What Is Shotgun Slugs And When Is It Better To Use A Slug?

To first understand the basics of shotgun slugs, you must understand what exactly a slug is and how a shotgun works.

How a shotgun works

A shotgun is a firearm that shoots shells rather than the traditional rifle cartridge.

So what's the shotgun shells?

  • Shotgun shells are generally plastic and are filled with their intended projectiles
  • Shotgun shells are commonly filled with smaller projectiles, called shot, but can also have one singular piece of metal, called a slug
shotgun slug

Shotgun Slug

The traditional rifle cartridge is generally some type of a metal filled with a propellant and the projectile on top of the cartridge. Both are fired by a firing pin striking a primer.

After the shotgun is fired, many shotguns are pump action. When the pump is pushed rearward, it ejects the spent shell, and loads in the next shell.

What exactly is a slug

As previously mentioned, a slug is one solid projectile, rather than smaller projectiles, such as birdshot or buckshot.

When a slug is fired from a shotgun, one larger solid projectile is fired, making it similar to a rifle firing a bullet. A shotgun firing a slug can be viewed as a simple rifle.

Pros and cons of using a slug

Strength of Slug

When compared to a similar hunting rifle, a shotgun slug is much heavier. source

Generally speaking, a rifle slug is at least twice as heavy as a comparable rifle bullet. I have a article to compare shotgun with rifle, you can read it in here.

While an advanced rifle fires its projectile nearly twice as fast, the sheer weight of a shotgun slug makes it extremely deadly. 

The cons of Slug​

However, the range of a shotgun with a slug is much less than that of a rifle.

A general rule of thumb is that slugs work within 100 yards. Modern advanced rifles can accurately shoot out to at least three times that far.

Another con of using a slug is that they cost slightly more than rifle ammunition.

Man is holding his Shotgun

Man is holding his Shotgun

When is it better to use a slug?

There are multiple situations in which using a shotgun firing slugs would be better than using a rifle. This is some situations:

  • Legal issue: In some states and areas, you aren’t able to hunt using a rifle. In an area like this, using a shotgun shooting slugs will allow you to continue hunting legally
  • About weight: If you are hunting large game, due to the weight of the shotgun slug, you will have a deadlier shot. While there are also bigger rifle cartridges, these come with larger weapons. Shotguns are generally easier to carry around than a much larger comparable rifle
  • About performance: In heavily wooded areas, using a slug may also be preferential. As a result of the added weight and size, a slug will be able to penetrate through brush easier. Similarly, in any situation in which your expected shot is within 100 yards, a slug will be better than most rifle cartridges, because it is more deadly.


Shotguns are an extremely versatile weapon. Slugs are just another facet of their versatility.

Shooting slugs from a shotgun give you a basic rifle. While the range is greatly decreased, it fires a much larger and heavier projectile than most rifles, making it a much deadlier projectile. (You should choose the best scope for ar15 rifle to make a perfect shot)

While the slug is by no means a one size fits all answer, there are definitely specific circumstances in which shooting a slug is more than likely better than most rifles.

While it will ultimately come down to personal preference, a shotgun shooting slugs is a formidable weapon for hunting.

Harvey Specter

"Sometimes hunting is the only thing that makes sense"

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