calling the scattergun experts.

I said in the comments to the post about the fox that I use only birdshot in my shotgun because of its age and the fact that it has a full choke, but to tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure. (If in doubt, play it safe, especially when you’re dealing with things that generate ten thousand PSI of pressure right next to your face.)

But there have to be people out there in Internet land who know for sure—is it safe to fire buckshot or slugs out of that particular scattergun? We’re talking about a Remington Model 11 (the Remington version of the Browning Auto-5), 1935 vintage, with a full choke, friction rings stacked for heavy loads. What say the jurors?

25 thoughts on “calling the scattergun experts.

  1. Conventional wisdom is that buck loads tend to shoot doughnut patterns
    (i.e., open in the center), larger the shot the greater this effect. That being said,
    I’ve seen a few fulls that shoot double ought very well indeed, as in 10″ patterns
    at 25-30 yards. YMMV – one can only pattern the gun with the loads under consideration…

  2. While “probably” fine I’d stay away from slugs, due to the fixed full choke. I’ve a few vintage s’guns in which I only shoot reduced (low pressure) loads. Even from 1935, I’d stay with shot (3x buck is still pretty nasty on the target end), & doesn’t push the pressure on the choke.

  3. Should be fine as far as I know with slugs, IIRC that is actually what the “rifleing” is for on Fosters, just like rings on TSX, makes it easierr for tight bore to swage slug down.

    With smaller buck ie No 1 buck or smaller it might pattern bettter, I know in 20’s it can.

    Doughnut patterns are from rifling.

    I have another option if your interested though, I have a smooth bore Rem 11-87 12 gauge slug gun with side saddle (4+1 factory mag tube) that I am looking to trade/sell.

    Significant other loves her 20 gauge but afraid of 12 thanks to her stupid brothers when she was a kid.

    So I am going to replace the 12 with a 20.

    If your interested just let me know, I’m not in a hurry, still have the 386 as well.

  4. Yeah, you don’t want to push a slug through a full choke. Not a good idea.

    Some larger shot will do just fine on a fox.

    Oddly, the only fox I ever shot I popped with a .30-06. Overkill? Yup. Dead real quick? Yup. Nice pelt? Yup.

  5. You could consider the “tactical” reduced power shotshells. Intent is to reduce recoil to the officer. Some have one less ball in the 00 size, IIRC.
    Aguila makes some little shells. Haven’t tried them yet, only 1.4″ long, the slug looks like a semi-wadcutter. Not even sure they would cycle a semi. Most likely intended for the pumps carried by most police units.

    BTW, the British did lots of testing of shotgun ammo a 100yrs or so ago, and they did not care for high-velocity loads. Spherical should be slow and heavy, per their testing results. However, here in the US, we are all about the speed!

  6. Like Will suggested, I’d stick with “Tactical” buckshot loads.

    Foster-type “punkin’ ball” rifled slugs are safe to shoot through full chokes (they swage down,) but when you combine the effect of the full choke with the long-recoil action on the Remington, better your shoulder than mine. Expect bruising.

  7. Nominal bore diameter of a 12 gauge is .729″, and if a full choke meets industry standards the choke portion of the bore is .035″ smaller, making it .694″; IIRC, many, perhaps most, slug manufacturers reduced the diameter of their slugs to barely fit through a full choke some years back. Brenneke-type slugs typically have a thick cardboard wad at the base of the slug that’s a couple thousdandths larger than nominal bore diameter, which easily swages down to choke diameter; depending on who manufactured it, that wad may be secured to the base of the slug (from an accuracy standpoint, I’ve had pretty good results with slugs manufactured by Brenneke, but they’re expensive and hard to come by. Plus, I stocked up years ago when I found they worked great in my “slugster” barrel, and haven’t bought any in about 20 years so YMMV). Foster-type slugs have “rifling” on their exterior, which don’t really do anything to spin the slug to obtain accuracy, but does provide less surface area for both drag against the barrel and easier compression to fit trhough a tighter-then-average choke.

    Easy test is to cut one slug shell open, remove the barrel and see if the slug will fall all the way through from the breech end (a Brenneke-type won’t because of the cardboard wad). I’m betting “brand name” slugs will fall through, or at least go through with very minimal coercion from a long dowel. Ammunition manufacturers have no control over what shotgun their ammo is fired in, and they don’t want the liability suits from blowing them up, so they’ll keep the slug diameter small enough to work even in full choke guns. That sacrifices accuracy, but no rational person expects slugs to group better than “minute of deer” past about 65 yards.

    On a related but different note, I’m surprised at the success you had with the fox with 7 1/2; I would have thought it more probable it would be wounded than killed outright with that size shot at that distance. For predator control, especially for predators larger than fox, you might consider duck/goose loads, which are typically #4 or #5, although it’s pretty hard to find those sizes in lead these days. A handy addition to the shotgun is a side saddle shell carrier so you can carry a couple different types of ammunition, say, two slugs, two BB, two #6 or #7 1/2 if you encounter a problem that whatever is in the magazine won’t solve.

    • If you go with a sidesaddle or buttstock carrier, you can keep the gun cruiser-ready with empty chamber and m-1 of your default load in the mag. Then if the circumstances demand, you can select a non-default load from the carrier and put it in the mag before you feed a round.

  8. The shotgun my father used for both pheasant and Deer hunting was a Reminton Model 11 in twenty gauge. I can’t guarantee what the choke was, but it was probably full choke. This was also the first shotgun I used for deer hunting. There was never a problen with slugs.

    The area where I grew up and where I still go deer hunting is a shotgun with slugs only area. I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem firing standard slugs through a full choked shotgun. Slugs are designed to swage down in the choke. I would not hesitate to use slugs in any shotgun in good condition. If I was afraid to shoot slugs in a shotgun, I would probably not shoot anything else in it either.

  9. Also, while I now use Sabots in a rifled barrel, I have found that Federal Tru-Ball slugs are a bit more accurate out of a smoothbore than other standard slugs.

  10. Bob above has some good comments and a brilliant suggestion about how to test your shotgun for slugs. I’ve used shotguns on everything from doves through ducks and geese up to coyotes and wild boar and deer. To do his test with a Breneke, which I prefer far and away over all other slugs, when you take it apart you can remove the cardboard wad by unscrewing it from the slug (Yes, they are screwed on, or were when I bought 10 cases of Breneke’s for long term use about 11 years ago).

    HOWEVER, do not discount using appropriately sized shot for critter control. I have shot coyotes out to about 55 yards with BB shot in a modified and full choke 12 ga with great success. I’ve shot them with #4 buck to about the same distance, and both are amazingly successful. When hunting waterfowl was legal with lead shot, we routinely killed 5-9lb geese with BB out to and past the same distance. Both BB and buck can be shot safely in your shotgun.

    I would probably skip the 00 buck for predators in your area, though, unless bears are a real problem. You’ll lose the pattern density you need for small pests (foxes) pretty fast out beyond 35 yards or so in most shotguns.

    The advantage with shot or buck is that the pattern gives you a little margin of error in your point of aim. This is a huge advantage on running predators, and the ability to deck one at medium distance at a full run resides almost entirely with the scattergun shooting pellets.

    If your target was deer sized or better, I’d suggest an immediate switch to slugs, and Breneke’s can’t be beat in my opinion. I’ve penetrated 3 full feet of wild hog, with the slug only stopping after it hit the jawbone (which it broke) and finally running out of steam. That’s the only one I’ve ever recovered from an animal. All the others left a 3/4″ hole through and through.

    Shotguns are a great tool, and the side-by-side scattergun was, in the opinion of many, the gun that truly won the west. If you choose the right load, nothing in the Northern Hemisphere can come within 40 yards of you and live without your permission.

    Love the blog, as always, and sorry about #5. You certianly got payback, though.

    My wife and I really enjoy the piece of the Berlin Wall you sent me. Nice to have some history to hold in our hands.

    All the best,


  11. Dunno if you saw this video

    But while I’m a guy who’d rather have too much gun, than too little, at close ranges this is a pretty convincing video on Birdshot “Rat-holing” a simulated target.

    And given that you have chickens, chances are you’re more likely going to be shooting foxes and coyotes who want your birds, rather than meth-addled freaks who want your kids and wife. Still for Meth Freaks, you have that mag tube loaded, just keep pulling the trigger until the desired effects are observed.

  12. Barrel steel has changed a lot in the last70 years. I know Remington strongly advocates against using steel shot in those old barrels but slugs or buck, I don’t know. I do know their service dept. is very helpful. I’d give them a call and get it directly from the horses mouth.

  13. If it helps, my father has two 16 guage model 11s that he run buck and slugs out of all the time. He actually likes full choke for a smooth bore slug gun as it seems to give tighter groups.

    Make sure to run “rifled” slugs though.

    He also bought another barrel at a fun show that he cut down to 19″. so he has a smooth open, and a full choke barrel depending on what hes doing.

  14. I would go and get a few boxes of #4 buckshot and pattern them to see how they do. It’s a great compromise, allowing you to take on a coyote or that meth-addled freak Weer’d refers to without having to worry about what’s in the tube.

  15. My choice for a shotgun of that design and vintage would be Buckshot, #1 to #4. I would try a box of each to see what patterned best out of your gun. #3 and #4 buck put a lot more pellets down range than 00 or 0. Accuracy is still the better part of lethality, even with a shotgun.

  16. I used to own a Mod 11 and shot lots of buckshot through it. For the last 35 years, I’ve used a 870 with a 30″ fixed full choke with 3″ #1 Buck to hunt deer here in Florida. My choice for coyote sized varmits has always been #4 buckshot. With my gun and me behind it, any critter out to 50 yards has a serious problem.

  17. Balle Blondeau (French bobbin bullets) have a steel core, and a lead outer rim that swages down when it encounters a choke. It was developed during WWII to permit resistance shotguns to kill car engines.

    In case you have a car engine that needs putting down, it handles improved or modified very well. I don’t think I would recommend it for old steel with a full choke though.

    • I’ll hunt down some #4 Buck on my Dadcation Thursday. Seems to give the most leeway regarding likely targets.

  18. Have you investigated cutting shot shells?
    While not applicable in this instance, cut shotgun shells are the poor man’s punkin’ ball (sabot for you city dwellers).
    You can turn a shell of #7 or#8 birdshot into what is essentially a 1 oz glaser safety slug
    Two informative videos:

  19. Marko,

    As many have said here already, you are perfectly safe with a standard (non-magnum) buckshot load of any size. As has also been said, a Foster type slug is safe in any full-choke shotgun as it is designed to swage down in a too tight choke. I think someone mentioned BB shot (lead only), and I would recommend that shot size as perfect for your application. I used to carrry some BB shot loads for my shotgun when I was a patrol deputy for the Sheriff’s Office here, and they were perfect for taking out varmints (such as your chicken killing fox) that I ocassionally got called to deal with.

    BTW, the Remington Model 11 was a favorite of Bonnie and Clyde. They were known to have possessed a few, including a 20 guage “whipit” that Bonnie favored (cut barrel and stock). I would presume that buckshot was their load of choice.

  20. I have a couple Model 11s and an Auto 5. If you’re concerned about battering the action too much with a given load’s recoil, don’t forget that you can set the friction rings accordingly…