Unfamiliar Territory

As Longtime Readers know full well, I have fairly set opinions when it comes to firearms:  .45 ACP good, 9mmP bad;  Browning High Power good, Glock Mod [anything] bad;  mil-surp bolt-action rifles good, poodleshooter rifles bad;  and so on.  Sometimes an exception to all this may come up, to be sure, but not that often that I have to change my opinions.

One of my prejudices is in the area of shotguns — and it’s purely a personal one — where I firmly believe that shotgun barrels should be side by side (like a man and his dog), and not over and under (like a man and his mistress).  It’s a very old-fashioned viewpoint — like so many of my others — but I have to tell you that in this case, I may be steering newcomers to the field in a direction that may not be the better.

However, this is based on my own preference and shooting habits.  Truth is that unless I’m Over There, blazing away at clays with Mr. Free Market, I hardly if ever shoot shotguns.  Once again, this is just a preference, or even a habit.  Not having grown up with shotguns (as many have), shotgunning is more of an occasional indulgence than a regular outing.  This is not true of any other firearm type, where I can be found at DFW Gun Range most weeks, burning out the barrels of my Springfield 1911, AK-47 and any number of .22 rifles or pistols.

And this is where I may have led some astray, because pithy throwaway comments like the shotgun barrel-orientation one above are fine as far as they go — but they’re not appropriate.  How so?

The plain fact of the matter is that if you shoot shotguns a lot — never mind people like Kim Rhode, I’m talking people like Mr. Free Market, who orders shotgun ammo by the pallet every year  for his birdshooting escapades — that amount of shooting is going to destroy your side-by-side shotgun’s action, as any competent gunsmith will tell you.  The firing of an off-center barrel puts a great deal of torque onto the action, and even guns made with the most modern steels and alloys are going to deteriorate more quickly than their over-and-under cousins.

The proof of the above statement can be seen, quite simply, in Olympic- and championship skeet and clay competitions, where everybody uses an over-and-under gun for the simple reason that they expend tens of thousands of rounds in practice;  and that amount of shooting would reduce any side-by-side shotgun to tangled metal in short order.

So if you’re a keen nay even rabid shotgunner, I’m saying, you may be better off with an O/U gun than the old SxS bangstick.  Even more telling, if you’re going to shoot off that many rounds each year, you need to spend maybe a bit more than you expect on your shotgun — right now, that might be $1,500 and preferably more for a second-hand model, and a great deal more to be on the safe side.  Rule of thumb:  shoot more rounds, spend more on the gun.

All that, so I can show you pics of beautiful O/U shotguns.

Now when it comes to brands, you pays yer money and you takes yer choice.  As the title of this post suggests, I’m way out of my comfort zone talking about this part of The Gun Thing, so let me just post a couple of unsolicited testimonials.

The aforementioned Mr. Free Market shoots the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon exclusively.  He wore out one pair of 686s after a few years.  After his second set, he had to quit shooting 12ga because he was sick of having shoulder repair surgery every three or four years, and simply replaced his guns with the same model in 20ga.  Here’s what we’re talking about:

Right now, you can get this gun at Collectors for just under $2,500.  If your preference is for Moar Beretta, there’s the 695, at $4,250:

Another guy who shoots the hell out of his shotguns is former POTUS George W. Bush, who publicly announced his preference for the Weatherby Athena:

Collectors price:  just under $2,000 (although this particular piece is an older one — the more recent vintages can be quite a lot more expensive).

Noted Brit shotgunner Dave Carrie refers Browning O/Us (I think Miroku, or else the Citori models).  Here’s one of the latter:


And speaking of Dave Carrie, here’s a side-by-side shoot.  (Good luck with the accents… and I should point out that shoots like those of the Dave Carrie type are as yet unchecked on Ye Olde Bucquette Lyst.  That’s just in case Mr. FM happens by this part of the front porch…)

As with all things pertaining to shotgunnery, you can get guns priced out to the stratosphere, e.g. the usual suspects such as this mob, these guys and of course the Germans.  Here’s a Perazzi SCO Galeazzi:

How much?  Well, as they say, “If you have to ask…”

All comments on this topic gratefully received.


  1. That Browning. Wow. Never seen it before. Not a big fan of double piped guns, though I have nothing against them, so I know very little about them. But that Browning, visually, is way ahead of all the others in my book. When walking backwards with a shotgun at full ready make sure to drag your feets so you don’t trip over a can, curb, or chair. While keeping the shotgun trained on the target (bad guy) practice loading into the chamber, over the top, with your left hand.

  2. The more a person’s opinion lines up with mine the smarter I know he is. For years I shot a 686 Beretta 12 ga. ,on a skeet team, until the action became a little bit loose and I took it to the Beretta store in Dallas, several months and hundreds of dollars later it came back good as new. By that time I was shooting my 20 ga. Beretta 686 30″ Silver Pigeon so I gave the 12 ga. to my son who still shoots it. I am now over 20 years shooting the 20 ga., not as much as years ago but I do get in a couple of rounds of skeet every month or so and it is a great gun for shooting birds without killing my shoulder.

    When I did a fair amount of shooting quail with my Brittany I used my Browning 28 ga. Citori which is just right for shooting a rising quail over a dog without destroying the bird. I still have that little gun but the cost of shells 28 ga. vs. 20 ga. limits my desire to shoot it very often and my final Brittany is too old, she is 13 and wears out faster than I do which does not take long.

    20 years ago I had a lot of fun shooting dove, quail and pheasant in North Texas and Oklahoma and nothing is finer than sharing a trip with a slobbering dog sitting in the front seat beside me getting super excited the moment we turn off of pavement onto dirt roads.

  3. Well I have been shooting the same O/U for the last 25 years, a K80! Some folks think the gun is ugly, but to me it is a work of art. An American design with an American designed trigger built by one of the premier German makers. Best of America and Germany together in the finest O/U to be had. I had to finance the purchase and have no regrets. Best move I ever made. I added a K20 when they became available and enjoy shooting both at Skeet and Sporting. The only O/Us I own and plan to own until I am no longer able to shoot. They are indestructible.

  4. Shot a Citori tube set competetively for a couple decades then traded it for a 682 tube set and shot that for another couple. Gave up the skeet/trap/clays game a year or so ago after countless thousands of rounds through those two shotguns. I hung onto an inexpensive, reliable 870 as a “saddle” gun. Where I live I’m not the top of the food chain and the possiblility for needing an ounce of rapidly moving solid lead does arise on occaision. The 870 is as solid as an old hammer.

  5. So a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm is good-bad?

    Is an Inglis with a shoulder stock good-bad-good?

  6. Well yes, go shoot tower pheasants like I did in Oklahoma until the Oil Thing went bust several years ago. ‘OKIE PHEASANT SHOOT’ I did it from 2011 to 2015 and then then oil industry, as usual collapsed and the corporate shoots no longer showed up.

    Every year towards the end of January or early February there would be a pheasant tower shoot for the common people, folks who at first would pay $275 that went up to $300 for 15 birds each to be released from a tower that was in the radius of a 75 yard cycle where there were ten stations. Two guns per station and they did a good job of making them fly every which way and it was an incredible amount of fun shooting incoming pheasants flying every which way and folks who lived in the area would bring their field trial dogs to recover the birds for us, all of the dead birds were divided equally for all of the guns.

    Now two guns per station times 15 birds is three hundred birds in the air, released at intervals of 30 birds as we rotated the ten stations to give everybody, including the hawk that always knew how to get an early meal each time we showed up, in the field not too far from Norman Oklahoma.

    The second year I talked my very good friend and hunting buddy who is a Dallas Lawyer, Harvard undergrad and Law School and a bit of Oxford into going with me and he loved it. He told his dad who lives in Georgia about the hunt and how great it was and his dad said, “Let me get this straight, you are taken out to the field, you are placed in your shooting position, the pheasants fly over and you shoot them, then dogs retrieve them, then others pick them up and clean then so you can take them home. Hell son that’s shooting like King Edward VII and it sounds like a lot of fun in Oklahoma.”

    As a little bit of a postscript, as the years went on an I brought more of my Texas buddies the people who did the great dogs made the comment that you Texas Assholes kill too many because they were allowed to go out and clean up the non-shot birds in the afternoon and most years we would bring back 11 to 13 pheasants.

    I always used my 20 ga. Beretta with number 6 shot and my sone would join me with his 12 ga. Most of our group used either side by sides or o/u just because that’s the way you are supposed to shoot birds. Damn I miss that trip but I have the wonderful memories and for an old man looking at the end of this decade this month the I started this journey during WWII in the mid 40’s, what a frick’n ride.

    One more thing, the first shoot I went on, my partner in my stand was an older black man, wearing overalls, shooting an old pump 12 ga. carrying his extra shells in a plastic WallMart plastic shopping bag and he was a good shot and had a great time.

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