For years I have been intrigued with single shot rifles and wanted at least one for my collection. I had been able to shoot several of the different makes in the past including the Ruger Number 1 and the Thompson Center Contender/Encore. Personally I like the idea of just changing barrels to change calibers but I have never cared for the style of TC's firearm. The Ruger is a fine looking rifle and it fits me well, but if you want one in another caliber you have to buy a whole new rifle.
Enter the Mossberg SSI-One. This single shot firearm has been around since the late 90's, has the streamlined looks of the Ruger and like the Encore it is available in several calibers. To me this firearm shoulders and fits well, has the lines of a fine rifle and holds steady. I have heard it refered to as "The Poorman's Ruger #1". I wanted one. I was looking for one in .270 and finally bought one in 30-06 caliber earlier this year. It was just to good of a deal to pass up and I will be just as happy with the 06 anyway. Besides I can always get a 270 barrel for it. When I took posession of it I made a list of other barrels I would like to have for it. These "extra barrels" come with its own forend and a weaver scope base. First among the other barrels I wanted was the 12 gauge rifled slug barrel and the possibly the .243 or 22-250.
The SSI does not come in as wide a selection of calibers as the Encore, but the choice is respectable; The .223 barrels come in both standard and heavy variations, as does the 22-250. Other calibers include the .243, and .308. There is also a "very tight choked" smoothbore 12 gauge barrel for turkey hunting.
It should also be noted that the SSI-One does not appear in Mossbergs current line up of firearms on their website. I have heard through the grapvine that they have quit making it for at least the rest of this year. Whether production will resume next year or not is not known at this time. There are however a number of new unfired and used gun and barrel combinations in the hands of dealers and the general public.
Simmons 44 Mag 3-10 Scope
As for the 30-06, I topped it with a Simmons 44 Mag 3-10 scope that I have had for years. It is still a very accurate scope and gave me good service when it was mounted on a Remington 788 in 308 caliber that I have had since the mid 70's. The first time at the range with the ought six we only had time to shoot a box or so of ammo at 25 yrds. I used some standard Remington Express 150 grain PSP Core-lokts and some Remington Reduced Recoil 125gr PSP Core-Lokts. After sighting it in at 25 yards we did pop a few water filled Mountain Dew bottles at 100 yards just for fun.
Note: For the ballistically challenged the line of sight is a flat line from the eye to the target. Since gravity effects all things with mass the flight path of a bullet must be an arc or it will never impact the line of sight. The bullet starts out below the line of sight with the rear of the barrel father below the line of sight than the front of the barrel. Because of the arc the fired bullet will "rise" above the line of sight at a given distance from the barrel, reach the apex of its arc at a given point downrange and then as the effects of gravity take over it will "fall" below the line of sight at a given distance from the barrel. A knowledgeable shooter can save ammo by knowing where these line of sight intersections take place with certain ammo and use the closer distance to "sight" the rifle in. After doing so one should always shoot at the farther distance to verify the sight and possibly make any fine adjustments.
Remington 30-06 ammo
In the case of the 150 grain load I used and the length of the barrel the bullet will first cross the line of sight at about 37 yrds and cross it again at 250 yards and be aproximately 2 1/2 inches high at 100 yards. In our short session we did not find the recoil of the 150 grain loads objectionable, but after shooting the 125 grain Reduced Recoil loads and then shooting the 150's again the difference, to say the least, was very noticable. The Reduced Recoil loads in the 30-06 are supposed to have more power than the 30-30 and have a range of 200 plus yards for deer size game. It was also our experience that, as Remington advertisies, they do shoot to the same point of impact as normal 30-06 150 grain loads.
Bushnell Banner Shotgun Scope
Recently I was able to aquire an unfired NIB 12 gauge rifled slug barrel for my SSI. It was still warm from the box UPS delivered it in when I mounted a Bushnell Banner 1.5 - 4.5 shotgun scope on it. From my perspective the one drawback is that the slug barrel is ported. I realize it probaly helps manage the recoil some and I shouldn't complain, but I have just not settled into the idea of holes in my barrels yet and it is just one more thing that needs to be cleaned.
Mossberg SSI- One Shotgun Barrel
Setting up on the range to sight the shotgun barrel we placed the target at 25 yards. At that range it initially shot about 3 inches to the right and 2 inches low with Remington Premier Copper Solid one ounce 2 3/4 inch Sabot slugs. A bit of a sight adjustment and we moved the target stand out to 50 yards.
Aside: When sighting in a 12 gauge shotgun it should be done at 50 yards. Because of slug velocity and wind speed if a shotgun is sighted in at 100 yards it is technically only sighted in for that days wind and will not impact the same sighting on successive days. At 50 yards the slug is still super sonic and uneffected by the wind. Sighting in a 12 gauge slug gun to impact 2 1/2 - 3 inches high at 50 yards will have that firearm dead on at 100 yards on a windfree day. Practice is required to learn the compensation for wind drift at 100 yards after the gun has been "zeroed" 3 inches high at 50 yards.
Shooting at 50 yards showed that the slugs were still printing a bit to the right. I over adjusted and had the next two printing left. a final adjustment was made and the last two were essentially about 2 inches high and center. (see accompanying target)
50 Yard Target
Shooting 10 rounds (about 20 dollars worth of ammunition) I was was very impressed with the way the SSI handled and shot. Recoil was far from objectionable, probably due to the ported barrel I'm sure. It will take a few more boxes of ammo before I will be ready to hunt with this gun with the 12 gauge barrel installed, but I think that it will do what I want it to and I am already tasting the venison I hope to take on a trip to Ohio this deer season.
Even with the very little shooting I have done with this firearm using either barrel I am impressed with it and look forward to using it in the field in the near future and years to come. It handles very well, fits me and is showing itself to be a very accurate gun.
As a final note I would like to impart two observations that I have formulated in a lot of years of shooting slugs from shotgun barrels. The first is that slug barrels of the rifled variety require the use of sabot rounds. I don't know if the Foster type slugs will "lead up" a rifled barrel or not, but I do believe that the sabot makes for a more accurate clean shooting round in the rifled barrels. The second is the the grooves that are swaged into the soft lead of the Foster type slugs are not ment to make the slug spin in the barrel of a smooth bore shotgun. They do however give stability and possibly some spin to the flight of a slug once it has departed the barrel, much the same way dimples effect the flight of a golf ball.