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Single & Double Rifle Round Up

Single & Double Rifle Round Up

The evolution of firearms is fascinating; the creation of gunpowder, the various means of ignition and eventually the evolution of breach-loading systems and refinement of the various types of action and feed mechanisms we see today. However going back to the beginning shows us that to get more firepower you needed more barrels and in sporting areas this is what was done by using combinations of multiple barrels. The military never really bought into this, with perhaps the exception of the naval volley guns, which saw rifles with multiple barrels (up to 9 or 10) being used to clear areas of deck of boarders.

Today we can break these types of rifle into three main groups - single barrel - mainly reproduction black powder cartridge rifles (BPCRs) like the Sharps, used primarily for target shooting. There is a smaller sub group used for hunting based on a simple, break-action shotgun chambered in modern calibres, which in the main are perceived as a cheap option. The most recognised design here is the Thompson Center Contender, which offers a multi-calibre, switch-barrel option from rimfire to fullbore. The one anomaly in this group is Ruger’s No 1, which is a fixed barrel, falling block, hammerless action based on the old British Farquharson. However, regardless of make, it has to be said; to a good hunter one shot is enough!

The second are the double rifles in either side-by-side or over & under configurations near identical in build and handling to comparable double shotguns. These are far more specialised and for that matter expensive; in the main majoring on heavier calibres for either big game or driven hunting. Names like Krieghoff being synonymous here.

The final group is a hybrid with a combination of rifled and smooth bore barrels to give a gun for all reasons. An early, generic design was the Cape Rifle. Made cheap and sold to settlers going to South Africa and other corners of the empire, the bullet and shot combination meant both fur and feather could be hunted. The culmination of this today is the Bock Drilling (three barrels) which can be a combination of options – 1 x shotgun tube and 2 x rifled in same or different calibres or the other way around. It sounds odd and some of these guns can be big and heavy, but they do represent a practical if specialised solution.

CONSIDERATIONS

All BPCRs are of a fixed barrel design with some form of hinged or sliding breach block and are chambered exclusively for rimmed cartridges - the old 45-70 Government being a good example! Break-barrel rifles were all originally made for rimmed cartridges, but the proliferation of the rimless case now sees these used more in modern designs. With a lot of these mechanisms being extract-only the empty has to be removed by hand and a rimmed head makes this easier. Given you only have two shots then I prefer an ejector which leaves the chamber empty for a faster reload. On that point you need to practice your reload as if follow-up shots are required speed is of the essence!

The shotgun-like handling makes for fast and instinctive use and the double insurance of a second barrel just a trigger pull away makes these guns the only choice of many a professional hunter. Most guns in this class are hammerless with cocking automatically done on opening. These days external hammer guns are less common!

When building a double or even triple rifle the makers realise that the barrels need to be adjusted to shoot as near to the same aim point as possible. Called regulation; the individual tubes are angled in/out until the required distance/grouping is achieved. Originally a wedge at the muzzles was used to achieve this, and then soldered in position. In truth a serious skill and one reliant on the fact you will always use the same ammunition, if not then it was back to the gunmakers for adjustment. Though still done today newer guns tend to go for an integral system that physically moves a barrel by means of set screws or similar. The theory and practice being you zero the scope to the fixed barrel then regulate the adjustable one to the point of impact (POI)! Blaser’s S2 double offers such a system, with Baikal using a screw jack principle that physically bows the tube in and out to move the POI.

POPULAR OR NOT?

In the UK single shot hunting rifles are rare, due I feel to the lack of back up shots available and the slower reload. One of the nicest is the aforementioned Ruger’s No 1, chambered in a wide choice of calibres right up to the heavy weights like 45-70 and 458 Win Mag. At the other end of the scale is the Baikal; cheap and cheerful but they shoot, a friend of mine has one in 308 and has lost count of the deer he has taken!

In Europe where doubles are popular the diversity of calibres is good, with a lot of them being rimmed for the purpose. For example the 8x57mm (8mm Mauser) is offered in both a rimless case as well as rimmed - 8x57 JRS. Not all these are readily available in the UK so if buying a quality double pick something common. One of the classics is 9.3x74 R.

If you’re thinking of buying a gun be aware of some of the possible limitations of this class. Single barrels have good range and accuracy potential, as a bolt-action, just slower to load, however, something like a heavy barrelled Ruger No 1 say in 22-250 or 243 would make a good longer range varminter. Doubles in general are a much shorter range option and always come with iron sights and usually some form of QD scope mounting system. The top European makes - Krieghoff, Heym, etc are also very expensive, you are probably looking at an entry level price of £3000+. Drillings are even more specialised as you might imagine.

Despite individual build differences all the European guns are essentially similar as to what they offer with both double and single triggers, eject or extract-only actions, de-cockers or plain safety catches and side-by-side and over & under barrels.
It’s not my intention to list every gun in this class, but to show what makes are imported/available in the UK. Prices quoted are for the entry level equipment.


BLASER

Best known for their R93 and newer R8, Blaser has three guns, all break-barrel, with the same QD scope mount of the bolt-actions and a de-cocker (kickspanner) on the tang. This is pushed forward to cock the action and released to de-cock it. The K95 is the sweetest little single shot, being light and handy with the option of a full-length Stutzen forend. The S2 is the double; don’t be fooled by the traditional side-by-side layout as the barrel which sits in a sleeve is adjusted by jam screws. The three-barrelled BD14 Bock Drilling is the newest both the shotgun and main centrefire barrels are fixed and only the .224 on the side is adjustable. The idea is to zero the lower tube, then adjust the .22 to its POI. Pleasingly it is light as it uses a compact locking system when compared to others in its class.

KRIEGHOFF

Krieghoff is probably seen as the quintessential brand in this area and they have been at it a long time. Records show they supplied Drillings to the Luftwaffe/ Afrika Korp in WW II as survival rifles in North Africa, hard to believe but true! Their Classic is just that an elegant side-by- side with kickspanner in a range of sensible and big bore calibres, my favourite being 9.3x74R. Regulation is factory-set in the old way. The Ultra is an over & under and offers their Thermo Stable (TS) system. The lower barrel free floats in a ring attached to the upper and is easily regulated by screws. The top barrel being fixed offers more range/ accuracy potential without rapid heating affecting the second tube. Making the Ultra a far more effective design. Krieghoff fit dummy side ribs to keep that solid, double gun look.

THOMPSON CENTER AND RUGER

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Ruger’s No 1 offers a range of single shots, the action remains the same but there are standard hunter, heavy barrelled varminters and big game rifles. These last come with iron sights fitted, but all use a short rib that accepts Ruger’s dedicated scope mounting system. The internal hammer, falling block action uses a tang-mounted safety. Rated as one of the strongest, modern actions around they can be chambered for some serious, big bore calibres.

The T/C Encore is a variant of their original Contender. The break-barrel action shows an external hammer with a twin position firing pin to handle both rimfire and centrefire cartridges. Here you just swap the barrel to change calibre. The gun is opened by squeezing up on the hinged trigger guard. Extraction is manual. Calibre choice goes from 22 LR up to 45-70’ this last in the unusual Katatyn Carbine with a 14” barrel, iron sights and muzzle brake. Due to demand in the US it looks like T/C guns won’t be in the UK until 2015.

PEDERSOLI

Stepping away from the pure game guns we have Pedersoli who are best known for their BPCR range that includes the Sharps, Trapdoor Springfield and Remington Rolling Block. There is a massive choice of models and finishes in the Sharps range for example they offer the cavalry carbine, infantry rifle in both centrefire and capping breach loader along with sporter and silhouette models and some serious big bores up to .50” calibre for longer range use. The Trapdoors have the carbine, infantry model and the unusual Officers Model and a Long Range all in 45-70’ which is probably the best calibre choice. The Rolling Blocks are similar but with less choice though they do make a pistol-calibre carbine and a really nice long range Creedmoor. In the UK they are very much paper punchers though elsewhere they are used for hunting. The exception is the Kodiak Mk IV, which is based on the old Colt double rifle and chambered in a number of big bore calibres including 9.3x74 R and 45-70. This hammer gun is iron sights only.

BAIKAL

Baikal offers two guns; the single barrel IZH-18 and the IZH-94 (Express Double). Both are based on their shotguns and are basic but effective. Fit and finish is acceptable and serviceable with oil- finished woodwork and blacked steel, both come with iron sights and a very small scope base. The mech is hammerless with the single using a pull-up trigger guard to open it along with a tang safety. The double uses a top lever and shows two separate barrels, the top is fixed and the bottom is adjusted by a screw jack type system that bends it to gain adjustment. Regulating vertical POI is easy enough but lateral is down to how it was set at factory. Calibre choice is 308 Win, 30-06 and 9.3x74R. The IZH-18 is a good if basic deer/varmint gun and available in 222 and 223 Rem and 243 and 308 Win. The IZH-94 is also available as a combination (rifle/shotgun) in the following offerings - Sever 20/22LR, Taiga 12/308Win, 12/223 Rem, 12/222 Rem and the Scout .410/22LR, .410/22WMR

BERGARA APEX BX13

One rifle here and a single shot break-barrel. The Ba13 is apparently a simple design, but offers the following features – fluting, external rebound hammer, Weaver scope base, Day-Glo iron sights and a threaded muzzle. The mech opens by squeezing
up the trigger guard. You get three calibre choices: 222 Rem, 243 and 270 Winchester. Finishes run from what looks like wood and blue but is in fact wood-effect synthetic, plus there’s black, camo, blaze and also stainless steel options. Nice is the fact the Ba13 is fully ambidextrous with a double-sided comb/cheekpiece and a reversible, side-mounted cocking lug extension on the hammer, the mech is extract- only. The website indicates a TH stock option too.

PEDERSOLI

Stepping away from the pure game guns we have Pedersoli who are best known for their BPCR range that includes the Sharps, Trapdoor Springfield and Remington Rolling Block. There is a massive choice of models and finishes in the Sharps range for example they offer the cavalry carbine, infantry rifle in both centrefire and capping breach loader along with sporter and silhouette models and some serious big bores up to .50” calibre for longer range use. The Trapdoors have the carbine, infantry model and the unusual Officers Model and a Long Range all in 45-70’ which is probably the best calibre choice. The Rolling Blocks are similar but with less choice though they do make a pistol-calibre carbine and a really nice long range Creedmoor. In the UK they are very much paper punchers though elsewhere they are used for hunting. The exception is the Kodiak Mk IV, which is based on the old Colt double rifle and chambered in a number of big bore calibres including 9.3x74 R and 45-70. This hammer gun is iron sights only.

BAIKAL

Baikal offers two guns; the single barrel IZH-18 and the IZH-94 (Express Double). Both are based on their shotguns and are basic but effective. Fit and finish is acceptable and serviceable with oil- finished woodwork and blacked steel, both come with iron sights and a very small scope base. The mech is hammerless with the single using a pull-up trigger guard to open it along with a tang safety. The double uses a top lever and shows two separate barrels, the top is fixed and the bottom is adjusted by a screw jack type system that bends it to gain adjustment. Regulating vertical POI is easy enough but lateral is down to how it was set at factory. Calibre choice is 308 Win, 30-06 and 9.3x74R. The IZH-18 is a good if basic deer/varmint gun and available in 222 and 223 Rem and 243 and 308 Win. The IZH-94 is also available as a combination (rifle/shotgun) in the following offerings - Sever 20/22LR, Taiga 12/308Win, 12/223 Rem, 12/222 Rem and the Scout .410/22LR, .410/22WMR

BERGARA APEX BX13

One rifle here and a single shot break-barrel. The Ba13 is apparently a simple design, but offers the following features – fluting, external rebound hammer, Weaver scope base, Day-Glo iron sights and a threaded muzzle. The mech opens by squeezing
up the trigger guard. You get three calibre choices: 222 Rem, 243 and 270 Winchester. Finishes run from what looks like wood and blue but is in fact wood-effect synthetic, plus there’s black, camo, blaze and also stainless steel options. Nice is the fact the Ba13 is fully ambidextrous with a double-sided comb/cheekpiece and a reversible, side-mounted cocking lug extension on the hammer, the mech is extract-only. The website indicates a TH stock option too.

HEYM & VERNEY CARRON

Heym offers both bolt-action and straight-pull rifles - SR21 and SR30, but are also known for the traditional break-barrel offerings in both double and Drillings configurations. Like the other major players expect top quality build and features. The Verney Carron is French and not a fancy gun, as the barrels are matt black, the aluminium alloy (Ergal) action dull grey and the walnut basic but acceptable with an oil-finish. The barrels are 22” long with a short mid rib that does not extend the full length of the tubes. Between the muzzles is a screw-in adjuster that allows regulation. Sights consist of a ramped, windage-adjustable blade with red fibre optic insert up front. At the rear is a short, Battue-type rib with a height-adjustable, flat, V-notch. The top of the upper chamber is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.

ACC HANDI RIFLE

For many years Harrington & Richardson (H&R) offered their single barrel, break action Topper shotgun, which was also available as a rifle or switch barrel packages. The latest innovation that uses the basic chassis is the ACC Handi Rifle. With the growing interest in the sub-sonic 30 Whisper cartridge North West Custom Parts have produced a little carbine expressly destined as a silent fox control gun. With an external hammer, fitted Weaver base, synthetic stock and short, threaded barrel it’s a basic but effective tool.

BROWNING CCS25 ELITE

One rifle here an over & under double. The Elite is a typical high end product as you might expect from Browning. The gun is an ejector and shows a single trigger that is re-set by recoil for the second barrel. There are a number of calibres on offer both rimless and rimmed; the two quoted by the importers are 9.3x74 R and 8x57 JRS. Unusual is the barrel regulation system, which uses a series of rings of various diameters that slide over the top tube to displace the lower one slightly. It’s retained by a slot in the underside of the front sight base.

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2 Comments

  • I have a Valmet 412ST 12ga with an o/u barrel and a single shot and I am looking for the 30/06 o/u that fits this gun. Any suggestions. Thank for the help.

    Default profile image
    Garry Goodman
    23 Dec 2014 at 04:10 AM
  • I would have liked Marocchi 512 and 612 (successors of Finnish Valmet 412) appear on the list as well. There aren't too many guns on market where you can switch configuration between shotgun, combination gun and double rifle.

    Default profile image
    Timo
    11 Sep 2014 at 09:29 AM


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