In reference to your January 16th post, have hunted extensively with side-by-side (double barrel or “SxS”) shotguns throughout my life. They are my first choice for upland game and waterfowl. There are many brands of SxS shotguns. Some are valued at a price higher than most reasonably priced homes with 10 acres of ground, others are priced in a race to the bottom. I like the Spanish doubles as a mid-priced SxS. Mine have proven to be as reliable as a hammer, and have good fit for the money spent. Be warned though, double guns of all types have inflated rather dramatically in price over the last decade. Since I am not writing this for a hunting site, but rather, a survival site, I will focus on a couple things I believe relevant:
1. Ease of use. A working double (with internal, NOT external hammers) is almost as easy to get acquainted with in short-time as a single shot. The brand I have chosen for around the farm, and for 95% of my hunting, is the Ugartechea. (See: http://www.doubleshotguns.com/ugartechea.htm) A simple slide up to fire safety on the tang, double triggers (a must, in my opinion), and ejectors that will toss spent casings so quickly that one-handed reloading is a cinch, these are good quality guns that are easy to get used to using, and easy to master
for muscle memory sake. I consider the external hammers to be dangerous in the woods in a “ready to fire” mode…in a stalking scenario. In cowboy action shooting though, many folks can really make them sing. I don’t like them for my purposes.
2. Reliable. They work. I have never had a misfire, and have probably shot 100,000 shells through these over the years.
3. Easy to break-down. It is basically a 3 piece gun (not counting internal working parts), that can be disassemble into those 3 pieces in what, 5-7 seconds? Push a button on the splinter forend, pull down, then push lever to open gun as if to load…and the barrels fall into your hand. This also makes the guns a cinch to clean.
4. Value. An excellent shape Spanish double of good origin will cost $750 up. Many times, it is $1,000 up. Working value is not that of an 870. But, my doubles were bought new for slightly less than that, and, I will pass them as dead-on reliable guns to my children one day…so they have been worth it to me.
One warning though to those who believe a double can be handed off to the little old lady down the road, who, for whatever reason…has little or no training. Shotguns of normal legal length are not the perfect solution to a “kitchen sink to backdoor” encounter. At a range of 6-10 feet it will have a spread of nearer a rifle than what we think of when
we think of shotguns. It will no doubt bore a hole in one side and out the other at that range, and is wickedly deadly, but it requires aimed fire at all ranges other than point blank—no different than a pistol. Recoil is subjective…to an extent. It can range from heavy, to extreme (on the little old lady scale) depending on chosen rounds. A 12 gauge high brass round? Even tough guys won’t shoot many in a t-shirt…and I have seen the recoil almost dislodge the shotgun from some unsuspecting folks hands. Indoors = lots of blast and noise.
Bottom line: I like the double gun, and I can make it function well in all conditions I have been in, including freezing rain that has created problems with pump guns used by friends. However, I train with these. Without training? Well, I don’t consider that an option that makes any shooting weapon good. Grandma either learns to shoot, and shoots until a competent shootist, or, she does not get one of my guns. Hard but true.
This brings me to my final (off topic point). There seems to be a bit of fantasy floating around the community that we can have extra weapons on hand to provide the neighbors who have none—after the crunch. Have we really thought this through? Doesn’t it require us to assume that an offer to train the neighbor was made during good times, and it was refused? Then, trouble comes knocking and they see the light? We may have to do this…but it would be my absolute worst case scenario. Frankly, it scares me. I look at it this way…if the neighbor has no guns, and no gun skills…and the bad guys come to visit…what are the odds that he / she will prevail against them? I think close to zero.
So now, if that happens, they have our neighbors house, and our rifle / shotgun?
I have made a decision only for my family: I will teach any person I trust. I will provide them with training ammo, they can train on my range on the farm, I will do whatever is necessary to get them to the level they can reach…and have done so many times. BUT, if this thing snaps and we are up against it? I will not provide a shooting weapon to someone who has no idea how to use it. Quite simply, I don’t want to face any of my weapons…and I don’t want my children facing my weapons. If you have neighbors, know them. If you can trust them, train them. If you cannot trust them, move. Best to all, – Straightblast
JWR Replies: I agree that doubles are a good investment. When I was in college (in the early 1980s) I had the chance to buy a nice boxlock Greener 12 gauge ejector gun with fluid steel barrels. It even already had its chambers deepened to 2-3/4 inches. The gent was asking just $350 for it. I’m still kicking myself for not buying it. That Greener would be at least a $2,500 gun today–possibly much more. As I wrote in my novel “Patriots”: “Hindsight is 20/20.”