What is a "Double Trigger" in Firearms Terminology?

Empire Arms double barrel
Empire Arms double barrel "rabbit ear" shotgun, showing double triggers and trigger guard. Photo copyright Russ Chastain

Definition

Some guns have double triggers in order to fire more than one barrel. This is most often seen on double-barrel guns configured with two parallel barrels and the most common of all is the double-barrel,  side-by-side shotgun. In this case, the arrangement is usually such that one trigger will fire the left barrel and the other trigger will fire the right barrel.

In the case of an over/under shotgun with double triggers, one trigger will usually fire the top barrel and the other will fire the bottom barrel.

(This is not always the case--some shotguns that have double triggers, notably early Browning Superposed over/under shotguns, allow the shooter to fire both barrels, one at a time, using either of the two triggers.)

Double triggers are typically arranged so that one trigger is in front of the other. Except in rare cases such as with the Browning mentioned above, a shooter will fire one barrel using one of the triggers, then will withdraw the shooting finger from the trigger guard and place that finger on the other trigger, in order to fire the other barrel.

This sounds complicated and clumsy, but it can be done quite adeptly with practice and can be especially helpful for hunters, since two shells are ready in parallel chambers and can be fired with only a small pause between shots.