Fallout 4: Best Shotgun Build

Discover the Best Shotgun Build in Fallout 4 and how to create a powerful character with Perks, S.P.E.C.I.A.L., Stats, armor, and weapons.

Fallout 4 Best Shotgun Build

This build guide has been updated for Game version 1.10.980 on PC and Free Next Gen Update on PlayStation and Xbox.

Best Shotgun Build in Fallout 4

The Shotgun build in Fallout 4 is designed to be an up-close combatant focused on Shotguns and explosives for damage. The Shotgun weapon in Fallout 4 is enhanced by the Perk Rifleman if it has a Semi-Automatic Receiver. Thus, you can use a combination of Rifles and Shotguns for damage and avoid being pigeonholed into just close range. Regardless, we setup this build to be up close with damage reduction perks for increased survival. What makes this Shotgun Build unique in Fallout 4 is its access to almost all the crafting, great damage, variety of weapons, and damage reduction.

You won’t be required to use Power Armor for protection with this Shotgun build, though you can gain perks like Nuclear physics later in the game if you enjoy that playstyle. Moreover, you need many perks to unlock armorer, gun nut, and science crafting trees, so expect a lot of your perks to be tied up into crafting progression. Play the Shotgun build if you love up-close combat with guns and enjoy crafting and tinkering with weapon mods.

Shotgun Build ProsShotgun Build Cons
High DamageMany Perks Needed
Crafting PerksLow Agility
Variety of WeaponsNo Power Armor Perks

Features & Mechanics for Best Shotgun Build in Fallout 4

Fallout 4 Shotgun Build Gameplay

The following list presents all the essential Shotgun Features and Mechanics in Fallout 4:

  • Damage – Ballistic
  • Range – 47
  • Weapon – Shotgun
  • S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats
    • Strength – 3
    • Perception – 4
    • Endurance –  7
    • Charisma – 3
    • Intelligence – 7
    • Agility – 1
    • Luck – 3
  • Best Perks – Rifleman, Lone Wanderer, Bloody Mess, Demolition Expert
  • Companion – Dog Meat

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats

The best S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats for the Shotgun build are 4 perception, 7 endurance, and 7 intelligence. Perception helps with VATS but also grants Rifleman, Locksmith, and Demolition Experts perks. Intelligence is helpful for leveling increasing your experience gained, and also Science crafting perk, Medic for survivability, and Gun Nut for enhancing shotguns and rifles. Lastly, Endurance is needed to gain maximum health while playing with a close-range build. The perks in Endurance are also helpful for damage reduction and overall survivability.

Below is the best recommended S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats for the Shotgun build in Fallout 4 videogame RPG:

  • 3 Strength (S): influences your carrying capacity, melee damage, and the effectiveness of melee weapons.
  • 4 Perception (P): affects your accuracy in VATS, the chance of detecting stealthy enemies, and the ability to pick locks and spot traps.
  • 7 Endurance (E): It affects your maximum health, radiation resistance, and ability to withstand environmental hazards.
  • 3 Charisma (C): influences your success in dialogue options, ability to negotiate prices with vendors, and effectiveness in leading companions.
  • 7 Intelligence (I): affects the number of experience points earned, the quality of crafted items, and your effectiveness with terminals.
  • 1 Agility (A): It affects your overall movement speed, ability to sneak effectively, and performance in VATS.
  • 3 Luck (L): affects critical hit chance, the likelihood of finding valuable items, and the outcome of random events.

Additionally, consider collecting Bobbleheads throughout your Fallout 4 (FO4) adventure. Bobbleheads are collectible items scattered throughout the game world. Each bobblehead represents a particular attribute or skill, and when collected, it permanently increases your character’s corresponding stat or ability.

Best Perks

Fallout 4 Rifleman Perk

Rifleman, Lone Wanderer, and Bloody Mess are the best perks for a Shotgun build in Fallout 4 because they increase your damage and reduce damage taken. Here is the list of the best and recommended Perks for the Shotgun Build in Fallout 4:

  • Rifleman – this perk increases the damage for non-automatic weapons, including shotguns. As long as your Shotgun or Rifle receiver is semi-automatic, this perk will grant the damage bonus. Commando can also be used with a shotgun, but it requires an automatic receiver and doesn’t allow for non-shotgun weapons to be used.
  • Bloody Mess – another damage increase perk that stacks in effectiveness with Rifleman for massive damage. Once Bloody Mess reaches rank 4, you can explode nearby enemies giving you multi-kill potential.
  • Demolition Expert – a helpful area damage boost to grenades and explosives. Demo Expert can also increase some weapon damage if they are equipped with Explosive Rounds like Spray N’ Pray.
  • Lone Wanderer – the best damage reduction perk in all of Fallout 4, just make sure to travel with Dog Meat only.
  • Gun Nut + Armorer – while these crafting perks require many points, they are worth it to upgrade your armor and weapons increasing overall damage and survivability.

In Fallout 4, perks are special abilities and bonuses that enhance your character’s skills, combat prowess, and survival capabilities. Perks are acquired by spending perk points, which are earned each time your character levels up. Perks are divided into categories, each corresponding to one of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes.  These perks offer a wide range of customization options, allowing players to tailor their characters to suit their preferred playstyles.  However, there are no respecs or redoing of Perks, thus your selections are vital to increasing your characters overall power.

Level Progression

The Shotgun build focuses on the Rifleman perk to increase damage and crafting perks to further enhance damage and survivability. You can forgo Demolition Expert and advance Intelligence to gain Nuclear Physicist if you enjoy Power Armor. However, the Power Armor build can be difficult for beginners, and especially at lower levels. Since the Shotgun build uses Rifleman and Bloody Mess, you can equip a sniper rifle as a backup weapon and have multiple range damage for both close and long range. We also equipped this build with Hacker and Locksmith, so doors and terminals won’t be a problem while wandering the wasteland!

Level 1 – 10

Fallout 4 Best Perks for Shotgun Build Level 1-10

For the first 10 levels with a Shotgun Build in Fallout 4, select utility and damage perks. Oddly, Rifleman is the best perk to increase shotgun damage if the weapon has a semi-automatic receiver. Moreover, you can gain two perks of Rifleman in the first 10 levels drastically increasing your damage. Next, look to utility and damage reduction perks like Lone Wanderer, Locksmith, Medic, and Scrounger.

Here’s a list of the best perks to select from levels 1 to 10 with the Best Shotgun Build Guide in Fallout 4:

  • Level 1 – None
  • Level 2 – Rifleman
  • Level 3 – Lone Wanderer
  • Level 4 – Scrounger
  • Level 5 – Locksmith
  • Level 6 – Hacker
  • Level 7 – Medic
  • Level 8 – Gun Nut
  • Level 9 – Rifleman 2
  • Level 10 – Armorer

Level 11 – 20

Fallout 4 Best Perks for Shotgun Build Level 11-20

From levels 11 to 20 with a Shotgun Build, continue to pick up Rifleman and Lone Wanderer for damage and damage reduction. You will also want to dip into crafting and continue to progress locksmith and hacker so you can open any door.

Here’s a list of Perks to select from levels 11 to 20 with the Best Shotgun Build Guide in Fallout 4:

  • Level 11 – Bloody Mess
  • Level 12 – Locksmith 2
  • Level 13 – Hacker 2
  • Level 14 – Bloody Mess 2
  • Level 15 – Toughness
  • Level 16 – Life Giver
  • Level 17 – Lone Wanderer 2
  • Level 18 – Rifleman 3
  • Level 19 – Science
  • Level 20 – Gun Nut 2

Level 21 – 30

Fallout 4 Best Perks for Shotgun Build Level 21-30

Levels 21 to 30 with a Shotgun build will seek to increase Perception with a Bobblehead or a +1 point. This is so you can obtain a Demolition Expert, increase explosive damage, and craft a demo. Explosive round crafting weapon mods will trigger this extra damage bonus as well.

Here’s a list of Perks to select from levels 21 to 30 with the Best Shotgun Build Guide in Fallout 4:

  • Level 21 – Locksmith 3
  • Level 22 – Hacker 3
  • Level 23 – Science 2
  • Level 24 – Armorer 2
  • Level 25 – Gun Nut 3
  • Level 26 – Perception +1 (or bobblehead)
  • Level 27 – Demolition Expert
  • Level 28 – Science 3
  • Level 29 – Armorer 3
  • Level 30 – Save

Level 31 – 40

Fallout 4 Best Perks for Shotgun Build Level 31-40

From levels 31 to 40, you want increased damage and damage reduction. At level 30 and beyond, you will start encountering more difficult enemies and bosses. Moreover, increasing crafting through Gun Nut and Armor can also aid in damage and damage reduction through upgrades.

Here’s a list of Perks to select from levels 31 to 40 with the Best Shotgun Build Guide in Fallout 4:

  • Level 31 – Rifleman 4 + Bloody Mess 3
  • Level 32 – Demolition Expert 2
  • Level 33 – Medic 2
  • Level 34 – Toughness 2
  • Level 35 – Life Giver 2
  • Level 36 – Adamantium Skeleton
  • Level 37 – Chemist
  • Level 38 – Save
  • Level 39 – Gun Nut 4 + Armorer 4
  • Level 40 – Lone Wanderer 3

Level 41 – 50

Fallout 4 Best Perks for Shotgun Build Level 41-50

While there are no max levels in Fallout 4, finishing our level to 50 gives us Bloody Mess and Rifleman maxed-out perks. You should be doing high damage with the chance to trigger explosions to multiple enemies. Moreover, Lone Wanderer will reduce your damage and still let you use Dog Meat as a companion!

Here’s a list of Perks to select from levels 41 to 50 with the Best Shotgun Build Guide in Fallout 4:

  • Level 41 – Science 4
  • Level 42 – Demolition Expert 3
  • Level 43 – Chemist
  • Level 44 – Medic 3
  • Level 45 – Demolition Expert 4
  • Level 46 – Rifleman 5
  • Level 47 – Bloody Mess 4
  • Level 48 – Life Giver 3
  • Level 49 – Medic 4
  • Level 50 – Lone Wanderer 4 (Far Harbor DLC or Toughness 3)

Gear, Armor, Weapons

Fallout 4 Justice Shotgun
Fallout 4 How to Get Overseer's Guardian

The best gear for the Shotgun build is Justice shotgun, Overseer’s Guardian Sniper Rifle, and Patrolman Sunglasses. The Justice Shotgun can trigger stagger and stun enemies. Overseer’s Guardian also benefits from the Rifleman perk, giving you two range choices for engaging with combat. Patrolman Sunglasses passively increase perception and can be worn underneath a helmet.

Below are the best items and weapons for a Shotgun build in Fallout 4:

Justice Shotgun – this unique variant of a combat shotgun can stagger enemies, stunning them for you. You can find the Justice Shotgun in the Libertalia flotilla, southeast on the map in the water. This location is north of Nordhagen Beach. Make sure to modify the Stock and receiver using advanced receive with recoil stock. Do not modify to an automatic weapon, or you will lose the Rifleman bonus!

Overseer’s Guardian Sniper Rifle – obtained in Vault 81 by vendor Alexis Combes. Vault 81 is west of Diamond City and requires three fusion cores and quest completion to enter. Alternative weapons are Pipe Rifle (early), Hunting Rifle, Combat Rifle, and Gauss Rifle (end game).

Patrolman Sunglasses – you gain passive +1 perception, which can be found at the Cambridge Police Station. You will likely go here during the Paladin Danse quest with the Brotherhood of Steel quest.

Combat Armor – using your armor perk, make sure to mod your armor with Strengthened in legs and arms for reduced limb damage. Moreover, padding or dense should be used in the chest to reduce damage from explosives. A complete set can be obtained on the dead NPC Sal in Jamaica Plains. The location is southeast of Diamond City and near University Point. Alternatively, leather armor can work in replacement.


Fallout 4 Dog Meat Companion

Dog Meat is the perfect companion for the Shotgun build because he doesn’t cancel out the Lone Wanderer perk bonuses. With three ranks into Lone Wanderer, you will take 20% less damage, do 25% more damage, and carry 100 more pounds. This is in addition to Dog Meat scrambling for items and distracting enemies. Plus, Dog Meat helps by finding items and distracting enemies.

You can find Dog Meat at the Red Rocket truck stop early in the game. Also, you can get the Attack Dog perk to make Dog Meat really like you. This perk makes Dog Meat better at hitting enemies in V.A.T.S. when they’re stuck by dog companions. Unlike other pals, you make Dog Meat like you more by leveling up and using perk points. It’s a good idea to use Dog Meat whenever you can with the Shotgun build to deal more damage and take less.

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