Bourjaily: One Trigger, Or Two?

A lot of you will disagree, some of you perhaps vehemently, but "instant choke selection" is the most overrated advantage of two-trigger guns. On the whole, hunters worry way too much about choke, and they tend to overestimate yardage in the heat of the moment anyway. I always remember my first pheasant hunt with a friend who is a classic side by side shooter and a very experienced uplander. I kicked a pheasant up over his pointer, and, as it was my turn, I waited to let it get out far enough to shoot with my Improved Cylinder 12-gauge. When I finally shot, so did he. Both patterns hit the bird at once and it poofed in a cloud of feathers. While it was still edible, I had to eat around a whole lot of pellets.

"I thought you weren't going to shoot, so I reached for my back trigger," he told me.

The back trigger fired his Improved Modified barrel, the one holding a short magnum load of 5 shot. I was twenty yards from the bird when I shot, and he was maybe five yards farther from it, well within the reach of an open choke a much milder load.

Both my doubles have single triggers, as do my O/Us. I don't worry about instant choke selection because I believe that straight shooting with an IC choke and a sensible shell handles most upland situations.

However, two-trigger guns have a huge, under-rated advantage over single trigger guns: they can always fire a second shot. If you have a dud in your first barrel, you reach for the second trigger and try again. If (and this happens to me at least once a year) you shoot a bird, then break open your gun and then another bird flushes before you can reload, you simply close the gun and pull the back trigger. The classic twin trigger double gun is really just two single shots stuck together side by side. Sometimes, that's a very handy thing to have.