Are There Armor Piercing Slugs?

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Armor Piercing slugs have been the answer to armor penetration for a long time in the history of ammunition and armor protection. The need for armor-piercing slugs has evolved with the demand falling in recent years, leading to a decline in the same production. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot find armor-piercing slugs if you needed some. They are still there and function as perfectly as before.

Armor-piercing slugs are meant for piercing through lightly armored targets such as bulletproof glass, body armor, and light armored vehicles. Questions have arisen over the past whether armor-piercing ammunition is legal or not. Well, the federal allows for the production and purchase of this ammunition, provided you have the requisite licensing

What Makes Up an Armor Piercing Slug?

An Armour piercing slug is made up of several components that team up to make it a full projectile for use in a shotgun. These components include primers, cartridge cases, slugs, and propellant powder that can be used on any firearm. 

Components of Armor Piercing Slugs

The components are broken down as follows.


These are the projectiles that you will fire from the firearm separated from the entire cartridge.


When you fire the gun, the firing pin strikes the primer, which in turn ignites the powder for an explosion. 

The Powder

This is the combustible part of the ammunition that catches fire and builds gas pressure that later propels the slug down the barrel. 

Cartridge Case

It is the overall coverage of all the components that make up the ammunition. It is commonly metallic mostly made of brass and sometimes aluminum, steel, or polymer.  

Types of Armor Piercing Slugs

Armor Piercing slugs existed and still exist in various types that function differently. We compiled a list of these slugs for you below:

Full-Bore Slugs

If you have used a full-bore slug before, you will agree that they have two main outstanding features: They are cheap, and they leave big holes upon impact with the surfaces they land on. For these two reasons, full-bore slugs have continued to outshine other shotgun slugs in the market. These other slugs may be faster, slimmer, shooting flatter, or even much costlier, but their rank plays nowhere near where full-bore slugs rank.

Full-bore slugs include the Brenneke and Foster types, which use the shuttlecock method of stabilization that involves placing the mass in front of the projectile. The rear is intentionally made lightweight to help it automatically correct the slug’s direction through aerodynamic forces to keep the nose pointed forward.

Let’s have a look at Brenneke and Foster slugs in detail below.

Brenneke Slug

You do not expect anything less than high-quality when you choose the Brenneke Slugs. These slugs are produced with high-quality materials, and they undergo strict quality control to ensure they are in perfect condition when you receive them. They were developed by a German gun and ammunition designer known as Wilhelm Brenneke in 1898.

When he made the first Brenneke slug, it was one made of lead, and it had some ribs that protruded out on its sides. It comes with a plastic, cellulose, or felt fiber attached to its base, which remained intact even after you fired it. The fiber’s primary purpose was to act as a gas seal but could also form a drag stabilization when fired.

The ribs are responsible for creating a rotational movement on the projectile as it travels down the bore. The rotation in return helps to improve accuracy by rectifying any irregularities the manufacturer may have imparted on the slug. Also, the ribs are responsible for reducing friction and increasing the slug’s velocity by reducing the contact surface with the bore.

Brenneke, compared to Foster slug, will give a more profound penetration upon impact thanks to its solid structure. It also deforms less when it hits the target.

Foster Slug

The Foster slug’s popularity began 125 years ago and has not stopped moving masses of shooters in the shotgun industry. The reason for its popularity for that extended duration is its effectiveness and ease of loading. You will undoubtedly fall in love with it since no other armor-piercing slug can match its simplicity. It is still the most popular armor-piercing slug used by the significant ammunition companies.

The slug takes the form of a shortened shuttlecock, which has a design similar to that of a badminton birdie. This design allows the slug to self-correct and concentrate mass in front of the slug while the hollowed waist or tail section brings stability to the flight path.

For all your close-range knockdown power needs, the foster slug will be an ideal consideration. Plus, it also comes in handy when you need something tough to crush through a dense brush. The inventor, Karl M. Foster, designed this shotgun slug to be fired through a smoothbore shotgun barrel. 

The foster slugs also have some ribs on the outside of the slide like the Brenneke. The ribs are responsible for imparting a rotation on the slug to correct any manufacturing irregularities. The ribs are also accountable for minimal friction on both the barrel and projectile and allows for an easy push of the slug through the choke when fired.  

Saboted Slugs 

If you have used rifled slugs before then, you will notice that sabot slugs improve what rifled slugs are. They are technologically superior to rifled slugs because they give more accuracy and can longer range from a shotgun. 

A sabot slug may not be the best option if you use a shotgun with a smoothbore barrel, especially when shooting from long ranges. You may encounter some accuracy challenges with this option. However, you can still achieve higher accuracy using a rifled barrel.

The sabot slugs do not contact the bore when fired, which means they can be made using various materials, including lead, steel, brass, and copper. The slugs come in different shapes but are commonly manufactured in bullet shape to help them have a better ballistic coefficient and an improved range.

An example of a sabot slug you could consider buying is the Federal power sabot slug. Have a look at what it presents.

Federal Power-Shok Sabot Slug

This type of sabot slug is made for rifled choke tubes, hollow sabot points, and rifled barrels. They are ideal for achieving high accuracy and maximum penetration, which ensures you get the best service from them.

Their ability to offer a consistent flow of quality services and their low prices makes them an ideal slug for those who spend a lot of time shooting. Their sales and production are restricted in some areas, so you may not get it in your area, depending on your local laws.

Plumbata Slugs

The Plumbata slugs are a hybrid of the Foster and Brenneke slugs. They have a hollow rear like the Foster, but they come with a special wad that fills the hollow base.  This wad keeps it attached to the slug when flying after you make a shot, much like what Brenneke does. The slugs exist in many different models in the market, giving you a wide range of options to choose from.

With the Plumbata wad, you can achieve exactly what the Brenneke do during drag stabilization. They fill the base cavity hence supporting the slug to prevent its deformation. The excellent news about Plumbata slugs is that you can shoot them through any choke. However, they only perform best with a cylinder or an improved cylinder choke.

The Plumbata slugs exist in two designs. You already know about that, it has a portion of wadding at its tail’s end to help it be stable through the air. The other design is the one that has a wad wrapping around the base of the slug, which engages grooves into the slug.

Wad Slugs

If you loved the foster slugs and the sabot slugs, you would undoubtedly be a fan of this slug type. The wad slugs bring a taste of both the foster and sabot slugs as it carries features of both. They are specifically designed to be fired through a smoothbore shotgun barrel.

Like the Foster slug, the wad slug has a deep hollow in its back to help retain its center of mass near the slug’s front tip. The difference between the two, though, is that a wad slug comes with a key or web wall molded across the deep hollow. This helps to span the hollow and increase the structural integrity of the slug. The slug also gets to expand a little lesser, which reduces the stress on the shot wad with which it flies down a barrel. 

Additionally, while foster slugs come with thin fins outside the slug, the wad slugs bring a different shape altogether. They are shaped with an ogive or bullet shape with a smooth outer surface to give them an easy time penetrating targets. A wad slag is crafted using pure led, which is ideal for improving safety if the slug is fired through a choked shotgun.

Wad slags are not only restricted to smoothbore shotgun barrels. You can as well fire them through rifled slug barrels. You also won’t have to worry about the lead used in making the slug. This is because the lead is nested inside a traditional shotshell wad, which functions as a sabot as it travels down the shotgun barrel.

Frequently Asked Questions about Armor Piercing Slugs

Here are some of the commonly asked questions on armor-piercing slugs.

What can Stop Armor Piercing Slugs?

Armor-piercing slugs can be stopped using a composite metal foam (CMF) material. Researchers at North Carolina State University developed this material. It can stop a ball and armor-piercing .50 caliber rounds and steel armor even though it weighs less than half as much.

What Armor Piercing Slugs can you use on a Rifled Barrel?

A rifled shotgun barrel works best with the sabot slugs. Do not tend to assume that the rifled barrel will always go with the rifled slugs. On the contrary, the rifled slugs work best with the smoothbore barrels.

Can a Civilian Buy Armor Piercing Slug?

Yes, you sure can. Going by the federal law, it is legal to make, sell, and purchase armor-piercing ammunition provided you have proper licensing.

Final Verdict

Armor-piercing slugs are mainly designed for shooting through armored targets to hit the intended target. While their use became controversial and attracted some attention to the law, they later resurfaced and again circulated. However, accessing and owning them now would demand you get clearance from the federal government. Their use is not just restricted to protection and self-defense against armed attackers. You can as well use them for hunting, especially deer hunting.

So, the next time you need slugs for your shotgun, you may as well consider trying these armor-piercing ones. Their precision, accuracy, and speed is the difference you need for a better hunting experience.

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