It’s a very responsible job to shoot down drones when everyone is hiding

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

There are plenty of electronic jammers on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides of the current war, but drone builders keep changing their operating frequencies and using jam-resistant radios, so the troops need shotguns:

Talking to Russian newspaper Lenta last month, retired Colonel Andrei Koshkin said that when electronic warfare fails, a shotgun can be the solution: “I have to say that even a simple shotgun that you go hunting with, which shoots a spray of shot, turns out to be more effective than a machine gun trying to shoot down a drone.”

Such weapons have been issued to some Russian units. Russian social media recently showed pictures of two soldiers credited with bringing down drones. The caption was illuminating though “The first is from the cover of the demining group, the second is from the protection of the Tor air defense system.” — in other words, both were assigned specifically to drone protection, so their role is to watch the skies, shotgun in hand, to protect their unit.

Both soldiers were armed with the 12-gauge Vepr-12 Molot shotgun, a semi-automatic weapon with a 5-round magazine.Other Russians are looking for improvised solutions to give a soldier the capability of a shotgun and assault rifle in one. For example, one video shows how an GP-25 underbarrel grenade launcher can be converted to fire a shotgun cartridge for drone defence.

The Vepr-12 is patterned after the original Kalashnikov rifle and built on the heavier RPK light machine gun receiver.

Another improvised Russian solution involves an adapter fitted to the end of the barrel of an AK-74 assault rifle to fire a single grapeshot round which the developers say had a high probability of stopping an FPV drone at 30 meters/ 100 feet range.


The Ukrainian soldier interviewed notes that shooting down drones is a full-time role which requires constant surveillance.

A piece in Armyinform in April describes a course given by an instructor who is a career soldier with long experience of hunting. He says that the men chosen for shotgun training were selected first from those with hunting experience and then from those with proven shooting skills. But he notes that the role also takes raw courage.

“It’s a very responsible job to shoot down drones when everyone is hiding,” says the instructor. “You have to have character.”

The instructor says that apart from practice at shooting fast-moving targets, there is also a strong safety aspect. In particular, shooters should not be tempted to try and pick up trophies.

“Don’t run after the drones to prove that you shot them down. Do not pick them up in your hands, do not pull the cat’s tail,” he says, noting the danger from unexploded or even booby-trapped drones. “Unfortunately, there have already been such cases.”


  1. Elmer says:

    Few decades back Marlin made the Supergoose, a 10-gauge bolt action shotgun with a 36-inch extra full choke barrel, took 3 1/2 inch 10-gauge shells, had a 2-round box magazine. Heavy, ugly, slow rate of fire unless you knew how to run a bolt gun, but it brought down geese at distances a 12-gauge could only dream about. Might be pretty good against drones.

    About the same time Ithaca made a 10 gauge 3 round semi-auto shotgun, also took 3 1/2 unch shells; IIRC, a 32 inch full choke barrel was available for it.

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