View Full Version : Which came first?

September 10, 2001, 01:03 AM
Did the Over/Under or the Side by Side shotgun surface first? Anyone have approximate dates?

The reason I ask is, every western I have seen that contains a shotgun seems to have only Side by Side models. I am wonderring if this is because the Over Unders were more pricey, less popular, or just didn't exist yet. I also see cowboy shooters using Side by Side and Pumps, but no Over/Unders. Again, I know you can get a Side by Side much cheaper so this could be a good explaination. I guess you could just call me curious. If you couldn't tell by my last few posts here, I have developed a deep amount of curiosity and interest in Over/Unders. ;)

September 10, 2001, 01:29 AM

I may be wrong, but I think that the sXs predates the O/U.

As far as price goes, you can get cheap versions of both kinds of guns, but I think for hardcore high-brow wingshooter types, the sXs is considered the more "traditional" gun.

I have a recent copy of "Shooting Sportsman" magazine, and there are several ads full of vintage sXs guns going from 20k to 40k in price.

September 10, 2001, 05:15 AM
I'm not positive--but I think the over and under came to be when John Browning designed the Superposed.

Dave McC
September 10, 2001, 07:32 AM
I've heard and read that the O/U predates the SXS, but not by much. Both occur in Wheelocks.

The SXS got its big impetus in Europe, where it evolved as a toy for rich folks.It also happened to be a marvelous tool for certain shotgun uses like birds, and the idea caught fire.

I think the SXS is unbeatable for certain types of hunting, including birds. I'm sure, however, that if I ever get a double for clay games, it'll be an O/U for economic reasons.Also,the fact is that the narrow sighting plane seems to work a bit better in clay games.

A good example of either style is an excellent shotgun.

September 10, 2001, 04:34 PM
Dave, Can you explain how a wheellock would ignite the bottom barrel? Just curious. I also am confused about your calling the side-by-side's development a toy for the rich. It was Lefaucheux, a curious Frenchman who recognized that guns need not be fed through the front end, who is credited with introducing the first break-open shotgun, a side-by-side. He also introduced the pinfire cartridge to feed his guns, ca. 1851. While his design worked and set the stage for modern break-open guns, another Frenchman, Pauly, built what is thought to be the first break-open gun, but it was a single not a doublegun. Pauly's design was modified and became the Dryse needlegun.

Dave McC
September 10, 2001, 07:21 PM
There's a fair number of flintlock SXS shotguns, many made by firms like Manton and Egg. Many of these balance and swing like breechloading game guns. Even the more modern percussion replicas imported by Navy Arms, Dixie,etc, oft have incredibly "Sweet" handling. Head to the next Rendevous near you and see what the buckskinners have going for them.There were 20 ga doubles with percussion locks 50 years before the Civil War that were fine quail guns, and still are nigh unmatched for handling.The smaller amount of steel needed means lighter weight.

A double of either kind for a wheellock mechanism would need two locks.

Practically all of these old M/Ls are sumptously decorated, much more flamboyantly than their Victorian descendants. That boils down to rich folks. Working folks used basic firearms, and the 69 caliber musket could be used for shotgunning as well as for war, deer, or pesky redskins(G).

September 10, 2001, 08:32 PM
The mention of Durs Egg and Joseph Manton make no sense in this thread. Both were 18th Century English gunmakers who built side-by-side flintlocks. And the percussion cap did not come about until ca. 1820. As break-open guns go, they are most associated with Edwardian England and were made to various tastes and pocketbooks, which covered the poacher, gamekeeper and landowner. Their American counterparts principally were built by Belgian gunmakers who produced cheap shooters that nobody today considers worth more than their metal weight. They also handled miserably compared to Parkers and Foxes, both good boxlocks. Embelishment is the wrong gauge to use when judging a gun's usefulness. And I seriously doubt that any over/under used a wheellock ignition system. How was the powder kept in place for the bottom barrel?

Dave McC
September 11, 2001, 05:32 AM
2shots,I've seen pics of an O/U wheelock. Dunno how they set up the priming, but since a wheel is round, the pan could be placed at about any point on the perimeter.

All of the gun development we're talking about is a pyramid, based on what came before. The various break open actions were updates of the firearms that had been developed already. The NRA museum has an unnamed but beautiful double shotgun, possibly a Manton, with graceful lines, lots of ornamentation and gold lined pans. Straight grip, 28-30" bbls, checkered butt, and two triggers. Bet it swings and handles like a Purdey,etc.

The NRA museum also has a Matchlock O/U, and it too is decorated sumptously.

Maybe you have a prob w/ the idea of the double being developed as a rich man's toy. It was, all the R&D was done by firms catering to the moneyed class. My guess is that working class doubles followed the lead of the fancy guns by some years.

September 11, 2001, 10:40 PM
The egg?? OK I know that was a very poor joke and extremely off topic, but I had to throw it in. Please forgive me.