Can a 20-gauge shotgun do this?

I’m reviewing a mystery in which the victim was shot with a twenty-gauge shotgun twice, once in the back and once in the head, from the top of a hill a quarter-mile away. Does this sound plausible?

Well…depends on the shot.

00 buckshot…maybe, but the spread would be wide.

Oh, I don’t think so.

1300 yards? With a 20-gauge? Maybe once with a slug on the magic bullet theory, but twice? Check the grassy knoll.

I guess I should add that 1/4 mile distance…you better be a damn good shot whatever gun you use.

You spent to much time in the farm…:slight_smile:

Wanna borrow my calculator?

1300 yards??

Of course you meant feet.


But still, 430 yards with a shotgun is a hell of a shot.

… Umm… It’s not impossible, but a quarter of a mile is 1,320 feet, or 440 yards. A four hundred yard shot is difficult at best even with a good rifle, quality ammo and a telescopic sight.

A slug, even a sabot-type, out of an unrifled 20-guage barrel, would have a circular error measured in dozens of yards at a quarter-mile. Two hits on a man-sized target? Maybe if the shooter fired a fusillade of a hundred shots or so. :smiley:

Also, due to the low velocity of the slug, the shooter would have to all but superelevate the gun- it’d be like firing a mortar. For that matter, shotguns don’t typically come with any sights other than just a bead out at the muzzle end. To even attempt that shot, the shooter would have to have custom-built sights installed- as in the rear blade would have to be about six inches tall. :slight_smile:

Bottom line, no, it’s not plausible.

Yea Manny, 440 yards, not 1300 ;). I’m just gonna say not freakin’ likely. It seems like, with a regular shell, the spread would be wider than a person before 440 yards.

I’m guessing you never watched The Beverly Hillbillys huh.


(1 mile)(5280 ft.)/(1 mile)(1 yard)/(3 ft.) == 440 yards.

With buckshot there is no way that you will hit anything that far away. The pattern will be spread out all over the place after that much distance. Depending on how tall the hill was and how fast the muzzle velocity is, you might also have to have an upward barrel angle, which would make aiming rather hard. You could look up ballistic stats on slug muzzle velocity and figure out using basic physics if it is possible to lob a slug 440 yards, and if so, what barrel angle you would need. With a smooth-bored barrel and no scope from the top of a hill, I would say there is no way you could hit anything at that distance with a slug. It is hard to hit something with a rifle at that distance unless you are extremely well-trained, and a scope is a virtual necessity. I think the answer is no.

Damn people beating me to this on preview. :wink:

ANd I’d just like to question exactly how you shoot someone twice in those locations from that range anyway.

In all probablility the first shot, whether it be head or chest, would cause the victim to fall. The second shot would have to be at a lying target wouldn’t it? Firstly the entry angle would be totally different. Secondly, a shot from 1/4 of a mile away mile, at a prone target, with a smooth bore? This is getting truly ridiculous.

Just to satisfy my curiousity…

You have seen a scope on a shotgun?

If the victim was hit ONCE by a shotgun from a 1/4 mile, I’d say it was possible by random chance, if only because a deer slug could certainly travel that distance. But two aimed shots? So unlikely as to be impossible. Like Doc Nickel said, if you shot a couple hundred slugs into the air, maybe two would hit the target by random chance, but otherwise no way.

OK, that gives me more confidence in my review. The writer didn’t go into more detail than this, except to refer to it as a “shot.” I suspected she was fudging, but I wanted to hear some expert’s thoughts before going any further.

Thank you all very much for your help! I’m amazed at the speed of your responses.


It is quite possible, even easy, to hit a man size target at 500 yds without a scope… if you are using a good rifle. The odds of doing it with a shotgun though, while not zero, might as well be.

I don’t know if I have seen one in person. They are mostly used on shotguns with a rifled barrel shooting slugs for accuracy. Here is a picture of a shotgun with a scope designed to be used for turkey hunting.

Umm, I’m far from an expert on any kind of weapon (as in never shot anything but a .22), but what would be the difference between that and a rifle?

Some places have shotgun season for deer. Some won’t let you hund deer at all without a shotgun. Shotgun slugs, within their effective range (less than 150 yards, most often well under 100 yards) have buttloads more energy than a rifle bullet, and do a grand job of killing.

Muzzle velocity and bad aerodynamic qualities.

So a rifled shotgun would give up the good qualities of a shotgun without fully attaining the quality of a rifle?