I’d pick slugs every time

When considering the proper firearm tool for law enforcement, there isn’t a catch-all. Every tool has its positive qualities, like the portability of the handgun and the range of a bolt-action rifle, but none of them fit all the molds. If we look at the...


Shotgun slugs are a completely different story. They usually send an ounce of lead payload at about the same velocities. What most forget is that a shotgun using stabilized slugs is usually as accurate or more accurate than a handgun at 25 yards. Most assume that it takes a rifled slug barrel to make a slug accurate enough for duty use. In fact, almost all law enforcement slugs are designed for smoothbore short barrels. There are slugs for rifled barrels, but the propensity toward leading with some products suggest smoothbore slugs are a better application.

I practice with slugs at about 150 yards, with reasonable accuracy. No one (including me) would recommend employing slugs past their recommended range (usually 50 to 65 yards), but officers should know their capabilities and their department policies. I can send a slug at 100 yards predictably under most conditions, regardless of the action (slide or auto) or brand of shotgun.

At 25 yards, I can generally get single-hole patterns with many brands. I used a Mossberg 590 A1 and my Remington 870 for this test. With either gun, the Rio Royal Brenneke (RBK12) printed tiny cloverleaf patterns that stayed under two inches at ranges under 25 yards. I shot several sub one inch groups from a sandbag. I consistently shoot patterns with Brenneke slugs under three inches at 100 yards.

For this article, I used Rio slugs. Rio is the largest manufacturer of shotgun shells in the world. Their products span all aspects of shotgunning, from game use to less lethal to some of the finest slugs in the industry. The Rio Royal Brenneke Slug Cartridge fires a stabilized Brenneke slug at 1450 fps. A Brenneke slug is a lead projectile on a special wad that leaves the gun in a single unit, based on the same principal as an arrow. An arrow has most of the weight in the front portion. Spinning imparted by fins stabilizes the Brenneke slug. In a standard shotgun barrel, it flies true for distances not normally anticipated in shotguns, delivering around 500 grains at carbine ranges. Many manufacturers, including Rio, choose Brenneke slugs because they are extremely effective. I ran these slugs through bare gelatin. (Editor's note: Look for the short video demonstrating an RBK12 going through gelatin in September's app.)There is no law enforcement projectile like a law enforcement slug.

I also fired the Rio Royal Expansive Fragmentary Slug Cartridge (RE12) through ballistic gelatin. This is a one-ounce sabot round, meaning the projectile is actually a payload designed to carry it more efficiently to the target. The slug separates into wedge shaped segments on the target. The segments destabilized quickly in the gelatin, preventing over-penetration. It shared in the astounding accuracy of the RBK12, with a margin of safety for close quarter use. This slug would be my choice for applications where the power of the buckshot is desired, but the accuracy of the slug is warranted.

Rio also makes a product that has a steel core with a lead project called the Rio Royal Armored Slug Cartridge (RMG12). I did not have the opportunity to try this product, but I intend to try to run it through some steel core doors and barricading materials soon. There are several applications where the RMG12 would be appropriate for a high amount of penetration, such as a shotgun slug needing to be able to breach a barrier to the intended target or to stop a vehicle.

In the tactical shop of the law enforcement officer, the shotgun slug is the Swiss Army knife. Slug employment is the way to go for agencies that need carbine effectiveness on an austere budget. For agencies that have not experimented with slugs in a while, it is worth revisiting them for amazing versatility.