I was surprised when I went to Mills Fleet Farm yesterday to buy shotgun slugs for the upcoming 3A firearms season. I was there to buy a few five-round boxes of Federal sabot slugs, called Barnes Xpander.
They have performed beautifully for me, taking down nice bucks the last two years and at least a dozen other deer over the last 10 years. In all honesty, I was planning on using them for the rest of my shotgun hunting days.
Alas, I was shocked to discover that they were nowhere to be found at Fleet Farm. When I got home, I checked the website for Federal and learned that the company no longer makes the Barnes Xpander. It has been replaced by a slug called Vital Shok Trophy Copper.
I was stunned. Why would Federal try to fix something that isn’t broke? I have had great results with this copper slug. It’s very accurate all the way out to 100 yards, and I was done experimenting with shotgun slugs after trying these.
Now, I have to start all over again. I decided to look up information on the slug on Federal’s website, and the news might not be as bad as I think.
Seems the company has done some tweaking and come up with a slug that is slightly lighter than the 3/4-ounce Barnes Xpander that I used previously (the Xpander was offered in 3/4-ounce and 1-ounce slug weights, with me choosing the former for flatter shooting). The new slug weighs 300 grains, which is slightly lighter than the 3/4-ounce Barnes (.69 ounces when you convert)
I ended up calling Federal today and was able to talk to a customer service rep. He said that the Barnes bullet company was bought out, and the new company ended its relationship with Federal. So, Federal had no choice but to come up with a new slug to replace the Xpander.
The guy I talked to said a new slug already was in the works, so the company moved the development of it to the front burner. The new Vital Shok round is now on the shelves, and he said extensive testing by Federal indicates it is every bit as accurate as the Barnes, if not slightly more so.
I hope that’s true. Shotguns are notoriously finicky when it comes to different brands of slugs. Some shoot great, others horrible, and often there is no discernible reason for the difference.
So, the bottom line is: You have to try the slugs and see how they work in your gun. I am sure hoping these new slugs perform like the Barnes Xpanders did in my gun, a Remington 11-87 with a rifled barrel. There’s nothing like seeing your slugs consistently hit the bullseye at 50 yards, and even 100.
That’s what I got with the Xpanders. I will go out and buy some of the new Vital Shok and see if I can duplicate the results I had with the Barnes.
Stay tuned for a review!