Gather round, ye buckshot lovers, ye connoisseurs of the shell who would rather be blasting than merely shooting. It’s time to talk about the best shotguns in Red Dead Online. Whether it’s got one barrel or two, whether it’s a pump-action or a semi-automatic, it’s the kind of thing you want when some mean-looking thug rolls up and there’s only one way to settle things. 

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When a horse theft goes awry, the pump-action shotgun is your friend / Rockstar Games via HGG

Many video games treat shotguns like you can shoot about three feet in front of you before losing all combat effectiveness. Red Dead Redemption 2 keeps shotguns relevant at the midrange — particularly if you’re using slugs, which provide nigh-unmatched stopping power. 

Using them in combat is largely a matter of rhythm and range — it’s good to know when a fight calls for careful, sober shots or frenzied onslaughts of lead at point-blank range. Get a feel for that rhythm of swapping weapons, both when the ammo runs dry and when the engagement would be better picked apart with a different tool. 

Dodging a barrage of bullets, Rowan uses her repeating shotgun to mop up resistance / Rockstar Games via HGG

But what is the best shotgun in RDR2 Online? Honestly, it depends. In this guide, we’re synthesizing not only the performance of the guns but how it fits into your character progression, material resources, and playstyle. By the end of our ranking, we hope you’ll have a sense not only of what we say is best, but how to parse which shotgun is best for you. Let’s commence!

The Best Shotguns in RDR2 Online

Let’s start at #6 and work our way down to the #1 shotgun in RDR2.

6) Rare Shotgun

Ellis shows off her new rare shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 1 | Price: $258

The only reason to buy this guy is if you want a shotgun right away. That or you just love double-barrelled shotguns, and you don’t need my help figuring out what you’re going to use. As for the rest of you, the rare shotgun is expensive relative to its normal double-barrelled counterpart, and it lacks the combat effectiveness of its single-barrelled cousins. 

Worse, you can’t even customize it, meaning its ability to continue being a good investment is essentially nill. Still, it’s the RDR2 Online best shotgun for early game.

5) Double-Barrelled Shotgun

Rowan browses the catalog and spies the double-barrelled shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 30 | Price: $185

Here’s a curious one. It’s unavailable for a very long time relative to its peers, and by the time you do unlock it, there are far better options available. Its saving graces are its relatively low price and the ability to customize the weapon.

4) Repeating Shotgun

Ellis, atop Clovis, sweeps her foes aside with her repeating shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 11 | Price: $434

It’s worth noting that depending on how you’ve spent your money and built your character, this gun and our #3 pick could be swapped with each other. Our next entry is ranked higher on our list of best shotguns in red dead online because I’ve found that it carried me exceptionally well through the early and mid-game and managed to beat out the repeating shotgun for price and rank unlock. 

Even still, if you started with something like the double-barrelled, it may yet make more sense to purchase the repeating shotgun down the line. It has the stopping power of the other entries on this list while also managing to pack in six(!) shots before needing to reload.

Top Three Picks — Early, Mid, and Late-Game

Now, let’s have a look at the top three picks for early, mid, and late-game.

3) Pump-Action Shotgun

Pictured: the Pump-Action Shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 5 | Price: $266

Considering how early you unlock it and how long it stays relevant in combat, the pump-action shotgun is our pick for the best early game shotgun. It’s inexpensive, reliable, and just damn fun to use. If you hold off buying a shotgun until Rank 5 and make this your very first, you will scarcely be disappointed. 

2) Sawed-Off Shotgun

A glance at the catalog, the Rare Shotgun, and the Sawed-Off Shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 19 | Price: $111

My favorite use of the sawed-off is in tandem with the double-action revolver. You do need to exercise some patience and wait until Rank 25 (when you first unlock the ability to purchase a second holster), but try it out and prepare to be blown away — or rather, to blow everyone else away.

Any close-range threat is liable to be torn to shreds by the shotgun/revolver combo, and you don’t even have to aim. Many of my character Rowan’s foes have been left mangled and mutilated by a sudden barrage of bullets after venturing too close. 

While the limitation imposed by two barrels makes committing an entire longarm slot to a shotgun problematic at best, the quick-draw capabilities of a sawed-off surprise are not to be ignored. It’s our pick for the best midgame shotgun in RDR2 Online simply because it does so much with so little effort.

1) Semi-Auto Shotgun

Pictured: the Semi-Auto Shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

Rank Unlock: 42 | Price: $54

Considering its absurd price tag and lofty rank unlock, RDR2 Online’s best shotgun was initially somewhat underwhelming to me. Many gunfights passed wherein its increased fire rate mattered very little. Since you fire at mid-range, you constantly have to pause between shots to make sure you’re blasting accurately.

Then I tried it out in Dead-Eye. Lo and behold, the big difference between the pump-action and the semi-auto became clear — if the pump-action can blow away a handful of men very quickly, the semi-auto can do it almost instantly. Even slowing the shooting down, a little thing like not having to worry about pumping in between shots can zero in your focus and improve your gunplay overall. 

Honorable Mention: The LeMat Revolver

Following a moderate psychotic break, Ellis takes her trusty LeMat out for a spin / Rockstar Games via HGG

What the hell’s a revolver doing in this article? It’s a whole different class of weapon. That may be true, but this very peculiar (and, surprisingly, historical) gun sports a second barrel under the first that fires off a single round of buckshot. For one, it’s a great way to surprise foes when you’ve seemingly run out of ammo, and for two, it’s just damn fun. 

Come Out of Your Shell

Rowan executes a bandit with her trusty sawed-off shotgun / Rockstar Games via HGG

That’s our best shotguns article for Red Dead Redemption 2 Online — thanks for reading! If you found this guide helpful or interesting, subscribe to our email list for more High Ground Gaming content.

Happy gaming!

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