CS:GO Weapons Guide: Shotguns - Keep Your Enemies Closer | EarlyGame
Encounters of the close kind

CS:GO Weapons Guide: Shotguns - Keep Your Enemies Closer

CS:GO weapons guide: shotguns
Shotguns are a fun, but limited part of the CS:GO arsenal. (Image credit: Valve)

There are many different types of weapons in CS:GO and we've set a course to cover every single one of them in detail. You can't have a full arsenal in your game withoug shotguns. Let's see what the CS:GO market offers in that department!

We began this trip around CS:GO weapons the only place we could have - with pistols. In two extensive pieces of journalistic meat we went over through both exclusive and common pistols, making sure you're well aware of your potential sidearm's advantages and disadvantages.

This week we are moving away from sidearms and jump headstrong into the primary pool, beginning with shotguns.

CS:GO Shotguns General Overview

To players of some other first-person multiplayer shooters (looking at you, Call of Duty) shotguns might be a core part of the arsenal, useful in many ways. In CS:GO, however, that is not exactly the case. Shotguns as a class of weapons are perhaps the most niche, typically used in very specific environments and on very specific maps even.

Perhaps that's why it's the least represented type of weapon in CS:GO with four total guns. To be completely fair, it's a tie with snipers, but the AWP's overwhelming presence within the game's meta makes any comparison between CS:GO snipers and shotguns obsolete.

The four representatives of the CS:GO shotgun alliance are, similarly to pistols, split in half between common and exclusive. This means there are always three shotguns to pick from in the buy menu. We're going in reverse this time and plan to start with the pair that's available to Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists alike.


CS:GO Weapons Guide Nova
The Nova is the cheapest among shotguns, which naturally makes room for its use as a farming gun. (Image credit: Valve)
  • Price: $1050
  • Kill reward: $900

If you've read our pistol guides or are just familiar with CS:GO, you've already noticed something peculiar. The kill reward of the Nova is unusually high. In fact, it's triple what you'd get for a kill with a pistol and nine times more than what a CZ75-Auto frag would bring in the bank.

That right there is every CS:GO shotgun's main argument for in-game use. Economy is much more important here than any other FPS out there and being able to recover nearly 100% of your worth with a single frag is a feature any CS:GO weapon would love to have.

That's by far the Nova's biggest plus. It's cheap. CTs that want a shotty will appreciate that even more as it's significantly more economy-friendly than both of their other options. It's other strength is that it is a shotgun, aka it deals a lot of damage. Even if it is the least powerful of the shotguns, it can still kill a fully armored opponent with a single shot to the body at minimal distances. The headshot potential is still there a bit further out, but the moment the enemy gets into medium range territory, forget about it.

The pump-action shooting that reloads after every shot mixed with the fact that you'd need at least two good hits to win that duel mean that you're probably better off pulling out the pistol at this point. Despite all of this, the Nova is still the most accurate shotgun in CS:GO because of its low pellet spread and therefore - the best performer at range. Needless to say, CS:GO shotguns were not created for medium or long range combat. Then again, no shotgun in any game really is.

While shotguns are mostly going to be used in the same pattern, the Nova is especially good at farming for money when facing non-armored opposition. It's low price-high kill reward combo + the high damage are created to do exactly that. Low armor penetration make it a rare sight in a regular round, but you can still see it work at some of the smaller, short-range oriented maps, such as Nuke or Vertigo.


CS:GO Weapons Guide XM1014
The XM1014 is the only automatic shotgun in CS:GO. (Image credit: Valve)
  • Price: $2000
  • Kill reward: $900

The XM1014 is the odd man out in the shotgun rotation because of one very simple reason - price. Nearly twice as costly as the Nova, it doesn't have enough compensating features to make it a viable buy in nearly any situation.

Being the only automatic shotgun in CS:GO, the XM1014 has a much higher fire rate compared to the pump-action ones, but that's really the only field where it excels. As an automatic weapon, it has recoil, and a pretty bad one at that. Adding to that is the much wider pellet spread, as well as a lower number of pellets per shot to begin with, all of which brings the damage very low. It is the only shotgun unable to kill with a shot to the body at any distance and is no more accurate than any of the lot at medium or long range.

All of that being said, it can still decapitate an enemy in a single shot at short ranges, and even if it may not kill with one shot to the body at any range, the XM1014 can kill in two shots at short and even somewhat medium distances. So, it's not like it's the worst weapon in the game or even the worst CS:GO shotgun. It's just that the price really makes it a difficult pick in a serious match as it takes away a shotty's main role in CS:GO - filling out the bank.

Sawed-Off (Terrorists)

CS:GO Weapons Guide Sawed-Off
The Sawed-Off looks nice, but it has many limitations that saw it off the CS:GO meta. (Image credit: Valve)
  • Price: $1100
  • Kill reward: $900

If there's a stereotypical CS:GO shotgun, it must surely be the Terrorist exclusive Sawed-Off. The name already suggests the build of this weapon - its barrel has been shortened, but make no mistake - it's a heavy load to carry.

Low movement speed is just the tip of the barrel, pun intended, for the Sawed-Off. The damage drop-off is surreal to explain as this weapon can't kill a fly at long range and is almost as ineffective at medium range. That's partly due to the horrendous pellet spread that will make sure almost all of the damage is wasted at even the shortest of distances. It is also because the effective range itself is short. In fact, the shortest among CS:GO weapons. What that means is that at some point, bullets you fire are just not going to reach the target.

What makes up for all of this and makes the Sawed-Off earn its place in the buy menu is the damage. We mentioned that pellets spread like roaches. That doesn't matter much when you're close enough though - the damage they deal is so high that even if less than half of the pellets hit the enemy's body, he's a goner.

The Sawed-Off's very limited range but immense strength in its comfort zone mean that it should be used only when you're sure that the enemy encounter will happen face to face. It is a Terrorist exclusive and it's the Ts that dictate where and how the shootout is going to unfold, so the correct strategy and execution can make the Sawed-Off work.

Don't count on seeing it too much in competitive play, however, because

  • Range makes it a dangerous choice vs. pistols in anti-eco rounds
  • The Nova is better at what shotguns are usually asked to do
  • Terrorists rarely buy shotguns at all because of their much more favorable economy

MAG-7 (Counter-Terrorists)

CS:GO Weapons Guide MAG-7
The MAG-7 is by far the most used CS:GO shotgun. (Image credit: Valve)
  • Price: $1300
  • Kill reward: $900

The final stop in our journey through CS:GO shotguns takes us to the Counter-Terrorist exclusive MAG-7. I can give away right from the start that it's the most meta-friendly and thus, the most often used shotgun of them all. Why? Because it mixes all of the positives and limits most of the negatives of this CS:GO weapon class.

Once again, we must begin with the price. At $1300, it is slightly more expensive than the Nova and its Terrorist Sawed-Off counterpart, but those $200 come with real value. As always, we're talking of immense damage at close quarters, one that can take your opponents straight to the grave in one hit to the body. The MAG-7's effective range is much higher than that of the Sawed-Off and its damage higher than the Nova's and the XM1014's. Again, balance.

What makes it stand out from the lot in terms of mechanics is its magazine. The other three shotties are reloaded one shell at a time, but the MAG has mags. It's in the name, people. The downside of this is that you must wait out the reload, while with other shotguns you can interrupt and shoot at any time as long as there's at least one shell loaded. The MAG-7's capacity is also the lowest among shotguns with just five rounds per magazine, so you better make them count.

This gun's other advantage comes in its agility compared to its peers. Still a snail compared to most weapons outside of its class, the MAG-7 is very move and jump-friendly for a shotgun. That includes firing while you're doing said moving and jumping.

Being a CT exclusive, the MAG-7 is everything that other CS:GO shotguns aren't, at least not all a once: it is cheap, it hits hard and it is offered to the side that needs it more. That's why it's the only shotgun to see somewhat regular play even in non-eco situations.

These were the CS:GO shotguns. We'll keep marching around non-meta weapons next week when we tackle the game's two machine guns. It won't reinvent your game, but we promise it will be fun. For more CS:GO and whatever else you're into - EarlyGame and our YouTube channel.