Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland


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Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland

We are often asked what is a cross-over shotgun and why would someone want to use one rather than learning to shoot from the other shoulder to match up with their dominant eye?

Holding an over and under shotguns  Holiday a side by side shotgun  A cross-over shotgun from above   Cross-over shotgun close up

What is a cross-over shotgun?

A cross-over shotgun is made such that the stock sits in one shoulder, be it left or right, and the barrels sit under the opposite eye. But eye dominance is not the only factor for such a choice. These types of guns were prominent after the two great wars when many experienced shooters came back from the war having sadly lost an eye due to injury. Unable to get used to shooting from the other shoulder, a cross-over shotgun was the only answer. New cross-over shotguns are rarely made nowadays and when a customer asks us to source one then they are almost always side by side shotguns manufactured after the First or Second World War.

However, there is a small demand for both cross-over semi autos and over and under shotguns. Cross-over shotgun manufacture is not easy or cheap but is possible. Since both the over and under shotgun and the semi auto shotgun have a stock bolt within the stock itself to secure wood to metal, creating the cross-over stock presents quite a challenge to a gunmaker – but it can be done!

Semi auto cross-over shotguns   Semi auto cross-over shotguns   Traditional cross-over shotguns   Cross-over shotguns

Converting a cross-over shotgun

One of the first hurdles to overcome is to obtain accurate measurements. Length and bend are naturally important but with a cross-over shotgun the gunmaker must also measure width of shoulders, width between the eyes and fullness or otherwise of face and cheeks. Measuring for a standard shotgun is fairly straightforward for an experienced gunsmith and they may or may not use a “try gun”. Arriving at the correct measurements for a cross-over shotgun and collating this information is not really possible without a true “cross-over try gun” and as you can imagine they are like the proverbial “hen’s teeth” and there are very few in existence.

The cross-over try gun

A cross-over try gun A cross-over try gun A cross-over try gun

The cross-over try gun really gives the gunsmith the ability to set the stock to suit the individual customer.

Holding a cross-over shotgun Holding a cross-over shotgun Cross-over shotguns

Final fitting can be done by eye but it is preferable to use a pattern plate and  is due to the extra angles involved sometimes causing the client to induce an involuntary “flip”. This is most common in side by side cross-over shotguns, less so in over and unders, and probably negligible in gas semi autos.

For shooters who decide to go down the route of having a cross-over stocked shotgun built – whether it be down to eye dominance or blindness in one eye – it is an expensive exercise but can be done with great results. And for those who want it in over and under form or even semi auto, they are creating something that little bit special.

Customers with cross-over shotguns

Client with a newly converted cross-over shotgun Client with a newly converted cross-over shotgun

The alternative is still there – a second hand cross-over shotgun that can often be altered to individual measurements – but bear in mind it will almost certainly be a side by side double trigger.

For any queries or more information on cross-over shotguns please contact Barry or Sam at the shop.

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