Follow TV Tropes


Sawed-Off Shotgun

Go To
As you can see, there is a huge difference between a bank manager and a bank manager who works in a mob bank.

"Sawed-off shotgun, hand on the pump"
Cypress Hill, Hand on The Pump

If you're a badass and you want your firearm to represent how awesome you are, there's only one choice for you - the Hillbilly Dueling Pistol, AKA the sawed-off shotgun. It is a standard weapon for anyone in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. In the hands of a suitable badass, it can take out anyone in a single blast. The sound of chambering a round in a pump-action sawed-off is like a Catchphrase showing how awesome you are — for extra badassitude, you hold it by the slide and sort of wave it in the air, allowing the weapon's own weight to do the chambering (this is a great way to ruin your shotgun in real life, FYI). And if you have a sawed-off double barrel shotgun with dual triggers, you have the option of either unloading one barrel at a time at an opponent, or "giving 'em both barrels," as it were (also an excellent way to destroy it, and your shoulder, too).


In popular media, the sawed-off shotgun combines the power of a shotgun with the profile of a large handgun. It's also easy to make - all you need is a regular shotgun and a hacksaw, it seems. Its popularity easily eclipses all guns aside from the most famous, like the Desert Eagle.

In real life, sawed-off shotguns aren't very practical. Contrary to popular belief, shortening the barrel of a shotgun has little effect on the spread of the shot - the spread is actually purposely limited with a 'choke' inside the very tip of the barrel, so you'll get basically the same change whether you saw off 2 inches or 20 inches. Shortening the barrel has different effects depending on the era. Until the advent of high quality smokeless gunpowder, longer barrels on shotguns allowed for more velocity, and a sawed-off shotgun would have reduced power because of the reduced velocity. Modern powders lose extremely little velocity even when the barrel is cut down to a foot long.note  However, the biggest problem with sawed-off shotguns is when the stock is cut down to a pistol grip, making the weapon either extremely hard to aim, or, if aimed properly, extremely likely to recoil straight into the shooter's teeth.


In close quarters, the abilities to hide the gun until the last possible second and place it on-target without the barrel getting caught up on a close-in object like a wall are valuable, but this has the unfortunate effect of making the gun a gangster's weapon fit mostly for assassins or poachers and therefore carry many legal restrictions for civilian users.

Some law enforcement agencies use compact shotguns for breaching — that is, shooting hinges and locks off doors for expedient entry. There are even shotguns designed for this that can be mounted underneath the barrel of an assault rifle, in the same way as an M203 Grenade Launcher (one of the most well-known is even rather humorously called the "Masterkey"). A sawed-off shotgun is also more easily concealed than the full-sized variety, so they are often used by criminals (bank robbers are a common example), especially in countries where normal handguns may be difficult to procure but hunting shotguns are relatively easy to buy.

This trope is very prominent in British TV shows, where the sawed-off shotgun remains the weapon of choice for the London Gangster, or the villains in any police procedural, particularly if it involves an Armed Blag. This is mainly due to the difficulty of obtaining handguns in the UK, while shotguns are still legally available to get in the UK, they're just quite a lot harder to get a hold of compared to the US. Incidentally, British English speakers prefer saying "sawn-off" shotgun (the past participle), while American English speakers say "sawed-off" shotgun instead (the past preterite), since while this sounds perfectly fine to American ears, to British ones, it sounds quite a lot like something else, though it still works pretty well, considering the context (who wouldn't want to get lost if one of these was pointed at them?).

Finally, a minor note: as you may have realized, there's nothing particular to shotguns that only they would receive this treatment. As long as you mostly know how to do it, you can saw excess barrel off other long firearms as well. However, shotguns seem to be the most associated with the act, and while others (mostly rifles) do appear in fiction once in a while, they have apparently not earned the kind of notoriety that would separate them from shotguns trope-wise.

See also Shotguns Are Just Better and Short-Range Shotgun.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • One of Shogo Kawada's many victims in his first go-round is seen with one in the manga Battle Royale.
  • Beelzemon from Digimon Tamers wields two double-barreled versions before going Blast Mode.
  • Renton Thurston in Eureka Seven AO.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Jagi has a sawed-off shotgun for cheating during a fist fight.
  • A pair of these are Mumei's primary weapons in Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Westernophile Kinzo has several sawed-off Winchester rifles (also known as a Mare's Leg) in his room. After the story gets going, the adults tend to start using them; Natsuhi in the first arc, Rosa in the second arc, and nearly everyone in the third.
  • Similar to the previous example, in the Devilman manga, badass Ryo Asuka uses a sawed-off rifle to great effect, first scaring some bullies and later injuring Sirene.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman comics, Detective (later Sheriff) Steve 'Shotgun' Smith carries one of these as his standard weapon.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Wielded by Scrooge McDuck in some Italian stories of the late '60s/early '70s and called with the Italian moniker 'lupara'. Current Italian stories have replaced the lupara with a salt-loaded blunderbuss.
  • One The Punisher comic has Frank run into Wolverine with a shotgun. Frank comes out of it with a sawed-off shotgun.
  • This was the weapon of choice for the Sin-Eater, of 1980's Spider-Man.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film — Live Action 
  • In BloodRayne II: Deliverance, the sheriff of Deliverance has a sawed-off shotgun he calls 'Sadie'. He also talks to it. A lot.
  • In The Dark Knight, the bank manager uses one in the opening scene to combat the Joker's bank robbery, and succeeds in taking out at least one of the robbers before being shot himself. The Joker acquires the gun and uses it several more times throughout the film, once killing a police officer with a point-blank shot and again when trying to penetrate the armor of a police transport. The most notable instance is when he fires it into the ceiling to disrupt a party, announcing his and his men's entrance. He then proceeds to wave it around like a toy in the face of several of the party-goers, who appropriately recoil with a lot of fear.
  • Antonio Banderas holds one on the cover to the movie Desperado, and he uses the weapon in the first major bar shootout before switching to two blazing Ruger semiautomatics for the remainder of the movie. You just know it'd be a bad move to mess with him.
  • In El Dorado Mississippi winds up with a "pistolized" shotgun after he is shown to be incredibly inept with a standard six-gun.
    Thornton: We need a gun for a man who can't shoot.
  • Ash from the Evil Dead, starting in Evil Dead 2, has a sawed-off shotgun as one of his two signature weapons. He saws off the barrel himself with his other weapon, the chainsaw. In Army of Darkness, it regains a good portion of its barrel length (possibly to justify some of the distance shooting he does in the film, or because 1990s California made it much more difficult to register a shortened weapon), though a shorter-barreled prop shows up in one scene when he flips it around before holstering it.
  • In Furious 7, Dom saws off a shotgun in preparation for his fight with Shaw. When they do confront each other, Shaw wields two metal sticks to which Dom mockingly asks him "You thought this was gonna be a street fight?" in reference to what Shaw said in their last encounter. However Dom proceeds to throw said shotgun back in the car and take out a wrench and pipe instead, to which he adds "You're goddamn right it is."
  • Rufus Clemens weapon of choice in Hannie Caulder.
  • The title character in the "Jewsploitation" film The Hebrew Hammer pulls a pair out of his coat in order to blow away a bar full of skinheads.
  • Killing Them Softly takes it Up to Eleven. The barrels of one character's shotgun have been cut down so short that they are shorter than the shells they are loaded with.
    • As a side note, one firearms review actually tested this. It works a lot better than it should, but you shouldn't risk it.
  • In the 1985 version of King Solomon's Mines, Alan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) carries a trademark sawed-off double-barrel shotgun with exposed hammers.
  • Used in the British gangster movie The Long Good Friday, though only the barrels are cut down, not the stock.
  • Mad Max: Max uses one as his main weapon during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which he modifies himself. Similar sawed-off shotguns remain his Weapon of Choice across the rest of the series.
  • Used by the bandit who pull off the Armed Blag at the start of Money Movers. Truth in Television as sawed-off shotguns were the Weapon of Choice for armed robbers in Australia in The '70s.
  • Pachek's weapon of choice in The Mountie. The first shot of the movie is Pachek clapping it to Cleora's head and demanding that Grayling reveal himself.
  • Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss' first step after finding out his grab-the-drug-money-and-run plan in No Country for Old Men may not go strictly according to plan is to buy a shotgun and hack off the barrel so it fits in his duffel bag. Very fitting with the grim realist nature of the movie.
  • The official reason the Big Bad of the Steven Seagal movie The Patriot 1998 is arrested is for sawing the barrel off of a shotgun. This was because the authorities didn't have the evidence needed to arrest him for the criminal actions of his 'militia group', and didn't know that he had stolen a biochemical weapon and was planning to use it, but did have concrete evidence that he had made an illegal modification to a firearm.
  • Reggie Bannister's signature weapon from Phantasm II onwards is a sawn off double-barreled shotgun tied to another one, creating a quad-barreled shotgun.
  • In the climax of The Punisher (2004) with Thomas Jane, the titular character draws his Hillbilly Dueling Pistol after being shot several times in the chest (he had body armor on, natch). After unloading both shells into a mobster's face, he does the smart thing and throws it away (he, of course, had several other weapons on him).
  • In Red Hill, Jimmy's preferred weapon is a sawn-off pump action shotgun. He usually announces his presence with a dramatic pump of the slide. This usually signals that carnage is about to ensue.
  • In Rovdyr, one of the hunters carries a sawn-off double barreled shotgun, which becomes one of the more used weapons in the movies. Eventually it ends up in the hands of Camilla, who uses it to kill one of the hunters.
  • In Seven (1979), Kincella uses a sawed-off double shotgun to kill Kimo and his bodyguard Skip.
  • In Sweeney 2 the criminals use gold-plated Purdey shotguns stolen from a rock star. There's a notable scene where the blagger sticks his sawn-off in a bank manager's face.
    "Hold it right there, squire. You are privileged to be looking down the barrels of a gold-plated Purdey shotgun. Now as a bank manager, you'll appreciate that any man capable of cutting a gun like that in half wouldn't think twice about cutting you in half."
  • Terminator:
  • In Valdez is Coming, Valdez favours a short-barrelled shotgun, the kind stagecoach guards use, as his primary weapon. He also wears a Badass Bandolier of shotgun shells across his chest.
  • In Zombieland, this is the Weapon of Choice of Columbus throughout the film, which he sticks to due to familiarity given his high-stress. It's also a very practical weapon to survive Zombieland given the punch it packs.

  • Able Team #7: Justice By Fire. Intrepid Reporter Floyd Jefferson buys a friend's shotgun and saws off the barrel when he's targeted by a Salvadorean death squad. Rather than insist he hand it over, a team member shows him the Unlocked Carry (chamber empty, safety off, action partly closed) so he doesn't accidentally blow a kid's legs off.
  • In the novel version of Battle Royale, Shogo Kawada uses a sawed-off M31 Remington shotgun. In the movie, it was changed to a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun, which was designed with a shorter barrel than most guns.
  • Blood Meridian: Brown, a murderous freebooter, acquires an ornate ceremonial shotgun as plunder. He goes to a village and demands that the local gunsmith saw it down. The gunsmith refuses to ruin such a work of art, causing a tense altercation until Brown finally does it himself.
  • In Andrew Vachss's Burke books, the Prof favors one of these.
    "Your card is a low card, motherfucker. I see your pistol and raise you one double-barrelled scattergun."
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In the novel Death Masks, Karrin Murphy wields a sawed-off shotgun against the vampires and their Renfields.
    • Harry has a sawed-off shotgun in the backseat of the Blue Beetle.
  • The Sherlock Holmes adventure The Valley of Fear featured a man who tried to kill the supposed murder victim with a sawed-off shotgun. Unfortunately for him, the victim fought back, and he ended up getting shot in the face at point-blank range as they struggled over the gun. Since the man who was killed was an agent for a larger secret society out to kill the victim, the victim decided to try and throw them off his trail by passing off the murderer's corpse as his own. With the face so horribly maimed, no one would be able to tell the difference...except Sherlock Holmes, of course.
  • In the Soldiers of Barrabas series (#3: Butchers of Eden), Nile Barrabas' girlfriend Erika Dykstra is trying to persuade a Tamil businessman to leave Sri Lanka because the government is stirring up hatred against the Tamil community. The man refuses to leave, saying he's prepared to defend his family, and produces a long-barreled duck-hunting shotgun. Erika appeals to Nile for help. He responds by advising him to cut down the barrel level with the magazine. The shotgun comes in handy when the city explodes into race riots, though the shortened barrel increases the recoil and even the powerfully built Barrabas has trouble keeping it on target.
  • In The Tomorrow Series, a lot of tension in one scene where the group gets surprised by enemy soldiers comes not from the risk of them dying, but from the fact that the enemy soldiers are shot down almost immediately by a sawed-off shotgun that no one knew Homer was carrying.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One UnSub from Criminal Minds used a pump shotgun to shoot at female pedestrians he pulled up next to at traffic lights. He attached a bracket to the fore-end so he could rest it on the edge of his lowered window for stability.
  • This is the Mafia's mid-range weapon in the "Yakuza vs. Mafia" episode of Deadliest Warrior.
  • In "The Big Shooting" episode of the 60's revival of Dragnet, a sawed-off shotgun is involved, with a spoon attached to the butt so it can be hooked into the armpit of a coat or jacket and quickly swung into firing position.
  • Fargo: Season 2 has the Kitchen Brothers who use these as their Weapon of Choice. They attach the guns to their belt via a cord, so when not in use they let them hang at their sides, concealed under their trench coats.
  • Zoe's Weapon of Choice in Firefly is a sawed-off Winchester rifle called a "Mare's Leg."
  • On Lost, Caesar finds a sawed-off shotgun at the Hydra and takes it. But when he tries to use it, Ben has already stolen it and shoots him.
  • The Weapon of Choice for Bounty Hunter Jesse Colton in MacGyver (1985).
  • Ricardo Tubbs of Miami Vice made significant use of short-barreled shotguns. In the first season, he used a standard sawed-down double-barrel model; in the second, he switched out for a custom Ithaca 37 Stakeout, an already short-barreled shotgun that was cut down even shorter, and for the third and fourth seasons he used a similarly-cut down S&W Model 3000.
  • In an episode of Night Court, a defendant claims that he only stole from someone because he had nothing to eat.
    Dan Fielding (the ADA): Yeah, he was so hungry he had to eat the shotgun he was carrying!
    Judge Harry Stone: You had a shotgun?
    Defendant: Only a little one!
    Dan: The term is "sawed-off!"
    Harry: Held over for trial (gavel).
    Defendant: There goes my security clearance!
  • The Punisher (2017). When a pornographer tries to shoot Frank Castle with a double-barrel sawn-off, Frank casually disarms him and keeps the shotgun which he gives to Amy to protect herself while hiding out in a trailer. She fires it at Curtis when he approaches the door without warning. When Madani sees Amy clutching the weapon defiantly, she sarcastically asks if Amy is going to shoot her with it. Amy checks the gun and admits that she won't... because she forgot to load it. It finally gets used in action in the penultimate episode when Pilgrim tracks her down, enabling Amy to escape, and Pilgrim is later shown removing shotgun pellets from his bloody leg.
  • The Winchesters in Supernatural use sawn-off shotguns loaded with rock salt to fight ghosts. Dean uses a double barrel Baikal IZH43 shotgun, while Sam prefers an Ithaca pump-action.
  • Another gun called "Mare's Leg" is wielded by Josh Randall in Wanted: Dead or Alive (Zoe's weapon in Series/{{Firefly} is based on it).
  • In The Wire, Omar Little uses a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun hidden beneath his duster.
  • The X-Files. In "Piper Maru", Agent Mulder makes inquiries at a salvage company, unaware that it's a Front Organisation for a French Secret Service operation. The audience sees the secretary has her hand on a double-barrelled shotgun attached to the underside of her desk, but fortunately she doesn't use it.
  • Yancy Derringer: Beneath a blanket wrapped about his body, Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah carries a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun loaded with split buckshot, which he wields in emergencies.

  • "Hand on The Pump" by Cypress Hill on their self-titled album from 1991 is about gang life, drugs and how customized shotguns come handy in the hood.
    "Finger on the trigger with my hands upon the steel
    Lettin' out a bullet, this is goin' boo-ya
    You're stuck in my hood, so what ya gonna do now?
    Being the hunted one is no fun [...]
    Sawed off shotgun, hand on the pump
    Left hand on a forty, [puffin onna blunt]"
  • Ice Cube claims to make use of one in "Straight Outta Compton".
    "When I'm called off, I got a sawed-off
    Squeeze the trigger and bodies are hauled off
    * Volume-10's single "Pistolgrip-Pump" (later covered by Rage Against the Machine) is from a gangster's perspective who keeps a sawed-off shotgun on his lap at all times, presumably while driving through the hood.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The BattleTech RPG has the pistol version of the Blazer Laser Rifle, with the same power but much shorter. Unsuprisingly, this renders it illegal in much of the Inner Sphere.
  • The Champions supplement Kingdom of Champions has a villain named Brown Fox. The book notes that “brown fox” is (actually rare) British underworld slang for a sawed-off shotgun, and yes, the character uses such a weapon.
  • d20 Modern: the lead equipment designer for that game has admitted a personal distaste for this trope. Shotguns are markedly inferior to assault rifles or submachineguns, and sawed-off models hold no particular advantage.
  • In GURPS sawed-off shotguns are just slightly lighter and easier to use in close combat. The stock can also be sawed off but that just makes it hard to fire.
  • In the 1st and 2nd Editions of Necromunda the type of shotgun a gang fighter used was merely cosmetic but 3rd Edition introduced different stat lines for the different types of shotgun. The 3rd Edition sawn-off shotgun, available to Orlock starting gangs and as a Common Item at the Campaign Trading Post, lacks the various ammo types of a regular shotgun but, due to the improvised nature of its ammo, automatically passes ammo rolls.
  • In the first and second editions of White Wolf's Old World of Darkness games, the only difference between a sawed-off and a regular shotgun is that the former is easier to conceal.
  • Shadowrun
    • The Remington Roomsweeper, a shotgun that comes pre-sawed-off and features an adjustable "choke" that allows it to substitute quite handily for a full-length shotgun (though with reduced range). It's probably the second most common weapon amongst Shadowrunners, right behind the Ares Predator handgun.
    • One supplement for the game even included a weapon that was basically a pistol chambered for shotgun shells. Even the book commented on how brutal that'd be on the user's wrist. Then again, a somewhat similar weapon also exists in real life, even though it's only chambered for .410 gauge/.45 Long Colt and isn't nearly as hard on the shooter as a heavier gauge might be.
    • As well as these the game now (as of 5th edition) features a sawed-off, or rather a short barrelled version, of the Defiance T-250 shotgun. The Defiance may not have the best stats but it still packs a decent punch is the standard cheap, versatile and street legal shotgun option. The short barrel option cuts down on range and a little on hitting power (putting it on par with the most damaging pistols) while making the weapon something that could be feasibly hidden. To do so successfully you'll want clothing that makes this work (the lined coat for instance is a trenchcoat that actually gives you a bonus to this) as well as a few points in the palming skill, but if you can pull it off it's a good way to scare the heck out of someone and ruin their neat plans they had for your defeat.

  • The NERF N-Strike Barrel Break IX-2 is a reverse-plunger'd double-barreled breech-action short-barreled shotgun of a dart blaster. It even has a Tactical Rail-mounted dart rack to hold more ammo! Some modders merely shorten the barrel a little more, while others go farther and minimize it extensively.
    • A 2013 subline, the Nerf Zombie Strike series, features another short-barreled shotgun blaster, the Sledgefire Shotgun. It can chamber and fire 3 darts at once with specially-designed shotshells, and is a break-action blaster like the Barrel Break.
    • Their competitor, Buzzbee, also has a Double Shot blaster, which is a slimmer double-barreled shotty with individual "shells" that you load the darts into before loading them up. While it is not sawn-off in its stock form, many modders will indeed saw off the barrels so they don't slow down the darts (due to how plunger-driven dart blasters work, too long a barrel in some kinds of blasters will actually reduce their range and power).

    Video Games 
  • Alliance of Valiant Arms has the Winchester M1887S which has a sawed-off barrel and stock. The weapon is a clear Shout-Out to the one used in Terminator 2: Judgement Day; the player-character even flip-cocks it between shots.
  • Battlefield Hardline has the sawed-off shotgun, which is exclusive for the robber faction.
  • Played dead straight with the damage upgrade to BioShock 2's shotgun; the game literally says sawing off the barrel makes it deal more damage. Precisely why the developers think long-barreled shotguns actually exist is anyone's guess.
  • Bayonetta features the titular character able to Dual Wield a pair of magic sawed-off shotguns called the Onyx Roses on her hands or her feet. They were crafted by the Fallen Angel weaponsmith Rodin, with their unlimited ammo fueled by the souls of demonic fairies.
  • Blood has an unusually accurate example as one of the most common available weapons. Blood II: The Chosen nerfs it with slower firing and reload speeds, and worse accuracy. Even so, it has a greater damage-per-shot rate than the Auto Shotgun introduced in The Nightmare Levels.
  • In Bloodborne, Labyrinth Watcher carrying a crowbar and a lantern has these, should you keep a distance from them, they switch the weapons into sawed-off shotgun and fire solid slugs towards you.
    • In fact, prior to release, sawed off shotguns can actually be wielded by the player, as seen in Project Beast. It was replaced by Hunter Blunderbuss, presumably to keep to the steampunk aesthetic.
  • In BloodRayne, a sawed-off shotgun is used in the Louisiana levels. Interestingly, for a Dhampir who is super humanly strong and can dual-wield assault rifles, she fires the sawed-off realistically.
  • Call of Duty:
  • The Darkness II has a few shotgun types, one of which being a "Sawn-Off", a pump-action with a cut down barrel (which somehow holds more shells than the full-length Defender shotgun?). A more archetypal example comes in the Vendetta campaign, where gunslinger Shoshanna, whose Dark weapon is a double barreled sawed-off shotgun with unlimited ammo and can hold up to 6 shots, which can be changed into a huge cannon blast. Under most circumstances, however, she wields it on her left hand as a shotgun, along with any sidearm in her right hand.
  • Deus Ex featured a sawed-off shotgun, which fired slowly but was slightly more powerful and took up less inventory space than the automatic shotgun. The way the game handled weapon skills also allowed you to completely avoid the "shorter barrels = shorter range" effect; indeed, if you got to Master level, all the pellets would hit in the same spot - making the sawed-off shotgun the ultimate precision rifle from hell.
  • A similar weapon appears in the prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution as well, as a pre-order bonus. It has excellent stopping power against most enemies, but its reach is predictably ridiculous and only has two shots. The weapon skills finally making sense, it's also impossible to use it in a precise way. Its greatest advantage is how little space it takes in the inventory compared to every other non-handgun.
  • Dante of Devil May Cry has used, along with his trademark guns Ebony and Ivory, a double barreled sawed-off shotgun in every game, finally given the name Coyote-A in 4. And because he's a badass, Dante does not reload it at all, AND it's a break-action shotgun.
    • If you upgrade your Gunslinger style enough, he can also use his shotgun like a friggin' nunchaku!
    • Dante also has another shotgun-centered move, wherein he charges at an enemy and rams his sawn-off into them like a spear, before pulling the trigger, blasting them away. 'Tis great fun.
  • Doom:
    • Doom II introduces the super shotgun, which is a sawed-off shotgun with a big punch. It deals the damage of three regular shotgun shells while only consuming two, making it almost as powerful as a rocket when fired at extremely-close range, but is much less precise and takes twice as long to reload as the regular shotgun. Doom 64 does away with the reloading animation and simply has Doomguy pump it like the standard shotgun, which means you can fire it much faster. Interestingly, in contrast to many later sawed-off shotguns, going by the in-world sprite only the barrels are shortened, while the stock is left intact.
    • Doom 3 brings back the super shotgun in the Resurrection of Evil expansion. Unlike most examples of this trope in video games, it actually has better accuracy than the standard shotgun, which is practically useless outside of punching range.
    • DOOM (2016) and Doom Eternal once again feature the super shotgun as a stronger but less accurate alternative to the regular shotgun. Eternal gives it the Meat Hook upgrade, which is a grappling hook that pulls the player towards any demon it latches on to.
  • E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy has the Betty Boom sawed-off shotgun. It's wildly inaccurate and lacks the room-clearing abilities of its automatic shotgun rivals, but it has the advantage of fitting into a hip slot (normally reserved for pistols and small SMGs), weighing next-to-nothing, and it has a sweet crucifix iron sight.
  • The sawed off shotgun in Fallout 3 is quite weaker than any other shotgun in the game. It's also highly inaccurate, but as it's very very short, that may be why. The spread is all over the place, making it worthless except for large enemies, or being within kissing distance.
    • It is, however, relatively easy to get the unique sawed-off, The Kneecapper, which, while suffering the same accuracy issues as other sawed-off shotguns, has over double the firepower and is uniquely suited for Small Guns-focused characters who are interested in cleaning out ghoul-infested tunnels, close-range ambushes, and/or ammo conservation.
      • When a super-mutant DOES get in your face, however, it's much more convenient than the long-barrel variety for blowing theirs clean off. And if you can get close enough for a sneak attack it will ruin their day rather thoroughly. Additionally, in Fallout: New Vegas, it's a holdout weapon, which you can sneak into most casinos, just in case you really need to kill dudes in there.
      • Also in New Vegas, the Big Boomer is the unique sawed-off shotgun that does the highest non-explosive, non-energy damage in the game. And the kicker? It can be acquired as early as the fourth town. Provided you know how to get it without hurting its owner, it can be gotten very easily. And it's also right next to an important quest location that involves intense fighting at close quarters. Have fun!
    • Played straight in Fallout and 2 as well. The first game even gives you a sawed-off rifle as a quest reward, although the sawing is just one of the modifications - the result is to all effects a revolver firing .223 cartridges, and is the most powerful small arm in the game, even more than the Desert Eagle. Amusingly, it also appears completely unchanged in the sequel as a Random Drop from raiders - meaning that you can accumulate several of these "One-of-a-kind weapon(s), obviously made with care and skill." The sequel also starts recruitable character Cassidy off with a sawed-off double barrel shotgun. Played straight in that it somehow deals more damage than a regular shotgun, though the range is reduced.
  • Far Cry 2 features two with its "Fortunes Pack" DLC, one traditional (though heavily ornate) double-barreled shotgun for the secondary slot, and a slightly larger pump-action one with a large suppressor for the primary slot. Far Cry 4 followed suit with two of these for the sidearm slot: the "D2", a sawed-down variant of the .700 Nitro double rifle converted to fire shotshells, and a Signature version of the 1887 with shortened barrel and stock, which (owing to being an 1887 in a video game) is flip-cocked like the one in Terminator 2 when used from a vehicle, while carrying a body, or any other situation where only sidearms can be used. Far Cry 5 features a return of the "D2", now properly based on an actual sawed-off double-barrel shotgun rather than a sawed-off double rifle with retextured ammo.
  • Rufus Shinra's weapon of choice in Final Fantasy VII.
  • The Gears of War series has always involved heavy abuse of its shotgun, and the third game has a new sawed-off, double-barreled variety.
    • Played straight. The sawn-off is obscenely powerful but has an insane spread, abysmal range and a long reload, even when active reloading. It's effectively a melee weapon, hence its nickname the "Bad Touch".
  • The Near-Sighted Assassin from Ghost Trick uses one. Lynne even comments on how he's probably just trying to enforce the Rule of Cool by doing so, given that it's also a blinged-out lever-action weapon that really has no excuse for being used for an assassination.
  • The SLY 2020 from GoldenEye (2010) is one, and is the only shotgun in the game to be this. It's the most powerful shotgun in the game, has good range and uses a magazine as opposed to the other pump shotguns using individual shells. The downsides to it however, is that its accuracy is lower than the other shotguns due to it being sawn off, its magazine capacity is the lowest with 7 (though the use of High-Cap Mag extends the SLY's magazine size to 9 rounds) and it has no iron sights.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series often includes a sawed-off shotgun, with the advantage of greater spread and no real reduction in power versus the basic shotgun. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, not only can sawed-off shotguns be wielded like pistols, but CJ can use two at once with enough practice. Best not to think about how he reloads.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, your character can use a double-barreled sawed-off one-handed while riding a motorcycle.
    • It returns in Grand Theft Auto V and is still bike-compatible. (And now bus-compatible as well, for some reason). A patch also added the Double-barreled shotgun, which works almost identically but shoots both barrels at once.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 features the pump-action Serbu Super-Shorty, which comes factory-manufactured as a super-sized handgun. The description invokes the trope by noting that it saves time-consuming hacksaw work. They are usually regarded as Awesome, but Impractical as backup weapons since smaller, lighter handguns like the FN Five-SeveN are much faster to draw and fire; most use of the weapon is in conjunction with the v1.13 mod, which allows players to load them with a clip of lockbuster rounds as an instant lockpick.
  • Killzone 3 brings us the VC8 shotgun pistol, which as its name suggests, is a tri-barrelled shotgun shrunken down to pistol size.
  • In The Last of Us Joel finds a sawed off shotgun called the "Shorty", which is classified as a handgun in the game's inventory system.
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, a game heavily inspired by gangster films, features this weapon prominently. Especially in the mission where you are given the lupara to take out the traitorous informant.
  • These sort of appear in Marathon 2 and Infinity. Sort of, because "sawed-off" indicates that they were once full-size shotguns, and these seem to have been originally manufactured at this size. And they can be used Guns Akimbo in a fashion akin to the Terminator 2 example above. It even lampshades the "flip it around to reload" maneuver.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the asari-made Disciple shotgun serves such a purpose: It's easy on the pack load, but still performs adequately as a shotgun. It's useful for players that want to predominantly use powers instead of guns but still have a heavier small arms weapon (as pack weight affects cooldown rates of the special powers).
    • The more recently released AT-12 Raider shotgun hews even closer to a sawed-off: it deals high damage, but holds only two rounds, has insane spread and reloads slowly.
    • In addition, the M-358 Talon is a pistol that fires shotgun spreads.
  • Oddly, for a game that's largely an enormous mass of action movie tropes and badass, Max Payne handles its sawed-off shotgun comparatively realistically. You can't fire both barrels at once, it only holds two shots, and although devastating at extreme close range, it's much less useful than your standard pump-action at longer ranges. The primary mistake is that he uses it one-handed.
    • The primary advantage of the sawed-off shotgun is that, by abusing the game mechanics, you can shoot-dodge into a group of enemies, blast one or two, then immediately shoot-dodge again to reload immediately. Max Payne 2 "fixes" this by still requiring a reload animation, but you can still reload incredibly quickly by doing the fancy-looking bullet time reloads.
    • The True Matrix Mod adds Sawed Off Shotgun Akimbo as a weapon option once you pick up a second one. It basically doubles the firepower of a normal one, making it a four-shot weapon.
  • Even if he's prematurely aged into an old man, Solid Snake is capable of shooting a sawed-off one-handed in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
    • Played more realistically in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where the shotguns were shortened specifically for use in the jungle environments in which the game takes place.
    • Played straight and subverted in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the double barrel starts off as a normal shotgun and gets the barrel shortened and the stock removed through research. However, the M37 starts as a sawed-off; research actually adds a longer barrel and a stock.
  • The Duplet in Metro 2033 is a side-by-side break-action sawed off shotgun, built from pieces of metal piping and train parts. It does huge amounts of damage per shell - the most of all shotguns, in fact - and a double-barreled discharge is a devastating attack that nothing bar a boss can take and remain standing, but it generally gets dropped for the more easy-to-use Uboinik/Shambler revolving shotguns which have the advantage of a Pistol Whip or Bayonet Ya attack (although a depth-of-vision glitch impedes you from checking the watch with it equipped). The Duplet returns in Metro: Last Light with customization, such as extended barrels for longer range, or even two extra barrels!
  • PAYDAY: The Heist also features the Serbu Super-Shorty as the Locomotive 12G. Compared to the game's other shotgun, it has paltry range but a very fast fire rate, and its puny magazine size (four shells) can be upgraded by two. Plus, being such a small weapon, it's treated by the game as a secondary, allowing you to take an assault rifle alongside it for other situations.
  • PAYDAY 2 has not only the returning Locomotive 12G, but played fully straight with the Mosconi 12G, a traditional double-barrel shotgun. The only modification options for it are to saw down the barrel and the majority of the stock, making the gun almost hilariously inaccurate and impossible to control even for its meager 2 shots, but making it incredibly easy to conceal. However, as it can't be silenced, it's rarely used in any capacity, especially since the aforementioned Locomotive does everything it does, with more ammo, higher concealment values, and the ability to be silenced... still as a secondary, while the Mosconi takes up your primary weapon slot. It's mostly good for players who want something with high power and high concealment for Dodge builds. Most other shotguns added later through patches or DLC include alternate barrel lengths as well, almost always including at least a shortened variation.
  • Planet Alcatraz has 4 different types of sawed off shotguns (Juda, Greetings, Friend, Best Friend), both single- and double-barrelled, chambered in 12 gauge and 16 gauge. There's even a perk that improves accuracy when you use one of these.
  • Craftable in Project Zomboid. Take a regular shotgun, take a saw to it, get the sawed-off shotgun. Damage and range go down, but so does the shotgun's considerable weight, and the death arc gets wider too.
  • Red Dead Redemption features the sawed-off shotgun as the first shotgun type weapon you can get. It has pretty horrible range, but against mountain lions, there's no better weapon until you get the longer-barreled coachgun.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: A sawed-off shotgun is the second firearm you get in the game, after the pistol, and it takes up the pistol slot in the character's inventory. It's short-ranged and powerful, but only has two shots before reloading.
  • Resident Evil 5 has the Hydra, a three barreled sawed-off break-action shotgun. Little magazine and long reload time, yes, but also the power to shred anything in front of it. Characters hold it with one extended arm (except Sheva, who holds it with both hands), though it's understandable considering the sheer bulk of Chris and the Super Strength of Wesker.
  • Ryouko wields one of these in Saya no Uta. It's played realistically, though, and the character has trouble with the weapon due to insufficient knowledge of how to care for the shells properly.
  • Oda Nobunaga in Sengoku Basara uses one in conjunction with a longsword as part of a Sword and Gun combo. Unlike many other sawed-offs, its disadvantages are completely averted by the fact that it can fire dark spheres of hatred.
  • Silent Hill has an extremely odd one. It looks like a standard sawn-off double-barreled coach gun, but it holds six rounds, which it fires semi-automatically and fairly fast on top of that. If it wasn't for the short range and the very limited ammo boxes you can find for it, it would easily be a Game-Breaker.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has several shotguns, but for about the first third of the game you only get the sawn-off. It starts well as a decent short-range weapon, and it's your best defense against most mutants, but the fact that it's handled realistically makes it a pain to use on anything requiring more than two shots to go down. Since such enemies come around pretty early, especially in a vanilla experience, it's easy to come to hate the sawed-off as you constantly reload it slowly, getting shot full of holes in the meantime. The shotties that are actually good all around avert the trope – even the relatively short Maverick 88 isn't sawed-off, just short-barreled.
  • In Team Fortress 2, a lever-action shotgun is the Scout class' weapon of choice: Scouts being the fastest and most vulnerable class in the game, Scout players are expected to get close to their enemies, fire, and make a hasty retreat before the target gets a chance to retaliate - provided that he survives.
    • The unlockable "Force-a-Nature" shotgun is a sawed-off par excellence - double-barreled, cut down to just past the foregrip, and capable of unloading both barrels in a fraction of a second. The tradeoff is that you only get two shots before having to reload.
    • The later Soda Popper is sawed off even farther than that; its barely longer than the soda can that replaced its foregrip.
    • Also, the Engineer, Soldier, Heavy and Pyro classes have shotguns that are slightly sawed off, much like the picture on top of this page, though the Engie and Heavy also have access to unlockable full-sized shotguns with different strengths and weaknessesnote .
  • Played completely straight in the ridiculously goofy and full of More Dakka TimeSplitters series. Strangely, only the double-barreled sawed-off variant may be used akimbo in the series. And it reloads the same as any other bullet weapon, dropping of the screen then coming right back as if you merely had to exchange shell clips. It is far superior to the automatic merely for this reason. Of course, the game itself is full of silly tropes taken to their extremes.
  • The Twisted Metal reboot has this as a sidearm and a bigger one as a weapon pickup. The former is near useless when not used in extreme close range and can either unload both shells at once for massive damage or just one shell and use the other when appropriate. Did I mention that you have unlimited ammo for it? On the other, there's nothing special for the latter, except being a lot stronger obviously. Both weapons are potentially among the strongest weapons in the game.
  • Warframe has the Tigris shotgun, which fires both barrels with a click of the fire button and packs a hell of a punch even at a fair range. The Prime variant is largely considered to be the most powerful shotgun in the game.
  • Gallows, The Big Guy (well, even if he looks like one, in fact he's more a Black Magician Amerindian) from Wild ARMs 3 uses one, though he's the worst attacker of the party, the weapon itself is the weakest ARM of the game (stats-wise, his ARM is just awful), and his aim is terrible. On the other hand, when he manages to land a critical hit, it's going to hurt.
  • In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood B.J. saws off a shotgun himself after finding it with the front of the barrel bent out of shape.
  • You Are Empty suffers from a similar problem: the sawn-off is damn useful - for the first enemy or two. Then, the slow reload causes everybody who hasn't croaked from the first two shots to demonstrate their extreme displeasure about the player's presence by severely increasing the amount of lead in his bloodstream. The game, however, has no other shotguns, so most players prefer to use the more universal machine gun or nailgun.

    Web Animation 
  • Sun Wukong in RWBY uses a staff that separates into nunchucks that contain short-barreled shotguns inside them.


    Web Original 

    Web Serial Novel 
  • The party in Statless And Tactless find a sawed-off shotgun that Joe quickly names "Murder-Blood the Truth-Knower" after a brief disagreement over whether or not it was used in a murder. Ian's character Mari ends up carrying it around.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer uses one in the second season episode "White Lightning" that he "borrowed" from Wodehouse, who used two to protect Malory in "Double Duece". It pops up every now and again, notably as an instrument in his family feud game with the Irish Mob.
  • The Simpsons has a few instances where a character weilds a sawed-off shotgun.
    • In the episode where Mr. Burns is trying to kill Grandpa to get the Hellfish Bonanza, an assassin bursts into the retirement home spraying machine gun bullets everywhere. A nurse retaliates with this weapon.
    • When Mr. Burns takes on Bart as his heir, Homer tries to get him back. In a deleted scene, shown on a clip show special, instead of releasing the hounds (or the bees, or the hounds with bees in their mouths so when the bark they shoot bees at you) Burns chooses to release the Robotic Richard Simmons. It chases off Homer, but continues to antagonize Mr. Burns. Smithers attempts to take it out with a sawed-off shotgun blast to the face, but it reforms a la Terminator T-1000. The shotgun itself, and Smithers hiding it in his jacket, is a reference to The Terminator as well.

    Real Life 
  • Sawed-off shotguns were used extensively in trench warfare during the first World War by the United States; according to the other wiki, one Sergeant in particular managed to single-handedly retake a French town from German control using only such a shotgun. The Germans, who deployed gas weapons and flamethrowers, considered the use of shotguns a war crime, even declaring that they'd execute any soldiers captured who used one. note 
  • During the trench warfare of the Gallipoli Campaign, Major Stephen Midgley of the Australian 5th Light Horse Regiment was widely known to use a sawn-off double barrelled shotgun while leading his troops, the weapon's effectiveness resulting in Turkish officers complaining that it was not a 'weapon of war' under international law after Midgley took one Turkish soldier's head "clean off his shoulders". Midgley was ordered by an Australian general to cease using his shotgun and switch to a conventional rifle and bayonet, to which the Major was "bitterly peeved".
  • A sawed-off shotgun was the weapon of choice of Clyde Barrow. It hung from a strap around his shoulder so that he could easily conceal it under his coat, and quickly raise it up into a firing position.
  • Both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carried sawed-off shotguns during the Columbine High School massacre. Harris for one likened the shotguns to the ones shown in Doom, which led to outrage and (sensationalist) headlines accusing Doom and many others of corrupting youth.
  • This isn't always a modification, the Ithaca Auto & Burglar (1922) was a known as a "factory-built sawed-off shotgun" and aimed at police forces. Er...make that sold to police forces.
  • Breaching shotguns often have a shorter barrel for ease of wielding and are made for destroying door locks, usually by using powdered lead rather than shot.
  • In Sicily, the sawed-off shotgun is called a lupara ("for the wolf"—it was originally a personal defense weapon of shepherds), and is infamous for its use in vendettas and by The Mafia. They feature heavily in Mario Puzo's The Godfather.
  • In Soviet times, both during WWII and some time after, sawn-off shotguns and Mosin-Nagant rifles were used by bandits, robbers and/or Red Army deserters for ease of concealment.
    There was, however, official confirmation of the worst and most vicious kind of banditry. From time to time, a printed leaflet with a man's photograph would be pasted on the walls, stating that so and so, a deserter from the army, had been apprehended, found guilty of desertion and armed robbery, condemned to death, and executed. If a soldier at or near the front was found merely separated from his unit without a really convincing explanation like written orders or testimony from his commander if the commander could be contacted in time, he would be court-martialled and shot the same day. The deserters who managed to get away from the front with their weapons - a rifle could be made compact by sawing off the butt and most of the barrel - had nothing to lose by adding robbery to their desertion - Zygmunt Frankel, Siberian Diary
  • Thanks to the highly vegetated jungle environment during The Vietnam War, pretty much everything from shotguns to grenade launchers have had their barrel sawed off at some point to ease maneuvers. Special mention goes to the "Bitch Gun", a weapon used by the SASR, which is basically an SLR (a semi-auto FN FAL, for those uninformed) with everything in front of the gas block sawed off and the bipod detached to make room for an under-barrel XM148 grenade launcher.
  • Already back around 1600 cavalry would often be armed with large pistols, loaded with several small pellets or with "buck and ball", a combination of that and a single muzzle sized ball. Both in looks and in effect, these pistols were a lot like sawn off shotguns.
  • The Mossberg Shockwave is a pump-action gun with a 14-inch factory barrel, and is not considered a Class 3/NFA gun in that configuration, meaning it does not require a federal tax stamp (a shotgun is defined by the NFA as a "shoulder-fired" smoothbore weapon, and the Shockwave rolls off the assembly line with a pistol grip long enough to bring it up to the 26-inch minimum length). Of course, it still might not be compliant with some states' gun laws, and it only skates by the ATF's rules in that specific configuration; putting any other type of rear stock on one without first swapping out for a longer barrel will turn it into a Class 3 weapon.

Alternative Title(s): Sawn Off Shotgun, Sawed Off Shotguns


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: