Break-action shotguns have hinged barrels, and are reloaded by opening the hinge and exposing the breech, allowing for used shells to be manually removed and new ones to be inserted. Break-action shotguns usually hold two rounds (double-barrel shotguns), although single-shot variants can be found. These are the simplest type of shotgun design, and are likely to be fairly easy to find (particularly in rural areas). Break-action shotguns are simple and sturdy, but their tiny capacity of two shells and the lengthy process of reloading won't do you any good if you have to take on a large crowd of ghouls. Break-action shotguns are usually as long as or longer than most rifles, making them among the most accurate of shotguns, but also making them difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. Shotguns (particularly break-action shotguns) are sometimes modified by shortening the barrel and removing the stock, making the weapon significantly lighter and more compact, at the price of a shorter effective range and poorer accuracy. Such a shotgun is said to be "sawed-off". Due to the popularity of such weapons with criminals, this technique is illegal in many jurisdictions. Most break-open shotguns have their two barrels laid out side-by-side, but some have the two barrels one above the other, this is called an "over and under" shotgun.

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