More American shotgun manufacturers are discontinuing double guns. Here’s why.
Many of us fancy double guns. A large community of upland hunters are dead set on scoring an LC Smith or Parkers Bros. But recently, we have seen some more modern doubles fade from the gun shelves at our local gun shops.
Take Ruger’s Red Label, a gun many a youth and adult would buy off the shelf as a serious work gun. In 2011, Ruger removed the Red Label from its line-up. This left many of us scratching our heads. It only got more confusing when the Red Label came back in 2014 only for them to pull it once again by the end of the year.
The gun had a long history, from its introduction in 1977 to the release of the highly coveted .28 Gauge in 1994. Now in 2016, finding a Red Label takes a collector to go on a hunt through used shelves and private sales. Remington pulled their double guns from their catalog as well. And so, with little to no explanation, two classic American gun manufacturers abandoned the upland hunters go-to work guns.
I recently had a conversation with a regional sales manager for a major gun company.
“Why aren’t they producing double guns anymore?” I asked. I honestly didn’t know what answer to expect.
The answer was: business. The cost of production versus the demand for double guns had become economically unviable. Double guns require a lot of handmade craftsmanship, which makes production difficult and extremely costly. And only about 1000 are sold in a year. Sales for classic machine assembly line pumps and semi-automatics numbers in the thousands per month. This all makes double guns look like a bad business model for US manufacturers.
Sure, it all makes sense from a business perspective. Yet the ultimate curveball came in 2014 when other gun companies dumped their sales, Savage announced the release of the Stevens 555 Over and Under Shotgun. I couldn’t help but give into the throwback value of a .410 for the suggested retail price of $692. And forget about the guilt I will probably feel when it breaks my fall down the side of a mountain in northern New England, looking for my latest grouse cover.
In an ironic twist, the new 28 gauge that Savage released in August caught my eye while talking to a sales representative from the other company. I was so giddy, I practically jumped to grab it. Which was an embarrassing reaction to have right in front of him, but oh well.
Many of these guns have a long road in front of them if they want to up the ante over some more rare and collectible, discontinued double guns. In truth, it seems that many iconic American gun producers have no plan to sell us double guns over the counter. This will just another line of double guns to the nostalgic lives of upland hunters.
Project Upland is a film and literary initiative to capture the cultures and traditions of upland bird hunting. We seek to inspire a future generation of upland bird hunters to understand the essence of hunting traditions and the critical cause for conservation.