« BIG DEER Blogger Survives Hurricane Ike | Main | Big Deer Hunters: Who We Are »

September 17, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I have been hunting the the special reg areas of pa since I could start hunting. Its slug gun only here. I used to use the winchester partion golds but once I found the Hornady SST's I will never shoot another slug again. They by far out perform any other slug I have shot. I use a mossberg 500 pump topped with a 3-9 leupold vari X-II. This combo has put down alot of deer and they did not go far. I have a few buddies who use the remington 870 and they have no complaints. Either gun would suit you well. Good luck in the hoosier state this year.

For pure performance, you're not gonna beat a 12 ga. slug gun with a rifled barrel shooting sabots. The numbers just don't add up for the pistol cartridges. The 12 ga. will retain much more energy out to 100 yards.

Now for "fun", there's something about roaming around the woods with a sleek Winchester or Marlin lever action that captures the imagination.....even if it's in a pistol cartridge.

If it was me, id feel very confident taking a shot out to 150 yards with a proper slug rig. But with handgun rounds, I'd keep the shots 50 yrds and in.


I'll put in my 2 cents worth
with my top picks from 1-3

1. T/C Omega .50 cal. w/ 250 gr. bullet
2. Remington 870 slug gun with good scope and winchester gold partition slugs
3. Lever action rifle in .45 long colt using Corbon hot loads with the biggest bullt you can get

all three should put meet in the freezer,
just depends if you want to be able to shoot far, or leave a big hole, or look cool doing it :)

life is tough with all these decisions

I grew up hnting in a slug only area in Wisconsin. Back then we only had open sights and smooth bores. Yikes! I have since occasionally hunted with an old 870 with rifled choke tube that I topped with a Bushnell Elite 3200 scope. I had great results.
If you do some turkey hunting, don't forget that you can get a 870 with a 24" (I think) cantilever barrel and use a rifled choke tube for deer and switch it to a turkey choke when you need to. The rifled choke tubes are every bit as accurate as the rifled barrels, in my opinion.
As for the pistol rounds, I had a buddy that hunted with a Ruger semi-auto rifle in .44 mag. back in the day. He loved that gun. It had limits in distance but it definitely put the deer down.
Having said all of that, if I was going to buy a dedicated deer gun and knew I was going to be hunting in a slug/muzzleloader/pistol area for the foreseeable future, I would opt for the muzzleloader. They just seem to outperform the slug guns in accuracy and distance. Maybe a TC Encore that you could reconfig with different barrels if you wanted to in the future?

I also use the Hornady SST slugs and find them to be very impressive. Out of my Mossberg 500, they group consistantly around 1.5" -2" @ 100yds (5 shot groups, letting the barrel cool between shots). I have my 500 topped with a Leupold 2-7 shotgun scope. It's an effective combo and I've killed a lot of deer with it in southeast PA.
My father has killed a few bucks with handguns over the last several years. He handloads his ammo, which gives him a leg up on most guys when it comes to performance. He shoots a 345 gr. hard-cast alloy bullet out of his Ruger Blacktop in .45 Colt at over 1200fps, and it is devastating on game-yet safe to shoot (low enough pressure, no sticking cases in the cylinders, etc). If not handloading, I'd use a .44 mag because of selection/availability of ammunition and use good ammunition (Cor-bon and Hornady make handgun loads that would work great in a lever rifle, with the Cor-bon stuff being quite potent).
If I had to choose between the two, I'd stick with the slug gun for simplicity's sake. You can get them pretty cheap, and use the remaining money on butchering equipment:)

Right on guys, good info. Got a lot of great hunters on this blog, thanks for your continued input and support!!

I hunt NY, and up until last year it was always slugs only. The last few years I hunted with a slug gun, I used a remington 1100 with rifles slug barrel and remington core lokt slugs. I could easily get 2 inch center to center groups at 100 yrd. The semi auto action of the 1100 took away a lot of the shoulder thumping that the 1900 fps core lokt shell could inflict. I originally was going to get the browning BPS (pump action). The guy at the gun shop asked why I wanted to take that abuse. It made sense, and I never regretted it.

It was never a option for me, because although I own land in NY, I live in FL and therefore a non-resident. Meaning I could not possess a pistol. But if I could have, I would put a lot of thought into T/C encore with 30 06 (or rifle caliber of your choice)in a 15 inch pistol barrel. Light weight, easy to maneuver, more than accurate enough, and plenty of power.

I tried those Hornadys and absolutly hated them, they shot like crap. I shoot a mossberg 500 20 fully rifled slug barrel. It took me a long time to find a slug that shot true, but I recently tried some Lightfeilds, and they shot spectacular. Of course it's all just a matter of what the gun likes really.

The area im MI where i live is shot gun zone, but i hunt mostly in the rifle zone. If i lived in a non-rifle state i would look at the TC Encore for sure. Better range, flatter shooting. Plus you can change out barrels if you want a different round. This would be my first pick.

If you have to have a shot gun i would pu a 12ga Browning A-Bolt. I think Browning quit making this gun a couple years ago but you can still fing them. My friend has one of these and holy crap can this thing put down a group with the right slugs. Very accurate and has good range. I wouldn't bother with the pistol cartridges, not enough power.

If some is good, and more is better, than to much is just enough!

Just my 2 cents. Good Luck

At the ranges you are speaking of my choice would be a lever gun like the Marlin 336 in 44 mag or 45 Colt (LC) with the edge going to the 45 Colt. I've owned and used a Winchester Legacy 24" barrel .45Colt for a few years for no other reason than it's fun to shoot an a good compaion to my ruger blackhawk 5 3/4" in the same caliber.
When you are shooting something with a dia. near 1/2 inch to begin with just how much more expansion is needed..so even longer shots out to 200 yds with practice still deliver enough knock down power for even the largest ole corn fed buck

Should of added stuff that .45 Colt levergun full of 255 or 300 gr factory loads and you'll much quicker follow up shots than using that same bullet in a single shot MZ such as the TC Omega.
My Legacy holds 10 rounds an that's impressive fire power in anyone's book!

Scott if you can find Browning A bolt slug guns BUY them all......... great gun and getting really hard to find ......
i have seen them go for $1200
that is close to a custom slug gun, but they perform as well as one from what i have seen...

and just a side note the .45 long colt doesn't have the energy at 200 yards that
150 grains of 777 in the omega has..... i may be mistaken but i don't think so...if any of you can run a (factual) comparison i would like to see the info...... i am fond of both loads.... but we can't use pistol cart. in long guns in IL. ....... shame ....... i would love to try it.....
(i carry one in the timber for late season coyotes though)

My thoughts on the lever guns is Why would anyone purchase a new "rifle" that has the same capabilities of a shotgun that you already own and have paid for? Now, don't get me wrong, there are gun enthusiasts, and to each their own.

As far as the sadist comment by Mike...love it. There is something I love about taking a thumpin' from my Remington 12. I still have yet to notice that hammering when a deer is down range.

David, go with a rifled barrel 20, or 12 gauge shotgun; scope it out with a quality scope, and practice with it 'til you're dead nuts out to 125 yards. You'll love it man!

BTW David, great Indiana buck! Which part of the state do you hunt in?

Hey David,
If all you're going to do is deer hunt with the gun, Hastings takes the 20 guage H&R Ultra slug gun and re-chambers it for a 3 1/2" slug they make just for that gun!I hear it's a tack driver out to 200 yards.How fun would that be!They cost around 400 bucks, you might check them out. BTW don't post anymore pics of our best kept secrets or everyone will want to hunt Indiana! LOL nice job

Glad to see Indiana allow PCR's. My days of slug guns are over and I'll take the accuracy, lesser recoil and cheaper ammo of my .44 mag rifle vs $2.00-$4.00 per round for fancy saboted slug ammo any day!



The argument about "energy" of a 12 gauge slug vs a pcr is really a moot point. A .44 inch hole is a BIG hole and more than adequate to kill ANY deer humanely and without the accuracy robbing recoil of a slug gun.


Glad to see some big bucks coming out my hoosier home state! My brother uses a TC encore, got a good 11 point buck last year, score was around 140 or so, I have heard a lot of good feedback on the 870's, but I have also heard a lot of the same on some of the pistol cartridge rifles. Seems that either one would be a good choice. I am kind of in the same boat, trying to decide if I wanna get a .44 mag, or a 870 for the upcoming firearm season. Although, if Indiana said it was legal to use my Remington 700 CDL on deer might just be one of the best days of my life!! How much longer till firearm season??????

go with the 870 can shoot out to 150+ if u get rifled barrel and if u do happen to miss for what ever reason you have four other shots behind it i.e a doe walks in you drp her and a big buck is on her tail with a muzzelloader ur pissed witha slug gun u got two deer on the ground plus they usually drop in thier track whe you hit em with a 350+ grain Sabot

Buy a TC Encore in .50 caliber and be done. Much more accurate than any slug gun, more range, and plenty of lethal power.
You get to use it during the firearms season and you get to use it during the muzzleloader season. And, you can buy additional barrels and varying calibers for it, including varmit calibers, turkey shotgun barrels and if you are lucky enough to go on an out of state hunt or out of the country, you can get a big caliber centerfire barrel.

For Indiana deer = 2 777 pelets, 777 primer, and a 250 grain Shockwave bullet. Enjoy.

I've used slug guns for years. The one I have now is a bolt action with a Leupold 1x4 shotgun scope. It shoots great with copper solids. I've taken lots of deer with it for the last 15 or so years. Indiana went to rifles in pistol caliber's two years ago. I set up an 1894 marlin in 44 magnum with the same scope on it. I load 240 grain xtps to 1850 fps. It's a great deer rifle. I've taken 7 deer in the last two seasons at ranges of 30 yards to 120 yards. All one shot drops with total pass through penetration. I'll probably never use a slug gun again. With the 44 if you buy or reload it will cost less for ammo, has less recoil, and can be more accurate with the right rifle and is a 200 yard deer getter. I'm currently getting a Bullberry 24" 44mag Encore built that should be a tack driver out to 200 yards and yes the 44 magnum does have the energy to take deer out to that range. Do Hornadys ballistic calculator with the 240 xtp at 1850 fps. I'm really enjoying the 44 magnum. It's just a great, balanced cartridge.

Good luck hunting!

came across your site looking for information on scopes this is really a good write up keep up the good work

Fun thread, and I'd like to contribute my Hoosier hunting experience. I love rifles, and just use slug guns cause I have to. So riles are my choice for aesthetic reasons. Maybe not smart, I've bench rested many hundreds of shots testing slugs for accuracy, and am now doing the same with a 44 Marlin. Here's what I've learned. Rifled shotguns are very finiky for ammo, and almost nobody will do serious accuracy testing with multiple loads, so not really know accuracty potential. It takes an unusual slug/rifle combo to stay in 3 MOA. I've had two, both 870s. I've watched a lot of others and learned from their experience with more expesive rigs. I hope someone here can educate me further. My current synthetic 20inch cantilevered 870 is pretty handy, but not like a rifle. I only have one load found that will consistently approach 2 in at 100 yards, always inside 3. Unfortunately, that is the 3 inch Lightfield that throws a 550 grain plus bullet at 1700 fps. That translates to huge recoil, which makes accuracy testing difficult, cause you need to control the recoil exactly the same... too much barrel time for the bullet. Although possible to hold it down the same, with effort, on the bench and so get similar impacts, in the field you'll be holding it every which way and not get that consistency, so I suggest not trying the same distances you get from the bench. Best technique I can find to know where your slugs will acutally go in real life is to shoot from sitting position. Groups a bit larger of course, but they will strike at the same place as hunting situation, which sandbaged shots will not (they go high for me). Back to the topic, I love my little Marlin rifle, and thought a rifle would surely be more accurate than a shotgun. Not so, with pistol cartridges at least. I've loaded, tuned, and shot a lot from the bench, watched others, read all I can, and I've never seen real test results showing 2 moa or better. Not talking about shooting a good group, but consistent good groups. Mine started out as a 4 MOA rifle with best loads, and is now about a 2 1/2 MOA rifle with one very hot load using the Hornady 265 gr 444 bullet. I hope I can push it fast enough for decent expansion, as it is designed for a faster cartridge. Bottom line, no practical reason to put away the slug gun in favor of a lever rifle in Indiana. Slug gun is equally accurate, and much more powerful. Recoil sensitivity is a consideration, and a good reason to move to the 44 I guess. I've read about the single shots chambered for the 50 S&W, and I personaly rechambered one for the 445 Supermag, which has been great fun. So far, I've not seen or heard of empirical test results showing consistent 2moa or better. If someone can educate me, I'd love to use the 445 SuperMag (.429-.430) with the new pointy Hornady bullet, IF I could get the arbitrary 2 MOA or better. Otherwise, for practical purposes, I can't yet improve on my old reliable 870.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Welcome to Big Deer

  • About This Blog

    The blogosphere has changed the way we talk about world events, politics, entertainment…and now hunting. Come join the discussion...think, learn and tell us what's on your mind. This blog is also the place to see and read about some of the biggest whitetail bucks shot in North America. Send me your story and photo!

Big Deer Blog™

  • a Big Deer, Inc. website
    (c) Big Deer, Inc. All Rights Reserved


My Photo


  • “Some men are obsessed with good guns, fine wine and beautiful women. I am consumed with one day shooting a drop-tine buck.”—Hanback, January 1, 2008, the day this blog was launched

Get Updates Delivered!