Which Barrel on Over-Under Shotguns?

Most over/under shotguns let you select which barrel fires first. It’s an important feature because you should select the bottom barrel to fire first because that’s the barrel that gives you the most straight-back recoil so there’s less recovery necessary for the follow-up shot. A reason you’d switch to the top barrel to fire first would be some unusual circumstance like having fixed chokes, the tighter one on top, and ducks you thought would decoy in only offering farther passing shots.

Conveniently, many modern over-under shotgun barrel selectors are marked “U” so you know the “under” barrel is selected, or “O” for the “over” barrel. Then there are those shotguns with the dot codes and I could never remember whether the single or the double dot was the over or the under barrel. Then I read an easy way to remember was to think of a woman. The adjacent infographic should be self-explanatory and always help you remember top from bottom and over from under.


Scott Mayer



“Shooting Guns & Having Fun:”



Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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