Preview: Hornady's New Twenty Gauge Slug Load, 20 Gauge Superformance® Slug 250 gr MonoFlex®

Hunter numbers are up. The number of hunters age 16 and older in the United States increased 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, reversing a previous downward trend, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Today, we have some 14 million hunters, hunters that spent $34 billion on trips, firearms and equipment, licenses, and so forth in 2011.

In many areas with strong deer populations, including here in Illinois, hunting deer with shoulder-fired firearms is only possible with slug guns or muzzleloaders. Muzzleloaders have far better accuracy and range, thanks to better propellants, sabots, and projectiles. The restriction is that it is handloading in the field, with only one instant shot available.

In many areas, most deer are taken at the ranges they have always been taken at: 50 – 120 yards. If you are hunting in the timber, accuracy and performance past 100 yards may well be moot for you. In any case, 20 gauge slug guns have dramatically improved and so has the ammunition. The old notion of hit a pie plate at 25 yards with a Foster slug out of a smoothbore and call it good is ancient history.

The two most accurate 20 gauge slug guns tested have been the Ithaca Deerslayers and the Savage 220. Like all rifles, the best ammunition is a matter of trial and error. Slug guns shooting saboted projectiles are particularly ammunition-sensitive, and once you get your barrel hot at the range you might as well go home.

When the Savage 220 was first introduced, after testing most of the saboted 20 gauge rounds on the market, Savage decided to include a hang-tag suggesting Remington Accu-Tips and Federal Barnes Expanders as the ammunition most likely to give excellent results. The Federal Barnes three inch loads were thew most consistent in my test guns, but unfortunately those rounds have been discontinued.
That left the Remington Accu-Tips as the best option and the best place to start. In general, the less freebore you have, the better chance you have at accuracy. As a generalization, three inch unfolded length loads do better in three inch chambers, but that is merely a generalization. Sometimes, the 2-3/4 inch AccuTips have done just as well as the 3 inch, but that is as far from a certainty as there can be. The previous Hornady SST loads, available in 2-3/4 inch only, and the new Federal Trophy Coppers have given me uninspired accuracy. Your results will vary, in your gun.

The new Hornady loads, Superformance 250 grain Monoflex, are tough bullets: copper alloy (95% copper / 5% zinc). Though further testing is forthcoming, I did fire a couple of very quick, casual 100 yard groups through a pair of Savage 220s to see if they had the potential to group. They did, a stainless 220 firing a 2-1/2 inch group (above, left) with two bullets through one hole, a blued Savage 220 firing about a 2 inch group. All of the shots would have been quickly dead deer, considering a deer's 8-10 inch kill zone.

They are soft-shooting, and though not the highest muzzle velocity, they are more ballistically efficient than the Accu-Tips, and shot better (already) for me than the previous SST loads. They are worthy of your consideration, so if you are going the 20 gauge slug route this year, you might want to try both the Accu-Tips and these new Hornady Monoflex loads, and go with whatever your gun tells you is best.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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