An over-under shotgun is one of those pieces that’s a timeless classic. More than that, it fulfills a specific purpose in the firearm world. Bird hunters, sporting clays shooters, and clay pigeon shooters show a preference for an over-under, and a popular example is the Browning variant.
Some may question the benefits of a shotgun like this 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, this shotgun has one placed on top of the other.
The specific features will vary based on gauge. Common gauges are 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and 12 gauge. 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 so you can alternate between double and single shots.
There are very few moving parts to these shotguns, which makes them reliable, particularly in areas with inclement weather. They 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 weatherproof, 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 of any firearm is the barrel, so having two of them doubles the cost. However, there are some incredibly high-quality models on the market such as the Browning Citori with beautiful walnut stocks or the Silver Reserve II.
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.