The Versality of a Drilling Shotgun

A drilling shotgun, also simply referred to as a drilling, is a multi-barrel firearm that traditionally combines a shotgun and a rifle in one weapon. The term “drilling” originates from the German word “Dreiling,” which translates to “triplet” or “triple”. This refers to the usual three barrels that drilling shotguns are equipped with. While the specific combination can vary, a common configuration is two shotgun barrels and one rifle barrel.

Drilling shotguns are designed to offer the versatility of both shot and solid projectile shooting. With this, they have the ability to adapt to different hunting situations. For instance, a hunter can use the shotgun barrels for small game or flying birds, and the rifle barrel for larger game. The drilling shotgun, with its combined power of a shotgun and a rifle, provides flexibility and convenience in one single firearm.

Drilling Shotgun: A Unique Combination of Firepower

Drilling shotguns are distinguished by their combination of different calibers in one weapon. The most common configuration is a double-barrel shotgun over a single-barrel rifle, also known as an over-and-under drilling. This setup is favored because it allows for a wide spread of shot with the shotgun barrels, and precise, long-distance shooting with the rifle barrel.


The versatility of the drilling shotgun is further enhanced by the fact that different barrels can be fired independently. This gives the user the ability to choose the appropriate barrel depending on the hunting situation. It’s like having several guns in one, providing adaptability and power in a single package.

The key to the functionality of a drilling shotgun lies in its mechanism – it can select and fire from different barrels. This is typically achieved by a selector switch, which is often integrated into the safety mechanism. By moving the selector, the shooter can choose which barrel to fire from, and then disengage the safety to fire.

The barrels of a drilling shotgun are usually mounted in such a way that they converge at a specific distance, typically around 100 yards. This means that the bullets or shot from the different barrels will hit the same point at that distance. This ability to converge the shots allows for accurate shooting despite the different trajectories of the barrels.

Historical Evolution and Modern Use of Drilling Shotguns

Drilling shotguns date back to the late 19th century in Germany, where they were primarily used for hunting. Hunters favored these weapons due to their adaptability and efficiency in varied hunting scenarios. Over time, they spread to other parts of Europe, and eventually, to North America. Today, they are considered collector’s pieces and are often used by hunters who appreciate their versatility and historical value.

The use of drilling shotguns has declined, primarily due to the availability of specialized firearms for different types of hunting. However, they still hold a certain allure for hunters who value the combination of power, flexibility, and tradition that these firearms offer. In some parts of Europe, particularly Germany, they are still used for mixed-bag hunts.

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