Do You Know Why Sawed-Off Shotguns Are Illegal?

A Comprehensive Guide

A sawed-off shotgun is a weapon that has been modified to have its barrels cut down so they are less than 18 inches in length. Sawing off the barrel of a shotgun reduces weight and increases portability, but also significantly increases the danger it poses to anyone around it. The increased danger comes from the fact that there is no way for someone aiming at another person to know if they are shooting with or without buckshot rounds inside the gun’s chamber.

Table of Contents

What Is A Sawed-Off Shotgun?

It is important to know what type of gun you have, and how that affects the legal requirements for owning one. In short-barreled shotguns (or “shotguns”), at least 18 inches are needed in order for it to be classified as such under Federal Law; anything shorter without going through an extensive procedure can get your ass locked up with ten years imprisonment or $250 grand fine! It’s worth noting that they were created in 1936. A sawed-off shotgun is a type of firearm with a shortened barrel and often an enlarged, smoothbore cylinder. The main purpose of the modifications to this type of gun is to make it more compact and concealable than its original version.

How Does Someone Make This Kind Of A Weapon?

One way to conceal a firearm is by cutting the barrel. A hacksaw, sawzall, and carbide chop-saw are needed for this process which can take up to 10 minutes or more depending on how long you want your gun short in length. If concealability is what’s desired then there could also be modifications, so they fit better under clothing – but it will cost some extra time doing all these steps together!

How Are Sawing-Off A Shotgun’s Barrel More Deadly?

Unlike normal shotguns, this weapon’s muzzle velocity is lower making its range shorter but with more shot spread for those looking into getting in close before enemies can react. A shotgun is a versatile weapon that can be used in tight spaces. Its small size makes it perfect for military and law enforcement entry teams, who need to get into dangerous areas quickly. The sawed-off shotguns are popular because they have these qualities making them easy weapons: compactness; power (compared to other types of guns); deadliness also if needed.


The gun has a devastatingly powerful shot and lets you make your inceptions through doorways. With an extremely short barrel, sometimes just over 14 inches in length these weapons undergo further modification to either remove the buttstock fully and add a collapsing one so that they can be compact enough for concealed carry without being inconveniently cumbersome on your person when not firing off rounds at speed indoors where space may be limited as well!

Adding a muzzle brake to the barrel of your gun can be very helpful for both shooting accuracy and safety. not only are you going to direct more pellets at your target, but hot gasses that might interfere with recoil will also reflect forward into your enemy. The idea of firing through the hinge might sound like a good one on paper – until you consider where those shots will end up going when fired at full power from close range into metal doors with little room around them (think airport terminal).


The shortest shotguns are more likely to penetrate a car door because of their speed. They can also be difficult for officers in certain situations, like pulling over one that may have these types of guns onboard due to how easily concealable they typically are. Sawed-off shotguns can be easily hidden and they’re very powerful. However, the inaccuracy of these weapons may not make them as effective at broad range compared with longer barrel shotguns which makes them even more dangerous.

Why Are Sawed-Off Shotguns Considered Illegal?

The number one reason: The shotgun is a devastating weapon at close range. End of story! It would be far more effective than any AR-15 or AK47 to shoot you in your tracks, while no one wants to get shot by any firearm, I’m afraid the worst-case scenario with this thing? A Shotgun blast right up next to you (or anywhere for that matter).

Why Would Someone Use Such A Weapon?

Short-barreled shotguns are devastating at close range. They can fire in both techniques either as solid slugs, or multiple lead balls called “shot” (hence the name shotgun). There is buckshot (larger balls), birdshot, small game shot, target shot. The barrels have no rifling which means they are smoothbore, so it’s hard to leave any forensic evidence, such as tool marks behind on the projectiles. “The sawed-off shotguns are the perfect deal for criminals,” said Ali Tarek from Fishing Creative.


Sawed-off shotguns are popular with characters of bad intent. Many states have kept strict gun controls on modified shotguns as a result of this weapon’s growing popularity among criminals. If your goal is to shoot someone up close, then the short-barreled shotgun will make you very happy. It can fire solid slugs or lead balls called shot (hence its name). There’s also buckshot which has larger rubberized ammunition and birdshot. Also, the barrels are smooth enough to cause no rifling to leave some forensic evidence.

Why Would Someone Use Such A Weapon?

A ‘Rat Shot’ is strong enough to blow a man up, break hinges off doors and leave some as a single body with no clues. It’s easy-to-make weapons and very easy to hide. Forensically, they aren’t traced easily. They are also cheap which makes them perfect for criminals. This weapon is also considered as one of the “Classic Criminal” style essentials.

Legal Regulation of Owning a Sawed-Off Shotgun

There are legal implications of owning a sawed-off shotgun. The National Firearms Act was put into place in 1934, which prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns without proper licensing and regulation under the act. This also includes short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, silencers/suppressors, destructive devices such as bombs or grenades, and other concealable firearms/devices that can discharge a projectile. In the U.S., it is against the law to have a sawed-off shotgun that has an overall length of fewer than eighteen inches unless you’ve obtained a special permit from ATF.


Why is a sawed-off shotgun better?

The sawn-off shotgun has a shorter effective range than the standard shotgun because of a lower muzzle velocity, although its reduced length makes it easier to handle and conceal. The weapon is powerful and compact, making it particularly good for use in confined areas, such as close-quarter combat in a military situation.

What is the shortest shotgun barrel that is legal?

The NFA applies to any “shotgun,” which is defined as a firearm with a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. A weapon created from a shotgun is also a gun covered by the NFA if it has an overall length of fewer than 26 inches or a barrel or bores of less than 18 inches in length after modification.  

Are pistol grip shotguns illegal?

Although a pistol grip gun is an alternative to a regular pump-action shotgun, it is still a shotgun. It will always be a shotgun. It’s simply an illegal firearm if it’s shortened. Any weapon that has been certified by the ATF as a weapon will always be one.  

What is the smallest shotgun?

The tiny. 410 Bore: Although it is the smallest shotgun bore presently in use, the low-velocity round is commonly utilized for small game hunting. 


Sawed-off shotguns are illegal because they’re extremely powerful weapons that can be easily hidden. Sawed-off shotguns have been used in Hollywood movies and police documentaries, but the accuracy of these firearms is limited to close range compared with longer barrel models which make them even more dangerous. The number one reason why sawed-off shotguns are illegal? They’re a devastating weapon at close range! Forensically, there’s no way to trace them as well either. If you want crime novels or TV dramas where characters use this firearm, then go right ahead – but please don’t possess it for real-life purposes unless you’ve obtained an ATF permit first.

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Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Gabriel Tackett
Gabriel Tackett is an experienced shooter and hunter for over 15 years with a degree in Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is also a certified National Rifle Association (NRA) officer for 10 years And his passion lies in teaching others how to safely enjoy the hobby by recommending the best practices & products in the gun industry.