Double-barrel shotgun that is recently fired

Double-Barrel Shotguns – 4 of the best

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If you’re like me, you probably grew up with Looney Tunes. One of the iconic characters is Elmer Fudd with his trusty double-barrel shotgun. He might not be the best hunter, but there’s arguably no better way to hunt hares and ducks than with a timeless classic. Any hunter worth their salt would agree that it is one of the most reliable firearms. For those who are looking to own one, we’ve reviewed four of the best double-barrel shotguns in 2021.

Elmer Fudd and his double-barrel shotgun
Elmer Fudd and his double-barrel shotgun
“Elmer Fudd” by Joe Shlabotnik
CZ Bobwhite G2 SXS 12ga 28 in.
  • Affordable yet reliable SxS
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable
  • Limited gauge options
$649 Shop NowClick to read my review
Benelli 828U O/U 12ga 28 in.
  • Durable
  • Recoil-reducing system
  • Adjustable stock
  • Expensive
  • Limited gauge options
$2399 Shop NowClick to read my review
Stevens Model 555 12ga 28 in.
  • Multiple gauge options including an ambidextrous one
  • Best budget double-barrel shotgun
  • Mechanical trigger allows you to just pull the trigger first barrel doesn’t fire
  • Greater recoil due to being lightweight
$599 Shop NowClick to read my review
Top Pick
Franchi Instinct O/U 12ga 28 in.
  • Multiple gauge options
  • Best for hunting
  • Blued steel finish
  • Expensive
$1199 Shop NowClick to read my review

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Educational

Double-barrel shotgun front view
Double-barrel shotgun front view
Image by mikeplonk

Double-barrel shotguns are fascinating. Despite their popularity, they aren’t as reviewed as much as other shotguns. One reason is their usually high price point vs. pump-action and semi-automatic ones. So if you can afford the price tag, a double-barrel shotgun is one of the most reliable firearms you can own.

Double-barrel shotguns are break-action shotguns with two barrels welded in the center. In break action, the shotgun barrels are hinged like a door. These barrels rotate perpendicularly to the bore axis to expose the breech. This action allows the loading and unloading of cartridges. Since keeping it open maintains safety mode, the break action is said to be the safest safety action.

There are two kinds of double-barrel shotguns, the over-under (O/U) and the (SxS). First, in an O/U, the barrels run vertically from top to bottom with a narrow sight plane. Whereas in an SxS, the barrels run horizontally, and the sight plane is broader. For more shotgun basics, our Shotgun buying guide has a short yet useful overview.

The design of these shotguns is quite simple, but there is beauty in their simplicity. For instance, there are fewer parts to wear out on a double-barrel shotgun, helping it to last longer. The design makes it incredibly reliable ― no jamming or double feeding or misfeeding. Further, double-barrel shotguns don’t suffer under poor weather conditions. Because there are fewer moving parts, there is less room for accidents. Also, the double-barrel feature allows you to tailor each barrel to your needs. This shotgun will shoot anything as long as it fits the chamber. Double-barrel shotguns are also easy to maintain. Clean and service the trigger mechanism regularly to preserve the two firing pins. 

Moreover, double-barrel shotguns might be more expensive, but I believe that they are better balanced than semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns. A double-barrel shotgun is more responsive. Since weight is focused rearward and the length is shorter, it is easier and faster to swing around. This is helpful for taking out moving targets. On the other hand, the follow-through is easier because you don’t need to lower your sights. All in all, double-barrel shotguns are perfect for sport hunting if you can afford the price tag.

Now let’s take a closer look at the chosen four.

CZ Bobwhite G2

CZ Bobwhite G2
CZ Bobwhite G2 double-barrel shotgun; Image src: Sportsman’s Guide

If you want a popular and reliable SxS, the CZ Bobwhite G2 is for you. It is Turkish-built by craftsmen, so it is affordable yet well-made. It has a hammerless design with straight stock, brown walnut furniture, and blued finish. The design of this double-barrel shotgun might be simple, but it is also efficient and easy to use. The CNC receiver in the shotgun brings more precision to your shots. Thus, the dual trigger allows for trouble-free shooting. All in all, lightweight and easy to wield, the CZ Bobwhite G2 is great for smaller shooters and longer hunts. It is available in 12-, 20-, and 28-gauges.

Pros
  • Affordable yet reliable SxS
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
Cons
  • Limited gauge options

Benelli 828U

Benelli 828U
Benelli 828U double-barrel shotgun; Image src: Sportsman’s Guide

The Benelli 828U is the brand’s first foray into O/U double-barrel shotguns. They pulled all stops into the design, evident in how versatile this shotgun is. The breechblock, which is usually part of the receiver, is with the barrel instead. Coupled with the free-floating lock plate, the Benelli 828U is durable with less wear on the hinge. It is also lightweight and robust. Most lightweight double-barrel shotguns have noticeable recoil issues, but not this one. The Benelli 828U has a recoil-reducing Progressive Comfort System, and you can reduce recoil further through the detachable soft cheekpiece. You can snap off this cheekpiece and adjust it to suit your face and shooting style.

In addition, the most versatile part of this shotgun is the stock. You can adjust it in 40 ways to change the cast and drop. The cast is for left and right adjustments and allows you to align your head down the barrel. Whereas, the drop allows you to bring your head up or down. The Benelli 828U is available in 12-gauge and 20-gauge with various barrel lengths.

See its feature video here:

Pros
  • Durable
  • Recoil-reducing system
  • Adjustable stock
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Limited gauge options

Stevens Model 555

Stevens Model 555
Stevens Model 555 double-barrel shotgun; Image src: Sportsman’s Guide

The Stevens Model 555 is built in Turkey, the most popular place for low-cost double-barrel shotguns. Even with the low cost, it is still well-built, making it the best budget double-barrel on our list. The Stevens Model 555 is a performer. It is responsive and built with Savage Arms’ high-quality standards. The aluminum-alloy receiver has a steel reinforcement insert over the firing pins. As a result, it reinforces the standing breech, adding durability to the Stevens Model 555. Unlike an inertia trigger where the second trigger is set off by the shot’s recoil, this has a mechanical trigger. This means that if the first barrel doesn’t fire, you can pull the trigger again for the second barrel. Further, the Stevens Model 555 has various gauges including an ambidextrous one: 12-, 16- (ambidextrous), 20-, 28-, and .410.

See more of the firearm here:

Pros
  • Multiple gauge options including an ambidextrous one
  • Best budget double-barrel shotgun
  • Mechanical trigger allows you to just pull the trigger first barrel doesn’t fire
Cons
  • Greater recoil due to being lightweight

Franchi Instinct SL

Franchi Instinct SL
Franchi Instinct SL double-barrel shotgun; Image src: Sportsman’s Guide

The Franchi Instinct SL is an entry-level to the realm of premium double-barrel shotguns. It features a blued steel finish and satin walnut furniture. Weighing from 5.2 to 6.3 pounds, the recoil on this shotgun is noticeable. And with its fast shouldering, quick target acquisition, and accurate shot placement, the Franchi Instinct SL is the best for hunting. Lastly, you have various barrel and weight options in the following gauges: 12-, 16-, 20-, 28-, and .410.

See it in detail here:

Pros
  • Multiple gauge options
  • Best for hunting
  • Blued steel finish
Cons
  • Expensive

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Conclusion

Classic and timeless, with a variety of options based on your budget and needs. I personally own one just for the fun of shooting it. These four are very different and ranking them is, therefore, a bit meaningless. That said, I have a soft spot for the Franchi Instinct as I’m a fan of the blued steel finish and overall quality of this shotgun. If you are new to shotguns, then start at a lower price point, but if you are a seasoned enthusiast with a bit of cash to spare, then give it serious consideration.


For further hunting tips, you might want to check our Hunter Education Study Guide. You can also drop your questions in the comment box below!

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