Combination guns

How practical are over and under rifle/shotgun combinations for hunting in the US? I am looking at the older 410/22 and newer 308/12ga or 223/20ga combos. Do game laws ever conflict with the ability to have shot and bullets available int he same firearm?

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18 Responses to Combination guns

  1. Jeff Zanooda says:

    Yes, game laws make rifle/shotgun combos impractical. For example, at least in some states shotgun is legal during turkey season but rifle is not, so you can’t use the combo. Maybe you can if you leave all rifle ammo at home, but then what’s the point.

  2. Vaarok says:

    I know that in the northeast there can definitely be conflicts involving a shotgun with a .22 underbarrel afield outside of deer season, but it all depends on what time of year and what sort of game. I’d think the rifle/shotgun combinations would be okay, but in some states there’s a ban on using shot in shotguns for big game like deer- so you’d be carrying a slug gun with a rifle, and that’s somewhat redundant.

  3. Oleg Volk says:

    I can think of one use — carrying buckshot or slug for bear/cougar protection while bird hunting.

  4. jeremy says:

    Very good for coyote hunting. Dont have to carry 2 guns.

  5. Jim says:

    I would think it would certainly depend on the state. I know in this state it would be good for small game and deer(although they do frown on 22 rifles for deer), but not for turkey. Its odd in this state you can not use a .22 handgun for deer(has to be minimum .24 caliber), but no caliber minimum for rifles.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I have two Savage model 24 combination guns – one in .22LR/20ga and one in 30-30/20ga. Idaho’s deer season and bird season overlap and I sometimes hunt in areas with heavy brush. They’re short range shots and I’ll take the 30-30/20ga when I’m in those areas.

  7. ZerCool says:

    They’re great small game and predator guns; 12- or 20-ga over a .223 for coyotes, foxes, etc, and 20ga or .410 over .22 for rabbits and squirrels.

    If you’re presented with a shot at a treed squirrel, a .22 is a bad choice, but on the ground it prevents meat damage; same for rabbits that are running/holding still.

    Without a doubt they’re a compromise gun, but they certainly have their place. If it’s the only gun available and you’re hunting something while there are restrictions in place, the only answer is to leave all the inappropriate ammo at home.

  8. Sergey says:

    As previous posters indicated it only has sense if bird and deer season overlap AND game regulations do not prohibit rifles while hinting for birds and vice versa. Historically, combination firearms (drillings) originated in Germany were hunts are most often collective and hunters can shoot anything chased out of forest. So, birdshot for pheasants, buckshot for deer (fox) and rifle for hog.
    In Russia, where hunters go into forest for week(s) and seasons overlaps combinations also has sense.
    In US, utility of combination firearm is highly doubtful, at least for me. I may get one some day, as a survival firearm, but that about it. If you think about protection while hunting, get medium sized Glock. I saw nice study on – 9X19 is pretty much OK for defense from Russian brown bears. It should be more than adequate here against black bears and coyotes. I would carry G19 with 9 mm NATO, because it waterproof +P FMJ. And you need penetration against wildlife. Besides pistol will give you 15 rounds vs. 1 in combination rifle.

  9. I would remind everyone about “cut loads”, which is a way to convert a birdshot shell into something that will kill a deer. Because the shell gets modified quickly in the field, you don’t have to worry about getting caught carrying slugs for your shotgun out of deer season. DIY info on these abounds, including a post in my blog. The only special equipment you need is a pen knife, and what game warden could legitimately deny a hunter that?

    I would also like to point out shotgunning for squirrels during waterfowl season, and sub-caliber adapters that would let you shoot a rifle or pistol round out of your smooth-bore. In the first case, you would need to use steel shot on the bushy-tails or risk a citation, even though lead shot is always OK for squirrels. The second example just shows that you don’t need a drilling[1] (rifle/shotgun combination) to break game laws.


  10. Some states (mostly the midwest) have some very odd hunting laws. In most of the West a combo gun would be no problem. Rabbit season is year round, and those can be shot with either a shot-gun or rifle. Same for Coyotes.

    In AZ our game laws are written such that the actual language describes legal methods of “taking” game. Thus you could have a rifle with you while out duck hunting, and you would only be breaking the law if you actually took game with it.

    This type of gun is normally designed as a small game-getter. Good for mixed hunting such as rabbit and quail. (since quail is non-migratory you can use a .22 here – again this will vary by state)

  11. Lyle says:

    In short; a combination gun makes a lot of sense, but stupid laws may diminish it if you intend to comply. Check your local regs, or write to your game department.

    A friend had a combo (.22 Mag and 410 shot). We put it to good use in squrrel and bird hunting, and later in Alaska as a duck gun that could dispatch a harpooned seal with the .22 WRM.

  12. tad stratton says:

    Combo guns are great for small game season. They are also the best foraging/survival choice. minimum bulk for versatility. It is also one of the best farm guns. Shoot the fox in the hen house with the rifle, miss the chickens. Shoot the fox on the run with the shotgun, easier to hit on the move. Get a lee tabletop reloading set for each caliber and you will be prepared with an economical homestead protection tool.



  13. Sven in Colorado says:

    The wife unit and I flyfish on small creeks that run near to old mining roads and narrow gauge rail beds. Most of them are now National Forest 4WD trails. She and I take the old solid front axle Toy truck with the camper shell into these remote areas for as long as a week. We carry a Savage .22WRM/12ga along as a camp gun along with sidearms, .357 and .44 mag hoglegs. Early bird seasons: dove, ptarmigan and blue grouse… early teal and sometimes the first waterfowl split, overlap with some special big game seasons. The flyfishing can be stunning during the brown/brook trout spawning season…mid-September into early October.

    Its a great time of year. There are many years when we are blessed with an Indian Summer. The weekend warriors and flatlanders have all gone, leaving the high country to hunters and hardcore fisherfolk. Can’t ask for a more beautiful time to wander the high country; what with the aspens in their full glory, crisp cold mornings and the odd, errant snowstorms blowing about in the brilliant blue sky.

    The Savage is a great forage, survival firearm that requires very little room for its versatility. I agree with Standard Measure about the Cut Slug. Bird shot can, with a judicious cut of a pen knife, turn into an ungulate killer…or defensive round. Given that 911 calls do not work in the back country, (or anywhere else for that matter!) there is always the self-defense consideration. Even in the high country, not all the predatory species are canine, feline or four legged!

  14. mikee says:

    I have an extremely inexpensive Rossi switch barrel, single shot gun – not quite an over/under combo, but still allows me to shoot .410 or 22LR easily.

    The 22LR is surprisingly accurate despite its heavy-trigger pull.
    The .410 is just fun, either with birdshot (not many), buckshot (3 pellets!), or tiny little .410 slugs.

    I bought it for ~$120 and it provided more than that in entertainment value during the first trip to the range.

  15. tokarev says:

    I have an M6 Scout 22lr/.410 that has the factrory 2x scope that I bought new for $200 about 6 or 8 years ago for squirrel hunting. It works great(for me) for that. I found that I could carry it with the hammer set for the .22lr & it the .410 barrel was needed, just press down with my thumb on the selector button for the running shots. I had tried several different guns over the years. Rifles, shotguns and even a couple outings while carrying both a .22lr rifle and a single shot 20 ga.
    The Scout has worked out to be the best for me. For anything that might come up where something bigger might be needed, I always carry one of my centerfire revolvers of pistols plus a handful of .410 slugs in one of my pockets. YMMV.

  16. Henry says:

    As has been commented state game laws may present difficulties about hunting with combo guns. Having said that back in my youth the .22 over .410 or 20 was the ultimate prestige gun:they were more expensive than the single-shot .22’s or break-open single barrel shotguns most boys received.The versatility of this combo for small game,pests,foraging or as a “barn” gun was & is hard to beat. (See Mel Tappen’s book ‘Survival Guns’.).Game wardens didn’t really care as long as you had your hunting license.
    Back in the ’80’s the .223 over 12 combination had a following as a post-apocalyptic weapon:it being felt that as .223 &/or 12 gauge were the most popular police & military calibers ammo would be obtainable from armories,bodies,or even friendly officers/solders:Katrina blew that one into the sunset.
    Given the prices Savage combo guns are bringing these days I have to relegate them primarily to nostalgia.

  17. Vlad says:

    Depends on state. In PA during deer season you could carry a 12GA slug and a 223 or 308 underneath.

  18. Mike LaForge says:

    Have had a Savage .22/20 ga. 24S-D for more than 30 years. All around great meat gun for the trunk. Just make sure to use it for legal taking; in NY, for example, only take deer with the 20 ga, use the .22 for turkeys, birds and squirrels

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