In the Old West, while Colts were winning gunfights, shotguns were preventing them. Even at 10 paces, a man had a fair chance at either missing or being missed with a .45, and many gambled accordingly. On the other hand, nobody drunk or sober wanted to tempt Fate by facing a scattergun with bores that looked like tunnels big enough to drive a matched pair of steam locomotives through the odds were simply not favorable.
Although full-length shotguns may have put wildfowl on the table, their sawed-off cousins rode many a stagecoach, earning the designation “coach gun.” The proliferation of newly made coach guns on the market today is due solely to the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting, with match events that require shotguns appropriate to the era.
Opinions vary widely on which is best between the older-style external hammer and newer hammerless guns. Both have their places in competition and in real life. Hammerguns can be cocked and decocked without breaking the action open or dry-firing, and they tell you at a glance what condition they’re in. Most hammerless double-barreled shotguns won’t display their cocked or un-cocked status, and to un-cock one for storage you have to pull the triggers.
Both have utility beyond CAS applications, and if you like a traditional profile on your coachgun, regardless of what you use it for, this is it.
No catchy name on this one, but in person the Turkish-made SxS Hammer Coach Gun shows rugged construction. It is well made, showing some tiger-stripe patterning under the matte finish on its pistolgripped stock. Checkering on the test sample’s fore-end and buttstock had minor overruns on two border corners, and smooth diamond tops that gave a good grip in the hands without being abrasive. Case colors on all external steel parts except for the barrels run from bright on the lock plates to subdued on the gracefully sculpted checkered-spur hammers and buttplate, and wood-to-metal fit is quite good overall.
The 20-inch barrels are chambered for three-inch shells, the length of pull is 14.5 inches, the Hammer Coach uses extractors only, and the sliding tang safety is manually activated. This muley is a raised barrel rib type, with a good-sized brass bead up front. Fixed chokes are IC/M, and both trigger pulls were off my eight-pound scale.
Setting up in the gravel pit, I didn’t pattern the coachgun with birdshot, but did check for regulation on paper using Winchester Ranger Law Enforcement Low Recoil slugs. At 15 yards both barrels printed two to three inches above a rough point of aim with the bead, the right barrel was near dead-on for windage, and the left barrel was a little over one inch to the left. The sample tossed out empty hulls from the low-brass Ranger slugs, low-brass Federal High-Velocity Game Loads, low-brass Winchester Featherlite Target loads, and high-brass Remington reduced-recoil slugs freely when opened and shaken. High- brass Winchester Ranger Low Recoil buckshot, however, had to be pulled clear of the chambers. The shotgun shot everything like a trouper—till the very last shell, with one misfire that fired on the second strike.
A hammer gun does add extra steps to the firing cycle, but it can be stored loaded indefinitely with hammers down without stressing action or magazine springs, and makes a far better bedside bump-in-the-night comforter than a Louisville Slugger. The CZ’s rebounding hammers at rest can’t touch the firing pins unless the triggers are pulled; the barrels swing down far enough for clear and quick chamber access on loading. As a trailgun for hunting, or defense against hostile critters along the way, a quality coach gun takes up far less space on an ATV or behind a truck seat than your old goose gun will.