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A Vox Legi-Pattern Arbites Combat Shotgun employed by the Adeptus Arbites.

A Shotgun is an ancient Imperial ballistic weapon, much the same as the Heavy Stubber, which fires solid slugs that burst into submunitions to spread out over a wider area.

Most Guardsmen that use Shotguns prefer the double-barreled version, and its reliability makes it the mainstay of the Elysian Drop Troops, who prefer it over the Lasgun when entering hostile drop zones.

The Adeptus Arbites also commonly use Shotguns for crowd control and urban conditions, and have developed special 'Executioner' shells for this purpose. Space Marine Scouts are also known to use Shotguns during their missions.

Shotguns are commonly used by criminal lowlifes in the lawless regions of most hive cities, where a large variety of specialist ammunition is used, including man-stopper rounds, modified bolt rounds and incendiary shells.

Imperial Navy starships carry Shotguns for their crew to use during the rare boarding actions or, more frequently, against uprisings by the often mistreated crewmen aboard the ship.

These particular Shotguns fire shells made specifically for combat aboard a spacecraft -- the shells are packed with twists of metal wire and shards of broken glass, ensuring that a shot will shred soft flesh at close range, but will not puncture the ship's hull.

Shotgun Variants

Accatran Pattern, Mark XI Combat Shotgun

Manufactured on the Forge World of Accatran, the Mk XI Combat Shotgun is highly effective at close quarters for room clearance and during trench fighting. Similar Shotguns are commonly issued to law enforcement and security units for anti-riot duties and are used by Imperial Navy personnel for boarding actions.

This particular version of the many Shotguns available throughout the Imperium has an eight round internal magazine and uses a manual pump action to fire a single shot before the user has to re-cock the weapon. It can fire a variety of ammunition, including a non-lethal plastic baton rounds, solid slugs and pellet-filled canister rounds.

The stock is removable, and at close quarters many users prefer to discard it, shortening the weapon for extra manoeuvrability.

The pistol grip allows the weapon to be fired single handed, although this makes it wildly inaccurate and requires a very strong firer.

Assault Shotgun

The Assault Shotgun is a combat-ready version of the standard pump-action shotgun.

The ability to fire on semi-auto makes the Assault Shotgun a dangerous weapon, able to fill entire rooms with a hail of indiscriminate and deadly buckshot.

Astartes Assault Shotgun

An Astartes Assault Shotgun.

While not as iconic or widespread amongst Space Marines as the Astartes Bolter, the Astartes Assault Shotgun is a powerful and versatile weapon commonly used by their Scouts.

These bulky, clipped Shotguns can fire in single shots and in both semi- and fully automatic modes, and can use an array of specialty ammunition ranging from armour-piercing penetrator rounds to the powerful manstopper rounds.

Assault Shotguns are best used in urban and close-quarters combat, as well as in boarding actions aboard voidships.

Artificer Shotgun

The Artificer Shotgun is the preferred weapon of Imperial Navy Voidmasters, the non-commissioned officers who command voidsmen squads on Imperial warships.

The weapon is devastating in close quarters like most shotguns, but is particularly effective in the winding and narrow corridors of a voidship.

Auxiliary Shotgun

An Auxiliary Shotgun is a cut-down Shotgun holding a single cartridge that can be affixed to a Lasgun or similar weapon, which the user can fire instead of the primary weapon.

These upgrades are particularly favoured for city fighting, where the additional close-range stopping power is invaluable when encountering an unexpected enemy at close-quarters.

The added weight and cumbersome nature of an Auxiliary Shotgun are considered well worth it in such conditions, where long-range fire fights are comparatively rare.

Cypra Mundi "Ironclaw" Shotgun

These standard shipboard weapons are designed to resist the rigors of the void and have a reinforced, weighted stock, which can double as a club if needed.

Storage lockers filled with Ironclaw Shotguns are commonplace on Imperial military vessels and unlock automatically to arm the crew when the signal is given to repel boarders.

Deathwatch Shotgun

A Deathwatch Shotgun.

Optimised for close-quarters warfare typically fought in Space Hulks and xenos-infested asteroids, the Deathwatch shotgun can fire several distinct types of cartridge, ranging from the explosive cylinders of shot known as Cryptclearer rounds to the fanning flame bursts of the Wyrmbreath shell.

Hack Shotgun

Known by a wide variety of nicknames on different worlds, this is a conventional double-barrelled Shotgun cut down to the smallest possible size and rigged to fire both of its barrels at once from a single trigger pull.

Although very short-ranged and hardly a precision weapon, the twin blast is still devastating against "soft targets" (such as unarmoured civilians), and the sight of one can have a very salutary effect on bystanders.

A Hack is no substitute for a true combat weapon though, as many a ganger faced with Carapace Armoured Enforcers has found to their cost.

Lathe Pattern Boarding Gun

Essentially a large-bore, triple-barrelled Shotgun, the weight and hitting power of Lathe-pattern Boarding Guns has made them infamous across the Calixis Sector and Koronus Expanse.

Loaded with heavier, more powerful shells than most Shotguns, the weapon has punishing recoil that, combined with its weight, makes it impractical for any but the strongest men to wield.

Lucius Pattern Mark 22c Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Utilised by Death Korps Engineers of the Imperial as their standard weapon, this weapon is perfect for being utilised in the confines of tunnel fighting. The weapon's short range and inherent inaccuracy is not a major drawback, and its damage at short range makes it useful to engineers whose fire fights are typically short and lethal.

The shotgun's blast means they can sweep a tunnel clear and potentially hit multiple opponents in a single blast. These weapons are sometimes favoured by veteran Death Korps Watchmasters for trench and dug-out clearance. The Lucius pattern has an eight round revolving magazine, uses a gas-operated self-loading action to fire and can be loaded with a variety of ammunition, including solid slugs, pellet loaded canisters and low velocity flares.

The revolver action is prone to mechanical failure, but the weapon's high gauge and the heavy cartridge fired make it a deadly weapon at very close quarters, although it is infamous for its ferocious recoil.

Persecutor Combat Shotgun

Favoured by Arbitrators sent to space-borne postings such as voidstations within the Calixis Sector, particularly those expecting close quarters combat, the Persecutor Combat Shotgun is a solid, reliable weapon, designed to withstand the rigours of battle.

To better support the needs of an Arbitrator in combat, there is a retractable shock-prod mounted beneath the muzzle, allowing some of the utility of a Shock Maul without the need to stow the Shotgun.

A Persecutor Pattern Combat Shotgun is often utilised as a Shock Staff in close combat. Persecutor Pattern Combat Shotguns may use any form of special shotgun ammunition.

Pump-Action Shotgun

Common amongst planetary Enforcers, mercenaries, and raiders, these weapons are robust and practical, holding more shells than a regular Shotgun.

The distinctive sound of a new round being chambered into a Pump-Action Shotgun has led to many a scummer fleeing or a colonist's surrender before the shot can be fired.

Raven Pattern Shotgun

Raven Guard Scout Marines are among the best reconnaissance units the Adeptus Astartes has to offer, forging ahead of the rest of their Chapter's warriors, identifying targets for quick strikes and disrupting enemy logistics.

For this reason, Raven Guard serving in the Jericho Reach Deathwatch are commonly deployed to strike missions in the Canis Salient, using their stealth to operate behind enemy lines and strike high-value T'au targets. During a recent strike mission, shotgun fire gave away a Scout Marine's position and compromised the entire mission.

In response, Deathwatch Forge Master Harl Greyweaver used an ancient technique incorporating flash and sound suppressors into the Scout’s muzzle (a long black cylinder attached to the weapon’s barrel) to make the weapon completely silent when fired, without reducing damage potential or the ability to make use of variant forms of ammunition.

This modification was met with such great success that Greyweaver is willing to provide his time and skill to any Raven Guard Astartes who has proven himself worthy of the upgrade.

Scathros "Blackhammer" Defence Shotgun

Notorious for its sheer destructive power, the Blackhammer is comprised of a carefully-crafted barrel fitted to an equally well-crafted stock and firing mechanism, all constructed to safely fire a single massive shell, more than twice the size of a standard Shotgun cartridge with many times the power.

Each shell is custom-made and filled with dozens of heavy pellets the size of Stubber cartridges, backed by a huge charge; the quality of the barrel breach and stock are vital to keep the weapon from tearing itself apart with every firing.

The Blackhammer itself is a rarity whose fame often precedes it. The weapon's short range and single-shot capacity are often overlooked in favour of its immense stopping power, although, like many such weapons, it can prove dramatically less effective against targets with substantial "hard" armour.


A Shotcannon is essentially a cross between a Shotgun and an Autopistol: it is a short-barelled Shotgun with a very rugged and slightly more complex firing mechanism that allows it to fire in a fully automatic mode with a high rate of fire.

The Shotcannon is fed from a large drum magazine containing over fifty shells, allowing for prolonged bursts, and a short burst of a half-dozen shells at point-blank range can easily shred anything not protected by some form of Power Armour.

The weapon is favoured by Imperial Navy voidsmen and boarding parties despite the weapon's powerful recoil and the very limited effective range,as its impressive firepower at close range is perfectly suited to combat inside cramped corridors that are a staple of voidship boarding actions.

Shotgun Pistol

Also known as a "Foehammer," this weapon is s squat, brutal looking weapon with an extremely short barrel in a pistol configuration resembling a single-shot hand cannon.

A Shotgun Pistol can fire a standard Shotgun shell, and is popular with many Imperial naval ship's officers as well as crew chiefs who need an intimidating weapon close at hand to discourage any thoughts of mutiny, earning the weapon the nickname "persuaders" in Naval slang.

Skitarii Vanaheim Pattern Assault Shotgun

A robust and tested design, this compact auto-loader Shotgun is the standard armament of the Skitarii-Provosts of Mechanicus Forge Worlds who take the role of the Enforcers found on other worlds.

Provost-enforced law and order is as coldly and absolutely maintained as their machine-minded masters could wish, and any sign of disorder, be it the discovery of a petty crime ring in the worker-habs or a full blown labour-helot uprising, is brutally put down with uncompromising and lethal weapons such as this.

The Vanaheim Shotgun features an in-built red-dot laser sight and a melee attachment in the shape of a retractable saw-bladed bayonet as standard.

Volg "Meat Hammer" Scattergun

While Shotguns can make for brutally effective weapons, the gangers of the world of Volg have created an even more savage variation to stamp their authority on those that dare to cross them.

The "Meat Hammer" (so-named for its tendency to turn flesh into unrecognisable chunks), is a specially constructed, triple-barrelled, open choke Shotgun that can all but destroy a living body with a single blast.

Usually fired from point-blank range, a Meat Hammer hit is intended to kill, obliterate and to discourage others, and is a particularly loud and messy way to die.

Vox Legi-Pattern Arbites Combat Shotgun

The primary weapon of the Adeptus Arbites is the Combat Shotgun. It is valued for its stopping power, simplicity, reliability, and for its ability to intimidate. Even the most dusty, ancient Judge haunting the Halls of Judgement on Terra will have cut his teeth on the brutally effective shotgun drills which form the foundation of all Arbites combat training.

A large variety of different Shotgun patterns are used in different Arbites Precinct Fortresses across the galaxy, depending upon the proximity of the local Forge Worlds. The Vox Legi-Pattern is particularly widespread amongst the Arbitrators of the Periphery Sub-sector, and is broadly typical of the weapons favoured by the Arbitrators of the Calixis Sector.

Effectively a large-bore, locally-manufactured version of the Shotgun designs used by many planetary Enforcers, the Vox Legi is a devastating and adaptable weapon that fires shotgun shells nearly the size of those employed by the Adeptus Astartes.

The increased size of the weapon reduces its ammunition capacity compared to that of other Shotguns, but it still remains more powerful and adaptable than a standard Shotgun. Most patrolling Arbitrators take advantage of this flexibility by carrying a variety of Shotgun shell types so that they can employ different tactical options.

Over-engineered by a considerable margin, the weapon is also perfectly capable of being used as a large club -- indeed, it is expressly designed with this secondary purpose in mind.

It is also designed for maximum psychological impact, with a very audible pump action (standard Arbites riot training makes use of this).

The sound of a hundred Arbitrators simultaneously chambering their weapons has ended countless riots in a single instant over the millennia.

Westingkrup "Slayer" Pump Shotgun

The Slayer is a classically functional design from the Westingkrup Fane intended to be a back-up weapon for vehicle crews and Planetary Defence Force troopers, but is now common across the Calixis Sector.

Endlessly copied with minor variants on the design and fittings to its compact, stockless frame, it is said that almost as many of these weapons make their way into the hands of deep-hive scum as are supplied to the Departmento Munitorum.

One unusual variant of the Slayer, known in the local cant as the "Bonefinger," is crafted from heat-resistant ceramics and scrimshaw.

These are used in the hunting of dangerous Scoldbats in the burning heat of the upper reaches of Hive Tarsus on Scintilla, where a standard weapon might warp and fail in the extreme conditions.

Shotgun Ammunition

Amputator Shells

Filled with explosive micro-shrapnel, these bullets are designed to shear flesh and shatter bone, causing limbs to be blown away.

Bolt Shells, Modified

Decried by the Adeptus Mechanicus, numerous illicit munitionsmiths in the bowels of Hive Worlds and starships and the lawless fringes of the Imperium have long been adapting bolt ammunition so that it can be fired from shotguns.

Unreliable, they are nonetheless popular due to the extra range and firepower.

Cryptclearer Rounds

These shotgun shells explode on contact and are used by the Deathwatch Shotgun. As the name implies, they are very useful for devastating massed enemies within enclosed spaces.

Cryptus Shotgun Shells

On the world of Cryptus, the Templum of The Sacred Lights of the God-Emperor was renowned for being constructed entirely of glass. Its foundations were laid on the day the planet was reclaimed by the Imperium during the Angevin crusade.

In 702.M39, the cathedral was unexpectedly attacked by a hitherto unknown renegade cult calling themselves the Light-burners. During the fighting, as the cathedral's Frateris Militia rallied and drove back the assault, several cultists broke through the militia's lines, reached the towering gates of the cathedral, and sacrificed themselves to summon forth five towering daemons wreathed in black flames.

At the moment the daemons set foot within the cathedral, a sonorous bell was heard and moments later the glass shattered and the cathedral exploded into a stream of white fire. The fires that swept out of the cathedral extended for almost a kilometre and burned for over a solar month.

When the fires finally died out, nothing was left of the great edifice but thousands of white glass shards covering the ground. Experiments by members of the Holy Ordos revealed that the glass was naturally resistant to the Warp and caused great pain and harm to the foul denizens of the Immaterium.

Over time, the Ordos Malleus ended up with nominal control over the ruined site, grudgingly accepted by the Ministorum save for the hundreds of pilgrims who regularly process to the blasted wasteland on the anniversary of its destruction.

The glass, when used in a Shotgun shell, causes the weapon to be particularly effective against Daemons and some Warp creatures.

Executioner Shotgun Shells

These rare and specialised shells (whose use is often limited to the upper echelons such as Judges and important Castigators and Mortiurges of the Adeptus Arbites) contain miniaturised propulsion and stabilisation systems allowing the shell to lock on and track its target.

The mechanisms that achieve this are little understood and extremely hard to replicate, and so remain within the purview of those Magos-Munitorium that provide the Arbites with their sanctioned and ordained arms.

Flechette Shells

Rather than the conventional payload of dense metal shot, these Shotgun shells instead contain bundles of fin-stabilised mono-edged darts.

Far more aerodynamic than normal shot, these darts are more effective at longer ranges, and more capable of piercing light armour than conventional Shotgun shells. Some examples of these shells contain toxin-impregnated darts, for additional lethality.

Gas Rounds

Replacing the conventional payload with a small capsule of compressed gas, these shells are designed to replicate the effects of larger gas grenades, allowing Shotgun users to deploy debilitating or obscuring clouds of vapour at a distance without the need for a grenade launcher.

The resultant clouds are smaller though, as the shells can only contain a small quantity of gas.

Ignitius Shotgun Shells

These shells are packed with pyrotechnic materials, so when fired a huge gout of flame is produced for several seconds.

While not as lethal as regular rounds, a volley excels at frightening off most enemies. As they can also be used in standard Shotguns, they offer excellent tactical flexibility without the need for specialised Flame Weapons.

The duration of the discharge means it can only be used in single-shot mode.

Inferno Shells

These shells contain a volatile, clinging gel that ignites on contact with the target.


Shells contain dozens of tiny balls and are designed to scatter over a wide area when fired, making them ideal for close-in work where accuracy is less important.

Solid Slugs

Perhaps the most common alternate form of Shotgun ammunition, a solid slug is literally just a solid lump of dense metal.

While not quite as devastating at extremely close ranges, the slugs pack a considerable punch and are more effective at longer ranges than the normal cloud of shot.

Stun Shells

Used by some planetary Enforcers, Arbitrators, bounty hunters and game hunters to subdue targets rather than kill them, these shells contain a small, single-use shock generator connected to a collection of sharp metal prongs.

The shell discharges into an enemy struck, expending its entire charge in one go.

Wyrmbreath Shells

Wyrmbreath shells, when used with the Deatheatch Shothun, unleashing fanning bursts of flame that are particularly useful against alien foes susceptible to fire like many poorly-armoured xenos units.

Chaos Shotguns

Shotgun (Human and Legion)

Shotguns fire a smoothbore cartridge full of pellets (though some Heretics prefer to fill the cartridge with wire twists or even glass shards for particularly painful wounds), so one shot fires a high-speed cloud of lead.

These robust and practical weapons are popular amongst pirate raiders and underhive enforcers, as they can wreak havoc in close quarters.

Some shotguns are specifically designed to be used by Space Marines, although most of these were originally possessed by the Space Marine Scouts of Loyalist Chapters and "requisitioned" by Heretic Astartes of the Traitor Legions and Renegade warbands.


  • Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 155-156
  • Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pg. 147
  • Dark Heresy: Book of Judgement (RPG), pg. 64
  • Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pg. 73
  • Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 114-116, 118, 134, 161, 164
  • Codex Adeptus Astartes - Deathwatch (8th Edition), pp. 88, 90
  • Codex Adeptus Astartes - Deathwatch (7th Edition), pg. 104
  • Codex: Elucidian Starstriders (8th Edition), pg. 10
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pg. 98
  • Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 136
  • Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part Two, pp. 63-64, 96-97, 149
  • Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 177
  • Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 121
  • Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 121, 135-137
  • Rogue Trader: Faith & Coin (RPG), pg. 81
  • Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pp. 49-50, 60-61
  • Warhammer 40,000: Battle Manual (2nd Edition), pg. 52
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 74-75
  • Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 31
  • Last Chancers: 13th Legion (Novel) by Gavin Thorpe
  • Execution Hour (novel) by Gordon Rennie