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Shotguns are best used for combating enemies at close range, where their buckshot spread can hit the target effectively in multiple areas at once.
Shotguns fire buckshot (The Medved uses slugs.) They suffer from low range and wide pellet spread, making close range engagements ideal.
Shotguns have a native bonus of increased stagger towards enemies. When an NPC gets hit by a shotgun, they will be staggered, making them unable to fire, and exposed for a short time. When using stagger against players, their aim will flinch, making their reticle sway off of and away from their target.
A pump action has high damage and a decent output, but it has a slow reload speed due to having a tubular magazine.
Semi-Automatic shotguns have a high output and do decent damage.
The Super 90 and SASG-12 are the only two semi-automatic shotguns. The former has higher damage of the two but a slower reload speed, while the latter has a faster reload speed (since the bullets are magazine-fed) but has a lower damage of the two.
A Breech Shotgun (a type of shotgun where the back must be opened for it to be reloaded) has the highest damage out of all the shotguns, but has the slowest reload rate and slowest output.
Automatic shotguns have the highest output but do the least amount of damage.
The only automatic shotgun is the Showstopper (see below.)