We’ve already covered the basic merits of certain zombie survival weapons, but if you have the skill and resources to shoot your way out of an undead assault, then is it better to grab a shotgun or rifle?

Despite Hollywood depictions of a determined hero blasting through hell-on-earth with only a sawed off shotgun, for the average shooter, shotguns will not produce a reliable kill shot at any reasonable distance. Unless you want to wait until your undead neighbor is literally breathing down your neck to get a clean head shot, you may want to go with a reliable hunting rifle.

On the other hand, if you’re forced into close quarters combat, then the wider spray of a shotgun blast may work for clearing areas to make way for your escape.

In the end, it’s a matter of personal choice. But learning how to handle, load, cock, fire, and hit targets at range are essential skills to develop well before zombies are knocking at your front door.

If you had the choose between carrying your rifle or shogun, which would it be for you?


  1. This article is ridiculous. Slugs can reach out to 150yards. Buck shot keeps a decent spread at 50 yds. Especially newer wads. The only downside is low ammo capacity. Not to mention the spread of buckshot at 10 yds is pretty much a fist sized hole

  2. A gun is a last resort, remember stealth and being able to keep moving are vital in the end of times. Use a knife or some sharp object at close range if needed. Now as for a shotgun or a rifle, which is better? Of course there is no right answer here it depends on the situation, but as for me I would prefer a rifle which would be my ruger scout rifle at .308 caliber. I already have a decent amount of ammo and it works like a charm whether you’re hunting or need to use for self defense very reliable. I also have my 9mm handgun (P-95) and a sharp knife for closer range targets. Remember you dont have to be alone so if you have a group someone should have a rifle but they are also very loud and should be a last resort. CROSSBOWS

  3. Let’s not forget that you can use foster slugs in a shotgun increasing your effective range to about 200 meters … That being said all my training is from the army so I’ll stick with my m4 and or m249 or just stay inside my Stryker

  4. hey umm mates lets not forget that shotguns make a fuck load of sound and average person takes some time to reload them,not to mention that this will attract a lot of unwanted attention, also rifle while making a bit of noise its self has its fault in its effective range. But quite capable of homemade suppression device(even tho it will only work for a few shots) my preference would have to be a rifle due to the sheer versatility of it and a pistol due to one always needing it in great time of need

  5. This is no question. Reliable stopping power on a shotgun is about 30 yards. The zombie further than 30 yards away is NOT A THREAT. Why would you invite trouble? They shamble people, just keep moving!

  6. I live in the middle of a major city so with everything so close and my chances of shooting over 180 yards being minimal.. if i had to grab only my rifle or shotgun i would have to take my lever action shotgun. Ive used it hunting several times and i know how it shoots and its capabilities.

  7. Diehardsteelers

    Turkey shells can put 30+ pellets on a paper plate at 40 yards and still have enough power to go through plywood. I know this from experience! So don’t talk about a shotguns deadliness.

    • Why can’t we talk about shotgun deadliness, I probably have just as much time with a shotgun in my hands as you so stop acting like your the only person on this website who knows what there talking about.

  8. One or the other. If I had to carry the shotgun I would have a 22. pistol for any long range shots. Shotgun has stopping power 22. hase range. If I had to take a rifle it would be a ruger 10/22 and I would have a large caliber handgun preferably a glock 9mm or any American made model 1911 so I still have range as well as stopping power. If I had no side arm though I would take a shotgun with birdshot. If a ghoul is far enough away that I need a high powered rifle than I can just run away where as if you are is the situation where you HAVE to shoot, it means your target is within the range of the shotgun and with birdshot it’s hard to miss at that range. Plus I can shoot a pump action shotgun faster than a bolt action rifle and shotgun shells are more common than 30-06, 303, 223 and 308.

  9. iwould go with a m4a1 with shotgun part on it and a suppressor and a akog scope

  10. Shotguns are easier to reload on the fly. You can essentially load while you’re shooting a Mossberg 500 with a little practice, which is probably the most cost effective without sacrificing quality shotgun on the market.

    With most rifles (with the exception being magazine fed ones, which you’re looking at high cost and subject to malfunction) you must stop to reload.

  11. this is a tough one for me to answer cuz i love my 12 gauge model 870 as well as my 30-06…i have a reloader for shotgun ammo so i wouldnt go without it. however i am a skilled shot with both weapons so im tempted to carry both so i can be more versatile. i am not familiar with shooting handguns but i really want to learn and i think i cud pick it up pretty quick with my ex-cop uncle helping me. i heavily believe in the trifecta of having one of each weapon type. my circle of zombie apocalypse friends and i have a clear plan in the case of the outbreak, with each of us bringing different weapons to the table (including 3 AR-15’s) my group would also include my ex-cop uncle because he was a self defense trainer for his police department in Corona.

    if u cant decide on a weapon, have a group that is diverse with everyone doing something to support the whole group. in this case i can get a group with pretty much every weapon and different areas of skills.

  12. For an amateur, a shot gun is an obvious choice. No need to be extremely accurate, effective stopping power (even at medium range), and fairly easy to maintain. If a shotgun is your pick, then you will definitely have to familiarize yourself with proper loading techniques, your reload capability will really determine if this is the weapon for you.

  13. you dont need to be too accurate with a shot gun so i would say shot gun for beginner to firearms and rifle to the more experienced. my personal chose would be the shotgun

  14. There’s no real debate here. If it’s hoards of shamblers you’re dealing with, your piddly little shotgun is going to be empty in 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Sure those 3 to 8 undead will be impressively dispatched, but if you’ve got a baker’s dozen creepin’ up on you…you simply can’t reload fast enough. On the other hand, a deer rifle, bolt action 5 round magazine fed is a joke as well and only has one good use..from the safety of your elevated hide while picking them off at your leisure. The true weapon is a magazine fed semi-auto rifle. While an AK is desireable and a good performer, if you’re mobile carrying all you have, ammo is heavy. An AR15 is more desierable as it gives slightly better control, accuracy, and more importantly – it’s lighter and ammo is more portable pound for pound. A 10/22 wouldn’t hurt either with many high capacity magazines at the ready.

    • Well, if your going to use a shot gun, the only one I would consider is a cartridge loaded AA-12 set to semi-automatic fire for better accuracy and not to waste ammunition. Wouldn’t really have to worry about the reload factor assuming that you have some pre-loaded magazines at your disposal. I agree that an AR-15 is a superior weapon, however requires constant maintenance and therefore not very reliable. An AR-15 requires some skill to operate and maintain properly. Most average people probably wouldn’t be able to handle the kick properly when in fully automatic mode and would end up wasting more ammunition than landing kills.

  15. I would stick to the firearm trinity; a rifle, shotgun, handgun. The rifle would do well for hinting, and taking out hostiles from far away, as well as having a sniper make a good negotiation tool. The shotgun on the other-hand is more for defense, the sound of a pump-action shotgun is enough to make a human nearly shit themselves, and if you have a few zombies blocking the hallway, getting head-shots is far easier, let’s not forget that the shotgun ammo will be the easiest to remake. handguns on the other-hand have two main roles, on is as backup, the other is for the intimidation of other humans.

    both have there advantages, but shotguns would work best for dealing with other humans, as when it comes to dealing with zombies, I don’t want to attract the horde.

  16. If all you’re going to do is fight zombies, a shotgun will do. But consider you might fight hostile warmbloods you’d need a rifle/carbine.

    • Good point – and hunting for food!

      • You can hunt with a shotgun.

        The only time a rifle, semi or otherwise, would be superior is if you were holding a position and you needed to “thin out” the ghouls encroaching on your perimeter.

        The smartest thing to do, especially if your one the run, is to be stealth. Both weapons are not the choice for stealth, BUT if you had to use a gun, more than likely it is going to be short to medium range. If a ghoul is standing out at a long enough range where you need a rifle to hit them accurately, then you would probably be better off avoiding it anyway.

        The shotgun has stopping power, so whether the ghoul is running or shambling, it gives you the advantage. Also, since a zombie’s head is constantly bobbing around, it may be hard to land that head shot in a panic, unless of course you are a sharpshooter. And once again, if the zombie is close enough, you can just use a 9mm handgun with a laser sight.

        In the zombie apocalypse, I would rather carry firearms with common ammo as well. 12 gauge shells and 9mm are about as common as you can get.

        So my loadout would probably be a reliable 9mm semi-auto like a Baretta 92FS or GLOCK 17, a .357 for backup (probably a S&W Model 686), a 12 gauge pump. You can’t get more reliable than a Remington Model 870; there is a reason why police have carried it in their squad cars since the 50s.

        Couple those with a good combat knife like a Kabar and a Tomahawk like the VTAC for braining ghouls, and your set. Most of your killing, especially if the ghouls are slow, is going to be in melee range. I know conventional wisdom says to keep away from the zombies, but if you are stealth enough…killing one or two zombies by surprise and avoiding groups, it is a hell of a lot better than giving away your position by shooting.

        If you are running and gunning, which you should be if a horde is on your ass, a shotgun is going to help clear a path and lead you to safety. If you stand still with a rifle, aiming down the sight, a zombie could very well sneak up and bite you in the ass (perhaps literally).

  17. I prefer the shotgun presonally. I don’t feel I’m accurate enough with an rifle to really be a effective zombie killer. The shotgun on the other hand I am completely comfortable with. I am big enough to handle the extra wieght and I don’t feel recoil with even 12 gauge.

    I personally love the stopping power because no matter what even I miss. the secound one will kill him because the first shot will have knocked him down

    • If you don’t think you’re accurate enough with a rifle then address the problem directly with more practice.

      You’ve got to scramble (or remove) the brain in order to kill the zombie, right? Any other damage you might do is ultimately ineffective no matter what the effect may have been on a living opponent. Even at moderate distances (50 yards or so), you stand a good chance of either scoring a glancing blow off the skull or missing it entirely. In very close combat, when time is as much an enemy as the undead, a shotgun can be your friend. Even if you don’t get a good brain shot destroying bones and joints will immobilize the threat enough that you cant extend your range and escape. Get much past 10 or 15 yards, though, and the shotgun loses its value very quickly. Now consider that Shotgun ammunition is very large and bulky in comparison to just about anything but .50 BMG or anti-aircraft rounds so you can’t carry very much at all. Finally, most shotguns are very slow to reload.

      I’m confident in my ability to score consistent head shots out to 400 yards with a precision rifle and optical sights but those tend to be somewhat long and heavy and as the range gets shorter the value of that weapon starts to drop also. A rifle of moderate caliber (.223 and up) is imminently more practical. Effective range of a M-4 carbine is from 0 out to about 100 yards (for a head shot) assuming iron or holographic sights. Carbines are short and light enough to retain high value in close quarters as well.

  18. Love your use of the AWESOME picture of Robert Deniro as Michael Vronsky from “The Deerhunter”! It’s a great pic.

  19. SOS Marshal Capt

    The saiga 12 can fire slugs accurately (2-3mao) within 100yards, and being magazine fed can quickly change load from slugs to buck/bird/SD loads for cqb.

  20. In theory, shotguns are a lot longer range than hollywood or gaming lets them off to be, you will get a good placed shot at medium distance, maybe not as good as a rifle but you’ll still get a good shot.

    • It seems there is a lot of speculative talk about what certain guns can an can’t do from people who may not even be familiar with them. People tend to think a shotgun blast will clear a whole room at close range and this isn’t true. I shoot 12 gauge all the time, all different kinds of ammo. A 20 inch cylinder 12 gauge bore throws a pattern of about an inch per yard. So 30 yds – 30 in pattern. A full power hunting buckshot load like remington express or winchester super x will be effective up to 40 yds, 50 if your good. I’ve seen people take deer at 80yds with a 28″ barrel, modified choke, 000 buck. Slugs vary in performance depending on manufacturer so it’s best to go to the range often enough to become familiar with the weapons you own, as well as what brand of ammunition shoots the most accurately from your firearm. I would carry my shotguns as first priority weapons. I would use #1 buckshot (15 pellets per 2 3/4″ shell) and some 3inchers for hordes or crowds. I would use slugs for longer range work. I’d also have one of my .22 rifles and a .22 pistol. Anything or anyone out of range of a slug or .22 I wouldn’t consider a threat. At least I wouldn’t stick around long enough for them to be.

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