Not to be confused with Grape Shot, a similar shot type used in naval battles.

Canister Shot is a Technology and shot type in Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War.

Empire: Total WarEdit

Canister Shot
Etw military ordnance canister shot
Prerequisite None
Research Points Needed
Building Needed Cannon Foundry
Leads To Improved Grape Shot
Stream Ordnance, Military


This ammunition for cannons is a cylinder stuffed with musket bullets that bursts as soon as it leaves the gun barrel.

Any cannon can be turned into a giant shotgun using the appropriate size of round. Normal cannon balls are terrible enough when they hit, but they will usually only kill or injure a few men. Canister is a short-range weapon, and used as a last-ditch defence against a massed attack. The slaughter inflicted on nearby enemies can be fearsome indeed. Usually, canister shots are made of tin, which serves to keep everything together while it is rammed down the barrel, but it is no impediment to bursting effect. It is not uncommon for artillery crews to load a canister shot on top of a normal cannon ball, if they have time, to maximise killing the power.

Canister is still used by armies today, and has been refined over the years: beehive rounds used flechettes (small darts) rather than round shot, but the principle is the same. The 120mm main gun on the modern US M1 Abrams tank is capable of firing canister ammunition, making it a 60-tonne armoured shotgun!

General InformationEdit

Canister Shot is the second research option available for the artillery section. Canister shot is a close-range (125 range for all cannon artillery that can use it) option for almost all cannon artillery once it is researched. Instead of firing cannon balls, canister shot fires packed musket balls in a cone in a fashion similar to modern-day shotguns. Canister shot dramatically improves cannon at shorter ranges, but is useless outside of its limited range of around 150. It is not very effective at the edge of its range, either, and its results are inconsistent at point-blank range. It works best on enemies at a distance of roughly 20 to 120. It is much more effective than Round Shot at causing casualties at close range. It is effective at disrupting rushing cavalry, and can be devastating against approaching infantry. Canister shot is most effective when the artillery using it have a clear field of view. Hilly terrain can do anything from mildly decreasing its killing power to completely nullifying it.

In addition to being a powerful ammunition type, Canister Shot is a requirement for upgrading ordnance factories and thus advancing down the artillery tech tree.

The Ottoman Empire begins the Grand Campaign with Canister Shot already researched.

Napoleon: Total WarEdit

In Napoleon: Total War, canister shot is available by default and does not require research. It functions identically to how it did in Empire: Total War: a close-range shot type deadly against massed targets.

Unlike in Empire: Total War, the range of canister shot depends on the shot weight of the artillery using it. Heavier artillery have a greater canister shot range (though all of them still out-range musket-armed infantry). This gives some unique advantages of heavier artillery than lighter ones, given how the lightest artillery, horse artillery, has the advantage in mobility instead.

Canister shot is also no longer limited to cannon artillery. Howitzers gain the option to use it, too, making them very flexible as both indirect and direct fire artillery.

As with all artillery, canister shot is greatly improved by the Barrage ability, a temporary increase in artillery reloading speed. Just two or three artillery using barrage with canister shot can mow down approaching threats with great speed and efficiency.

Empire: Total War Technology
Philosophy Abolition of SlaveryCitizenshipClassical EconomicsEmpiricismFree Trade DoctrineGovernment by ConsentJoint Stock CompaniesNational DebtPhysiocracyRights of ManSecular HumanismSeparation of PowersSocial ContractUtilitarianismWealth of Nations
Military AirgunsCadenced MarchingCanister ShotCarbinesCarcass ShotCarronadesCopper BottomsDiamond FormationEuropean DoctrineExplosive RocketsExplosive ShellsFire and AdvanceFire by RankFlintlock CannonsImproved CopperingImproved Grape ShotImproved GrenadesLight Infantry DoctrineLime Juice and SauerkrautLongitude WatchMachined RiflingMilitary SyllabusNaval Architecture AdvancesNaval Shore FacilitiesNew Model Bayonet DrillPercussion CapPercussion ShellsPlatoon FiringPlug BayonetQuicklime ShellsReformed Naval AdministrationReorganised ProcurementRifled CannonsRing BayonetScrew BreechSeasoningSextantSheet Lead CartridgesShortened CarbinesShrapnel ShotSocket BayonetSquare FormationTop GallantsWedge Formation
Industrial Advanced IrrigationBasic Steam PumpCoke Blast FurnaceCommon Land EnclosuresDivision of LabourFlying ShuttleFour-Field Crop RotationImproved Animal HusbandryMachine ToolsMass ProductionMeasuring ToolsPower LoomPuddling FurnacePunch-Card LoomSeed Planting DrillSelective BreedingSpinning JennySpinning MuleSteam EngineSteam-Pumped Land DrainageThreshing Machine
Warpath Campaign Mystic Call of the WildDreamwalkingRiding the WindsSpirit MedicineSpirit of the Forest
Warpath Campaign Military Ambush TacticsCannon CastingGun DealingImproved IronworkingIronworkingPowder MakingSharp ShootingWinter Clothes
Warpath Campaign Economy and Culture Improved FarmingImproved FishingMoney EconomyWritten LanguageHunting Techniques