Building America’s Largest Online Gun Deals Platform. Start Your Search Today! clean search

  1. Home
  2. Guides
  3. Inertia vs. Gas Shotguns: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Perfect Match
Inertia vs. Gas Shotguns: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Perfect Match preview image
Sep 18 2023
8 min read

Inertia vs. Gas Shotguns: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Perfect Match


Have you been looking for a new shotgun, but are torn between the two powerhouse shotgun systems currently available, inertia and gas?

Well, you’re in the right place. As a hunter with decades of experience under my belt, I’ve had experience with just about every shotgun firing system in existence.

We’re just about to dig into every one of the key differences between inertia vs. gas shotguns, their pros and cons, and what each one is best for. We’ll even cover some potential alternatives if you’re still not committed to one or the other.

Let’s take a look at this shotgun showdown!

Overview of Inertia Shotguns

The Inertia System’s Unlimited Potential

An inertia shotgun relies on the inertial recoil energy created from the firearm’s operation.

The energy is harnessed to cycle the action, eject the empty shell, and chamber the next shell. These shotguns are known for being simple, reliable, and have lower amounts of fouling, which makes them ideal choices for use in harsh environments.

Examples of Inertia Shotguns

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3

sportsmans.comCHECK PRICE
scheels.comCHECK PRICE

Franchi Affinity 3

eurooptic.comCHECK PRICE

See our Franchi Affinity 3 Sporting review for some extra information!

Stoeger M3500

eurooptic.comCHECK PRICE

Overview of Gas Shotguns

Gas-Powered Ease

Gas shotguns operate similarly to other gas-operated firearms, where the expanding gasses from the fired shell are harnessed to cycle the action.

The expanding gasses are routed through a port, actuating a piston that drives the bolt carrier, which ejects the previous round and loads the next. This type of shotgun typically offers less felt recoil, making them a popular choice for those who shoot for sport and as a recreational activity.

Examples of Gas Shotguns

Beretta A400 Xplor Action

grabagun.comCHECK PRICE
palmettostatearmory.comCHECK PRICE

Remington V3 Field Sport


Browning Maxus II

grabagun.comCHECK PRICE
palmettostatearmory.comCHECK PRICE

Specification Chart for Inertia Shotguns and Gas Shotguns

Specifications/ModelInertia ShotgunsGas Shotguns
ActionInertia-Driven semi-automaticARGO (Auto-Regulated Gas-Operated) semi-automatic
MaintenanceLess FrequentMore Frequent

Key Differences Between Inertia Shotguns and Gas Shotguns

Recoil Management

Undoubtedly, the biggest difference between the two types of shotguns is the recoil management.

Gas shotguns will generally have less felt recoil since the gas-operated action will absorb a significant amount of that energy. This has a considerable effect on the recoil felt on the shoulder.

Inertia shotguns, however, rely on the recoil inertia to cycle the action, which can actually result in a felt recoil that is more significant than you might expect.

The choice between the two systems will depend greatly on your personal preference for felt recoil, and your shooting requirements. Less felt recoil is more advantageous for extended shooting sessions, and it’s also handy for shooters who are simply less tolerant of recoil, like novice shooters.

Weight and Balance

Another major difference between inertia and gas shotguns that could make a lot of difference for some shooters, is the weight and balance of the different guns. Inertia shotguns are often lighter and easier to carry, which is a boon for hunters or anyone else that’s hauling their shotgun over long distances or rough terrain.

Gas shotguns tend to be significantly heavier due to the additional components needed for the gas action, which can have a considerable overall effect on the shooting performance and general balance of the firearm.

A heavier shotgun isn’t ideal for long treks in the bush, but some shooters find the added weight helps to cut down on felt recoil and improve the stability of their shooting.

Reliability and Maintenance

Inertia shotguns tend to be more reliable than gas shotguns, as their simpler construction means fewer moving parts to wear out or malfunction. They also require less maintenance over time, which saves time, effort, and money, and can be difficult to perform in demanding environments.

Gas shotguns, while still reliable, can be more prone to fouling, since they use the explosive gasses to operate. This gives those gasses more time to cool on the components and requires more frequent and detailed cleaning to perform optimally.


When it comes to versatility, gas shotguns are often in the lead.

They are more versatile and able to cycle a wider range of loads without adjustment. They can also handle everything from light target loads to heavy hunting loads without additional manual adjustment or tuning.

Inertia shotguns can require manual adjustment or tuning to match the action with the loads being fired. Without this adjustment, the inertia-cycling may not be complete, which can significantly limit the effectiveness of the shotgun.


Inertia shotguns are frequently less expensive since they are simpler to construct and require fewer components to assemble. Gas shotguns, on the other hand, are often much more costly because they have many more components and require a generally more complex system to operate.

Additionally, some gas shotguns include even more advanced features, like gas adjustment systems or other performance enhancements or improvements, which can push their price points even higher.

Performance in Adverse Conditions

Shooters who operate in adverse or rough conditions should be aware that inertia shotguns are far less susceptible to malfunctions while being operated in those adverse conditions.

This is because their basic operation and ability to cycle the action depends on the recoil energy created during firing, which is only minimally affected by the environment.

Gas shotguns are much more vulnerable to adverse conditions since debris, and fouling can clog the gas system and diminish or even prevent proper functioning in those more challenging conditions or environments.

They may also require more care in general if exposed to harsh conditions to keep them operating optimally.

Tunability and Customization

Gas shotguns are the go-to option for those looking for a shotgun that can be highly customized and tuned. Some models have features like adjustable gas systems, which allow the shooter to fine-tune the performance for specific hunting or target loads and conditions.

Not only that, but the availability of aftermarket modifications and accessories is much more prevalent for gas shotguns.

Since inertia shotguns operate on a much simpler design, there are fewer options available for customization and tunability. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything inertia shooters can do to customize or fine-tune their shooting experience, just that the options and accessories are going to be few and far between, often being more costly as well.

Noise and Muzzle Blast

Gas shotguns are often louder and produce more muzzle blasts than inertia shotguns. This is because the gas shotgun has two locations where explosive gasses are being vented, the muzzle and the gas system.

Inertia shotguns will be noticeably quiet, which can be important for many hunters.

Inertia Shotguns Pros & Cons

  • Simple design
  • Reliable in harsh conditions
  • Lower maintenance
  • Higher recoil
  • May not cycle lighter loads effectively

Gas Shotguns Pros & Cons

  • Less felt recoil
  • Greater versatility with loads
  • Better performance in sports shooting
  • Heavier
  • Requires more frequent maintenance
  • Can be more expensive

Other Alternatives to Consider

Apart from inertia and gas shotguns, there are other alternatives to consider as well, such as pump-action or break-action shotguns.

Each of these will have its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, which, depending on your specific needs and preferences, might significantly impact your eventual choice.


What is an inertia-driven shotgun?

An inertia-driven shotgun is a type of semi-auto shotgun that uses the recoil energy from firing, to complete the firing cycle, cycling the action, ejecting the spent shell, and chambering the following round.

Are Browning shotguns gas or inertia?

Browning offers a range of both gas and inertia shotguns. One example is the Browning Maxus, which is gas, while the Browning A5 series is inertia.

What is the difference between gas and inertia?

Both are semi-auto shotguns, but the difference lies in how the action is cycled. Gas shotguns use the gasses from the shot to cycle the action, while inertia shotguns use the recoil energy to cycle it.


There are a lot of people who want to debate the inertia vs. gas shotgun and which is best, overall, until the end of time. The simple reality of it though, is that there is no one perfect answer for all shooting needs. Which one is right for you depends on what you need from your shotgun.

Inertia shotguns are simpler, more reliable, and offer a lower maintenance requirement, which makes them great for hunting in rough environments. Gas shotguns, however, provide a lower felt recoil, and better versatility with loads, which makes them more popular with sport shooters and those who spend long hours at the range.

By considering what you want out of your shotgun in terms of recoil, weight, versatility, durability, cost, and more, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about which type is best for your needs.

Brady Kirkpatrick photo Brady Kirkpatrick is the founder of, the #1 online gun search engine. Recognizing the challenges of finding the right firearm at the right price, Brady built a platform to simplify the process, comparing prices across hundreds of online dealers and providing valuable content from trustworthy bloggers. His commitment to user-centricity and innovation has shaped into a comprehensive resource for gun enthusiasts. In addition to Gun Made, Brady has also lent his firearm expertise to an array of renowned publications, such as The Truth About Guns, CrossBreed Holsters, Cheaper than Dirt, 19FortyFive, We Are The Mighty, and many others.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore more