Shotguns span the range from elegant over-unders with beautiful walnut stocks and engraved receivers used to hunt upland birds to autoloaders with Mossy Oak camo for turkey all the way to black stock pump action tactical weapons – all of them perfectly designed and engineered to be the best at what they do. At Omaha Outdoors, we have hundreds of models of shotguns for sale online, from Remington and Mossberg to Beretta, plus other well-known makers. Browse through the selection to see what is available, or use the search function to find the right shotgun by gauge, action type and stock finish. Still can’t narrow down your selection? Use the wish list option on the web site, to keep track of your top favorites. Our knowledgeable representatives are also available for advice; just use the handy email form or call. With the excellent selection of shotguns available for sale online from Omaha Outdoors, we’re sure that you’ll find exactly the right shotgun for your needs.
A shotgun is a long gun (that is, not a handgun) usually with shoulder stock, that fires either multiple projectiles (“shot”) or a single projectile (“slug”). It has a smooth, unrifled bore and come in a variety of gauges (the equivalent of a rifle’s caliber) and with various types of actions. Shotguns are primarily used for hunting (particularly birds and small game), but are also used in competitive target shooting, law enforcement, military and self-defense roles.
When firing multiple shot from a single shell (the number depends upon the shot size), the energy of the propellant is divided among the different projectiles. This means that each shot is individually less energetic than a bullet fired from a rifle or handgun and limits the effective range. Also, while the pattern of the shot does spread out the further they travel from the muzzle, the degree to which they do is regulated by a choke, a sleeve in the bore at the muzzle of the barrel which shapes the size and shape of the shot pattern.
For centuries, shot has been made from lead and their sizes have become standard. The size of shot ranges from tiny #9 (each shot is only 0.080″ in diameter) to #000 (“triple-ought,” with a 0.36″ diameter, nearly the size of a .38 caliber pistol bullet). In recent decades, due to concern over lead poisoning in lakes and wetlands as a result of waterfowl hunting, most states require hunters to use steel shot when hunting waterfowl, but the standard sizes still apply to steel shot. The most common shot sizes are #8 (0.090″ used for clay pigeon shooting competitions), #2 (0.150″) and #4 (0.130″), both of which are often used for hunting ducks, #BB (0.180″ and the same as used in a BB air rifle, often used in shotguns for hunting geese) and #00 (0.33″) often used for home defense and military shotguns. Slugs, which are short lead rods held with a sabot inside a shotgun shell, are frequently used for deer hunting in more populated areas, where bullets fired by a rifle are considered too dangerous due to their extended range.
The diameter of a shotgun bore is noted as a gauge number; the smaller the number, the larger the diameter. Although very large-bore shotguns, such as the 10 gauge “goose gun,” have been made, the most common gauges in use today are the 20 gauge (0.614″ internal diameter), often used for small (upland) bird hunting and 12 gauge (0.729″), used for other types of hunting, competitive clay shooting and self-defense. Note that a decimal point is not used before the gauge number; the word gauge is usually abbreviated as “ga.” There is also a .410 shotgun gauge, which was originally used for hunting smaller species of birds and small game. Since it is also compatible with a .45 Colt chamber in a handgun or rifle, it is also has self-defense applications.
Although shotguns were originally muzzleloaders, since the development of self-contained shotgun shells there has been a standardization of gauge, length and shot size in ammunition. Depending on the make and model of a shotgun, shells are 2¾”, 3″ and 3½” in length. The base is usually made from brass, while the body or sleeve of the shell is plastic. Internally, the shell contains the propellant (gunpowder), topped by a pad (called a “wad”), the shot and an over-shot wad; the end of the shell is crimped in a pattern that allows it to open when the shell is fired. As noted, slugs are usually contained in a sabot, a plastic sleeve, which allows the slug to travel through the barrel; after it exits the muzzle, the sabot falls away and the slug continues to its destination. There are also special types of ammunition, such as “flash-bang” shells which fire a non-lethal type of firecracker, often used to frighten away nuisance animals.
Single-shot and double-barrel shotguns (both side-by-side and over-under) use a break action to open the breach for loading or removing shells. Most break-action shotguns automatically eject spent (fired) shells when opened; for double-barrel shotguns, if only one shell has been fired, only that spent shell will be ejected. The pump-action (or slide-action) shotgun, introduced in the early 1880s, has the advantage of containing multiple shells in a tube magazine underneath the barrel; as each shell is fired, another can be quickly loaded by pulling the forend towards the shooter to eject the spent shell and load the next into the firing chamber. Semi-automatic (or self-loading) shotguns can provide a much faster rate of fire and are popular with clay pigeon shooters as well as bird hunters. Some lever-action and bolt-action shotguns exist, but these are less common.
Shotguns are perhaps the most versatile firearms available. A single shotgun can be used for casual target practice, competitive clay pigeon shooting, hunting and home defense – and do them all adequately – with the right choice of ammunition. Even so, many shotgun shooters tailor their choice of shotgun to the primary task to which they want to use a particular gun. It is also a matter of taste: Some hunters going for upland birds (grouse and partridge, for example) insist on only using double-barrel side-by-side shotguns. Others, such as competitive shooters, stand by the over-under design above all others. Many people who own a shotgun for home defense insist that the distinctive sound of a shell being chambered by a pump-action is often all that is needed to give a would-be intruder second thoughts – although others feel that a semi-automatic provides all the necessary drama. One of the great pleasures of choosing a shotgun is trying out as many different actions and models as possible and determining which best suits you needs.