Typically my loadout for the heavy is:

  • Minigun
  • Sandvich
  • Gloves of Running Urgently

However, some of the players I play with (a 32-player server, but I have a reasonably close knit group of people I play Highlander with) have been moaning rather loudly about the amount of time I spend eating my sandvich.

Based on their advice (or to shut them up) I started playing with the shotgun, but I find that I never seem to use it - the minigun can usually shoot down most people attacking me.

What strategies should I be using to ensure that I'm using the shotguns potential?

  • 18
    Keep using your sandvich, but stop wasting time with eating it. It has a much greater use in tossing out to a friendly medic or on fire teamate, or even in front of you right before spinning up the minigun to get a nice edge on an opposing heavy. Keeping your medic alive keeps you alive!
    – DHayes
    Dec 14, 2010 at 16:49
  • 3
    @DHayes - that's a super great comment...i wish more heavies would toss their sandvich
    – erik
    Jan 26, 2011 at 21:18
  • 1
    What are these "certain situations" you speak of?
    – BoltClock
    Jul 30, 2011 at 13:59
  • 5
    There's a little bit about Shotgun vs Sandvich in this answer
    – BoltClock
    Jul 30, 2011 at 14:02

8 Answers 8


You need a shotgun when you can't use you primary weapon because it's either slow or slows you down. This can happen in several situations:

  • If you suddenly engage in a close-range fight. If you start spinning your gun, it's possible you'll be dead very soon.
  • If you need to get somewhere fast and you still need to shoot on the way.
  • To use a crit from K.G.B.
  • If your main gun is out of ammo. That also happens.

The sandvich is a great thing, but it won't help you when you are out of ammo or if you need to fight in tight spots. I usually run with the sandvich, but I can't deny that shotgun is very helpful in some cases.

  • 4
    There's also an achivement for getting a kill with a Shotgun/Family Business when your minigun is out of ammo Oct 13, 2011 at 22:30
  • An example where you should commonly prefer to move fast and shoot on the way is in taking down a sentry with uber. The damage falloff for the minigun is significant enough that an Engineer is going to repair faster than you destroy if you don't get close enough. Use the shotgun to do some damage to the sentry or the attending Engineer while you are closing the distance, then switch to minigun to finish the job. Feb 20, 2015 at 1:48

Spy checking while moving. As I run from the back to the front (when an engineer hasn't built a tele) I use my shotty to spy check the usual spots, without slowing me down.

As Powerlord points out, it's also useful when you inevitably run out of ammo.

  • 4
    +1 for spychecking. If you're consistently running out of ammo, though, either your kills-to-shots-fired ratio isn't high enough or you're not making an effort to scoop up dropped weapons.
    – Steve V.
    Dec 12, 2010 at 5:08
  • Because of the somewhat randomness, sometimes it won't kill a Spy in 2 shots.
    – user2974
    Dec 12, 2010 at 5:39
  • @Powerlord true, but finding the Spy is usually the hard part.
    – C. Ross
    Dec 12, 2010 at 13:26
  • Ross: I assumed you meant a disguised, uncloaked Spy. Personally, if someone shoots at me while I'm disguised, if it's not a weapon that'll kill me, I'll ignore it. Then again, the Dead Ringer is usually my cloaking device of choice.
    – user2974
    Dec 13, 2010 at 4:46

Like many TF2 items, the Sandvich is a sidegrade as opposed to a clear upgrade or downgrade.

As @TheAnnoyingPyro pointed out, I already talked briefly about the Sandvich in relation to standard Heavy builds.

The Shotgun has one major advantage over the minigun family: It has no spinup time. The Tomislav negates this disadvantage some, but not completely.

The important thing to remember is that the Sandvich has two uses:

  1. To heal yourself for 300hp by eating it
  2. Throwing it to heal a teammate

As tempting as it is to use it on yourself, if you have a Medic, you should save the sandvich to throw to the Medic if their health gets low. You can also throw it to a teammate to heal them (and put them out if they're on fire), then pick up any medkit to get another.

The Sandvich has been updated so that throwing and picking up your own Sandvich will no longer heal you... instead it simply replenishes your Sandvich ammo. It still heals allies for half their health, which is invaluable for a Medic buddy.

However, this isn't just between the Sandvich and the Shotgun... it's between all the Heavy secondaries.

  • The Family Business gets 8 shots instead of 6 before reloading, at the expense of doing less damage per shot. While that may not sound useful, if you're on a crits-enabled server, it means you get more chances of doing crits before reloading.
  • The Dalokohs Bar/Fishcake increases your health by 50 for 30 seconds (or heals you by 100) when you eat it. Ignoring stat changes, this means you have 350 health instead of 300. The downside is that it heals you much slower than the Sandvich (which heals you by 300). It takes 10 seconds to recharge, or like other sandwiches, can be recharged instantly by picking up a health pickup while at full health.
  • The Buffalo Steak Sandvich temporarily locks you to melee only, increases your speed, and makes all damage you deal and take Mini-crits. While this may not sound useful, it pairs well with the KGB and Holiday Punch. Did I mention the movement speed with the Steak Sandvich effect is the same speed as a Medic? The Steak Sandvich can also be thrown to allies to heal half their health, just like the Sandvich can.
  • The Panic Attack gives you 6 shots before reloading and has 50% faster deploy time + 50% more pellets per shot. However, it has a wider fixed shot pattern, does 30% less damage, and successive shots (eg holding down primary fire) increases the width of shot pattern: it becomes less accurate if you continuously fire it. Note that the shot pattern resets if you stop firing or reload.
  • Doesn't the Sanvich heal 140 hp not 150?
    – Ronan
    Jul 30, 2011 at 18:42
  • 2
    The Sandvich will always heal fully when used as a taunt, half the player's health when used as a friendly pickup and 50 (75 for Scout) health if it came from a killed enemy Heavy.
    – Mauricio
    Jul 30, 2011 at 20:42

Consider that the minigun has a long spinning phase and if you need to react fast while moving forward/backward the shotgun is a good weapon. It does big damage to near targets but still decent on the medium distance.

In my opinion I also like using shotgun to kill the scouts, I think is easier.

Finally shotgun is used also by Engineer and Soldier, so that when you have reached a good "skill" at aiming/shotting/killing you can reuse your knowledge on other classes too.

  • 3
    To stop those pesky scouts, Natasha is your weapon of choice.
    – DrFish
    Dec 12, 2010 at 15:49

I personally am a huge sandwich fan.

The spin-up time isn't as bad as it used to be and in my experience it is worth the extra damage the minigun grants you in pretty much all cases.

Some players like to use the shotgun to suppress enemies while on the move, but I think it is a better choice to use the G.R.U (to get there faster) or the Fists of Steel (to get there with more health).
A good example is an enemy sniper: While the shotgun might screw up his aim enough to keep you safe, in my experience being faster or stopping him from one-shooting you is more effective.

If your team does not have (enough) medics you need the sandwich pretty much. You are too slow to constantly run for health packs, plus your other teammates will do the same, often ending in races for the health pack. With the sandwich you don't need to run for healthpacks, you can heal fellow teammates if you don't need it yourself and you can convert small healthpacks into medium ones if you are at full health.
While you can just fight near healthpacks, that only works on certain maps and limits your flexibility quite a bit.

If you do have a medic that keeps you alive, it is always nice to return the favor with a sandwich, for example if you get flanked by a pyro and your poor medic is slowly burning to death. I also like to use it as a "healing booster": If you need to retreat from spam, walk around a corner, throw the sandwich on the ground and pick it up, allowing you to get back into the fight at full health within seconds.

Yes, if you have an over-abundance of medics - meaning you never have to heal your medic since they heal each other - the sandwich kind of turns into a waste of a weapons slot, but I very rarely have that problem.

Long story short: For my playstyle the sandwich is a much better choice, but I'd really recommend to just try both and see which one fits you more.


The sandvich is more useful than the shotgun, because it makes the Heavy into a medic. You can throw it down to heal your medic, or you can eat to essentially gain another life in a few seconds.

For this reason, the shotgun is only more useful in a narrow set of situations. And if you play the Heavy well you'll rarely run out of mini-gun ammo anyway, meaning that you really don't need the shotgun.

Bottom Line: Don't worry about using the shotgun with the Heavy.


If you're playing a team map and have a medic, you won't need the sandvich. The shotgun will do you well if someone comes up close quarters (easily hitting Q and swapping to it). If you don't have a medic though, and you're just playing heavy on a surf map or something, then the sandvich would help you more.

You really just have to look at it strategically. If the map is going to bring you into more close quarters combat, the shotgun may help more. But if you're more a lone-wolf heavy, the sandvich will help more. Assess the map and your team mates before running out.


To be honest, For me, If there was dual secondaries for primaries, and some unlock secondaries, (Dual pistol, dual shotgun, dual flare gun, dual sandvich, dual wrangler (can shoot twice as fast) dual stickybomb launcher (16 stickies) dual shield (can charge twice in a row without it having to recharge) dual smg, dual medigun (heals at x2 rate))

I would use dual sandvich, family business, and the G.R.U/sometimes K.G.B (lol kgb (russian secret service!)), and to top it off, I would have a medigun's beam parked firmly up my butt..

EDIT: I would have a medic following me and healing me at all times!!

  • Did you know that the GRU is also a Russian reference? Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye, or the GRU, is Russias Miltary Forgien Intel service name.
    – The Man
    Feb 19, 2015 at 18:37

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