Where are all the American double rifle makers

tigris115

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Something I noticed whenever I look at nice double rifles, I see that all of the makers of these guns are based in the U.K. and Mainland Europe. The only maker of these guns I could find in America was B. Searcy and Co. This is a bit of an anomaly to me because as far as I can tell, the lion's share of hunters (pun entirely intended) visiting Africa are Americans, I'd say at least >70%.
 

Muskox

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We don't have the capability to train someone to build and regulate a double rifle.

The European gunsmithing schools; Ferlach, Suhl, Ulm, Bresca, as well as those in Spain and Belgium all have gunsmith training programs that teach you how to build a double rifle.

The British trade doesn't work that way you normally attend a machinst curriclulum and then you intern with a British trade house to become an actioner.

American gunsmithing schools are set up to teach you how to build bolt action rifles.
 

baxterb

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Keep in mind this: Holland and Holland was owned by Chanel and now Beretta; Westley Richards is mostly owned by the Qatar Royal Family; Rigby is owned by Mauser/Blaser group; Purdey is owned by an investment group...

the point is double rifles are largely a money losing proposition and need to be combine with other entities (read money sources) to stay afloat.

the best American doubles by far, in my opinion, are George Hoenig’s Rotary Action O/Us. You can argue all day whether that’s a “true” double, but you cannot argue any rifle, anywhere is made better. None. His work is flawless. Even Your Purdey stocks are initially made on a Hoenig duplicator and then finished by hand.
 

TTundra

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There are smaller double makers in the US. Some design their own actions like Bradshaw, some use more standard designs, and others may be experts at converting shotguns to DR's. I spoke with a smith in on having a O/U made in 450 or 470 on a sturdy O/U shotgun action that I believe apprenticed under Bradshaw. Just not at the size of the major European brands.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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The @Bailey Bradshaw double is a work of art! And last time I looked, Diana, Texas is still in the USA.

 

375 Ruger Fan

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Keep in mind this: Holland and Holland was owned by Chanel and now Beretta; Westley Richards is mostly owned by the Qatar Royal Family; Rigby is owned by Mauser/Blaser group; Purdey is owned by an investment group...

the point is double rifles are largely a money losing proposition and need to be combine with other entities (read money sources) to stay afloat.

the best American doubles by far, in my opinion, are George Hoenig’s Rotary Action O/Us. You can argue all day whether that’s a “true” double, but you cannot argue any rifle, anywhere is made better. None. His work is flawless. Even Your Purdey stocks are initially made on a Hoenig duplicator and then finished by hand.

The Hoenig Rotary is very interesting and unique.

 

Muskox

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Keep in mind this: Holland and Holland was owned by Chanel and now Beretta; Westley Richards is mostly owned by the Qatar Royal Family; Rigby is owned by Mauser/Blaser group; Purdey is owned by an investment group...

the point is double rifles are largely a money losing proposition and need to be combine with other entities (read money sources) to stay afloat.

the best American doubles by far, in my opinion, are George Hoenig’s Rotary Action O/Us. You can argue all day whether that’s a “true” double, but you cannot argue any rifle, anywhere is made better. None. His work is flawless. Even Your Purdey stocks are initially made on a Hoenig duplicator and then finished by hand.


This exactly.

The cheaper double rifles produced outside the USA start at about $7000 (Sabatti), and are made entirely on a CNC/Wire EDM machine and are not regulated very well.

The more expensive and better quality rifles like Heym are still made on CNC/EDM machines but have more hand fitting.

Even the most high end production WR, Purdey, H&H and so on double rifles start on a CNC/EDM machine and the stocks are mostly made with a pantograph.

The goal is as little hand fitting as possible so as to decrease the amount of labor.
 

baxterb

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The Hoenig Rotary is very interesting and unique.



yes it is. I got to know George many years ago and spent time in his shop with him and his stocker Owen. He is as unique as his rifles, and, in my opinion, a mechanical genius. He invented the Dominator 1911 conversion for Pachmayer. The pantograph is amazing as well. When I was at DArcy Echols place a few years ago working with him on a rifle, i noticed he has a Hoening machine. They are functional art.

i wrote an article on George at that time (which he liked), but alas no one wanted to publish it although it got favorable comments by the editors. It was after I shared that article with Ron Spomer that he took a special interest in Hoenig. Can’t prove it but was a mighty coincidence. ;-)
 

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What TTundra said +1.
I have two DR made in the USA by a now deceased gunmaker Robert(Bob) Hynden of Iowa and was invited to show them at a DR class taught by W Ellis Brown at a gunsmithing school in Oklahoma.

Another excellent DR craftsman is Aaron Little in east Texas. Aaron apprenticed with Baily Bradshaw.
 

Professor Mawla

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When I think of American double rifles , Butch Searcy & Co. is the first name which immediately comes to my mind . The gentleman is an absolute artist . I have had the good fortune to handle a side-lock ejector in .500 Nitro Express , which was built by this great man . Last time we spoke , he was building a new .700 Nitro Express for a client .
 

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There was a Dakota double rifle and double shotgun. I don't think they made more than a prototype.

There were also a few examples of Winchester M21 double rifles, saw one in 405 that was made for a Maharaja at a gunshow in Cody, Wyoming once.
 

Mike70560

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I thought Rigby was made in California:E Shocked:
 

Kevin Peacocke

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This exactly.

The cheaper double rifles produced outside the USA start at about $7000 (Sabatti), and are made entirely on a CNC/Wire EDM machine and are not regulated very well.

The more expensive and better quality rifles like Heym are still made on CNC/EDM machines but have more hand fitting.

Even the most high end production WR, Purdey, H&H and so on double rifles start on a CNC/EDM machine and the stocks are mostly made with a pantograph.

The goal is as little hand fitting as possible so as to decrease the amount of labor.
CNC/EDM is far more accurate for sure than hand production, and since the functionality and mechanical integrity of the resulting double depend upon that accuracy it is surely a huge plus. Certainly let the hands execute the aesthetics thereafter, but nothing wrong with the machines getting the thing right to start with. All manufacturers have access to this technology, but unless the primary functional design is correct it is all a waste of time. So what differentiates manufacturers, IMHO is the smarts of the desigh itself. Hoenig is one such, and the Heym 89B looks to be another. The USA probably has the best CNC manufacturing capability anywhere, so surely it isn't a big stretch to marry good thought and best machinery and voila! Old World skills will unfortunately have a diminishing role - the future belongs to computer controlled engineering. The only question is - is there a sufficient market to support another double manufacturer?
 

Muskox

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A lot of people get their panties in a wad over the California Rigby era.

I think his name was Geoff Miller, I can't remember the entire story. He bought the records or name of Rigby from someone in the UK. Then brought in American and maybe 1-2 British/European gunmakers to build guns. One of the stranger aspects was that his double rifles were made on Merkel actions.

I have handled them, and the best of them (bolt action 416) are as good as any rifle made in the UK. Their designs were mostly their own, they weren't exactly built in the same tradition as Rigby rifles were of old.

When Blaser registered the trademark Rigby again about 10 years ago, my understanding is that Geoff had never registered the name outside of the US.

I don't think Rigby (Blaser) nor Rigby (USA) is really Rigby. The Roberts era Rigby would certainly be closer to being Rigby than either one of these are. At least Blaser based their rifles on classical Rigbys.

This is my opinion, but I believe Blaser has done more to return Rigby to a top shelf company than Geoff or Paul Roberts ever did. Though just like Blaser (even though I own 3 Blaser's), the brand is more of an image brand that the reality that it is a substantially better mousetrap than a Weatherby Mark V, Winchester M70 or mid-grade 700 clone.
 

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I received a brochure from Evolution USA in Idaho many years ago (late 1990's?) that had some information about double rifles. I seem to recall that they built rifles, but the photo looked just like a Chapuis.
 

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1614808018235.png

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Ken Owen has made some beautiful doubles and he regulates rifles - My avatar pic is my SABATTI .470ne, both barrels at 50yds with his own custom peep sight he uses while regulating.

This target is both barrels with the new NECG front sight he installed.
4rc0AEE.jpg
 

revturbo9967

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CNC/EDM is far more accurate for sure than hand production, and since the functionality and mechanical integrity of the resulting double depend upon that accuracy it is surely a huge plus. Certainly let the hands execute the aesthetics thereafter, but nothing wrong with the machines getting the thing right to start with. All manufacturers have access to this technology, but unless the primary functional design is correct it is all a waste of time. So what differentiates manufacturers, IMHO is the smarts of the desigh itself. Hoenig is one such, and the Heym 89B looks to be another. The USA probably has the best CNC manufacturing capability anywhere, so surely it isn't a big stretch to marry good thought and best machinery and voila! Old World skills will unfortunately have a diminishing role - the future belongs to computer controlled engineering. The only question is - is there a sufficient market to support another double manufacturer?
you are right on about the US machining capabilities. they are above an beyond the rest of the world. The reason why gun manufactures do not dive into the double market is simply due to supply and demand. Why would a gun manufacture make a 10-12k rifle when they can make 10-12 1k rifles and sell them as soon as they get off the production line? The market is very small. If there was more of a demand, then you would see far more manufactures tackle the double and eventually find a way to make them affordable.
 

Nevada Mike

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yes it is. I got to know George many years ago and spent time in his shop with him and his stocker Owen. He is as unique as his rifles, and, in my opinion, a mechanical genius. He invented the Dominator 1911 conversion for Pachmayer. The pantograph is amazing as well. When I was at DArcy Echols place a few years ago working with him on a rifle, i noticed he has a Hoening machine. They are functional art.

i wrote an article on George at that time (which he liked), but alas no one wanted to publish it although it got favorable comments by the editors. It was after I shared that article with Ron Spomer that he took a special interest in Hoenig. Can’t prove it but was a mighty coincidence. ;-)
I met George Hoenig some years ago through a mutual friend. Visited hi shop several times and hunted pheasants with he and Owen. What you say is true... he is unique and an extremely creative and technical genius. His rotary rifles and shotguns are innovative, high quality and very well balance arms.
There was a Dakota double rifle and double shotgun. I don't think they made more than a prototype.

There were also a few examples of Winchester M21 double rifles, saw one in 405 that was made for a Maharaja at a gunshow in Cody, Wyoming once.
Dakota did produce the Legend shotgun for some time. He did built a couple double rifles on this action, but I do not think that they went into production. Gary Goudy made a matched pair of Dakota Legends (12 and 20 gauge) provided in the white by Don Allen, engraved by Barry Lee Hands, and stocked and finished by Gary. They are remarkable. Now that Gary has fully retired they are for sale by Morris Hollowell. Link to photos...

Goudy Custom Dakota Pair 12 & 20
 

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