Generally, one of the key advantages of most shotgun rounds (other than their extremely devastating effect on soft targets), is that they shoot multiple shot in a spread. Not only does this make for a crippling effect on target, but it gives you some margin of error. This is especially helpful when trying to nail faces when fighting armored opponents. Wide spread will generally be better in close quarters, giving you a wide margin of error for making snap shots, however tighter spread will be more accurate at longer engagement distances.
Thanks to Marxman, new icons have been added for shotgun shells displaying shot groupings. These icons will help give you the general idea of the inherent spread of different shell types, along with how muzzle breaks will affect your spread.
First, lets go over the tools of the trade to give you a good starting point for picking which load you want to run with. Also keep in mind that any shotgun round can be used to break open locked doors (a breaching load would be better, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and a quick trigger finger). This makes them not only an effective weapon, but a great tool for your squad.
The Benelli Nova is an effective, yet inexpensive option for a pump action shotgun. Its just a couple steps away from your Grandpa's hunting shotgun, so don't expect to be putting fancy optics and lasers on it. Also just holding four plus one shells, you better make every shot count. However, you can pay some extra supply points to trade out the iron sights for (subjectively) nicer night sights and an extended magazine tube.
The Nova also features an exclusive long barrel attachment which dramatically reduces spread for a steep price. It'll make you feel like your skeet shooting again, but the sheer length makes close quarters work inconvenient.
The Kel-Tec KSG is a bullpup beast of pump-action shotgun holding a whopping fourteen shotgun shells. The grip being placed in front of the breach makes it nice and short for close quarters combat, while still maintaining the effectiveness of a longer barrel. Still, holding fourteen plus one rounds makes this shotgun heavy. You can invest in a foregrip to increase the rate of fire, potentially allowing you to spray an ungodly amount of buckshot in close quarters.
The Franchi SPAS-12 is a capable semi-auto (and pump-action) shotgun. It comes default holding five shells, but for a couple extra supply points you can hold up to nine plus one shells. Never has semi auto buckshot death come in a meaner looking package. Clever girl.
The Benelli M4 is a sleek and effective semi-auto shotgun, holding seven shells and being a little bit more low drag than the heavier SPAS-12. The patrician's choice of shotgun.
The beauty of 12 gauge is all the flavors of shells it comes in. Whether you want to perforate an entire doorway with shot, blow someone's face open with a spread of buckshot, or shatter their pelvis with a slug, you have a wide variety of options.
00 Buck, the balanced vanilla of shotgun shells. Shoots nine shot in a moderate spread. There are better options for specific applications out there, but you can't go wrong with free.
0 Buck Low Recoil has greatly reduced terminal ballistics and a wider spread than 00 Buck, but shoots a whopping twelve shot with minimal recoil. If you need to shoot as much shot as possible, as fast as possible, with minimal recoil, this is the shell for you. This shell has especially poor performance against soft armor, but is fantastic for keeping heads down.
000 Buck shoots seven large buckshot pellets in a tighter spread than 00 Buck. A nice jack of all trades, but affords you tighter spread, just what you may need when every shot counts.
00 Buck Magnum is similar to shooting 00 Buck. Twice. An incredible spread of eighteen highly lethal shot, however the recoil is extreme and the spread isn't the best for precise longer range shots. If don't want to be a huge nerd about it, think of it as similar to firing off two side by side barrels of 00 Buck.
00 Buck Critical shoots nine shot, but with increased velocity, tighter spread, and meaner effect on long range targets when compared to ordinary loads. A fantastic option for when you want 00 Buck on steroids, but the recoil is a lot meaner.
#1 Buck shoots a whopping twenty four pellets in a wide spread. Great for when you want an absurd margin of error for point shooting, or when you want to punish an entire squad for daring to venture past the fatal funnel.
#1 Buck Flight Control Wad shoots an incredibly accurate sixteen pellets. The spread is ridiculously tight, allowing you to rival rifles at long range combat. The slight margin of error is great for destroying faces at longer ranges.
The Foster Slug is a single large projectile rather than a bunch of little shot. The terminal ballistics are absolutely brutal, ripping through organs and smashing bones, but keep in mind it won't be anywhere as accurate as a rifle and has no margin of error. The recoil is also pretty nasty.
The Sabot Slug is similar, but is a lot more accurate and has better performance against soft armor. It's marginally worse against soft targets whoever, but when you blow someone's arm off and its hanging by a thread they won't consider it much better than a complete amputation.
Chokes can tighten the spread of your shotgun loads to various degrees. This can be great if you want your 00 Buck Magnum to do a bit better at longer range, or feel like the spread of #1 Buck is a bit too ludicrous to be useful. Generally, the tighter you want it, the more you'll have to pay.
The Shot Diverter increases your horizontal spread, while reducing your vertical spread. This makes it a potentially great option for aiming at face level, or if you're feeling ambitious, nailing multiple headshots at once. Gnarly.
If you're having trouble handling the recoil of a shotgun, a muzzle break can help. Can be pretty handy for magdumping meaner loads out of a semi-auto.
Putting a suppressor at the end of your shotgun will reduce your sound signature. This may make it harder for enemies to pin down your position, but it won't be as whisper quiet as a subsonic mp5. You'll also have to deal with extra length, making moving around close quarters more cumbersome. It may come with drawbacks, but what's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?
Hopefully these icons prove useful to deciding what shotgun loads are right for you, and this little guide provided some clarity in making these forces of nature take names. The troubles of shotguns against armor and their capacity disadvantage against rifles might make them hard to use for new players, but nothing compares to shotgun's brutal terminal ballistics and potential. Also breaching locks is neat.
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