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States on the barrel flats "Warrented English made barrels. Hammer gun with 30 " barrels, stocked with POW grip, checkered butt with skeleton metal on the heel & toe.
I have been wanting a cheap, side by side double barrel shotgun that I can take into the woods and not be worried about getting scratches on it, since the only other doubles I have are too old to shoot safely.
The "Not for ball" inscription was used only between 18 so it's a bit older than you first guessed.
I don't think anyone has the old records (unless someone knows better) so the serial number won't help.
I'm just buying something that I can shoot the heck out of and not worry about messing up.
I'm the type that, if I buy a more expensive, nicer-looking gun, I'd be neurotic about even taking into the brush.
I will primarily be using it for squirrel hunting and shooting skeet.
The Stoeger Uplander definitely seems to be the best option from what I've read so far.
Any other info about selecting a suitable double gun would be appreciated as well. 20 will work just as well, and a real 20 Gauge (not a combo on a 12 Gauge frame) will be a much better gun in the hands. I've read some not so great things about the Stoegers, so I've had reservations about them.
Few British guns were made with damascus barrels after WWI. Damascus tubes made in Birmingham were much superior to laminated and only gave way to Whitworth pressed fluid steel as much for cost reasons as quality.
I don't think Bonehills ever used laminated barrels ...
I've heard that you can't go wrong with a used Stevens, but I've never come across one.
I'd be perfectly fine purchasing a used gun, so long as I know it's well-built.