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Can You Shoot a Slug Through a Full Choke?


One of the great things about shotguns is their versatility, especially since they can use different types of ammunition, such as shotshells and slugs. If you’re interested in shooting slugs, you might have encountered a common problem: can you shoot a slug through a full choke?

You can shoot a slug through a full choke, but it comes with risks, including barrel damage and reduced accuracy. The practical impact of these risks depends on the specific shotgun and slug combination you use. Nevertheless, shooting slugs through cylinder bores or moderate chokes is best.

Although I’ve been an avid shooter for over 30 years, I learned my lessons regarding shotgun slugs and full chokes early on as a Boy Scout. Below you’ll find the wisdom I gleaned from various unadvised childhood experiments, particularly the risks and benefits of shooting different types of slugs through a full choke. Read on, and then you can decide for yourself if it’s worth the risk to your gun.

What Happens When You Shoot a Slug Through a Full Choke?

Man Looking Down the Scope of a Shotgun Pointed at the Camera

The purpose of a choke is to change the pattern of your shot so they aren’t designed for use with slugs. When a slug is fired through a full choke, the tight constriction of the choke can impact the slug’s performance and safety in several ways.


  • Barrel damage: One of the main concerns when shooting slugs through a full choke is the potential for barrel damage. If you repeatedly fire slugs through a full choke, the increased pressure will likely widen the choke over time. This consequence is particularly true in older shotguns or those made with lower-quality materials.
  • Reduced accuracy: Although full chokes can improve the accuracy of shot shells, they can reduce the accuracy of slugs, especially if they’re rifled. The tight constriction of the choke may cause the slug to deform as it passes through the barrel, negatively impacting its flight trajectory and, ultimately, its accuracy. If it’s a rifled slug, it may hinder its spin.
  • Increased recoil: Firing slugs through a full choke may result in more recoil because it will create more pressure in the barrel. Aside from being uncomfortable, this could hinder your aim.


  • Improved penetration: The extra constriction of the full choke can help maintain the slug’s velocity and energy so it penetrates deeper into the target.
  • Greater range: In the case of non-rifled slugs, if the slug size and constriction are right, it could increase your range by increasing the slug’s velocity and flattening its trajectory.

The Verdict: Use Caution When Shooting Slugs Through a Full Choke

While it’s possible to shoot slugs through a full choke, doing so comes with potential risks, including barrel damage and reduced accuracy. It has some possible benefits too, but they usually don’t outweigh the risks. In general, I recommend sticking with a cylinder bore or, at most, a moderate choke if you’re shooting slugs.

The Type of Slug Makes a Difference

Boxes of Slug Shotgun Shells and Buckshot Shotgun Shells

Though the above is a good general overview of the risks and benefits of shooting a slug through a full choke, the slug’s actual behavior will depend significantly on the type of slug you’re using. The slug type should factor into your decision to shoot a slug through a choke.

Foster Slugs

You may know these better as “American slugs.” Because Foster slugs have a hollow base, they usually handle chokes well. The base compresses, thereby minimizing damage to the shotgun barrel.

However, you’ll usually lose some accuracy if you shoot a Foster slug through a full choke. This limitation is due to the slug’s rifling. The choke interferes with the slug’s spin and negates the benefits of the rifling.

Sabot Slugs

Sabot slugs don’t pass through full chokes as well as Foster slugs. The choke is likely to interfere with the detachment of the plastic sabot so that the slug will travel in an unpredictable and inaccurate trajectory.

While the risk to the shotgun barrel is minimal with sabot slugs, it’s still greater than with Foster slugs. The plastic slightly increases friction and pressure within the barrel, which could warp it over time, especially with repeated and frequent use.

Brenneke Slugs

You may know these better as “European slugs.” This type is the worst slug to shoot through a full choke because its solid construction doesn’t adapt well to the choke and forces the barrel to expand instead. Even infrequent shooting of Brenneke slugs through a full choke can lead to damage.

Frangible Slugs

Frangible slugs are unlikely to cause barrel damage like Brenneke slugs do, but I would still say that it’s pointless to shoot them through a full choke. After all, frangible slugs are incredibly fragile, designed to break apart rapidly on impact. This makes them a popular choice for home defense, though I would even argue that they’re not particularly useful for that.

If you shoot one through a full choke, it will disintegrate in the barrel and spray your attacker with painful but hardly debilitating dust. It will also pollute your barrel for future use—assuming you make it out of that home defense situation alive. 

The Verdict: Use Foster (Not Brenneke) Slugs With a Full Choke

If you’re going to shoot a slug through a full choke, make it a Foster—or American—slug. Don’t shoot a Brenneke—or European—slug through a full choke, and don’t bother trying a sabot or frangible slug because it defeats the purpose of those designs. 

Parting Shot

While you can shoot a shotgun slug through a full choke, I recommend consulting the shotgun manufacturer’s recommendations and testing the specific combination of shotgun, choke, and slug to ensure safety and performance. 

Shooting a slug through a full choke could damage the shotgun and reduce its functionality, especially if you do it repeatedly. When in doubt, seek guidance from an experienced gunsmith or shooting instructor, and prioritize safety when handling firearms.

For more, check out Can You Shoot 2 3/4″ Shells in a 3″ Chamber? | What to Know.