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Shotguns come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 5. A shotgun was originally a smoothbore firearm, which means that the inside of the barrel is not rifled but later rifled shotgun barrels and slugs become available. Preceding smoothbore firearms, such as the musket , were widely used by armies in the 18th century. The direct ancestor to the shotgun, the blunderbuss , was also used in a similar variety of roles from self-defense to riot control. It was often used by cavalry troops because of its generally shorter length and ease of use, as well as by coachmen for its substantial power.

In the 19th century, however, these weapons were largely replaced on the battlefield with breechloading rifled firearms, which were more accurate over longer ranges. The military value of shotguns was rediscovered in the First World War , when American forces used gauge pump action shotguns in close-quarters trench fighting to great effect. Since then, it has been used in a variety of roles in civilian , law enforcement , and military applications.

The shot pellets from a shotgun spread upon leaving the barrel, and the power of the burning charge is divided among the pellets, which means that the energy of any one ball of shot is fairly low.

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In a hunting context, this makes shotguns useful primarily for hunting birds and other small game. However, in a military or law enforcement context, the large number of projectiles makes the shotgun useful as a close quarters combat weapon or a defensive weapon. Militants or insurgents may use shotguns in asymmetric engagements , as shotguns are commonly owned civilian weapons in many countries. Shotguns are also used for target shooting sports such as skeet , trap , and sporting clays.

These involve shooting clay disks, known as clay pigeons , thrown in various ways. Shotguns come in a wide variety of forms, from very small up to massive punt guns , and in nearly every type of firearm operating mechanism. The common characteristics that make a shotgun unique center on the requirements of firing shot. These features are the features typical of a shotgun shell , namely a relatively short, wide cartridge, with straight walls, and operating at a relatively low pressure.

Ammunition for shotguns is referred to in the USA as shotgun shells, shotshells, or just shells when it is not likely to be confused with artillery shells. The term cartridges is standard usage in the United Kingdom. The shot is usually fired from a smoothbore barrel; another configuration is the rifled slug barrel , which fires more accurate solitary projectiles. The typical use of a shotgun is against small and fast moving targets, often while in the air. The spreading of the shot allows the user to point the shotgun close to the target, rather than having to aim precisely as in the case of a single projectile.

The disadvantages of shot are limited range and limited penetration of the shot, which is why shotguns are used at short ranges, and typically against smaller targets. Larger shot sizes, up to the extreme case of the single projectile slug load, result in increased penetration, but at the expense of fewer projectiles and lower probability of hitting the target.


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Aside from the most common use against small, fast moving targets, the shotgun has several advantages when used against still targets. First, it has enormous stopping power at short range, more than nearly all handguns and many rifles. Though many believe the shotgun is a great firearm for inexperienced shooters, the truth is, at close range, the spread of shot is not very large at all, and competency in aiming is still required.

A typical self-defense load of buckshot contains 8—27 large lead pellets, resulting in many wound tracks in the target. Also, unlike a fully jacketed rifle bullet, each pellet of shot is less likely to penetrate walls and hit bystanders.

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On the other hand, the hit potential of a defensive shotgun is often overstated. The typical defensive shot is taken at very close ranges, at which the shot charge expands no more than a few centimeters. Balancing this is the fact that shot spreads further upon entering the target, and the multiple wound channels of a defensive load are far more likely to produce a disabling wound than a rifle or handgun. Some of the most common uses of shotguns are the sports of skeet shooting , trap shooting , and sporting clays.

These involve shooting clay discs, also known as clay pigeons, thrown in by hand and by machine. Both skeet and trap competitions are featured at the Olympic Games. The shotgun is popular for bird hunting called "game-shooting" in the UK, where "hunting" refers to hunting mammals with a pack of hounds , it is also used for more general forms of hunting especially in semi-populated areas where the range of rifle bullets may pose a hazard. This is well within the range of the majority of kill shots by experienced hunters using shotguns.

At any reasonable range, shotgun slugs make effective lethal wounds due to their tremendous mass, reducing the length of time that an animal might suffer. For comparison, a common deer-hunting rifle round is a 7.

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Shotguns are often used with rifled barrels in locations where it is not lawful to hunt with a rifle. Typically, a sabot slug is used in these barrels for maximum accuracy and performance. Shotguns are often used to hunt whitetail deer in the thick brush and briers of the Southeastern and upper Midwestern United States, where, due to the dense cover, ranges tend to be close — 25m or less. Sabot slugs are essentially very large hollow point bullets, and are streamlined for maximum spin and accuracy when shot through a rifled barrel.

They have greater ranges than older Foster and Brenneke-type slugs. In the US and Canada, shotguns are widely used as a support weapon by police forces. One of the rationales for issuing shotguns is that, even without much training, an officer will probably be able to hit targets at close to intermediate range, due to the "spreading" effect of buckshot. Shotguns are also used in roadblock situations, where police are blocking a highway to search cars for suspects. In the US, law enforcement agencies often use riot shotguns , especially for crowd and riot control where they may be loaded with less-lethal rounds such as rubber bullets or bean bags.

Shotguns are also often used as breaching devices to defeat locks. Shotguns are common weapons in military use, particularly for special purposes. Shotguns are found aboard naval vessels for shipboard security, because the weapon is very effective at close range as a way of repelling enemy boarding parties.

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In a naval setting, stainless steel shotguns are often used, because regular steel is more prone to corrosion in the marine environment. Shotguns are also used by military police units. Marines have used shotguns since their inception at the squad level, often in the hands of NCOs , while the U. Army often issued them to a squad's point man. Shotguns were also used in the Iraq , being popular with soldiers in urban combat environments. Some U. Shotguns are a popular means of home defense for many of the same reasons they are preferred for close-quarters tasks in law enforcement and the military.

Compared to handguns, shotguns are heavier, larger, and not as maneuverable in close quarters which also presents a greater retention problem , but do have these advantages:. The wide range of forms the shotgun can take leads to some significant differences between what is technically a shotgun and what is legally considered a shotgun.

A fairly broad attempt to define a shotgun is made in the United States Code 18 USC , which defines the shotgun as "a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

Sawed-off shotgun - Wikipedia

A rifled slug , with finned rifling designed to enable the projectile to be safely fired through a choked barrel, is an example of a single projectile. Some shotguns have rifled barrels and are designed to be used with a " saboted " bullet, one which is typically encased in a two-piece plastic ring sabot designed to peel away after it exits the barrel , leaving the bullet, now spinning after passing through the rifled barrel, to continue toward the target.

These shotguns, although they have rifled barrels, still use a shotgun-style shell instead of a rifle cartridge and may in fact still fire regular multipellet shotgun shells, but the rifling in the barrel will affect the shot pattern. The use of a rifled barrel blurs the distinction between rifle and shotgun, and in fact the early rifled shotgun barrels went by the name Paradox for just that reason. Hunting laws may differentiate between smooth barreled and rifled barreled guns.

go here Combat shotgun is a shotgun designed for offensive purposes, typically for the military. Riot shotgun has long been a synonym for a shotgun, especially a short-barrelled shotgun. During the 19th and early 20th century, these were used to disperse protesters, rioters and revolutionaries. The wide spray of the shot ensured a large group would be hit, but the light shot would ensure more wounds than fatalities.

When the ground was paved, police officers would often ricochet the shot off the ground, slowing down the shot and spreading pattern even further. To this day specialized police and defensive shotguns are called riot shotguns. The introduction of rubber bullets and bean bag rounds ended the practice of using shot for the most part, but riot shotguns are still used to fire a variety of less-lethal rounds for riot control. A sawed-off shotgun or "sawn-off" refers to a shotgun whose barrel has been shortened, leaving it more maneuverable, easier to use at short range and more readily concealed.

The sawed-off shotgun is sometimes known as a " lupara " in Italian a generic reference to the word " lupo " "wolf" in Southern Italy and Sicily. Coach guns are also more commonly associated with the American Old West or Australian Colonial period, and often used for hunting in bush, scrub, or marshland where a longer barrel would be unwieldy or impractical. Snake Charmer shotguns are commonly used by gardeners and farmers for pest control.


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