[Top 5] Borderlands Best Shotguns In The Game (Ranked)

Borderlands Best Shotguns In The Game
You're here for a short time, not a long time. Make it count!

What Are Shotguns?

Shotguns are powerful short-range weapons that shoot pellets in a spray-like blast every time you pull the trigger. They’re best suited for causing heaps of damage over nailing crit shots. If you’re a Vault Hunter who struggles with melee control, a shotgun is your gateway to wreaking close-range havoc.

Are some shotguns better than others?

The gun you want depends on the damage you need. Not all boom tubes are created equal, but the models available could make your missions way more entertaining. Here is a ranked list of Borderlands’ top five shotguns worth snatching up along the way to Pandora’s infamous Vault.

5. Defender

Can't be too terrible if you're making this much chaos.

It is truly cursed when you’re out of ammo and your Action Skill is on a long recharge delay. Luckily, the Defender’s ability to regenerate ammo comes in clutch when you’re pinned down by hordes of enemies. 

What we love about Defender

It not only has ammo regen as a Hail Mary but also carries a hefty punch with its damage stats.

What Defender Excels In

  • If it spawns with a Carnage barrel, you get a rocket launcher which maxes out its damage at 1024. Bottomless rocket launchers! Houston, we have liftoff. 
  • Since it’s made by Tediore, reload speed is top of the line.
  • The highest rated Defender has the best recoil reduction with increased accuracy and spread reduction. Mordecai’s Scavenger mod improves the likelihood of finding rare items, which would include this high-level shotgun.
  • How to get it

It’s a common shotgun, so you’ll find it in Base Game World Drop. Any valid loot sources such as bosses, regular enemies, red armory chests, white armory chests, and vending machines could spawn this weapon.

Defender Stats

  • Type: Combat Shotgun
  • Rarity: Legendary (orange)
  • Manufacturer: Tediore
  • Element: Any, x1 - x2
  • Damage: 45 - 1024
  • Burst: 7 or 9 (pellets per shot)
  • Accuracy: 11.7 - 72.9%
  • Fire Rate: 1.0 - 1.3
  • Magazine Capacity: 2 - 12

4. Jackal

Badass gun for a badass Vault Hunter.

The Jackal is a rare weapon to score in Borderlands, rated as Pearlescent. It’s essentially a glorified grenade launcher. Upgrade Brick or Roland with the right class mods and you’ve just become everyone’s favorite little firecracker.

What we love about Jackal

You basically get a cheat code in grenade storage, using both a shotgun and your default grenade arsenal. What a Dahl.

What Jackal Excels In

  • You really can’t knock the high recoil reduction, which keeps your camera on your target till you say you’re done.
  • The splash damage effect from the grenades is plenty. Just point in the general area and fire. Don’t forget to get out of the way! 
  • It can be powered with any element once spawned, making you exceptionally lethal. You could even have your default grenade stash powered with one element, and your Jackal with another. 

How to get it

Since this is a Pearlescent shotgun, you’ll find it in a dedicated loot source. You’ll have to take on one (or many) of these enemies: Badass Desperado, Badass Bruiser, Drifters, or Crawmerax. You could potentially score one in a Crimson Lance weapons chest if you’re feeling extra sassy.

Jackal Stats

  • Type: Combat Shotgun
  • Rarity: Pearlescent
  • Manufacturer: Dahl
  • Element: Any, x1
  • Damage: 769 - 1573
  • Accuracy: 68.9
  • Fire Rate: 0.8 - 1.7
  • Magazine Capacity: 2 - 12

3. Hydra

Cut off one head...well, actually you can't cut any of them. Great for you, sad for bandits.

The special weapons effect, Five Heads of Death, fires 10 - 12 projectiles in a five-shot group on a tight horizontal spread.  It’s rare for a combat shotgun to have such a reliable quality since they typically excel at chaos. 

What we love about Hydra

The predictability of scatter patterns can be boosted if you’re playing Roland. He has a skill called Scattershot, exclusive to shotgun improvement. This would increase Hydra’s spread and damage, which makes for great crowd control.  

What Hydra Excels In

  • A base +3 projectile count, increasing pellet output to 10 or 12. Any excuse for more pew-pews is always a good time. 
  • With a maximum of 83.6% accuracy, this makes the special weapons effect extra lethal.
  • Improved stability, so its recoil is less disorienting.

How to get it

You can find it in Base Game World Drops. Any valid loot sources such as bosses, regular enemies, red armory chests, white armory chests, and vending machines could spawn this weapon.

Hydra Stats

  • Type: Combat shotgun
  • Manufacturer: Atlas
  • Element: Never
  • Damage: 124 - 468
  • Burst: 10/12
  • Accuracy: 65.3 - 83.6
  • Fire Rate: 0.6 - 1.2
  • Magazine capacity: 2 - 13

2. Hammer

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." -- Karl Marx

This guy sprays pellets in the shape of an angled hammer, packing an Explosive elemental punch. Brick’s Ogre mod can improve shotgun fire up to +80%, which would obliterate enemies with spare time to boot. Roland’s Patriot mod increases Vladof's weapon damage and reload speed, which means it’s almost always Hammer time.

What we love about Hammer

A nod to the sickle and hammer of Communism manufactured by Vladof, your trigger finger marks enemies with the red stamp of approval. Well done, comrade.

What Hammer Excels In

  • The fun spread pattern isn’t affected by accuracy. So mod up and have at it!  
  • Trick shots. You can aim using the upper right corner of the crosshairs to make sure you always hit your enemy
  • Damage. Damage, damage, damage.

How to get it

Lucky for us, this boom tube is available in Base Game World Drop. Any valid loot sources such as bosses, regular enemies, red armory chests, white armory chests, and vending machines could spawn this weapon.

Hammer Stats

  • Type: Assault Shotgun
  • Rarity: Legendary
  • Manufacturer: Vladof
  • Element: Explosive, x2 - x4
  • Damage: 77 - 327
  • Burst: 7
  • Accuracy: 6.7 - 66.5
  • Fire Rate: 1.4 - 2.6
  • Magazine Capacity: 7 - 9

1. Maliwan Crux

Your foes are gonna be sooo jealous you killed them first.

Run and gun is key if you’re gonna leave your Bruiser a noxious love note after shooting their ugly face. Once you fire, make sure you’re clear of the corrosive radius so you don’t hurt yourself. If you max out Brick’s Rapid Reload skill, you can reduce recoil and boost reload speed.

What we love about Maliwan Crux

Since shotguns have the reputation of being here for a good time instead of a long time, leave it to Maliwan to use elementals to their advantage. A smaller magazine is a non-issue if you’re causing this much damage.

What Maliwan Crux Excels in

  • Great for armored targets, non-elemental spiderants, skags, and turrets.
  • Strong corrosive damage, satisfying that petty itch to take down enemies even faster.
  • If you arm Lilith with a Specialist mod, you can reinforce Maliwan elemental weapons specifically. This makes the Crux even more ruthless, especially with an added magazine boost.

How to get it

It’s available in Base Game World Drops. Any valid loot sources such as bosses, regular enemies, red armory chests, white armory chests, and vending machines could spawn this weapon.

Maliwan Crux Stats

  • Type: Assault Shotgun
  • Rarity: Legendary
  • Manufacturer: Maliwan
  • Element: Corrosive, x3 - x4
  • Damage: 43 - 208
  • Burst: 7
  • Accuracy: 25.3 - 77.1
  • Fire Rate: 1.0 - 1.9
  • Magazine Capacity: 5 - 7


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