Contributing author Alfredo Torres is an adjunct professor of communications at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he wrote his master’s thesis on the metaphoric representation of zombies in the films of George Romero.

How pop culture will get us all killed. (Part 2)

Last week I talked about the zombie genre and how I love and hate it at the same time. I discussed the chainsaw and how it is one of the most impractical zombie survival weapons ever. Now I want to discuss the most overrated weapon of choice for zombie enthusiasts; the shotgun.

Other than deterring the human element of any apocalyptic situation (just the sound of a shotgun being racked will stop any sane, reasonable human in their tracks) there really is no rational reason for having a shotgun as part of your arsenal.

A shotgun is noisy. The ammo is clumsy and cumbersome. And it is a big weapon (unless you saw off the barrel to make it shorter and add a pistol grip.) Improper use of a shotgun can cause a bruise at best and a dislocated shoulder at worst. Which will make at least one arm useless, if you’re lucky… but they do come in cool neon colors!

When choosing your firearm for the end of the world, don’t choose it because you saw it in movies. Make sure that it is a practical weapon; something like the very underrated .22 caliber rifle. Shotguns may be cool. I mean, racking a shotgun to put the emphasis on that final-stand speech you are making before blowing a zombie in half sounds awesome. It makes for a great fantasy image and it’s always great in the movies. But being eaten by the remaining zombies that have been drawn by that loud “BOOM!” isn’t as cool.

I’d rather live than look cool.


  1. Did a 9 year old write this? It’s apparent the author is not that familiar with real fire arms. Shotguns are no louder than any other large caliber rifle, also if you are hungry in a survival situation there is no better weapon to take small game in wooded terrain. Try taking a small bird in flight or a darting rabbit or squirrel with a .22, a quick shot with a shotgun loaded with birdshot has a much higher hit percentage I assure you. Ammo is easy to come by as its one of the most common weapons owned , and also the shells can be reloaded with just about any improvised projectile without special tools , all it takes is powder, tissue or cloth for a wad, a nail, a hammer and a primer (primers can even be improvised with strike anywhere matches if none are available)
    the ammo is bulkie but manageable and worth the versatility and power. Birdshot , buckshot, slugs, wax slugs, cut shells , dragons breath, breaching rounds, and even flares. Everyone should have a shotgun.

  2. Just to add to what has already been noted, the shotgun is perhaps the most versatile gunpowder-operated weapon of all time. Think of it as the modern day Blunderbuss. Most anything that can fit down the barrel becomes ‘ammunition in a crunch’, so long as you make a few adjustments with the shell: wax slugs, cut shells, nails, coins, rocks, batteries… I’ve even seen an arrow come out of a 12 gauge. My 590 is my ‘go to’ weapon when a pistol won’t do, and in these pre-ZA times, I shoot it the most. Pistol and rifle ammo (as most enthusiasts are well aware at present) will be tough to come by in a long-term situation, but even a gun-toting granny will have 12ga shells.

  3. Nonsense. Shotguns are arguably the most utilitarian firearm. From bird shot to buck shot to sabot slugs (think 3-5 inch groups at 100 yards), it is amazingly useful. With an extended magazine and no plug, capacity is not that significant an issue. Recoil is a shotgun is a function of the same things that contribute to recoil in a rifle and is countered the same way.

  4. Has there ever been anyone that had a shoulder dislocated, due to using a shotgun. It kicks no more then some 30- cal weapons

    • possibly an infant? maybe a toddler?

    • This author needs to read about the shot gun in world war 1. (I’ve even heard that the Germans tried to say Americans used a weapon of mass destruction because of its effectiveness at trench fighting.)

    • I had a 10 gauge pump shotgun for a while. If I put a full box (25 rounds) through er, I’d have a sore shoulder that’s for sure but I cant see dislocating an arm with a shotgun! At the very worst you’ll get a bruise. Most people would probably have a 12 gauge and you can shoot those all day long, just make sure its tight to your shoulder. The only thing that would get sore is your finger from pulling the trigger haha.

  5. this article made me laugh hysterically.

    the shotgun is overrated? not even remotely. the shotgun is very versatile in any apocalypse scenario.

    im guessing the author saw the episode of suns of guns with mel brooks, yes the 22 is a great weapon for the zombie apocalypse, but it’s very limited in it’s use. armor of any type would prevent you from defending yourself against bandits. not to mention your hunting choices would be very limited.
    yes they had issues with it on the show, mainly because of the type of ammo being used, but the beauty of a shotgun is that you can change the ammo out for some very drastically different scenarios. beanbags for non lethal purposes. if you need to drop someone without killing them. slugs for maximum damage on a single target. hell even grenades and dragons breath(incendiary rounds)
    also the “heavy” weight of a shotgun and solid construction makes it a great melee weapon, I am in fact currently modifying my 870 for fun, equipping it with a custom built stock that has a built in blade, which can be used with a butt strike or an axe strike.

  6. Ammo, and the size is pretty small

  7. I agree. Compared to other weapons, its ammo can be quite bulky, especially if youre on the run. Sure you can blow a zombies head and limbs off, but its magazine capacity can be a con, plus the slow reload time, unless you use one with a clip magazine. And i have a shotgun, but i prefer 9mm firearms. Not weak, possibility ofshared

  8. I honestly doubt the writer of this article has ever even touched a shotgun, much less shot one. There is nothing remotely clumsy about a shotguns ammo, unless of course handled by someone such as the writer. Shotguns have a wide variety of different types of shells they can take, making it a very versatile weapon. It is a perfect weapon for when groups of enemies are clustered around you, but with the use of slugs or sabots it can be a weapon that is accurate up to a hundred yards or so. While a .22 is a fine gun there isn’t much game to be taken down with it in case you need to feed your hungry group of survivors, try taking down a deer or bear with a .22! Basically this article as complete shit, written by someone that clearly would be a stumbling brain eating wreck moments after the outbreak occurred.

    • THANK YOU!! somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about. this author did a similar job on the katana- he clearly has no idea what’s what with weapons.

  9. Seems we have a few Scotts’ here so I had to differentiate..

    I actually think of the shotgun as a very versatile weapon. Mine for instance, is not heavily modified but has an 18″ barrell with an overall length of 26″ which is quite short. It’s lighter than a SKS, which is a heavily toted ZPAW weapon, it’ll load 6 shells and I can empty it hitting all my targets (at reasonable range) within 10 seconds.
    In addition if you consider the WIDE variety of different loads available for a shotgun the haters calling it a short range weapon will even be set back a little. Through a smooth bore barrel, with a slug, and practice you can center punch targets as far as 75 yards away. With a rifled barrel I’ve heard of people center punching at 125 yards. Which, yes, is considerably shorter than any center fire cartridge but if you examine situations in which you would need to engage a zombie having a weapon system which will work well at this intermediate range is quite advantageous.
    I also think discarding a shotgun if you come across one and you’re mobile would be a poor decision. If we’re simply arguing the practically of a shotgun as a WEAPON in the ZPAW opposed to a TOOL in the same situation then my argument dithers here. But Access to fresh meat is going to be a challenge whether you migrate to the city or the country. Not all of us are Darrel Dixon’s popping squirrels with a crossbow and need a spread weapon to nail delicious game birds and squirrel for the fire. Also as a tool it’s exceptional at clearing thinly veiled brush, opening doors, locks and chained gates. One of the reasons I would most want to have a few shotguns in my arsenal in the event of a ZPAW and I am with a group of determined survivors is that the inexperienced shooters have a much, much higher percentage opportunity to actually hit their target with a spread load in a shotgun. While I will agree that shouldering a shotgun may cause bruising I have yet to hear of anyone personally who has dislocated their shoulder by firing a shotgun. In addition with simple firearms training even the most inexperienced shooter can be taught how to handle the weapon in a manner of minutes. All of these videos with the poor girls holding them wrong and then being thrown off their feet and crying are bad boyfriends trying to make women feel inferior so I won’t hold any credence to that school of thinking either.
    I think perhaps the author of this article got caught up a little in the excessive hype of the shotgun being the ultimate zombie weapon. I don’t promote it as THE zombie weapon but as a tool in the arsenal it’s definitely got it’s purpose.
    Currently my arsenal consists of
    Mossberg 590A 12 guage
    2 – SKS – Tula & Izhevska
    Savage Axis XP Stainless .308
    CZ 858 Tactical II
    Pietta PPS50 (I’d take it over a 10/22 any day)
    Mossberg 715T

    • how do you like the mossberg compared to a remington 870, there’s a bull pup carriage im thinking of getting for an 870 but it will cost me 350 plus another 350 for a remington without a ribbed barrel (mine has a ribbed barrel, which doesn’t work with the kit).
      I may change my mind and add a modified mossberg to my collection instead. i don’t know though. if your curious about the kit look up bull pup 870 on youtube, its a nice peice that shortens the shotgun without forcing you to shorten the barrel.

  10. Its pretty ridiculous to say the shotgun is overrated. Its useful for so many things, a person could find himself at a loss without one. .22s are extremely underrated, and a MUST imo. With these guns you can hunt anything you need and defend yourself against all comers.

  11. I don’t really agree that it’s an overrated weapon. You make good points about its noise and recoil, but there are things you can do to reduce recoil. Sawing off the barrel/s is one of the worst things you can do. Yes, it will increase lethality at close distances, but if you want to reduce recoil, you want more weight on the gun, not less. I think the shotgun would still be a great choice purely because of it’s stopping power. If you had the know-how, you could always fit a silencer onto your shotgun. It would improve recoil slightly, and it would make it a lot less noisy.

  12. The great shotgun debate will rage long after zombies/hippies have overrun us all!
    There is a problem with shotguns when considering people with no firearms experience. With all due respect to Scott, a 12 gauge on the shoulder of someone unaccustomed to shooting is not going to be a good thing. While someone who has put a few rounds downrange will not feel a 12 gauge is a big deal, to the (sad) masses, the weapon with which they will feel unaccustomed to and be dangerous with for some time.
    For shotguns, i would recommend something akin to the SAIGA .410 AK platform as it will be easier for the unwashed to handle along with being semi-automatic so the poor dears don’t get confused with having to operate a pump action. A .22 is highly under-rated, likewise, the 9mm is acceptable. While I prefer a larger bore, when it comes to survival, understated and being able to put steel on target is far more “cool” than being Jesse Ventura wit a mini-gun mowing down the jungle and still not hitting the damned target.

  13. written by yet another person who ill be picking up my 22 ammo from. the 22 is a good round for small game and zombies.Now what are you gonna use for large game, wild dogs where i live foxes, wolves,or other people that come to take your stuff.The shotgun is a jack of all trades its proven against man and beast. and ammo is everywhere even at the height of the ammo shortage you would find 12 and 20 gauge. the arm dislodging shotgun is an elephant gun or a 8 gauge 3.5 inch express slug if you use a normal shotgun recoil is very manageable with practice.”there really is no rational reason for having a shotgun as part of your arsenal.”the fact that you can say that tells me you don’t know shotguns well enough to speak as an authority on shotguns and firearms in general.The shotgun has seen military service since the revolutionary war here in America and still fits a role in modern times.in concussion the Shotgun one of the best SHTF weapons that you can have. the stopping power that can drop anything from a bird or squirrel to zombies or pissed off bears.the old adage that you use your pistol to fight to your shotgun and your shotgun to fight to your rifle is true.

    yours truly
    a gun nut

  14. I totally disagree. I own all types of guns from revolvers to assault weapons Depending on what type of ammo your using it is a eff effective weapon and as for being clumsy your wrong again my Saiga-12 looks and handles just like a M-4 it has 2-12 round magazines and can be loaded with 50 cal deer slugs or 00 buckshot which would take a head clean off and the knock down power is amazing.You will be surprised at all the different loads you can purchase for a shot you can even convert it into a flame thrower with a load called dragons breath.

  15. I gotta disagree with you on the 12 gauge being impractical.

    1 – It is an extremely common round. Easy to reload being all you need is a primer, the shell, some power and then anything your heart desires.* A bunch of finishing nails laying around? Handful of caseless .22 bullets? Homemade double 00.

    2 – Slugs can blow off limbs or heads and will travel through multiple targets. I saw a video where they shot a car door with pistol rounds, rifle rounds and slugs. The slug went through both doors on the car. It has plenty of power.

    3 – The kick back is not that bad. You have to be a complete gun idiot to dislocate your shoulder by shooting a slug. You might get range shoulder after shooting it all day but nothing a good night’s sleep can’t solve. Besides in WW1 and WW2 soldiers were shooting M1s and K98s all day long and they seemed to survive.

    4 – It is a common gun. It is a simple gun. It is a tough gun. How many shotguns exist in the US alone? In the off chance of a zombie outbreak you have a pretty good chance of finding one. You also have a pretty good chance of finding shells. You also do not need magazines or clips to load it. A lot good an AR or an AK will do you if you cannot load it.

    With all that being said, the shotgun is a must have.

    *I know reloading a shell is a lot harder than that but you get my point.

  16. I’m with Scott on this one. The shotgun is a VERY versatile tool for survival. Slugs can leave quite the nasty hole in a shambling corpse and even sever a limb with decent accuracy. Buckshot at close range can be devastatingly effective. As for the noise, well yes it is quite noisy, and if it’s noise you are worried about then save it for last defense. The ammunition, while more cumbersome than say .22 rounds, is only slightly that. Alfredo Torres, please do a bit more research on this subject. Your chainsaw topic was spot on, but I believe your knowledge on shotguns is lacking.

  17. I own a Ruger 10/22, a 1911 .45, a 1911 9mm, and a 12 gauge shotgun with removable chokes. I aimed at getting guns with the most common ammo availability and guns that can go long periods of time without a proper cleaning and still work flawlessly in case of a SHTF disaster. A good 12 gauge shotgun set up with the right choke is very suitable for a zombie apocalypse. The “massive arm dislocating recoil” is bull. My Weatherby SA-08 has relatively little recoil. You can also fire slugs through it the same as bird/buck shot. If the recoil from a 12 gauge is too much for a nancy boy to handle, sew some leather or cotton or rubber onto the shoulder of your shirt. Hell, fold a dish towel over a couple times and sew that to a shirt. That minimizes the recoil to a point to where you barely even feel anything at all. The lethality of a shotgun is more than proven, and if sound is your main concern…just don’t carry a gun at all. Even the wonderful .22 is plenty loud enough to call in zombies from a mile away. Plus…a shell of 0000 buck had 8 pellets the same diameter of a 9mm bullet. You can imagine how it would end up being on the end of that load.

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