Fallout: Wasteland Tales
12 Gauge Shotguns and Ammunition
The shotgun is a highly versatile and effective weapon that usually fires an expanding cloud, or “pattern”, of metal pellets at a target. The multiple projectiles contained in the typical shotgun shell allow shotguns to provide hit probabilities matched by few, if any, other ranged weapons.
The shotgun has been called “the everyman’s weapon” due to its ease of use, versatility, and affordability. Shotguns are in many ways the optimal weapon for unskilled or marginally skilled shooters, as the expanding pattern of shot allows a shooter to hit a target more easily than with a single projectile.
Shotguns are best suited for engaging targets at short to medium ranges, and are well suited for defensive use, due to their considerable wounding ability and their increased potential to hit the target with one or more projectiles.
Shotguns have several potential drawbacks that potential users should be aware of. The shot loses much of its energy after the first three dozen yards or so, and the pattern of shot becomes excessively large shortly thereafter, reducing the probability of pellets hitting the intended target. Because the shotshell’s energy is distributed among several projectiles, the pellets have little ability to penetrate armor except at very close range. Shotgun shells are fairly bulky; average ammunition capacities range from two to six rounds and bulky high capacity magazines hold a dozen rounds at most.
The most common variety of shotgun shell in the wasteland contains nine pellets of 00 buckshot (approximately .33 caliber). 00 (pronounced “double aught”) buckshot is most useful against medium to large animals and is the standard “combat load” for use against humans and other dangerous animals.
Those hunting smaller creatures often employ a shotshell containing dozens, even hundreds, of smaller projectiles called “birdshot” or “smallshot” The large number of pellets make it easier to hit small targets, and the small projectile size prevents excessive damage to the meat. Smallshot is fairly simple to make, even with improvised equipment; consequently many wasteland hunters make their own from the more common 00 buckshot shells.
Flechette shells contain multiple projectiles which resemble long skinny nails; flechettes are an alternative load that offers enhanced range and penetration versus 00 buckshot at the cost of decreased per-projectile wounding ability.
Slugs are single projectiles, often weighing an ounce or more, which offer massive wounding capability and dramatically increased penetration versus 00 buckshot. Slugs can be more accurate than shot at short to medium ranges, but the single projectile isn’t as easy to hit with as a expanding pattern of shot.
Beanbag rounds contain bags of smallshot and are useful for stunning or disabling a target without killing it; beanbags can cause nasty bruises and possibly break bones, but are designed to not penetrate living targets. Beanbag rounds have limited effective range and are ineffective against all but the lightest armor, but otherwise behave similarly to slugs.
Incendiary shells can temporarily turn a shotgun into a short-range flamethrower. They can damage a shotgun’s barrel, and work poorly with semiautomatic or full-auto guns, but can be useful for specialized applications.
The Double-Barrel Shotgun
The double-barrel shotgun is a simple, user-friendly, versatile, and inexpensive firearm, and thus is a popular weapon among Wasteland survivors. It utilizes a break-action mechanism in which the barrels pivot down and away from the stock, allowing the user to place shells directly into the firing chambers. The compactness and simplicity of the break-action mechanism allows the double-barrel shotgun and similar weapons to be dramatically shortened without interfering with the mechanical functions of the gun. Thus, the double-barrel shotgun can be had in a variety of lengths between a full-length long arm and shortened, stockless “sawed-off” shotguns that can be drawn and wielded as conveniently as a large pistol.
The Lever-Action Shotgun
Lever-action shotguns are operated via a lever that feeds shells from the internal tubular magazine into the firing chamber. The lever-action shotgun can if necessary be operated one-handed (after some practice and minor gunsmithing) via a quick twirling motion that cycles the action.
The Pump-Action Shotgun
The pump-action shotgun is operated via a sliding fore-stock that feeds shells from the internal tubular magazine into the firing chamber. The pump-action generally requires two hands to operate, but can be reloaded tactically (I.e. shell by shell to replace ammo as it is fired) via a loading port located beneath the action.
The Combat Shotgun
The combat shotgun is a semiautomatic weapon which can fire and feed shells from a 12-round detachable drum as fast as its user can pull the trigger. It shines at short range, especially during extended or target-rich engagements. The removable drum magazine allows a user to reload far more quickly than with loose individual shells, although it is somewhat bulky and requires a slightly longer reloading period than other removable magazines.
The Winchester City-Killer
The Winchester City-Killer is an advanced select-fire combat shotgun which is capable of firing in semiautomatic or fully automatic modes and feeds from a 12-round double stack detachable magazine. The City-Killer excels at close quarters combat due to the sheer volume of lead it can lay down and its compact “bullpup” configuration which places the action and magazine inside the buttstock and behind the trigger. Many Pre-War specimens of this weapon received a desert warfare reliability package which significantly reduces malfunctions in harsh environments.