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Old May 15, 2010, 08:22 AM   #1
Eskimo
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What's wrong with inexpensive SXS shotguns?

I see it all over the place: everyone says that double barrel shotguns under $1,000 are junk. Could someone explain why, instead of just saying "they are more complicated to make, and it's hard to do for under 1k"?

I found a new Remington Spartan 12g SXS and I have it on layaway.

This shotgun will probably never see more than 3,000 rounds in my lifetime, and it's hard to believe that any company makes a gun that won't last that long. Maybe my standards aren't as high as some of the people here?
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Old May 15, 2010, 08:32 AM   #2
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The quality of the metal is a factor - how well certain parts were heat-treated is a factor. Double guns, especially SxS need their barrel regulated. Done properly, it requires a lot of hand labor - not cheap. Done improperly, one barrel shoots one place, the other to somewhere different - not conducive to accuracy or success. Triggers on cheap guns tend to be heavy, gritty and harsh, resulting in more jerking of the trigger. After barrel regulation, the balance and handling of cheap shotguns becomes the major detriment. Some liken the handling and balance to "A pig on a shovel". If you get a chance, try an AyA #2 at the same time as your Spartan - you'll see and notice the difference in fit, finish, balance and handling - all those things take labor and time - which means more money/cost
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Old May 15, 2010, 08:48 AM   #3
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Very useful, thank you!
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Old May 15, 2010, 09:27 AM   #4
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Stevens 311

One can find a good used Stevens 311 for about the same cost as the imports flooding the market.

While pig on a shovel does apply they are generally well regulated and durable.

The guns they made for Sears and other retailers are generally a good bargain.
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Old May 15, 2010, 11:40 AM   #5
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AyA also made some decent guns for Sears in the 50's and 60's and they are on the market. More American design than the sleeker European models, they are still good shooters at less than 1000, and many times less than 5 or 600
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Old May 16, 2010, 03:50 AM   #6
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regulated

I've got a Baikal coach gun which throws the , first bbl high and left, the left bbl is more on target. Triangular piece of metal between the muzzles fell out after appx 100 rds.

Searching for a 311, 3" chambers, full and full, as a spare or lightweight turkey gun.
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Old May 16, 2010, 02:45 PM   #7
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A guy at our club has a cheap Stevens. He has had it for several years and probably put a thousand rounds through it. It recently broke. A Beretta or Fausti would not have fatigued that quickly and would probably not have broken, yet. Factor in the additional repairs and shorter life of the firearm, and the cheap guns are usually the most expensive.


More importantly, the fit of the gun to the shooter should take priority in the selection. It costs more to make an ill fitting gun fit properly than to repair a cheap gun after 1000 rounds.
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Old May 16, 2010, 05:00 PM   #8
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+1 on what OneOunce explained .... and the real issue is if you end up with a gun where one barrel shoots 6"high and left at 21 yards / and one is 8" to the right and low at 21 yards ....now what do you do ??

You may end up with 1 or 2 out of 10 of these guns that will hold up / and shoot accurately for 5,000 shells or so .... or you may get one of the other 8 ??? :barf:
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Old May 17, 2010, 07:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
I see it all over the place: everyone says that double barrel shotguns under $1,000 are junk. Could someone explain why, instead of just saying "they are more complicated to make, and it's hard to do for under 1k"?
They are more complicated to make, and it is hard to do for under 1k.

That's the truth. Double guns ARE harder to make. You have to regulate the barrels which takes a lot of labor. The lockworks are more complex. You have to use twice as many barrels.

In order to do all this extra work and still keep the price down, the quality of the metal, the fit and finish of the parts and cosmetics all suffer. You can buy a very well made pump for about the cost of a cheap double. And you'd be well advised to do so.
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Old May 17, 2010, 12:37 PM   #10
corvairkid64
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My recommendation is to buy used instead of buying cheap.
I ended up with a 1975 vintage Savage Fox B.
Not the prettiest gun on the block, but it works perfectly, is a sturdy gun, and they can be had for a very reasonable price.

Last edited by corvairkid64; May 17, 2010 at 12:45 PM.
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Old May 17, 2010, 12:47 PM   #11
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I bought one of those Savage's made in 1974 new. Wasn't a very good gun then. I kept mine for 6-8 years and it was literally broken and in the shop more than in my gunsafe. I had one guy keep it for about 2 years, he finally got it to somewhat function. I sold it at a flea market.
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Old May 18, 2010, 03:17 AM   #12
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Sorry you had that experience jmr, I've heard nothing but positive things about the Savage Fox B / Stevens 311 guns up until now. Most say that they are good work-horse guns, nothing fancy. I hope my gun fits that mold.
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Old May 18, 2010, 11:18 AM   #13
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I'm a huge fan of the 311, not sure on exact count but I've had over 20 of them from time to time (down to just a pair now, need to hit the pawn shops again). Never had a problem with any of them except 2, one .410 that I bought knowing the pins/springs were bad, and my original that I had to replace the springs in a few years ago after running upteen thousand rounds thru it. It's still my goto grocery gun but next time it needs springs I'm sending it to a gunsmith.
That being said, my grandfather (who gave me that original 311) is somewhat of a SXS lover. He has several old Greeners and one incrediable Francotte that I'm in serious love with. I would never say my 311's were there equal. Are they worth the premium they demand? I guess they are to someone. If I had money to burn one of the first things I'd buy would be a really nice double.
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Old May 19, 2010, 06:59 AM   #14
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The Other Brand

Where do CZ side by sides fit into this debate about quality? Price-wise, they seem to split the difference between the "cheapies" and the expensive one. Anyone here have any experience with them?
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Old May 19, 2010, 09:37 AM   #15
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The CZ's look good and some of them are decent quality. The made in Turkey versions are questionable, but good looking guns.

The 311 shotguns are highly thought of by a lot of people from my dads generation. They served them well enough the way most of those guys used them. My dad was born in 1923 and grew up during the depression. Wasting expensive shotgun shells on practice was not done. A box of shells would last my dad for a year or longer. Every shot put a rabbit or squirrel in the pot. If the shot was questionable he didn't take it. At that rate these guns would easily last a lifetime.

I started hunting with my great grand fathers double 20 and wanted nothing but a double when the time came to buy my own gun. A 311 is what I could afford. I realize mine was a factory lemon and was much worse than most. I still have a soft spot for a double and have tried just about everything over the last 30 years trying to find an affordable double. I've wasted a bunch of money and always ended up disappointed.

I wish someone had given me the advice I'm going to give now 30 years ago.

If you want a good double shotgun plan on spending a minimum of $1,000 or look for something used that would have cost that much new. Even at that, a $1,000 semi auto is a much better gun than a $1,000 double. A $300 pump is going to be much, much better in the long run than a double costing twice as much.

I wish this weren't true. I'd love to find an affordable double. Nothing fancy, just something that balanced well and was dependable. I've given up and decided to just use my pumps and autos. I still have my fathers and great grandfathers guns, but they are largely wall hangers now.
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Old May 19, 2010, 09:46 AM   #16
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If you want a good double shotgun plan on spending a minimum of $1,000 or look for something used that would have cost that much new. Even at that, a $1,000 semi auto is a much better gun than a $1,000 double. A $300 pump is going to be much, much better in the long run than a double costing twice as much.
-
Good advice, except I would opt to change the dollar amounts - $3,000 to $5,000 new is a decently made, balanced SxS; used amounts will run $1,000 and up.

CZ's are still Turkish, and while getting somewhat better they aren't really there yet - the main issues seem to still be the triggers and barrel regulation. I'm not saying 100% are trash; rather it is a hit and miss proposition
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Old May 19, 2010, 09:51 AM   #17
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I've not had any problems with cheaper doubles. If you want a really good one find an old beater L.C. Smith made by Hunter Arms and spend a little fixing it up. Those were some of the best doubles ever made.
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Old May 19, 2010, 11:38 AM   #18
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Oneounceload,

Thanks for the update on prices. I gave up on finding an affordable double so long ago that I didn't realize just how much prices have increased. I wish I could find something I could afford, but decided long ago that if I were spending that kind of money I was better off with a Beretta or Benelli semi-auto.
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Old May 19, 2010, 01:04 PM   #19
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While I'm no expert, the cowboy action shooting folks pretty much use 'cheap' SxS shotguns exclusively... and those folks take that sport seriously.

I'm sure they do some 'touch-up' work to the guns they use if they are very serious about the sport, but from what I've read, there's rarely a major complaint about the 'cheaper' SxS guns... and these CASS folks throw thousands of rounds down range.

Just an observation.

IMO: if you're looking for a competition trap/skeet gun, then I'd consider the higher end SxS's. If you're looking for a fun gun or one used for SD/HD, then I suspect the 'cheap' ones would work just fine.
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Old May 19, 2010, 01:10 PM   #20
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While I'm no expert, the cowboy action shooting folks pretty much use 'cheap' SxS shotguns exclusively... and those folks take that sport seriously.
Yeah but their targets are usually 16 inches square set at 6-7 yds. away.
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Old May 19, 2010, 02:10 PM   #21
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And the CAS are not shooting at moving birds or clay targets. With a shotgun so much of it is about balance and pointability. All of the cheaper doubles handle like a fencepost. Ok for shooting at stationary targets I suppose.
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Old May 19, 2010, 07:38 PM   #22
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I would buy a spartan 20ga or 28ga. The 28ga i shot was a nice gun for the price, shot where it was pointed. Both barrels. They are field guns nothing special.
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Old May 19, 2010, 11:32 PM   #23
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All of the cheaper doubles handle like a fencepost. Ok for shooting at stationary targets I suppose.
I've been swinging the same fence post for 26 years, sure hope I can hit a moving target one of these days.
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Old May 20, 2010, 12:22 AM   #24
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What's wrong with inexpensive SxS shotguns? Nothing, as long as you're prepared to accept them for what they are, and not expect quality gun performance and reliability.
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Old May 20, 2010, 01:28 AM   #25
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Where do CZ side by sides fit into this debate about quality? Price-wise, they seem to split the difference between the "cheapies" and the expensive one. Anyone here have any experience with them?
At one time, both CZ (Ceska Zbrojovka) and Brno (Zbrojovka Brno) made SxS guns of high quality. CZ eventually switched to O/Us exclusively, and then more or less stopped making their own shotguns entirely. CZ outsources virtually all of their shotguns from Turkey these days.

This model may actually be Czech-made, but I can't tell. I suspect that it is just a semi-custom Turkish model.
http://cz-usa.com/products/view/comp-ringneck/

CZ bought out Brno a few years ago, and Brno continues to make very high quality O/U shotguns under the BRNO RIFLES label. They are priced accordingly.

http://cz-usa.com/products/view/brno-8012-12ga-ou/
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