Why are there no Double Rifles which are Over and Under?

Red Leg

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Since 1900, I doubt if relative production is even remotely close. But as @cal pappas notes, the vast majority of Continental OU's are not DG rifles. In that realm, the customer expectation, thanks to the British dominance of east and southern Africa, is a SxS. Since WWII, even the continental makers have been building the vast majority of their DG calibers in SxS format. I personally think that is unfortunate because the Kersten action is almost impossible to shoot off face. For instance, I have a thirties era German OU pigeon gun that not doubt has had hundreds of thousands of heavy high velocity loads through it in almost a hundred years of competition (I know I have put at least 10-20k through it while in my stewardship). It is as tight as the day it left Suhl. A Birmingham boxlock used in the same way would wobble like a fence gate. A London sidelock would have needed severe psychiatric intervention and would have been rebuilt two or three times during the same century after such use.

But from 1914 through the fifties, it was English perceptions of the "proper" double rifle that dominated. And you can find no critical thought offered in any of the discussion about double rifles. All the members of the writing fraternity (particularly those writing in English or Murican) simply repeat the what the last fellow said. It is a Versailles thing.
 

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I am used to hunting in the UK where just about everyone uses a bolt action (saw a Ruger No1 once), but new Safari
Hunting and am learning of the passion for Doubles rifles, particularly for Dangerous Game.

The Doubles only seem to come in Side by Side? Is there a reason for this? Is there any move to Over and Under as there is with shotguns?

regards

Chris

Fausti has 2 lines of over/under rifles. Very well made & beautiful, in various calibers.




 

xausa

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I have my own theory about the side-by-side/over-and-under controversy. The side by side configuration dates back before the advent of cartridge firearms. Double barrel shotguns, rifles and pistols were all side by side because there was no other way to make a flintlock double. With the advent of cartridge weapons, gun makers saw no reason to change from what had always been the configuration and they didn't. In the United States, where hunting was viewed as a right, rather than a priviledge for the wealthy few, the repeating shotgun became the shotgun of choice, whether slide (pump) action, bolt action, lever action or semi-automatic. Cheap double barrel guns appeared on the market, but high quality doubles remained the property of the wealthy few.

When I was growing up, the Winchester Model 12 ruled the skeet field and trap was shot with specially designed single shots. As the economy bloomed, so did the demand for more sophisticated guns, and Browning "stack barrels" began to appear on the scene, followed by Beretta and Preazzi. I don't ever remeber seeing a side-by-side gun on a skeet field. An over and under felt like a repeater with an extra barrel in place of the magazine tube and the deep fore end, which allowed for a healthy grip, impossible with a side-by side gun with a "splinter" fore end. When the time came to select a double barrel rifle, the choice of what was familiar was almost a foregone conclusion.

My first double rifle was a Krieghoff "Teck" boxlock over and under in caliber .458 Winchester Magnum, with interchangeable barrels in .375 H&H Magnum and 20 gauge 3" Magnum. It accompanied me on three hunting trips to Africa and accounted for elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, eland, and greater and lesser kudu. It, like my other double rifles, and none of my double shotguns, has double triggers, but I have never had trouble switching back and forth. The stock was made to specifications derived from a try gun at the Holland & Holland shooting school outside London. It fits me like a glove.
 

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'Saw a very nice Heym o/u .375 HH at an estate sale years ago ($4,500 USD.) I think about that mistake (not purchasing) often! It was perfect and had the QD (EAW claw-type I believe) scope mount as well. 'Had German or Austrian glass that would cost as much as that gun price now.
 

Red Leg

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I have my own theory about the side-by-side/over-and-under controversy. The side by side configuration dates back before the advent of cartridge firearms. Double barrel shotguns, rifles and pistols were all side by side because there was no other way to make a flintlock double. With the advent of cartridge weapons, gun makers saw no reason to change from what had always been the configuration and they didn't. In the United States, where hunting was viewed as a right, rather than a priviledge for the wealthy few, the repeating shotgun became the shotgun of choice, whether slide (pump) action, bolt action, lever action or semi-automatic. Cheap double barrel guns appeared on the market, but high quality doubles remained the property of the wealthy few.

When I was growing up, the Winchester Model 12 ruled the skeet field and trap was shot with specially designed single shots. As the economy bloomed, so did the demand for more sophisticated guns, and Browning "stack barrels" began to appear on the scene, followed by Beretta and Preazzi. I don't ever remeber seeing a side-by-side gun on a skeet field. An over and under felt like a repeater with an extra barrel in place of the magazine tube and the deep fore end, which allowed for a healthy grip, impossible with a side-by side gun with a "splinter" fore end. When the time came to select a double barrel rifle, the choice of what was familiar was almost a foregone conclusion.

My first double rifle was a Krieghoff "Teck" boxlock over and under in caliber .458 Winchester Magnum, with interchangeable barrels in .375 H&H Magnum and 20 gauge 3" Magnum. It accompanied me on three hunting trips to Africa and accounted for elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, eland, and greater and lesser kudu. It, like my other double rifles, and none of my double shotguns, has double triggers, but I have never had trouble switching back and forth. The stock was made to specifications derived from a try gun at the Holland & Holland shooting school outside London. It fits me like a glove.
I think there is some truth to that argument. Certainly SxS fowlers were much more common. However, the Continent had very fine OU rifles dating from the flintlock period. For instance, the rifle below is from my collection. It is Austrian and was a 1780's military issue weapon for "Border Guards" which were actually a unit of specialized riflemen - somewhat equivalent to the Baker armed riflemen of Wellington's army during the Peninsula campaign. And remember, this was a military issue firearm, not a custom made hunting rifle.

rifle.jpg


rifle2.jpg


Rifle3.jpg

But I will readily concede that the OU configuration didn't begin to dominate the Continental market until between the two world wars. And as the Continent produced those wonderful OU rifles and combination guns, it was to a Continental clientele that no longer benefitted from an African colonial presence.

I would also take some regional exception that doubles were only for the wealthy. The predominate "bird guns" (read quail) across the Southeast were the basic field grade doubles built by L.C. Smith, Parker, Fox, etc. These were relatively inexpensive, but absolutely not cheap guns. The basic models used the same action designs as far more expensive models for the well heeled. The magnificent Parker AE had the lowly Trojan beating at its heart.

It was the thirties before the Model 12 really took off, and I am convinced it was the gradual return of waterfowl that sparked interest in a robust gun that fired more than two shells. That popularity gradually spread to the skeet ranges and pheasant country as well. However, neither it nor its semi-auto cousins were ever really accepted for "burds" across the Southeast.
 

8 x 60

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Not sure about this "looking down the barrels" thing
A well fitted double rifle (and shotgun) when used on moving game, if correctly mounted, should point where you are looking as you swing onto the target.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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I have scant knowledge upon the history as to why it should be one way or the other, but as some of you know I have had reason to delve into the workings and forces at play in an O/U. In a nutshell considering moments about pivots, direction of forces etc it is clear that a stacked double has to work a fair bit harder than a sxs to keep itself closed. Of course it is possible, or else there wouldnt be any, but it is an indisputable fact that a sxs with a third lock up like a Greener bolt is by far the stronger action. Those pioneering engineers weren't stupid, and they didn't devise cross bolts, doll's heads and rising bites for the fun of it.
 

Red Leg

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I have scant knowledge upon the history as to why it should be one way or the other, but as some of you know I have had reason to delve into the workings and forces at play in an O/U. In a nutshell considering moments about pivots, direction of forces etc it is clear that a stacked double has to work a fair bit harder than a sxs to keep itself closed. Of course it is possible, or else there wouldnt be any, but it is an indisputable fact that a sxs with a third lock up like a Greener bolt is by far the stronger action. Those pioneering engineers weren't stupid, and they didn't devise cross bolts, doll's heads and rising bites for the fun of it.
I will have to respectfully disagree - at least from a practical use perspective as opposed to engineering theory and application.

I have had many doubles shoot off face during their working life. Some were equipped with hidden third bites, some, like Greener, with cross bolts, others with dolls head extensions, and still others with even a third underlug or external locks. All, whether sidelock or boxlock, will eventually shoot loose and require a skilled gunsmith to but the action back on the face. I am convinced those pioneering engineers devised all those additional locks because the designs were inherently weak.

I have never had an OU do that. Whether a basic Beretta 686 or my favorite 90 year's young competition Gebruder Merkel, the locks do not fail. I will admit that I am a sampling of one and every thing I am saying is anecdotal, but I am someone who has fired many hundreds of thousands of rounds from SxS and OU shotguns over my lifetime. So, I am referring to a fair amount of anecdotal evidence. Many of those rounds were fired from some of the finest made guns of both type in existence.

And do not misunderstand me, I much prefer a SxS bird gun. I find them, when properly fitted, far more natural to shoot than an OU. But with respect to a rifle? I would just as soon have an OU, and I have no doubt it will still be locking tightly well after the SxS has been tightened for the first time.
 
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Ike85123

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I stalk with 2 rounds between my fingers. Ive never used a o/u like that. I suppose it would work with practice, but seems awkward to me !
 

Cervus elaphus

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I've a Ferlach o/u .
The same gun in sbs would cost € 3.000.- more without a logical argument therefore.
When I see on a side by side how the forehand barrel and aim is hidden it is actually nonsense
It has only tradional reasons.
The small opening angle is only an argument for untrained hunters.
However, the myth of a double rifle only exists with side by side.
But look at clay shooting,no one is using a sbs gun during a competition.
I once used a sbs 12g for clays (non-comp) when my o&u was in for a small repair, but I don't remember hitting any.
 

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I am a devotee of classic American and British SxS shotguns. That stated;

On the sporting clays range or competition, those of the best shooters who try to compete with SxS's will loose a bird or two compared to their OU scores.

The single sighting plane seems to be better for overall competition clay pigeon presentations. Personally, I love my SxS's and do quite well with them on close in fast moving targets. I do however suffer on the longer shots.

As for when the single barrel shotgun overtook the SxS in the USA, it was when the soldiers returned from WWII. Perhaps a million or more returned having shot the single sighting plane of the M1 Garand and Carbine. A pump action or autoloading repeater must have seemed more natural than a new version of grandad's old SxS. Add to that that increased production costs and lack of demand had driven the SxS shotgun makers out of business during the depression. The US Government canceling a production contract for some unrelated war-widget left the Hunter Arms Co, maker of the LC Smith SxS, in dire financial straights. The Marlin company bought them and made SxS's for another five years before calling it quits.

I hope I remembered the above accurately. If not, someone please correctly.
 

Red Leg

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I am a devotee of classic American and British SxS shotguns. That stated;

On the sporting clays range or competition, those of the best shooters who try to compete with SxS's will loose a bird or two compared to their OU scores.

The single sighting plane seems to be better for overall competition clay pigeon presentations. Personally, I love my SxS's and do quite well with them on close in fast moving targets. I do however suffer on the longer shots.

As for when the single barrel shotgun overtook the SxS in the USA, it was when the soldiers returned from WWII. Perhaps a million or more returned having shot the single sighting plane of the M1 Garand and Carbine. A pump action or autoloading repeater must have seemed more natural than a new version of grandad's old SxS. Add to that that increased production costs and lack of demand had driven the SxS shotgun makers out of business during the depression. The US Government canceling a production contract for some unrelated war-widget left the Hunter Arms Co, maker of the LC Smith SxS, in dire financial straights. The Marlin company bought them and made SxS's for another five years before calling it quits.

I hope I remembered the above accurately. If not, someone please correctly.
I think what you are saying with respect to the popularity of semi-auto shotguns is absolutely correct. However, OU shotguns began to surge in popularity on the Continent in the 30's as did pump repeaters in this country. The model 12 for instance was being produced at a roughly 30-40K per year pace prior to '41 and roughly 40-50K after '47. Except for the model 21, quality American SxS production was essentially done before WWII - killed by the depression rather than a single sighting plain. Parker in '34 and Fox in '30 when sold to Savage. As you note, LC Smith soldiered on under Marlin until '50 but Fulton's sales had also essentially collapsed prior to the war and only government contracts had kept it going). But yes, returning GI's were not particularly interested in two triggers or two barrels.

I will note that the South and its quail hunting traditions largely remained an exception to those generalities.

Interestingly, I suspect we are going through a similar period with regard to rifles today. Rust blue and walnut are fast vanishing from production rifles as synthetic and polymers take over. This is being driven by a younger generation caught up in the modern battle rifle mystic as much as economic or accuracy considerations.

Maybe on the extra lost bird or two. However nothing gives me greater pleasure than joining a group of sports at the clays range with one of my SxS's and shoot a 48 while they frantically twist choke tubes and readjust comb height. :cool:
 

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I own and shoot both SxS and O/U guns. Shotguns... I have very little experience with double rifles. I do have many years experience and a fair knowledge of shotguns.

Both types of double guns have advantages, but the geometry of the O/U imposes requirements on the O/U designs that the SxS does not have. The deep drop of O/U barrels makes them more difficult to use in confined spaces, like a duck blind or boat. It also takes a little longer to open and reload the O/U than the SxS - with equal practice on both types.

The O/U firing mechanisms are very different to the SxS ... the hammers of an O/U suffer from the vertical alignment of the barrels and act very differently. In my Perazzi MX-20 the centerlines of the two barrels are .84" apart and on my 20 ga. Browning Superposed guns the distance is is almost the same. On my 12 ga. Browning Superposed the spread between the barrel centerlines is .94". For the upper and lower hammers to impact the strikers the geometry must be very different and this means a much more complicated design. Some O/U guns have been designed with the hammer for the lower barrel 'upside down'in order to align better with the lower striker. . In short, the O/U must employ a more complicated design (especially when a single trigger is employed) and reliability is compromised. The locks on a SxS are simply mirror images of each other, simpler and, I think, more reliable. Guess which design I would want in a DG rifle.

The SxS is usually lighter than a similar O/U and has a much shallower action, barrels, etc. which brings the shooter's hands more into alignment with the eyes which makes mounting and pointing more 'instinctive'... look at the target, shoot the target. But to people who are accustomed to shooting rifles the slimmer O/U barrel profile seems more familiar.

The O/U does have a significant advantage - on high targets, incoming or going away, the narrow barrel profile allows the shooter to easily view the target UNDER THE BARREL, which aids in establishing direction and lead. The narrow barrel profile is also a benefit to many shooters (especially clays shooters) who want to precisely hold relative to the target. As for "single sighting plane" it is not valid. You don't SIGHT a shotgun, you look at the target POINT the gun... any view of the barrels should be peripheral. On a rifle you will have the actual rifle sights, so again, it makes no sense.

All that said, when I was competing in Int'l Skeet I used a Perazzi and a Remington 3200. Bird hunting I almost always take one of my subgauge SxS guns.

There is more to say about this, certainly, But that is my take.
 

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