In my first book, Touch of Texas, the heroine’s defense weapon of choice was a double-barrel shotgun. In the interests of research–and because I wanted to shoot one — we added a double-barrel shotgun to our Cowboy Action Shooting collection.
Shotguns come in all barrel lengths. The Stoeger side-by-side we shoot is modeled after the 1881 Baker double-barrel shotgun. While the earlier double-barrel shotguns had two triggers, one to fire each barrel, the Baker had a single trigger that was pulled twice to fire each barrel in succession.
Prior to the late 1870s, shotguns had external hammers which had to be manually cocked. Until the hammer was cocked, the gun couldn’t be fired. That meant the gun could be loaded and leaned in a corner, but it wasn’t useful until the hammers were pulled back.
The style of shotgun I use in Cowboy Action Shooting is referred to as a “Coach Gun.” That means the barrel is between 18 and 20 inches long.
The term “coach gun” comes from the popularity of the shorter barreled shotguns that fit in the footwell of a stagecoach or alongside the driver with the butt of the shotgun on the seat. A shorter gun was more easily lifted and pointed at the target when needed. And a shotgun has a broader impact pattern so the shooter doesn’t have to be quite as accurate. Where a rifle shoots one bullet, a shotgun, with 9 to 100 pellets in the load of shot, will cover approximately 2’x2′ or as much as 3’x3′. That makes it a perfect gun for defending a rocking, bouncing stage, or to fire from horseback when pursuing–or being pursued by–the bad guys.
Have you read a book where the double-barrel shotgun has been used? Which scene is your favorite? I’ll give a copy of TOUCH OF TEXAS to one of you who leaves a comment.