Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Gunfight Friday: Over/Under vs Side-by-Side

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Gun Nuts
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

January 10, 2014

Gunfight Friday: Over/Under vs Side-by-Side

By Phil Bourjaily

Over/Under or side-by-side? That’s the question in today’s Gunfight. Personally, my answer is “some of each, please,” although I probably shoot O/Us better if only because I shoot them much more often. Double guns are better looking, I think, and that wide expanse of barrels makes them easy to put on target. At any rate, today we have a couple of neat guns representing the O/U and SxS perspectives today. Unfortunately, neither is made anymore. The Fox Savage BSE was a solid, if heavy, workingman’s double made in the U.S.A. by Savage, which bought out A.H. Fox in 1929. This gun is not an A.H. Fox but an upgraded Stevens double that Savage introduced in the ’40s. It lasted until 1988, and was discontinued when Savage eliminated everything but the Model 110 from production. It’s a rugged double, not refined, but they rarely break, and I wish I had them in all gauges. The “SE” in BSE stands for “single trigger, ejectors,” incidentally.

The Weatherby Orion was made in the SKB factory in Japan, which, sadly, closed its doors in 2010 after 155 years in operation. A surprising amount of skilled handwork went into every SKB gun, and the O/Us were excellent guns, with a crossbolt action that was very strong. They were sold here under the Ithaca label in the ’60s and ’70s, and as SKBs and Weatherbys until the plant closed. The Orion was the plainer, field-grade SKB/Weatherby, while the Athena was the fancier gun. Here they are: 

Mark Lovelace’s Fox BSE

Since I am a lefty and cannot use stocks with cast-off, I vote for my 20-gauge Savage Fox Model BSE Series H. It has a vibrantly case colored case receiver, deep rich bluing, mid-rib bead, and cut checkering on its walnut pistol grip stock with Indian head cap. Heavy? Yes, but that just helps tame the recoil of hot 1 oz. loads better. Apparently someone quail hunted with this gun before I bought it. Both barrels are cylinder bore, the product of a 28-inch barrel (marked IC and Mod) cut to 26 inches. I hope to use my “new” 20 around Tustin, Mich., this fall after the leaves fall. And to those that say the 20 isn’t enough, I say: “Learn to hit something!”

Doug Tichenor’s Weatherby Orion

This 20-gauge Weatherby Orion was left in my care by a good friend who cannot hunt. I am not sure when it was made, but it was built in Japan. I do not think that they are in production anymore. At slightly over 6 1/2 pounds, this is a perfect grouse gun for where I hunt. Birds are there but finding them involves a long trek through hard cover, and this gun is well balanced, easy to carry, and easy to shoulder fast. After December, I leave the grouse alone and use it for snowshoe hares. With selectable barrels and 3-inch chambers, this gun can handle anything from skeet to waterfowl. My Brittany, Timber, likes this gun, too. He hates my deer rifles with a passion.

Take your pick—O/U or double—and vote, post comments, and keep sending in gun pictures. We need your submissions to keep the gunfights running. Send them to fsgunnuts@gmail.com.

Comments (18)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jhjimbo wrote 14 weeks 9 hours ago

Those were the days when guns were guns. I have had the Savage SXS and shot it a lot as a young hunter. My current is the Weatherby Orion Grade III (made by SKB) and I really enjoy shooting it. Real good looking shotgun and it shoots as good as it looks. My vote went to the Weatherby Orion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Marion Johnson wrote 14 weeks 8 hours ago

I do better with O/U's. I once had a dog which lived outside but could hear the click of our gun cabinet door opening. If I came out the door with my Model 12, he would be joyous. If my Marlin 336 was in my hand he was crestfallen. Used him on rabbits woodcock, squirrels and to bloodtrail deer. He never ran deer except the for the single time I let him go with me when I had the Marlin along. He then jumped a deer and pushed it right past me. Coincidence? Don't know. He was a street pick up that appeared to be springer/beagle. If we were shooting any gun or fireworks on the farm he would go get up a rabbit EVERY TIME and run it until the shooting stopped.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 14 weeks 5 hours ago

Thanks Phil for a double shoot out! I also agree with you on shooting O/U better then a S/S because I shoot a O/U more, as well! The Fox does look like a solid field working gun for sure, but I did chose the Orion. I have some shooting time with an Orion model a friend picked up a few years ago; they shoot as GOOD as they LOOK! That's one sweet lookin` double, too!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 14 weeks 3 hours ago

Both guns have merit ( 20 gauge ) can be used in the grouse woods. The Orion by SKB is a nice looking gun and the Fox is a fixture of many hunters gun cabinets. Tie breaker goes to Mark for his great attitude about using a 20 gauge :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 14 weeks 3 hours ago

Fox: The stock fits me although I hated the beaver forearm & the auto safety. Actually the Stevens was a better upland shotgun. One the best grouse guns I owned was a Stevens 16-ga I chopped the barrels to 25". Hunted this Stevens for 20-years without issue.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

What? Two gunfights Friday? I love it! Somehow I missed this one.

I have only shot a few over unders but I have loved every one I have ever used. I cannot hit the side of a barn with a side by side. I gave one away to my father in law because of this. It seems the wide sight plain just screws me up.

I like the Orion a lot, it is a very beautiful shotgun, and it gets my vote... wish I had a closet full of them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

I have never owned an O/U. I just prefer the traditional look of a side-by-side.
In theory, there is less wind resistance in swinging a side-by-side, but I doubt that any shooter would notice it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

Tough, but I chose the Savage. Tim, this fight got by me too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Normally I would go with a SXS, and that little Savage Fox should be deadly on rising quail. But in this case I'm going with the Weatherby Orion. I like the lighter weight and its more versatile features, but more than anything it's just a pretty little thing bound to catch your eye. I've got several SXS and only one O/U, and I generally prefer the way a SXS handles and the broader sight plane for upland game other than doves. In plain fact though I probably shoot just as well with my O/U 12. And just FYI to Doug Tichenor, my own Brit, Ginger, pays no attention whatsoever to multiple shotguns going off over her head, but has an honest-to-God nervous breakdown if anyone sets off a single firecracker within five miles of the house. Such is life with a Brittany -- but I wouldn't want to go through life without one...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PAShooter wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I have one of the first Browning Citori made in Japan. It is a fine working 12 gauge O/U. It was my favorite field gun for many years. Then I got heavily into pointing dog training. We needed a break action gun that was carried for hours. I opted to buy an inexpensive light 20 gauge. The CZ ringneck fit the ticket as a training gun that faced harsh usage. After shooting hundreds of pigeons and chukars for training with this little SxS, I began carrying it as my field gun for pheasants and grouse. It even was my preferred gun in SD pheasant country this year. Other than water fowl hunting, I prefer my doubles.
For some reason, I point better with the SxS and aim less.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

There is something about a SXS. Those who own them and shoot them, love them. They are a waxed cotton jacket, the O/U is Goretex.
The SXS is an English Setter, the O/U is a continental breed.
One has a rich history, the other a practical purpose.
Love them both, but if I could only shoot one it would be a QUALITY SXS.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I started my shotgun hunting with a inexpensive SxS and had fun and got my share. Then back in the early 80's and very high $ interest days, the Bank of Boulder had a CD promotion with the Weatherby Orion as an incentive. I got one and it was a beauty. It was balanced and made me a very happy gunner. I hunted exclusively with it for everything from then to 2012 when I purchased a SxS for, I guess, nostalgic reasons. Now, I hunt them both. But the Orion has been a long time friend and that's how I voted.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigrossi wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I bought a Savage Fox Model B back in '62 when I was 16 for $75 used, but in excellent condition. Full and modified choked side by side. Great gun for ducks and geese and still shoot it today at 67 years old .

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Grew up with my father's SXS guns, love Savage obviously, easy choice. There is just something old and real about a SXS for me, love em.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Voted for the O/U, however, I have 20 ga Ithaca/SKBs in both SxS (280E) and O/U (500). Love them both probably shoot the O/U better, as I didn't grow up shooting SxS's. They are my go to shotguns for woodcock and wood ducks on the creek and dove and quail on the prairie.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Claude Balls wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I find that the LC Smith and the Browning Citori do not miss!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pa pheasantman wrote 12 weeks 16 hours ago

Use both-like both and still miss sometimes with each of them

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mauser78 wrote 5 weeks 1 day ago

My favorite shotgun is my 1953 Stevens 5100 SxS 12 gauge. I have always loved side by sides and made it a point to get one. It has 32 inch barrels with .680 bores. It is by far the most accurate shotgun that I've ever used. It immediately falls into zero when shouldered and you're hard pressed to miss the target. I've never before held a gun that felt more natural to shoulder, aim and fire. So I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is that I'd take the SxS over the O/U shotgun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Marion Johnson wrote 14 weeks 8 hours ago

I do better with O/U's. I once had a dog which lived outside but could hear the click of our gun cabinet door opening. If I came out the door with my Model 12, he would be joyous. If my Marlin 336 was in my hand he was crestfallen. Used him on rabbits woodcock, squirrels and to bloodtrail deer. He never ran deer except the for the single time I let him go with me when I had the Marlin along. He then jumped a deer and pushed it right past me. Coincidence? Don't know. He was a street pick up that appeared to be springer/beagle. If we were shooting any gun or fireworks on the farm he would go get up a rabbit EVERY TIME and run it until the shooting stopped.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 14 weeks 5 hours ago

Thanks Phil for a double shoot out! I also agree with you on shooting O/U better then a S/S because I shoot a O/U more, as well! The Fox does look like a solid field working gun for sure, but I did chose the Orion. I have some shooting time with an Orion model a friend picked up a few years ago; they shoot as GOOD as they LOOK! That's one sweet lookin` double, too!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 14 weeks 3 hours ago

Both guns have merit ( 20 gauge ) can be used in the grouse woods. The Orion by SKB is a nice looking gun and the Fox is a fixture of many hunters gun cabinets. Tie breaker goes to Mark for his great attitude about using a 20 gauge :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Normally I would go with a SXS, and that little Savage Fox should be deadly on rising quail. But in this case I'm going with the Weatherby Orion. I like the lighter weight and its more versatile features, but more than anything it's just a pretty little thing bound to catch your eye. I've got several SXS and only one O/U, and I generally prefer the way a SXS handles and the broader sight plane for upland game other than doves. In plain fact though I probably shoot just as well with my O/U 12. And just FYI to Doug Tichenor, my own Brit, Ginger, pays no attention whatsoever to multiple shotguns going off over her head, but has an honest-to-God nervous breakdown if anyone sets off a single firecracker within five miles of the house. Such is life with a Brittany -- but I wouldn't want to go through life without one...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PAShooter wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I have one of the first Browning Citori made in Japan. It is a fine working 12 gauge O/U. It was my favorite field gun for many years. Then I got heavily into pointing dog training. We needed a break action gun that was carried for hours. I opted to buy an inexpensive light 20 gauge. The CZ ringneck fit the ticket as a training gun that faced harsh usage. After shooting hundreds of pigeons and chukars for training with this little SxS, I began carrying it as my field gun for pheasants and grouse. It even was my preferred gun in SD pheasant country this year. Other than water fowl hunting, I prefer my doubles.
For some reason, I point better with the SxS and aim less.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

There is something about a SXS. Those who own them and shoot them, love them. They are a waxed cotton jacket, the O/U is Goretex.
The SXS is an English Setter, the O/U is a continental breed.
One has a rich history, the other a practical purpose.
Love them both, but if I could only shoot one it would be a QUALITY SXS.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 14 weeks 9 hours ago

Those were the days when guns were guns. I have had the Savage SXS and shot it a lot as a young hunter. My current is the Weatherby Orion Grade III (made by SKB) and I really enjoy shooting it. Real good looking shotgun and it shoots as good as it looks. My vote went to the Weatherby Orion.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 14 weeks 3 hours ago

Fox: The stock fits me although I hated the beaver forearm & the auto safety. Actually the Stevens was a better upland shotgun. One the best grouse guns I owned was a Stevens 16-ga I chopped the barrels to 25". Hunted this Stevens for 20-years without issue.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

What? Two gunfights Friday? I love it! Somehow I missed this one.

I have only shot a few over unders but I have loved every one I have ever used. I cannot hit the side of a barn with a side by side. I gave one away to my father in law because of this. It seems the wide sight plain just screws me up.

I like the Orion a lot, it is a very beautiful shotgun, and it gets my vote... wish I had a closet full of them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

I have never owned an O/U. I just prefer the traditional look of a side-by-side.
In theory, there is less wind resistance in swinging a side-by-side, but I doubt that any shooter would notice it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

Tough, but I chose the Savage. Tim, this fight got by me too.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I started my shotgun hunting with a inexpensive SxS and had fun and got my share. Then back in the early 80's and very high $ interest days, the Bank of Boulder had a CD promotion with the Weatherby Orion as an incentive. I got one and it was a beauty. It was balanced and made me a very happy gunner. I hunted exclusively with it for everything from then to 2012 when I purchased a SxS for, I guess, nostalgic reasons. Now, I hunt them both. But the Orion has been a long time friend and that's how I voted.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigrossi wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I bought a Savage Fox Model B back in '62 when I was 16 for $75 used, but in excellent condition. Full and modified choked side by side. Great gun for ducks and geese and still shoot it today at 67 years old .

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Grew up with my father's SXS guns, love Savage obviously, easy choice. There is just something old and real about a SXS for me, love em.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Voted for the O/U, however, I have 20 ga Ithaca/SKBs in both SxS (280E) and O/U (500). Love them both probably shoot the O/U better, as I didn't grow up shooting SxS's. They are my go to shotguns for woodcock and wood ducks on the creek and dove and quail on the prairie.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Claude Balls wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

I find that the LC Smith and the Browning Citori do not miss!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pa pheasantman wrote 12 weeks 16 hours ago

Use both-like both and still miss sometimes with each of them

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mauser78 wrote 5 weeks 1 day ago

My favorite shotgun is my 1953 Stevens 5100 SxS 12 gauge. I have always loved side by sides and made it a point to get one. It has 32 inch barrels with .680 bores. It is by far the most accurate shotgun that I've ever used. It immediately falls into zero when shouldered and you're hard pressed to miss the target. I've never before held a gun that felt more natural to shoulder, aim and fire. So I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is that I'd take the SxS over the O/U shotgun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment