When you're going up against demons, Nazis, terrorists, aliens, robots, the undead, mobsters, robots, mutants, and or gigantic bugs, there is no better weapon for a close encounter than a shotgun. It will pretty much fuck up any bird's day too.

Who wants some!?!

Just The Facts

  1. Unless you have ninja like reflexes and have the swordsmanship skills of an anime character, the shotgun is the ultimate close range weapon.
  2. The shotgun is an incredibly versatile weapon and can shoot a plethora of different projectiles from multiple barrels, at different rates, with different actions.
  3. In any game that involves guns at all, the shotgun has appeared in it.


Hunting, combat, sport, warfare, whatever the cause, the shotgun rises to the occasion with unrivaled devastation at close ranges. With a variety of actions, gauges, and ammunition, the shotgun is incredibly versatile as well.

Typically, the name "shotgun" refers to smoothbore firearms that fire clouds of lead pellets. Their range is limited, though anything living within that range can easily be chewed up beyond recognition.

The remains of a home invader who didn't know the owners had a 12-gauge.

The most common of the shotguns would most likely be the pump action shotgun. The slide attached to the tubular magazine of a shotgun allows the user to manually load another shell by ejecting the expended one, putting a fresh shell into place, and cocking the hammer, all with the pull of a slide. Break action shotguns are common as well. Usually in hunting. More so with the hunting of clay pigeons. With the lack of a tubular magazine, owners of break action shotguns are able to alter the length of the gun's barrels and make the weapon easier to conceal shotgun with a wider spread. Such acts have forced laws to be created requiring barrels to be a certain length in order to be considered legal. Lever action shotguns exist as well which was created when John Browning said to his co-workers at Winchester, "We should make a shotgun." And then someone said, "That's a good idea, but shotguns use pump action. We only make guns with lever action." And John Browning replied, "Fine then. I'll make one that uses lever action!" The other type worth mentioning is the automatic shotgun, which was apparently created for people who can't aim at all. Some might know of the AA-12 from the latest Call of Duty game, but there exists a scarier version of the automatic shotgun called the Pancor Jackhammer which, according to National Firearms Act, is a machine gun that uses shotgun shells.


And then there's the ammunition! Holy shit, is there ammunition for the shotgun. Here's a few worth mentioning.


In the late 1700's, a down on his luck hunter to the sky and said, "I wonder if birds can dodge flying clouds of metal." In 1782, the process for producing buckshot was patented. A guy in England got on top of a three story tall tower he had built next to his house and dropped molten metal into this empty building, which landed in a pool of water. Since metal becomes spherical when it drops, the guy had tiny metal pellets in that pool of water. Shot is the mainstay of shotgun ammunition. Used on humans and birds alike, when you're using shot, you're pretty much guaranteed to hit something.


Let that image sink in for a moment. A shotgun slug is essentially a bullet designed to be fired from a smoothbore barrel. Law enforcement uses them for their accuracy, though this type of ammunition requires that you actually aim. Some slug varieties are also designed to be "less than lethal", and are made out of stuff like rubber.


Replace that cloud of metal with chunks of salt. Rock salt isn't something that damages. It is something that inflicts one metric fuckton of pain on whatever it hits. Shells with chunks of salt in them were generally hand crafted and are primarily used away from civilization as a way to warn intruders that next time they came over they would be filled instead with metal pellets.


Yep. There are shotgun shells that allow you to shoot fire. Though it only has the range of a flame thrower and each shell burns for only a few seconds. It doesn't have much tactical use other than to get the attention of whoever it is you're shooting at by going, "I can set you on fire or feed you lead for breakfast!"


Your target wearing a bullet proof vest? Pick up some flechette rounds, tiny metal darts crammed into a shotgun shell. American troops used them in Vietnam though the darts weren't stabilized after a certain distance while flying through the air, so people stopped using it. This one's bad, but maybe not as bad as rock salt. And definitely not as bad as...


Currently being developed for military use, grenades designed to be fired from shotguns do exist. Yeah. An explosion delivered via shotgun. You lose.

Shotguns in Real Life

Shotguns have always been used as tools for hunting, though they weren't really used in warfare until the Civil War where Confederate used them when riding up close and feeding the Union troops face fulls of lead, screws, nails, rocks, and anything else they could fire out of the barrels.

Confederate Cavalry, practitioners of the "drive by"

After the Civil War, shotguns were the stars in trench warfare in World War I, where shotguns were modified with shorter barrels, heat shields, and bayonets, and were dubbed "trench guns".

Cramped spaces? Troops clumped together? Flying clouds of lead pellets? Do the math.

In and out of military use, shotguns are generally used in defenses of all types. Homes, ships, machine gun nests, trains, etcetera. Speaking of trains, passengers on trains and stagecoaches who carried lock boxes and the like were accompanied by at least one shotgun toting guard. Hence the phrase, "riding shotgun".

Today, shotguns are used by the military and law enforcement in close quarter situations and are owned by many citizens for home defense.

Shotguns in Entertainment

When you're running through levels of any shooter, the shotgun is the best way to say "kiss your ass goodbye" to whatever unfortunate turd gets close. Conversely, if you're being charged by a shotgun toting enemy, you might want to try kissing your own if you don't kill them quick enough. Zombies? Demons? Aliens? All taken care of with a shotgun.

In any form of entertainment, any character carrying a shotgun is a badass, or rather, is supposed to be one. Some of the more notable users of the shotgun are so badass that they defy the laws of reality with their shotgun marksmanship.

Inspector "Tequila" Yuen

Portrayed by: Chow Yun-Fat

Appeared In: Hard Boiled

The starring character of a film with one of the highest body counts in history, Tequila is a heavy drinking, clarinet playing police officer who can take on criminals by assaulting them with a hurricane of gunfire. To be fair, Tequila used his pistols in the movie more than he used a shotgun predominantly while he was taking down bad guys in the hospital. We're not sure if gun ballet gives him a wider spread while using shotguns, but there are instances in the hospital shootout where he kills two people at once with a single shot.

"Mad" Max Rockatansky

Portrayed by: Mel Gibson

Appeared in: Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome

A former member of law enforcement in Australia, Max survived three movies in the dystopia down under with his reflexes, driving skills, ability to wear leather jackets, and a sawn-off shotgun, which he's used with or without shells. A notable use for his shotgun would be the instance when he rigged it to his dog so that the shotgun would fire when the pooch would move around. He's favored this weapon over the other weapons readily available (and loaded), even when he's being run over by some delinquent on a bike.

El Mariachi

Portrayed by: Carlos Gallardo, Antonio Banderas

Appeared in: El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico

A wandering musician (and known only as such) who carried around an armory in his guitar case. He's pulled everything from pistols to submachine guns from his case and has even used said case as ordinance in some situations. However, his favored weapon is a sawn-off shotgun, which is the exact same model as the one used by Malone in the Untouchables. El Mariachi's skill with the weapon is devastating, and he can accomplish anything from shooting off someone's kneecaps completely to firing six shots without reloading with a weapon that should only hold two shells.

The Terminator

Portrayed by: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Appeared in: Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation

In every movie he has appeared in (except Salvation), the Governator Terminator has favored a shotgun and has stolen his weapons, and clothing, from bikers. The best known instance would be in Judgment Day, which sent the Winchester Model 1887 into stardom. Using the firearm for a majority of the movie, the Terminator had a surgical aim with the weapon and displayed the reloading action known as the "flip cock".

Chev Chelios

Portrayed by: Jason Statham

Appeared in: Crank, Crank: High Voltage

Chev is a contract killer who can never seem to stand still. Not because he's restless, or something like that, but because he's having problems with his heart and may die if he's idle for too long. Chelios only used a shotgun once out of the two movies he was in, though it is worth mentioning this because rarely in cinema do we see someone administering a 12-gauge suppository as an interrogation method.

Ash Williams

Portrayed by: Bruce Campbell

Appeared in: Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness

We'd have to be primitive fuckheads to leave this guy off the list. How could you? Ash successfully defended himself against the undead, evil spirits, an army, his hand, Freddy and Jason, and himself with little more than a shotgun. The man is a god. How could you contend with "This... is... my... BOOMSTICK!"