Side by side or over and under?

Just wondering here about a double barrel shot gun. Conventional side by side barrels or over and under. I can see advantages to both but what do others think. I do some skeet at times so I have used both. Also a pump for the targets.

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have a coach gun, hammers , shot it just to see how it worked & point of aim. Makes a nice wall hanging. I’ll stick to pumps


Prefer O/U but love a nice SxS too. Why choose? Plenty of both out there! :grin:


Owning pumps, auto loaders, double guns, O/U’s , and a few single barrel break actions, and don’t have a favorite. Each has it place and use. Some get used more than others, but it’s the nature of what I do most rather than the gun. I love the lines of a nice double, it makes one seem more like a ‘gentleman’ ,but there is a beauty in a nice auto loader as well. The pump just bleeds toughness and a single shot says, “Take me anywhere, I’m ready and your good enough to get it done.” The O/U fits in with the club crowd and stands out in the field where most are with their auto’s. I just love them all…


For a double barrel, I prefer over under. I prefer the aesthetics of the over under. For nostalgia, a side by side coach gun just looks awesome. For function, pump gun hands down.
Now, all that said, for shooting skeet, birds, any moving target, give me a gas operated, semiauto shotgun any day. As long as your using a load that will cycle, the speed and recoil mitigation are unmatched by the others.


This is so true. O/u & s/s just good looking firearms

My personal preference is SxS with double triggers, however I shoot an O/U because of the lead shot ban in my state.
It really comes down to personal preference though.
Take a friend to the range and shoot a SxS and an O/U for comparison.
Ask your friend which one put the biggest smile on your face when shooting.
…and there’s your gun :wink:

For me its the relationship to history (love the classic SxS) and that I learned to hunt with a side by side 20 gauge. Such great memories! So I prefer a SxS to hunt with; but for skeet/clays/trap an over & under is a little more forgiving in accuracy.

A friend I have quail hunted with for several years while on a hunt ask me why I didn’t retire that old SxS and get a pump or auto. Told him I do have both already. He ask why I didn’t use one of them . Simple I like this one.
No I wouldn’t pick the SxS as first choice for home defense.
You use what you like and is fun too shoot.

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What is the use case for a side-by-side vs an over-under? From reading above, it sounds like SxS is more for hunting and O/U is more for trap/skeet/etc. Is that accurate? If so, why is that?

Hi Harvey
I have an Ithaca SKB OU I shoot trap with. Personal preference is part of it. I do think I shoot better with an OU. But I just love the SxS’s. I have one OU and four SxS’s
Same as semi auto and bolt action rifles tend to be more accurate than lever action rifles. But my 1873 Winchester 357 mag Is my go to dear gun.
I have coworkers that would not own a SxS or lever gun and I am ok with that. It’s what suits you that maters.

I don’t have experience with double barrel shotguns, I went straight from a single shot 410 with broken extractor (had to carry a rod with me for reloads) to a Browning A5 semi-auto. So I am only brainstorming here.

From a technical perspective it would seem to me the over-under would have the advantage, especially the under barrel. Because the under barrel bore is more in line with the vertical centerline of the gun, I would expect less muzzle flip firing the bottom one vs. the top/over one. If I were to shoot an O/U, I would experiment with shooting the under first to confirm I can get the upper barrel on target quicker due to reduced muzzle flip.

With that said, the side-by-side wins by a huge margin from an esthetic perspective for me.

Or you could be really different and look for one of these :grinning:

iu (634×464) (

that is gorgious. Beautiful piece really.

So long as they both go bang! :ok_hand::wink:

Depends what you are trying to do with it. For target shooting and bird hunting, I am an over/under guy, but I also have side-by-sides, pumps, and autos.

As this community is more self-defense oriented, I am going to give one point on that, and keep in mind that we are talking about fractions of a second. If you look at the classic African dangerous game double rifle, the ones that use cigar-sized cartridges, are side-by-sides and not over/unders? Because they load faster. How can that be? They are both break action doubles. Well, the side-by-side only needs to open half as wide as an over/under. The over/under needs to break open far enough to expose two barrels while the side-by-side only has to open far enough to expose one chamber since they are next to each other. Something to keep in mind if the use is defense.

This comes late - look at Chiappa Arms - their triple-barreled shotguns feature a single trigger which fires right - left - top - and are offered in full-size or “door-stopper” versions - truly impressive and intimidating.

I shoot a Ruger Red Label O/U and love it. The balance is superb. Favorite shotgun.