The side by side shotgun is a classic for a reason. The design is highly reliable, light and easy to maneuver, and allows for shooters to use two different chokes at once. That makes it an ideal choice for hunting and many sporting applications. The best side by side shotgun will also offer excellent ergonomics, plenty of accuracy, and a reasonable power level. It can be hard to tell the good ones from the rest of the pack, so we built this list of ten great side by side guns based on their overall value, accuracy, and durability.
10. Beretta 486 Parallelo
The Parallelo is a contender for being the best side by side shotgun in terms of both performance and aesthetics, but it is also very expensive. The gun has a rounded design and light engraving that makes it quite attractive, and it does offer superb ergonomics. The gun uses a leaf spring system to keep the action quick, and the trigger pull is quite light. The entire system is built to a high standard, so it is remarkably reliable, but that quality comes with a massive price tag. Expert shooters who care about aesthetics should consider this gun, but casual shooters might want something much cheaper.
9. CZ Sharp-Tail
The Sharp-Tail is an excellent intermediate shotgun. The gun is reasonably compact and easy to maneuver, but is still large enough to be comfortable for shooters of an average size. The receiver is a single-piece design with independent floating firing pins, which encourage consistent results and long-term durability. The price is in the middle of the range for this type of firearm, so it offers a reasonable value without truly being a budget option. This may be the best side by side shotgun for intermediate shooters, but it strikes a balance between value and performance that should appeal to others as well.
8. Dickinson Estate Shotgun
The Estate shotgun from Dickinson is manufactured in Turkey, but to a higher standard than most other Turkish shotguns. It has a chrome-lined bore that is designed to take non-toxic ammunition without any damage, which makes it ideal for hunting in areas that restrict lead shot. The stock and foregrip both have fine checkering, which makes for a firm grip but does not have a large decorative aspect. It is a good hunting weapon for shooters that want to avoid a lead shot and a good value for intermediate shooters that want a good weapon without spending too much money.
7. Stoeger Uplander Youth
The Uplander Youth shotgun is an ideal choice for small shooters. The barrel is quite short, and the weapon’s total weight is low, so it is easy to lift and handle. It takes relatively small calibers to reduce recoil, but still has enough power for most hunters. The low price is also useful for equipping young people that might lose interest in shooting after a few tries. The downside is that most people will outgrow this gun as they get bigger, so they will want to replace it eventually. Use it if size is an issue, but look for something bigger if you can handle it.
6. Chiappa 512
The Chiappa 512 is an unusual weapon since it combines a low weight with a relatively long barrel with the relatively high recoil of 12 gauge shells. Most shooters can handle it, which results in a gun that is very easy to transport, but the felt recoil can come as a surprise. The stock is made of sturdy walnut, and the barrel is blued to help with rust, so it will hold up to heavy use in the wilderness. Consider it if you need a light hunting weapon to carry for long distances.
5. Daly 528
The Daly 528 is a good choice for people who want a light gun that doesn’t have much recoil. It uses shells that are powerful and accurate enough for most shooting sports but have significantly less recoil than the more common 12 or 20 gauge shells. However, it is a little too weak for hunting anything larger than small game birds. The 528 is reasonably reliable and comfortable to shoot, but not exceptionally so, and the price is similarly moderate. It is a good choice for target shooters, but hunters might want to look at other options.
4. Pedersoli Baker Cavalry Shotgun
The Baker Cavalry shotgun from Pedersoli is one of the unique options on the market. It is a black powder shotgun, based on the shotguns that saw use in the American Civil War. The gun has an unusual shape that can make it hard for novices to operate, but it also guarantees a unique shooting experience. Since the gun is based on designs for cavalry troops, it is remarkably easy to shoulder and aim. It isn’t the most powerful or accurate weapon, so it doesn’t have much practical value, but it is a lot of fun for black powder enthusiasts or history buffs to shoot.
3. Savage Fox A Grade
The Fox A Grade is the best side by side shotgun for dedicated shooters on a big budget. The gun is extremely expensive, but of a high standard that makes it highly accurate and reliable. A relatively light model is available for shooters who worry about weight, but larger variants are also available that can help compensate for recoil. All models are heavily checkered for both aesthetics and ensuring a good grip. Similarly, the gun’s shape ensures comfort while shooting and makes the gun look appealing while on display. The Fox A Grade excels in most areas, but only experts will be able to justify the price.
2. Dickinson Plantation Shotgun
The Plantation shotgun from Dickinson is the best side by side shotgun for people who want to minimize recoil. The gun is not available in a 12 Gauge chambering, which restricts it to low-recoil shells, and the gun itself is heavy enough to absorb a great deal of the kick. It is also a good choice for those who value convenience, since the this model includes automatic ejection. The gun is a little bit on the expensive side, but it remains a solid investment for newer shooters with a large budget or experienced shooters who are ready to upgrade to a high-quality weapon. Here you can find the best home defense shotgun shells for your gun.
1. Stoeger Uplander Field Shotgun
Stoeger’s Uplander is the best side by side shotgun for the average shooter because it mixes reasonably high performance with a low price. The gun has a tang safety that automatically engages when the the shooter opens the gun, which makes it safer than many other side by side weapons. Stoeger’s machining is fairly good, so the gun shoots reliably and will hold up for a long time with proper care. The stock is checkered for a better grip, but the gun otherwise lacks frills that could raise the price. It’s a fine choice for most shooters, but best for novices who need an affordable and versatile gun.
Making The Right Choice
Shooters that take the time to find the best side by side shotgun end up with a reliable and potent weapon for hunting and shooting sports. The ammo capacity may be low, but the other advantages that these guns offer are enough to compensate for that in most roles. If you have experience with a great shotgun that isn’t on our list, be sure to bring it up in the comments so others can learn more about it.