I had a friend ask me, "O_P, could you shoot buckshot through a rifled barrel and a cylinder bore barrel and post the differences on your website?"

Well, as is sometimes the case, I do not presently own a shotgun with both a cylinder bore barrel and a rifled slug barrel. But I started looking for one.

I finally remembered that my friend Vern had such a set-up that he used for deer hunting. I gave him a call and explained the problem to him and he agreed to go to the range with me and see what we could see.

Here's the gun.

Here's the gun.​

It is a Remington 11-87, set up with a 20.5 inch rifled slug barrel and a 1.5 X 5 power scope for deer hunting.

He also has a 28 inch barrel with an Improved Cylinder choke that we will use today.

We intended to shoot three different loads today at three different yardages.

(But we had to have a change in plans.)


Here's the loads.​

Wolf 00 Buckshot, 9 pellets. This load has no shot cup or buffer material, and usually spreads quickly.

Hornady Light Mag 00 Buckshot. This load has a good shot cup and usually shoots tight patterns.

Estate SWAT Reduced Recoil, 00 Buckshot Load.

Why these three loads? Because I needed at least 6 rounds of each and these were what I had on hand.

We planned to shoot them at three ranges, 5 yards, 10 yards, and 25 yards, out of both barrels.

We know from our past experiments, that the pattern of the buckshot will increase at approximately 1 inch per yard of distance. So, we expect to see "approximate" patterns of 5 inches at 5 yards, 10 inches at 10 yards, and 25 inches at 25 yards.

We want to see if the rifled barrel causes to shot to spread out more and also see if it causes "donut" patterns due to the rifling "slinging" the buckshot out more.

Only one way to find out, right?

To start out, we tried the shotgun with the rifled barrel and sabot slugs at 25 yards.

Vern shot one round and it went right to point of aim.

I then tried a shot and it went through the same hole.

I guess that shows the accuracy of a rifled barrel and good quality sabot slugs.

It also shows that we know when to quit.

43-3Then, we set the paper at 5 yards and shot with the smooth barrel, then the rifled barrel.

Here's the results with the Improved Cylinder smooth bore.

Here's the results with the Improved Cylinder smooth bore.​

Nice tight patterns, just as expected.

Let's try the Wolf at 5 yards with the rifled barrel.

Here's the results.

Here's the results.​

Notice that the pattern opened up to 18 inches, and definitely has the "donut" pattern as expected.

Then the Hornady, that usually has a tight pattern, at 5 yards with the rifled barrel.

It spread the pattern out to 17 inches.


Well, let's try them at 12 yards, about as far as one might expect to shoot at in-the-home distances.

First, we will try the Hornady Buckshot at 12 yards with the smooth bore.

We got a nice, tight 4 inch pattern.


Then at 12 yards with the rifled barrel.

We shot it "over" the last pattern, and notice that the rifled barrel has spread it out to 25 inches.

We had planned to shoot out to 25 yards, not very common in in-the-home situations, but it was obvious that with the rifled barrel, we would not stay on the paper.


Lessons Learned:

  1. The rifled barrel did indeed cause the buckshot to spread out much more than the smooth barrel.
  2. We also saw the "donut" shape to the patterns that were rumored to happen.
  3. If a person asks, "Can I use a rifled barrel to shoot buckshot?", the answer is, "Yes, but it will cause a very large increase in pattern size." And, past 12 yards, you would probably miss with more buckshot than you will hit with. And remember, you are responsible for every round of shot that goes down range.
  4. It's fun to shoot stuff.