Compact Shotguns: Short barreled shotguns with pistol grips and folding or removable stocks are similar in purpose and deployment to the PDWs. They are usually intended to offer the user a lot of firepower in a small package. They are used mainly for defensive purposes to break an assault or ambush. Smaller gauge versions are used for snake and vermin control in rural areas of the world. Commonly available pump (manual slide action) shotguns that are fitted with pistol grips and short barrels are called "whippet" guns in some law enforcement circles (east coast term). Whippet guns are frequently carried by people in parts of the country where handguns are not easily obtainable. They are commonly used by criminals and citizens who cannot obtain other firearms. A very common model is the Mossberg 500 cruiser, a 12g shotgun with an 18" barrel and pistol grip. The Cruiser holds six shots, although other cruiser models with a 20" barrel will hold 8 or 9 shots but are too large to be considered "short shotguns". Remington shotguns are commonly modified to the Cruiser pattern, but can be cut down well below the legal limit without suffering any mechanical problems. The barrel can be left legal and the gun can be used with an aftermarket magazine extension that enables it to hold seven shots. These types of guns can be used as semi-disposable pieces in situations where more costly weapons might be at risk of loss. The advantage of small shotguns over PDWs is their versatility when firing different types of ammunition, their close range power, and commonality of spare parts with conventional sporting arms.
Sawed-off shotguns also fit this category. One must keep in mind that a shotgun legally counts as a sawed off shotgun if the barrel is under 18" long (breechface to end of barrel) and / or the entire gun is shorter than 26". Some commercially manufactured short shotguns are available on the market that are regulated by BATF under guidelines that are less stringent than those for machine-guns and silencers. The transfer tax is typically $5.00 for guns built in the first place as short barreled shotguns but is $200.00 for shotguns that were originally manufactured as standard (legal length) shotguns and were modified at a later date. Small shotguns with short barrels lack power at longer ranges but can be devastating at close range. Remington 870 and Ithaca 37 shotgun barrels can easily be cut as short as 14" without needing any other modifications. Shorter conversions may require extensive modification of the slide handle and magazine tube and are best left to highly skilled gunsmiths. Sawed-off sporting shotguns are plentiful and cheap in most parts of the country but are illegal unless accompanied by the proper approved paperwork (a rare occurrence). Since it is relatively easy to modify sporting shotguns to whippet configuration, whippet guns are not particularly valuable (frequently regarded as damaged goods) and are often considered much less valuable than uncut legal shotguns. The logic being that a functional sporting gun was destroyed in order to produce a weapon. Inexpensive sporting guns with badly damaged barrels and or stocks may be revived as pistol gripped, short barrel shotguns that are more valuable than similar guns that are restored to original sporting configuration, but the gun should be pretty worthless in the first place. The value of custom built compact shotguns usually directly represents the basic parts and labor cost of building them. Custom parts like lasers, grips, and shell holders are easy to install on both legal and illegal short shotguns and may add to the value (based on the value of the parts but usually not labor cost) of the finished gun.
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