When to Buy a Single Barrel or a Double Barrel Shotgun?

A shotgun is one of the best weapons for self-defense. People love shotguns because of their incredible ability to cast a wider shot pattern and take down a thief or intruder, even when used by an inexperienced shooter. Only shotguns can fire multiple projectiles each time you pull the trigger, which makes it more lethal.

Their compact design also makes it easy to carry with you wherever you go, thus guaranteeing your safety and the safety of others around you. In this article, we will review these two styles of shotguns in detail to help you make an informed decision when shopping.

What Is a Single-barrel Shotgun?

Just as its name suggests, a single barrel shotgun is a firearm that only holds a single round of ammunition. Once you fire, it must be reloaded before taking another shot.

Single barrel shotguns are immensely popular mainly because of their ease of use and affordability. Unlike double barrel shotguns that are quite expensive, single barrel shotguns are affordable mainly because they do not require precise aligning of parallel barrels.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of single-barrel shotguns is their excellent safety features. That is why they are highly recommended for beginners.

A vast majority of shotgun models are equipped with a transfer bar safety action and a spur hammer plus an integral system that prevents the action from opening or closing when the hammer is cocked, thus preventing the shooter from firing accidentally.

Single barrel shotguns also come in various gauges, from .410 bore to 10-gauge, meaning you can choose one that suits your needs. Single barrel shotguns do not have complex reciprocating actions to load or unload shells, as is the case with semi-autos. As a result, they are super easy to use.

A beginner can quickly learn how to load, unload, and reload a single barrel shotgun just by practicing for a few minutes. It is also lightweight and easy to clean. So, in the long run, you can save on the cost of maintenance.

Pros of Single-barrel Shotgun

  • They are compact and lightweight, meaning you can carry them all day.
  • They are affordable, thus ideal for people who are on a tight budget but want to own a shotgun.
  • They are equipped with excellent safety features.
  • They are straightforward to use, thus ideal for beginners. It is easy to learn how to load, reload and unload a single barrel shotgun.
  • They come in a variety of gauges, from .410 bore to 10 gauge
  • They are easy to maintain
  • Easy to clean


  • Single barrel shotguns have no action to absorb the force of the recoil, meaning they are likely to kick hard.
  • They lack a quick follow-up, meaning you are required to take a perfect shot on the first attempt or risk losing your target.

What Is a Double-barrel Shotgun?

A double-barrel shotgun is a break-action shotgun with two parallel barrels, which allows you to make two single shots with quick succession. Double barrel shotguns have a double trigger system where each barrel is controlled by a dedicated trigger that cannot be switched.

However, you can change the sequence that the triggers are pulled. Since no reciprocation action is needed to reload or eject shots in double-barrel shotguns, they are more compact than single barrel shotguns.

Double barrel shotguns are arguably the most successful shotguns in history and are used by thousands of shooters and hunters worldwide. The top reason why double-barrel shotguns are liked by many is because of their shot selection versatility.

The fact that they have two triggers means that you can select from two different chokes when firing. This is beneficial, especially when taking shots at different ranges. For instance, you can choose a wider choke when taking close shots and a tighter choke when taking long shots.

Double barrel shotguns are also more reliable compared to other shotguns. Unlike single-barrel shotguns, double-barrel shotguns have fewer moving parts, meaning they have a lower chance of breaking. Their incredible compact design has also proven to be reliable over the years.

Double barrel shotguns also do not disappoint when it comes to speed and comfort. Double barrel shotguns are generally short compared to other shotguns. This feature allows this gun to swing faster. They also have faster lock time, meaning you do not have to worry about grinding and clacking noises while firing, as is the case with a single barrel shotgun.

Finally, double-barrel shotguns are equipped with excellent safety features. The break-action feature that they are equipped with allows the user to open the action when standing or carrying the shotgun, making it harmless. Their break-open action and simple design also make double-barrel shotguns incredibly safe, even for novice shooters.

Pros of Double-barrel Shotguns

  • Ability to make two quick shots, meaning that the chance of prey getting away are slim
  • Incredibly versatile: you can choose between two different chokes
  • Equipped with excellent safety features, thus ideal even for beginners
  • It is reliable
  • Incredibly fast and comfortable
  • Simple and easy to use


  • It can be quite expensive

Single-barrel Shotgun vs. Double-barrel Shotgun; Which One is Better?

Now that we have reviewed these two shotguns, the big question that you are probably asking yourself right now is which one between the two is better? Generally, double-barrel shotguns are better because of their ability to make two quick shots, their compactness, and reliability, among many other great features that they are equipped with.

However, as discussed above, these two shotguns have their own unique features that make them special. Therefore, when deciding on which one to buy, it is important to consider your individual needs.

For instance, if you are on a tight budget or if you are a novice shooter who wants to learn the basics of shooting, then a single-barrel shotgun is the perfect choice for you. But, on the other hand, if you are a pro hunter or shooter who wants to maximize every opportunity, then a double-barrel shotgun is the perfect choice for you because it allows you to take two quick shots simultaneously.

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