Back 4 Blood: Ultimate Shotgun Build

Learn how to set up the ultimate shotgun build. 

Shotguns have been, are, and forever will be ubiquitous with the zombie apocalypse. That’s no different in the uniquely hellish world put forth in Turtle Rock Studios’ Back 4 Blood. Shotguns are too good a weapon not to include in anyone’s apocalypse survival kit.

However, they won’t float everyone’s boat. You’ll find yourself a sitting duck while you reload all your shells if you’re not careful. And you’ll end up shooting your friends more often than not if your aim is a bit off. Some people will opt for the precision and accuracy of an assault rifle or forgo the need to reload by choosing a melee weapon.

But for those who like to blow away waves of enemies with a single trigger pull, and for those who enjoy clearing rooms and kicking ass, we think the ultimate shotgun build is the obvious choice.

Boomsticks, the tools of the trade

Back 4 Blood Shotgun Selection

Who knew there was so much variety when choosing a shotgun? Do you want pump-action or automatic? Are you looking for damage output or extended range? It’s up to you to experiment and find the right fit for your style, but let us give you a few tips to help you on your way.

870 Express

The 870 Express is a hell of a shotgun that packs a punch and has a nice, widespread. It takes depressingly long to reload, however, and its aim blows. We died more than once waiting to reload this sucker.


The AA12 is considered by many to be the best. It’s got automatic fire, so you can hold the trigger down and fire away. It’s got a drum clip, so reloading is as easy as an assault rifle. And it’s got great range. It does, however, have the lowest damage of any shotgun. So, while it comes with a sweet fire rate, it comes with a sour punch.

TAC 14

The TAC 14 exists. We honestly don’t know what else to say about it. It’s the shotgun you carry if you want to look cool. That’s about it. Damage is low, ammunition it can hold is low, and its accuracy is–you guessed it–low.

Super 90

The Super 90 is the best. It’s just the best for the damage and the ammo clip, stability, etc. If you see one, pick it up.

The playstyle of a shotgunner

Back 4 Blood - Shotgun In Action

Being a shotgunner is not always a solo build. What we mean is that being a shotgunner pairs well with other builds. We found that going shotgun/melee was a great combination for us. Likewise, a shotgun and healer build was how we worked through most of our Nightmare campaign.

But, when we wanted to flex our short-range muscles and show off our shotgun skills, we found that disabling aim-down sights was the way to go.

The shotgun is not the most accurate weapon. Ah, who are we kidding? It sucks at aiming. Rather than increasing its accuracy with aim-down sights or trying to find the best ACOG scope to attach, we found that leaning into the shotgun’s poor aim worked out best for us.

We almost always disable aim-down sights for our shotgunner. It opens up a whole new selection of cards for us. Like Quick Kill, which gives +50% accuracy. Or Motorcycle Helmet, which buffs both damage resistance and health. And, of course, Killer’s Instinct, which gives a solid 30% extra weakspot damage. And how could we forget–there’s the Mag Coupler card, which significantly reduces the time it takes to reload your shotgun.

Disabling our sights made us feel like we were utilizing our shotgun better. Shotguns aren’t meant to be rifles or snipers. They’re meant to blast big holes in things. Or many holes in many things. To that end, we found that just hip firing was the way to go. No need to waste time aiming down the sights. Just turn and pull the trigger.

Anyone? Bueler?

With our other builds for being a sniper or being a melee character, the choice for who to pick as your character was usually quite clear. The innate abilities of cleaners defined their role before the missions even started. But when it comes to being a shotgunner, it’s up to you.

Evangelo worked out well for us. Our playstyle of dashing around the map and blasting everything we saw worked well with Evangelo’s increased speed. But Holly, Walker, and Sharice have all been good shotgun characters for us.

Just don’t pick Mom. Don’t you ever pick Mom.

Must-have shotgun cards

Back 4 Blood - Must Have Shotgun Cards

So, you want to blow ridden to pieces with shotguns, eh? Then you’re going to need some shotgun cards. And while we’re sure you can sift through your collection and pull some good choices for your deck, allow us to offer a few suggestions.

When browsing B4B’s cards, you’ll likely notice Buckshot Bruiser and think that’s a great choice for your shotgunner. Alas, this card is deceptive. Buckshot Bruiser should give you .25 temporary health for every shotgun pellet that hits a ridden. You’ll likely kill most ridden with the first bullet, and all the pellets will hit a dead ridden, rendering them useless. It means you get very little use out of the card.

So don’t pick it.

We found that using a card that gives extra health or healing efficiency was a better use of the card slot.

Cold Brew Coffee is a great card to help increase your reload speed and how quickly you change your weapons. And we found that bringing the Combat Knife card made our lives much easier. The Combat Knife replaces your regular punching attack with a stabbing attack that does a solid 40 damage per stab. Since you can melee while reloading and reloading takes forever with a shotgun, we found that being able to knife enemies while reloading made us much more helpful to our team and more effective as a survivor.

Back 4 Blood - Ultimate Shotgun Build Cards

If you’re looking to spice things up a bit with your shotgun, might we recommend the Two Is One And One Is None card? It allows you to choose two primary weapons instead of only one. Remember how we said shotguns pair well with other builds? Using this card made us more deadly and jacked up the fun factor. Carrying an assault rifle and shotgun out of a safe room and knowing you’re going to be just fine is a great feeling.

Back 4 Blood common shotgunner mistakes

Shotgunners are great to have on your team. Almost necessary, we’d argue. Unless the person playing them is horrible at aiming, then avoid it at all costs. Shotguns do massive damage up close. And who is the closest target to you? Your teammates. If someone accidentally steps in front of your muzzle, and let’s be honest, we all know it happens more than we’d like to admit; they will take more damage than ridden do.

Back 4 Blood - Scoped in with a Shotgun

To combat this friendly fire dilemma, you want to bring the Down In Front! card. This card disables friendly fire when crouching. You can’t hurt your friends, and they can’t hurt you. And it gives you 10 extra health. It’s a card we found essential. When the hordes came running, we found a nice choke point to funnel them through, crouched down to avoid hurting anyone or being shot ourselves, and let the gunpowder flow.

If you’re already going to be crouching a bunch, you may want to bring Hunker Down in your deck, as well. It gives +10 damage resistance and +40% accuracy when crouching. Might as well maximize your crouching power.

Final thoughts for the ultimate shotgun build

Shotgunners are best utilized at the front of the party. They are the vanguard, the shock troopers. They take the brunt of what the Ridden apocalypse has to throw at your team, and they shoot it to smithereens.

Using a shotgun isn’t for everyone, however. Shotguns are cumbersome and most effective if you’re close enough. That makes handling mutations a little tricky since you have to get close to kill them. And then there’s the long reload times. Which still trips us up.

In the end, we found being a shotgunner a great addition to any team we joined. They can clear away rooms and hordes of enemies quickly, and they do it with little ammo. We can’t recommend the shotgun enough when coupled with a powerful melee build or another primary weapon.

About Victor

Writer. Gamer. Outdoorsman. Victor has written across multiple mediums, with some of his work appearing in anthologies, magazines, and websites like,, and When not writing, he is usually gaining inspiration for writing from the library of video games he owns. If he's not indoors, Victor is outdoors climbing mountains, hiking forests, or otherwise conquering nature.

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