Way back in 1875 the future of firearms was changed forever with the introduction and invention of the Double Barreled Shotgun. Made popular during the “Wild West” this portion of American history is where the term “riding shotgun or coach gun” were first used. The term was used for the coach riders who provided security for the strongboxes transported by stagecoaches and trains. Coach riders and lawmen both favored the double-barrel shotgun, as it is fairly easy to handle and packs quite a powerful punch at such a short range. Made famous by legendary lawman Doc Holliday who was a trusted associate of Wyatt Earp.
Types of Double Barrel Shotguns
After their rise in popularity for their reliability, powerful punch, and relative ease of carry two shotgun designs emerged as front runners in the early 20th century arms race. The side by side or SxS and the over/under shotgun or O/U. The original double-barreled guns were nearly all SxS designs, which was a more practical design of muzzle-loading firearms. Early cartridge shotguns also used the SxS action, because they kept the exposed hammers of the earlier muzzle-loading shotguns from which they evolved.
Apart from the obvious advantage of being able to fire more rounds that its lone barrel cousin there’s much more beneath the surface. Having two barrels lets the shooter use a more open choke for near targets, and a tighter choke for distant targets, providing the optimal shot pattern for each distance. However, there are a few disadvantages that the double barrel runs into. After shooting at a target around 40 yards the shots converge. Double shotguns are also inherently more safe, as whether the shotgun is loaded or can be fired can be ascertained by anyone present if the action is broken open, for instance on a skeet, trap or hunting clays course when another shooter is firing; if the action is open, the gun cannot fire.
Shotguns used in WW1 and WW2
Another dive into the history of shotguns are the involvement in WW1. During World War I, the trench-gun was used for close quarter fighting in the enemy trench lines. Short in length, fitted with a heat shield and bayonet, it was extremely effective and reliable in the trenches when compared to the bolt-action rifles of that timeframe. Its reliability and powerful punch made it an incredible asset during trench warfare.
Even after all these years later with the advancement in sights and optics very little has changed in its design, and pump action shotguns are still king!
Shotguns were the go to choice for Marines in WW2 in caves and tunnel complexes in the Pacific. The shotgun used was the Winchester Model 1897. Which measured 43.5″ in length and weighed approximately 11.6 pounds, the shorter barrel and the use of the buckshot proved to be extremely effective in close quarter combat.
Double Barreled Shotguns in Popular Culture
For decades now Shotguns have been portrayed in film as a lethal weapon used by both Protagonists and Antagonists alike. Featured in films such as Tombstone (featuring the aforementioned Doc Holliday), Evil Dead 2 with the protagonist Ash double wielding a 12 Gauge side by side and an outfitted chainsaw hand!
However quite possibly the most famous screen used shotgun was used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2. The now iconic “Rosebox Shotgun” with a sawed off barrel and stock and the trigger guard cut out. This is the gun seen through most of the film. Arnold portraying the T-800 cyborg from the future famously cocks the shotgun with one hand while being chased by another cyborg.
Best Double Barreled Shotguns in 2020
Shotguns have certainly evolved and changed over the years. However, the shotgun is still one of the most popular firearms in the world today. With well over 50 gun manufacturers producing shotguns in 2020 there no short supply of the firearm. We had a sit down meeting with of all of the staff here to compile a list of the top shotguns out on the market today.
Best 12 Gauge Shotgun: CZ Upland Ultralight
Weighing in at just 6 lbs in 12 gauge, this compact shotgun weighs a full two pounds less than similar steel framed models. Ultra weather resistant and coated with a non reflective matte finish. Making this an ideal firearm for a long day at the range or a long day on the field. While this firearm is on the lighter side it retails for a more than reasonable price.
Best 20 Gauge Shotgun: Browning Citori CXS Crossover
Great for both fun and sport this powerful over under shotgun from Browning weighs just about 7 pounds. High-post rib with vented top and side ribs keeps the barrel cool, shot after shot. Triple Trigger System allows you to fine-tune the length of pull for total shooting comfort. Soft Inflex recoil pad with a hard heel slides into your shoulder with ease while absorbing recoil to keep you on the range or in the field all day. You would be hard pressed to find a better shotgun on the market today.
Best Pump Action Shotgun: Mossberg Model 500 Classic and Field-All Purpose
The Model 500 Pump-Action Shotguns are Mossberg’s most diverse collection of all-purpose shotguns. Has a matte-black synthetic stock and forend. 28” vent-rib barrel with matte blued finish. Includes Accu-Set choke tubes. 12 Gauge Shotgun with a barrel length of 28″ and weighing just less than 8 pounds. One of our guys here has nothing but great things to say about this shotgun. He even recalls a time when he dropped the gun into a river, retrieved the gun and has never had an issue since. Reliable, and powerful at a price point that wont break the bank. This gun is it.
Best Shotgun Ammo in 2020
The most commonly used shotgun ammunition is the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge. Shotguns come in different size gauges which determine the size of its ammunition. The 12 gauge has a diameter of 18.5 mm, or .729 inches. The 20 gauge has a diameter of 15.6 mm, or .62 inches. Definitely do not attempt to mix gauges as this would severely damage your gun.
Best Buckshot in 2020: Winchester Super-X .410 Buckshot
Great for stopping medium sized game and even small bears. Super-X ammo is precision made with the highest quality material to ensure excellence. Three-pellet shot shells are great for offhand takedowns at short distances.
All in all shotguns have been around for well over a century and if current times are any indication the shotgun will be here for centuries to come. Whether you are hunting small game or need to take out cyborgs from the future the shotgun is a great candidate and should be included in every gun cabinet.