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A Beginner’s Guide To Shotguns



A shotgun is one of the most important weapons to have in your armory. Thanks to its wide spread, a shotgun can be used for defense, training, clay sports and hunting. Some say that if they had only one weapon to choose, they would select shotgun.

Shotguns are immensely popular among gun enthusiasts and law enforcement agencies. That’s why there are so many kinds of shotguns available in the market today. But, since this is only a beginner’s guide to shotguns, we’ll won’t touch the nitty-gritty and keep it simple. We’ll discuss some basic types of shotguns and tell you what each one does best.

Pump Shotgun

For those buying a shotgun for the first time, pump shotguns are best because they are easy to handle, versatile, reliable and mostly inexpensive compared to other shotguns. In most of the pump shotguns, the shooter is required to first push the shell into the magazine tube. After that, the shell is chambered by the shooter by pulling fore-end or pump handle backwards and then pushing it back.

This action is repeated after each fire. In pull-back action, the fired shell that’s now empty is thrown out and a new shell is chambered. This action is very reliable and if done right, the shotgun will cycle without any issue. The reliability of pump shotguns makes them quite useful for home defense, tactical use and hunting.

Although it is only a beginner’s guide to shotguns and we’re not dealing with survival issues here, but we must warn you about not depending on this gun on doomsday. The reason is that pump shotguns can only fire as quickly as the pump is actuated, which means that follow-up shots are much slower and you won’t be able to fight those fast-approaching hoodlums/zombies.


Semiautomatic shotguns are quite common these days because of their reliability. A semi-automatic shotgun is easy to operate as it is able to eject the shells and reload them from magazine automatically. On most of the models, once the shell is pushed by the shooter, the bolt is pulled back and released forward; the beastly gun will fire a round each time the trigger is pulled until there aren’t any more shells in the magazine.

Semi-automatic shotguns allow fast follow-up shooting and the magazine capacity is high. Quality models of these shotguns are great for many things like hunting, trap shooting and home defense. The main disadvantage of these guns is that they are quite expensive. Moreover, few models can only cycle specific ammunition as the action is cycled by the gas that’s released from the fired shot. If there isn’t enough gas, the gun might jam or fail to reload.


Single-shot shotguns are accurate and perfectly reliable. The disadvantage of this type is obvious and that’s you only have one shot. The shooter must open gun’s breech manually, eject the shell that’s inside and put the next one in with bare hands. This obviously is time consuming and if your life is depending on the next shot in a self-defense or survival station, you’ll probably be dead before you’re able to reload the gun.

However, these single-shot guns can be used for hunting and will help you become better with shotguns as there isn’t a second-shot to rely on and you have to make the first one count!


In these shotguns, there’s a hinge in between the stock and the barrel that enables you to open or ‘break’ the barrel for loading the ammo. You might have seen these shotguns in movies where cowboys use these bad boys to annihilate their enemies.

Usually break-actions shotguns are double-barred and barrels are either placed on top of one another or side-by-side. Mostly sport shooters and hunters use these guns. The major disadvantage of these types of shotguns is that they aren’t fit for self-defense as you can only fire two shells and then you’ll have to manually reload the barrels. So, if you’re salvaging shotguns for surviving on doomsday, don’t include these guns in your list of weapons.


In some states, hunting deer is only allowed with a shotgun. Usually large rifles are used by hunters to shoot down wild animals, but since specific laws only allow a shotgun to hunt animals, so bolt-action shotguns are viable second option for hunting in such areas. Many models have threaded barrels that allow long distance shooting with great accuracy, so you can hunt down animals without scaring them away. But this gun isn’t fit for other purposes as the bolt-action is slow.

That’s it for our beginner’s guide to shotguns. Now, depending upon your need you can select the type of shotgun that will work best for you. You won’t have to worry about the disadvantages of different shotguns as we’ve told you the drawbacks of each type. However, before you make the specific decision about buying a particular shotgun, read specific details of that model as this is only a beginner’s guide to shotguns and does not cover individual models.



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