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Why do you not see more side-by-sides in Sporting Clays?
John Payne, Houston, TX.


Sporting clays, trap, and skeet are clay target games. The over and under (o/u) target gun has evolved over the years as the gun of choice for most target shooters for one main reason: weight. A heavy gun does not kick and tends to keep moving when you start it swinging.

Most side-by-sides (SBS) are game guns. They are light, quick to point, and absolutely alive in your hands. Just recently, I borrowed a Webley and Scott SBS from Chuck Webb at Briley Manufacturing to take on a few dove hunts. Chuck has been buying these old English SBSs and restoring them and he had been trying to get me to try one. I had never shot an SBS in the field and I was somewhat apprehensive about what my results might be.

I first patterned the gun for fit and it shot where I looked. While in the field, I was surprised at how well it handled on doves. It seemed to magically come up wherever it needed to be to kill the bird. It was light and very quick to point or change directions, which is a necessity for live birds.

However, for clays, I much prefer the O/U because of its weight. My personal gun is a Beretta ASE Gold with 31 barrels that weighs about 7 and 3/4 pounds. The weight is much more conducive to shooting 150-250 clays in an afternoon because there is less recoil and the follow-through is effortless.

The basic difference between a field gun and a target gun is this: a field gun is made to be carried a lot and shot a little. A target gun is made to be carried a little and shot a lot.

I personally have only seen one man that could shoot a side-by-side on clays as well as anyone I’ve ever seen shoot an over and under. The fact that he hunted over 125 days a year and shot clays as often as he could with the same gun probably had something to do with it!