Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A sawn-off shotgun (also sawed-off shotgun) is a type of shotgun with a shorter barrel, compared to regular shotguns. Also sometimes just called a 'sawn-off' ('sawed-off'), the weapon has larger spread and limited range. The shorter barrel would also make it easier to conceal — which combined with the aformentioned tactical characteristics have led to use for nefarious purposes. As a result of this, many jurisdictions have a minimum legal length for shotgun barrels. Some guns are made with a shorter barrel to achieve the same effect, especially when slugs are used, such as with some elephant guns.
The term most genuinely applies to weapons that result from literally sawing off a regular shotgun's barrel. The spread of pellets will depend on the type of cartridge fired, the gauge of the shotgun, aside from the barrel length. Another related term, 'scatter-shot' (as in a 'scatter-shot' type weapon), is also used to describe such types of devices.
In the United States, it is illegal to possess a sawed-off shotgun (a barrel length less than 18 in. or 46 cm) without a tax-stamped permit from the United States Treasury. Since the Treasury does not issue permits, there is a de facto ban on sawed-off shotguns in the United States.
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