The Mystique from the Double Rifle

Gary Costello
For many who know anything about firearms, the double rifle has always elicited awe and respect. It reminds from the early days of hunting dangerous game in India and Africa; when men pitted their hunting prowess from the most dangerous game about the “dark continent. It elicits respect because of the fine workmanship bestowed on double rifles plus the technology involved to really make the rifle into a highly efficient firearm.

March Scopes
Prior to the invention of smokeless powder, semi-automatic rifles and even bolt action rifles, it absolutely was the hunter armed with a single shot rifle and cartridges full of black powder. What was needed was a large and therefore powerful cartridge to be able to bring down an elephant or charging lion together with the one shot in the hunter´s disposal. If this shot failed, then there would be one less hunter on earth!! Enter the double rifle. If still fired a sizable diameter projectile with black powder, nevertheless it had two barrels when the first shot should fail. These rifles were created in large calibers for example the 12 bore (12 gauge) so that the black powder propellant could deliver maximum shock for the target. Some of the these double rifles specified into what is called a paradox double rifle. Describes of the barrel was smooth bore and toward no more the barrel it was rifled to give the projectile a spin and so give stabilization through its flight.

Because the gun smithing art progressed, calibers including the 577, 577/450, 450, 470 and eventually the 600 nitro express were put on the market with the double rifles chambered of those cartridges. At first some of the these cartridges use black powder as the propellant but later the cartridges were full of smokeless powder and were dubbed nitro express rounds. The smokeless cartridges had many perks: first when the cartridge was fired there wasn’t any large cloud of smoke to give away the hunters position and 2nd they had a much higher chamber pressure and thus more foot pounds of deliverable energy when a creature was hit. I would add that collects within the bore of a rifle fired with black powder can produce a caustic mix that could pit the barrels. Remember, black powder carries a key ingredient, sulfur that may form sulfuric acid when blended with water.

Witch these large powerful cartridges, there is a great deal of recoil and which was transmitted to the hunter´s shoulder. These double rifles were created heavy to decrease this heavy recoil generated with the powerful cartridge and could weight in the 15 to 25 pound range. This rifle will be a heavy load to get a hunter of mid-life or order to complete the tropical heat of Africa or India so gun bears were utilized to carry these heavy rifles. When game was spotted, the loaded rifle was handed to the hunter for your shot. After the shot was fired, the rifle was presented with back to the bearer.

Normally the double rifle cartridges a tapered case with a rim with the base to facilitate extraction. Nowadays some double rifles were manufactured with rimless cartridges, nevertheless the extraction of these rimless cases can fail with the inherent problems connected with a cartridge case stuck from the chamber.

Double rifles are produced with both box locks (the most cost effective) and side locks (the costliest). The side locks cab be hand detachable and thus can be removed in the field if your spring breaks, for instance. Of course, an extra ser of side locks would need to be carried inside the field and this raised the buying price of the rifle with hand detachable side locks.

Apart from the inherent labor forced to produce a fine double rifle, a lot of the well to do hunters with the era had the stocks and metal embellished with engraving, carving, inlays, and checkering. This could drive the price skyward, with respect to the owners taste to the very best that money could buy.

Regulating a dual rifle, to have both barrels hit in a specified area at 100 or 150 meters, would have been a gun maker´s nightmare. Following the barrels were made and fitted as best that could be done, the rifle was taken to the range and fired using the specified load for which the new rifle would have been to be regulated. After firing, the barrels will have to be readjusted and re-soldered and fire again, and again…. and again. the method was only stopped if the proper regulation of the barrels was achieved. Firing expensive, high intensity cartridges was a tedious and dear part of the final manufacturing process.

The double rifle is really a rifle of all-around moderate range and isn’t for varmint shooting at ranges of less than six hundred meters. After the range is extended beyond the distance in which the rifle was regulated, the aim of impact for the two projectiles will deviate greatly. Not merely are we talking about the conventional bullet drop because the range increases but the lateral dispersion in the projectiles.

The point of impact for the two projectiles can also be altered based on the powder charge used, the type of powder used, the weight of the projectiles, the type of jacket materials used on the projectiles, etc. When a double rifle is regulated, than the act of using a standard load in the rifle prevents one from exploring gun shop and saying, “Give us a box of ammo of the caliber”! Stick to the regulated load for that double rifle.

To fireside a double rifle, fire the proper barrel first and therefore the left barrel. For the best results fire left barrel within five seconds from the right barrel. Or else the heat generated inside the right barrel might cause the barrel to move with a resultant loss in accuracy. Do not support the barrel with you free hand! Lightly grasp the fore end, without the undue pressure and after that fire the rifle. Don’t let the barrel rest on a fence rail, branches or even the side of a tree trunk.

Why would want a double rifle after reading the few points outlined inside the paragraphs above. Well to begin with, a double rifle is not for everyone. In fact it is only for the chosen few. You need to follow the rules carefully when you are planning to have any luck firing the rifle accurately. When you can find factory loads realistically work in your rifle you’ll be able to stick to these loads. Or else, you may want to reload. Reloading is another requisite if you have a rifle in a absolute caliber or it the factory ammunition is quite expensive. Cartridges for that fairly new (in double rifle years). 7000 Nitro Express could cost in the neighborhood of Seventy dollars per ROUND! Of course, anyone who awns a. 700 Nitro Express doesn´t worry about the cost of ammunition as he loads his double rifle into his Rolls Royce.

What do double rifles cost? The textbook solution to this questions is … whatever your need to pay for them. The double rifles of continental Europe would be the least expensive. The British double rifles will be the most expensive as they are virtually hand-crafted and hand fitted with the finest finish, engraving and stock wood. As a ball park figure, the very best British double rifle will cost some $ 60,000 for the low end. Used European doubles can be purchased for $ 5,000 on up. I will say, for clarification, that some really good buys can be has in the uk for used double rifles that are not of the Royal grade.

If you are interested in a double rifle, look at the many firearms auctions which can be held around the country. Have a copy of the Double Gun Journal at Barnes and Noble and obtain some books on double rifles. The one which comes to mind is Shooting the British Double Rifle by Graeme Wright.

I hope I have piqued your interest on the world of double rifles. From the second part of this discussion Let me go over a German double rifle i have had for many years and is still my favorite rifle.

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