Those Thinking About Buying a First Double Rifle

Discussion in 'Articles' started by DUGABOY1, May 31, 2009.

  1. DUGABOY1

    DUGABOY1 CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Those Thinking About Buying a First Double Rifle

    Those thinking about buying a first double rifle. I believe that it is common in the USA that most folks think of a double rifle as either too expensive, or not suited to hunting anything smaller than an elephant, or both. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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    The double rifle is the only rifle you can have that started it's life as a hunting rifle. All other types started out as a war weapon, and then was applied to the hunting fields. Since it is the only true hunting rifle, that should be reason enough to attract hunters in the USA, but for some strange reason this has never happened.

    I blame this on ignorance! Now before some of you guys get your feelings hurt, let me explain! Ignorance is nothing but a word that describes the fact that something is not well understood, or not known at all. It has nothing to do with a person's intelligence, but that he simply has not been taught something.

    This phenomenon is not limited to the run of the mill hunter, or the guy who is not well up on "GUNOLOGY" , but is rampant among gun writers, and even some of the most well known rifle smiths in the USA, and many other countries. Even people who have taken the big five, and grand slams of all kinds are sadly ignorant when it come to the double rifle. The misconceptions are a bag full, that would slow a train to haul.

    In the USA we tend to read the gun rag guys, as if they were reading from scripture, and anything they say has to be correct, simply because they said it. Again we are being mislead, in some cases because the writer is too lazy to do the research, but mostly because they are printing opinion that the think is true.

    The double rifle is a complex type of rifle to build and make it shoot properly. no formula, or jig can be made to get away from the tedious work of fitting these things so they work properly. All types of things have been tried to make regulating the barrels easy, and nothing has worked. Most think if you simply make the barrel exactly parallel then the rifle will shoot side by side! So why not simply use a laser to align the barrels and save hours, and hours, plus several rounds of very expensive ammo to regulate the barrels? The reason is it doesn't work.

    The barrels have to be laid to not only converge, but to point as crossing, and low, compared to where you want the bullets to hit the target. The double rifle depends on the recoil arch of the rifle, and the speed of the bullet to shoot to where the sights are pointing when the trigger is pulled. IOW, if you place the barrels in a vice with the sights held dead on your target at the iron sight' regulated distance,then with an empty case, with no primer, in each barrel using the primer hole like a peep sight, look through each barrel. What you will see is, the right barrel will be pointing at a place that is low and on the left of where the sights are aligned. The left barrel will be pointing to a place on the right and low in relation to where the sights are aligned. This is necessary because of thing called barrel time. What that means is, when the trigger is pulled on the RIGHT barrel, the rifle rises up and to the RIGHT while the bullet is traveling down that barrel, so that the barrel is pointing to the point the sights were when the trigger was pulled, and Vice-versa for the left barrel. So the double rifle depends on the recoil arch, and the bullet's speed down the tube, to be aligned when that bullet exits the barrel. This converging of the barrels can be done exactly the same with two rifles shooting the same cartridge and they will not shoot the same, so each rifle has to be regulated by it's own rules to work properly. this is one of the reasons even the cheapest double rifle requires over 800 hours of skilled labor to complete, hence the cost of manufacture. However when this is done properly no rifle in the world is more reliable for hunting anything from jackrabbit to elephant depending on the clambering.

    More later............................:)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016
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  2. cal pappas

    cal pappas CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Took delivery of this magnificent Holland and Holland double rifle in the rare but very powerful cartridge 20-.577. A design by Alex Henry (I believe) it was to duplicate the ballistics of the popular .577 x 3-inch black powder express with a charge of six drams (165 grains) of Curtis and Harvey’s no6 black powder and a lead bullet 650 grains in weight. (The very rare .577 3 1/4” bpe was charged with the same 6 drams but also with 7 drams or 191 grains). This 20-577 was charged with the heavier 7 drams load of black powder and is marked on the barrel flats “G 191 P” for Grains 191 Powder as well as “577 EX” and the three standard proof marks for the era: view, provisional and definitive. Below is the translation fo the factory ledger which, in this and many instances, the penmanship shows the hand of a medical doctor! (Only one word escapes me). Note the trigger pulls are left blank. 19xxx Birdseye + Co 20/577 bore double rifle, back Action, extended rib Lever over guard, lever Fore end rebounding locks With safety bolts, loops For sling, pistol hand, Cheekpiece, recoil heel plate, Bent 2 5/8 1/16, 1 3/8 to comb (cutaway ?) Length 14 3/8 1/16 x 14 5/16 x 14 3/4 Set off 1/4 Size of hand 4 1/2” round Pull of locks right left Weight of rifle 12-13 26” steel barrels 7-10 Chambered for 20/.577 case S finishing Oct 3/95 Left of ledger: H/2500 The rifle is in excellent and original condition. The bores, while shiny, and a bit pitted the first several inches ahead of the chamber. The front sight is a very thick bead and looks to be a replacement of a finer bead as the well for the flip up night bead is empty. The rear sights are both folding and marked 50-150 and 200 yards. I absolutely love the aperture sight mounted on the top strap. “Peep” sights were my favorite 30-50 years ago in my Winchester period. The barrels are 26 inches and the pull is 14 3/4” which fits me perfectly. The action is tight on the face and the Jones patent under lever locks up tight as a bank vault. The anti recoil heel plate is a bit hard and may need replacement in the future. No engraving on this rifle but the maker’s name and the case and powder charge are engraved on the left side of the frame. Included with the rifle were 80 brass cases stamped Holland and Holland, a single reloading die, and several year’s supply of 650-grain bullets: Woodleighs soft nose and solids, and a good quantity of homogenous solids of the same weight (which I doubt I will ever shoot) . Also included are a copy of the Holland ledger and letter from Holland stating the specifications. Sadly, there was no name in the ledger of the original owner except Birdseye and Company so it may be impossible to learn of the rifle’s history and where it traveled. The doll’s head and action top are marked “2” so this wonderful big game rifle was one of a pair (or maybe the second of a set of three?!). From former .577s I have sold, there is a good supply of 650-grain sized and powder coated bullets ready and waiting. This weekend I will shoot the rifle to get a target at 50 yards with the standard smokeless load on the 40% rule or 77 grains if IMR 4198 powder. The following week I will load 191 grains of six brands and granulations of black powder to get a complete set of ballistics. I know the former owner of this Holland and have lusted over it for the past decade. When it went up for sale a few years ago it was a bit beyond my reach. When the price was lowered and it still didn’t sell the owner was to have it returned. At the time he made me an offer I could not refuse and the checkbook flew out of my pocket.



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  3. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Magnificent rifle Cal.

    And I am glad some of @DUGABOY1 's old posts are being resurrected. But to his point.

    I love double rifles. But, except for some very special ones (my Blaser S2 in the right caliber would be one), they are a pretty poor solution to a general purpose hunting rifle. I have a hard time imagining anything more futile than a lugging around a mid-caliber, open-sighted double over much of the country we hunt in North America. They would work, from a range perspective, in much of whitetail country, though our modern, largely nocturnal animals, often demand shots in very poor early and last light for which a scope is an awfully practical bit of technology. Such a rifle would be the ultimate in futility even on whitetail as one leaves the Mississippi River valley behind in one's rearview mirror.

    Some few doubles have been scoped (I have two 9.3x74R's with original claw mounts and modern scopes) or have been designed from the start to employ them (the Blaser S2). The 9.3's will shoot MOA from both barrels and 2.5 - 3 inch combined 4 shot LxR/LxR groups (non-crossing) at one hundred meters. Sight-in using the right barrel, and one has a 200+ yard first shot and an immediate second within a few MOA.

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    The Blaser will do the same thing but sub-2 inches at 100 meters. With the 30-06 barrels and scope mounted it is about as close to a general purpose North American double as one is likely to find, but it would be pretty far down my choice list for a typical mountain hunt. It does, however, work very well on Hill Country whitetail, pigs, and African plains game.


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  4. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    Cal....thanks for sharing the fotos and story of your purchase. Hope you will post more after you have fired it some. Would especially like to see what chronograph readings you get from some 7 dram loads with 650 grainers. And how your groups look. Had the pleasure of shooting a .577 Dbl By Chas Lancaster......a "rifled smoothbore" which was regulated for 6 drams and a 610 grain homogeneous bullet....but always pined for an H&H..........good shooting ....FWB
     

  5. Kevin Peacocke

    Kevin Peacocke AH Enthusiast

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    Clearly there is no single rifle to suit all occasions, and note I said occasions not situations. Even if we concede that there is an all round calibre like the 375 H&H. which serious hunter would be happy with just one rifle in the safe? We need to also inject mood, feeling, flavour. I have decided that my next buff will be open sights from as close as I can possibly get, certainly less than 50m, so I will use my double. It is what I want, this time!
     

  6. Saul

    Saul AH Fanatic

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    I always cringe at the "choose one gun" or "choose one caliber" threads because I find such a task to be nigh impossible. However, I do fear of the day when we will be saddled with gun control laws that mandate such a choice be made.
     

  7. krish

    krish AH Veteran

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    We have enough firearms here. If we have to give up then no need for gun companies. I dont see it happening. Because every body can have a few.
     

  8. krish

    krish AH Veteran

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    I might get a 500 NE DOUBLE someday.
     

  9. Bonk

    Bonk AH Veteran

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    Honestly, I think the main reason double rifles aren't more popular is money. They're expensive and out of reach for most of us. That's not sour grapes or complaining it's just the reality. Very few hunters have the resources to spend 5 figures or more for a hunting rifle that has limited application. A big bore double for DG is almost useless for anything beyond 100 yards and trying to regulate a small bore SxS in something like 7x57 so that it's usable out to 250 yards is pretty unlikely.

    Don't misunderstand. I think SxS double rifles are cool as hell but unless I'm going to be hunting DG up close and personal I have no use for one. They're not good at anything else. An O/U double rifle is an entirely different conversation because an O/U is useful out to 200-250 yards depending on the caliber and many of our Euro brethren hunt with them in all kinds of calibers. I have one in 9.3x74R that might be my choice for a PG hunt. Plus, they don't cost nearly as much as a SxS rifle.

    SxS rifles are the supercars of the gun world. They're expensive, well made and do what they do extraordinarily well. Unfortunately, just like a supercar, they're built for a very narrow application. I still like them though. Supercars and SxS double rifles. YMMV.
     

  10. edward

    edward AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    go for it.
     

  11. Kevin Peacocke

    Kevin Peacocke AH Enthusiast

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    Bonk, thats why I went for my O/U double in 375 Flanged, it is DG capable and legal, and at 2400fps the fastest of the flanged bunch (I think), so good out to longer PG distances. Mine isn't the scoped version, but with one of those, as is common in Europe, you have an all round cartridge and rifle. The O/U light frame stretches to 450/400 which is even more DG capable, but at around 2150 fps is not great on longer distance. I too wont afford a sxs double any time soon, but with some saving and selling off other stuff the O/U was achievable.
     
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