Folding shotguns comprise only a small segment of the firearm market. However, they do offer a real advantage for anyone who needs to keep a shotgun handy when space is limited. This platform is ideal for a truck gun or camping trip. Some bush plane pilots rely on folding shotguns, storing them in the cockpit as predator backup when ferrying hunters into the backcountry.
Granted, all action types—pumps, auto-loaders, and break-actions—can be disassembled into two pieces. But folding shotguns allow you to skip reassembly, which is no small consideration in an emergency. Here’s a look at some notable folding designs past and present.
The First Folding Shotgun
Long before the folding shotgun concept became the province of relatively inexpensive break-open “utility guns,” there was the Burgess pump-action designed by Andrew Burgess.
Made from 1894 to 1899 at the Burgess Gun Company in Buffalo, New York, the gun was originally intended for combat and law enforcement. The Burgess was a tactical shotgun before the term existed. Featuring a 20-inch barrel and six-shot capacity, this hinged, external-hammer 12-gauge could be holstered, making it a concealable option under a jacket or vest . A pivoting pin and folding latch allowed the gun to be carried folded in its holster with a fully loaded magazine. The Burgess could then be drawn by its shooter and quickly locked into battery.
Instead of the common reciprocating handguard used to cycle pump shotguns—that patent hadn’t expired yet—the Burgess featured a sleeve around the wrist of the stock. Yanking back the sleeve—along with the grip and trigger guard—and then pushing it forward, unlocks the bolt, ejects the empty, and chambers the next round from the magazine.
In 1895 a standard-grade Burgess cost $30, plus $1.50 for the holster. By 1899, Winchester had bought out Burgess, most likely to reduce competition with their Model 97 pump. Today, the Burgess is a collectible. One in very good condition can fetch close to $8,000.
TriStar Folding Survival Shotgun
This Turkish-made single-shot folder in 12-gauge has a 3-inch chamber (TriStar also offered it in 20-gauge and .410-bore). It’s a no-frills synthetic-stock gun with a Parkerized finish, featuring a 20-inch fixed choke cylinder bore barrel. The curb weight is 4.5 pounds, so the recoil from buckshot or slugs will be substantial, though you could outfit the TriStar with a recoil pad. The stock is hollow for stashing small supplies like matches or a first-aid kit—if you have a screwdriver to remove the recoil pad. The shotgun breaks open via a lever forward of the trigger guard. It is no longer produced by TriStar, so you will have to search the used market for one. It shouldn’t cost you more than $100. When folded, it certainly fits the definition of a pack gun and could be used to hunt small game, particularly in the mountains where every pound you carry makes a difference.
Yildiz TK36 and TK12
One of Turkey’s oldest gunmakers offers two notable single-barrel folders: the Yildiz TK36 .410 and TK12 12-gauge. Both single-shots feature select Turkish walnut stocks and fore-ends, recoil pads, fixed modified chokes, pistol-grip stocks, and tang-mounted safeties. They both use the same lever system forward of the trigger guard as the TriStar. The TK36 weighs just 3.3 pounds and measures under 4 feet long (44 inches) with a 28-inch barrel. The TK12 is the same length, but weighs in at 4.8 pounds since it’s a 12-gauge. Both guns are still in production and cost less than $200.
Khan Arms Stylox
Khan Arms, a Turkish manufacturer, offers the Stylox series of single-shot folders in 12- and 20-gauge, plus .410-bore. The Stylox is available in 10 variants with synthetic, camouflage, and wood finish options. For backcountry pursuits and defense, the Tac Fidelio is a perfect choice due to its synthetic exterior, raised blade front sight, and Picatinny rail for mounting an optic. If you don’t need the sights or rail, the Type-S is a similar gun that uses a traditional front bead. Both options have recoil pads to mitigate felt recoil.
Chiappa Double Badger
As anyone who has owned a Savage Model 24, Valmet, or Baikal rifle-shotgun knows, combination guns are not new technology. Chiappa took the concept a step further with the Double Badger, which has double triggers. It’s available in .410/.22 LR, .410/.22 WMR, 20 gauge/.22 LR, and .410/.243. When folded in half, the Double Badger is just 21.2 inches, which means it’s pack friendly or can be stowed under a seat in your truck. For increased accuracy, this gun has fiber-optic ghost ring sights, plus a rail for optics. At 6.25 pounds, it’s heavy by folding gun standards. Chiappa does make a handier option called the Little Badger Deluxe, although that’s not a shotgun: It’s a rifle-only platform chambered in .22 LR or .22 WMR. That gun weighs only 3.6 pounds and measures 17 inches when folded.
Read next: Pocket Pistols for Personal Protection
Beretta Model 412
Imports of Beretta’s highly regarded Model 412 series began in 1946, and ended in 1988. The 412 was a single-barrel folder offered in 12-, 20-, 28-gauge, or .410. The barrel is a monobloc design, which means it was braised to a single component as opposed to a demibloc that offers more strength for double-barrel shotguns. The Model 412 weighs a scant 5 pounds and features a checkered fore-end and pistol grip stock. They are beautiful guns that cost less than $200—if you can find one. If not, consider the legendary 412, which continued in Effebi’s Beta series. It can be had in the same gauges as the 412, though it’s less elegant. It also breaks open differently, using a lever system located on the tang of the shotgun—similar to that of many over/under and side-by-side shotguns—instead of the trigger-style lever the Beretta employs.
Harrington & Richardson Folding Shotgun
This time-honored American company made its contribution to the folding shotgun platform with a series of single shots from the early 1900s to the 1940s in 12-, 20-, 16-gauge, and .410-bore. The H&R folders typically have case-hardened frames, external hammers, top-break levers, 26-inch barrels, and walnut pistol grip stocks. As a very sensible feature, the forend was recessed to accept the trigger guard when the gun is folded, making it more compact. Weights range from 5¾ to 6½ pounds. H&R folders are still available on the used market, but they’re getting a little pricey for a brand associated with economy products. A recent search listed one for $450.