When it comes to upland bird hunting a few things come together which add to the experience of the sport.Of course there is the human element ,usually a couple of friends or family members out enjoying the day,then of course there are dogs which for many is what the hunt is all about.Gamebirds are obviously a factor without them there would be no excuse to get out,finally there are the guns which is a deeply personal choice.There are Autos ,Pumps,Over and Unders and Side by Sides so the decision is whatever floats your boat.In the circle of friends I hunt with it’s Double Guns or nothing, it was the peer pressure that shamed me into putting down my over and unders and to start shooting Side by Sides.
My first SXS was a heavy 30 inch barreled British gun, the 2nd was a German Guild 16 Gauge Gun which I traded for a float trip and still use on Huns and Ducks.The Inventory has grown since as guns have been bought then sold.You can spend a lot of money purchasing a nice Side by Side of you want or you would be surprised at the amount of decent guns namely used Box Locks that are out there in the $1500 -$3000 range.
British Guns especially those built between the wars (1918-1939) have been the rage ,they are also some of the most expensive,not to be overlooked are Guns coming out of Belgium and Germany,they maybe a tad heavier but are just as good if not better mechanically.Of course there are the American Guns,Parkers and The Fox’s all are great guns and have a very strong following.The Spanish Guns are essentially knock off’s of British Guns which seemed to have captured the “new” gun market as the cost of production is a less.They are also an excellent buy
The choice of poison is yours,I like my guns with 28 inch barrells choked skeet and IC for Quail, my Hun gun is tighter choked mod and extra full,Double triggers are a must.
SxS guns don’t just add more coolness to your game,they are actually a lot more practical than other models.Weight wise a 20 gauge might come in a 6 lbs whereas Pumps,Autos, and O&U’s are going to weigh more,a lighter gun causes less fatigue in the field.With very few moving parts there is fewer chance of stoppages or jams and double triggers allow you to go to your tighter choked barrell for a long shot which when hunting Huns is very practical.
A rumor out there is it is hard to get the odd ball shells for older guns, The Classic Shotgun Shell Company makes it very easy to purchase a variety of loads ,cartridge sizes and even low pressure non-tox in the form of “Nice Shot” which I have used on Ducks with awesome results.You also have the conveiance of delivery to your door.
At the end of the day Shooting a Side by Side is the way to go,the resources are there to support the habit and to find the one of a kind gun to suit your taste,needs and budget.Of course your level of “Awesomeness” while in the field will go up substantially,finally your birds will taste better also!