Historically speaking, the single barrel, break action shotgun is compact, light, handy, well balanced and effective. It is most commonly seen as a beginner’s field gun. These are usually rather plain, inexpensive, mass produced guns. They often have an external, rebounding hammer that must be cocked before they can be fired. If equipped with an ejector a single barrel can be reloaded fairly rapidly. These were the shotguns with which generations of young Americans learned to shoot.
Single-barrel shotguns have always been popular as an inexpensive alternative to double-barreled shotguns. Single shotguns are almost always break-open designs, like the double-barreled designs, but far less expensive since they do not require the precise aligning of parallel barrels. Single shotguns are also lightest, which can be an advantage if they are carried hunting, though it does mean they have the most felt recoil. These simple shotguns are often referred to as a “kitchen door gun” or a “farm gun” due to its low cost as a self-defense weapon.
As a result, Meriden Fire Arms Company also produced single barrel shotguns. Meriden singles bore both the ‘Meriden Fire Arms Co’ and ‘A.J. Aubrey’ names. They were typically very plain due to their utilitarian purpose but engraved samples have been seen.
Another commonly encountered form of single barrel shotgun is the single barrel trap gun. These are top-flight competition guns, built by many of the famous double gun manufacturers. They are usually impeccably fitted and finished guns, typically featuring long 32 or 34 inch barrels with elevated ventilated ribs, beavertail fore-ends, and straight, Monte Carlo, or adjustable combs.
In 1912 Meriden introduce its own single barrel trap gun. It featured a 30″ barrel with a matted top rib, ivory Lyman sights, an extra length fore-end, and a straight grip stock with a raised cheek piece.
Meriden’s single barrel shotguns are marked in a similar fashion as their doubles. There isn’t a model number to speak of but the serial number and barrel indication is the same:
Typical Location of Serial Number:
- Water Table / Receiver
- Bottom of Barrels
- Inside of Trigger Guard
- Stock (Under Trigger Guard)
- Forearm Iron
- Forearm Wood
The water table will also indicate barrel information. The marking (usually in the vicinity of the serial number) is a letter followed by a two digit number (for example T28 or D30). This code indicates the type of barrels and length (in inches) that were used on the firearm.
Barrel Codes are::
- S – Steel
- T – Twist
- K – Krupp
- D – Damascus
So a stamping of T32 indicates that the firearm was made with 32 inch Twist barrels.