Finding a quality over/under double-barreled shotgun can be tricky business. Is buying cheap the best way to go if you don’t know what you want? Or should you pony up cash to buy top-of-the-line so you have a gun that lasts? Guns.com, with a little help from the used gun vault, shows off a variety of new and used doubles that span price ranges from budget-friendly to collector-quality. Each of them has the features, build, and looks that an uplander hunter will love at prices that just might be a pleasant surprise.
Ruger Red Label
Though the Ruger Red Label O/U’s have risen in and out of favor — and production — over the years, fans of the American-made double have never faltered. Though again out of manufacture after a brief re-run in the aughts, demand for Red Labels remains. Initially, William Ruger saw a need for an O/U that would be priced more affordably than the Browning Superposed and Citori family of doubles. His design has been the only Ruger shotgun, and whether for birding or clays, the Red Label remains a solid option–when shooters can find them on the used market, that is.
Just so happens, uplanders are in luck. Our T&E Ruger Red Label comes from the Guns.com Vault, and this particular specimen is a rare bird indeed. Chambered not for the more common 12-or 20-, but rather, 28-gauge on a true small frame. Further, this is not the blued receiver but the stainless version. Our test Red Label wears 26-inch barrels fitted with interchangeable chokes and a straight English-style stock rather than the more common semi-pistol grip.
Speaking of wood, the walnut stocks wear classy checkering and some fine figure to boot. The gun weighs in just a hair under six pounds, svelte and attractive as well as a true deadly pleasure in the field. Used price at the Vault is $2,166. If a more potent 12-gauge is a better suitor, check the Vault for those as well.
The single selective trigger and tang-safety-selector are nice, though the automatically-engaging safety takes some practice for those not accustomed to it. We blasted clays with the 28-gauge and it hung right in there with the bigger gauges, hitting true to point of aim and patterning well.
Charles Daly Field
The Charles Daly name has found its way onto so many shotguns over the years, its difficult to know what shooters are getting from the used racks. But in the way of older O/U shotguns, plenty of well-made upland bird and clay guns exist under the brand. One such trustworthy model that was never fully appreciated in its time but is quite coveted today is the BC Miroku built Charles Daly O/U shotgun. Quality on the Italian and Turkish made versions varied widely from fine to floppy. Astute gunners, however, will recognize the Miroku name from the side of Browning Citori shotguns, which come at a much, much higher price point.
The Guns.com Vault has multiple used Daly options at the moment, with several Miroku’s among them, priced in the $630-$840 in different variants. Our T&E gun comes from the Vault and is a 12-gauge with 30-inch vent rib barrels and fixed Full/Full chokes. This double wears a gold-plated single trigger with the tang safety and selector. The gun is tight, comes up and swings like a dream, and would be great for either clays or upland birds.
Browning Superposed or Citori
One of the most revered over-under shotguns in the American upland birding fields and clays courses is some variant of the Browning Superposed or its Citori successor. Original round-knob Superposed doubles were made in Belgium with great attention to detail, and their quality today comes at a premium price and collectability. Our 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels is a nicely engraved Pigeon grade that has been well-loved over the years and is more a hunter than a safe-queen.
The Browning timeline progressed from Belgian-made Superposed to the similar, albeit feature-upgraded Citori line of O/U’s with interchangeable chokes and many more options.
Many of the later manufacture Citori doubles came out of the Japanese Miroku plant, a name recognizable on the Charles Daly above. While the original Superposed pieces are as collectible now as they are good shooters, the newer manufacture Citori’s are available with many specialty variants from sporting clays to skeet to all types of hunting editions. As far as our test goes, both the Superposed and Citori represent the top of the cost market, but quality is also concurrent with price, generally running $1,500 – $2,700 on both used and new forums.
There has always been a market for affordable O/U shotguns, but Savage has not been a legit player in that game until fairly recently. The Stevens by Savage Model 555 doubles first came out in 12- and 20 gauge, followed quickly by 28 and 410 as well. But now, life is complete, for the company has begun shipping the new 555 and 555E in 16-gauge, one of the most underrated upland and clay guns yet.
The 16-gauge 555’s wear 28-inch chrome lined, carbon steel barrels. Many folks, myself included, appreciate having interchangeable chokes for different types of hunting, and the 555 ships with five tubes in a small hard case. There’s a single selective mechanical trigger as well as an easily operable tang safety. Length of pull is a standard 14.5-inches. The vent rib barrels are finished with a simple brass bead.
The lightweight aluminum 555 receivers are not only reinforced with steel, but also built to scale, meaning the company is not merely swapping barrels and gauges on a single bulky frame. Sub-gauges get their own appropriately scaled-down receivers. The guns are Turkish-made by KOFS, and while many are quick to scoff, Turkey is putting out some lasting guns these days. While quality can vary widely, a company like Savage maintains control, and the differences are obvious over some of the cheaper Turk doubles from other companies with overseas factories.
Shooters can choose between the blued Model 555 with manual extractors or the upgraded 555E with its silver receiver, engraving, upgraded wood, and dual ejectors. MSRP runs $705- $879, with real world prices considerably lower.
A Fine Collection of Over/Unders
These fine guns are proof that O/U’s of all price points make ready companions for shooting birds of either live or clay variety. Whether you spend $600 or $2,600, the expectation should never change for a gun that patterns well, has features and options for hunters, and looks the part as well. Of the guns on our list, three of the four wear silver receivers, though all have blued options. Most wear lovely engraving and all have barrel selectors, tang safeties, and vent rib barrels. That goes to show that even more cost-effective guns needn’t sacrifice looks or performance. Buying either the cheapest or the most expensive is seldom the wisest option, and with guns like these, it needn’t be. Regardless of choice of O/U, the most important thing is finding an gun that fits well and get you out in the field.