How to Disassemble a Double Barrel Shotgun

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These instructions are for disassembling a hammerless, side-by-side double barrel shotgun. Whether old or new, most shotguns of this type share very similar mechanisms, and the disassembly procedure is generally the same regardless of make, model or gauge.

Items you will need

  • Side-by-side double barrel shotgun

The safety on a typical SxS shotgun

Make sure the safety is on. This is usually a small switch located on top of the gun just behind the top lever. Generally, the on position is with the switch slid back toward the rear of the stock. On many models, the letter "S" will be visible when the safety is set. Verify this, however, in the documentation for your specific gun, or consult an expert if needed.

The top lever

First, check that the gun is unloaded. To do this, hold the forearm with one hand and use the thumb of your other hand to press the "top lever," located behind the barrels. It should move freely to the right side.

Shotgun with open breach, demonstrating that it is unloaded

The barrels will then pivot downward, away from the stock. This will expose the extractor, and the back ends of both barrels. If the gun is unloaded, you should have an unobstructed view through both barrels. If the gun is loaded, you will see the back ends of the shell casings in each barrel. In this case, pull the shells out of the barrels using your fingers. Once you are certain that the gun is unloaded, close the gun back the way it was. You should hear an audible click, and the top lever will snap back into place.

Here is the large rounded notch under the forearm. Pull here with your finger.

The first step in disassembling the gun is to place your hand on the forearm (the long wooden piece underneath the barrels). At the front end, there should be a deep notch in the wood, just between the barrels.

The forearm pulls out like this

Insert your index finger in this notch and pull outward, away from the barrels. The forearm will snap out. It is normal for this to require a significant amount of pressure.


After setting the forearm aside. Grip the barrels firmly with one hand, and the stock with the other. Press the top lever, and the tow pieces will separate easily. That's it. Your shotgun is now disassembled into three parts for cleaning, oiling, safe storage or transport.

To reassemble the gun, carefully reverse the steps you just took. If it is unclear to you how the parts fit together, get help from someone who knows before attempting it.


  • Always be cautious when working with firearms. If the procedure is unclear to you, consult someone with experience before proceeding.
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