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The Crossover Conundrum

We were contacted this week by a client who unfortunately has the onset of glaucoma in his right eye, this has resulted in his left eye becoming more dominant as the condition has worsened in his right eye. He was enquiring as to whether he could have a custom stock made for his over and under shotgun, yes is the short answer but it is not something we’d advise.

So what is a crossover stock? As the name suggests it is a stock that is made to be shouldered in either the left or right shoulder yet when mounted the rear of the action comes up in front of the opposite eye to where the gun is shouldered.

One of many examples of a cross over stock.

We wouldn’t advise a custom crossover stock on an Over and Under shotgun due to how the stocks are fixed to the action, the vast majority of over and under shotguns use a stock bolt method, which as the name suggests is a bolt at the back of the action accessed via the butt plate. When the stock has excessive cast or is bent dramatically at the hand, you can no longer access the back of the bolt from the butt, you have to drill a hole somewhere in the hand of the stock to bolt the stock to the action, then plug and checker. Another problem comes with the lack of wood being held onto the back of the action, in a normal over and under stock, it has sufficient wood that gives the stock the strength to prevent it from breaking. In a crossover stock, the bolt more often than not has to be shortened to get access at the right point meaning a crossover stock is held onto the action with less wood. The recoil absorbed by a crossover stock is not distributed in the same way so it is more prone to breaking. A traditional side by side doesn’t use a stock bolt and is pinned (screwed) into place in several places, meaning the wood is solid in the hand, so a side by side is better suited if you need a crossover stock.

A typical over and under shotgun action, showing the long stock bolt

The best way to get around this requirement, would be to learn to shoot left handed. Yes, we know that isn’t easy but in the long run if you are determined to put the hours in to alter the way you shoot, it will pay dividends in the long run. Your stock won’t be prone to breaking and the gun itself will retain much more value. You also won’t be the target for banter from your fellow guns, you can hear it now ‘Oi Quasimodo, you’ve missed behind again’. While you can pick up secondhand crossover guns at a fraction of the price of a ‘normal’ gun, like the one pictured above (Churchill XXV sold for £510 at Bonhams a few years ago), they are rare and each one is so individual to the person they have been made for, it may well not fit perfectly and would require further alterations.

Please note, throughout your life your eye dominance can often shift, so don’t jump to the conclusion you need a crossover if both eyes are healthy. We see this a lot in gentlemen in there fifties and sixties who cannot understand why they are struggling to hit certain birds where they had no problem previously. Like a lot of people, they often blame the gun and go a spending spree to solve the issue. Before you do that, check your eye dominance. The below is a great video from Brad Kidd Jnr who explains how to check eye dominance and gives some great advice on some of the ways to correct eye dominance.


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