Shotgun Carry Positions

Not the sexiest of topics but safely moving around others with a loaded shotgun is a critical and foundational skill. Go to most ranges and you will see a variety of positions people hold onto and hang shotguns from themselves; many of which break multiple safety rules. The positions outlined here are administrative in nature meant for moving from point A to point B or when standing idle. They are not tactical or “ready positions” used when searching, challenging, or prior to engaging a threat.


Having a sling on the shotgun is a great idea but not everyone knows what sling to get or how best to attach it to the gun when first starting out. I generally see a quarter of every shotgun class without a sling on their shotgun. Because of this, there need to be options for those without a sling until they can get one.

Four Safe Carry Positions

Shotgun Carry Positions

Here are (4) safe carry positions, two utilizing the traditional two-point sling most commonly seen, and two without the use of a sling. Hunting, on duty, in a training class, or shooting at the range with friends consider using one or more of these positions when moving around others.

1) American Carry (sling)

American CarryAmerican Mount

Shotgun is slung over the strong side shoulder, muzzle up. Be sure to hold high on the sling to prevent the muzzle from rocking rearward during movement and pointing backward. This method can be problematic when wearing a waist-mounted strong side pistol. To mount shotgun from here, reach under the arm with support hand (see insert pic 1), grasp fore-end of shotgun and then point to target while assuming a strong shooting stance and building four points of contact with a long gun.

2) African Carry (sling)

African Carry

Shotgun is slung over the support side shoulder, muzzle down. This position is slightly lower profile and does not interfere with strong side pistol carry or access. Hold forend with support hand to control while moving. To mount, point to target with support side hand while assuming a strong shooting stance and building four-point of contact with a long gun. Be careful of the muzzle when kneeling.

3) Modified Cradle Carry (no sling)

Cradle Carry

This is our recommended no-sling carry position due to the positive control this position provides. The muzzle is down and the shotgun is on the inside of the support side arm, ejection port facing rearward. The support hand holds the full weight of the shotgun and this position is surprisingly comfortable for prolonged periods of time. To mount, point to target with support side hand, assume a strong shooting stance, and build four-point of contact with a long gun.

4) Modified Pocket Carry (no sling)

The second of our no-sling carry positions are Modified Pocket Carry. Traditionally the thumb is hooked in the front pant pocket in this position. However, with shorter barreled shotguns it is modified by hooking the thumb on the belt or waistband to keep the muzzle up high. If running an enlarged safety be cautious not to disengage the safety inadvertently when in this position.

This is a muzzle-up position with a shotgun held by the dominant side arm. The ejection port is facing away from the torso and the thumb of the strong side hand is hooked into the beltline to secure and stabilize the long gun while moving. To mount, reach across the body with the support hand, grasp the fore-end of the shotgun and point to target while assuming a strong shooting stance and building four points of contact with a long gun.


Be responsible and look like you know what you are doing when handling ANY firearm. Utilize one or more of these shotgun carry positions on the range, in the woods, or while prepping to deploy.

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