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The rounds fired from shotguns are fundamentally different from those fired from rifles, or a pistol for that matter. Instead of being a single, aerodynamically shaped bullet, “shot” is a collection of like materials designed to spread out after leaving the weapon. A common example of shot would produce dozens of tiny BBs.

Though less accurate than a rifle’s round, shot covers a wider area and have a greater chance of taking down a close by moving target. In hunting waterfowl, the shotgun user expects at least one or two of the BBs from his shot to hit a duck. Shotguns also have better stopping power for close up objects. Once known as scatterguns, shotguns are more effective at hitting moving targets than firearms that only fire one bullet. There is no need for rifling in the barrel, which allows for more variety of size and length.

Shotgun barrels are generally shorter than rifles and have larger barrels to accommodate shotgun shells, which are larger than bullets. There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to rifling in shotguns. It is possible to fire a rifled slug in a shotgun for increased velocity and accuracy. Shotguns may also be outfitted with rifled barrel and fire what is known as a sabot slug. This is a practice in areas where rifles are illegal and gives the hunter an advantage in distance and accuracy over a traditional shotgun.