Shooting Slugs Out Of a Smooth and Rifled Barrel
You can shoot any type slug out of a smooth bore barrel, but there is debate on accuracy when using a choke or rifled choke. A Foster slug or what some call an America slug, is designed for a smooth bore barrel. The slug has a deep hollow in the back that allows the center of gravity to be in the front. This stabilizes the slug in flight so it can right its self if it begins to tumble or spin. The typical range is 75 yards.
The newer Foster slugs will have grooves or rifling cut into the slug to reduce wind drag and friction along the barrel. The cuts do not cause the round to spin as it comes out of the smooth bore however. You can fire Foster slugs through a rifled barrel but they can “foul” the barrel to some extent by lead building up along the rifling. Keep the choke open to cut down on wear and tear of the choke and to maintain accuracy. The lead in the slugs will not appreciably wear the rifling down because it is much softer than the barrel material. Steel buckshot or birdshot will however wear the rifling down over time.
Some shooters ask can you shoot a slug from a smooth bore. The answer is of course you can. Smooth bores are not just for buckshot or birdshot.
Saboted slugs have lead cores with a copper jacket. The rifled slugs are designed to fire through a rifled barrel. The design allows the slug to engage the rifling and spin once it leaves the muzzle. The slugs are bullet shaped and the range is considerably more than a smooth bore shooting slugs. The accuracy is similar to that of a typical rifle. Many shooters will use a scope when firing rifled slugs because of the considerable increase in range. You can use Sabot slugs in a non-rifled barrel but accuracy and range is diminished.
Some weapons allow you to switch barrels, so you can have a smooth bore for lead non-rifled slugs and birdshot and then change out for a rifled barrel, for greater ranges. There are steel slugs available that have a plastic sheathing to protect the rifling. These slugs are not designed for hunting because of over penetration but are used in tactical situations and are typically used to blow door locks, penetrate/destroy cinderblock walls or disable moving vehicles.
Rifled barreled shotguns and slugs are considerably more expensive that your typical slug and smooth bore. The cost factor is what keeps many firing their smooth bore and firing at game beyond 75 or a hundred yards is dangerous to other hunters is the thinking of many old time hunters.
However, if increased accuracy and range is important than you would need to invest in a rifled barreled shotgun. Make sure you invest in a quality scope so you can fine tune accuracy for shooting at longer ranges.
It will take some experimentation with barrels and slugs to find the range and accuracy you are looking for. Remember the most expensive gun you purchase is only as good as the shooter using it. Work on your basic shooting skills and prefect them into advanced shooting and hunting skills while you try to improve the quality of your weaponry.