Running a double rifle

VertigoBE

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Dear esteemed members of AH,

In light of obtaining one of these months my first double, I have started searching through all 16 pages of threads on double rifles, as well as many other places, on what the best practices are in the use of a double rifle. I sometimes read from from very experienced members (we all know who they are) on for example how to best reload (and when), how to mount a heavy recoiling rifle, or even using front or back trigger first. A lot of these seem to come from personal preferences of the member in question. @cal pappas preference for using the back trigger first, comes to mind. Some of course on shooting form, are applicable and universal to all rifle shooting. @rookhawk 's and @One Day... 's excellent explanation on how to best mount a rifle, for example. Or the kind's of practice to perform for double rifle, see @Tanks .

But among all the thread's and topics, I have not found a full and complete set of instructions for the new double rifle owner. For myself, who is a blank slate on this topic.

What are current best practices, perhaps with inspiration coming from the PH exams, on the use of a double rifle.

I would split my questions up in:

1. Sighting in a double rifle (avg of left and right barrel, or first shot perfect and second shot only as an approximate back-up)
2. Loading (soft or solid as first shot, or never mix them, depending on species)
3. Moving (both during the beginning of the stalk, when many miles need to be done, so african carry, sling or other, and in the final part of the stalk)
4. Shooting (on sticks and off-hand, first front trigger, then back or vice-versa, or depending on the load) The bear hug position being very well explained in the thread on developing a flinch.
5. Reloading (transferring rifle from strong to weak hand and loading with strong hand, or leaving in strong hand and loading with weak hand. Also when? on the move or stopping, reloading and then running faster to catch up the PH. Best position of the cartridge pouch?)
6. Other best practices? Snap caps & dry firing okay or not?

In the mean time I'll be reading some books too about this!

Cheers!

V.
 

Red Leg

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I won't offer what is right or wrong, rather what works for me.

1. All but one of my doubles (a VC) are very accurate - 2.5 inch four shot groups (LxR/LxR) at 100 yards. Any with optics are sighted in on the right barrel with the knowledge that the second barrel will be within a couple of MOA.

2. I hunt buffalo with premium SPs. Therefore, I have two of them loaded. Were it elephant, it would be two solids. I can not conceive of a situation where I would mix them.

3. I use a sling. Period. The African carry is an accident waiting to happen, and 20 K's at port arms is not practical. I carry the rifle muzzle down on the off shoulder. It is very fast. And at least for me, MUCH faster than the African carry.

4. Double rifles are designed to be fired by the front trigger first. They are offset to allow fast instinctive movement of the finger to the rear trigger. Probably an important consideration in the desperate seconds of a charge. I have never understood any advantage in trying to learn to pull the rear trigger first.

5. I open the action with the strong (in my case right) hand and load with the left. Exactly like I do every other double, shotgun or rifle, that I own. Two sets of muscle memory for the same mechanical system is fertile ground for Murphy. I have ejectors and lifters. On the lifters, I flip the rifle on its side, muzzles up the empties slide out. I do not reload while running.

I never ever ever dry fire any double without quality, spring-loaded snap caps. One will eventually break a pin or a spring.
 

VertigoBE

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@Red Leg I should have also mentioned you in the beginning of the post :) You were one of the other people giving very pointed advice.

I do have a question on the carry. One of the things we do when we hunt here in Flanders is carry the shotgun just like the african carry, but broken open (no cartridges inside). As we need to jump quite a few streams or go through heavily ploughed fields, this allows for a very easy carry (all the weight is on the shoulder) and very good control of the shotgun. Would this be an option for the 90% of the stalk, tracking for animals, loading and closing only (with safety on) in the last minutes when it is certain the final stalk has set in? Or is there more of a need to quickly be able to defend oneself from an unexpected charging animal?
 

One Day...

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Hmmmm.......

Very interesting video. Not sure I would demonstrate loading the double with my finger on the trigger...

1637610129392.png
 

Red Leg

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@Red Leg I should have also mentioned you in the beginning of the post :) You were one of the other people giving very pointed advice.

I do have a question on the carry. One of the things we do when we hunt here in Flanders is carry the shotgun just like the african carry, but broken open (no cartridges inside). As we need to jump quite a few streams or go through heavily ploughed fields, this allows for a very easy carry (all the weight is on the shoulder) and very good control of the shotgun. Would this be an option for the 90% of the stalk, tracking for animals, loading and closing only (with safety on) in the last minutes when it is certain the final stalk has set in? Or is there more of a need to quickly be able to defend oneself from an unexpected charging animal?
I have done that with my shotguns as well - particularly when hunting birds like pheasants or sharptail grouse on the plains where a lot of walking may be required between points. However, I would not take up a stern pursuit of a buffalo herd or elephant track without rounds in the chamber. The muzzle down carry with a sling, at least for me, allows very positive control and nearly instant readiness.
 

VertigoBE

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Hmmmm.......

Very interesting video. Not sure I would demonstrate loading the double with my finger on the trigger...

View attachment 437666
I noticed this too.

I'm also wondering to what extent it is a good idea to use the techniques from sport shooters for hunting. Not saying they cannot teach anything, but the context is fully different. During a competition and the loading techniques he shows, it is a given that there is no one in front of you, allowing to close the shotgun/rifle by bringing the barrels up (instead of how I learnt, by keeping the barrels pointed downward, 90 degree twist and bringing the stock in line of the barrels). How often during hunting could there not be a PH or a tracker in front of you. Perhaps not directly in front, but even at an obtuse angle.

Also this is performed in a quite zen like state of mind, with pure focus on performing only a few movements. Not after having huffed and puffed behind a PH for a few hours under the sun, then having a rush of adrenaline reducing the hands' dexterity and creating tunnel vision on the animal.

But the angling in part of the ammunition is an interesting point.
 
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rookhawk

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Dear esteemed members of AH,

In light of obtaining one of these months my first double, I have started searching through all 16 pages of threads on double rifles, as well as many other places, on what the best practices are in the use of a double rifle. I sometimes read from from very experienced members (we all know who they are) on for example how to best reload (and when), how to mount a heavy recoiling rifle, or even using front or back trigger first. A lot of these seem to come from personal preferences of the member in question. @cal pappas preference for using the back trigger first, comes to mind. Some of course on shooting form, are applicable and universal to all rifle shooting. @rookhawk 's and @One Day... 's excellent explanation on how to best mount a rifle, for example. Or the kind's of practice to perform for double rifle, see @Tanks .

But among all the thread's and topics, I have not found a full and complete set of instructions for the new double rifle owner. For myself, who is a blank slate on this topic.

What are current best practices, perhaps with inspiration coming from the PH exams, on the use of a double rifle.

I would split my questions up in:

1. Sighting in a double rifle (avg of left and right barrel, or first shot perfect and second shot only as an approximate back-up)
2. Loading (soft or solid as first shot, or never mix them, depending on species)
3. Moving (both during the beginning of the stalk, when many miles need to be done, so african carry, sling or other, and in the final part of the stalk)
4. Shooting (on sticks and off-hand, first front trigger, then back or vice-versa, or depending on the load) The bear hug position being very well explained in the thread on developing a flinch.
5. Reloading (transferring rifle from strong to weak hand and loading with strong hand, or leaving in strong hand and loading with weak hand. Also when? on the move or stopping, reloading and then running faster to catch up the PH. Best position of the cartridge pouch?)
6. Other best practices? Snap caps & dry firing okay or not?

In the mean time I'll be reading some books too about this!

Cheers!

V.

the advantage you have is small bore barrels. Shoot the hell out of the gun with the 7mm until you know it cold. Then shoot the 375
 

VertigoBE

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the advantage you have is small bore barrels. Shoot the hell out of the gun with the 7mm until you know it cold. Then shoot the 375
That is definitely in the plans, combined with loads of dry fire practice for the loading/reloading/moving/shouldering part, as I cannot do this at the range. (I live in a place, where when I was trying to shoot my .22 bolt action as fast as possible on the range, while still being accurate, was getting me strange looks from others)
Just would like to hear from you experienced members on what the smartest, most efficient and safest handling would be.
 

One Day...

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This is going to be an interesting thread, because I suspect that there will be several sets of perfectly valid answers :)

Building on Red Leg's answer - because we agree on a lot of things here - let me also open other perspectives...


1. Sighting in a double rifle (avg of left and right barrel, or first shot perfect and second shot only as an approximate back-up)

My answer is: it depends on which double and which animal.

One example would be an accurate Blaser S2 scoped .500/.416 NE that has the capability of being a truly quasi universal double, capable of both 200 yard Kudu and 20 yard Elephant. I would sight the scope on this rifle exactly as Red Leg recommends: spot on with the right barrel.

Another example would be a .470 or .500 NE specialized in close quarter DG hunting, using either iron sights or compact red dot, according to your eyesight.
The target will be typically an Elephant brain shot or a Buffalo, Elephant, Hippo on land, Lion, etc. body shot.
A Botswana genes large bodied bull elephant offers a frontal brain shot target approximately 6" high x 9" wide. The target is a bit smaller for an East Africa genes smaller bodied bull, or for a cow (approximately 5” x 8”). For this hunt, I personally sight my .470 for both barrels to be in the target, centered together, at 50 yards:

Brain Shot 50 yd Norma PH FMJ.JPG

3 lefts and 3 rights from my Krieghoff .470 NE (Norma PH 500g Woodleigh solids) at 50 yards on an elephant frontal brain shot target.

This sighting will also be perfect for any body shot on anything from 0 to 75 yards.


2. Loading (soft or solid as first shot, or never mix them, depending on species)

Elephant: solids only, in case a brain shot is offered, although I believe that a TSX would do just as well as a solid for a body shot.

Buffalo, Hippo, etc.: in the old days they used solids only, when solids occasionally broke down or riveted; then starting in the 1970's - 1980's they started using soft first with solid second, when softs became tougher and could penetrate well, and to avoid hitting a second Buff in a herd with a broadside solid; and now more and more people use only softs with super premium softs (TSX, AFrame, etc.) that keep together as well as the old solids did, and penetrate darn near as well on quartering follow up shots.

500 g TSX .458 Lott.jpg

500 gr TSX fired from a .458 Lott. Modern monometal bullets defy old classifications. I would call this an expanding solid... With it, I see no real need for follow-up solids on Buff etc.

Cats are different. Sure a TSX will do great on Lion lengthwise to stop a charge, but chances are that on a first, broadside chest shot it will just punch in and out without encountering enough resistance to expand. This is where an AFrame may be objectively better, and where the old Nosler Partition still retains an edge, especially on soft (and comparatively small) Leopard if the .375 is mandated as a legal minimum).

This being said, the PH with whom I will be hunting lion in August 2022 swears by the TSX, so I guess that it probably works well enough...


3. Moving (both during the beginning of the stalk, when many miles need to be done, so african carry, sling or other, and in the final part of the stalk)

3. I use a sling. Period. The African carry is an accident waiting to happen,,,

Amen!

The African carry made sense when the gun bearer carried the rifle that way, walking ahead of the hunter. All the hunter had to do was reach forward to grab the rifle. African carry on one's own shoulder is simply misunderstood nostalgia (including by many PH). I personally refuse to be followed by someone carrying a loaded and cocked rifle pointing at my back. Period. And I extend the same courtesy to the person walking ahead of me ;)

I use a DETACHABLE sling, on my left shoulder (I am a right hand shooter). Red Leg goes muzzle down. I personally prefer muzzle up (I can control it underbrush with my left end), but it is the same concept, and it is likely the fastest carry to get the rifle in action.

Elephant hunting in the jesse.jpg

In my judgement, this is by far the best way to carry a rifle for the long haul... A non-slip sling keeps it securely on the shoulder; it does not matter if the rifle is 9, 10, or 11 lbs. all of which is light on a shoulder; one can control/protect the muzzle while moving in dense bush; the hands are free for glassing; etc. etc.

C0046(5).jpg

It only takes seconds to remove the detachable sling and slap it around one's neck in a rush (or hand it to a tracker if close by) if the follow up gets into dense bush where a sling at port arm can be a nuisance.


4. Shooting (on sticks and off-hand, first front trigger, then back or vice-versa, or depending on the load) The bear hug position being very well explained in the thread on developing a flinch.

4. Double rifles are designed to be fired by the front trigger first. They are offset to allow fast instinctive movement of the finger to the rear trigger...

Amen again!

Without wishing to offend anyone, shooting the rear trigger first is simply non sensical. Truth be told, this is a "solution" addressing the wrong problem. If people get a rapid unintended second discharge because they are drumming the triggers under recoil, they need to learn to handle the rifle properly to not drum the triggers. A tighter grip resolves this issue.

Note: trigger drumming is the cause for the vast majority of rifles so-called "double-discharge" which in most cases are not a rifle issue but a shooter issue, at least with well-made reliable rifles (cheapos being excluded from a serious discussion)...

As to position, a DG double is not .22 LR. It must be held tightly to deliver accuracy; to control recoil; and to deliver a rapid second shot.

Shooting the .470 NE off the sticks. It is amazing how little recoil and muzzle jump there actually is with a big double when handled properly, i.e. tightly. This produces great accuracy; prevents trigger drumming; and favors a rapid second shot.

5. Reloading (transferring rifle from strong to weak hand and loading with strong hand, or leaving in strong hand and loading with weak hand. Also when? on the move or stopping, reloading and then running faster to catch up the PH. Best position of the cartridge pouch?)

5. I open the action with the strong (in my case right) hand and load with the left. Exactly like I do every other double, shotgun or rifle, that I own. Two sets of muscle memory for the same mechanical system is fertile ground for Murphy. I have ejectors and lifters. On the lifters, I flip the rifle on its side, muzzles up the empties slide out. I do not reload while running.

We do it the same ... but different ... and both are OK.

I too "open the action with the strong (in my case right) hand."

Red Leg then holds the rifle in his right hand by the stock wrist while he reloads with his left hand.

I then hold the rifle in my left hand by the forearms while I reload with my right hand.

In my case, this is because my Krieghoff .470 does not have ejectors, so I point the barrels up while flicking them to the side to send the empties flying.

If my rifle had ejectors, I would probably do it the way Red Leg does, because for ejectors to work reliably the barrels need to be tilted down rather than up (otherwise the empties may slide out of reach of the ejectors before they are released).

6. Other best practices? Snap caps & dry firing okay or not?

I never ever ever dry fire any double without quality, spring-loaded snap caps. One will eventually break a pin or a spring.

Amen yet again!
 
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rookhawk

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@VertigoBE specific to YOUR double rifle, sighting in that gun with the regulating 7x65r and 375HH ammo for each set of barrels, you'll want to sight in dividing the difference between both holes. Its going to regulate with great precision, no need to do the desperate play of sighting in the right barrel-first shot for the scope crosshairs while worrying the second shot is going to be 2' off the mark.
 

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There are many far more experienced people on this forum than myself. However I'll throw in my 2c for what its worth.

As far as reloading technique goes I don't think the actual technique used is anywhere near as important as the discipline of always making sure you immediately reload after firing. This is a matter of training at the range and practice whilst hunting non-critical game. A technically slower, but automatic, reload is infinitely faster than standing there with the mind frozen and the rifle empty. A constant feature in many African safari videos is the hunter standing there dazed with the PH screaming 'reload reload reload'.
 

Red Leg

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@VertigoBE specific to YOUR double rifle, sighting in that gun with the regulating 7x65r and 375HH ammo for each set of barrels, you'll want to sight in dividing the difference between both holes. Its going to regulate with great precision, no need to do the desperate play of sighting in the right barrel-first shot for the scope crosshairs while worrying the second shot is going to be 2' off the mark.
Desperate?!?

I think that is bad advice for a rifle capable of first shot accuracy out to 300 meters.

Taking in shot-to-shot MOA differences, your advice will give him that potential 2" error beyond MOA at 100 meters with the first shot. That really starts to matter on a Mozambique Nyala at 225 meters. Inside 100 meters, either technique works.
 
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Tanks

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I have a Trijicon on my .500 and a Swarovski BT scope on the 9.3x74R.

Both had been sighted in using the left (front trigger) barrel. The 9.3x74R was accurate enough to take an Impala at 150 yards with the second (right) barrel after I shot one with the left barrel. The .500 is good within range I would use it.

I use a sling to carry, pointing up as I can go into hasty sling pretty quickly when not using sticks (I don't use sticks for elephant).

Reloading, I open the action with my strong hand (left), tilting the barrels to the left to eject and then load with the strong hand. My right hand doesn't really change position.

I never run while reloading, what happens if an animal jumps out while one is doing that? I reload then, if necessary, run.

Solids for elephant and hippo on land. Softs for everything else. The only time I had both soft and a solid was when the PH told me as we were getting ready to follow a buffalo I had shot in the jess. It turned out to be unnecessary as he had expired 20 yards from where I had shot him.

I dry fire with snap caps once and then just press the trigger. I have decent trigger control from tens of thousands of reps with a pistol so that is not an issue. More important, to me, is getting used to the weight of the rifle and mounting the same way every time while taking the gun off safe, and putting it back on safe as I lower the rifle.

Prior to my last hunt I did follow @Red Leg 's advice and shot a few rounds of clays (about several hundred shells) with a SxS. Never had an issue during the hunt switching to the back trigger naturally.
 

Frederik

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There is a heap of very good info on this post.
Saturday I fired a friend's 500 NE VC on the range after firing about 12 rounds of lott of the bench and 2 rounds of 505 Gibbs from another friend loaded with 600gr bullets. (Gibbs was not off the bench bit too much for me) :LOL:

When I fired the 500 NE I almost had to break the triggers compared to the ligther triggers of my Lott and the 505 Gibbs.

So my 2cents worth get proper snap caps and practise the triggers learn the rifle make it second nature to put safety on an off and sight in on the shoulder.
 

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When shooting Big Bores, the best way to handle the recoil, from the standing position, is to stand, up on the balls o' your feet, knees slightly bent, leaning as far forward as possible(Without losing your balance), and pull the Rifle as tightly into your shoulder, as you possibly can... This will give your spine lots o' sway to absorb the recoil... It you stand with your back straight up and down, lean backwards, dig in your heels, or hold the Rifle loosely, you significantly increase the chances o' landing on your backside... I don't recommend shooting Big Bores from the Bench, as you will take a helluva hammering... If you must shoot supported, then shooting sticks would be a lot more comfortable than the Bench(But still lean far forward into your Rifle and hold it tight into your shoulder...) Personally, I much prefer to Shoot Doubles(Or any Rifle, for that matter) standing, unsupported(Unless I'm shooting at 125+ Yards)... The main thing, is get to know your Rifle... The more time you spend practicing with it, the more it will feel a part o' you... Get yourself some Snap Caps to practice your Trigger Technique...(Aim at a spot on the wall or a doorknob, and slowly squeeze the trigger... The click should be a surprise... This is a great way to also practice proper breathing, as well... Breathe all the way in & all the way out twice, on the 3rd breath, breathe all the way in, let half o' the breath out, hold your breath, and slowly squeeze the trigger) I also highly recommend getting some Dummy Rounds Made up(Spent Casing with no Primer or Powder, with a Bullet seated) for practicing Loading... I cannot reiterate how important Target Practice is, before you go Hunting with it! Far too many people go to Africa and Hunt with a Rifle that they have never even fired before they got there! One way to save Ammunition cost, is to practice with another, cheaper to shoot, Rifle, and fire a few rounds through your Double, at the end o' each Range trip.(You will already be somewhat warmed up)... As others have said, lots o' trigger time with a SXS Shotgun will also help you immensely, with regards to muscle memory... Rule #1
"Never enter the field with an unfamiliar Rifle..." P.S. When you squeeze the Trigger, squeeze your entire hand, not just your Trigger Finger...(This will help you not to jerk the trigger)... P.P.S. What did you get for a Double? Got any pictures?
 

Kevin Peacocke

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I am a puppy in the world of doubles, but a few things are patently obvious even this far in my slim experience:
1. Carry with a sling with QD swivels.
2. Carry barrel down or barrel up as you find comfortable. I have tried both, I find barrel up balances better. Switch to barrel down if it starts raining.
3. When you get fitted for your double use a really firm cheek weld. That way you will more often return to exactly the same point of aim and be inherantly accurate. The idea is to get the sights to be on without even thinking about it. My Verney is exactly this way and so will the Heym be. I am not as consumed with millimetric accuracy as my American friends seem to be, remember the minute of grapefruit.
 

DG Gunsmith

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I am a puppy in the world of doubles, but a few things are patently obvious even this far in my slim experience:
1. Carry with a sling with QD swivels.
2. Carry barrel down or barrel up as you find comfortable. I have tried both, I find barrel up balances better. Switch to barrel down if it starts raining.
3. When you get fitted for your double use a really firm cheek weld. That way you will more often return to exactly the same point of aim and be inherantly accurate. The idea is to get the sights to be on without even thinking about it. My Verney is exactly this way and so will the Heym be. I am not as consumed with millimetric accuracy as my American friends seem to be, remember the minute of grapefruit.
Solid advice, as usual, Mate... P.S. I really look forward to seeing how you make out with that Heym...
 

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