side by side shotguns

Side by side shotgun

On side-by-side shotguns the barrels are placed alongside one another, as the description suggests.

Side-by-side shotguns were first created in France in the 1730s, with barrels held together by soldering. Before this, the barrels were kept in place by the stock.

The side-by-side dominated the field until the 1950s, when technology improved and better over-and-under designs appeared and now over-and-unders head the market.

side by side shotguns

Side-by-side shotguns need skilful handling

Side-by-side shotguns need skill

Ed Wills, deputy editor of Shooting Times, says: “Side-by-side shotguns are in my opinion the most humbling of them all. Not only do you need tremendous skill to carry out the shot successfully but also the guns themselves look elegant and make you feel proud to own one.”

The dream of an English side-by-side

Today an English side-by-side is a dream shotgun for many in the sport.

Shooters like them for their handling tradition, pleasing lines, lack of weight and the sheer joy of owning.

However side-by-sides do have their limitations. Although they used used to great effect by many competent Shots, some shooters would benefit from using an over-and-under shotgun. It’s worth having a discussion with an experienced shooting instructor.

If you’re looking for a review of a particular side-by-side shotgun, then visit our review section here, which covers every side-by-side our experts have looked at.

Which trigger do I use first on a side-by-side?

Most side-by-sides fire the barrel with the most open choke via the front trigger.

When shooting driven game, the first target is usually the most distant, demanding the tighter choke of the pair.

However, in walked-up shooting the reverse is true: the first target is usually the nearer of the pair. The solution is, when shooting driven game and the circumstances demand, to pull the back trigger first.

This is where over-unders score over side-by-sides: you can set the barrel selector to fire the tightest choke first.

Why do none of the top Sporting shots use side-by-sides?

The stacked barrels of an over-and-under give an edge when it comes to viewing certain clay targets.  The difference might only be two or three birds per hundred but the margin is there.

The heavier weight of an over-and-under also helps make a difference but this can be cancelled out if the side-by-side user decides to use a gun of similar weight.

Regardless of weight however, where it might cede another vital target or two is through muzzle flip from the first shot. An over-and-under tends to be steadier, allowing the user to acquire his second target a little better especially on those combinations where it helps to keep the gun in the shoulder between shots.

A Perazzi 20-bore side by side

Should I shoot game birds with a side-by-side or over-and-under?

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Beretta 486 Parellelo

Beretta 486 Parallelo shotgun reviewed: a ‘little cracker of a gun’

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side by side old fashioned shotgun

Is the side-by-side shotgun history?

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William Powell shotgun

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best English guns

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Pigeon shooter with dead pigeons

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Steel-proofing for a Spanish side-by-side

  Anyone with even a vague interest in live quarry shooting will be aware that there is an ongoing conversation about the continued 
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Fausti DEA

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Yildiz Wildfowler

Yildiz Wildfowler

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EJ Churchill Regal

EJ Churchill Regal

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Beretta 486 Parallelo 20-bore

Beretta 486 Parallelo 20-bore reviewed by Shooting Times

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AYA Sfera

AYA Sfera

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Beretta Ultralight Gold

Beretta Ultralight Gold reviewed by Shooting Gazette

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AYA No.2 28 bore

AYA No.2 28 bore

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side-by-side hammergun

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Winchester Model 23

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