I'm playing through fallout 4 on survival, and just got access to combat shotguns; they do more damage than the double-barreled shotgun, but they lack the sawn-off upgrade to increase critical damage. My Gun Nut perk is currently capped at 2 for several levels, so I only have access to the Calibrated receiver, not the Calibrated Powerful Receiver.

I use the shotgun to critically hit powerful enemies who get close. Will I deal more critical damage with the combat shotgun, sacrificing the critical bonus for more base damage?

I read in another thread that Calibrated Receivers double critical damage, but I don't know if the Sawed-off mod is a further doubling, or works differently.

  • 4
    You have some close votes because the way your question is phrased makes it sound opinion-based. Specifically, don't ask whether you "should" do something. That's gonna trigger voters. It sounds like you're essentially asking whether the combat shotgun is capable of doing as much critical damage as the sawed-off. Is that correct?
    – DCShannon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:34
  • 1
    Also, don't use shotguns. (which is an opinion)
    – DCShannon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:35
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    I went ahead and just edited the question. If that's wrong, please roll it back.
    – DCShannon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:40
  • No, that's just fine. Thank you for correcting me; I'm new here, and not terribly familiar with etiquette and convention. Nov 30, 2016 at 18:43
  • You say the combat shotgun has higher base damage. Is that looking at both guns with no attachments? The powerful receiver on the double-barrel should increase the damage past the combat shotgun without a powerful receiver.
    – DCShannon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


I can't find a definitive reference showing that the sawed-off barrel doubles critical damage, but that's what the receivers with that description do, so for the rest of this post we're operating under the assumption that it does so.

In that case, all you need to do is compare the base damage of the two guns, once you have the mods attached. The sawed-off will do four times its listed base damage (assuming you have no other modifiers, such as the better criticals perk), whereas the combat shotgun will do only double the base damage.

Therefore, the combat shotgun will do less critical damage, unless its listed base damage is at least twice as much as the sawed-off.

Looking at the stats on Nukapedia, it looks like the sawed-off with a calibrated powerful receiver would do 79 base (plus various modifiers your character has that would also apply to the combat shotgun). It looks like the combat shotgun with calibrated reciever would do 50.

So, if you're just using the shotgun for an occasional critical, stick with the sawed-off.

Lucky Effect

That being said, I think you have other options.

Any gun with the Lucky legendary modifier, such as the easily obtainable Righteous Authority, also doubles critical damage. Put a calibrated receiver on it, and it's doing 4x critical damage, just like your sawed-off shotgun.

Lucky also increases the rate at which criticals are generated, and essentially every gun has a bigger clip than the sawed-off. This means you can use this as your main rifle, and also as your critical trump card. It's also more friendly to your carrying capacity.

I highly recommend you at least try this out, as an alternative to the shotgun. Unless of course you've found a Lucky Double-Barrel Shotgun. That would be pretty lucky.

Notes on Attachments

I no longer waste perks on crafting perks like Gun Nut. You can easily find attachments on found guns or in stores, and remove them and put them on your gun. It's not uncommon to find attachments better than you'd be able to craft anyway.

Instead, invest those perks in combat, so that your gun works even better, with the same attachments as if you'd spent the perks on crafting.

  • Gun Nut really gives you Short / Medium Recon Scopes (also needs Science 1), and Caliber Downgrades (e.g.: Combat Rifles using .38 instead of .45). Everything else you can find / buy. The caliber downgrade is NOT something to scoff at though. Shooting .38 with the Overseer's Guardian is late game worthy in survival, since .38 are everywhere and weights very little.
    – Nelson
    Dec 1, 2016 at 2:40
  • one other thing to keep in mind is how many vat shots you can perform. Since you need to charge your critical meter for your gun's crit to even matter, you need a way to charge it up so you can use it.
    – Nelson
    Dec 1, 2016 at 2:42
  • @Nelson I would never suggest someone use a recon scope or downgrade their ammo. I would strongly suggest doing neither. The recon scope makes shooting in VATS prohibitively expensive, and have no idea why you would want to use crap ammo that does less damage. Not sure what to make of your second comment. Is that agreeing with me? Use a lucky gun to charge your VATS shots whenever possible, or just have lots of luck. I wouldn't want to make a character without at least 6 luck, unless I was doing a no VATS challenge.
    – DCShannon
    Dec 1, 2016 at 21:09
  • I justified why you want ammo downgrade. You can hold more of them on Survival, and it is easier to replenish due to random enemies carrying them. Overseer's Guardian is one example. I picked up an explosive combat rifle and downgrading it to .38 lets me shoot the ground repeatedly to disable enemies without worrying about running out. It's way more useful than chambering it up to .308, or even leaving it at .45. The bullet weight is much heavier.
    – Nelson
    Dec 2, 2016 at 1:51
  • As for the second comment, if the user doesn't have a lucky weapon, they will have to consider the number of shots available to the combat shotgun vs sawn off. The user seems to be at low level because using a shotgun at close range is still working. At higher levels, you don't switch to a close range weapon for "powerful" enemies. If you meet a Mythical Deathclaw, you don't try to shoot it in the face with a shotgun. You shoot its legs or drop some mines and run the hell away.
    – Nelson
    Dec 2, 2016 at 1:52

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