Shot my friend with a shotgun over 1000 times so you don’t have to. Here are the results.

Originally posted on r/CruciblePlaybook. Posting here since it might be interesting/informative to the broader destiny audience:

Since I've had a lot of spare time (*cough* unemployed *cough*), I decided to do extensive testing on the one-hit-kill ranges of shotguns to be better informed in terms of what's meta, and perhaps more importantly, what perks really make a difference in what scenarios. To this end, I loaded up into a private lobby with a friend and shot him in the face over 1000 times, and recorded all the results and relevant variables. If you don't care too much for specific numbers and walls of text, TL;DR at the bottom of the page.


It's important to note how I went about measuring range, since the game doesn't have a fool proof way to do so. In my testing, I used the DARCI as my measuring stick. When a distance is set, I adjust the distance such that DARCI shows one lower than the intended distance, then I very slowly tap the back button until the desired distance shows up. E.g. when tests were done at "7 meters," I backed away just enough to have DARCI transition from showing a 6 to a 7.

The two distances of 6 and 7 meters were chosen since this seems to be the area where most shotgun seems to fall. Originally, 5 meters and 8 meters were also going to be conducted, but as the tests panned out, 6 and 7 meters alone seemed illustrative enough. Half meter increments were not performed due to the difficulty in getting exact distance measurements, especially given the large number of tests I intended on running.

For the purpose of this testing, I chose to run each individual scenario 40 times. This provides a very reasonable 99% confidence interval for the tests that we have ran (assuming a binomial distribution), especially for edge cases. The reliability of the data also goes up somewhat based on the similarities between various tests. I probably could have done some more but honestly my soul couldn't handle it.

For precision frames and lightweight frames, the tests were run using a single gun from each archetype (namely, Retold Tale and Riiswalker). This was possible due to the factors deemed necessary for testing being relatively low; specifically, the range and whether or not full choke was present. However, for the aggressive frame shotguns, due to the existence of shot package as well as opening shot, tests were conducted on four shotguns in total – Felwinter's Lie (surprise!), Found Verdict, Toil and Trouble, and Astral Horizon. Which shotgun was used in which test has been noted.

All tests were ran using one shotgun targeting mod, on a guardian with 5 resilience.


99% confidence intervals also included in the spreadsheet.


IN GENERAL: a perfectly rolled precision frame can one-tap at 7 meters, and almost guaranteed at 6 meters. A perfectly rolled lightweight frame can VERY OCCASIONALLY secure the one tap at 7 meters, but it's only at 6 meters that you start seeing reliable results. Even then, the best case scenario shows still a roughly 50% chance to one-tap at 6 meters. Well rolled aggressive frames can one-tap at 7 meters approximately 50% of the time.

From the data, it seems that precision frames and lightweight frames share one thing in common: full choke is CRUCIAL for securing the one tap. Range seems to have close to no impact on this. This makes sense considering that a few years ago, Bungie altered the way in which shotgun pellet spread cones work so that it is archetype specific and no longer affected by range. One common argument is that range extends the accuracy cone of your shotgun and therefore improves the one-hit-kill range. However, the data doesn't seem to indicate this has any appreciable effect.

That said, a healthy range bar is still important – you still need to ensure that you are hitting maximum damage around the 7 meter mark for precisions and around the 6 meter mark for lightweights, the distance from which you can reasonably expect a one-tap from. This translates to at least ~75 range for precisions and ~50 range for lightweight frames. To reiterate, this is only looking at one-tap ranges. The range bar will still improve your two-tap range, as well as the follow up potential on already weakened targets.

What this does mean though, is that once you have hit a certain range threshold, it is very viable to look to other perks to improve the overall feel of your gun, such as extra handling, fire rate from assault mag, or even extra reload through light mag. Range is still good, but you don't need to obsessively stack it and forgo other good options.

Aggressive frames, on the other hand, seems to be a completely different story. To get the obvious out of the way first, opening shot is still an amazing perk. Out of all the aggressive frame scenarios considered, pretty much all the most consistent/best performing ones have opening shot. In addition, it negates some of the need for additional range perks. However, note that this difference isn't huge.

The most shocking aspect of the tests is that pellet grouping perks seem to have very little to no appreciable impact on the consistency of aggressive shotguns. For example, the test that performed the best under the 7 meter range did not have full choke. Overall, taking a look at all the differences in consistency between full choke vs no full choke under otherwise identical conditions, the sum of the difference is less than 5%.

What's even more shocking is that Smoothbore, long considered a terrible option, seems to have no appreciable negative impact on the one-hit kill range. In fact, the Found Verdict roll with Smoothbore and WITHOUT opening shot performed almost identically to the Felwinter's Lie and Full Choke Found Verdict, both with opening shot. When we push the range back to 6 meters instead, Smoothbore also did not seem to perform notably worse compared to the non-smooth bore option.

While this may be chalked up to RNG and shotguns being inconsistent, it still remains that neither full choke nor Smoothbore resulted in any appreciable difference in aggressive shotguns across hundreds of tests. Meanwhile the complete opposite is true is for precision and lightweight frames. This makes me believe that something about the aggressive frames, whether its the high damage per pellet or something else, means that consistent one hit kills at the very least are not hugely impacted by cone-altering perks.

What absolutely DOES matter, however, is extending the range of the shotgun by as much as possible, either through opening shot or through range boosting barrel/magazine/masterwork options. The drop in consistency for aggressive frames when the required pellet per kill is MASSIVE. For example, with disabling Felwinter's Lie's opening shot perk and reducing the damage to 20/pellet (thereby requiring 10 pellets instead of 9), we can see that the Felwinter's Lie got a grand total of 0 kills at 7 meters. On the other hand, a Found Verdict with Smoothbore that would otherwise be at the same range stat as the Felwinter's, was able to nab the kill 50% of the time.

So is Smoothbore actually a good option now on aggressive frames? Actually, if you don't have opening shot, I believe it is. Unlike Rifled Barrel, which gives a -9 penalty to handling, Smoothbore has no negative impact on handling at all. Going down the list, the other option is Smallbore with a flat +7 to range. Smoothbore provides double that. From a practical perspective, I believe Astral Horizon can potentially benefit from this the most:

Smoothbore/Accurized Rounds/Surplus/Celerity/Range MW results in a range stat of 63. From the tests, this should be able to kill at the same consistency as Felwinter's Lie at 7 meters. On the other hand, this Astral Horizon will have 53 handling at base, with surplus improving this even further.

Other notes:

Precision frames may be more consistent at closer range compared to aggressive frames. However, this can both work in its favor and work against it. If aggressive frames are missing the one tap at 6 meters, its because 4 or more pellets went in completely weird locations. This, along with their lower pellet/kill, means that you can whiff your shot almost completely and still snag the kill a reasonable number of times. That is to say, aggressive frames are much more forgiving. General takeaway, however, is that they are both really good 6 meters and in.

On the other end of the spectrum lightweight frames really struggle to get consistent one hit kills even at 6 meters. This is made up for by their increased mobility allowing you to get in closer, and the fastest two tap across all (actually useable) archetypes. Otherwise, you really should try to weaken the target first before you yolo in.


Precision and lightweight frames absolutely need full choke to be competitive in the one hit kill department. Otherwise, the range stat for these shotguns isn't hugely impactful to OHK range as long as you have at least 75 for precision frames and 50 for lightweight frames.

Aggressive frames, on the other hand, appears to not need Full Choke at all and instead prefer a high range stat, however you get it, including Smoothbore. Shot-package doesn't seem to be hugely impactful.


Assuming guns are rolled well, here are the kill range and consistencies:

ArchetypeRangeApproximate Chance to Kill
Precision7 meters3/10
6 meters9/10
Lightweight7 meters<1/10
6 meters5/10
Aggressive (incl. Felwinter's)7 meters5/10
6 meters8/10


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