Season 9 of Fortnite is here at last, and nowhere is it felt more keenly than our trusty roster of Shotguns. In a stunning turn of events, the Pump Shotgun, the fan-favourite weapon for several season now, has been vaulted and replaced by the new fast-firing and startlingly accurate Combat Shotgun. So what do we do now?
Our Fortnite Shotguns guide will take you through the different types of shotguns in Season 9 and how they compare to one another, before giving you some focused, practical tips and tactics on how to win shotgun fights. You'll learn about ideal camera angles, how to incorporate building and editing into your fights, when to use and not to use certain shotguns, and much more.
For a broader overview on Fortnite Battle Royale, take a look at our main Fortnite guide, which is packed with useful tips and links to our other guides, such as our Fortnite building and editing, our overviews of all the new Fortnite week 6 challenges, our complete list of Fortnite weapons and their stats, and pretty much anything else we think you'd like to know about Fortnite.
Fortnite Shotguns guide (Season 9)
Shotguns are constantly vying for SMGs as the most effective close-range Fortnite weapons. Both have their uses, and it's always best to carry both with you if you can. But when it comes to dealing the most damage to players in the shortest amount of time, shotguns reign supreme.
Each shotgun blast is made up of several pellets, and the amount of damage you deal depends on how many of these pellets hit your target. Each pellet's damage is calculated independently, meaning some pellets can headshot and deal double damage, while others may not.
If you look at your crosshair after you've fired a shotgun, you'll see red dots appear in the centre of your screen. These red dots indicate how many pellets hit your target. In the image above, for example, I land 9 pellets in a single shot, giving me a total damage output of 161. The spread of these pellets and the gun's effective range depends on the type of shotgun you are using, so you should pay attention to these red markers to figure out whether your shots are dealing as much damage as they could be.
The downsides of shotguns are that they are slow-firing, very poor against buildings, and their short range means they should only ever be used in close quarters combat. But their damage makes them an absolutely necessary addition to your weapon loadout. For more information on the best loadouts and weapon combinations in Fortnite, check our Fortnite loadouts guide.
Fortnite's best Shotgun
With the unexpected vaulting of the Pump Shotgun (once upon a time the undisputed best Shotgun in Fortnite) with the V9.00 Patch Notes, we're left with the trusty old Tactical Shotgun, and the new Combat Shotgun, both with their different pros and cons. Let's go through them one at a time.
The new Combat Shotgun looks to have more of the Tactical and the Heavy Shotguns than the Pump. Surprisingly, it's taken the Tactical's title of fastest-firing shotgun away, with a fantastic fire rate of 1.85 compared to the Tactical's 1.5 (and the Pump's lethargic 0.7). Available in Rare, Epic, and Legendary varieties, it's harder to come by than the Tactical, but that makes sense seeing as it's superior in nearly every way.
Higher DPS, more shots, the ability to reload 2 shells at a time, and - most importantly - a tighter spread and greater effective range, which gives us a taste of what we've been missing since the vaulting of the good old Heavy Shotgun. Its damage falls a little short compared to its competition, sitting at around 3/4 what an equivalent Pump blast could yield. But the fire rate makes up for this, and the longer range means we're likely to see slightly more ranged fights than the melee-ranged Pump one-shots we have all grown accustomed to seeing.
Forever the 2nd most popular (and therefore least popular) shotgun in the Fortnite meta, the Tactical is still very powerful in skilled hands. Available in Common, Uncommon, and Rare varieties, it has unfortunately had its greatest strength taken away from it with Season 9, as its once unmatched fire rate is now very decidedly bested by the Combat Shotgun.
As for damage, thanks to the Tactical's damage buff in v9.00 there's some brief overlap where the Rare Tactical tops the Rare and even the Epic Combat Shotgun for pure damage dealt per shot; but the fire rate and accuracy of the Combat Shotgun means it will nearly always come out on top. The Tactical's one saving grace is that headshots deal the full 2x damage, whereas Combat Shotguns deal only 1.7x the damage. So if you manage to pull off a full-damage headshot, then even a Grey Tactical would deal more damage than a Gold Combat Shotgun.
So in a way there's still space for the Tactical, in the sense that it's possibly a better extra-close-quarters weapon if you're good with your headshots. But in every other sense, the Combat Shotgun reigns supreme.
Fortnite Shotgun tips and tricks - how to win Shotgun fights
Now, let's go over some key tips and strategies that might save your life the next time you find yourself in a tense 1v1 close-range shotgun battle.
- Build between every shot. This is probably the most important tip, and also the one which takes the most practice to get right. If you watch professional players and skilled streamers using shotguns, they will always be building between every shot, ensuring that they are only visible to their opponent for just enough time to get the shot off before disappearing behind cover again. A single slip-up can result in death due to the enormous damage of a single shotgun blast, so it's extremely important to get into the habit of building a barrier between you and your opponent after every shot before they are able to shoot back.
- Aim for the head! It goes without saying, because you should aim for the head with every gun in Fortnite, but with the incredible power and low rate of fire of shotguns, you should make sure each shot deals as much damage as possible. So get into the habit of tracking not just the enemy's body, but specifically their head.
- Take advantage of your third-person view. Not only does Fortnite's third-person view allow you to peak around objects while remaining in cover, it's also important to note that your player model is not in the exact centre of the screen. You always stand slightly to the left, and your player model acts as a blind spot around which you can't see while you're playing, so you can actually only see about half as much to the left of you as you can to the right. This gives players who peek to the right more of an advantage than players who peek to the left, because they can see more and in many cases are able to shoot first.
- Don't commit to a chaotic bounce-off. A "bounce-off" is what I like to call those moments we've all been in, where we find ourselves face-to-face with the enemy, in the same tiny space, and all thought of building goes out of the window as you both desperately bounce around firing shotgun blasts at one another. This sort of chaos is not the ideal situation to be in, and so you should always immediately try to get into a position where you can place a wall between the two of you, and regain control of the fight.
- Stay in your effective range. As we've mentioned, different types of shotgun have different effective ranges based on the spread of their pellets. But all shotguns are close-range weapons, so you should always look to close the gap between you and your opponent quickly before you can land your shotgun shots. And the same is true while in a build fight: don't just keep building higher and higher. Always try to keep your opponent in your effective range.
- Switch to another weapon to break through structures. While shotguns deal massive damage to other players, they deal significantly less damage against structures - particularly pumps. So don't ever be tempted to waste your shotgun shots trying to break through walls. Far better to switch to your pickaxe to destroy structures, or weapons such as an SMG, a Hand Cannon, or a Heavy Assault Rifle in order to quickly break through an opponent's defences.
That's just about everything we can think of on how to improve your shotgun battles, and hopefully you've learned a thing or two on the way which you can take with you for your next match. Remember, we'll be updating this page as any adjustments take place with shotguns in future Fortnite updates, so check back here for all the latest Fortnite shotgun tips and strats.