June 8, 2010
By Jason Wimbiscus
12 Ga. Lightfield Commander 3.5″ Magnum Slug

I had one Lightfield Commander IDS slug left after my last round of tests and I was curious to see how they performed in my revised test block. Since this was my last slug, and I didn’t want to risk missing, I shot the block at a distance of only a few feet.  Admittedly, this is not a simulation of hunting conditions, but I knew the results would be spectacular, so I set my camera to take a video of the block upon impact.  In retrospect, I should have set the camera a little further away from the block as the explosive expansion of the slug blew chunks of gel in all directions, narrowly missing my one and only digital camera.  As is demonstrated in the video below, the damage to the block was extensive, to say the least.
While the slug only penetrated 6″ into the gel after defeating the rib-block, that 6″ was almost completely destroyed.  The slug itself fragmented into lead chards.

From Top:A giant hole in the rib box ;Frontal view of the carnage; side view of damage cavity.

Home Made Shotgun Slugs

Warning/Disclaimer:  All load data posted on this page has proven safe in my gun only, and in some cases are the results of my own experimentation and not manufacturer data.  What works in my gun may be dangerous in yours.  Use caution and common sense while loading.

Naturally, I had to put all my handloaded slugs through the wringer in regards to both accuracy and terminal performance.  I fired a few groups at 50 yards with each slug load, and then fired each one through a layer of bone and into a block of ballistics gel.  Unfortunately, due to variations in velocity and accuracy between the loads, it wasn’t practical for me to conduct the terminal performance tests at a realistic hunting range.  The gelatin tests were therefore conducted at a range of about 15 feet.  In spite of this, the results demonstrate how the slugs compare to each other.

12 ga 1-1/8 oz Dangerous Game Slug

I loaded these in a 3″ Fiocchi hull over 36.0 grains of Herco and roll crimped them.  The best 50 yard group I got was 4.5″ at its widest point, but this may not be the fault of the components or the load.  I’ve noticed that my Mossberg 835 seems to prefer slugs housed in an impact discarding sabot like those employed in Lightfield slugs and the LCB Blue Force.  Still 4.5″ at 50 yards is well within the kill zone of a deer at that range.
Penetration was impressive, having defeated a layer of heavy rib bones, 19″ of gel, and 3.5″ of a wax backer block.  In spite of the punishment the slug suffered as it impacted bone, it came to a rest mangled, but intact.

From Top: 4.5″ group at 50 yards; DGS 12 Penetration in the “mock deer”; Recovered DGS 12
12 ga LBC Blue Force 7/8 oz

The blue force is essentially a 20 ga 7/8 oz Dangerous Game slug housed in an impact discarding sabot.  As mentioned above, my particular slug gun seems to prefer impact discarding sabots and the accuracy results attest to that.  The first four shots I fired grouped to 1-3/4″ at 50 yards, but I pulled the final shot making a 5 shot group of 4″.  This was my last shot of the shooting session (over 30 slugs fired) and my shoulder was starting to feel like hamburger, so the flyer is most definitely operator error and not a fault of the load, which consisted of 45 grains of Longshot in a 3″ Multi-hull.

Penetration through bone and gel was impressive at 18″ of gel and 3.5″ of wax.  The slug held together quite well with no apparent fragmentation and little expansion.

From Upper Left: Blue Force 4″ group; Blue Force penetration in bone and gel; Recovered Blue Force Slug

12 ga BPI sabot with .50 cal 350 grain lead muzzle loading bullet

Initially, I had a lot of trouble getting the sabots to work in my Mossberg.  Initially, I tried a 500 grain .50 cal pistol bullet in front of a hearty load of Longshot as per the manufacturer’s directions.  Unfortunately, I could not get such loads to group.  Inspection of the fired gas seals and sabots showed them to be mangled with a pin hole burnt through the base of each.  I figured that the powder charges were creating too much stress for the components, so I took it on myself to do a little experimentation and come up with a milder load.  What seemed to work (so far at least) is 36.0 grains of Herco under the gas seal and sabot inside of a Fiocchi 3″ hull (roll crimped).  This is an experimental load, so I don’t recommend anyone else try it.  Accuracy wasn’t terrible with a 50 yard 4 shot group of about 5″ (it would have been smaller, but there’s always a flyer).

Against the bone and gel, it fared decently with penetration totaling 18″. The bullet fragmented into small lead shards.

From top: Best group using BPI Sabots with a 350 grain bullet; Home made Sabot Slug Penetration; The fragmented bullet
1 oz cast slugs from a Lee mold

These are by far the cheapest slugs I’ve tried so far.  The 1 oz Lee has a hollow base with a “drive key” which is a kind of cross piece that locks into the wad under the stress of firing.  The wad engages the rifling allowing the slug to rotate.  My 50 yard results yielded a group that was 5.5″ at its widest point.  Not bad for something I made myself.  I’m also curious to try these out of a different slug gun to see if there is any improvement in accuracy.

The Lee slug performed impressively in the terminal performance test, penetrating 18.5″ of gel and bone and another 5″ of wax backer block.  The recovered slug looked almost good enough to be loaded and fired again.

From Top: Lee Slug Group; Drive Key; Notch in wad; Lee Slug Penetration; Recovered Lee 1 oz Slug

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