How A Shotgun Works In Video Games


AHahhahahhaha so true.  I suppose though since a lot of games are close quarters combat, if shotguns worked as they do in real life then they would be too powerful of a weapon.


Hat tip: Eric P.


38 responses to “How A Shotgun Works In Video Games”

  1. Johnny Come Lately Avatar
    Johnny Come Lately

    Shotguns in games are routinely overpowered to a ridiculous degree, I assume because they’re written by people whose entire knowledge of how shotguns work comes from action movies. I hate shotguns in games because they function as magical mini-howitzers.

    I mean, check this shit out:

    1. MrMaigo Avatar

      He is shooting slugs… and maybe they forgot to put in spread or bullet drop for shotguns…

  2. Caleb Avatar

    I have been saying this for years.

  3. gf8wagoneer Avatar

    Newer COD’s make the Shotgun spread like this. The First Modern Warfare with the Defender 1200’s had a pretty good range. After people that were good with them in close quarters pissed off many. Complaints to the designers flooded. The rest is history. I think now all the Shotties are all pussified. BTW I loved Counter Strike Shotguns,MW1 & 2 shot guns. I was a very good “Shotgun Ninja” in my day.

  4. stickfigure Avatar

    Well, the problem is that it’s a video game and not real life. Gamers expect to take multiple rounds from x-weapon, let their armor take most of the brunt, run to cover, take med’s, find new armor and be good as new. Real life is: you take 1 round to your armor, you might live. But most likely: you take multiple rounds and you are dead or mortally wounded watching your blood leak out in shock inducing pain. Gamers get pissed that they get shot once or twice and they are dead. Well, that’s how it is in real life. Game Over.

    1. +1

    2. Logic Avatar

      Unless its arma. One bullet with SLX or ACE and you are going to be on the ground bleeding or dead.

      1. This is due to ArmA’s horrible base game body armor. Using AAPM and UAS will produce much more realistic results.

    3. This is why I love Red Orchestra.

    4. Armor today is multihit capable. Typical civilian class armor plates of L3 and L3+ steel can absorb dozens of rounds of ammunition without fail. You will have broken and cracked ribs, since steel is inefficient at protecting from impact, but it will save you. If they go faster than 3200 fps, then the armor will be swiss cheese of course.

      Ceramic L3 can absorb around 8 5.56 hits without failure. Military body armor, being IV+, will absorb at least a few more. The newest XSAPI, being Type V, can beat 7.62 WC, or M995, which will cut IV armor like butter at 150m. This armor is guaranteed against the penetrator at least thrice.

      Note, Type, Class, and Level in N.I.J. terms can be used interchangeably. IV+ is a classification that is unofficially used for armors able to sustain multiple hits from 7.62x63mm M2AP, a bullet using a tool steel core. V is resistance to 7.62 WC, also known as M993, which possesses a tungsten core.

  5. bima86 Avatar

    i remember playing rainbow six, where you the option to change your amunition. I used the slug ammunition.. and it was kick ass !! haha..

  6. I can’t wait for a video game version of an AA-12 (If it hasn’t been done already)

    Machine-gun And Shotgun stereo-types outta abound with that one….

    1. bima86 Avatar

      I’ve used the AA12 in a few video games before. I there was one in COD MW, it kind of cool I remember

    2. Logic Avatar

      ARMA 2 OA with PMC addon.

    3. It’s in Killing Floor too.

  7. Frank Avatar

    When MGS4 came out, on the online version you could choose between OO buck, solid slugs, or less-lethal rounds. Probably the best online shooter with shotguns.

  8. Santi Avatar

    just died of laughter so damn true.

  9. You have to give video game designers some slack on this. They have to design the game so that all weapons are proportional in their advantages. Letting a shotgun be effective past 10 feet would cause everyone to just run around with shotguns.

    I’m talking about multiplayer. In single player, it wouldn’t hurt to make it more realistic, however.

    1. They could reduce the damage on the torso, and increase it on the arms, tighten the spread, and decrease falloff. Since your arms are going to be in front of your upper body, which is rather close to the head, firing there will produce similar results and encourage good aim, while making the thing less blenderizer-y.

  10. dave w Avatar

    What people learn in video games tends to stick for some reason, the amount of comments on youtube shotgun reviews that complain of no ghost ring sights or state that slugs are the only ammo for home defense are ludicrous.
    I remember the spas 12 in gta being a marked improvement over the police cruiser shotgun.

  11. Jared Avatar

    I’m going to date my self a bit but the pump action shotgun from Counter Strike 1.2 and 1.3 had insane range. If you knew how to shoot it you could head shot from across the map. It and the Desert Eagle were my two standard load outs. Between the two you almost never needed to shoot twice.

  12. Church Avatar

    I agree with most of this, but there is always a shotgun in every game that is just way too over powered, or has an unbeleivable range.

  13. JonMac Avatar

    Gears of War 3 is the ultimate example of this. Insta-gib death at 0.5m, no effect at all at 0.6.

  14. P90Puma Avatar

    “I suppose though since a lot of games are close quarters combat, if shotguns worked as they do in real life then they would be too powerful of a weapon.”

    Yes because the guys kicking down doors are clearing rooms with shotguns, because they are “too powerful of a weapon.”

    Come on ENDO. :\

    1. ENDO-Mike Avatar

      I should have specified not against body armor, if that’s what your hangup is. If you bust into a room with a bunch of targets playing cards in t-shirts that sending a few shots of 000 in their direction (which is basically a handful of 9mm balls) travelling at approximately the same speed as an actual 9mm round, don’t you think that would be pretty damn effective?

      1. I don’t see why an armour defeating “buckshot” round can’t be developed. I’m not talking about the silly flechette rounds using 20 or so darts meant to be use by the thousand in artillery shells.

        At 0.729″ diameter for a 12 gauge shotgun, you can easily fit five 0.223″ diameter cylindrical projectiles. Make them out of steel, shape them like a shorter version of this:

        Weighing about 4 grams each, and adding a 4 gram wad, that’s a mere 0.85 ounce load total – a 2.75″ shotshell could easily push that out at between 1,500 and 2,000 fps.

        They would slice through armour like butter, along with whatever was behind it. They might not tumble and fragment, but across a room I don’t think someone with ten 0.223″ holes in them front and back is going to offer much resistance.

        1. The main problem with armor defeating projectiles is the way a shotgun works.

          Unless you’ve got a specialty “slug gun”, which in effect is a big rifle that shoots only slugs, the barrel of a shotgun is smooth. So you have no real way to impart spin onto all the individual projectiles. How a gun works is that the lands and grooves in a gun barrel actually contact the lead projectile, imparting spin onto the projectile as it travels down the barrel.

          A shot shell is made totally differently than a normal handgun or rifle cartridge. It’s a primer, with propellant, then a part that’s called the wad. The wad holds all the little projectiles together, while they travel down the barrel. It’s essentially a little cup. So the shot makes little to no actual contact with the barrel due to the wad. The barrel cannot impart spin into the sot as there’s no contact with each individual projectile. The wad then falls away as the shot leaves the barrel, and the shot begins to spread. If you didn’t have this piece, the powder would burn and just push through and around the shot, all willy nilly and rather than a lethal accurately aimed shot you’d have shot just kind of spitting out the barrel wherever.

          The wad in a shot shell is what gives the projectiles their accuracy. That’s why goose and duck hunters shooting shot want 28 inch barrels. They get the longest amount of time the wad is pushed by the powder charge.

          1. A drag stabilised projecile doesn’t need the gyroscopic stabilisation provided by rifling.

            This is how foster slugs work:

            The hollow base pushes the centre of gravity forward of the centre of pressure, and therefore it doesn’t tumble in flight.

            Almost all modern tank guns are unrifled smoothbores, and they’re dead accurate out to several thousand yards ;)

        2. Here’s the thing, you need significantly higher velocity or mass per projectile to crack modern inserts. 3100 FPS defeats steel L3 armor, 3200 defeats L3+. This projectile of yours would have too low mass to really do much more than making the armor now suitable for replacement.
          Modern armor can take around 8 5.56 hits at the civilian L3 ceramic level, the new XSAPI armors would laugh off this attack with ease. A load of 00 will work MUCH better and still won’t penetrate steel or ceramic. Really, shotguns just are not suitable for armor penetration. You have made a beefed up flechette round, which, I’m going, to be honest, I do NOT feel great about its terminal ballistics.

      2. Thinking about the hypothetical round suggested above, you could add four smaller diameter (1/8″ or so) projectiles in the spaces between the 5 main 0.223″ projectiles, making even more holes in the bad guy without adding much weight.

  15. dave w Avatar

    Lets not judge video games, i was just cruising around vice city with a chain gun, rpg launcher with 8 rpgs, spas 12 lots of ammo, and mp5 and handgun on a stolen motorbike and could still out run the popo on foot when i crashed.

  16. lucusloc Avatar

    im pretty sure the “buck shot” in all video games is actually bird shot. its the only thing that really makes sense.

  17. I seem to remember the pump shotguns from Left 4 Dead and the sequel having more realistic range. Nothing perfect mind you, but because the zombies did not typically take an insane amount of damage I can remember dropping them from across long warehouse rooms and down hallways fairly quickly.

    Now the auto shotguns on the other hand… Those things would pretty much fill up a whole hallway side to side by about 10 feet out. Then again, they would also shoot through zombie after zombie. Close in they were just death machines!

    The S.T.A.L.K.E.R series also had some decent shotguns if I recall, including a few over-under sporting type ones that actually had a tighter choke on them and could be fired at fairly long range. The very short sawn-off side by side however was as useless as one might imagine past ten feet. Those games seemed to handle ballistics better than most in general.

    It’s difficult to think of many games that represent any kind of firearms accurately, but I always appreciate it when a game does it.

    1. bima86 Avatar

      the stalker series was one of my favourite FPS games. the game developers actually did balistic research and applied it as best they could in the game.
      and then you have bad fire grouping and weapon jams if the weapons aren’t maintained in a good condition. I remember my favourite weapon was the vintorez, and I always had to aim high because I just love picking on random strangers just to loot them :D

  18. Upgrading to shotgun slugs with the SP12 in Hitman – Blood Money still gives you a buckshot pattern on firing :-/

  19. Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear and R6-3, and the first to GRAW games have perfectly realistic (given constraints of the engine) shotguns. This is yet another reason why R6 is vastly superior to most shooters.

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