"This shotgun has a short gun barrel producing a wide blast and is deadly at close range. Fires only 2 shells but automatically reloads and can be fired from your bike."
―TLAD Official Website.
The Sawn-off Shotgun, also known as the Sawed-off Shotgun, is a weapon available in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, The Lost and Damned and Grand Theft Auto V. the sawed-off has a shorter effective range, but the more destructive power because of increased pellet velocity and wider spread cone means more collateral power. Its reduced size makes it easier to maneuver and conceal. Such a powerful and compact weapon is especially suitable for use in small spaces, such as by vehicle crews, and entry teams running through doorways. To make shotguns less concealable, many jurisdictions have a minimum legal length for shotgun barrels.
GTA San Andreas
In GTA San Andreas, this gun is based on a 12 Gauge Colt Model 1883 Hammerless Shotgun with a shorter gun barrel and often a shorter or deleted stock. Compared to a standard shotgun. Despite being a shotgun, it is held like a Pistol, the player can even sprint while holding it. It is double barreled and can only fire two shells before a rather lengthy reload. At hitman level, the player can dual wield it and fire four shells instead. With hitman skill and unlimited ammo, the sawn-off shotgun is almost as powerful as a rocket launcher, as it will blow up a car with about 6 shells and a helicopter with about 24. Also has enough power to "lift" a car for a few seconds before its destruction.
The Lost and Damned
In The Lost and Damned,this gun is based on a sawed off 12 Gauge Coach Gun, with two hammers and two triggers, which also known as the Lupara. The sawn-off shotgun in TLaD can be used while riding motorcycles (not driving cars) to perform drive-bys. It only holds two shells per reload and a short effective range, but it is very powerful. It is exclusive to The Lost and Damned and cannot be found in Grand Theft Auto IV, nor in The Ballad of Gay Tony. The sawn-off shotgun is very powerful at close ranges. This can be used to instantly set a vehicle on fire by shooting the rear tires. This weapon is usually a 1 hit kill at close range, but sometimes takes 2 hits.
In Grand Theft Auto V, the sawed-off shotgun appears as a shortened Mossberg 590 Cruiser (which is the pump action shotgun in the game). Just like in TLAD, it can only be used for drive-bys on bikes, and now busses.
Ocean Docks, Los Santos - Inside a train trailer. Initially, this one appears unobtainable as it is only possible to jump inside the trailer at an exact angle; more easily, it is obtainable by driving a car between the platform and the boxcar creating a bridge to get the sawed-off shotgun.
As its name implies, the sawn-off shotgun is usually produced by home-made modification of a standard shotgun. In countries where handguns and pistol ammunition are rare due to legal restrictions or high price, criminals are known to convert legal or stolen hunting weapons into concealable weapons.
The Lost and Damned's rendition features dual triggers and hammers which are exposed.
Oddly, if looked upon closely while firing the sawn-off shotgun, it ejects shells after every shot. This would not happen in real life, as the shotgun depicted in-game is a break action, and the shells would stay in the chamber and would need to be manually removed.
In GTA San Andreas, if the Infinite ammo cheat is enabled and the player's weapons statistics are at maximum, this weapon is more than capable of taking out any foe the player encounters, even more so as CJ can move while he shoots.
The name "Sawn-Off Shotgun" is quite confusing. Because "Sawn-Off" or "Sawed-off" is a term to refer a shotgun which the barrel is shortened to increase the spread, even it is an automatic or pump action shotgun. Usually, break-action Sawn-Off Shotguns are referred to as "Lupara", especially by the Sicilian Mafia.
Johnny Klebitz starts with 100 rounds of total ammunition for his Sawn-off shotgun.
Sawn-off shotguns are extremely unreliable in gunfights in GTA SA, as their range is limited, and even if the player locks onto an enemy, the shotgun will miss its mark when he holds the fire button while reloading (CJ swings the gun upwards to finish the break-action reloading, so the gun is ready to shoot, but it still isn't aimed at the target).
The GTA V's Sawn-Off Shotgun is way too small to fit 8 shells in it. Its correct capacity would be 2+1 shells.
In GTA V, the sawn-off shotgun can be fired while driving a Bus. This is the first time in the GTA series the weapon can be used while driving a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle. It can also be fired while riding a Blazer or a bicycle.