Advantages and Disadvantages of an Over Under Shotgun

An over under shotgun is one of those pieces that’s a timeless classic. More than that, the over under fulfills a specific purpose in the firearm world. Bird hunters, skeet shooters, and clay pigeon shooters show a preference for an over under, and a popular example is the Browning over under shotgun.

Some may question the benefits of an over under shotgun and only cite the disadvantages. It’s best to know both, then make an informed decision.

What Is an Over Under Shotgun?

An over under shotgun is a double-barreled, break action shotgun. Where most double barreled shotguns have the barrels placed side by side, the over under has one placed on top of the other.

The specific features will vary, and the one chosen should always be based on what works best for you, and suits your preferences. Some will have two triggers, while others will have a single trigger and a switch that allows you to select which barrel will be fired.


There are very few moving parts to these shotguns, which makes them reliable, particularly in areas with inclement weather. Over unders aren’t limited in their ammunition as these shotguns can process any shell that fits, without jamming or short stroking. Each barrel can be loaded with a different shell, which gives the shooter additional choices and the ability to use strategy in competitions.

Having the barrels one on top of the other improves the balance and overall handling of the piece, which makes shooting accurately easier. In cases of wet weather or dust, the action is fully enclosed which leads to it being relatively weather proof, as long as the firearm isn’t dragged through the mud.

Speaking of the lack of moving parts, this also leads to increased durability, as there’s very little that can go wrong with a break action shotgun. With proper care, break action shotguns can last thousands of rounds. Even cleaning is simple, as it requires only opening the gun, then the barrels are readily available.


The recoil of an over under shotgun can be difficult to withstand, as there is nothing to reduce or minimize the recoil. Break actions can also be difficult to handle when it comes to loading new shells. It takes a certain degree of practice before the motion becomes smooth.

A shotgun is only as reliable as the person who owns it, and if the shotgun hasn’t been properly cared for, it will not fire easily. The shotgun could potentially be dangerous, so always make sure that it is cleaned according to the manual.

Over under shotguns are limited in the number of shells that can be fired at one time. While two shells may be sufficient for skeet shooting, there will be instances where not having the third shot will be irritating.

Double barreled shotguns can be very expensive. One of the primary costs to any firearm is the barrel, so having two of them doubles the cost.


As with all firearms, it’s important to buy from a reputable dealer and to find a quality gun maker. Whether you’re looking at a Browning over under shotgun for sale, or any of the dozen quality brands, keep in mind your needs to decide what will work best for you.