There was a time when no self-respecting upland bird hunter would be caught dead with a pump shotgun. Side-by-sides ruled the golden era of bird hunting. Gentlemen hunters and even hardscrabble farm boys proudly trailed their setters, shotgun in hand, as they plucked singles and doubles from each covey rise. Sadly, those days are gone. Quail are hanging on by a thread throughout much of their range and doubles, as purists like to call them, have been replaced by single-barrel pumps and auto-loaders—guns that just don’t have the grace and charm of a classic double.
Side-by-sides are a more rare sight in the field anymore. Many of the major firearms manufacturers don’t even offer a factory-produced side-by-side. That’s a shame. Doubles aren’t just handsome, they are straight-shooting guns that perform admirably in the uplands. Pick one up and you’ll instantly feel a connection to the golden age of bird hunting. Check out our roundup of the best side-by-sides of all time.
- Arguably, no double gun is more famous than the one owned by legendary scribe Nash Buckingham, who named his Fox HE Grade Super 12-gauge “Bo Whoop.” The gun recently sold at auction for a Bo Whopping price of $201,250.
Theodore Roosevelt also owned a Fox and took it on safari in 1909, proclaiming, “no better gun was ever made.” It sold at auction in 2010 for a record $862,500.
The shotgun originally made by Ansley H. Fox was first produced in 1898 and continued through 1929, when the company was sold to Savage. The original Fox shotguns came in a variety of grades, including everything from the semi-affordable, no-frills AE grade, to the lavishly engraved XE grade. Original Foxes are widely sought by collectors.