What Are the Different Types of Shotguns That Exist Today?

Juliet D'cruz

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Gun ownership has spiked throughout the pandemic in America and continues to rise, with more than 2.3 million guns purchased in January 2021 alone. First-time buyers made up for a large percentage of these sales, showing there is renewed interest in gun ownership.

All this to say, if you’re contemplating buying a firearm, you’re not the only one!

Shotguns are a popular choice, both for home defense in rural areas and taking down the range. There are many different types of shotguns to pick from though, which is why we’ve put together this helpful article with everything you need to know.

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Break-Action Shotguns

Break-action shotguns are the shotguns we associate with old Westerns. They’ve been around the longest and come in both single and double-barrel forms.

This type of shotgun is the simplest action design. There’s a hinge at the back end of the barrel that opens, which is where you insert the ammunition cartridge. Once fired, you’ll need to reopen the hinge to take the spent shell out and reload.

Break-action shotguns are great because they’re reliable as there’s not much that can break! However, due to their simplicity, the number of shots per load is limited to one or two.

This means under pressure, reloading could present significant issues. Despite this, these shotguns are a favorite for seasoned hunters.

Pump-Action Shotgun

Pump-action shotguns are also known as slide-action shotguns. Unlike break-action shotguns, they can hold multiple rounds.

Shells are loaded by “pumping” the action back and forth. Once you fire a shot, instead of having to open the hinge to reload, just slide the action back and forth and the spent shell is extracted and a new shell put into the chamber.

Pump-action shotguns are also very reliable, provided you know how to use them properly. They’re a popular choice for hunting and home defense.

Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Semi-automatic shotguns are the most complex of the three actions. Every time you fire a shot on a semi-automatic shotgun, the spent shell is ejected and a new shell loaded into the chamber.

Because of their complex design, semi-automatic shotguns are more prone to jamming and failing. They require maintenance, so you’ll need to know how to clean them.

Gas-operated semi-automatic shotguns have much less recoil than other shotguns. So, for shooters of a smaller stature, this type of shotgun is a good choice.

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Which Is the Best Shotgun?

The best shotgun is the one that’s right for you. Your best bet is to speak to a professional within the firearm industry to discuss which shotgun is the best fit for you. You can browse a range of quality shotguns online and find more information on firearm safety in the gun room.

Practice Safe Shooting

There are three main types of shotguns on offer, ranging in complexity. Each has its own unique pros and cons. If you’re looking to purchase a firearm, make sure to speak to an expert to determine the best choice for you.

We’ve got more helpful articles on gun safety, shooting, and hunting on our blog, so be sure to have a look today.


What Shotgun Does The Army Use Today?

The most common type of shotgun used for this purpose is the manually operated, slide-action/pump-action type like the Remington M870 or Mossberg 590A1. The latter is currently the pump-action of choice for US armed forces, and both have seen service with other militaries.

What Shotgun Does The FBI Use?

FBI SWAT is known to use the M4 carbine, Heckler & Koch MP5/10, Remington 870, Remington 700, various Glock models (17 Gen4, 19M, 20), SIG Sauer P226, and Springfield Armory 1911 Professional Custom.