We evaluated the impact and penetration characteristics of the Remington® Copper Solid™ sabot shotgun slug with standardized ballistic tests and used this information to predict tissue wounding patterns. This unique ammunition, first distributed in 1993, is composed of a solid copper, hollow-point slug with longitudinal slots cut into the nose. The slug is fitted into a hard plastic sabot with 8 finger-like projections and loaded into a shotgun shell with two plastic wads separating it from the underlying gunpowder charge. The ammunition was fired through a 12-gage shotgun using a rifled barrel, a smooth-bore barrel with rifled choke, and a smooth-bore barrel with a smooth modified choke into targets consisting of poster board and 10% ballistic gelatin at a variety of distances.
The copper slug and plastic sabot created single 8-fingered asterisk-shaped defects in the poster board when fired at distances of less than 7 to 9 ft (∼2 to 3 m). All three barrel types performed similarly. At greater distances, the sabot impacted the targets separately from the slugs and created variably shaped defects that reflected base-first, nose-first, and side-first impacts. Increasing muzzle-to-target distances generally increased the impact distances between the slug and sabot. There was no predictable relationship between the sabot and slug impact points for any of the three barrel types. With each barrel tested, the wads created separate defects from the slug at distances greater than 5 ft (1.5 m). The distances between the slug and the wad impact points increased with increasing muzzle-to-target distances up to 40 ft (12 m), after which the wads generally no longer struck the targets. The slug created atypical defects at distances between 7 and 150 ft (∼2 to 45 m), probably due to yawing or tumbling.
When the slug impacted the gelatin block in a nose-first orientation, the slotted nose portion tended to fragment and radially deposit pieces in the gelatin that were visible on radiographs. When the slug struck the gelatin target in a side-first orientation, it passed through the gelatin intact.
The slug, sabot, and wads of this unique projectile separate and create independent impact points in a stereotypical manner independent of barrel type. This pattern of separation allows estimates to be made of ranges of fire. Wounds created in human tissues by this ammunition would likely have similar asterisk-shaped configurations, and nose fragments may be deposited in tissues and seen radiographically. Rectangular wounds created by the tumbling or yawing slug might be mistaken for intermediate target wounds.