Shotguns are powerful close-range weapons that shoot a spray of pellets.
Shotguns tend to have low accuracy and low magazine sizes compared to most other weapons in the game, sport medium rates of fire, and have a high degree of firepower per blast. At point-blank range, shotguns can cause even more damage than rocket launchers or sniper rifles. Reload times vary with the average being about 1.25 seconds or faster, while some models can go up to 3 seconds. This class of weapon comes in two subtle but distinct varieties.
Combat Shotguns are easily identified by a revolver-style rotating cylinder and comparatively lower rates of fire, inaccuracy, and increased firepower. These are on average though, and any of these qualities may dramatically swing in the opposite direction for particularly high-quality models. Capacity varies greatly, with the most common models holding 6 rounds of ammo, but with high-capacity models having 12 or more. 2-shot cylinders also exist, which tend to have increased damage, but the time spent reloading these shotguns tend to limit their uses in a sustained fight. Pellet count starts at 9 for the most basic weapons but can vary between 7 to 12 depending on model-type. Combat shotguns are made by Atlas, Dahl, Jakobs, Tediore, and Torgue.
Assault Shotguns are visually different by the inclusion of a detachable box magazine-style loading mechanism, increased rate of fire, comparatively better accuracy, and an increased instance of useful elemental tech abilities. Magazine size for assault shotguns is more consistent than the combat variety with a minimum of 5. Pellet count is also much more consistent as most models have 7 pellets in a blast. Assault shotguns are made by Hyperion, Maliwan, S&S Munitions, and Vladof.
Though shotgun pellets can travel an effectively unlimited range like all guns in Borderlands, the spread-effect of the weapon means that distant targets won't be hit most times, and when they are, it isn't with the entire spray. Therefore, shotguns should normally be used at close ranges. Aim when possible, but do not sight, to make each shot count and go for weak spots to maximize clustered critical hits. Again, do not bother sighting shotguns, run and gun, and run for cover when reloading.
For the same reasons real hunting shotguns are used for birds, shotguns are also very effective against rakk and their large in-game target profile even at a distance; when firing at a swooping flock of rakk, it is common to hit and kill several at once with each shot. Shotguns are also a good weapon to use against skags - especially the quick-reloading Tediore weapons, or the hard-hitting Jakobs models. Likewise, against psychos of all varieties, particularly Mutant Midget Psychos, shotguns are more than useful, as these enemies by nature approach very close range where shotguns are most powerful.
When choosing a shotgun that will serve the best, total damage (damage multiplied by pellet count) is the most valued attribute. Accuracy usually isn't as important at the close ranges at which one will be using the weapon. In fact, a narrower blast cone might actually be worse during frantic dodge-and-weave with skags and the larger forms of scythid. Against fragile rakk, a shotgun blast should hit as much of an approaching flock as possible, as hard as possible, with every pull of the trigger as opposed to methodically taking one rakk down at a time.
One exception to this rule is any shotgun with an accuracy of zero, such as Sledge's Shotgun, as the spread is too large for any reasonable damage output beyond point-blank range.
Another exception is encountered in the Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains missions in The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. The extra-accurate Death model assault shotgun allows for a tightly packed critical punch to any zombie's face at a decent range without the need to sight. Of similar note is the "Hunter's" type combat shotgun that has increased accuracy; centering a zombie's head in the reticle allows for a nearly-guaranteed chance of a decapitating headshot at medium range. This is reduced for those with the heads craned back.
Shotguns, with their generally low rates of fire, make for poor elemental weapons. The exceptions are shotguns with incendiary effects and the Maliwan Crux. While the likelihood that shotguns will actually cause a useful elemental trigger are low, incendiary weapons still have a default damage multiplier against enemies without working shields, especially skags. The Maliwan Crux, on the other hand, has a relatively high chance for corrosive effects, and if used up close, the multiple melting shots stack on top of each other, allowing for heavy damage-over-time effects and brutal follow-up blasts. Also, shotguns with a Carnage barrel invariably inflict their elemental effect with every single mini-rocket they fire, thus negating the typical elemental weakness of shotguns.
- Roland has a suite of skills specifically tailored to enhance the power of shotguns. The Soldier's skills and class mods can offer ammo regeneration, as well as increase the rate of fire, recoil reduction, damage, and magazine size of shotguns. The skill Scattershot, the game's only shotgun-specific skill, can both increase damage as well as decrease the blast cone radius, increasing the likelihood of clustered critical hits and having more pellets hit the target at range.
- Brick, being the close combat specialist and explosives expert, can get fair use out of shotguns. The Berserker's skills and class mods offer such features as decreased reload times and recoil, damage increases, rate of fire increases, and finally either further damage or ammo regeneration. Overall his high durability also lends itself well to close-range combat. The Ogre class mod from the third DLC is also specialized in shotguns for Brick.
- Lilith can make exceptionally fine use out of shotguns, popping in and out of existence close to her enemies, releasing dazing waves of energy and then shotgun blasts in short order. The Siren offers increased rates of fire, damage, pellet velocity, critical hit damage, and accuracy (reduced blast cone). Her role as the game's elemental specialist can also make Maliwan shotguns especially potent in her hands, offering increases to specific or blanket elemental effects, elemental severity, and trigger chance.
- Mordecai, being the sharpshooter that he is, might not seem like a good choice to wield a shotgun, however he does have traits that can make them useful to him. General weapon skills and class mods enhance damage, reload times, accuracy, critical damage, shield penetration, and rates of fire. A powerful 2-shot shotgun can replace the melee-oriented skills in the Hunter tree allowing players to instead concentrate on others.
- Shotgun - Balanced, fires 9 projectiles. May fire 7 if accurate enough for Hunter's prefix.
- Carnage "Holy crap! It shoots rockets!" - Single small rocket instead of projectiles. (Explosive damage if not other elemental.)
- Matador - +3 projectiles (12), wide spread.
- Scattergun +2 projectiles (11).
- Shredder - +2 projectiles (11), wider spread.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Boom Stick Beyond Groovy – Unique drop from Baron Flynt. Fires Carnage-style rockets with 600% Burst Fire at the cost of 0.0 accuracy and a long reload.
- Sledge's Shotgun The Legend Lives – Unique drop from Sledge. Shoots powerful shots with knockback, 10000% Burst Fire. 2-shot magazine and long reload.
- The Blister It's a painful thing – Unique mission reward from Like A Moth To Flame. Corrosive with a large zoom.
- T.K's Wave Ride the Wave, Dude! – Unique mission reward from T.K.'s Life And Limb. Shoots slower wave-pattern pellets in a horizontal line. +50% Critical Hit damage.
- Atlas Hydra Five heads of Death – Fires 10-12 projectiles in a 5-shot group in a horizontal line.
- Dahl Bulldog One Bad Dog! – 20-round extended magazine.
- Jakobs Striker Sniper Rifles are for Chumps. – Increased accuracy, +30% critical hit damage.
- Tediore Defender I can do this all day... – Ammo regeneration.
- Torgue Friendly Fire Have a nice day! – Incendiary rounds. Fixed smiley-face spread pattern that ignores the accuracy stat. May shoot rockets when generated with a Carnage barrel.
- Dahl Jackal This dog bites. – Fires a grenade, can have elemental effects.
- Hyperion Butcher Ahhh.... Fresh meat! – 5 round burst, 3 projectiles, slightly higher damage per projectile and very high fire rate.
- Maliwan Crux Bring out your Dead – High corrosive damage, usually x3 or x4. Developer fumble: was meant to be Maliwan Plague.
- S&S Crux Cross their heart, hope they die. – Explosive, usually x2 or x3. Fixed cross-shaped spread not based on accuracy stat.
- Vladof Hammer Drop the Hammer! – Explosive, usually x2 or x3. High fire rate. Hammer-shaped spread not based on accuracy stat.
Parts and naming
- Main article: Shotgun/parts
- Assault shotguns cannot be incendiary.
- Shotguns are the only weapon type that is made by all nine of the main weapons manufacturers.
- Shotguns that fire rockets behave in a similar manner to grenade launchers, and should be treated as such.
Shotguns continue to be premier close-range firearms in Borderlands 2 by firing numerous projectiles in a wide spread. Shotguns can have any number of barrels from one to four. More barrels consume more ammunition and are less accurate; however, they eject more projectiles per firing cycle. Fewer barrels fire more cycles before reloading. For room clearing, missiles, or killing rakk, it is advisable to choose a shotgun with multiple barrels. For sniping, a single barrel is preferable.
Unlike most weapon types in Borderlands 2, shotguns do not suffer a damage penalty for having an elemental capacitor. This makes non-elemental Bandit, Hyperion, or Tediore shotguns inferior to elemental versions for most tactical purposes, barring special cases such as: use with an Axton build incorporating Duty Calls or versus enemies who are resistant to specific elements. In light of this shotguns with shock capacitors are considered the most versatile.
Unlike Borderlands shotguns, there are no subtypes (Assault or Combat), and the shotgun mechanics depend upon the manufacturer.
Common shotguns are named by body and barrel manufacturer. Barrel manufacturer determines the number of barrels.
|Manufacturer||Number of barrels|
|2, Over/Under, Narrow (Hyperion)||2, Over/Under, Wide (Tediore)||2, Side-by-Side (Jakobs)||3 (Bandit)||4 (Torgue)|
|Bandit||Longer ragne kilier||Skatergun||Stret Sweper||Room Clener||Oberkil!|
|Hyperion||Thinking||Projectile Diversification||Face Time||Crowdsourcing||Development|
|Tediore||Sportsman||Home Security||Double Barrels!||Triple Barrels!||Shotgun Supreme!|
Only green or higher rarity shotguns may have three (Bandit) barrels, and only blue or higher rarity shotguns may have four (Torgue) barrels.
Shotguns consume one ammo per barrel when fired, with the exception of Hyperion and Tediore barrels, which fire one although they have two barrels, like a modern hunting double barreled shotgun, which is proven by the Vault Hunter having two shells on his speed loader when loading up a Longrider, Striker, or Scattergun shotgun.
- The Bandit advantage in magazine size is a significant benefit, since multi-barreled shotguns exhaust their magazine in a few shots. Also, Bandit weapons have a 15-20% damage bonus over Tediore and Hyperion shotguns, making them somewhat competitive despite Bandit-brand accuracy, recoil, and reload time penalties. Note that Bandit shotguns are pumped action and will have a longer delay between shots.
- Hyperion shotguns are handicapped by low initial accuracy, but reverse recoil improves their accuracy with each successive shot. Large magazines are preferable to fully exploit Hyperion guns.
- Jakobs shotguns have smaller magazines than usual, but deal high damage and have fast firing rates; however, one must be careful with their aim. Missing a shot can be a third to the whole magazine wasted. Due to this, Jakobs shotguns are a perfect weapon for Mechromancers who invested in Ordered Chaos skill tree, as any pellet that hits an enemy (direct hit or deflected by Close Enough) can grants a stack of Anarchy upon reloading.
- Tediore shotguns are average. Their 'grenade' reloads exhibit an unusual arc which increases the difficulty of their usefulness. The short reloading period is offset by low damage and longer delay between shots.
- Torgue shotguns lead in raw power due to their explosive bonus damage, particularly the quad-barreled Ravager. Even if the enemy doesn't die by the shot, they will be stunned by the explosion and become open to another shot. Poor accuracy and slow projectiles often limit Torgue shotguns to short range engagements. Unlike other brands, Torgue shotguns are ineffective against most flying enemies. Torgue shotguns usually trade accuracy for damage, the ones with more barrels fire more pellets and more damage on every pellet, but have a larger spread.
Borderlands 3Shotguns are once again the most effective close-range firearms in Borderlands 3, firing numerous projectiles in a wide spread. They have been given the unique ability to apply "knockback" on standard enemies, forcibly turning them into ragdolls if enough bullets hit them at close range and leaving them vulnerable. An enemy is only vulnerable to being ragdolled once every few seconds.
Each manufacturer now produces their own unique weapon parts, giving every shotgun various firing methods, magazines, and utility.
- Hyperion shotguns have a fast fire rate and can become the most accurate shotguns due to their reverse recoil, but tend to have low damage per shot. They feature the company's signature frontal shields, which can provide extra safety or buff the shotgun in different ways, such as amplifying its damage or returning bullets back into the magazine.
- Jakobs shotguns will spawn only in pump-action or single shot mode, with various reload mechanics such as single-shell or magazine. While their fire rates are capped by the gun's pump-action mechanic or limited magazine size, Jakobs shotguns still feature their renowned high damage and will cause bullets to ricochet towards other enemies on a critical hit, making them powerful in combat. Jakobs shotguns may sometimes spawn with an extra barrel, which allows pump-action variants to fire two shots before needing to be pumped, while granting single-shot variants an additional shot in the magazine.
- Maliwan shotguns spawn with two elements that can be switched with Alternative Fire mode, and require a brief charge-up time before firing. Each named variant spawns with a fixed firing mode, ranging from a three-round burst (Cyclotron) or full-auto (Terminator). The charge-up requirement can make Maliwan shotguns rather cumbersome to use in combat, as it can be difficult for the user to control when to fully charge the weapon. To make up for this, all of them have a high chance of causing status effects and are extremely effective against enemies with elemental weaknesses. Maliwan shotguns have the highest fire rate out of all common shotguns, and the Shockwave variant fires a short-ranged pulse of energy which deals heavy damage and has a high chance of making enemies ragdoll.
- Tediore shotguns have not been affected much from the nerfs to the manufacturer's overall stats, though their shotguns are considered the most average out of all manufacturers. They now come with a multitude of reload throw mechanics, allowing discarded guns to become pseudo grenade mods. A selection of variants include shotguns with legs, which will suicide into enemies or act as mobile turrets; bouncy guns that can be shot to increase their explosion radius and damage; homing shotguns that will fire at opponents while flying towards them; and homing MIRV grenades, which will split into multiple guns that chase down opponents and deal heavy splash damage.
- Torgue shotguns fire explosive projectiles, giving them travel time. They now have the capability to spawn with elements due to the new splash damage mechanic. All common Torgue shotguns feature "Impact bullets" as their default setting, which act like the gyrojets from Borderlands 2. Alternative mode fires sticky bombs instead, which deal minimal contact damage but will detonate on reload/weapon switch, dealing more damage the more sticky bombs are on an opponent. Both fire modes have their advantages: Impact bullets deal damage instantly and can make work of weaker targets, while sticky mode increases the shotgun's fire rate and can deal absurd amounts of damage should enough stickies land on an opponent. Torgue shotguns with 4-shot magazines will fire a single arcing slug instead of a cluster of gyrojets. These slugs can deal almost 600% more damage per shot, making them capable rocket launcher replacements.