be the ultimate to the long-range hunter who needs 150-yard accuracy to hunt over CRP fields.
About the only thing today's slug shooters have in common is that they tend to favor a specific brand and type of slug. That wasn't always so. In my salad days, we transformed our rabbit guns into deer guns by simply changing the shells. We bought slugs from a hardware store at a dime apiece. We didn't care what brand they were. Today, we're actually comparing ballistic coefficients in slug loads, for Heaven's sake, and slipping the safety off when a buck appears two football fields away.
Fortunately, there's something new in shotgun slugs for just about everyone.

Smoothbore Slugs
The biggest news in this category is the Federal TruBall load. Introduced last year, the TruBall system is the first major step forward in slug shooting for smoothbores since the rifled slug was introduced in the 1930s. The new load effectively stretches the range of the industry's most popular slug design. Smoothbore shotguns and rifled slugs comprise 65 percent of the slug market.

The TruBall system and Winchester's Super-X Power Point are the newest stuff for smoothbore shotguns. They'll shoot fairly accurately through rifled bores, but the soft lead will skid on the rifling and quickly fill the grooves, which degrades accuracy.
Understand that the typical rifled slug (TruBall and Super-X Power Point are both rifled slugs) has not changed since ballistician Karl Foster's design hit the market in the 1930s. It's still a cup-shaped dollop of soft lead with "rifling" grooves swaged into the outside walls.
Remington's Eddie Stevenson took this Alabama buck with a Remington BuckHammer 20-gauge slug at 130 yards.
The TruBall's unique design - essentially a polymer ball inserted into the cavity of a conventional rifled slug and driven at 1,600 fps by a polymer wad - doesn't make the new slug more powerful. However, it is more efficient and effective.
The TruBall is not a 100-yard-plus load. The polymer ball keeps the slug from collapsing and forces it down the bore concentric with the tube, giving it a much better chance of flying true when it exits the muzzle. Because it flies true, it remains stable farther downrange.
Not to be left behind, Winchester last year introduced the Super-X Power-Point, a more stable version of the conventional 1-ounce rifled slug. The load has a muzzle velocity of 1,700 fps. Unlike other rifled slugs, the Power-Point's "rifling grooves" extend up the sides of the slug to the deep hollowpoint nose.
Winchester's newest move into the rifled-slug design came one year after Remington introduced a high-velocity version of its venerable Slugger. The Slugger HV is actually a reintroduction of the company's 7/8-ounce rifled slug that was retired in the 1980s in favor of a 1-ounce version.
Brenneke USA has redesigned its vaunted original slug. The company has replaced the cardboard spacers around the fiber wad with plastic versions. These are said to make the load more accurate.
Remington, Winchester, Federal and Hevi-Shot all offer conventional rifled slugs, while Brenneke, PMC, Fiocchi, Challenger, Wolf and others offer full-bore designs with attached wads that are intended for use in smoothbore barrels.

Slugs for Rifled Bores
In the 1990s, when rifled bores were legalized in more and more states, the development of the sabot slug took a quantum leap forward.
Sabot slugs are smaller, more aerodynamic slugs encased in fall-away plastic sleeves. This allows the ballistically cavernous shotgun bore to throw a much more sleek and efficient projectile - and the plastic sleeves grab the rifling and impart a stabilizing spin to the slug.

The sabot's true advantage comes farther downrange where the combination of spin and weight distribution keep it stable, thereby retaining its energy well past the point where the full-bore slugs peter out - beyond 100 yards.

Dozens of sabot designs have been introduced over the last 20 years only to ultimately fade into obsolescence. The high retail price and rapidly advancing technology combined with manufacturing problems and sometimes less-than-spectacular performance doomed many versions.
With new loads like Hornady's SST slug with its polymer-tipped bullet and Hastings' non-discarding Lazer sabot at the other end of the spectrum, there's something for virtually every rifled-bore shooter's preference.
The flashiest of the new sabot designs are the high-velocity (1,800-2,000 fps) versions that incorporate a big-bore, usually jacketed lead-core pistol bullet. The fastest was Hornady's H2K Heavy Mag, which topped 2,000 fps but didn't show good accuracy. It was retired in 2005 in favor of the new SST, the first shotgun load to use a pointed-bullet design.
The SST, which has a proven accuracy record as a muzzleloader bullet, is an inch-long, 300-grain, .50-caliber version of the company's famed polymer-tipped pistol bullet that is launched at 2,000 fps.
The SST's polymer tip not only serves to accentuate expansion like a hollowpoint, but also gives the slug a much sleeker profile and excellent ballistic coefficient. Its almost 1-inch length allows it to be seated deep enough so that the polymer point is recessed inside the hull, far from the primer of the slug ahead of it in the magazine.
When Winchester's Partition Gold and Remington's Core-Lokt Ultra loads vaulted into the 1,900-2,000 fps range, metal wafers had to be molded into the floor of the sabots to withstand the higher pressure. Otherwise, they would cling to the slug and not release consistently.
Hornady places a loose cushioning wad under the slug's base to achieve the same effect.
The SST slug starts at 2,000 fps, yet retains 1,482 fps and a whopping 1,463 foot pounds of energy at 150 yards
While the SST derives its outstanding ballistics from its sleek shape and high velocity, Remington's 3-inch BuckHammer does it with sheer mass. The slug is a brute. Launched at relatively pedestrian 1,500 fps, it's still toting 1,710 foot-pounds of energy at
100 yards.
In 2005, Winchester introduced the 3-inch 12-gauge version of its popular Partition Gold sabot slug with a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps. Remington's 1-ounce Core-Lokt Ultra and Federal's 3/4-ounce Barnes Expander are legitimate 1,900-fps loads. Winchester's 400-grain, 1,700 fps Platinum Tip slug is actually a .50-caliber variant of the company's Fail Safe bullet and is virtually identical, albeit a larger caliber, to the company's pistol bullet line.
But the heavy recoil and quirkiness of the high-velocity loads can also push people toward the more sensible conventional-velocity sabots, which kick less and are still very effective on deer.
The Hastings slug, introduced in 2004 in a 12-gauge 11/4-ounce, 1,500-fps magnum version, and the 1,020-fps Low Recoil Youth version, is a soft lead slug encased in a non-discarding sabot and attached wad. The sabot sleeve works like a jacket on a rifle bullet. This year, there is a 3-inch 12-gauge Lazer Mag version (1,625 fps at the muzzle) and two 20-gauge versions as well. The Hastings' soft slug and flexible sabot allow it to swell at setback and thus fill the bore of any gun, giving it a reputation for accuracy.
For several years, Lightfield's 3- and 3 1/2-inch Commanders employed a discarding sabot, but for 2006 will revert to its Hybred design, utilizing a two-piece sleeve that is discarded soon after leaving the muzzle.
Brenneke's Black Magic and Gold slugs are, like the Remington BuckHammer, full-bore slugs with attached plastic wads but no sabot sleeves. The 1 3/8-ounce Brenneke versions are specially coated to reduce leading in the bore and offer 1,500-1,700 fps muzzle velocities in the 2 3/4- and 3-inch designs. The Brenneke K.O. Sabot is a 1-ounce slug with an encompassing sabot, different wad and faster velocities.
The Remington BuckHammer represents opposite ends of the spectrum in today's designs. The 3-inch 12-gauge version is a 1,500-fps 1 1/8-ounce thunderclap that generates 3,232 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The 12-gauge Managed Recoil version is a 1,350-fps load that is much gentler but still effective, with 1,991 foot-pounds of energy.
Also in the conventional-velocity category are the Remington Copper Solid and its veritable ballistic twin, the 1-ounce Federal Barnes Expander. The unique design of the Brenneke Super Sabot doesn't allow it to fit into any particular niche. A sliding copper sleeve around a soft-nosed needle core gives the 1,526-fps slug (in the 3-inch version) excellent stability, structural integrity and good expansion on impact.
With such a large variety of slugs available, choosing one has never been more difficult. At least there should be enough options to satisfy 4.1 million shotgun deer hunters.

Dave Henderson
GunHunter Magazine - August 2006

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