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Why are Some American Companies Dumping Double Guns?

Why are Some American Companies Dumping Double Guns?

A bird hunter carries an over and under shotgun.

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.

View Comments (21)
  • There is a nostalgic feeling shooting a classic over under or side by side over a finished Gundog. It’s sad that American manufacturers have given up to the European gun makers simply because of numbers sold. Seems to me that at twice the price or much more, the sale of a classic collector gun that will be handed down to great grandchildren should be reason enough.

  • I’ve been in a couple of the big name outdoor stores lately and the number of shotguns of all types that are on display has dropped. Basically unless it is a handgun or an AR platform there is a lot less to see these days.

  • I just purchased a CZ 20 gauge side by side, shot it for the first time at a RGS fun shoot yesterdaty and loved the feel of it, but didn’t score well but had a great time. I also have same gun in a 28 gauge and maybe I should look for a 16 gauge? Never can own too many classic shotguns!

    • I have the Browning Citori Lightning in 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauge. All 26″ barrels. Geese to grouse, widgeon to woodcock, turkey to teal; I have the perfect gun for that.

  • I find it very sad that double guns have just about been discontinued all together. There’s nothing a classic double that offers durability and dependability for generations. Look at the Lc’s, Parkers, Ithacas etc. These guns have lasted generations and are still used today because of the craftsmanship that went into them. A very poor excuse in my opinion that this particular representative gave, mentioning the cost and how much work goes into making one and how little are sold. There is ZERO craftsmanship in most modern shotguns that are manufactured today which is very sad. It seems as if the gun companies are only out for the money in your wallet which is a shame. I hope to one day see the bigger gun manufacturers put out a line of double guns with the classic look is upland hunters love.

    • I have become a break action double fan for many reasons. I find handling in the field as well as care at the end of the day are easier than other repeating platforms. When introducing a new shooter to clays. Safety and simple operation are an asset. I am glad to see Savage has found a way to introduce an other economic firearm to the market. I use a double when duck hunting. Most of the time the third shot is just a sky bust. It seems I have one less double than I need.

  • Fortunately decent imported SxS guns are still available for under $2K… The Dickinson and CZ brands come to mind. I’ve got several of both brands and find the English stocked, double trigger, Dickison guns in 20 and 410 to be my favorites. I used the 20 on a preserve hunt (won at an RGS banquet) to take pheasants two days ago and all birds fell to a single shot. The birds were taken over pointing Brits and not a single bird was missed. I need to replace my CZ 28 gauge as my son has claimed that as his own… As such another Dickinson is on my shopping list!

    Meanwhile my Citoris have become safe queens as the light and quick SxSs are so nice to carry on grouse, woodcock, quail, chukar and pheasant hunts… all the Browning, Remington, and Ithaca pumps are long gun!

  • One more factor to consider is that the number of used doubles on the market meets much of the demand from traditional hunters and collectors, who tend to prefer older guns anyway. Those who care about aesthetics, craftsmanship, history and tradition, it’s hard to get excited about a gun built a few months ago by computers and machines, and identical to thousands of others. The downside to most old doubles and even classic “singles” like the A5 and Model 12 is that they don’t mix well with hot, super-high-pressure modern loads and/or steel shot, both of which can batter and wear them out. It’s not hard to find appropriate ammo, but you need to be selective and aware of your gun’s limitations.

  • The RL was pulled because of quality issues. It was/is a running joke. I know one person who worked for them and was offered a sponsorship for shooting sports and turned it down because of the gun quality. He hates the gun so much he would rather pay for his own shells.

    Living in NH, I don’t know one person who has ever been looking for or described a RL as something to covet. There are plenty of options out there if you want a nice O/U. You can find used Beretta SP1 for 1500 or less.

    Browning has a few options as well and even more with the new stuff from shot show. They are making less throw away guns and opting for long term investment pieces.

  • I didn’t realize Ruger had stopped making the Red Label. I’ll be keeping an even closer eye on my 28 Gauge with English stock.

    • Agree I have a Ruger 28 gauge that is the perfect grouse gun Lightweight , quick to the shoulder with the English stock and plenty of knockdown power. I have fond mrmories of my first double a few years ago hunting the Chippewa National Forest My granddaughter will enjoy this gun in not too manny years

  • I am a sales rep for a double gun manufacturer who recently attended Pheasants Forever Pheasant Fest and I must say the interest was immense. I see no slowing down of interest and anticipate a 10-15% increase in sales this year.

  • The problem is the interest alone in Upland hunting is just not there. My interest and doubles this highly I own quite a few I think that if you go to an RGS shoot place you and you look the average age is north of 45 years old there’s not that many kids doing it and you have to look at a business perspective for the gun manufacturers that date they got to make a profit. If you look at the European market which make far superior guns they don’t make that many because most of their guns are all mostly handmade and far superior to what we get here in America they are more expensive but a much better product

  • When I was 15-35 I used auto 20’s to pile up bird count. I graduated to O/U’s, then to smaller gauge SXS’s. I have given my autos to my grandsons where they continue to keep ammo companies in business. I now at age 70 cherish my days afield with a light SXS and my English Setters. I find I feel better carrying a classic older Double than something with so many moving parts and a lot less feel.

  • Just saw savage actually reintroduced the fox double.Made by Galazan,it is a screamin bargin, compared to the Galazan fox’s.Won’t be around long I’d wager,but truly an heirloom birdgun.IMO

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