Boxlock Vs Sidelock

Dear Technoid,

I have enjoyed reading through all your past articles and have found them to be of tremendous value. Thanks

I am a relative newcomer to organized skeet shooting and currently using an 11-87. In the foreseeable future I will no doubt want to sell the family truckster and use the proceeds too get an o/u for use in all four gauges.

Being a sub-junior technoid I’d like to know the difference between box-lock and side-lock. Is there any meaningful difference between these to the functioning of a gun or is one merely a simpler manufacturing technique?

Also, I’ve seen some manufacturer’s ads touting “deep-drilled barrels”, the implication being that only the best guns are manufactured with this process. Again, does this add stability or longevity to a barrel or is it just advertising fluff? I’d hate to be duped by mere marketing hype.

Thanks for your help.

Dear Brian,

I don’t think that the difference between a boxlock and a sidelock is going to be of much concern to a clay target shooter. The only sidelock I know of that is ever used in clay shooting is the Beretta SO series. The stronger and simpler to make boxlock actions far, far outnumber the sidelocks used for clay guns.

The difference between the two is that the side lock has the two firing mechanism (hammers, sears, springs, etc.) installed on the side plates of the gun. This is a carry over from the days of the hammer gun. Basically, a sidelock is a hammer gun only with the hammers inside.

Boxlocks have the working parts of the gun firmly located between the tangs or on the trigger plate of the gun. This is cheaper to make and stronger also. The sidelocks actually “float”, surrounded by wood. The boxlock parts are strictly metal to metal. The stock of the boxlock also butts firmly to the rear of the receiver, while the stock of the sidelock butts to the receiver on four thin “horns” that surround the locks. Virtually all clay target guns are boxlocks because the setup is so much stronger. A bit cheaper to make too.

Actually, to be technically correct, most of the target “boxlocks” we see (Belgian Brownings and all their O/U progeny) are actually trigger plate actions, rather than true boxlocks of the Anson and Deeley style. The A&D boxlock was basically perfected by the English Birmingham SxS boxlocks like Webley & Scott. Still, to most clay target shooters, a boxlock is anything that isn’t a sidelock.

The reason that sidelocks are seen more on “fancy” guns is that the locks give the engraver more of a canvas to work with. Boxlocks aren’t really THAT much cheaper to make than sidelocks, but the tradition is that a “best” gun is a sidelock, so there it is. There are all other supposed advantages to the sidelock, but most of them are dreamed up by guys who want to sell sidelocks. The fact is that the broad market has almost universally adopted the boxlock.

There is a crossbreed gun called a sideplate. A side “plate” gun is not a sidelock. It is a boxlock with a false side plate added so that it looks like a sidelock. The mechanism is pure boxlock. The Beretta 686EEL is one such gun as are a number of the SKBs. While a serious collector might feel that a sideplate gun is an imitation or forgery, it really isn’t bad way to have your cake and eat it too.

As to “deep drilled barrels”, that is all marketing hype. It simply describes one of many methods of making a barrel. No one method has proven really superior to another. It all depends on the care with which the particular method is executed.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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