So this past weekend I tried out a number of rifled slugs in my Remington 870 tactical express smooth bore 18" barrel. From this inexpensive setup, I was able to shoot Remington Sluggers right on top of each other in a tight group (with the assistance of a gun vise) from 100 yds away. Other slug brands did not perform well in my particular 870 - this includes Federal Tru-balls, Brenneke KO's, and Winchester hollow-point rifled slugs. They were all over the place at 100 yds, no consistency at all.
So, I have a fully rifled 24" barrel for my Rem. 870, I have not fired a shot through it yet. I plan on taking it to the range tomorrow to fire a few brands of slugs through it - Brenneke KO's are labeled for use in both smooth bore and rifled barrels, the Sluggers are labeled as optimized for smooth bore (but can be fired through a rifled barrel), and I have a box of Lightfield hybrid EXP expansion sabots that I intend on trying out as well.
What I'm hoping is that I find that shooting through the rifled barrel is only marginally better, at best, than shooting rifled Sluggers through my stock Rem. 870 18" smooth bore barrel. If that ends up being the case, I'll be returning the rifled barrel.
My question is: Am I completely wasting ammo by firing rifled slugs through a rifled barrel (even though they're labeled for use in rifled barrels)? OR have others found that rifled slug performance is noticeably improved through a rifled barrel (though I can't imagine an improvement over what I experienced through my smooth bore barrel this past weekend)? Sabots as we all know are much more expensive than rifled slugs, but if I can fire them in a precise grouping at greater distances (beyond 100 yds), it may be worth keeping the rifled barrel especially since Niagara county does not yet allow rifle hunting. Just wanted others' thoughts on this. Thanks!