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The Shotgun is a weapon that appears in BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock 2 Multiplayer.


Main article: BioShock

The Shotgun is the third ranged weapon obtained in BioShock, and can first be acquired in the Dental Services Area in the Medical Pavilion. It fires buck rounds with a wide burst and high damage that are most effective at a short range. Its main weaknesses are ineffectiveness at long range, a low chamber capacity, and a slow rate of fire. However, the damage and the rate of fire can be upgraded at Power to the People stations, making the Shotgun a far more powerful weapon. Head shots with the Shotgun will inflict 200% damage against Splicers, and when fired at point-blank range, will kill most Splicers in one or two shots.

Power to the People Upgrades[]

  • Fire Rate Increase
  • 25% Damage Increase

Ammunition Types - Shotgun[]

  • 00 Buck - Standard ammunition for the Shotgun, inflicts a high amount of (piercing) damage.
  • Electric Buck - Rare ammunition for the Shotgun, inflicts a high amount of (electrical) damage and will temporarily stun the target.
  • Exploding Buck - Rare and inventable ammunition for the Shotgun, inflicts a high amount of (fire) damage and will ignite the target.


  • Switching to another weapon or Plasmid between shots will skip the pumping animation, greatly increasing firing speed.
  • Without exploiting Plasmid cancelling (as mentioned above), upgrading the rate of fire increases damage output per second more than the damage upgrade, Removing the pump-action enables the player to empty the gun's magazine in the time it would normally take for it to fire one shot and pump the action, therefore quadrupling its initial damage output.
  • As one would expect, this weapon is best used at close range. However, it is still capable of dealing a good amount of damage at medium range as well, although it is recommended to target multiple enemies at that distance. Using Electric Buck and Exploding Buck at that distance may even electrocute/ignite several enemies at once.
  • Electric Buck is a good choice when tackling Big Daddies (although Electric Gel found later on is superior). It not only deals high damage against them, killing them in twelve shots or less on the hardest difficulty setting, it also stuns them for a few seconds, preventing them from retaliating. Exploding Buck also works well against them, although Big Daddies will be able to fight back. In the same vein, one can use the Electric Buck to execute a One-Two Punch, which will kill almost every kind of Splicer in a single shot.
  • Once the player amasses enough Exploding Buck, it is recommended they use it instead of 00 Buck when dealing with enemies. Components for that ammo type are easy to find, and it has the advantage of setting the enemy on fire as well as dealing a significant amount of damage up close. Fire spreads, so shooting Exploding Buck in the middle of a tight-knit group will ignite all of its members.
  • Electric Buck can also be used against Security Devices with the intention to destroy them. Turrets, Security Cameras and Security Bots can be destroyed in a single shot, so while useless for hacking purposes it can quickly dispose of problematic machinery. The most obvious situation which springs to mind is when having set off an alarm. Electric Buck is hard to find, though, so use sparingly.
  • Electric Buck and Exploding Buck's elemental abilities can be used on the environment to the player's advantage. Shooting the water with Electric Buck will electrify it and shooting an oil slick with Exploding Buck will ignite it. This is useful if the player simply does not have the time to switch to their Plasmids, or if they wish to save their Plasmid Slots for other powers.
  • Upgrading the rate of fire won't change the reload rate. It still takes a long time to fully reload the Shotgun, so make every shot count. Alternatively, the player can switch to another weapon once empty.
  • This weapon can be very effective for ambushing, due to its ability to deal high amounts of damage.
  • This weapon deals a high amount of kinetic force upon impact. As such, it is extremely potent when combined with Winter Blast (only 00 Buck is needed here, the other two variants won't deal any extra damage or effects). Typically, an enemy frozen with Winter Blast can be killed in a single shot, although they cannot be looted afterward.
  • Electric Buck can be used to open short-circuiting doors.

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • Electro Bolt will temporarily stun the enemy, allowing the player to score a headshot.
  • Winter Blast will freeze the enemy in place for even longer, although killing a frozen enemy will shatter them, leaving no loot.
  • Target Dummy will temporarily distract enemies, giving the player time to line up a headshot. Using this against a group can allow the player to hit multiple enemies at a time.

Recommended Tonics[]

  • Natural Camouflage will greatly help if the player is staging an ambush.
  • The Damage Research line of Tonics will greatly increase damage against enemies researched using the Research Camera.
  • The Machine Buster line of Tonics will increase damage against machinery, although it usually takes one shot of Electric Buck to instantly destroy any security device. If the player is reserving that ammo type for another occasion and wishes to use 00 Buck instead, Gene Tonics from this line will also help.
  • The Electric Flesh line of Tonics, in addition to increasing the player's resistance against electrical damage (Electric Flesh 2 completely immunizes the player against it), will significantly increase Electric Buck's damage output.
  • The Human Inferno line of Tonics, in addition to increasing the player's resistance to fire-based attacks, will significantly increase Exploding Buck's damage output.
  • The Armored Shell line of Tonics will reduce damage taken while fighting enemies up close.

Help Caption[]

Press _ to fire.

Fires a wide burst of pellets, most
effective at short range.

Base ammo: 00 Buck -- Moderate
amount of piercing damage.

Advanced ammo: Electric Buck --
Moderate amount of electrical

Inventable ammo: Exploding Buck
-- Large amount of combined
piercing and heat damage.

BioShock Gallery[]

Concept Art[]

BioShock 2[]

Double Shotgun Icon.png
Main article: BioShock 2

The Shotgun is the fifth weapon in BioShock 2. It is acquired by Subject Delta in the Fishbowl Diner in the Pauper's Drop district. As with the rest of his weapons, Delta is able to perform a quick-melee attack with the Shotgun, dealing minor physical damage. In doing so he raises the gun in an attempt to hit his target with the butt of the weapon. Unlike the first BioShock, players are able to zoom in and aim with the Shotgun's iron sights, and its break-action mechanism (as opposed to the original shotgun's pump-action) leads to fewer shots before reloading.

Power to the People Upgrades[]

Basic Upgrades[]

  • Increased Clip Size

A double revolver mechanism allows the weapon to fire 6 shots before reloading.

This upgrade triples the Shotgun's clip size, allowing the user to fire six shots before having to reload instead of two.
  • Damage Increase

A sawed off barrel increases damage of all ammo types.

This upgrade increases the Shotgun's damage output. In addition, the sound of firing becomes much louder.

Final Upgrade[]

  • Electrified Shells

Kinetic energy from firing is used to charge several dynamos, randomly generating an electric shock.

This upgrade gives each Shotgun shell a chance to electrocute the target.

Ammo Types - Shotgun[]

00 Buck.png
  • 00 Buck - Standard ammunition for the Shotgun, deals a high amount of piercing damage.
Phosphorus Buck.png
  • Phosphorus Buck - Uncommon ammunition for the Shotgun, deals a low amount of piercing damage, then deals a high amount of fire damage and ignites the target after a few seconds. When the pellets ignite they make the sound of breaking glass.
Solid Slug.png
  • Solid Slug - Rare ammunition for the Shotgun, deals a high amount of piercing damage to Splicers in the form of a single, solid round. It is also capable of piercing through multiple Splicers, and it is also capable of knocking down lone Splicers, even Brutes.


  • The Shotgun's limited capacity means every shot needs to reach its target. Take the time to adjust one's aim before firing, as shooting randomly will often end up with the player wasting half their ammo.
  • A headshot with this weapon is enough to kill any non-Brute Splicer in one hit in the earlier levels of the game. Purchasing the Damage Increase upgrade and/or switching to Solid Slugs will allow the player to achieve the same effects even in the final levels of the game.
  • Shooting an enemy at point-blank range will throw them back, momentarily stunning them. Solid Slugs are able to achieve this on larger targets and at longer ranges, and can also knock down tough enemies like Brute Splicers.
  • Phosphorous Buck takes a short moment to ignite the target. Firing it at mid-range gives it a chance to hit multiple targets.
  • If willing to upgrade, it's recommended to purchase the Increased Clip Size upgrade first, as it allows the player to fire for much longer without having to reload.
  • If the Telekinesis 3 has been aqcuired, which allows a living Splicer to be picked up, the use of the telekinetic shield ability combined with the Shotgun will allow the player to land point-blank blasts upon enemies while shielding themselves from oncoming fire as well.

Why Specialize?[]

Unlike the original game, it is impossible to fully upgrade every weapon through the course of the campaign. Each upgrade choice will affect the player's experience, and may or may not be suited to their combat style. The following is a brief guide to the strategic advantages and disadvantages associated with this weapon:


  • The Shotgun is the most powerful close-range weapon after the Drill. Can also be used to hit multiple enemies at a time at mid-ranges.
  • The weapon's Tesla Upgrade allows it to serve as a substitute to Electro Bolt.
  • Using Phosphorous Buck after purchasing the above upgrade will also infuse two elemental effects into a single shot, which is unique to this weapon.
  • The same upgrade also greatly increases damage versus Security Devices, Big Daddies and Big Sisters.
  • The Shotgun is the only weapon able to stun enemies, aside from the Drill. Its power can also be boosted through Gene Tonics.
  • The weapon's initially small clip size can be augmented with the Increased Clip Size upgrade, negating the disadvantage.


  • Limited range.
  • Requires several shots to kill a single enemy in the later levels of the game.
  • Ammo is relatively rare and expensive, and the weapon's small carry capacity puts the player at risk of running low on ammunition.
  • Difficult to hit moving enemies accurately at close ranges.
  • The Electrified Shells upgrade puts the player at risk of electrocuting themselves when touching a body of water.
  • Combat with the Shotgun will frequently place the player at melee range, where the Drill works better.


The Shotgun is one of the strongest weapons in the game, with a high damage-per shot ratio and elemental powers to boot. Its versatility allows it to work in a variety of situations, and when upgraded can kill almost any enemy in under five seconds. On the downside, it's the shortest-ranged gun in the game, and is hard to manipulate effectively, especially when fully upgraded. Although definitely recommended for players who focus on close combat, it's recommended to practice with it first before upgrading.

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • Electro Bolt will lock the enemy in place, allowing the player to aim for the head with greater ease.
  • Winter Blast freezes enemies in place for even longer, although killing an enemy frozen with Winter Blast 1 will shatter them, leaving no loot.
  • Decoy will cause nearby enemies to bunch up around the dummy, allowing the player to hit multiple enemies at once.
  • In Minerva's Den, Gravity Well will drag all nearby enemies towards the same spot and stun them, giving the player an opportunity to fire into the crowd.

Recommended Tonics[]

  • Damage Research increases the effect of damage bonuses earned through research.
  • Headhunter greatly increases headshot damage.
  • Walking Inferno will increase the fire damage from Phosphorus Buck, as well as increasing the player's fire resistance.
  • Electric Flesh increases the player's damage output from electrical attacks, after the player has purchased the Electrified Shells upgrade. In addition, it also grants the user complete immunity from electrical damage.
  • Machine Buster increases the player's damage output against machines.
  • The Short Circuit line of Tonics increases the time Security Devices are disabled from electricity, which can be made possible with the Electrified Shells upgrade for the Shotgun (assuming, of course, the device is still intact after having been shot). Try to shoot the device from a distance so as to avoid completely destroying it.

BioShock 2 Gallery[]

BioShock 2 Multiplayer[]

Icon shotgun.png
Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer

The Shotgun returns in its BioShock version as a usable weapon in multiplayer, and is unlocked right from the start. It is listed as a highly damaging weapon, recommended for close-range combat.

Multiplayer Upgrades[]

  • Higher Rate of Fire: Unlocked at Rank 9. Increases the Shotgun's rate of fire at the expense of its range.
  • Auto-Reload: Unlocked at Rank 29. Reloads the Shotgun faster than usual, but slows its fire rate.


  • Never attack an enemy more than twenty feet away from the player, as the Shotgun's spread and damage falloff will only alert the target of the player's position instead of damaging them.
  • Although this will severely decrease the Shotgun's damage output, firing it at mid-range will allow the player to tackle multiple enemies at the same time. It's only recommended to do this with the help of Plasmids or a teammate, though (unless both enemies are severely weakened).
  • The ranges at which the Shotgun works make it easy to score a headshot, even when taking its spread into account.
  • The Shotgun is fairly easy to use, as its wide spread will guarantee a hit at close ranges.
  • The Shotgun's Higher Rate of Fire upgrade is perfect for surprise attacks, although the player will suffer even more in mid-range combat.
  • The Shotgun's Auto-Reload upgrade makes it more potent against groups, although it will hinder the player's damage output in general.
  • The Shotgun's Sawed-Off Barrel upgrade allows the player to kill researched enemies in a single headshot, although they will be forced to approach them in order for all the pellets to land on target.

Complementary Weapons[]

  • Two Pistol shots followed by one from the Shotgun will kill any enemy in .70 seconds, making this one of the fastest combos in the game. If the player is using the Sawed-Off Barrel upgrade, only one Pistol hit is necessary.
  • The Grenade Launcher's mid-range power, coupled with its simplicity of use, make it an effective counterpart to the Shotgun.
  • The Elephant Gun and the Shotgun's opposing combat styles make the two perfect in combination, as each gun excels in the other's weaknesses.

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • A single cast of Incinerate!, coupled with a full-force Shotgun blast, will kill any enemy in under a second. However, avoid getting too close to the target, as the fire may spread to the player.
  • Winter Blast will allow the player to shatter the target in a single headshot (or, in the case of a Shotgun with the Sawed-Off Barrel upgrade, a single bodyshot).
  • Aero Dash will close the distance between the player and the target in an instant. If the player manages to hit the target, a single headshot with the Shotgun will be enough to kill the enemy.
  • Houdini will let the player approach the target silently and safely, making for a swift kill.

Recommended Tonics[]

  • Fast Feet grants the player a speed advantage over the target, making it impossible for the latter to outrun the former. In addition, it increases the player's stealth ability, making ambushes easier.
  • Death Trap may come in handy, as the victim won't always be able to escape the blast radius in a cramped room.


Behind the Scenes[]

  • The Shotgun in BioShock appears to have been based on the 1882 Spencer shotgun. The main difference, however, is that the in-game weapon uses a bolt that slides back and forth, whereas the Spencer uses a pivoting bolt that extends out the top to eject chambered shells.[1]
  • The Shotgun in BioShock 2 appears to have been based upon the Zabala ''Kestrel'' Model SxS Boxlock Shotgun.
  • The rate of fire upgrade converts the Shotgun into a semi-automatic shotgun, while it is by default a pump-action shotgun. In reality, this upgrade would require more skill to handle since the increased amount of throwback from the weapon should have completely thrown off the user's aim after the first few shots. However, this trait is absent from the games.
  • The first few shotguns found in BioShock have a design engraved on the barrel and receiver, while most of the rest have a standard flat steel barrel and receiver.
  • The Shotgun used by Subject Delta has actually had its stock broken off (splinters can be seen on the grip during a melee attack)
Shotgun Rack Fishbowl Diner.png
  • The Shotgun found in the Fishbowl Diner has a nickname; "Sweet Charity" according to the name on the gun rack. The attached photo is that of Designer Steve Gaynor's girlfriend, Rachel.[2]
  • The Damage Upgrade for BioShock 2's Shotgun changes its sound effect. The Sawn-Off barrels produce a much more menacing 'Boom' sound effect.
    • In addition to this, little flecks of the shotgun's barrel stain chip away as the shotgun is fired again and again.
  • The Damage Upgrade on Delta's Shotgun doesn't actually make any logical sense; sawing off the barrels of a shotgun wouldn't make it more damaging, but probably less damaging instead due to the considerably larger spread, and therefore inaccuracy that it would have. The only logical reasoning might be that it would make the gun more easily store-able.
  • In the Multiplayer Apartment, the shotgun in the Sinclair Solutions box is in two parts (screw-on barrel and the rest of the rifle).
  • The hardware added for the Increased Rate of Fire upgrade in BioShock 2's multiplayer is actually the hardware attached for the Increased Damage upgrade from the first BioShock.
  • The Shotgun in BioShock has no iron sights, unlike the one in BioShock 2.
  • The Auto-reload upgrade for the shotgun technically wouldn't work. Seeing as it's mechanism appears to insert the shells parallel to the receiver. Whereas, in reality, the players would have to insert them somewhat diagonally into the firearm, this can be seen when Jack reloads.


  1. Spenser 1882 shotgun in BioShock on
  2. "BioShock 2… seeeeeeecrets" article by BioShock 2 designer Steve Gaynor on his blog, Fullbright