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Sawed Off Shotgun | Everything You Need To Know



A sawed-off shotgun is seen as the old school, badass, dangerous weapon of gangsters and villains. In the movies, it's the type of firearm you'd normally see when there's a zombie apocalypse. But there's something more to this large piece.

Read on to know more about this “cool” shotgun.

RELATED: How to Make a Sawed-Off Shotgun | Gun Carrier

Sawed-off Shotgun | Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to jump to the instructographic.

What Is a Sawed-off Shotgun?

Shotgun with Cartridges on a Wooden Background | Sawed Off Shotgun

A sawed-off shotgun is also known as:

  • Shorty
  • Short-barreled shotgun
  • Sawn-off shotgun
  • Boomstick

Essentially, it's a double-barrel shotgun, but its barrels are shorter than the traditional shotguns. Its barrels generally measure under 46 cm or less than 18 inches. Meanwhile, the barrels of a classic shotgun measure around 28 inches.

It's typically used as a self-defense weapon or as a sidearm. However, it can be destructive when used at close range. It inflicts powerful burst damage, that it can instantly gun down anyone and anything in a single blast.

Contrary to its name, barrels don't necessarily need to be shortened using a saw. Manufacturers can make shorter barrels.

But in countries where handguns are expensive or inaccessible, some people modify legal or stolen shotguns. They unofficially transform these firearms into concealable weapons by cutting off the barrels.


This firearm is a break-action shotgun, meaning its barrels rotate perpendicular so you can load cartridges. When you pull its trigger, both barrels fire at once, releasing 14 pellets.

However, it's susceptible to wear and tear. It also eats up more ammo compared with other shotguns. Additionally, you need to reload it after each shot, which leaves you at risk in between shots.

What Is the Point of a Sawed off Shotgun?

home-security-12-gauge-short-barrel | Sawed Off Shotgun

For the military

A sawed off shotgun is effective only in short distances because of its slower velocity. But its shorter length and lighter weight make up for it.

Because a sawed off shotgun is smaller and lighter, it's easier for the military to conceal and carry them around. Additionally, it makes it easier for them to move in confined spaces, like caves, tunnels, and close-quarter battles.

Meanwhile, armored vehicles crew use a sawed off shotgun as their sidearm. And when it comes to urban warfare, the military uses this gun for door breaching and forcible entry.

In short, a sawed off shotgun is a compact yet powerful weapon.

For civilians

Historically, Italian farmers and shepherds used this firearm to protect their properties, such as their animals and vineyards.

In countries like Canada, Australia, UK, and New Zealand, the sawed off shotgun was usually the weapon in robberies during the 1960s. Robbers used to modify the shotguns and cut off the barrels to make them easier to hide. And because of this, most individuals still associate this firearm with crimes up to this day.

Meanwhile, in India, this weapon is a symbol of power and status.

Can You Legally Own a Sawed off Shotgun?

Closeup of a Hunter with a Shotgun | Sawed Off Shotgun

A lot of gun manufacturers in the United States haven't offered sawed off shotguns since 1934. This was the time when shotguns measuring less than 18 inches weren't allowed.

Today, several entities require a minimum length for a sawed off shotgun to be legal for civilian use. According to the National Firearms Act or NFA, a shotgun needs to have a barrel that measures at least 18 inches. Its overall length must be 27 inches.

However, if you wish to have a sawed off shotgun with less than 18-inch barrels, you can still legally possess one, given that you secure a permit before purchasing or cutting off the barrels.

If you find one for sale

  • Fill out Form 4This is the “Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration”.
  • Submit: You need to submit your fingerprints and two passport-sized photos.
  • Get your stamp: Purchase the US$200 tax stamp and have it approved. You must purchase a new tax stamp before every interstate and intrastate transfer.
  • Wait: Lastly, you have to wait around six to nine months to get your permit.

If you'll modify a regular shotgun

You may either cut the barrels or replace them with a shorter piece. But first, you must follow the same procedures above. And instead of Form 4, you must fill out Form 1, which is the “Application to Make and Register a Firearm”.

If you pass all the background checks, you may legally possess a sawed off shotgun.

Note: Using an unregistered sawed off double-barrel shotgun is punishable by a US$10,000 fine and/or 10 years in a federal penitentiary. You'll also lose your gun rights permanently.

RELATED: A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

How Much Does a Sawn off Shotgun Cost?

A Man in Camouflage Uniform Selects a Shotgun in a Shop | Sawed Off Shotgun

This weapon costs an average of US$700. But it can be absolutely free if you'll just modify a standard shotgun or make a DIY shorty.

How Do You Make a Sawed off Shotgun?

Closeup of Disassembled Shotgun | Sawed Off Shotgun

To make a DIY double barrel shotgun, you'll need the following:

  • Hacksaw
  • Angle grinder
  • Milling machine
  • Lead solder
  • Propane torch
  • Steel wool
  • Miter saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain

And of course, your long, standard shotgun.

Step 1: Cut the Barrels

Craftsman of Weapons Inspecting Shotgun | Sawed Off Shotgun

Measure your shotgun, then cut the barrels based on the length you declared on your Form 1.

Then, try to cut it in a straight line. You may draw some marks to serve as your guide.

Afterward, get your hacksaw, and start cutting the barrels. You may also use an angle grinder to chop the barrels in case you find a hacksaw hard and slow to use.

Step 2: Square Off the Muzzle

Muzzle of Double-Barreled Shotgun | Sawed Off Shotgun

Use a milling machine to transform the muzzle into a square shape. Keep making cuts until you achieve a perfect square.

Step 3: Fill the Gaps

Three Old Vintage Double-Barreled Shotgun | Sawed Off Shotgun

Unfortunately, you'll find some gaps between the two barrels of your shotgun. These empty spaces can make your shotgun look unattractive. They may even cause your barrels to split up!

To solve this problem, use filler materials, such as lead solder and propane torch.

Step 4: Do the Woodwork

Shotguns on Wooden Background | Sawed Off Shotgun

Now that your barrels are done, you also want to make the forend polished. But before you furbish this section, make sure that the wood doesn't extend past the barrels. Otherwise, cut it down using a miter saw.

After cutting the forend, you may sand and re-stain it to give it a fresh, new look.

Pro Tip: Experiment between dark walnut and Russian red shades to give your sawed off shotgun a more tactical look.

Here’s an instructographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy instructographic for reference:

How to Make a Sawed Off ShotgunHow to Make a Sawed Off Shotgun | instructographic

Check out this video by GY6vids as he shows off his sawed off shotgun:

A sawed off shotgun is easy to make, hide, and carry around. Some may see it as an impractical gun to have, while others look at it as a sensible weaponry.

For whatever reason, you plan to use a sawed off shotgun, make sure to fill out the right paperwork first. And don't forget to check the legal restrictions and obey your current state laws to avoid punishment.

Have you tried using a sawed off shotgun? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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  1. Dino Reina

    June 27, 2022 at 3:02 PM

    Where can i get one ?

  2. Balmy Jones

    June 11, 2022 at 5:55 AM

    $200 fee?
    I registered,and had approved, a KEG12 w/ the ATF last year for $5.
    This shotgun is classified as an AOW (All Other Weapons) and a $5.00 ATF transfer fee applies.

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