Shotguns are simple to use, and great for home defense, bird hunting, and just looking like Mad Max.

With a sawed off scattergun slung on your back the beginning of the zombie apocalypse might even be a little fun. Even the racking sound is so unmistakable that children can identify it.

An old technology, beginning with the concept of the Blunderbuss, evolving into the famous Brown Bess used by the British military from 1722 to 1838, then used in WWI in the form of trench gun, and up to hundreds of variants today. The shotgun is a versatile weapon.

  • A shotgun has a smoothbore barrel as opposed to a rifled barrel. If it were rifled then, well, it would be a rifle.
  • Shotguns fire shells, or shot. Shells are full of individual pellets.

The energy of the ignited powder is dispersed equally to all the pellets. The pellets disperse in a large pattern after they leave the barrel. At a longer distance pellets hit at a lower velocity, making it ideal for hunting birds.

  • Some shells contain a solid slug, making more of a tiny cannon.
  • A shotgun is categorized by its gauge. For instance, the American military uses a 12-gauge shotgun. The gauge number is determined by the weight, in fractions of a pound, of a solid sphere of lead with a diameter equal to the inside diameter of the barrel. So, a 12 gauge shotgun nominally should have an inside diameter equal to that of a sphere made from one-twelfth of a pound of lead. By far, the most common gauges are 12, 20, but there are also 32, 28, 24, 16, and 10 gauge.