With today’s auto-loading shotguns as reliable and mild shooting as they are, why would anyone buy a double barrel Let us count the ways…
- Two guns in one. Yup, if you get a double with two mechanical triggers, you have two shotguns in hand at all times. Should something fail on one side, the other remains fully functional.
- Two choke choices, instantly. Screw in an improved cylinder for that first, close shot, then follow it up with a modified or even a full for any long shots offered. Mix and match as conditions merit.
- Yes, more mechanical designs such as autos are wonderfully reliable, but double barrels have even fewer moving parts. And virtually none are slowed or gummed up by powder fouling. You could shoot a double for years with little more than cosmetic cleaning and anti-rust coating.
- Versatile at burning ammo. Some autos will shoot extra-light and extra-heavy loads, some won’t. Doubles always will. And they’re never fussy about loading shells into battery. Some autos hang up if shells don’t fit perfectly. With a double, just push that shell in, close the action and fire.
- Shorter overall length. Because there is no need for an action to pull 3 inches of shell from the chamber, double barrels can be built 2 inches shorter than autos and pumps with the same barrel length. This makes them easy to maneuver in blinds and carry through timber and brush.
- With two barrels, doubles look heavy, but they’re not. Many 12-gauges are built to less than 6.5 pounds and some smaller gauges fall under 5 pounds – perfect for roaming miles and miles of uplands in search of grouse, quail and pheasants.
- Just push the opening lever, break the action open and the gun can’t fire. Quick and easy when hitting rough, unstable ground, crossing fences, etc.
- Clean and contained. Most working parts in a double are sealed within the frame and stock, making it nearly impossible for dirt, grass, leaves, and gunk to plug up the works.
- Sleek and simple. There are no bolt handles protruding from the side of a double barrel’s action, no locking nuts to turn to remove a barrel, no magazine springs to lose, no cartridge carriers to snag your gloves.
- OK, pretty may be superfluous on a working gun, but if you can combine a beautiful shape, clean lines, lovely wood grain, and a touch of engraving – maybe even an engraved dog and bird or two! – the double is the perfect canvas.
- Push two buttons and you can break a double barrel into three compact pieces – with no screws, caps or levers to lose. Perfect for travel.
Double barrels might date back more than 200 years, but they remain one of the most tried, true and functional shotgun designs ever. Try one and see for yourself.
Top Photo: Double barrels are easy to render safe. Just push the lever, break open and they can’t fire. And you can easily see if there are any shells in the chambers.