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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are there any Wild West historians who can tell me if this is correct?

I was talking to a friend who is a western buff and the subject turned to Coach guns and "riding shotgun." He said that there were actually some misconceptions about how the Coach gun was used. His version was that the person riding shotgun was there in the event of an ambush. Ambushes of stage coaches were most likely to take place as they rounded a turn i.e., the people trying to rob the coach could hide behind cover in wait. The person with the Coach gun additionally had a rifle... and the Coach Gun was used first because in the event of an ambush attack they had very little time to respond... so basically the rider riding shotgun simply let loose with both barrels in the general direction of where the first shot came from... then they quickly switched to the rifle for more accurate follow up shots.

Tactically... this actually seemed to make sense... but I didn't have a clue if this was BS myth, something he'd read in a Louis LaMour book... or if this was the actual tactic of how Coach guns were used in riding shotgun.

Can any western buffs shed any light on this?
 

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I wouldn't call myself a western buff but from what I heard the coach gun was preferred to a rifle because it was alot easier to hit a moving target while your moving and bouncing on the coach with a shotgun then it was to use a rifle.
 

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Coach gun was a preferred tool for stage guards faced with possible hold ups. Not only easier to hit with up close, but likely to kill or wound more than one bandit with a single shot. Smart bandits did not want to face a shotgun.
Lot of local law enforcement officers like them as well, for much the same reasons.
 

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12 ga buckshot- even traveling at blackpowder velocities, scary prospect coming towards you! Damn right, mini- claymore mines Then, one lead ball can kill you, infection. Lucky if they can amputate a limb... Greener s/s 10 ga exposed hammers most likely. Weight like 10+lbs

Me, on a stagecoach, I'd prefer a 44-40 riding sidesaddle for CQB, a Spencer carbine for mid range engagements and perhaps a long range Sharps 45-70 with a long brass telescope Different tools, different scenarios. But all in a cowboys arsenal

But really folks, real cowboys dont make alot of money. Probably most had a sidearm and a huntin' rifle/shotgun. If its rustlers 'n ***** raids, pay for an 1880s asault rifle. Lever action. Back then, the AR15/AK47/debate rolled into one rifle There was no M500 vs 870 threads One shotgun, especially at a rural store. One or two barrels?

Lever actions early on, kinda weak, but they evolved much like the M16 through the years. Same ammo as sidearm, rifle capable of hunting medium size, out to 100 yds or so. Box of 50, for a poor cowboy with good aim- thats 50 critters in otherwise empty bellies. Pretty cost effective

Then, state of the art. Lever action rifle HIGH DOLLAR Wells Fargo probably did supply rifle Others probably just had coach gauge. 20'' barrel and can fire both barrels at same time ONE BIG BOOM!!!!!! But gains you advantage while grabbing for whatever......
 

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If your main weapon was a rifle why did they not call it "riding rifle"?

And just how stupid would it sound today if every time you wanted to ride in front you had to yell "RIFLE"?

You are talking about using a weapon from a platform called a stagecoach. It had wooden wheels and leather springs and no shocks and struts! They did not know what a paved road was and had no steering wheel. No brakes either, except for a chunk of leather on a lever you pushed against the wheel with your foot!

Your chance of hitting anything from that shooting platform while it was moving, with a rifle, was ZERO.

Most stagecoach robberies were roadblocks rather than ambushes. They wanted the coach stoped not running wild with a dead driver. After you round a bend and find the road blocked you either surrendered to superior force or fought your way through. The shotgun gave the best rapid response from a rocking wagon without precise aiming.

The Black powder shotgun gives up nothing in power and performance to a modern shotgun. Our modern loads are measured in how they perform compared to the BP equivelent. Those marks on the side are drams equivelent to black powder and ounces of shot. The dominant ga was a 10, not a 12. 12 ga did not become dominant until after the turn of the 20th century.

Contrary to popular belief, shooting both barrrels at once is not an advantage. They gave you two barrels so you would have two shots. If you were going to waste both at once they could have saved money and given you a single shot.
 

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The both barrels thing sounds kind of holywood to me. Given the choice Im sure they woulda picked what fit the situation just like anyone would today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The both barrels thing sounds kind of holywood to me. Given the choice Im sure they woulda picked what fit the situation just like anyone would today.
Ditto. I think the real answer is what everybody said above... with a shotgun you had a better chance of hitting something when you are bouncing around on top of a stage coach. And I just can't see busting both barrels at once as being a realistic part of the game plan. (If I was on a stage coach and I fired both barrels... and I think those guys used to use 10 gauge... but even both barrels of 12 gauge... the driver would have to turn around and come pick me up because I would have fallen off the coach trying to shoot like that.)

It's interesting to think about it... but I really think Hollywood is what creates a lot of the myths that people have about how firearms are/were used. Somebody sees it in the movies... and to them it is real.
 

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I've shot 10 gauge before ,I would never think of shooting both barrels at once . It would probably break my wrists and or shoulder
 

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I'm not a western history buff, but I would say that'd be consistent with what I do know about the time period. You also have to remember that it may or may not have applied every time...obviously, each stage coach man was different and would have his own way of dealing with the unexpected ambush.

Makes good tactical sense, though, when it comes to the weapons of the time period.
 

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I'm not a western history buff, but I would say that'd be consistent with what I do know about the time period. You also have to remember that it may or may not have applied every time...obviously, each stage coach man was different and would have his own way of dealing with the unexpected ambush.

Makes good tactical sense, though, when it comes to the weapons of the time period.
Which part are you agreeing with?
 

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I have a Stoeger Coach gun, it 12ga 3". There is no problem firing both barrels at the same time, with practice. It cuts a heck of a path at close range.
 
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