An over-under (O/U) is one of two types of barrel configurations found in double-barreled shotguns (the other being the side-by-side or SxS).
Double-barreled shotguns (aka doubles) feature break-open fire action mechanisms (break-action) in which both barrels are tilted upwards at the rear to expose the breeches for loading and ejecting shells. This simple design makes doubles smaller and more compact than single-barreled lever-action or pump-action shotguns.
Early double-barreled models incorporated two triggers for firing each barrel separately. They were located front to back inside the trigger guard so that the operator would pull each trigger one at a time and not discharge both barrels simultaneously, which would cause insurmountable recoil force.
Modern doubles use a selective trigger system in which a single trigger alternately fires each barrel (the single trigger must be pulled twice). One of the main advantages that doubles have over singles is the ability to utilize two different barrel choke systems. This is a major preference in competitive shotgun sports and why doubles are widely used in trap/skeet shooting.
For example, one barrel may have an open choke for near targets and the other barrel would have a tighter choke for distant targets. The main difference between an O/U and SxS configuration is shown in the position of the barrels and the effect that that positioning has on the range and shot string of discharged loads.
O/U barrels are placed one on top of the other. SxS barrels are placed side-by-side. Both configs position the barrels at slight angles parallel to each other. This important specification means that discharges from either barrel will eventually cross each other at a convergence point that is usually 40 yards out.
For example, in O/U configs both discharges will stay dead center until the “under” barrel discharge starts traveling higher than the “over” discharge.
Check out these popular brands of O/U shotguns:
TriStar TT-15 Trap DT Adjustable (DTA)
This specially designed trap gun is part of a dedicated line of shotguns built specifically for competitive trap and skeet shooters. Looks so futuristic you could almost imagine a holographic scope on it… almost.
The TT-15 DTA over-under shotgun is the perfect combination of precision, performance, and beauty. This adjustable double trap version features a raised target rib with three adjustment points, an adjustable comb, palm swell, fiber optic sight, and extended Beretta/Benelli Mobil choke tubes (e.g. CT-5X Skeet, Modified, Improved Cylinder, Improved Modified, Full).
The TT-15 is a highly functional and reliable O/U double trap shooter that will do all the hard work you expect it to do and more.
TriStar Setter S/T Over-Under
Durability and strength describe this solid-framed O/U workhorse. This is another great sport shooting shotgun by TriStar that has strength and safety in mind.
The Setter S/T has a 3” chamber in 12ga or 20ga. Sealed actions keep dirt out. Other features include self-adjusting locking lugs, top tang barrel selector and safety, a steel mono-block barrel construction, and a gorgeous Turkish Walnut high-gloss finish on the stock and forearm.
Five interchangeable Beretta/Benelli Mobil chokes (Skeet, Modified, Improved Modified, Improved Cylinder, Full) are available. The primary safety is positioned on the top tang and designed to block the trigger, hammer level and hammer when it is engaged.
The safety slides backward and forward. The operator may move the safety left or right when it is engaged to select which barrel to fire first.
Browning Citori White Lightning
This “left in the white” beauty is one of the latest double-barreled O/U shotguns by legendary firearms manufacturer Browning.
It’s signature steel receiver, with intricate engraving, has been left all-natural in its original polished condition. This creates a luxurious contrast between the receiver’s components and the high-grade walnut finish of the stock and forearm (the barrel is polished blued with Invector-Plus chokes).
The Citori White Lightning carries on Browning’s legacy of remarkable durability in a timeless design. Available in 20ga, 28ga, .410 bore, and features a well-rounded knob or pistol grip for superior aiming and control. This performance grip is ideal for fast-moving waterfowl, upland game, and sporting clays.
The trigger guard is coated with a nitrided finish to prevent corrosion. The sleek and elegant design of this O/U shotgun is truly represented in its name — the “White Lightning.”
Mossberg International Silver Reserve II Field w/ Shell Extractors
Mossberg International produces some of the highest quality break-action shotguns on the market. This Silver Reserve II version is beautifully showcased with a “left in the white” all-natural steel receiver with an intricate wrap-around scroll engraving that contrasts with the Black Walnut stock finish, giving the firearm a timeless and elegant look.
It comes with a variety of shell extractors and ejectors, corrosion resistant chrome-lined chambers and barrels, tang-mounted safety with barrel selector, and dual locking lugs for solid lock-up.
These features give the Mossberg Silver Reserve II Over/Under unmatched long term reliability and durability. This model has a .410 Bore gauge with 2-shot capacity and overall barrel length of 26”.
Overall, the Mossberg Silver Reserve II is a great field gun best suited for waterfowling and upland game hunting.
Over-Under Shotguns – Conclusion
Generally speaking, double-barrelled shotguns are unique break-action firearms that offer power, durability, strength, and practicality with sleek and elegant designs.
They fulfill the needs of specific individuals. In some parts of the world, doubles are held in prestige and authority. In other parts they are used mainly for sporting purposes.
They are usually smaller and more compact than other shotgun types and look very cool when being loaded and unloaded.
They are preferred by clay/trap/skeet shooters but are also used in waterfowling and upland game hunting. Over/Unders, and double-barrels in general, offer unique advantages such as shot selection versatility and access to variable choke tubes for shooting fast, widely dispersed targets. They are characterized by a unique blend of style, nostalgia, and practical advantage.
If a shotgun isn’t quite your speed you can always check out our handgun and pistol reviews.