View Full Version : What To Look For In An Used Double-Barrel?

December 05, 2014, 22:23
I asked this same question on subguns, on the Non-NFA Forum, but I would like to see what FALaholics think of this topic. My neighbor is looking to buy an inexpensive double-barrel, around $400 for "field use". What brands would you recommend in that price range? What would yall look for in a used one? They recommended that he bump up to the $600+ range for a more dependable one. I don't know anything about double-barrels other than the history of the sawed-off one being "not suitable for militia use".

What say you guys? He is going to read this thread.

Thanks for all input.


December 05, 2014, 22:40
Screw in chokes. Weight, fit, and comfort. Make sure action locks up tight, if it has extractors only that they extract w/ loaded shells as well as empties, if it has ejectors it should eject empties (duh) and at least be able to lift unfired rounds up and out acting like an extractor.

In the $400 price range, check out the Stoeger and Mossberg offerings - both pretty good guns for the money, I've seen both do good duty at a club for loaner/rental use. The Savage/Stevens is also a good value, but a tad above your range.

During the First Great Obama Election Panic I traded a Century WASR-10 to a guy for a very nice Fausti 20ga O/U.

K. Funk
December 06, 2014, 09:28
Man, you can't beat Savage Stevens 311's for the money. You should be able to pick up a nice gun for about $250. To step it up a bit, a Savage Fox B is also a nice gun, more in the $350-$400 range for a nice one. There are some nice Italian guns out there and of course, Remington is starting to carry the Russian Made Baikal line of doubles, both SxS and O/U.


December 09, 2014, 07:26
Just make sure the rib is tight. Take the barrels off the gun and forearm and tap them with your finger nail they should ring nicely. You'll see what I mean if done properly they should ring with no vibration. Which would mean's the rib is loose if not and would probably cost more to fix than the gun than it's worth. Well unless it's a Winchester 21 or parker side by side.
Good luck,

December 09, 2014, 08:39
Remington is starting to carry the Russian Made Baikal line of doubles, both SxS and O/U.


I don't know if they still do, but the Baikal SxS that I owned had a ton of cast off in the toe of the buttstock. For a right handed shooter it was no problem. Not so good for a lefty. I sold it, but other than that it was built like a tank, a very good field gun.

December 09, 2014, 09:52
Are you talking a SxS or an O/U? I bought a beat up Noble SxS for $100and restored it. Shot much better than my Citori. Probably a matter of fit. Sold it 10 years later for $400, when I got the Beretta.

The thing about old shotguns is that most of them sat in closets for 50 years, so the locks are still excellent. I suspect a comparatively few were daily hunters and have stretched forearms and locks.

So for a field gun, ignore some rust and you get a great gun. If you want new, I'm sure you can get some plank with two barrels in your price range. Lot of utility guns from Turkey and Baikal. After picking up a couple Beretta O/U, the Citori went away - in comparison to the Berettas' elegance, it shouldered like a 2x6 plank. "Utility" just didn't work anymore.

I think a single trigger, auto ejecting o/u is awesome. I bought both my Berettas for around $1000 used, although they are probably "worth" 50% more than that. But for recreational shooting, I'd not look at anything with two triggers, exposed hammers, or manual extraction.

December 10, 2014, 16:05
A few years back I bought a Tristar SxS 12GA from some outfit that advertised in Shotgun News. I think I paid around $600 for it. Spanish made, double lug lock-up, screw-in chokes, single trigger, ejectors, English style straight stock. Nice tight action, light, shoots great. Perfect upland gun for me. I'd buy another if I could find one.

December 11, 2014, 00:25
Decent side by sides at that price will be scare.

In addition to the things mentioned above look for pits in the barrels, dents and bulges in the barrels, cut barrels, thin barrels, cracked stocks, buggered screws and hack job repairs. Barrels are the heart of the gun, if they are bad you have a parts gun.

A less risky approach would be to head down to Academy and pick up a Yildiz SXS.

I have a crap ton of Vintage side by sides and I have been studying them for years and I know the mistakes that can be made first hand.

Most pre 1935 American shotguns were not made for current saami pressure shells, and the cheap low brass wally world shells are not low pressure. European shotguns after 1945 are generally OK for saami pressures, but not all of them. Older guns will likely have short chambers 65mm, 2 9/16, and 2 1/2 etc.

Nothing wrong with short chambers shells are available as are low pressure shells from RST, Polywad and others.

In your friends price range I would select double triggers and extracters as they are simpler and less likely to go wrong. Single triggers on a hunting gun are something I avoid, with a double you have an option of two types of loads and generally two different chokes and with double triggers you can select the one you want to quicker and easier with the triggers rather than the selector button.

Take a look at Blackbern Arms and Simpson Ltd websites for some European used double guns.