Monday, May 21, 2012

Cal Answers Emails

Gents:
What follows here is a smattering of many of the questions I receive on double rifles through my website (now blog) and my column in the African Hunter magazine. They are not in any order as they are not asked in order but feel free to read through them as you see fit and use whatever information contained herein that is of value to you. The post below begin with the current year. I welcome your questions.

2013


Cal:
Can you tell me a little about the 375 Express by Holland and Holland. I've found one in the H&H Royal Grade sidelock, with period correct quick detach scope, fully cased, built in 1898. At first thought, I believed it to be the 375 Flanged but if I'm not mistaken, that cartridge was not developed at that time. It's regulated for a 270gr bullet and 40grs Cordite. So I'm now thinking this is the "short" 375 and not the Flanged. Your input please?
Thanks Todd
USA

Todd:
The short version is what you are looking at. The case is 2 1/2 inches long and dates from the late 1890s. It is on par with the .375 Winchester. It is far less powerful than the .375 belted rimless or the .375 flanged.
Most folks who buy this cartridge today are buying it for the rifle, not the cartridge, as many of the rifles it is chambered for are excellent royal grade doubles. Rifles in this caliber command 1/2 to 2/3 of the same rifle in the more common .375 chamberings--all else being equal.
Cheers and good shooting.
Cal




Cal:
I notice in your writing in the African Hunter and also your website you make reference to the maker's ledgers. What, exactly is contained in them, what information do you gather from them, and is ti ways to view them?
Thanks,
Bryan K.
Alaska USA


Bryan:
Thanks for a good question, one that has not been asked prior.
The makes records can be a treasure house of information on a specific rifle or shotgun or the information contained therein can be very sparse. The makers, in the great days of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, recorded most if not all pertinent information of the firearm in question: stock dimensions, serial number, caliber, weight, barrel length, case size, bullet weight, powder charge, and the original purchaser. Not all this was included in all ledgers and there may have much more if the rifle was outstanding and unique and/or if the owner was a man of note or fame.

As a writer I gather much from the records. Examples can be seen her that I found in the Jeffery record books when I was gathering information for my book on the .600 nitro express. I went through each ledger, page by page, dating from the mid1890s to the  as I wanted to view each page that may had a .600 rifle on it. Other information I saw was  a great dight to see:

7203     4 bore shotgun, 42" barrels
7238     .50-95 Colt lightning
8061     first 10 gauge 3 1/4"
8344     .577 3 1/4" 
8702     8 bore
9007     .577  3 1/4"
9008     .577 magnum
9222     .500 express
9308     .577 3" nitro or back not mentioned
9382     .577 magnum
9842     8 bore
8743     no entry
8744     8 bore

11145   .45-90 Win. 1886 (also 14664 and 17691) 
12041   12 gauge 3" case
12881    10 bore double rifle
14585    first "London nitro proved"
14615    .577 3 1/4" hammer rifle, 178 grains, 650 grains bullet
15157    both 297/230 and .450-400 3"
16357    50 express 1886, 1/2 magazine
16389    first .405 model 1895
16497    first .500-80-570
mid 16000s lots of .404s
18000s   first .333s and lots .404s again
18911    first .475

20465    12 bore and .303 combination
21131    .333 Mauser sighted for 1000 yards
21000s   lots more .404s
21291    first .280 Ross
21642    first .333-280
22367    .577 falling block
23168    24 bore shotgun
24267    first .475 no2
24361    .577 cordite under lever
24701    first .470
25307    first .500 Mauser (only 3 numbers after last .600???)
other .500s: 25354-55-56, 25369-70-71, 25554 

Some reworked Winchester rifles here, large block sod .303 and .404 rifles, etc. It is interested the production of the .600 ceased three numbers before the first .500 Juffery bolt rifle.
Again, Bryan, thanks for the question. It brought back great memories.
Good shooting.
Cal

Hi Cal:
Can you load non cast bullets in the .500 BPE? Can you load a 570 grn 500 bullet designed for the 500 ne but loaded lighter for the BPE?  I guess I'm wondering if I can I buy bullets like a Barnes in 570 or do they all have to be cast? I don't have a problem making cast bullets once I get a mould and load info. I was wondering what load options are for the BPE.  I think you said a 440 grn cast using 3031.  Do you know if this 500 is a 3 inch case and if so is it difficult to get brass. I haven't looked yet because I don't know what size it is. Thanks for your info. 
Regards,
Scott M. Alaska 


Scott:
.500 x 3 inch bpe: 55 grains of IMR 4198 and a 440-grain cast bullet will give your the close approximate to the vintage nitro for black load.
I have a mould you can use, dies you can use (or buy if I have a second set), and extra brass to sell or use. Very simple to load for with a 3-die set.
A ,570 grain bullet, even if safe low pressures, would not regulate and not be very accurate. Best to shoot what it was made for.
The rifle I will look at is a 3-inch case. Earlier rifles seem to be 3 1/4 inches. Brass is common and available from Huntingtons or Midway. I also may have some.
If you want the rifle after you see it I can arrange for all the stuff you need to shoot.
I also found the pic and story of my friend's buffalo hunt with his .500 3 1/4 bpe Holland. He used the same load I am recommending to you.
Good shooting.
Cal




A couple more questions, Cal, please.
Is it not recommended to shoot jacketed bullets in these older doubles? The 440s from your mould, are they gas checked?  I'm guessing you are using  large magnum primers for the 500 bpe. Is there any brand brass you would not use for the BPE or are they all pretty good. 
Thanks Scott

Scott:
Old soft steel was made for lead bullets. Limited jacketed bullets are fine, but i would not use them for every day shooting. No solids or mono metal solids!!
My moulds are not gas checked. Gas checks are nice, not not needed at these velocities with spacer wads and a card wad under the bullet's base.
LRM primers are all I use in everything--except bore rifles and then I use Winchester 209s.
All brass is fine. Remember these cases are very low pressure--10-13,000 psi. While drawn brass is to be preferred, lathe turned brass will hold up to low pressure.
I would recommend target shooting and practice with lead and hunting big game with jacketed bullets
Good shooting.
Cal

Cal:
Do you keep shooting brass until it develops a crack or a certain number of loadings. I'm wondering how long 60 rounds would last. I don't know if doubles are different regarding brass life. I know I have loaded my 338 brass many times until it gets a crack. Should I count how many times I load these 500s? I was hoping maybe to find some decent deals on Accurate. Since I don't ever check there have you seen any decent deals on the bigger brass?
Scott

Scott:
Brass in any bpe round is very low pressure. Good Brass like Superior or Bell will see 20-40 reloads and even more. I shoot them until the neck splits when at the range but I keep separate brass for hunting that is new or only 1 or 2 reloads. I don't want a failure in Africa.
Good shooting,
Cal 


Hey Cal.  
I got my Jeffery 12 bore back last week.  I sent it off to have the barrel sleeved with a rifled barrel.  I'm looking for some paradox style bullets but can't seem to find any on the net.  Any ideas?
Mike H.
USA

Mike:
Good show on your 12-bore!
Moulds are available from NEI Handtools. For bullets alone, I do not have a source. I have found out through my limited experience, Paradox style bullets don't seem to regulate in a fully rifled barrel or a smooth bore. You may want to try a conical or a ball depending on the rate of twist.
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal:
Hi. Love looking at all the great pics on your site. I am hoping you might be help me with a query.  I am currently writing a book, set in 1870 USA.  I would like for one of the characters to use a double rifle.  Do you know of any that may have been around at the time?  I have seen the Lancaster .500 express pics on your site.  I think this would fit into the time frame?  If sos can you give me a little more information - country of origin, powder and ball load etc.?  Also what would .500 be in terms of bore?  Am I right in thinking that doubles of this time would all have been muzzle-loaders? Really hope you can spare the time to help me - I will appreciate it greatly if you so.
Best Regards,
Danny - Liverpool - UK.

Dan:
Good day.
An 1870s double rifle in .500 will fit the bill. Technically it will have the following:
wedge forend fastener--buttons and levers were not patented that early
28" Damascus barrels--rolled steel barrels were not in vogue then
early '70s had a straight grip stock with a spur guard. That is a semi pistol grip formed from the bottom strap from the metal extending back from the trigger guard. Other features were exposed hammers, under lever opening system, and probably not a recoil pad.
Cartridge was 3 or 3 1/4 inches case length. 340 or 440 grain bullet, and 5 drams or 136 to 142 grains of black powder.  James Purdey invented the name "express train rifles" in 1856, and it was shortened to express rifles by the 1870s.
In early 1870 caplocks were in use then, and early breech loaders of rim fire and pin fire. I don't know of the technical issues for a .500 x 3" in 1870. Back to your book, research pin fire doubles. That should be your safe bet. They were purely English. In bore size a .500 is 38 bore.

A few doubles did find their way to the US west but usually they were brought by visiting European or English sportsmen. Sam Colt's son made up some doubles in .45-70 on his shotgun frame. They are rare today and very expensive if located,
Hope this helps.
Cal
cal pappas


Cal:
Tell me about modern doubles and their use in extreme temperatures and modern powder in such temps. I have read cordite was sensitive to heat and generated higher pressures in hot climates. How do today's doubles stack up when reloading with modern powders.
Thanks and I enjoy your website and column in the African Hunter.
Bob F.
Mass.

Bob:
Good day and greetings to my home state.
Double rifles, new or vintage, will perform like any rifle in extreme hot or colt temperatures. In cold weather they will be difficult to open and close and the ejectors or extractors may be a bit stiff. At very hot temperatures the barrels will be too hot to hold after four shots (two from each barrel) and rapid fire at moving or wounded game will burn one's fore hand. As to accuracy, I'm sure very hot or cold temps will affect accuracy but I doubt anyone will notice when shooting at game or off hand shooting at a target.

As to powders, you are correct that cordite was very sensitive to hot temperatures and regulation was adjusted in the UK when manufacturing ammunition. Tropical loads were formulated with approximately 10% less powder so when fired in the cool temps on England. When regulating the rifles they shot apart a bit but when fired in the heat of the tropics, with the velocity increased, the rifles shot accurately.

Modern powders are not sensitive to temps to any great degree and you should not notice a difference in your shooting. I have not, myself, when shooting in Africa, Australia, Texas, or in Alaska when hunting caribou in 10 degree (F) temperatures. If you are into nostalgia and shoot FFg GOEX in your black powder express rifles you will not notice any difference. Black powder is really a wonderful propellant and is still used in the big guns of modern battleships.

Cheers and good shooting.
Cal

Dear Cal:
I read the terms pitted and frosted as to bore condition. What exactly is this and how does it do to accuracy?
Tim H.
USA

Tim:
Excellent question as bore condition is the only thing that can't be fixed or repaired when buying a vintage or second hand rifle. This is too often over looked. 

Pitting in the metal, in the bore or on the exterior surface, is due to rust. Either by moisture or from corrosive substances such as salt, blood, or the corrosive nature of some primers and powders. Exterior pitting can be draw filed off and severe pits can be filled with weld and then filed. The only trick to this is the welding rod must be of the same metal composition as the metal that is being repaired. Failure to do this will show when the surface is blued or blacked.

Frosting is a term used when a bore has a great deal of very light pits usually due to firing corrosive primers in older ammunition and also the great heat generated from many shots with cordite--sometimes known as cordite burn. 

As to accuracy, well there are two answers. If the rifling is strong accuracy will still be good. However pitted or frosted bores will pick up lead when lead bullets are used in old express rifles and they will also pick up copper when used with modern jacketed bullets. Lead or copper fouling will have a negative impact on accuracy. 

Smooth bores, shotguns or smooth bore for ball guns, can be honed a few thousandths of an inch to repair pitted or frosted bores. Lancaster oval bores can also be cleaned up in this manner, too. Rifled bores are what they are and the only solution would be to re-bore and re-rifle the firearm. If you are planning on doing a lot of shooting pay close attention to bore condition. If your treasure is a wall hanger to be admired and the exterior condition is to your liking than bore condition is of less importance.

Good shooting to you.
Cal

Cal:I read in your articles and on your website that you take your .600 and other fine doubles on international hunting trips. Does theft or damage cause concern to you?
Fred W.
California

Fred:
Theft and/or damage is always a concern and more so when taking expensive and irreplaceable firearms overseas. However, they were meant to be used and to not do so would be an injustice to those time makers of the vintage years. Here is what I do to put my mind at ease:

First I insure my rifles for the full replacement value. Many viewers of my site contact me for appraisals and I do this for a reasonable fee from detailed and numerous photographs of high quality. Many gun dealers appraise for a fee of 200$ or more and they must have the rifle in hand. The freight costs can add another 200$ to the appraisal fee and there is the worry of theft or damage whilst in the post. I charge 100$ for my appraisals. The photos must be without glare, shadow, and very clear. High resolution is not necessary as most photos are emailed. I can also recommend some insurance companies that are quite reasonable. SCI and NRA insurance is among the highest at 1.25$ per hundred dollars of valuation.

Then, my insured double rifle(s) are disassembled and placed in a soft case which is then placed in a quality hard case. My favorite case is the SKB brand. Many use Tuff Pak but I find them difficult to find items in without unpacking the entire contents as they load from the end. Also, their one lock is minimal security. SKB has two factory locks that are replaceable if broken (I carry extras with me when traveling) and the new cases have placements for two additional pad locks.

I ask TSA at my point of departure to wrap my hard case in TSA tape to show security down the line the case has been inspected and, hopefully, will not be subjected to further inspection. At the counter at the jetway I ask for my baggage tags to be scanned to check if the case is onboard the plane.

With the above measures, I travel as worry free as possible and to date have not had any problems with damage or theft. I would also suggest cameras, binoculars, and rifle scopes be transported in your carry-on bag.

I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal


Dear Cal:
What kind of cleaning equipment to you carry to the field when hunting with your doubles?
Jackson
New Zealand

Jackson:
I travel very light and as simple as possible. I carry a pull through Bore Snake, can of oil, silicone cloth, and turnscrews that fit my rifle. I also carry a aluminum rod or wooden dowel in case of a bore obstruction. That's about all.
Cheers and good shooting.
Cal

Dear Cal:
I find it difficult to see the front bead of my rifle in poor light. Any suggestions?
Mitch J.
Alaska

Mitch:
In 2002 in South Africa the bead fell off my front sight and I could only use the rifle (a .450-400) when the sun was behind me to illuminate the front sight stem. In shade or shadow I could not see it at all.

Ivory beads on the vintage rifles work fine but what I do now is to carry a one ounce jar of White Out with me in my travel kit. The applicator will put a drop of bright white liquid that bonds to the front sight well, is easily replaceable if needed, and dries quickly. I have used it many times and it adds greatly to the visibility of the front bead. If the bead should fall off, capillary action will bond the White Out to the bead's cavity in the stem and suffice for a front sight bead.

Many old rifles were fitted with larger flip up beads, called night sights or moon sights, but not all vintage rifles had them. One gent I know in Australia uses an industrial grade diamond for his front sight and he swears by it.

Cheers and good shooting.
Cal



Hi Cal,
I just picked up a Mortimer .500 bpe double. I've got a .470 and have loaded extensively for it, working up good factory dup loads as well as a fairly accurate 400 gr cast low-velocity practice round that shoots about 4" apart at 50 yards. I have not, however, loaded for a black powder double. Is it like a nitro, that needs to duplicate factory ballistics with bullet weight and velocity? I understand that a 340, 380, and 440 gr bullet were some options at the time. I have loaded for Sharps rifles so have a drop tube and all that, and have paper patched bullets for that rifle. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
Mark,
Atlanta, USA



Mark:
Good to hear from you.
Mortimer made a fine rifle and if you own number 5280 it was mine long ago.
If your rifle holds a 3-inch case it was made for a 340 grain hollow point bullet with a copper tube in place for expansion or a 380-grain solid bullet--both were paper patched or grease grooved depending on the year of the rifle's manufacture. The black powder charge was 5 drams or about 136 grains. The nitro for black load was 55 grains of cordite and a 440-grain bullet. To keep things simple, if you use IMR 4198 powder with a ratio of 1:1 with the cordite load you should see good accuracy in your rifle. 55-grains of IMR 4198, a bit of kapok or square of toilet tissue to keep the powder next to the primer, and a 440-grain bullet will give you what you need.
Trying to achieve a good target with the original bullet weight and today's black powder is more of a challenge due to the fact that today's back burns at a different rate than the powder from the vintage years. I have only experience with GOEX and FFg is fairly close to the original burn rate.
Good shooting,
Cal



Hi Cal:
I want to comment on the so-called bone-crushing recoil of the 8-bore and similar guns.  Now admitedly, the biggest rifle with which I am familiar is the .458 Lott, which certainly kicks, but is far from bone-crushing, IMO.
However, I also own and regularly hunt with a Benelli 3.5" 12 gauge shotgun.  It weighs just under 7 pounds and shoots two ounces of shot at 1200 fps.  This gun also kicks, but I find it far from bone-crushing.  I sometimes shoot 30 rounds a day out of it while hunting pheasants with no ill effects.  I claim no fame for this.  Lots of hunters use 3.5" 12 gauge shotguns similar to mine.
Now a 14 pound 8-bore shoots a 2 ounce ball at about 1300 fps.  The ballistics are very similar to my shotgun.  OK, the 8-bore uses a much heavier black powder charge than the smokeless load of a 3.5" 12 gauge, and this adds to the recoil, BUT my Benelli weighs only half as much (or less) than the typical 8-bore. My gun must have at least 30% more recoil than an 8-bore, probably more.  And again, my gun is nothing special.  Lots of hunters use them.
So what am I missing here?  Is the terrible 8-bore just a pack of hype?
Thanks and regards,
Phil B.
USA


Phil:
Good day and great question. The length of my reply my be fitting for a short article rather than in my column.
First of all, would like to ask the weight of your rifle and weight of the projectile and charge of powder.

You are correct, sir, when with the usage of the word, hype. Some time ago in the African Hunter magazine I wrote an article on hype and recoil was one of the topics. I have photos of Craig Boddington and Elmer Keith shooting .600 nitro express double rifles with the muzzles pointing skyward as if they were shooting geese. The actual barrel rise is about 8 inches. But, hype sells.

So it is true with the 8-bores and their bigger brothers, the 4-bores. There are a few things to consider when recoil is the topic of discussion but first I must point out I am a practical writer and shooter. I can't tell you what action filer had his first patent date and what firm he worked for nor can I tell you the scientific physics of recoil. I can tell you I shoot dozens of doubles each year and fire a thousand rounds or more each summer during the shooting season at my home in Alaska. And, generally, I seem to find what works.

When the subject of recoil is broached, several variables must be taken into consideration:
weight of the rifle
weight of the projectile
if the barrel is rifled or a smooth bore for ball
type of powder used
bore and bullet diameter
weight of powder charge
approximate year the rifle in question was manufactured.

Early doubles were made to shoot lighter charges of powder and lead than later rifles. An 8-bore from the 1870s will be on par with a 10-bore from the late 1880s. The rifles were lighter in weight, too.

Let's look at an example. A 16 pound 8-bore with 24-inch barrels made to shoot a 900-grain round ball with 10 drams of black powder. Recoil is not mild, but is not unbearable, either. At 1300 fps from 1880 it was a formidable weapon. Go beyond what the rifle was made for and recoil changes. In an 8-bore the heaviest load I have shot is 400 grains of FFg GOEX with a 1620-grain conical. My rifle weighs about 17 pounds. Recoil was very difficult to manage.

I've done some experimenting with my 4-bore. My rifle was made for 14 drams (390 grains) of Curtis and Harvey's number 6 powder. A very stiff load with the proper bullet of 4 1/2 ounces or 1882 grains. The rifle weighs 22 pounds and that weight soaks up much of the kick but the recoil is still severe. Move the bull weight up to 1950 or 2150 grains (my heaviest moulds) and the powder to 16 drams or one ounce (440 grains) and the rifle is a handful to control.

Here is another factor to consider--if you are using black powder or smokeless. I only shoot GOEX in my rifles and don't have any experience with other black powders or substitutes. FGg shoots far too slow to be of use in double rifles. Use the same weight of powder but with FFg and velocity increases 200 fps and so does recoil. FFFg is too fast so I don't use it. If GOEX made 2 /12 F, that would be the equivalent of the old number 6 C&H powder. 

To achieve the approximate velocities with smokeless I use Blue Dot powder. Generally I have found that 25 to 30% of the original black powder charge is right on when shooting a ball and 20 to 25% when shooting a heavier conical. (I have zero success trying to get a Paradox style bullet to shoot accurately in a smooth bore or a rifled bore).

With the above cartridges there is no doubt that the same bullet with the same velocity when shot with black recoils much more than with smokeless. Folks tell me it is due too the weight of the black powder charge and/or the amount of black powder solids the is ejected from the muzzle with the shot. I don't buy it. I have added the equivalent  weight to the lead projectile and recoil loss not increase any where near the same amount. I don't know why black recoils more but it does. Perhaps the quickness of the burn is the answer.

So, to answer your question, much of what you read is hype BUT it can be a reality with a heavy charge of black powder and lead.

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal



Cal:
What is your take on OSR or over stressed rifling? I’ve heard horror stories but no physical evidence or proof.
Don K.
Alaska

Don:
Some time ago a gent called from the lower 48 asking my opinion on OSR. He is a friend, one whom I never see enough of nor ever will. The desert where he lives is too hot for me and I doubt he will move to sub zero winter temps. We have enough in common to keep a strong long distance friendship going and he has visited my home in Alaska. We also hunted together in Australia in June of 2012. 

For years I thought the myth of OSR was just that, a myth. The stories I heard of it were evidence to the nonsense: of rifling being pushed to the outside of the barrel, of a severe case where the bore was now smooth (like a shotgun) with the rifling now on the outside of the barrel, and the best one was an urban legend told me by a gent in North Carolina: he actually saw the rifling lands pushed out of the muzzle by a monometal bullet shot in a vintage double. To put it politely, “nonsense” I thought. 

One fella who has wrote of OSR is Graeme Wright of Australia, the author of the best book on double rifles, Shooting the British Double Rifle. When I bought the first edition of Graeme’s work I wrote him with my experiences with IMR 4198 and suggested he include it in future editions in the chapter of black powder express rifles. Long story short, Graeme was an international pilot who stopped in Anchorage for fuel between the Orient and the east coast of the US. We visited often, rode in my ‘69 Corvette, and shot a few doubles. In fact, some of the ballistic work in volume 3 was shot at my Alaska home with my rifles.

At an SCI convention a few years ago Graeme asked me to accompany him to see an example of OSR. At a table he handed me a gent’s rifle. It was a pre war .450-400, three inch case I believe, and I was asked to examine the rifle for OSR. I did so and could not see anything. I was then instructed to open the rifle and look down the bores while holding the rifle to the ceiling lights. I did and did not see anything. Then he asked me to look down the exterior of the barrels as the light was reflected on the surface. I could have been knocked over with a feather! There is was. For lack of a better term, shadows of the rifling were seen in the reflected light. Looking down the bore and back to the exterior several times there was no doubt what I was seeing.

Let me interject here Graeme is a fine and honest man. His writings show his logic and common sense, and his conclusions are based on experimentation, not emotion, and what he stated to me in the past was based on the above. I had to see it to believe it. I did see it and I do believe it.

The man who owned the rifle was very angry with Barnes bullets as, he relayed to me, their attitude was standoffish and refused to accept the damage to his fine rifle was caused by their bullets. 

I went to Barnes and spoke of the subject. I also came away with a few boxes of Barnes Banded Solids to try in my beloved vintage .600 by John Wilkes, completed in April of 1914. I will get to my shooting shortly. First is the question of why OSR happens? There is no doubt it occurs, but why? Here is my theory. Now I don’t have as much hunting experience as many or most of you readers but I do have a bit of experience with doubles and shooting and researching them. OSR is due to one or more of the following:

1. Soft steel in old barrels
2. Perhaps thin barrel walls
3. Very hard bullet material
4. Bullets with no for few bands for rifling-displaced metal to flow
5. Bullets shot at too high velocity and/or too high pressure
and the big one:
6. Bullet with too large of a diameter for the bore.

Since I doubt anyone will use a vintage and expensive doubles to experiment with the jury will most likely be out forever. For those that say OSR is nonexistent they are, from what I have seen, wrong. From my experience with double rifles a combination of the above six factors are the key to the answer. OSR is also quite uncommon. There are not that many who have had the unfortunate experience to shoot monometal bullets in their old double.

When I shot the Barnes Banded Solids in my .600 I was confident there would be no problem. The bullets were .002” undersize, the many bands allowed metal to flow when it was cut my the rifling, and I began with a slow velocity and worked up to the factory regulated velocity of 1900 fps. OSR did not happen in my rifle as the bullets were the correct size and shot to the correct velocity.

In addition, I just sold a Winchester extra light weight, deluxe, .45-70 with a pencil thin barrel. Even more thin than the standard extra light barrels. With (for the time) nickel steel barrels and soft jacketed bullets (or lead) OSR was not a problem. However, I did notice the rifling was very shallow. I would guess .002”. Did Winchester, in 1902, purposely build such thin barrels with shallow rifling to avoid such a problem such as OSR? Could OSR occurred in such a thin barrel with rifling of a standard depth? Just a thought to ponder

Good shooting to you all,
Cal

Cal:
Pleased to make your acquaintance, Cal. Question, does conventional wisdom apply to mating the cartridge to the chamber and rifling of a conventional rifle, to a large bore rifle? Such as clearances between the mouth of the cartridge and and overall load length.  I have seen in print about using conventional plastic cases in chambers with 1/4 inch or more space between the mouth of the fired case and the lead or rifling.

Perhaps it doesn't matter as much with the short ranges involved with 95% of the shooting of such arms.
Thanks
Victor A.
USA

Victor:
If you refer back to the bore rifles, most were custom made with reloading implements with each rifle due to their individuality. Each is different as to diameter of projectile and length of throat. However the outside dimensions of the case was standard. So (as an example) a 4-bore case was the same (let's say the 4-inch version) but depending on the wall thickness the projectile diameter could be from 1.005" down to .919. Same with throat length--it all depended on how and what the maker wanted to do.

The smaller calibers, such as the black power express rounds and most so with the later nitro express rounds, had standard bore and bullet diameters (although there are exceptions). For example most of the .450 calibers had a projectile diameter of .458”. For some reason lost to time, the bore rifles did not have such standardization and I  would suppose when the time came to do so they were outdated and out of production.

The throat (between the chamber and rifling) varies with each caliber but seems to increase with caliber.

Good shooting,
Cheers,
Cal


From several emails I have received asking:
Q. What is meant by trigger plate action?
A. A trigger plate action is one where the sears, hammers, springs, etc., are fastened to the plate the trigger system is attached to.
  1. What is meant by off face?
  2. A. Off face means the lockup between the barrels and action is not tight. To check for  this, hold the rifle by the wrist of the stock and the barrels and twist in opposite directions. If movement is felt the double rifle is Off face.


Hi Cal:
Just recently acquired a Super 30 H&H double rifle. Everything I have read about the caliber is that its the same as the 300 H&H mag. So, do you know if one can shoot 300 H&H cartridges in the Super 30 gun?
Thanks,
Steve P.

Steven:
Lucky you! I am looking for a Super 30 flanged double just now!
The bolt action version is the 300 H&H we all know and love. It is rimless and belted. The Super 30 for doubles and singles is a rimmed cartridge without a belt. They are NOT interchangeable. The flanged version is loaded to lower pressure and thusly lower velocity than the rimless cartridge. The flanged is right on par with the ballistics of a .30-06 in the 150-180-220 grain loadings.
Send me some pics of your rifle if you would. I will post them on my site if you like and I Good shooting and cheers,
Cal



Cal,
I am having a hard time finding re-loading data and loading info and tips for the .450 NE cartridge. I have a new Sabatti double rifle. I see on TV that Ivan Carter is using Trijicon RMR on his double. I have 72 year old eyes and it seems to make shooting easier.
Regards, 
Art F. USA


Art:
Use 95 grains of IMR 4831 and the 480-grain soft nose bullet. The velocity will be a bit low but run the bullets through a chronograph and check patterning on a target. You may have to adjust the load up a bit to get proper regulation. When you have the proper target, if you use solids, decrease the powder charge by 3 grains.
This load has worked in many rifles of friends.
You should start at 90-92 grains for extra safety and work up.
I have no clue about the sight you mentioned as I’m a 3-leaf traditionalist.
Good shooting,
Cal




Hi Cal:

I would just like to thank you again for letting me shoot the .600 nitro whilst you were here in Darwin, after that the double rifle bug bit harder and I just had to have one, after talking to Mick G. I have bought a John Rigby under lever hammer in a .450 3 1/4" but unsure as to wether it is a full nitro or nitro for black, the rifle is proofed for black powder but rather heavy for a .450 and is regulated for the special cordite with 480-grain bullet. We are unsure wether that means nitro for black or just nitro and special meaning its a new thing as the rifle was likely made around the same time as the introduction of nitro. we are yet to find out but it is interesting none the less. I will try get some decent photos and send them through and also with more information once we find out exactly what the rifle was built for.
Once I sort out a decent load I will go out knock a buff and send that through and I am looking at organizing a trip to either Alaska or Africa within the next few years to shoot some more exotic animals with the double!
Anyway Cal, hope you are out happily hunting.
Regards
Brent A. Australia

Brent:
Good to hear from you and congratulations on the double rifle. A 480-grain bullet is the nitro weight but the powder charge could be less for a "light nitro" rifle. On key is the rifle's weight. 8-9 pounds is a bpe weight and 10-11 pounds is a nitro weight. But that does not always hold true. Here in Anchorage I've seen a .500 hammer under lever rifle regulated and proofed for a 570-grain bullet and a powder charge of 65 grains cordite.

Should you get in the market for a nice box lock I have a .470 Lyon and Lyon at a very attractive price--about 4-6K less that it should be on the market for but I'd like to sell is quickly so the price is reduced to 18K. Some pics are on the for sale page of my site and I can send others if your interest is sparked.

Should you make it here please stop by and visit, spend the night at my house, and shoot a few doubles. It was good meeting you and the other gents in Darwin and I do hope our paths cross in the future again.
Good shooting,
Cal




Hi Cal:
Our last night in camp I was cleaning my 500 and saw that the peace of metal between the 2 barrels is loose. At first I thought  the screws for the scope mount was loose and tightened them but they have nothing to do with this as those screws are taken out when you fit a scope mount on to the gun . I wish I had taken a few pictures to send you so you can see and then its also easier for me to explain. I met up with a gun smith in Harare yesterday and he says it’s a very serious problem as the barrels can come apart . He is going to try get hold of Sabatti in Italy and see what they say.
Do these guns have a guaranty on them?
We will keep in touch and I will let you guys know if I get any news from the gun smith.
Thanks and hope you all have a great day .
Cheers for now
Pieter  


Pieter:
Sorry about the Sabatti. I believe Cabelas will repair the rifle but it must be through Ron as he bought it for you. I do not know if there is a time limit after the purchase.
Do this: disassemble the rifle and let the barrels hang by resting the lumps on one finger. Then, tap the barrels with a metal object. If you hear a "ring" (like a tuning fork) the solder and barrels are fine. If you hear a dull thud the solder is coming apart and the barrels need to be rejoined. Tap both barrels just to be sure and let me know the results.
Good shooting to you,
Cal

Cal,
I have a Krieghoff O/U double rifle in a 2-barrel set chambered in .375 H&H and .416 Rem. Both barrels came with claw bases and I have a custom set of rings made for the .375. 
My question is what is the best way to sight in the scope on the .375 barrel?  Do I zero the scope to one barrel, say the top one, and then hope the bottom barrel was regulated close to the top barrels POI?  
Any advice will be helpful and greatly appreciated. 
Kind regards,
Beech M. USA

Beechard:
I know adding a scope to a side by side double bill change regulation but you should not have much to worry about with an over/under. I don't have any experience with O/Us but here is what I'd do:
target individual barrels on separate targets with open sights and the scope off
target both barrels together to see regulation.
repeat both of the above with the scope attached and see if the pattern changes.
if the pattern is significantly different, you can sight the scope in for the barrel you shoot first and use it as a super accurate single shot and remove the scope when you are close up to the quarry.
If no or not much difference, use as is!
Let me know how it turns out and good shooting to you.
Cal

Hello Sir:
I have a C.G. Bonehill double 12-bore shotgun with Greener side safety and Damascus barrels. I was thinking why not make up a set of rifled barrels for it? I think the action is strong enough to handle it. What are your thoughts? Did BoneHill make double rifles? Would it be possible to buy a set of rifled 8 bore barrels for it?
Thank you.
Ken L. USA

Ken:
Good day. Thanks for the “Sir.”
Bonehill made double rifles of fine quality and I nealy bought a .577 bpe sighted to 1200 yards by Bonehill! Your 12-bore action is fine for 12-bore rifled barrels as long as pressures are kept to the shotgun levels. 8-bore barrels will be far too large to fit a 12-bore sized action. The internet will help you find both a barrel maker and a gunsmith to do the fitting work.
Good shooting.
Cal


Cal:
What is a side plate boxlock?
Pieter, Zimbabwe

Pieter:
A boxlock has the parts of the action (hammer, sear,main springs, etc.) in the frame or box of the action. A sidelock has the same parts on the side plates of the action. Sidelocks are usually considered arms of a finer grade as there is more area for the engraver to work with. 
  
A side plated box lock as metal plates fitted to the rear of the action to resemble a sidelock and to have a larger area to engrave on whilst keeping the lower cost of a boxlock action. Most sidelocks have pins visible from the ouside that are the screws that hold the pieces together. A side plated boxlock does not need the pins as the parts are within the action. That is how to tell the difference for 98% of the arms (excluding pinless sidelock--yet another story).

Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
I have some cartridges I’ve reloaded for my .500 Sabatti and they won’t chamber. From the pics, can you tell me why?
Pieter, Zimbabwe

Hello again, Pieter:
Your are crimping the cartridge case slightly below the crimping groove causing the mouth of the case to swell a bit. Adjusting bullet seating plug a bit deeper will solve the problem. Also, measure your brass to see if it has stretched from repeated firings.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
What powder do you recommend for the larger double rifle cases?
Greg H.
USA

Greg:
With larger case volume I find it best to use slower burning powders that fill the case to the base of the bullet thereby not needing fillers. I use IMR 4831 exclusively. Black powder express cartridges with the lighter bullet will require a faster powder such as IMR 4198 and a filler. Same with the bore rifle cases with Blue Dot--a filler is needed. 

There are many good powders out there that I do not use as I find the above three will fit my needs so I stopped experimenting.

Good shooting to you.
Cal


Cal:
Have you used the Kynamco foam wads? I'm working up a nitro-for-black load for my hammer .500-3'' BPE double. I've been told to avoid IMR-3031 and use Varget instead. Any input on this?
Joel T.

Joel:
I have used the foam wads you speak of but generally use carpet backing felt, about 1/2 inch thick, and punch my own wads. 3031 has a reputation of delayed discharge in doubles and some said barrels were blown apart. I’ve never seent this, don’t know of one who has, and it may be an urban legend. Some issues in Australia and spoken of but I don’t know personally of it. I’ve no experience with Barget but use IMR 4831 and have so for 20+ years with no problem.
Good shooting.
Cal

Cal:
I’ve heard conflicting stories about the Sabatti doubles and regulation problems of “grinding the muzzles.” What is meant by this?
Regards,
Johann P.
Germany

Johann:
Thanks for your question. It is a much needed one as Sabatti rifles are getting so popular. Basically, as a cost cutting measure, Sabatti would target the rifles after assembly and finishing. If the rifles shot an unacceptable target, rather that heating the solder, moving the regulation wedge, shooting again, and repeating this process until a proper target was achieved, Sabatti would grind a portion of the bore away to change the path of the bullet. By doing this the bullet would travel in a specific direction until a good target was achieved. The result was a good shooting rifle but with muzzles that were out of round a bit. Note the photo. If you see such a condition, I’d stay away from a purchase.
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
I have a nice .600 conversion from a 10 ga. I shoot 125 gr FF and 720 gr lead bullet, so do you think I can start at 30 gr of Blue Dot for a replacement starting load, and use a foam filler?
Fred W. USA

Fred: 
This is a bit difficult to reply to as I'm working on this very subject for my next book and winter has cut short my shooting. It is easy to load just about any kind of double as formulas exist for black powder, light nitro and nitro for black, and nitro express. Not so with the bore rifles. It seems simple but there is such a variety in bore diameters and bullet weights as well as weight and construction of the rifles that is it difficult to come up with a set-in-stone formula. For what it is worth, in my own experimentation with 8s and 4s and some friends with 10s and 12s, here is a ball park view.

For rifles or guns proofed for a spherical ball I have been seeing 25% to 33% of the original charge of black powder with Blue Dot.
For Paradox rifles and fully rifled arms with a conical bullet I have been seeing 20% to 25% of the black powder charge with Blue Dot.

These percentages have worked in my rifles, with my cast bullets, and have been safe and shot accurately. There are a lot of variables that come into play, however. Early 8s were made for a charge of the later 10s, the early 4s for later 8s. In other words, as time went by makers increased the power of their rifles and also the weight of the rifles for safety and recoil reduction. You will also notice an increase in the weight of the rifles over the decades.

For a .600 (basically a 20-gauge shotshell) use of Blue Dot with the above percentages should be safe as a full house .600 is a handful.

Good shooting.
Cal


Cal:
What can you tell me about cast bullets in a double rifle?  Do gas checks need to be used? Jacketed bullets are just too expensive to shoot.
Ian R.
South Africa

Ian:
To cast for your calibers without gas checks: Use a hard alloy and heat treat the bullets. The easiest way to do this is to let the bullets fall from the mould in a bucket of water. Or, you can heat them in the wife's oven and then drop them in a pan of water.

Use a soft lube so the lube is deposited in the bore to keep leading down. Many lubes, such as LBT Commercial Blue, are so hard you will still see it in the grease grooves when you recover the bullets from the dirt bank you shot them into. I now use a 50-50 mix of candle wax and vaseline. Beeswax is fine, but expensive, to add to the mixture of 33% each (by weight).

As to wads, one or two thick card wads between the powder and the bullet's base will serve as a good gas seal. You may have to work with what type of powder you shoot as a slow powder (4831) may take up so much space it will be at the bullet's base and there will not be any room for a wad. Perhaps a quicker powder such as RL 15 may be better. The lube on the bullet should lube the bore but you can use a wax wad between the card wads to add more lube.

Last of all, size the bullets to the exact groove diameter or .001-2" undersize. Too big a diameter will put more lead in the bore.

Everyone has their opinion on how to cast and lube. The first 20 gents that read this will state their way is better. They probably are all good!
Good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal,

Received your books all ok. Very good, well worth the wait.

Now we get to the interesting bit, I have got UK police approval to
purchase a .500 Jeffery rifle and most probably going to go with a Classic CZ
bolt action.

Do you have any information/ loading data on light lead loads for
training/practise so I can build up to more powerful loads without getting a
flinch for the .500 Jeffery. I was looking at the Cast Performance bullets
but a bit expense to ship over here due to the weight, so might look over
here for other cast bullets.

Also, I am hoping to do some lead loads for the .416 RM to reduce costs as big
game bullets are very expensive over here, got some cast bullets, cast with
the RCBS mould to use but waiting for the Accurate 5744/Lovex powder
shipment to arrive in the UK. Using the load in the Lyman Cast Bullet book.

So was hoping the 5744 would be suitable for the .500 Jeffery as well.
Regards

Geoff

Geoff:
Here is what I do for my .600:
Full load is 160 grains of IMR 4831 to equal the regulated velocity. To shoot cast bullets I use the same powder with a 900-grain cast bullet (from wheelweights) with 100-115-130-145 grains. Accuracy is not too bad but doubles need regulation. Single shots would be no trouble. In fact I have a single shot Jeffery .600 I shoot the same case loads in to reduce recoil for shooting pleasure. (I will put the single for sale soon as I'm a doubles guy only). You will need wads--foam or toilet tissue--to hold the powder against the primer and you're set to go. I'm sure other powders will work fine but I don't have experience with them as 4831 seems to work so well for me.
Thanks for the kind words on the books. Enjoy them and good shooting.
Cal




Cal: 
Is the rifling twist the indicator for what the rifle was intended to shoot: round ball or conical projectile ?
Chris

Chris:
The twist is a definite indicator of what your rifle was targeted to shoot AND safely made to shoot. Twist of 1:100 indicate a round ball and 1:50 a conical bullet. Shooting a heavier conical in a ball rifle may have poor accuracy but the velocity must be slowed down to keep pressure at safe levels. Bore rifles are more forgiving as to regulated accuracy and in my 8s and 4s both shoot ball and conical well to a reasonable velocity. Too fast and accuracy falls away
Good shooting,
Cal.

Cal:
I enjoy your Q&A colum in the African Hunter. Now, I have a couple of questions. Should the projectile be the same diameter as the groove dimension ?  Or, oversize or undersize and by how much ? Should I get a conical mould and try that in the absence of knowledge when other suggestion has been to get a Fosbery style projectile of a bigger diameter to suit my rifles grooves ?
Thanks, 
Chris


Hi Chris:
Projectiles shoulde be the same as groove diameter. You can shoot .002" oversize with soft lead I have had no problems with this and also .002" undersize also as soft lead will obturate and fill the bore. I always shoot a ball .005 to .010 oversize so an equator forms to pick up the rifling.

I would (and have) ordered both ball and conical and developed loads that work well. The Paradox bullets do not seem to work in my rifled arms at any velocity and I've given up working with them. Here is what I shoot for equal accuracy:
8-bore:
100 grains of Blue Dot and a ball shoots to the same point as 12 drams of FFg GOEX.
80 grains of BD and a conical same as 10 drams of FFg.

The ball weighs 1000 grains and the conical weighs 1620 grains. 
Paradox of 1250 and 1350 shoots poor. Others to 3-4 inches at 50 yards.

Fg is too slow for any serious velocity as it shoots about 200 fps slower than the same charge of FFg.

4-bore same charges as above but with a 1400-grain ball and a 1950-grain conical.
When I shot the 4-bore ball with 120 grains of BD and 16 drams of FFg the accuracy spread all over the target.

Google NEI Handtools. They should have the mould you need, or can make it.
Cheers, and good shooting to you.
Cal


Cal,
Another question, perhaps trivial,

I forgot to ask about retrieved bullets, do you collect them?  (From game of course, hunters want to see how their bullets perform).  Have you been able to get any
projectiles back that you can take meaningful measurements from in regards to verify such things as obturation or is that a ' given ' that it occurs with soft lead.

What about ever so slightly harder alloyed lead ?  At what alloy hardness point do gases from the  charge cease to deform the base to fill grooves,  though
bullet bases may still melt.    
                                  
I read in one of Paul Mathews books that an undamaged cast projectile had been retrieved after winter from a shot into a snow drift. Have you considered putting a big lead projectile into a very big long pile of snow,  proper backing mound behind of course to try retrieval ?  
Thanks for all of your work to reply.
Chris T.

 Hi Chris:
I posted the snow subject last week on Accurate Reloading. I shoot into snow often and pick undamaged bullets the following spring. I have reshot them often!
You can also load bullets with a very small charge, such as 5-10 grains of Blue Dot, and check the undamaged shank to measure lands and groove diameter. Even if the nose is deformed, that is fine as long as the shank is sound.

The Brinell scale shows soft lead (pure lead) at a nubmer 5 with different alloys reaching up to 22. I shoot wheelweights as they are common and at a mid-point on the lead hardness scale.

Soft lead as used in muzzle loaders will obturate or bump up to fill the bore. By the time the hardness is a wheelweight it is too hard to do so. I don't have a hardness tester anymore but the Brinell scale will include soft, wheelweight, linotype, etc... and a corresponding number.

Good shooting to you, mate. I hope my ramblings are of some help.
Cal

Cal:
I am looking in to buying a double rifle, but I am left handed. I know the Sabatti rifles are inexpensive but only come in right hand configuration.  How hard is it to have the cheekpiece removed, or would it be easier to go with a Merkel made with left handed wood ?
Thanks,
Brian

Brian:
Excellent question, very practical, and thanks for the opportunity to reply.

The Sabatti is about the best bet going for a new production double rifle. There have been some problems with accuracy and the workmanship at the muzzles but I understand Cabelas will stand behind the rifle. Merkels are fine, too, perhaps a bit better, but also more expensive.

To answer your question, yes, you can have a good gunsmith remove the cheek piece. A competent 'smith can do this and you won't know it was ever there! However, lefties I know opt to leave the cheek piece alone as it won't hinder a southpaw's shooting and it will retain the resale value. You can also have the stock bent to a cast on position for a left hand shooter. The fine folks at Griffin and Howe can do this for you. The stock can be rebent to a cast on or neutral cast for resale. Resale to a lefty is extremely limited so keep your options open.

Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
Hi I’m Italian and I like too much express double rifle. Where i can buy an 8-bore rifle or where  is a 700 N E rifle? Thank you.
Francesco

Francesco:
You are an Italian big bore man. Check Guns International on the net for the most comprehensive double rifle listings.
Good shooting.
Cal

Cal,
Don't know if you remember me or not, but I used to see you at gun shows in Alaska when I lived up there. I think I bought a gun from you, but can't remember what it was. My ex was a Japanese teacher at Dimond and my daughter took your 60's class and enjoyed it.
I'm down here in Oregon now, and recently picked up a Kodiak Mk IV double 45/70. Since you're the expert now on these matters, I was wondering if you have had any experience with a .45/70 double guns. I'm having trouble finding load data, and since the gun was used, the original factory data was missing. Pedersoli is not being very responsive. The big question is what are they rated at, pressure wise? Do I use the trapdoor data, Marlin, or Ruger #1? The barrels around the chamber are very thick, but I don't know if that is the critical part of the equation in this kind of gun.  Any thoughts on this? If it's strong enough, it would be kinda nice to have it rechambered to something bigger. 
Also, it came with a set of 12 ga barrels which I regard as a rather useless appendage. I've been wondering about having them lined and chambered for another rifle caliber. Do you know anyone who can do this? 
Anyway, thanks for any input you may have and I hope your latest book is doing well. Ludo has always been good to me since my Russell Annabel book came out 11 years ago. I'm surprised to find it's still selling well.
Jeff D.


Jeff:
Good to hear from you. It's been a long time.
I have no personal experience with the Kodiak double but do have some suggestions:
You are loading both for safety as well as accuracy due to the regulation complexities of double rifles. Begin with a box of factory loads for the trapdoor and check accuracy at 50 yards.
Shooting apart is too slow and cross firing is a sign of too fast. If accuracy is right on--say 3" or less at 50 yards--that is the ammo for the rifle.

To re chamber is a possibility. Larger cartridges will show lower pressure for the same velocity but to keep things simple and cost effective rechamber for the same rim size--both diameter and thickness. A .45-90 is the best choice but the US .45-120 is also good. If you rechamber to a .450 3 1/4" you will need to replace the extractor plate as it is cut for a thicker rim on the .45-70. Also, the breech of barrels will need to be modified for the same reason. To increase the diameter of the extractor is less a problem so you could also chamber for the Winchester .45-125.

Don't try to shoot nitro equivalent loads in your rifle. It is plenty strong for larger .45 caliber cases in black powder pressures but not full nitro loads.

Ken Owen of TN can re barrel your rifle or sleeve in new barrels to the monoblock. New barrels will cost upwards of 10K$ but sleeved barrels 1/4 to 1/3 of that. I can send Ken's number is you want to chat with him.

No matter what you do, you will have to have the barrels re regulated to the new cartridge. JJ Perodeau of Champlin Arms can do this and so can Keith Kearcher. Both are on the web.

All three of the above gents I have done business with and can recommend them highly.
I sent off an email to an owner of a Kodiak and asked him for what he shoots. I will forward when I receive a reply.
I saw the Annabel book but didn't connect the name. Congratulations and good shooting.
Cheers,
Cal

Cal;
How do you roll a crimp and will it work with a round ball?  I don't have an antique reloading kit, and I don't know of a die set that might work for a 12 bore pinfire case that is 1.6 inches long. What do you suggest about filling the space between the powder and bullet?
Thanks,
Gary B.


Gary:
The roll crimp will work with paper cases only and a roll crimp tool can be found at Precision Reloading. However, most of us use brass cases. Here is what I do when seating a ball in my 8s and 4s in a brass case:
Place a 1/8-inch thick over powder wad at 100 pounds pressure.
Place in several felt spacer wads above the over powder wad to the top of the case. 
Seat the ball and crimp above the equator of the ball.
The expanding wad pressure will push the ball tightly onto the crimp and keep it in place.
Been doing this since 2000 and never a problem. Trying to crimp on the equator is iffy, at best.
CH Tool and Die can make you a crimp die.
Good shooting.
Cal




Dear Cal:
 I handload cartridges for my .600 NE. Until now I used 900 grains Woodleigh softs only and concentrated on working up a powder charge that burns clean and efficient without hangfires. I settled on 115 grains IMR 3031 behind a foam filler.

Yesterday I commenced loading 900 grains Woodleigh solids and I experienced a problem: When the solid is seated so that its crimping groove is aligned with the case mouth, the solid touches the rifling when the cartridge is chambered. In fact, the cartridge cannot be chambered without violently closing the gun. I had to seat the bullet a little bit further into the case in order to be able to close the double rifle smoothly, but then it became impossible to apply a crimp. My cases are not longer than 3 inches. The rifle is a Heym double rifle built in 2006 (as you know from our correspondence).

Do you know this problem?
Best regards

Sebastian L.
Germany

Sebastian:
Good day and I trust you are well.
If your cases are right at 3.000" (or just a bit under) I would guess the throat is too short.
This is the first time I have heard of this. In my Wilkes .600 both solids and softs from Woodleigh chamber fine.
I would recommend a chamber cast to check the distance from the end of the chamber to the rifling.
Cheers, and I hope this helps.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
There where two .600 Nitro express bullets listed in the 1986 Barnes product catalog . Both are .620" & weighed 900 gr. What is the distinguishing factors between the two behemoths?
Dewitt M.

Dewitt:
The two bullets were a soft nose and a solid (metal nose).
Good shooting.
Cal

Cal:
Have you any rules of thumb on reduced loads
Have Krieghoff 500/416.  Hunting loads are 109.5gr H1000 with 410gr bullets.  This load from Peter Krieghoff but they have no data on reduced loads.
Any suggestions?
Thanks
Lud K.
Wyoming

Lud:
Good day.
The 75% rule works for most double rifles and keeps acceptable regulation.
Use the full charge of powder and a bullet of 75% of the weight (in your case a 300-grain bullet for the .405 Winchester)
or
the full weight of bullet and 75% of the powder charge (about 80 grains of H1000) with a filler to keep it close to the primer.
That should do it! I do the same in all of my doubles, all my mates, too, and it works fine.
Cheers and good  shooting.
Cal

Hey Cal,

Do you have any reloading data for Pieter’s .500 NE using Somchem powder?  You are aware that is all we can get in Zim.   I brought some loads with IMR 4350 and
Hornady 570 DGS that regulated perfectly.  (Pieter says I should put a "gr"
after the 570 because he thinks you won't know what I am talking about).  We
are using S365. Any help would be appreciated.  Looking forward to hearing
from you and reading your column in African Hunter.  

Regards,
Ron P. and  Pieter P.
Zimbabwe

Pieter & Ron:
Good day.
I looked over the website and have the powder burn rates with me. Here is what I'd do:

IMR 4350 is number 213 on the list and Somchem S365 is number 214. They can be used one in the same but start light and should regulate with the same grains of weight.

I don't use 4350 but 4831 IMR. For the .500 and the 570 grain bullet 100 to 109 grains regulates in all rifles I've seem  H 4831 is a bit slower as I use 1-2% more. As Somchem S385 falls between the two on the list at number 230, your rifle should regulate within the range of 100-109. Again, start light as each rifle has its own unique characteristics.

Good luck and good shooting to you.
Cal
PS. Assure Pieter I know “gr” without writing it in!


Cal:
Was there a difference in twist rate between the .450/400 3 1/4 BPE and the .450/400 NE rifles?  Did the BPE rifles use a slower twist rate for the 230-300 gr lead bullets?  
Thanks and best regards, 
Bob

Bob:
Good day. Yes, the rifling twist varied with the bullet weight. Generally speaking, slower twists are for lighter bullets and quicker twists used to stabilize heavier projectiles. In the old Winchesters you wrote of earlier, the .50-110-300 has a slower twist than the .50-100-450. In a double, one has the question of bullet weight and twist but also the factor of regulation. It is best to keep the bullet weight, velocity, etc., with what the rifle was manufactured and proofed for.
Cheers and good shooting.
Cal





Cal:
I would love to add a double rifle to my collection.  What do you think about a Hyem double in .300 Winchester magnum?  The rifle will be used for moose, elk, deer in Alberta mostly.  My concern on any double is the down range accuracy.  Are doubles not regulated to hit center at a given distance then cross at some point?  Some shots at deer will be 300 yards possibly.  Thanks for any info.
Randy S.



Randy:
Good day and excellent questions!
First it is near impossible to shoot a double rifle at 300 yards. Yes, I know sights are to that distance and more (I have seen two .600s sighted to 700 yards and one .577 to 1200 yards!) but the fact is due to regulation 100-150 yards is a good shot with a double.

Should you mount a 'scope to get a longer distance you will still run into regulation problems. My suggestion for long range shooting is to sight the 'scope for one barrel. It matters not which, but the barrel you will shoot first. Use this as a 3-4-500 yard single shot and remove the scope for close work with the original regulation pattern.

As to a .300 Winchester magnum: any rimless cartridge may have extraction problems due to the small pawls that must extend into the extractor groove to lift the cartridge up for removal. The chances for problems are magnified greatly by an ejector. The jury agrees that rimmed cartridges are near foolproof and best for doubles. There are many rimless cartridges that have been used in doubles for a good many years but the potential for a problem is great.

Hyem rifles are good modern day doubles with a good reputation. My specialty is vintage English doubles, pre W.W.II, but there are many non English doubles made in the modern era that are fine. Hyem is one. I have two doubles for sale right now on my web site but they are not long range doubles that you seek. A .500 bpe and a .470 nitro. Also is a .600 single shot.

I hope this helps.
Cheers, and good shooting.
Cal


Cal:
Where should I look for cartridge loops for doubles and what features should they have? What do you feel are the positives and negatives between loops and belts? Love your site and your articles in the AH 
Jorge

Jorge:
Before it was common to buy belts and loops for the nitro cartridges I had mine made by a local leather smith. I like loops as they interchange on whatever belt I am using and I don't have to carry two belts with me along with my pants belt. Loops are small and out  of the way. I make sure the bullet is visible at the bottom so I can push out the cartridge if it is stuck a bit and most of all that the rims don't overlap one another. If the rims overlap  pulling on the wrong cartridge will be twice as difficult and its neighbor will spill on the ground.

Mark Sullivan used to sell this style on his web site a few years ago. My leather guy has moved out of state. But, those are the features I'd look for if I was in the market.
Thanks for the kind words. Let me know what your search turns up.
Good shooting.
Cal



Hi Cal - I understand how "Bore" is measured as well as how "Caliber" is measured. What I can't seem to find is why the older rifles are measured in bore instead of caliber. Can you help me understand this? I have looked all over the web and can't find an answer. Thanks
Steven.
USA

Steven:
I don't think the direct answer was ever written down in the old days but logic will find the answer to your excellent question.
Standardization set in early in the caliber rifles up to .450, .500, .577. Beyond those rifles there was no set caliber for a specific bore size. For example an 8-bore can be found anywhere from .819 on the low end to .888 on the high side, with most in the .835-.850 range. Each group of sizes, as the bore got larger or smaller was denoted by the proof house as 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 etc., As the makers had no set size per bore it was a confusion. That is why many old bore rifles came with its own bullet mould and other tools specific to the actual bore diameter. This didn't exist in the smaller caliber rifles. A .500 was a .500. A .500 bore was drilled with .005" rifling grooves making a .50 caliber actually a .510. It is simple and would have been so in the larger bore rifles had all agreed on a set diameter for the bore size. Many times a customer would order a rifle firing a conical bullet of three ounces and the rifle and bore built around that requirement.

4-bores can be found between .919 and 1.005 with the actual 4-bore diameter of 1.052". This is also due to the fact that the chamber size was set but the diameter of the bore would be determined by the thickness of the cartridge case wall--thicker for paper in the early years and thinner in the later brass cased years.

A bit confusing I know. I have all the bore size charts from the proof house in my book on the bore rifles. And, the proof house would also set the bore size of a caliber rifle, say a .500, and stamp a 37 on the barrel flats to conform to a 37-bore (of bore size, not groove depth.

Hope this helps and thanks for a thought provoking question.
Good shooting to you,
Cal



Cal:
I have been a fan of & owned double rifles for 4 decades. I have a hankering for another, a special one not often seen. I am looking for or would considering having built a .22 LR double rifle. A plain piece would be just fine but a must is ejectors & scope mounts. I have heard that ejectors may be a problem due to the LR rim. SxS or O/U? Your thoughts & ideas appreciated. 
Thanks.  
Tom L. USA


Tom:
I don't have any experience on .22s in doubles fitted with ejectors and I don’t think sxs or oxu would make a difference in the extraction or ejection mechanics.I know it has been done but I don't know if extractor or ejector and what, if any, problems arose.
I do know I have seen many .22s fail to eject on semi auto and bolt and lever actions. Perhaps this is due to the small rim size.
The problem I see is the shell is so small that when it is ejected or extracted there will be just a bit of room for the small case to move to one side when the slight pressure is applied from the extractor or ejector plate. This movement to the side could cause the plate to slip past the rim.
Am I making this clear and does it make sense? I've never had to write about this before and while I can "see" it I may not be writing and explaining it for you to see.
Cheers and good shooting to you.
Cal

2012


Cal:
I don't know if you remember me or not, but I was interested in your 10 gauge on the 8 frame a while ago. I noticed it is still for sale, but am currently unable to buy it. Even though I can't own a big double right now, as always they are still of great interest to me, which brings me to a question that I thought you might be able to answer. I don't remember where I heard it, but I heard that there were 4 bore rifles made with 4.5" chambers. I know that the Holland and Holland 4 Bore Nitro rifle built for the Maharaja of Rewa had 4.25" chambers, and that is the biggest I had heard of. Were there any rifles with 4.5" chambers?

Congrats on your upcoming Bore Rifle book by the way! I will definitely be interested in a copy once it is available.

Thank You,
Charlie
USA


Hi Charlie:
I remember you well. The H&H 4-bore was in a museum in India and and may be in London now. I was unable to get any photos of it for my book. I did, however, get the H&H ledger page for inclusion.  I do not know of 4.5-inch chambers for any 4-bore rifle. There may be a shotgun with that length of chamber as there were many times more shotguns made in 4-bore than rifles. In fact, all of the rifles I have seen have 3 3/4" or 4" chambers and I know of two with 3 1/2" chambers, and one 4 1/4”.

The bore rifle book is in hand and I am taking orders and I am now set up for credit cards. Check my web site     for details.
Cheers and good shooting.
Cal




Hi Cal:
Remember that Lang double rifle you appraised for me?  Turns out it's not a .450x3.25 but a .500/450.  I'm trying to get some cases for it.  Do you have loading data for that cartridge?  It the case is off at all, it should fire form and give us exactly the right measurements.  What primer, powder load, and bullet weight do you recommend?  Should I paper patch the bullet?

Jeff G.
USA

Jeff:
Good day and I do recall the rifle. The .500-450 originated as a black powder round and made the transition to the nitro era. Your rifle will shoot 4 to 4 1/2 drams of black powder and a bullet weight of 350-365 grains. A light smokeless load will shoot 45 grains of IMR 4198 and a 350-grain bullet. This should be in the ball park for an accurate load but you may have to adjust the powder charge up or down a few grains. Hornady 350-grain bullets work wonderful in the .450 caliber black powder rifles. As to paper patching, these bullets are accurate and reduce lead deposits to nil, but they are time consuming to make and I don’t think the greater accuracy is relevant in a double rifle.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
Why do so few double rifles have straight English style stocks?
Jack P.
USA

Jack:
Two reasons, mainly. The pistol grip (referred to as a pistol hand in the ledgers) will help manage recoil and will also offer a more stable grip for accurate shooting. Neither of which is required in shotgun shooting.
Good shooting to you,
Cal



Cal:
After reading your latest post on the AR web site you got me thinking about the history of my Gibbs .450 which you have a pic of on your site.  How would one go about finding it's history?  Do you know of anyone that has Gibbs' archives. Leaving for Zim on the 10th for Buff and Tuskless hopefully I will be able to contribute to the history of my Gibbs
All the best
Bob R.
USA

Bob:
I don't’ know of the location of the Gibbs ledgers but a call or email to any of the London firms should let you know. History of a double is a great thing but one needs a name. If you manage to obtain a copy of the ledger the name of the original owner should be there. Once you have a name here are a few things to do:
If the name has a military designation you can contact the library at the Scottish Military Museum in Edinburgh. They have a biography of every man in the service of the UK. A private may only have his name and rank whilst an officer may have a page or two.
If you have a year of manufacture, you may be able to search records of Scotland Yard as all firearms in the UK needed to be registered with the police after (I believe) 1903.
With a name and year you can search the Mormon Churches genealogical records and come up with a family name(s) and location.
If the original owner has a unique name, look at the phone books in the UK to see if anyone listed now has the same name. This is not possible for a Jones or MacGreggor as there will be too many listings.
Last of all, you can trace backwards. Who you got the rifle from and who he got if from. Many dealers will not divulge the person they took possession from as they don’t want you to know how little they paid for it. Tracing backwards may work best if a past owner had the rifle kept in the family for a generation or two. If the rifle has passed through a dozen hands it may be more of a challenge.
I hope this helps a bit.
Good shooting,
Cal



Hi Cal:
I have inherited two double rifles recently. The first one is a three in one Chas. Osborne and Co. London. The license from 1942 Mysore, India  says: Three in one: one butt three barrels. 1) DBL 12 bore no. 14627. 2) DBL .500 bore rifle no. 14628  3) SB .22 bore rifle no. 56 (Morris Tube).   The barrel rib says Chas Osborne and Co. 7 Whitehall Place London. The same name is engraved on the side of the action. The proof marks for the dbl. rifle are London proof marks but no cordite or caliber is mentioned. The shotgun barrel is damascus and the .22 tube fits in it. Would you possibly be able to confirm the caliber? My uncle bought it 50 years back and never used the rifle, only the shotgun. He did though on a trip to the UK and bought a couple of cartridges. They slip in perfectly to the dbl. rifle barrel and on the base it says  Kynoch 500 nitro.  Any help in confirming the caliber would be of immense help.
Kind regards 
Unver K
Pakistan


Unver:
About your .500:
The 39 indicates it is a 39-bore or 39 bore sized round balls equal one pound (such as a 12-bore has 12 balls to the pound).
The 13 over 1 indicates the bore diameter is .719 or a 13-bore, for the shotgun.
The .500 load was 136 grains of Curtis and Harvey's no 6 black powder with a 340 or 380- grain bullet. The nitro for black load used a 440-grain bullet and 55 grains of cordite. Today 55 grains of IMR 4198, some filler, and a 440-grain bullet will give good regulation.
DO NOT shoot your nitro cartridges from this rifle as it is a black powder proof and such high powered ammunition will damage both the rifle and the shooter!
Good shooting (but only with black powder shells!).
Cal



Cal: 

Very quickly: the 39 bore makes sense but then why did the license say its a .500? And thanks for the info on the load of a black powder .500. (btw liked the buff you took with the Wilkes .600!). Also is it ok if I send you images of another double that i inherited? Apparently a .32-40 but needs confirmation.

This has all the proof marks and cordite range clearly mentioned. Unfortunately some fool (whom my uncle picked it up from ) had erased the original name of the gun maker from the action sides and barrel and engraved Holland and Holland! I think its a Webley and Scott made to the Ballard caliber .32-40 (and Winchester) because of the W&S trademark tower with  wings or flames on both the action and barrel flats. The screw grip doll’s head was also made by W&S. 
The W&S ledgers are with Richard Gallyon (I think). The original gun number is stamped everywhere and so it may be possible with some sleuth work to find the original gun maker!
Last of all, is the .500 bpe ok for the big five?
I value your input!
Unver K.
Pakistan





Unver:
The rifle you have is a .32-40 from the powder  charge and bullet weight. Too bad someone marked over the original maker’s name. The .500 bpe is fine for lion and leopard and many buffalo have been killed with it. It is definitely on the light side for rhino, hippo, and elephant. The rifle’s power is only half of the equation. The other half is bullet construction. Lead bullets would be too light for lion and buffalo unless very hard but a good jacketed bullet would suffice for lion and also the buffalo.
The 39 and the .500 equate to the same bore diameter of approximately .510”.
Good shooting,
Cal



Hi, Cal, 
Since we are corresponding for each other now I would like ask you a couple questions about the double rifle loads. Currently I’m shooting two double rifles. A John Wilkes 500 NE 3 1/4" and Piotti 470 NE. My current loads are follows. for 500 NE - Woodleigh 570gr + Federal 215 + Norma 203 B 90 grains, For 470 NE - Woodleigh 500 gr. + Federal 215 + Norma MRP 107 grains. They seems functioning well with these rifles but I just wonder if you have any other appropriate or a good loads to recommend for these particular rifles ?  Since you are an expert on the subject I have to ask these questions. The powders which easily available here are Norma, VihtaVuori, Hogdon, Dupont. IMR is a bit tricky to get.  Looking forward to having your book soon.
How to sign the book for me ? This I leave it for you as you think the appropriate for between us as double rifle enthusiasts and fraternities. By the way I,m following and reading your column in  African Hunter. One more thing, I’m loading same loads for both solids and soft points, Should it be a little less for the solids ?
Thanks again. Regards, Y.Kotagiri




Ken:
Thanks for your e-mails on the two fine doubles of yours. I am not acquainted with other powders as I use IMR 4831 for all of my nitro doubles. For the .500 I have used 105 grains and the 570-grain bullet. For the .470, the same powder charge. For use with a solid bullet I recommend 3 grains less powder. And, do NOT use a solid monometal bullet--only steel jackets over a lead core with a gliding metal outer layer, such as copper, to lessen wear on the barrels. Woodleighs work fine in all of my nitro rifles. And, your book is on the way!
Good shooting,
Cal






Cal:
I have a 16-bore double and would like to find a powder charge and bullet combination for hunting. Any ideas? The ball stuff is pretty easy to get to a 'safe' load by using 1 oz shot loads.  It's the 634 gr. bullet that is problematic for the 'safe' part.  If I can find some velocities for the ball and bullet in the 16 ga it at least gives me a bit of confidence as I chrono loads.  Sherman's 2010 DGJ Paradox article was somewhat helpful although obviously not exactly the same thing.

As I understand it the BP dram listings on early shot shells was correlated precisely to a given velocity.  Is that correct?  My 16 ga balls are cast at .664" dia. and weigh 422 gr. w/ a 1:20 alloy so I should expect a 3 dram load to deliver somewhere in the vicinity of 1235 fps.

Hope helping me with a 'small bore' isn't too boring and I do appreciate it.
Dennis

Dennis:
The only loads I can find in my archives is 3-drams of black powder and the one ounce spherical bullet. The conicals you have are about 1 1/2 ounces thereby showing a 50% increase of lead weight. That is significant but if you drop the powder charge by 50% and work up you can play with the velocity and see if regulation comes into acceptable levels. Make sure the bullets are sized correctly and I’d start with soft lead which will conform to the bore with less pressure than with a hardened lead bullet. 

If your rifle in unmarked as to bullet weight or type, you can check the rifling twist to approximate the bullet weight. A slow twist of 1:100 would equate to a round ball rifle (and, I have seen one with a twist as slow as 1:200). A more quick twist, say 1:50 would stabilize a conical bullet. If the twist in your rifle correlates to a round ball, that is probably what you should shoot for both safety as well as accuracy
Good shooting.
Cal




Cal. 
Can I shoot .500 3" BPE rounds in my .500 NE double?  It is made for the full nitro loads and I have shot many rounds of the 570 grain Kynoch loads through it. The BPE rounds have a 350 grain bullet. Would it be like a practice round in terms of recoil? This may be a very dumb question but will ask it anyway: can you hunt game, or specifically dangerous game, with BPE chambered rifles?  I see a lot of old hammer doubles which are really neat but wondered if they were usable or meant for the closet??
Thank you,
Beech M. USA



Beech:
It is safe to shoot bpe rounds from a nitro rifle. Pressure, recoil, velocity, powder charge, and bullet weight are all low. Safety is not an issue, but accuracy may be. However, never shoot a full nitro load in a bpe rifle.
Of course you can hunt dangerous game with a bpe rifle!
.450 bpe is a great for deer sized game and up to moose and eland.
.500 bpe is fine for buffalo.
.577 bpe if fine for all else but not elephant and hippo due to lead bullets. Perhaps if you can get some very hard lead or copper jacketed bullets with a very thick jacket. I believe Woodleigh makes bullets to be shot at the lower velocity and still mushroom well.
130 years ago they were all that was available and used extensively.
Take yours out and shoot and hunt with them. It is a satisfying experience!
Good shooting!
Cal

Cal:
I want to know where one can get a double rifle action. I would like to build one for myself, and I’m having trouble getting the project of the ground.
Thanks,
Jakes, Zimbabwe

Jakes:
It is always nice to get an e-mail from my favorite African country! I would guess any of the American or European makers will sell you an action: Searcy, Heym. Merkel, Verney-Caron, Sabatti, etc... English makers would do so to, but the cost would be very high. Folks on a budget use heavy shotgun actions and mono-block to the new barrels.
Good shooting,
Cal


Hi Cal.
I have a Rigby 12-bore Shot & Ball gun which has a strange barrel configuration. Its not a  traditional smooth bore for round balls, and its not a muzzle rifled as a Paradox. I have fires factory loaded H&H Paradox ammo as well as Brenneke slugs too, but with poor accuracy.

Here is how the barrels are formed: the barrels are heavy, more heavy than shotgun barrels normally are. The gun weighs 8 lbs. The barrels start out with .743" caliber and reduced down to .735" at the muzzle. If I take a .735” Paradox bullet and push it into the barrels it will go all the way to about two inches before the muzzle. The Paradox bullet just barely touches 3 sides of the barrel walls symmetrically (120 degrees). That's very clear to see.

The folding sight of the gun is set for 100 yards. The gun was sold in 1903, when the Paradox "system" was in place by most makers. I have tried to study old books in this. Traditional round ball guns had their sight(s) set for a maximum of 60 yards because accuracy was not to be expected much further. However, mine is set for 100 yards which makes it not a round ball gun. Perhaps, unless the makers had come up with a barrel system where they actually could make a round ball hit with accuracy to a 100 yards. I have in vain looked for early Rigby catalogs of the 1900s but they seem not to exist. The earliest I could find was from 1930s. Maybe early catalogs of the 1900s could explain what kind of gun I have and what kind of ammunition was meant to be used in such a gun.

I wonder if I could shoot soft .750" round balls in such a gun or should I go go down to .744" and let the barrels squeeze the round down to .735" to see if that is the answer to accuracy. I write to you because you maybe know something?.

Best regards,
Jens P. Denmark

Jens: Always good to hear from you.
You mention three sides. Could your ball and shot gun have invisible rifling in the constricted muzzle section or perhaps an oval bore? The sights alone won’t tell much. Yes, 60 yards is the approximate maximum range for a ball gun but look at the optimistically sighted double rifles with sights to 300, 500, and more yards. I once held a .577 black powder express with leaf sights to 700 yards and a sliding tangent to 1200 yards! So, your 100-yard sight is certainly within limits. As to a safe diameter of ball to shoot, I would keep the diameter at the bore size and with soft lead or pure lead. Do not shoot hardened lead through the choke area. Even with .010” you could bulge your barrel at the muzzle.  And, keep velocity and pressure to original levels. For original catalogs and data I’m sorry I can’t be of much help to you there as my library is limited in this area. 
In closing, my former Lyon and Lyon oval bore smooth bore shoot a ball to a 1.5” group to the sights at 100 yards. In your case the rifled choke could well reach out to over 100 yards with acceptable accuracy.
Good shooting!
Cal




Hi Cal:
I loved my weekend at your home and the double rifle shoot! It was a great introduction to the double rifle world. Thanks for the invite and it was well worth the trip from Tennessee. Just thought I would let you know I received the .450 Sabatti from Cabelas. While it is not an old English double. it is not bad. Looks nice (deluxe version) and shoot as well as can be expected from a double. Thanks for the tip on the reloads. The first two shells I fired in it were 90 grains of IMR4831 and it on target. Would it be possible to shoot the loads I have for the BPE thru this rifle with any accuracy at all? Or, would I have to go thru the regulating process all over again.? I thought the lighter loads might be good for just plunking. I am shooting some now but would like to fire a few rounds daily for a month or so before I go over to Africa for the plans game hunt.
Have a good day.
Steve N. USA

Good Day Steve:
It is nice to hear from you and I’m glad you enjoyed your Alaska shooting weekend.
You can safely shoot low powered black powder express ammunition in your full nitro .450 3 1/4” but expect poor accuracy. This deals with recoil speed, bullet time in the bore, rate of burn of the propellant, etc. Try it--it can’t hurt. You can also follow the 75% rule: a full powder charge with a bullet of 75% of the regulated weight (approximately 350 grains in your rifle) or a full bullet weight and a 75% charge of powder. This is not carved in stone but more and more double rifle men are finding this a good way to obtain acceptable accuracy while enjoying their double rifle with less recoil. You may have to adjust the powder charge a bit up or down but you will be in the ballpark. And, it may not work at all. Just try it! 
Please don’t re regulate it to black powder ammunition. You will ruin the accuracy of the nitro loads and reduce the resale value of the rifle.
Good shooting,
Cal




Cal:
I was intrigued by your web site and appraisal service and would like to utilize your expertise in evaluating an R.B. Rodda double rifle.  Please let me know how we can proceed.
Thank you,
Ken. USA

Ken:
Thanks for your e-mail. A few years ago I began appraising double rifles based on my experience with them. I looked at “name” appraisers who charge up to $200 per firearm and must have the weapon in hand. With the round trip shipping charges this can bring the cost of the appraisal to nearly $400! Not only is this too much but the less time your rifle is out of your hands the safer it is. Here is what to do: I will need detailed photos of every part of your double rifle, including all words, and proof and other markings: close-up, clear, no shadows or reflection or glare. Photos down the bore, too. Include specifications of barrel length, weight, etc., and if you have any history of your rifle. I will evaluate the condition, the approximate or exact date of manufacture,  information on the maker, research selling prices of similar doubles, and write an appraisal of one or two pages. I do not list information as obtained from the maker’s ledgers as you can obtain that yourself, but I will include it if you have it. The appraisal process takes up to two days as I need time to proof the final copy before I send it off to you via e-mail and also a signed copy via the post. I charge $75 per rifle and your appraisal has a lifetime rewrite guarantee. If you find your double rifle was owned by the King of England I will add that information and adjust the price at anytime for no additional charge. My appraisals have been accepted by many insurance companies and I can send you a sample for your examination if you wish.
Cheers, and good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal:
I talked with you a month or so about a double rifle that I saw online. I have found another one on the Guns International site. It is listed under the English doubles. The reference number is 261874. It is a Charles Lancaster 450 no. 2 NE 31/2.  What is  assisted opener? I would appreciate any advice you can give me.  
Regards
Dickie H. USA




Cal: 
With the Sabatti model 92 at $5000 it has made a double rifle affordable for me. I have Wayne Simpson's article from Handloader #147 and Leo Grizzaffi on lead bullets in the 470. Any info on 450 3 1/4? I have the data from #8 Hornady manual. It seems more cost effective to shoot a 450 versus 470. I think 450 3 1/4 ammo is readily available in African gun stores. have had the lost ammo experience for my 375. I always enjoy your double column in African Hunter. 
Thanks,
Art

Art:
Good to hear from you and thanks for your email.
To economize shooting of the .450 is much easier than with the .470 as .458 bullets and moulds are far more common. I have a .450 no2 and do the following:
1. Cast bullets are good but a gas check is needed as well as a soft lube that will deposit itself in the bore to keep leading to a minimum. Even with that, leading will occur and and destroy accuracy. 
2. A second option is to use paper patch bullets. More time and trouble but no leading and accuracy remains good even at rifle velocities.
3. Number three is the 75% rule. Shoot a bullet of 75% of the original weight with the full charge of powder. Hornady 350-grain round nose work fine in the .450 and are much less expensive to buy. In my .450, as well as those of friends, accuracy is acceptable.

As a last thought, while accuracy not be as good as with the regulated load it is a good way to practice not only targets, but in trigger pull with a slow and deliberate aim to reduce or cancel flinching. I also work with reduced loads when beginning shooting in the spring after a long winter of no shooting here in Alaska.

The .450 is nearly the same as the .470. Shoot about 5 grains less of powder (approximately) to compensate for the smaller internal case capacity and you should be fine.
Cheers and good shooting,
Cal


Cal,

Have you ever used any of the North Fork bullets in your doubles?  I have read where they are regarded as excellent bullets but didn't know how they would regulate in my .500 NE when compared to the Woodleighs. Any advice or thoughts will be greatly appreciated. 
Kind regards,
Beech M.
PS. Hope the buff hunt with Graeme was successful. 


Beech:
Yes, the hunt is Australia was a good experience and the .600 most certainly take care of a good trophy buff. It was good to see Graeme again and meet some of his double rifle mates there.
I do not have any great experiences with North Fork but has shot them some. They are a fine bullet and will regulate in your rifle with the appropriate powder charge.
Good shooting,
Cal




Hello Cal:
Historically (before the advent of advertising to control men's minds), what length of barrel was preferred by the PH for dispatching a lion charge from close quarters?  I read on the internet that a short barrel is what is needed.  Seems like bs to me, and it would be like shooting trap and you would want a pretty long barrel with ron sights.  I see you have a number of 28" barreled guns on your web site.  In bolt action that would translate to 24 or 25" I suppose.  I'm thinking of getting a 9.3x62 bolt action elk and brown bear protection gun, used, under $1000.  It looks like if I shop real hard I might get lucky and find 25-inch but will more likely have to settle for 24.  Do you concur that longer is better?
Mike M.


Mike:
Good question and thanks for the opportunity to give it some thought.
Since a lion will be charging from a distance, barrel length is not an issue. Quick pointing ability and a cool nerve is. My current 4-bore has 28-inch barrels is is very muzzle heavy. It does not point well at all.

The barrel length of a double rifle is generally (in the vintage years) not thought of as to what was to be hunted and how, but more to keep the rifle in balance. Added to this was in the larger calibers weight was necessary to keep the recoil manageable. I have seen double rifles with barrels between 16 and up to 32 inches. However most are either 24-26 inches with 26 the most common and the black powder express rifles at 28 inches. The large bore riles were 24 inches and the smaller 12s and 10s 26 and up to 28 inches. Generally, shorter barrels were used in India when much of the hunting was done on the back of an elephant in the howdah (when the range was as close and perhaps the tiger climbing up the elephant--as is engraved on one of my 4-bores) and a longer barrel in Africa when the distances were to be longer--most so in the open plains and grassland. As you correctly pointed out, bolt rifles will use shorter barrels as the action is so much longer. Most bolt rifles seem to be about 24 inches in barrel length. Longer barrels will also equate to higher velocity--about 25 feet per second per inch. In heavy brush I would like a 20 to 22 inch barrel in a bolt rifle or a 24 inch in a double. For your 9.3x62 24 or 25 is neither here nor there. If you find what you must have in a 26 or longer barrel, it is easy for a gunsmith to cut it down. (Easily done on a single barrel and not so easy on a double). Your caliber is fine for elk but do you think a heavier bullet would be better for brown bear? I have been actively looking for a brownie this summer and sometimes I take my .600 (which I admit is overkill) but the best I have as to a practical standpoint is my .450no2 with a 500-grain bullet at about 2150 fps. Yesterday I followed a fresh track of a brown bear and, from its size, the bear could approach a half ton in weight. 

In closing, look at where you will be hunting and what you will be hunting. Maybe two rifles will suit you better?
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal,
    I made some observations on doubles while in Zim.  For what it's worth, I will pass them along.  W.C. was carrying a .500NE.  His 2 shots didn't stop the buff that killed him.  O. L. was reloading his .458 bolt gun when he was killed.  He had a beautiful .475 double, but had no ammo for it at the time.  L.T. uses a .458 Lott.  I. C. carries a Heym .500, and I think he has another backup double in a smaller caliber.  B.C.  was using a .416 Ruger when his tracker got stepped on, but has switched to a Blaser synthetic stocked .500 Jeffery.  I'm not sure what A.H. carries.  The apprentice PH at Mwanja has a .458, as does I.G.  G. does not like doubles at all, and is not fond of his clients carrying them.  When we sighted in, I put a right and left in a 3" bullseye at 25 yards off the sticks, and he seemed pleased, saying, "That's unusual for a double."  I know from my time spent with you and Graeme, (in
person as well as in print), that doubles can be even better than that, so I think his comment had more to do with the shooters than the rifles. 
    One of the clients in camp had a new double that he stopped carrying because it would discharge with the safety engaged.  I heard several negative comments from the pros about these guns, which surprised me.  My own Sabatti had no problems at all, but I only fired it 3 times.  I think that it is adequate for the occasional hunter, but I don't think that I would depend on it if I were a professional.
    As far as going back to Africa again, that is an absolute.  I am blessed with a soul mate who is nearly as smitten about Africa as I am. It is doubtful that we will ever be able to repeat a trip as costly as this last one.  I plan on keeping the Sabatti--there is no "feed bill". to pay for.  Perhaps one day I can use it on a large bear, or perhaps take a giraffe with it. Until then, I can shoot it occasionally to keep up with the proper shooting form, and every time I look at it, the memories will flood back.  That is reason enough to keep it!
                             Cheers,
                             Tim

Tim:
Good to hear from you and, yes, I accept the blame for your developing an interest in and buying a double rifle! It is a character flaw in me, I know. Although the only ones who actually get angry with me are the wives of of my friends who begin their double fever after visiting me! Anyway, to get to your letter and observations. I only put initials for the names to keep a bit of anonymity.

If any animal runs after being shot, it was shot not 100% correctly. I speak from experience and when I shot my last cape buff poorly he ran off and when I shot my last water buffalo he dropped in an instant. Both were taken with my .600. It is very sad to learn of the loss of a PHs life prematurely. Accidents happen. As to your PH not liking doubles, I would guess he is not very knowledgeable on doubles and their glamorous history of use in Africa as well as India. You are correct in your observation is correct in his determination of a double’s accuracy--he should be judging past shooters not the doubles. The safety problem you write of is easily correct and the maker will stand behind any and all rifles he sells--he has a great reputation in Africa as well as the USA. Accidents like this are best left at home and hot happen in the field. Perhaps enough shooting prior to the safari would have surfaced this problem.

Yes, you are bitten. Return when you can. Your thought of a giraffe with a double is a noble one. I took mine with my .450 no2. Giraffe are great sporting animals to hunt even though they are not thought of as a trophy animal. They are impossible to stalk in the traditional method. Rather one walks parallel to them, back and forth, as they get comfortable. Then, begin angling in a bit with each pass and you should get close enough for a shot or two. I have the skull, two front feet, and a full size rug. 
Good shooting, mate.
Cal



Cal:
Can  you  send  me  a  picture  of the type  of  sling  swivels and that were common on vintage double rifles?  I want to know what the sling and attachments would  look like  on my Jeffery  double  577  3  1/4  mag  (black powder) and also how wide would that  sling be? The rifle was made in 1897.  Also, where  can  I  buy  English-type  sling  swivels  for a 1 1/2-inch sling? Thank you.    
Lewis  W.
Arizona, USA

Lewis:
Good day. Sling eyes with the corresponding hooks are easy to use and can be removed quickly. Swivels are more sturdy but more time consuming to remove. The eyes are rounded to allow the hooks to move freely and the “eye” for a swivel is squared off on the sides to accept and solidly hold the screw that secures it. Slings for vintage rifles were one inch up to 1 1/2 inches wide but there was not set size. Remember the hunter rarely carried his rifle, his bearer did. From old photos and text, it seems to me sling use was less common in the old days than today. As to purchasing a set, I would call the major dealers in doubles as they may have some in the parts drawers. A good gunsmith can fabricate a set but it will be expensive.
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
Can you recommend a Blue Dot load for a 10-bore double rifle?
Thanks,
Steve W.
USA


Steve:
I no longer have a 10 but a friend suggests the following with a 700-grain round ball:
40 grains of BD for 1160 fps
45 grains of BD for 1320 fps
50 grains of BD for 1423 fps.
Use a 1/8” thick over powder wad with 80-100 pounds of pressure, filler wads of fiber, and set the crimp just ahead of the equator of the ball. The spacer wads will put pressure on the ball and hold it snug against the crimp.
Remember, any specific 10-bore is unique to itself. I have seen one that is proofed for 10 drams with a 3 1/2-inch case (to nearly equate to an 8-bore) and others that are proofed so light to make them on par with a 12-gauge light game gun. The above will help but will be on the light side for a heavy double. You will need to adjust the powder charge to bring the rifle into regulation.
I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cheers,
Cal




Cal
I am preparing for my fourth safari with Gary now. This time we are going for a leopard in the Omay.
But I am still considering English doubles.
Westley Richards has three interesting rifles for sale. I suppose that there is no reason to be ashamed of carrying a WR rifle.  These are two 470s and one 500. They are made in 1895, 1908 and 1913.
WR says that there is some frostiness in the throat of the barrels. Can I expect anything else with 100 year old rifles?
The 500 is a black powder rifle converted to full Nitro express standard. Is this something that I should be careful to buy?
How is the quality of a vintage rifle today? Can it be used just like a modern rifle? (100 years of use does something to any mechanical device.)
I have used 100+ year bolt rifles, and they have worked perfectly, but I have been more careful with the loads.
All the rifles are box locks. How do you consider this compared to a sidelock?
Best regards
Anders M.

Anders:
Good to hear from you again. I’m sure you will have a great time on your hunt and please pass along my regards to Gary and Crystal.

Vintage English doubles today are as sound as when they were new. No finer piece of work exists than an English double rifle from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Frosting in the bores are a sign of hot cordite burn from the nitro ammunition and is common. It should not affect the shooting qualities or regulation.

I would be careful of a black powder rifle with full nitro proofs. Now, a light nitro proof is both safe and very common as the nitro-for-black charge both duplicated black powder pressure and gave acceptable regulation. And, even if the bpe rifle was safe for a full charge of nitro powder and the heavier bullet, the recoil would be excessive as most bpe rifles weighted two or more pounds less than a rifle made for the full nitro load.

Boxlocks, may  people say, are superior to sidelocks as less wood is removed from the front of the stock and also they are more weather and water resistant. A good boxlock is just as fine a rifle as a sidelock but the sidelock has more area for the engraver to ply his trade.

As to Westley Richards rifles, there are none finer and, in my opinion, are on par with Holland or Purdey.

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal








Hi Cal:
I have a question for you.  I'd like to pull the Woodleigh soft points from a few Federal CapeShock rounds to use in some of my reloads and I can't seem to find a bullet puller large enough to fit a .474.  Any suggestions?  I have the Hornady factory ammo, both softs and solids, shooting to the same POI at 50 yds. as my own reloads with Hornady softnose bullets.  The CapeShock ammo is several inches out of the other group.  I think the Woodleigh bullets would perform better than the Hornadys if they would shoot reasonably close to the same POI.  Before I go try to buy a bunch of them, it would be easier to just pull a few of the bullets for testing.  
    I may not even need softs for the trip, but I'm taking some of them anyway, since the decision will be entirely driven by my PH's preference.  I will try to send you some photos and/or video sometime after the trip.
My best regards,
Tim  F. USA

Tim:
Good day. The easiest way to pull bullets from cartridges that are too large to fit a standard commercial bullet puller is to do this: place the cartridge in the shell holder of the press and raise the cartridge so the bullet only protrudes though the die hole. Slip a piece of soft rubber surgical tubing over the bullet and lightly grab it with some vise grips. Back the ram down and the bullet should stay in place. Don’t squeeze the bullet too much as you don’t want it out of round. This has worked for me since the late 1970s.
Good shooting,
Cal 



Cal:
Can a 600 grain bullet be used in a .500 NE double rifle?  I have one and have typically shot 570 grainers but had some 600's from some .500 Jeffery handloads.
Thank you,
Beech M. USA
PS  Love your editorials in African Hunter magazine!

Beech:
Thanks for the kind words and for reading the finest African magazine on the market!  Your 600-grain bullets are approximately 5% heavier so if you reduce the powder charge 5% (or a bit less to begin with) you should be in safe pressure. However, regulation is another matter and the bullet’s point of impact may be off by a bit or by a lot depending on your rifle.
Hope this helps.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
Thank you for your insight. I will try what you suggest. Any thoughts as to the powder used? Graeme Wright's book on shooting the British doubles indicates that the .500 prefers IMR 4350 over 4831 with less felt recoil. But how would it perform with a 5% reduction like you suggest?  I guess there is only one way to find out!  Lastly, could the 600 grainers be loaded down and used as practice rounds with say 36 grains of Accurate 5574?

Thanks again,
Beech M.
USA

Beech:
I have used IMR 4831 in all of my nitro hand loads as it fills the case and rarely do I need any filler. Also, I have a lifetime supply of the stuff so I may as well use it. It is true the faster the burn rate the less recoil. Even less than 4350 would be Reloader 15. I shot a friend’s .600 in Texas a couple of years ago and the recoil was so mild I asked him if it was a reduced charge. No, it was full velocity, but with RL-15. As to a reduced load, do as you wish as it is safe but the more you vary from the original, the more regulation of both barrels will suffer.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
Thanks for the information you gave me about how dealers value their rifles and the websites for gun sales. I glanced over the selection of English doubles for sale. There were several rifles cheaper, but none I liked as well as the  H&H Dominion Champlin has for $39500. What would you think is a fair value for Champlin rifle?
Dickie, USA

Dickie:
Any and all dealers won’t give rifles away. They are in the business to make a profit and not to break even. Some are better than others and Champlin Arms’ George Caswell is among the best. He has by far the most detailed and accurate descriptions of this guns and rifles, good photos, and he will stand behind what he sells. 

The Dominion rifles were lower priced weapons for the enlisted man or working man who wanted a Holland but could not afford a Royal. While the Dominions were and are priced lower, the quality is excellent--as is anything from Holland and Holland. If you want to keep the rifle, go for it and enjoy it. If you want to shoot it for a year or two and sell it, a Dominion is more difficult to sell. $39,500 is at the top end of fair but an individual can’t get that much as individuals do not have the large market base a quality and known dealer has.
Good shooting,
Cal


Good morning
How is everything in Gods Country ? I have picked up a Sabatti 450 NE.
Someday I will be able to afford something nicer I hope. For now it
will have to do. I have been  reading over your  advise about going to
Africa. I just found a duffle bag large enough to cover my gun case
for camouflage. Now I am going to pad it with clothes etc.
I was wondering if you knew anything about the ammo they regulate the
Sabattis with. All it tells me that it is regulated with Hornady DGX
480 grain ammo. I have not been able to find what powder  or how much.
I thought that if anyone would know it would be you.  I would
appreciate any help/advise you might have. Looking at the target they
used to regulate this rifle it is pretty much dead on at 50 meters
with about a  1 1/2 " group. Guess I cant complain about that. I
will still be looking for a better double rifle. I may have to trade
off a couple of guns etc. to get it but keep me in mind if you run
across anything.
Thanks again for all of your assistance.
Steve N. Tenn.

Steve:
Good to hear from you and I’m pleased you enjoyed your Alaska weekend at my place and the double rifle shoot.
Sabatti rifles have had some problems with regulation and accuracy. The only way to find out is to buy a box and check the regulation your self. If all works out, pull a bullet and weigh the powder charge. The weight will tell you if it is RL-15 or IMR 4831. But that really does not matter as you will reload to what charge and type of powder works best for you.
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal:
I often come across weird stuff in the box lots of stuff I purchase. A number of years ago (12) I came across an unusual bullet stamped Kynoch 23/4" .577 soft tip. My question is what gauge or bore would that be paired with on a double rifle? Rifle/shotgun?
Thanks. Just curious.
Pete Q.


Hi Pete:
What you have is a 2 3/4” black powder case for a double rifle (but also for old single shots, too). It was loaded with 5 drams or about 136 grains of black powder and a common bullet was 570 grains, but they went heavier at times. This was not a shotgun shell and don’t fire it an any shotgun, even if it fits!
Good shooting (well, maybe not in this case)
Cal

Cal:
Hi again. Enjoy reading your articles. Do I need shotgun mag. primers for the 4 bore with 100 gr. of smokeless or a 209 will do?
Thanks.
Avi N.

Avi:
All I ever use is 209 and do not know of shotgun magnum primers. If you mean rifle primers I have found the spark not enough to ignite a large volume of smokeless powder and hang fires will result. You can’t go wrong with 209s.
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
I’m new to the world of double rifles but am learning--especially from you column in the African Hunter but two terms confuse me: barrel ring and chamber ring. Are they the same thing?
Thanks for the insight.
Ty C.
New York City

Ty:
I understand the confusion and the two are far apart in definition. Barrel ring is a simple way to check to see if the barrels of a double rifle or shotgun are solidly fitted together. Dismantle the rifle and support the barrel bu resting one of the lumps on your finger and let the barrels hang there pointed to the floor. Tap each barrel with something hard and you should hear a ring, like a tuning fork. An audible ring will tell you all is well. A thud will tell you the solder that holds the barrels, wedge, and ribs is coming loose. If you hear the thud, don’t buy it as repairs can be expensive and only a few folks on this side of the pond can join barrels--and the subsequent regulation--correctly.

Chamber ring is another matter entirely. In the 1970-80s it was common knowledge in the double rifle world that shooting black powder double rifles with a charge of smokeless powder would leave a large air space between the powder and the bullet’s base. To keep the powder close to the primer for proper ignition an over powder wad was put in place. Many have said, but none have actually seen (an urban legend in the double rifle world), that when the wad began its forward motion towards the bullet upon the primer’s ignition the air in that space would compress and bulge the chamber a bit. It was called a ring as it was not visible from the exterior such as a barrel bulge. When I entered the world of double rifles with a Mortimer and Son .500bpe I was warned of this but in 20+ years I have never run into anyone who has had this happen.

Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
What say you about OSR or over stressed rifling?
Corbin M.
Massachusetts, USA

Corbin:

I have to eat crow and bite the bullet on this one as I thought for many years OSR was a dream of the arm chair league. I shot Barnes Banded Solids in my vintage .600 Wilkes with no problem and showed the folks at Barnes the recovered bullets. My rifle was fine. I laughed at the stories of rifling shown on the exterior of the barrels and, my favorite, was a fella said he saw the rifling lands get pushed out the the muzzle upon firing. (Of course he could not remember any names and didn’t take photographs).

However at an SCI convention Graeme Wright, author of the excellent book Shooting the British Double rifle discussed OSR with me. Now understand Graeme is a fine gent, speaks from logic and fact and not emotion, and has forgotten more about double rifles than I will ever know, and he asked me to accompany him for a short walk and see a rifle with OSR. He handed me a nitro .450-400 3 1/4” and I had a look. The bores looked good and the outside of the barrels showed no deformity. Then, Graeme asked me to hold the barrels to the light and examine the exterior by the reflected light form the surface. There it was! It could not be seen nor felt, but in the light was the rifling marks slightly showing in the light. I then met the owner and he told his story about mono metal bullets in double rifles.

There are two sides to every story. Yes, OSR exists. I have seen it. But what I have not seen or any knowledge of is the type of bullet, powder type and charge, and diameter of the bullet, that was reloaded and fired.

As Joe Friday said, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Those are the facts as I personally saw them and the questions raised but not answered.
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
Stumbled across your web site and thought I would impose on your knowledge.  First, what do you think of the SIACE double rifles.  I am 6'4" and left handed so their ability to custom stock is intriguing.  Second, looking at the 450/400 3" for buffalo and lion. Any thoughts?
Thanks for your time,
Frank, USA

Frank:
At  6’4” you will need a stock pull of an inch or more that standard stock dimensions--I’d say 15 1/2” give or take a little. The SIACE doubles have some good reports that have come my way. The custom stock is a definite plus for someone of your stature. The .450-400 3-inch, nitro express (either the standard 60-grain charge of cordite or the tropical load of 55 grains, both with .400-grain bullets) was the most popular double rifle cartridge for all around hunting in Africa and India until the .375 H&H belted magnum came along. You can’t go wrong with it! And, now that Hornady is loading ammunition shooting a double is even more easy! Lion and buffalo should be no problem with correct bullet placement.
Good shooting, 
Cal



Cal:
I hope you don't mind if I try to pick your brain a bit. I have hunted Africa before but always with modern weapons. I am planning on a trip in a few months. I would like to get your recommendations for black powder rifles-single or double for plains game. Do you have anything suitable for sale? I would really appreciate your comments and recommendations. Thank you very much.
Steve N. Tennessee, USA

Steve:
Thanks for your e-mail. 
It just so happens I have a .450 black powder express for sale at present. But we can talk about that later. As to black powder express doubles and singles, there were (are) four good choices for you to consider: the .450-400 3 1/4”, the .450, the .500 3’ or 3 1/4”, and the .577 in 2 3/4”, 3”, or 3 1/4”. There is absolutely nothing negative to write about any of them and your choice would be the game you are to hunt. For plains game the longer of the two .500s and the .577s are all for large soft-skin game. The .500 3” (with a 340- or 380-grain bullet was most commonly found in India whilst the .450  3 1/4” was commonly found in Africa. The .450-400 was for lighter game and could also be had with a short case of 2 2/3”.

Either the .450 or 500 would suit your needs well. Remember, as much as we all like the nostalgia of shooting a vintage double, black powder can’t be carried in any way-shape-or form on any commercial airline. If you want to charge your rifle with charcoal, you will need to have your PH lay in a supply from a shooter’s supply store in South AFrica and you will need to bring your bullets, wads, cases, and dies with you. (Your PH will also need to supply the primers and reloading press--probably not worth the hassle).

I would suggest the following formula: 40% of the charge of black powder using IMR 4198 with a square to toilet tissue to hold the  powder against the primer and a bullet of the correct diameter and weight. This, give or take a grain or two, will regulate in said doubles. In singles, of course, we don’t have to worry about regulation, just elevation.

Send me an e-mail and I will reply with specs of my .450 (I also have a 12-bore oval bore ball and shot gun, a 10-gauge shotgun [on an 8-gauge frame], and a fine 8-bore for sale, along with two Winchesters (yes, they have single barrels]). If you like any or all of them, feel free to hop on a plane and come join a few double rifle guys in AK for a summer’s shoot at my cabin.
Good shooting,
Cal


Hi Cal:
First thank you for your writings and insight to doubles, I look forward to each edition of African Hunter!

My question: I recently purchased a Sabatti in 450/400. Simply a beautiful gun. The test target shows right and left barrels touching at 50 meters, and the reason I asked Cabelas' to ship that rifle to store near me.

The best I can produce with open sights,  a quality scope and Delta sight is about 2.0 in group with the left barrel 1.5 above the right barrel and .50 inches left. I'm testing from a lead sled to reduce shooting errors and open sight produce a slightly larger group ( old eyes) however both scopes were constant.

So my question is: Is it unreasonable for me to ask Cabelas' to fix or repair the gun? And if yes, they how do they regulate the barrel's without grinding the rifling?
Cal:

Thanks for the quick reply! I'm excited about my rifle and the local ( Texas) pigs are unhappy!

FYI, I'll be in your state on May 8,  in King Salmon, hunting with Tracy at Blue Mountain lodge, my 3rd brown hunt, hopefully I'll find the 10 footer! I was hoping to take the 450/400 but the terrain may warrant a longer shot, so its the 375, again!!

Keep writing, I enjoy your work! 

Maybe I can shake your hand at the Dallas Safari show next year.

Good Hunting.

Scott  O.
USA





Hi Scott: I
If you are getting 2" groups that is as good as it gets. Even Holland will ship a rifle with 2" groups at 50 yards. Try adjusting the load a bit with a grain or two of powder up or down and try + or - .001" in bullet diameter.
To change the regulation, the solder that holds the barrels together is softened and the barrels are adjusted a bit, the solder allowed to harden, and a target shot. Repeated over and over if required.
On an additional note. If you are shooting over a lead sled that may change the recoil characteristics and thereby the target grouping. Doubles are best shot when the rifle can recoil in a natural way. That is why the regulators use a standing rest. (A seated rest is ok if the barrel is held by the forward hand but seated rests may be difficult with heavy recoiling rifles). Try a rest that will give you the hold you would use in off hand shooting. Always rest the forward hand on the rest, don’t lay the barrels over the rest, and allow the rifle to recoil in a natural way. Your group may change for the better. Use the lead sled as a plant holder or reserve its use for single barrel rifles.

Sounds like you have a nice rifle.
Good shooting to you,
Cal



Hello Cal : 
I am intending to put together a 600 NE on a falling block action and wondered if you could give me some advice please on barrel profile? I’m intending to use a Pac Nor barrel. Would a 3-groove be better than a 9-groove? Should I use the 1 in 20 twist ? There are (as far as I know) two WR  model 97,600 barreled actions [repro] for sale here in Australia for $5500.00 each.  Any other advice on weight of complete rifle, etc.?
Thank you 
Kieran
Qld Australia

Kieran:
Sounds like you have a good project at hand. 
I just purchased a single barrel .600 (W.J. Jeffery, 1916) but have limited use and/or knowledge of singles. The rifles weighs 12 pounds and is too light for any full-house .600 NE load. Yes, one can load the .600 down but if that is to be done, why not get a .450 in the first place? (I don’t understand the mentality of investing in a big rifle and shoot it like a smaller rifle). The rifling twist of 1:20 sounds about right. As to profile I would suggest profiling the barrel as to the intended weight rather than having a too-light rifle for the recoil. A double .600’s weight averages about 15 pounds, maybe up to 16, and that is tolerable. The lightest .600 I have found in my research is 10 pounds and 9 ounces! Ouch!
Good shooting,
Cal


The following double rifle terms I was asked to define from a few different readers. Without going into each question, here they are:
articulated front trigger
The front trigger is hinged so it can move a bit forward to avoid injuring the trigger finger, whilst firing the rear trigger, during recoil.

bar action
On a sidelock action, the mainspring is located in a forward position into the action’s bar (the bar is the portion of the action ahead of the breech face that supports the hinge pin--that the barrel flats mate to). A back action has the mainspring towards the rear of the action.

tell if a double has extractors or ejectors
The mechanism that removes the cartridges from the chamber: if solid is an extractor gun or rifle (both fired and unfired shells lifted about 3/8” from the breech for easy removal). If split in half, then an ejector rifle or shotgun as the unfired shell(s) will be extracted and the fired shell(s) will be ejected from the breech.

Greener safety and cross bolt
The Greener safety is mounted on the left side of the stock, behind the action, and moves front to back to engage or disengage the safety. The cross bolt is a steel bolt parallel to the breech face that is operated by the top lever and passes though a hole in the rib extension to give added strength to the lock up of the action.

tear drops
Also known as  “drop points” teardrops are wood figures just behind the side plates of a side lock and also used on some best quality box locks behind the wood side panels.

vacant oval
Basically the name plate escutcheon on the butt stock just ahead of (of just behind) the sling swivel/sling eye. Used for engraving the initials of the (original) owner of the rifle or shotgun.

hinge pin
Mounted on the front of the action bar, the hinge pin accepts the barrel’s hook to allow a break open gun’s barrels to revolve open or close. If the hinge pin becomes worn the barrels will “come off face” and not lock up tight upon closing.

side clips
Small beveled edges of the breech face that are mated to beveled surfaces on the sides of the breech ends of the barrel. This is to prevent side-to-side movement upon firing.

Cal,
I have a Howdah 16-bore.  It has a ball mould and powder measure in the case. Please: what is the powder charge--one scoop of the measure to more, what is the expected velocity, and which black powder should I use? 
Also, what range is this pistol to be used at? 25 yards?
Thanks
Mike S.
USA
Mike:
While the Howdah pistols have the power to kill at long range they are a short range weapon. A double rifle is a short range rifle and with 8" or so barrels, the Howdah is even more short range. I understand they were meant to be used if and when the tiger was crawling up the elephant to get at the hunter. A 16-bore ball weighs 1/16th of a pound or one ounce or about 437.5 grains (for a true 16 and a ball of pure lead). If you are sure the measure was made for your specific pistol than one measure of powder will be the charge. To play it safe, begin with 1F as it is much slower burning and less pressure. Check for accuracy and pressure and get a feel for the recoil. Next, jump to 2F and do the same. 3F may or may not be necessary. Don't expect great accuracy. If you can hit a gallon jug at 10-15 yards that is fine for what the pistol's intended use was. And, you may get much better. Some of that will depend if you have a bead front sight or a full rifle sight with a fine bead and a leaf for the rear sight. Velocity will be between 7-800 fps.
Cheers, and good shooting.
Cal
PS. I will welcome photos for m y book on the bore rifles but I'm getting rather close to sending it off to the final layout--a few weeks.



Hi Cal:
I am looking for a 8, 4, or 2 gauge. Can you help? Thanks for your consideration.  
Paul K.       

Hi Paul:
2-4-8 gauge what? Rifles, shotguns, cartridges? Double or Single? New or old?
Cheers,
Cal

Sorry Cal:
A shotgun to shoot. Any suggestions?
Paul

Paul:
I’ve sold my 8 and 4 gauge shotguns but they are out there. Follow Guns International  on the net or auction but expect to pay a good price and a strong premium for the 4s. No 2s were made as shoulder help weapons--they were the true punt guns to be mounted in a boat.
Good shooting,
Cal




Good morning Cal:
I was wondering if you can help me out with some wisdom. As you know I am looking for a double rifle and I have located two, a new Merkel 140, the other a used Krieghoff Classic with dies and some brass. Both are in 470 ne, and both are about the same price. I was wondering which rifle would you be more inclined to follow up on. I know the Krieghoff are more money new than the Merkel, but are they worth the difference? Thank you for your time in this.
Darren

Darren:
I think one is as good as the other and it depends you your taste in style. I don't think one should command a higher price than the other as they are from the continent and entail the same amount of work and have like reputations. Both have good reputations as to accuracy and dependability. You can't go wrong with either.
Good shooting,
Cal

Hello Cal:
Here's my question: I have a Rigby double (under lever with hammers) in 450/400 2 3/8" black powder express. I would like to have it nitro-proofed (and I would expect it to pass). Do you know if it's possible to have this gun rechambered to the 450/400 3 1/4" round (assuming it would pass the nitro proofing)?  I have not compared measurements of the 2 cartridges  but of course the 2 3/8" round tapers to bore size "faster" than  the 3 1/4" round, and I don't know if there's enough metal for the rechamber.
Thanks,
Steve, Canada


Steve:
Thanks for your email and good question.
The re-chambering will fit--no doubt about it. I'm sure it will proof to a 3 1/4" bpe load but only a the English proof house will know if it can be done with the nitro charge.
Another thing to consider it the rifling twist. The 2 3/8", with it's light bullet, requires a different rate of twist than a nitro cartridge with a 400-grain bullet. This may have a major change in regulated accuracy. The proof house could tell you this also, and you could have the rifle re-regulated if needed.

An additional alternative is to develop your own load, a bit hotter than a smokeless 2 3/8", and have it reproofed to that load. Just a thought.
Good luck and good shooting.
Cal



Hello, Cal:

Several years ago I started working on a 12 bore ball and shot or slug type rifle. I wanted to make the mystique of golden age doubles accessible to more people and I thought that a lot of states that require shotgun only hunting could benefit from a gauge double (I planned to produce 12s and 20s ). I built the first 2 doubles on Italian 12 gauges, and regulated them with several common slugs. The 3rd prototype was produced for me in Brescia, Italy, and is also very nice. They have 3 leaf express sights on an integral quarter rib, that is milled for Talley QD rings. The company that made the prototype makes a lot of double rifles as well so I planned to offer multiple barrel set ups as well as varying  levels of finish. I planned to offer them in the 2-3 thousand dollar range, but we never went into production for various reasons. Recently I have become interested in reviving this project, since it seems like Holland and Holland offers Paradox ammunition and rifles and several small companies make ball and shot type guns. I had machined brass cartridges made up with a 12 bore head-stamp, and used a Paradox mold to make a lot of bullets. I thought it would be fun to offer several loaded rounds with the rifles and a case. I would love your opinion on weather you think a project like this has any real market. in the last couple years it seems like there is increasing interest in doubles. 
Thanks for your time 
Dedan K.

Dedan:
Good to hear from you. Yes, there is a market if, and it’s a big IF, the price is right. A company in Connecticut makes both a rifled choke and a fully rifled sabot 20-bore and, I believe, their price is about 3,000$. Times are tough in this economy so price is the biggest factor to consider. Then, of course, is fit, finish, and accuracy.
Good luck to you and good shooting. Keep me posted.
Cal



Hi Cal:
Quick question, what velocity and pressure was John Taylor’s 600 double? 
Aaron Z.

Aaron:
I believe the old ballistic data states about 15 tons for the .600ne at 1850 fps. I'm sure long tons or 2200 pounds to the ton, or about 35000psi. John's Jeffery was regulated for the 100-grain cordite load or 1850 fps (from a 28-inch barrel).
I’m on vacation and this is from memory so the data is approximate.
Cheers and good shooting.
Cal


Hi Cal: 
One more question, what's the case capacity of the 600 nitro? I'm getting more great info on putting a 600 barrel on a Thompson Center Encore. This is going to be fun! I found a couple great guys who are experts in wildcat rounds and Encores, he said to use Reloader 25 and fill 90% so that's why I ask. Have you seen Mark Sullivan’s Marcel Thys .600 nitro? It's a gorgeous gun! I'm not sure what load he uses but I know he shoots 2000 fps from 24" barrels. 
Aaron.

Good day, Aaron:
I’m unsure of case capacity but I do know IMR 4831 powder will fill the case to the bullet’s base. Faster powders, such as RL 15, need a filler--maybe some filler on RL 25. I have seen Mark Sullivan’s .600 Thys and it is indeed a beautiful weapon. However, 2000 fps is quite hot for 24-inch barrels as the established velocity for that barrel length is about 1750 fps.
Good shooting,
Cal



Hello Cal:
I saw a picture of a 450NE #2 build on a shotgun frame, I recognized the action immediately as I have one of these shotguns, a Brno ZP 49. Do you know these guns and in your opinion will the action be strong enough to build a .470NE on it? Is there a mayor difference in chamber pressures between the 450#2 and the 470NE? Thanx!
Xagene, South Africa

Xagene:
Good to hear from you.
The .450 no 2 has about 2-3 tons less pressure than the .470 (this is from memory). Any shotgun action may not be strong enough for rifle pressures but they have been done many times for those wanting a low priced double. If the action is big and beefy enough--a heavy 12 or 10 bore then you will be fine if the work is done by a competent gunsmith who knows double rifles.
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal:
I was just reading your notes section and see that you have now acquired a .600" Nitro W.J.Jeffery falling block. I would be interested to hear what you think of the recoil dealt out by this rifle as I have one in .475 No2, it has more felt recoil than any of my other big bore guns(including my .577 NE Westley Richards single shot) I was wondering if it was something to do with the stock geometry. I have the build sheet for my rifle No 24408,and on the same page there are 5 falling blocks in .600NE,(24401--24405),I wonder if one of them is yours?
Regards,
Chris,
France.

Chris:
The recoil is, indeed, great. Some of the felt kick comes from the stock but the majority is due to the power of the .600 nitro. My rifle is 24,401 and also 24,404 is in Alaska and is featured in my book on the .600s. My rifle was purchased after the book was published. 
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
I’m a new reader to the African Hunter and bought some back issues and a subscription at the Dallas Safari Club show. I’m also new to double rifles and want one very badly. May I ask you some questions? You are the only source I know to ask.
What is meant by a .450 no2? Is it the same as a .450 Rigby?
Then, what is a .470 Rigby?
What is a .375 flanged? What is flanged?
Makers: Osborne, Army and Navy, John Wilkes--is one better than the other?
Merkel--is as good as an English rifle? Why the low price?
What kind of ammo for a .450 or .470 nitro do you recommend?
How can I learn about reloading for the double rifles? 
Sincerely 
Ajit. R.
Arkansas

Ajit:
Glad to assist. Welcome to the wonderful of double rifles and the African Hunter magazine. You could not have chosen a better firearm than a double nor a finer magazine than the AH. To reply:
First in the .450 caliber in nitro express was the .450 3 1/4” Rigby. A second cartridge by a competitive maker was 3 1/2” long with a greater internal capacity to lessen chamber pressures. It was (is) a bottleneck cartridge, also of .450 caliber, but designated a no2 to separate it from the first round.

When England banned the .450 caliber in the Sudan and India (about 1903-4) the makers rushed to come out with calibers of the same power but with a larger diameter bullet. They were the .465 Holland, .470, .475, .475 no2 (with two diameters bullets--.483” and .488”), and the .476 By Westley Richards. The Rigby designation is the make of rifle the cartridge is chambered in.

A flange is a rim. Always use a flanged, or rimmed, cartridge in a double rifle to be sure extraction or ejection is sure. A rimless cartridge requires small pawls to reach into the extractor groove remove the case. They will work fine most of the time but are prone to failures--especially so in an ejector rifle.

The makers you mentioned are superb English makers and all are of excellent reputation.

Merkel is a European rifle, a good utility rifle, and will serve you well. It is priced lower due to fewer man hours of labor intensive hand work. A non English rifle does not have the balance, fit, feel, and lines of a fine English gun or rifle. But, that is my opinion only.

Hornady, Federal, Superior and others make excellent ammo of you don’t reload.

As to reloading, I will write a separate reply as this will take some time. Also, contact me via email   and we will go from there.

Good shooting,
Cal







Cal:
I would like to use Blue Dot in a 4-bore muzzleloader I'm building--do you have any input on this? As a machinist of 40 years I've done quite a variety of gun projects. The 4 will resemble the real early stuff, smooth bore muzzleloader etc. BUT I started with 4140 Chrome-Moly when I made the barrel and used 4345 for the breach. I was always under the impression the concern was in the steel used in these guns, am I mistaken? I am 1.700 across the flats and 1.5 at the muzzle which gives me a certain level of confidence. My shooting will be limited to 1216 gr. conical or a .875 round ball in a sabot.
Thanks for any input
Mike L. USA

Hi MIke:
Interesting question. I do not have any experience loading any smokeless in a muzzleloader but in a modern rifle, with new steel, and built heavy enough to withstand the pressures generated, I do not see why it would not work. Pressure data is paramount and you can get a close approximate by taking the bullet weight and projected powder charge and comparing it to a nitro express cartridge with the same weight and style of bullet and powder charge and velocity. This is for a new rifle only--never should readers attempt this in a vintage front-loader. A second point comes to mind, your priming charge or cap should be able to ignite the smokeless powder easily.
Good shooting,
Cal



Hi Cal:
I’m an avid hunter in Zimbabwe and come from a hunting background. But I’m a farmer and hunt in the Zambezi valley maybe once or twice a year. My dad is a PH and will be at the SCI convention. I have always dreamed of owning a double .470 or .500. I see Sabatti is making very good looking doubles and quite affordable. Can you give me advice on them ? I hear they not very accurate?I've also asked my dad to try and test a .450 or .500 Sabatti while he is over in the States. Thank you.
Pieter P.
Zimbabwe
P.S.: I enjoy your doubles column in the African Hunter and look forward to your response. Thank you

Good day, Pieter:
While I’ve had no personal experience with the Sabattis, all reports are to the positive and what limited problems I have heard of, such as poor regulation, is quickly taken care of by the importer, Cabelas. For the price I don’t think you can go wrong for this utility rifle.
Good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal
Thank you very much for your time and email I’m now even more
excited about a double Sabatti. Im very grateful for your advise and that we have made contact and Im sure I will still ask you lots of questions and your advise is greatly
appreciated.
What caliber double do you think would suit me best? I weigh 80kgs
and am about 5ft 6 inches tall . Would a 500 be too big for me ?

Thanks Cal
Pieter

Pieter:
Good luck with your new rifle. As to caliber, remember everyone  
(and I
mean everyone) shoots lighter recoiling rifles better than heavy
recoiling rifles. A .500 is nice to have (and a .577 and .600 even
better) but the bottom line is one shoots better with a .450-400 than
a .500. I have many big bore doubles but I hunt with a .450-400 most
of the time.
A Verney-Caron is also a fine double and much better made than the
Sabatti but is double the money--about 12 thousand for a .470.
Anyway, good luck in what every your choice is.
Cheers and good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal
Yes I must admit I've also been thinking long and hard about it and I
agree a .450 or .470 would suit me much more. I shot my first elephant with a
.450 Watts bolt action and dropped it in its tracks from a good shoulder
shot, both shoulders were completely broken so it has got good hitting
power.....as you know .
What do you think of the .450 Pedersoli EXPS doubles? There is one for
sale on Gun Broker but it has got the hammers.
Thanks for your reply Cal.
Pieter

Pieter
The Pedersoli are fun rifles but are cheaply made. They are ok for
deer hunting and target shooting for one wanting the lowest price
double there, but for big and dangerous game I would shy away. Hammers
are no problem--look at the thousands for hammer rifles used 100+
years ago. But the rifles are so low priced they are made without the
quality of higher priced weapons.
Cheers and good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal
Thanks for all your advise today sorry for bothering you . I think I  agree
about the Pedersoli I must say it is cheap and even looks cheap on the
photos . We will keep in contact and im sure il have more questions  
for you before I finally purchase a double thank you very much for your time  
and advise .have a good day. Cheers from Pieter






Cal,
In a recent episode of a TV show called "Grimm" a triple barreled .600 Nitro Express was used. It was said to be chambered with twin .600 Nitro Express and a .1577 cal for the third barrel. Was a rifle like that produced?
Thanks,
Fred D.

Hi Fred:
This is news to me and I’m lucky not to have television reception where I live in Alaska. I doubt the rifle you mention is English. It may have been produced just for the specific show you viewed or perhaps a European arm. Makers on the Continent made many 3- (and even 4)-barreled gun and rifle combinations. So, it is possible to have a double .600 with a smaller caliber centered under the big twin tubes. But, as I wrote, the combination you mention is news to me.
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal:
I have a 4 bore flint lock, signed W. Ketland & Co 29.5 inch damascus barrel.  The wall of the barrel at the end is 8 mm thick and the gun is about 16 lbs. The barrel has three proof marks and ”MA 1586” stamped on the brass but plate and on the barrel.  I believe that it is an elephant gun do you know of any other examples?
John B.

Good day, John;
A 4-bore rifle or shotgun? If a rifle, shorter barrel with sights. If a shotgun, a bead front sight, longer barrel (4s usually 40-44 inches) and a lighter weight (14-16 pounds compared to 16-18 pounds for a single rifle). I do not know of the maker you site but if you can send a photograph I can check with my sources and perhaps come up with an answer for you that is more complete than this.
Good shooting.
Cal


Cal:
Hello! I have a plan that requires your input and knowledge of the great .600 nitro. I have seen a Thompson-Center Encore pistol (14" barrel) with the .600 nitro, his loads were 1670 fps with the shorter barrel, in a 24" barrel it would be 1850, Dave van Horn said he can get me a 24" barrel for the Encore, so my question is, what load would you recommend?? I'm not concerned with recoil, but I am concerned with how much the T-C Encore can take. Any info you can provide will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
Aaron.

Aaron:

Interesting question. I don’t have any experience with T-C firearms and only with vintage doubles and singles in the mighty .600. I would have a concern about pressure and the immense recoil. (A .600 is a stiff kicker in a 16-pound double so I can’t imagine shooting it in a handgun). As to loads, in a proof 28-inch barrel, to equal factory ballistics, you will need 150 grains of IMR 4831 to duplicate the 100-grain cordite charge and 160 grains of the same to duplicate the 110-grain cordite charge. All with a 900-grain bullet, of course. These loads are reduced about 100 fps in a 24-inch barrels. 
Good shooting,
Good luck you are far more of a harry-chested he-man than I to shoot such a pistol. Check with T-C as to their recommendations as to pressure.
Cal


Hi Cal:
Thanks for the reply. I don't think Thompson center would provide an answer because it's not a factory barrel they offer. What kind of pressure does the 1850 fps loads produce? That may be a good starting point. Thanks again.
Aaron.

Aaron;
I’m going from memory here but pressure is about 15 tons. Check with Graeme Wright’s excellent book, Shooting the British Double Rifle, third edition, for pressure data.
Good shooting.
Cal



Cal:
What can you tell me about a combination rifle and shotgun signed "P. Webley & Sons, St-James London". It has a Jones under lever and the left barrel is 10 ga and the right one is .500.
Thanks,
J. R.

J.R..
You have a “Cape Gun” by a quality English maker in a very desirable gauge/caliber combination. If you can send a photo I can identify it more. Cape guns were used by sportsmen as a substitute for a “ball and shot gun” or a rifled choke arm to give the user a choice of birds or game whilst hunting. A 10-gauge in the old days was what the 12 is today and the .500 black powder express ideal for soft-skinned game up to the big cats.
Good shooting,
Cal




Hello Cal:
I have 500 NE Merkel, 140-2.1, with  one standing and two folding leaves. Am I correct in assuming the leaves are for 50, 75,and 100 yards, respectively. Amazing lack of information as the leaves are not marked.
Thanks,
Carl

Carl:
The leaf sights on doubles are graduated to very optimistically distances. I would guess 100-200-300 yards is correct as that combination is the most common. However, yours could be in meters, or 50-100-150 yards. It is anyone’s guess but  a quick email to Merkel will give the correct answer.
Good shooting,
Cal




Cal, Hello:

I'm having some brass reworked for my 4-bore. I want shotgun 209 primers, however, the primer pocket was made for a rifle primer and will be drilled through. Is this this OK?
I have a mould now which makes 1850 gr. original cone -type round nose and I’ll use smokeless powder but will keep the velocity as it was then--1150 - 1300 fps at max. Can you tell me what it was original velocity? I'm going to use fast powders like the great old time 2400 or 5744 with Circle Fly wads. 
 Regards,
Avi N.

Avi:
Having the primer pockets drilled is no problem. I’ve done this in the past.
1300 fps is max., but I have gone faster--depends on the soundness of the rifle.
2400 may be too fast--be careful as that is a pistol powder.
5744 works in black powder express cartridges, but I do not have any experience with  it  in bore rifles. I suggest Blue Dot. There are many powders that will work, but Blue Dot has worked so well for myself and all of my friends, I made the choice not to experiment  more. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Any type of wads are fine. Over powder wads set to 100 pounds, filler wads just to take up space.
Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
It was nice seeing you at the African Hunter booth in Dallas (2012). Since I’ve been reading your column and articles I am leaning toward buying a double rifle but I can’t justify the price as it won’t do anything a single barrel will do. Any comments or suggestions?
Mel. B.
Las Vegas


Mel:
You are absolutely spot on--a double won’t do anything a single barrel (bolt action) will do in today’s world. One  really does not need the instant second shot, an instant choice between a solid and soft, or the possibility of having one action or barrel become broken and using the other barrel as a single shot until you can make it to civilization and a good gunsmith. Their price is many times greater than a bolt action and their accuracy--especially at long range--is far less. But remember, in this game of rifles and hunting, it is many times what we like and want, not what we need. You will find some doubles in a reasonable price range, balance well, and they are fun to shoot. If you get a vintage double, you have one classy rifle. Just my opinion, of course,
Whatever you do, good shooting to you.
Cal










Cal;
Fill me in on chamber pressure, how it affects regulation and accuracy, and how to control it.
Rob W.
UK

Rob:
Chamber pressure is the result of many major factors: powder weight, rate of burn, weight of projectile. Minor, but still contributing factors are temperature (less so today) shape of the bullet nd how much of the bullet is in actual contact with the bore of the rifle, interior capacity of the brass cartridge case, and actual diameter of the bore (+ or  - .001” will increase or decrease pressure). 
Rifles have a safe working pressure and in modern cartridges are set to an industry standard and rifles are made to this specification. For older rifles--assuming they are in good working condition with no mechanical flaws or imperfections--one should always equal the bullet weight and diameter, velocity, and rate of burn (approximately) of the powder. Keep the diameter of the projectile matching the actual diameter of the bore (bore cast is the best way to determine this). A few mates in South Africa have also experimented with adjusting the depth of the bullet to change pressure: a deeper seat will lessen the case’s internal capacity and raise pressures a bit.
As to accuracy, change the pressure and the velocity changes. Also, to change the rate of time the bullet travels down the bore, change the recoil characteristics, and this may change how a double rifle prints on a target.
It is complicated but today it is possible to find a combination of bullet, powder type, and powder weight to obtain acceptable accuracy. And, if that fails, a good gunsmith can re-regulate the rifle for you.
I hope this helps and good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
I’m new to the world of double rifles and only know what (little) I do because of your writings in the  . What is meant by the term, Dominion as in the rifles by Holland and Holland?
John P.
California

John:
In vintage years, dominion was synonymous with colony. The English colonies, or dominions, had the best hunting on earth. A Dominion-grade double rifle was one of a lesser quality as to ornamentation as the top of the line Royal grade--more of a working man’s or enlisted man’s rifle. Today, as then. they command less money but are still a fine quality double rifle.
Good shooting,
Cal


Cal:
How does a telescope sight change accuracy and regulation of a double? Is it possible to get a double to shoot well with both open sights and a ‘scope?
Lester D.
Texas




Lester::
Change anything about a double rifle--projectile type or weight, velocity, rifle weight, etc...--and regulation may be affected. Doubles are not long range rifles by any stretch of the imagination. Generally speaking if a ‘scope is added regulation will change and it may not be possible to have a double shoot to the same point of impact with both types of sights. Sometimes one may be fortunate to have a double that will. My .450-400 will shoot 1 inch groups at 50 yards with a scope and 2-3 inches with open sights. (Some of that may be shooter’s error). When I realized my eyes were slowly diminishing I asked for a composite regulation to be done--meaning a good group with both, rather than on excellent group with one but luck was with me with the above groups are all I will ever need. However......

If I were going to do it again I would do this: Understanding that a double is naturally an open sighted weapon for close work if I was to add a scope I would keep (or regulate) an excellent group with the open sights and then, with the scope added, adjust the windage and elevation to have an excellent target with only one barrel (in my case the left barrel as that is the one I shoot first) to, say, 200 yards, and not worry about where the second barrel shot with the ‘scope. This way I have moa accuracy with one barrel as any good single shot will do, and have all the advantages of a double with open sights.
Good shooting.
Cal


Dear Cal:
What is your opinion on European and non-English double rifles?
Anthony j.
USA

Anthony:
As you know from my writings I am a fan of English doubles, and vintage ones at that. As to non-UK doubles, there are some excellent values out there with excellent reputations for quality and dependability. The Verney-Caron doubles are top of the line and gaining popularity every day. Heym doubles are very well known in the hunting world. Sabatti rifles have had some problems with accuracy but I understand Cableas will stand behind the rifles they sell. Butch Searcy makes a super product and is known around the world. Merkel and other German makes such as Kreighoff also have a good name. There are more--I have not mentioned them all.
As my personal recommendation, stay away from a double put together by an unknown gunsmith who added barrels to a shotgun action. Stay with an established maker--UK or non--who will stand behind their rifle and, if needed, repair them and be there to work with you to answer any of your questions.
I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal











Cal:
Fill me in, please, on the term “lump” and the types of lumps that are made.
Thanks. I’ve enjoyed your book on the .600s and look forward to your writings.
Roland J.
New Hampshire

Roland:
Good to hear from you and thanks for your email.
The lumps (also known as underlugs) are the protrusions under the breech end of the barrels that fit into a slot on the lower front end of the action--called the water table. The lumps are a fastening device that a) allow the rifle or shotgun to open by hooking or swiveling on the hinge pin and b) hold the action securely tight by engaging the locking bolts or bites which, in turn, are connected to the opening top lever or under lever.

Chopper lump: The lump is forged with each barrel and then the two are joined together. Chopper lumps are identified by the joint line between the left and right lumps. The word “chopper” is used to denote the forging having a look (stretch the imagination here) of an ax--the barrel the handle and the lump the head. Chopper lumps are the strongest method of joining the barrels and used in best quality guns and rifles.

Dovetail lump: The barrels are joined together here by inserting a solid lump in a dovetail  shape and soldering it into place between the two barrels. Probably the most common of the joining methods.

Shoe lump: The barrels are inserted in a saddle (such as fitting a shoe by pulling it on) and the saddle and lumps are a solid piece. Some frown on this method and some think is a good as any. The one piece is soldered to the barrels.

Shown below: dovetail (top), shoe (center), chopper (bottom).

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal

pastedGraphic.pdfpastedGraphic_1.pdfpastedGraphic_2.pdf


2011

Cal:
 Like you, I love double rifles.  I currently own Searcy doubles in 450/400 3", .470 NE, .500 NE, and I am having Bailey Bradshaw build me one of his falling block doubles in 9.3x74R.  I have spoken to Butch Searcy about building a "North American" double for me. My caliber choice is .30-06, but I wanted to solicit your thoughts on this in your role as the double rifle guru of African Hunter magazine (I love your articles, by the way.)  What calibers would you recommend for a North American double rifle?
Respectfully,
Dave A.
USA

Dave:
The .300 flanged would be my first choice. The .333 flanged, .350 flanged, .360 no2 are all good, but not as all-'round as the .300.
Good luck in your journey and send a photo for my website when you have the rifle in hand.
Good Shooting.
Cal


Cal - thanks for the reply and insights.  I have had exactly the same
discussion with Butch Searcy.  In the .30 range, I am looking at the 30R
Blaser and the .300H&H rimmed (neither of which appear to be very popular
here).  If I drop down to the 7mm range, the 7x65R looks like a very good
choice.  I also like the idea of a rimmed cartridge for ejection reasons.
Any more thoughts?
Dave


Dave:
I don’t know of the 30R--I’m ignorant to modern stuff.
I am in a like situation as you are. I am searching for a double for
North America. Most calibers are too large. A few are too small 
(.303). Many will find bullets difficult and/or expensive. Brass should
not be a problem with most calibers.

So, with that in mind, I am looking for a .300 flanged. Not a popular
caliber, a bit more than a .30-06 (in power), but (and most important in my
opinion) is the rim will make for sure extraction or ejection. There
is no doubt a .30-06 will take all game found here (it may be a bit
light for brown bears but a 220-grain bullet will work). Any rimless
cartridge may have extraction problems if the pawls don't engage the
groove and WILL have problems if an ejector rifle.

Anyway, my thoughts and opinions only.
I hope this helps and good shooting. E-mail if I be of further
assistance.
Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal, 
Have you ever seen a 500 express boxlock double rifle proofed for the 440 gr. bullet with 55 gr. cordite?    One by Hollis listed in Guns International.  Curious as to why the light nitro load would be used in the cordite era, and not the Nitro Express load.   The proofs appear to be original, and not a reproof of a black powder rifle.  I can't remember seeing a post-1898 double rifle made specifically for this load.  It may have been a special order for someone who wanted the old ballistics on an A&D action, for a lighter rifle than a full size Nitro Express rifle. George Hoyem's book shows examples of both the 3 inch and 3 1/4 inch 500 cases loaded the same.  This rifle is not marked with case length.  I suspect that since it is engraved with tigers that it was a gun for India with this quarry in mind, which would make sense to have a lighter rifle and charge than the Nitro express version.
Any ideas?  Thanks.
Dave P.
USA

Dave:
I have not seen but know of nitro era rifles for the light nitro load--the same as many .577s are nitro proofed for a 570 or 650 grain bullet with 75, 80, 83, and 90 grains of cordite. Folks wanted a lighter rifle, I guess. The 55-440 load was the original nitro-for-black load that was very common as it regulated in the 340 bullet load in the black powder doubles. 
Hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal




Hello Cal:
I have an old belgian 12Ga shotgun and I'd like to build a double rifle on it. I like 450/400 3" caliber. Could you tell me please if you can build this rifle for me from my existing action?
Thanks
Borislav D

Borislav:
Interesting project. Most shotgun actions are not strong enough for a full nitro charge of smokeless powder and a rifle cartridge. That said, Butch Searcy has made an excellent reputation in his early years using over/under shotgun actions for his big nitro doubles. If you undertake this, find a shotgun with heavy barrels and a large action--12 gauge magnum or even one of the Spanish 10-bores for the largest of the nitro calibers. A 12 should be fine for the .450-400. I, myself, am not a gunsmith and can’t do the work myself but I can recommend a few ‘smiths who will treat your right and do excellent work.
Good shooting,
Cal

Cal: 
I have a Gibbs DR 450 3/14 NE and plan to load Hornady 500 gr. solid #4507. Have at home several powders/primers etc. Extruded powder, Accurate XMR 3100,XMR 4350, also whole Norma range of powders. Suggestions for powder to equal 480 gr. solid = orig. Kynoch. Will be going to ZIM in 3 weeks and discovered that I have to few orig. at home so I have to make some home-brew quickly.
Best Regards, 
Tomas L.

Tomas:
Good day.
For primers use the hottest you can find.
For powders, the slowest burning will fill the case more and less, or no, filler will be required. The greater weight and bulk of the powder will add to the recoil, however. Just the opposite for faster powders--less volume in the case and less recoil, too.
For bullets use the weight and diameter your rifle was regulated and proofed for.
Follow the above and all should work out just fine.
Good shooting,
Cal



Cal,
I do have a few questions regarding loading for a 4-bore rifle.  I assume you size bullets before loading them.  Do you crimp the brass?  I ask this as there's no groove in the bullet at the top of the brass.  Also, do you use a card wad or gas check?  I've got an 8 bore I'd like to load for, and have never dealt with this sort of round.

Thanks,
Hugh D.
Tenn.




Hugh:
Thanks for the e-mail. I love responding to bore rifle (and .600!) questions.
I size conical bullets to the groove diameter and spherical balls .005 over groove diameter.
I do crimp the brass as the recoil from the first shot will dislodge the bullet in the second barrel (of a double, of course). 
If there is no groove in a conical bullet, or when using a ball, push the projectile into the case and crimp the brass ahead of the shoulder on the conical or ahead of the equator of the ball. The wad pressure will push the projectile into the crimp and hold it in place.
I use a thick over powder wad, and felt spacer wads as needed.
Gas checks are not needed for velocities of the bore rifles and impossible to find and expensive to make if one wanted to use them. Also, the conical bullet mould would have to be cut to accommodate the gas check.
Hope this helps and stay in touch.
Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
I'm told you are an expert with 4-bores so here are a  few questions. What will be the best fillers for the 4-bore with smokeless powders such as Blue Dot?  The Circle Fly guy told me his fiber wads are the best. Do you agree?  Thank you for your response and advice.
Regards,
Avi N. 

Avi:
Thanks for your e-mail.
When I load and shoot my 4-bore (up to 100 rounds per week) I do the following:
Winchester 209 shotgun primer
the appropriate charge of Blue Dot smokeless powder
a 1/8" over powder wad set to approximately 100 pounds pressure
spacer wads--either commercial made or punched from 1/2-inch carpet backing felt to the bullet's base
seat the bullet with a slight crimp

Circle Fly wads will work well. I don't know if they are "best" as the wads only serve to take up air space between the powder and bullet.

Good shooting,
Cal

Cal:
Thanks for your reply however, its still not clear what wads are the best & what is unsafe?  I’m concerned about a possible “ring” the chamber or other problems that might occur if something isn't right. So again, which is the safest & correct method here?  
Avi N.


Avi:
Good day.
There is no "best." What few owners of the bore rifles that do, indeed, shoot them usually make up their own methods. What I gave you is what I have been doing for 20+ years with the double bore rifles. 

Chamber ring has been a vocal concern in the past but I am unaware of this actually happening. Any type of wads or filler (such as cereal or pillow stuffing) will prevent the possibility of a ring as, when the filler wads or other material are added, that displaces the air. And it is the air in the case that would expand when the over powder wad went forward upon ignition of the powder and before the bullet was sent on its way. This outward expansion of air pressure could cause a chamber “ring.” As it is difficult to get Circle Fly wads up here in Alaska I began punching my own wads out of carpet backing felt 15 years ago and have never had a problem in my rifles and with the powders and charges I use.

Good shooting.
Cal






Dear Cal:

Some more info is needed, please. What primer is best in the 4-bore with smokeless powders & a small charge? I’m told Federal number  215 is great? Will the CCI #35 work? Can you elaborate the correct dimensions for the 4 bore?
Avi N.


Avi:
I stopped using large rifle magnum primers many years ago with smokeless powders due to hang fires. They work fine with black powder but if you are going to use just smokeless I recommend shotgun primers such as Winchester 209. They have a much bigger spark than rifle primers and ignition is never a problem. I’ve never used CCI #35.

There are no set dimensions for a 4-bore case as all of the older rifles were hand made--one by one. Most 4s are 4 inches in length (but I have seen cases as short as 3 1/2” and up to 4 1/2” in length) but the wall thickness of the brass varies with the actual dimension of the bullet. Most 4-bore cases actually shot a bullet or ball of approximately 5-bore in diameter (.970") and some as small as 6-bore (.919"). Do a chamber cast to get the exact dimensions of the bore as well as rim size and thickness, etc. I have this done to any and all bore rifles I own due to a lack of standardization of the era. I have personally handled about a dozen vintage 4-bores and not a one had ammunition that would interchange with another to an exact fit.

In my upcoming book I have a chapter devoted to reloading for the 4-bore (procedures, equipment, where to get all needed items,  and charges, bullet weights and types, and ballistics).
Cheers,
Cal


Cal:
Avi again. How accurate is a smooth barrel 4-bore with lead conical bullets? Century Arms of Australia offers a 24-pound single barrel 4-bore shotgun for $35K. Is it worth it? It comes with extra 32" bbl & fore stock in a nice wood display box. I won’t hunt with it, I just want a big big cartridge to play with. How about Clayton Neslon’s rifle that Morris Hallowell has on his site? Or a 4-bore by Butch Searcy?

Again, if the powder charge of 100 grains of Blue Dot is kept in the bottom of the case with proper fiber wads from Circle Fly why wouldn't the Federal 215 primers work? I'm told the shotgun primers are good for low pressures 14 - 16,000 psi  so would that be an issue with the 4-bore ? 
Thanks again,
Avi N.


Avi:
Smooth bores are accurate to 50-60 yards. Be careful you are not getting a 4-bore shotgun as they are usually not strong enough for full rifle loads. I need pictures and more details to evaluate the 35K price. Can you supply? Both Nelson and Searcy make excellent products and you can’t go wrong with either. Morris Hallowell is a fine and honest gent to do business with and you won’t have a problem dealing with him.




The pressures are low in a 4-bore. Smokeless powder is more difficult to ignite than black powder so the shotgun primers with the larger spark provide better ignition. Think about it--if rifle primers worked on shotgun-sized cases, would not the ammo makers use them in their shot shells? Magnum rifle primers MAY work in a 4-bore but shotgun primers WILL work. Pressures are low in bore rifles--far from rifle pressures.
Good shooting,
Cal


Hi Mr. Cal: 
Thanks for your responses & courtesy but I still wish to know what would be the
average 4-bore size? As much as I have gathered is this: bore--.970-1.000”,  rim--1.200”  rim thickness--0.087” to 0.130 " base--1.090 to 1.125"  case mouth--1.025 -to 1.063"  mouth wall thickness; 0.025  or more. It sure looks as if those 4-bores were not really 4-bore size of 1.052"  but rather 5-bore  from 0.935 - 0.990 ."  Should I have a die set made  to 1 inch?? I'm most likely  to get a single or a double with a rifled  barrel to a 1 inch bore size.
What do you think is best? Searcy double  is really oversized to a point of
inability to grasp those barrels when shooting--it’s simply huge beyond reason.
Thanks for your response....

Avi:
You are right in the variations in 4-bore--no one set dimension! Note the variations in your dimensions--that is why I can’t give exact  figures.

For the old rifles (which is all is know about) there is no set or average size. Generally speaking, 4-bores were 5-bore is size (about .970"), some were as small as 6-bore (.919"), and some approached small 4-bore at 1.002". A few single shots may have been close to a true 4 at 1.052" and the punt guns for waterfowl shooting at 4-bore were a full 1.052" as weight did not matter as they were fastened to the boat.

The dimensions you cite are correct as they have lots of variations. If you are to have a new gun or rifle built (and Searcy is an excellent choice) you can specify any size you want for the case as well as the weight of the rifle and length of the barrels. Any 4-bore double will have huge barrels. They are needed for the correct size as well as the weight will hold down the recoil to manageable levels.
Good shooting,
Cal

MR CAL HI...

I WONDER IF YOU COULD COMMENT ON  HEAVY RECOIL  GUN AND THE  EFFECTS  ON THE HUMAN BRAIN & EYE RETINA DETACHMENT AS SOME FOLKS IN THE BLACK POWDER COMMUNITY CLAIM . ARE SUCH CLAIMS   REAL AND  SHOULD BE TAKEN IN CONSIDERATION ? I  WAS BORN TO GET ALONG WITH BIG BIG GUNS SO THEY NEVER HURT ME NOR BRUISE ME EVER (BUT  I NEVER SHOOT OFF THE BENCH)  AND  USE THE TWO STEP 4- BORE DANCE--WHICH REALLY WORKS ! SO WHAT SAY YOU ? THAT IS , IF YOUR WILLING ? RECOIL MANAGEMENT  IS MOSTLY MENTAL  ATTRIBUTES AND ABILITY TO  GO WITH THE FLOW. THANK  YOU FOR YOUR TIME & RESPONSE.
AVI N.


Avi:
Good day. Not much to say here. I have read it all--detached retina, teeth and/or fillings coming apart, broken collar bones, ears bleeding, of being picked up and turning over in the air, of being spun around a full turn, etc. All bunk in my opinion. Just tall tales to add hair to a bald and boyish chest of the writer. When I was a kid a .30-30 was an unbelievably heavy kicker. Now, with years of practice, a .375 is a pop gun. All it takes is practice with working up from smaller rifles to heavier ones. A .600 is easily manageable with practice. Mark Sullivan has it right--one must feel the sear let go on a .22 and the same with a .600.
Good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal,

I need your opinion on a project that I am keen to get going but cannot find anyone that can provide a highly informed opinion on whether I am wasting my time and money or not.
I am hoping you will provide input that either supports the plan or renders it a non event.

I have a .500 NE Merkel 140-2 double rifle as per att. pics in the presentation.
Targets that require use of force of this magnitude are fairly scarce around my farm close to Pretoria in South Africa.
We do however have an abundance of bush pig and I want to build a lighter double rifle that will simulate the Merkel operation and provide a means to generate a high level of muscle and intuitive brain memory but at a lower cost and general level of energy. (Mostly also to have fun with as I am sure you understand a pig hunt is a hoot...)

I have done some research regarding the basic overall dimensions (diam / OAL, diam / case length etc.) and have identified the .375 Win as a cartridge most similar to the .500 NE in terms of these ratios and having a straight wall case.

An ideal bush pig double should be able to provide ballistics as per a 180-220gr bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1900 to 2100 fps. This would also approximate the trajectory of the .500 NE as verified by ballistic tables and provide useful range of 80 to 100 yds with open sights. Naturally a fairly stout .375” diam bullet such as the 220 gr. Hornady FP Interlock would be ideal in this application.

Dimensionally the diameter of the .375 Win (10,71 mm) case is 1 mm less than the .303 Br. (11,68 mm) just ahead of the rim and the relevance of course is that a .303 Br and a .410 caliber shotgun shell are very close dimensionally in the case rim/head area. This would provide additional margin of safety in the chamber/breech area if making use of the .375 Win cartridge.

The real issue is whether a double underlug locking box lock .410 shotgun action would be able to manage the pressures exerted on chamber and breech face to provide an economical format for the above use.

I have identified after a fairly extensive search that the EIBAR .410 Caliber S/S shotgun (in the pics as per page 2 of the attached presentation), is more robust than other typical .410 hammerless doubles. It unfortunately does not have a Greener Cross bolt to assist in locking the action across the top, which is probably the deciding factor here. In addition it has a fairly close resemblance to the Merkel visually in its present form (Nickeled action, Pistol Grip Stock, Recoil Pad, Auto Safety, Underbite reinforcing, full forend etc.)

I am aware that the Winchester Big Bore 94 was reinforced in the breech area to manage the 50 000 cup of the 375 Win cartridge and that the cartridge case head differs internally to the parent case(.30-30). This pressure level might be too much for the box lock w/o Greener Cross bolt and it would also have to be submitted to the SABS for proofing at 30% over pressure. The expense to get it re-barrelled, and then have it come apart at the proof house is too painful to contemplate.
I would not wish to try to simulate the factory loads in this weapon but rather duplicate the .500 NE trajectory and regulate the barrels accordingly.

Ideally a 28 gauge action would suffice but these are extremely rare in ZA whereas .410’s that are destined for police destruction are fairly common at the moment.
I am also aware that components and loaded ammo for the .375 Win are quite scarce in USA at the moment but we do have a local supply of cases from Ken Stewart for this chambering and Frontier Bullets ZA would be able to supply a 200 – 220 gr. Truncated Cone flat point copper plated lead bullet that are cheap and work extremely well at moderate velocities.

Do you believe this is safely possible or an exercise in futility with the above EIBAR .410 Shotgun? (If you require some specific dimensions, I can arrange to forward these.)
Do you have any alternative suggestions to either gun platform or chosen cartridge bearing in mind the dimensional similarity. (If I had a .470 NE a .30-30 Win would have worked just fine and I probably would not need to contact you regarding this matter.)

Really looking forward to your informed reply on the above concept.

Regards,

Sean 
South Africa


Sean:
Good to hear from you and thanks for the e-mail. It is a bit complicated as to the info you require but I'll do my best.

I do not feel any shotgun action would stand up to repeated full charge double rifle pressures--even with the approximate bore size. I state this out of logic rather than personal experience for this reason: all the double rifle manufacturers use rifle actions, not shotgun actions, for their double rifles. That said, with heavier barrels on a larger shotgun action it may work--say a 20-bore--with enough steel around the barrels for strength. And, of course, a third fastener would be a welcome addition.

If the time and cost of such a project make it not worth while allow me a suggestion: most double rifles will work with the 75% rule. Take the regulated bullet weight and use a 75% powder charge or use a full charge of powder and a bullet at 75% of the weight. A second option is to load your .500 down to .500 black powder express levels and have the barrels re-regulated to shoot to a desired point of aim.

I don’t have any experience on the technical aspects of modern firearms you cite as vintage guns and rifles are my focus.

I hope this helps and e-mail if I can be of further assistance and good shooting.
Cal

Cal:
I'm searching load data for .450 NÂș2 NE. Can you help me? Thanks.
Thanks,
Ricardo B. 
Argentina

Ricardo:

Good day. You are right up my alley with this question as my most loved rifle is a Lang .450 no2.

I use (and a dozen others I know of) use 105 grains of IMR 4831 and a 480-grain Woodleigh bullet or 500-grain Hornady bullet.  I put a small tuft of dacron pillow stuffing between the bullet and powder to keep the powder next to the primer for good ignition. Use a large rifle magnum primer.

You may have to move the powder charge up or down a few grains for your specific rifle, but the above will work as a good start and, like many, be right on the  money with the 105-grain charge.

Good shooting.
Cal




Dear Cal:
Do you have any information on P. Orr and Sons? I have a double so marked but can’t find out who Orr was.
Thank you for your time.
Neil
USA

Neil:
Good day and thanks for your e-mail.
P. Orr and Sons were a retailer mostly known for sporting items in India along with Locke, Manton, Lyon, and a few others. Orr was not a maker of firearms so it is nearly impossible to know who the manufacturer was as the maker of guns to be resold usually did not put their name and serial number on the rifle or shotgun but left it to the retailer. The firearm(s) could have been purchased "in the white" and finished by the retailer in their own gun smithing shop or bought fully finished and they engraved or roll-stamped their name, address, and own serial number on the rifle or shotgun. Sometimes it is possible to distinguish the maker by an unusual feature such as the style of doll's head (Wilkes), or bolster style (Osborne), or shape of the lock plates (Rigby).

If you care to send photos of the rifle as well as photos of the barrel flats (to show the proof marks) I may be able to narrow it down a bit--possibly.

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal






Dear Cal:
I am In the process of working up new loads for my Gibbs 450 NE.  After reading Wright's 3rd addition I would like to try a different powder other than my load of RL15 and poly fiber fill (want to get rid of the filler). Leaning towards H4831 or RL19.  My question is about bullets, Do you have any field experience with either the Woodleigh Soft and Solids or the Hornady DGX and DGS.  I think that the Hornady may be a tougher bullet but was wondering whether the Woodleigh may be kinder to my older barrels.
Thanks  and enjoy your summer in Alaska.
Bob R.
Vermont USA


Bob:
Good to hear from you. 
Stowe, Vermont? I moved to Alaska from Vermont in 1984. Small world.

I have taken with my .450 no2 with both Hornady softs and solids, and Woodleigh softs at buffalo, giraffe, brown bear, and caribou. To give an honest opinion I think one good bullet is the same as the next. My Hornady bullets are the old 500-grain soft and solids from the .458 Winchester magnum days. Never a problem. I think too many folks get caught up in the mania of bullet construction. My thought is there are good and bad bullets and all fall into the two categories. Woodleigh and Hornady fall into the “good” category.

As to powder. I stopped experimenting when I got to IMR 4831 for all of my nitro loads. I only use filler on the big no2 cases--the .450 and .475. Never a filler with .450, .500, .577, and .600 (unless with reduced loads). However, the slower powder equates to a larger charge in grains and this will mean more recoil. A friend’s .600, shot with RL-15 kicks less than the same velocity using 4831.

Back to the bullets. I would suggest going to gun shows and finding the old Hornady soft point 500 grain bullets and also the 350 grain (these should work well with the 75% rule). The bullets will be easy on the barrels and are cheap as so many folks buy .458s and .460s wanting to have the biggest rifle on the block and give up on them after the first or second shot due to recoil. I have a life time supply and have never paid more than 20$ per box--and sometimes 10-15$ is common.

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal

hello.
I just looked through your site, and found it to be interresting. I have always been facinated by 2-barrell rifles, and was wondering about something:

here in norway, a normal .308 is about $2-2,50 a shot. and a .375 is about $8 (those are hunting quality rounds, of course. both the .375 and .308 prices). so I am afraid of thinking about what one of those 4 bore shots would cost here. so, to my question. are there any good and reliable, and a the same time in a more reasonable price-range than a holland & holland, 2-barrell rifles in a calber that will not ruin me if I want to use it, not only for hunting, but also for recreational shooting? I am thinking .308 or 30-06, or similar.


also, I was thinking, is it even possible to hit anything with that 4-bore when you know that horrifying kick is coming when you pull the trigger? I saw the video, and I am pretty sure that if people knew what was coming, 99% of us would be too scared to aim accurately.

as you have probably already guessed, I am no professional hunter, and I do not know as much about guns as you guys. but still, just wanted to see if you had any tips for me.





Gisle:
Good day and thanks for your email. Your question on doubles is one many ask.

Holland and Holland is the best (and most expensive) there is but you have many more choices. At the bottom is the Pedesoli Kodiak in .45-70. It is an exposed hammer double and made to be a very utility rifle--no frills but the cost is between 2500-4000$ USD used. Up a step from there is the Sabatti double in a variety of calibers. .450-400 3-inch for about 6000$ is a very popular rifle and well made. Kreighoff, Merkel and the French Verney Caron are priced between 8-15,000$ depending on caliber and other variables. All of the above are excellent quality rifles that will give a good history of service. While not the quality of an English double, nor the history of a vintage double, they are priced within the reach of most sportsmen.

I would caution of a double rifle chambered in a rimless cartridge such as the .308 or .30-06. The extraction or ejection is not as reliable as with a rimmed shell. They do work, but have a history of problems (at least with some).

The recoil of the 4-bore is quite a jolt but can be managed with practice. I have brass shells made at Rocky Mountain Cartridge and they will last a lifetime as the pressure is so low they don't stretch or split.

I hope this helps. Good shooting to you.
Cal 

Mr. Cal,
Say for example the 4 bore, do you have a reloading press big enough to reload the shells or do you use some sort of manual hand reloading tools? If so were they custom made for the calibers and large brass? Do you cast your own bullets or buy them from somewhere? What kind of powder works best for the 4 bore? Sorry if this is too much just wanted someone with experience.
Much Appreciated, Ben Parry


Ben:
Lots of stuff to cover here so send some specifics so I don't type for  
two hours on stuff you may not be interested in.
Or, call.
Cheers,
Cal

Dear Mr. Cal,

Thank you for your information on the book and the 8-bore actions.What i would like or need to know what companies made 10-bore doubles on 8-bore actions? Were all the British gunmakers the only ones that made  10-bore on 8-bore actions? I try to post this on only sites and get no answer,so did the  the Spanish or the German gunmakers do the same? Alot of us are trying to make the old Paradox on true 8-bore action, so if we can find some of the old 10-bore on 8-bore actions we are in business,so any ideal will helpful.And as far as the book on Paradox let me know when they are for sale.One more thing i help that you do the chapter on reloading will a good one,because we need to find someone  who do the paradox reloading tools. I don't want to be a bother.

                                                                                                                                                                    Thank You

                                                                                                                                                                      BIG AL



AL:
I will have a chapter or reloading for the bore rifles, both brass and 
plastic cases. I have the data now, it is just waiting for publication 
and, I'm waiting on photos which are very slow in coming in.
I know of two 4-bore paradox doubles and I hope the owners will send 
me photos of them.
My 8 bores measure from 2.750 to 3.00" across the face and my 10 is 
2.75" as it was built on an 8-bore frame.
Cheers,
Cal

Cal,
I load 110.0grs IMR-4831 under a 570 gr Woodleigh with Fed 215 primer which regulates perfectly and gives right at about 2,150fps in Steve's .500 NE which, IIRC, is the same load Butch Searcy regulates with. Just wondering why you are loading 4 to 5 grains less (or I am loading 4 to 5 grains more). Is that out of the deference to older vintage rifles or were they regulated to a lower velocity or is there just that much spread in regulating charge weights between different rifles?

Thanks,
Andy


Andy:
Good day. I load to regulation. The .500s I have loaded for worked fine with 105-6 grains. Others may use a bit more or less. Even though the original cordite charge was the same, time adds a few variables such as bore wear. 1 or 2 thousandths of wear would generate a bit less pressure thereby necessitating a bit increase of powder. And, each rifle is unique in its own way. Such as the 75% rule--it works fine in some rifles and not even close in other rifles. With all the above, it is possible to add a few grains to my load and I'm sure pressures would remain safe and regulation would be fine. I just stopped on the low side of safe when the barrels printed together. Also, new rifles can be made to any regulated load. Older rifles were most likely tested with 28-inch proof barrels and one must subtract velocity from the stated 2150 fps if the barrels (in a vintage rifle) are 24- or 26 inches. I doubt a vintage .500 nitro double with, say 24-inch barrels, achieved 2150 fps muzzle velocity--more like 2050 or even a bit less.
Hope his helps.
Cheers, mate.
Cal


Hi Cal,

I saw your posts on Accurate Reloading recently regarding your thoughts that the Verney Carron was the best modern, non-English double rifle.  I presently have a 500 NE Westley Richards drop lock.  It has served me well.  But, you know, you can never get enough.  I’ve been bitten by the itch to get a 600 NE.  If I got another Westley Richards my wife would probably kill me.  It appears the Westley drop lock and Verney Carron and Heym 600s are not that far apart in numerical amount but the Westley is quoted in British pounds so it is at least 60% more than the other rifles.

So I am looking towards either the Verney Carron in either the Azur Safari Luxe grade or the Azur Safari Eloge grade.  In the Heym their 600 is built on the 88B Jumbo frame with a true sidelock action.  I understand the Heyms used to kick quite a bit but in the last few years they have gone to straighter stocks and a bit more weight and are now good in the recoil management area.

I also realize you need to pick your caliber and then your maker.  For example, Merkel and Chapuis are good in 9.3X74R but get muzzle heavy with poor handling dynamics in larger calibers such as 470 NE.

There is one other potential fly in the ointment as well.   I have gotten hooked on the penetration the 500 NE offers.  The 570 grain bullets at a nominal 2150 fps will penetrate deeply from about any angle.  One concern I have about the 600 NE is that the nominal velocity is 1950 fps from the 28” test barrel.  In 26” hunting rifle barrels that nominally drops to ~1900 fps.  However, a number of the manufacturers seem to be loading the ammo down a bit, so a real world velocity expectation, I have heard, is more like 1050-1875 fps with 26” barrels.  I become a little worried about penetration.  I know the old 120 cordite load was allegedly a 2050 fps load.  I am wondering if any of the current ammo makers makes such a load or if a double rifle maker will regulate with that load or a customer-supplied equivalent?

My overall question in addition to the 2050 fps ammo question above, is what rifle would you recommend for a 600 NE if I want to buy a modern rifle but not one of the current high end British rifles?  How do the Heyms and Verney Carrons compare, especially in 600 NE?

Thanks for any info or suggestions you can provide.

Best regards,
Ray 

Ray:
Thanks for your email and it is always good to hear from those of a like mind.
To compare the Heym and V-C: Both are excellent, new, non-English double rifles. They will work, shoot accurate, and give a life time of dependability. The V-C .600 is about 24,000$ and the Heym about 50,000$ with the engraving additional. If money is a concern--the V-C is the better buy. I also like the locking lumps of the V-C and I doubt they will ever come off the face.

As to penetration. No doubt the .500 and the .577 penetrate better due to the shape of the bullets. But, as John Taylor said, how much penetration does one need. The .600 will penetrate as much as you want. In the old days the English could have made the .600 with a semi-pointed bullet as the .500 and .577 but I feel, (unsubstantiated) they chose the blunt shape to avoid over penetration.

If you are going to have any double made it can be made to order with the 2050 fps load you want. However, there is a price to pay as to recoil. I shot my .600 Wilkes with a 2050 fps charge by accident and the recoil was much more severe.

I don't have any experience with new factory ammo as i only handload and have been doing so since the late 1970s. Shorter barrels will see a velocity loss and  24" barrel balances the best with a caliber the size of a .600. My Wilkes has 26" barrels and I shoot it to 1900 fps but, for the sake of balance and ease of handling, I would rather have 24" tubes.

The new WR droplocks in .600 (I believe) are about 70,000$--nearly 3x the VC. But there is something to be said about an English double!
Cheers and good shooting. Email if I can be of service.
Cal


Hi, Cal. 
I'm guessing that you have now returned from the  lower 48 back up to your home in Alaska.

Cal, I don't know if you recall or not, but I have a bolt action  rifle in the caliber .600 Overkill. It is similar to the .600NE  round in many ways, except that the rim has been trimmed off, and a  belt added for compatibility in a bolt action rifle.

With the help of a friend, I have started to reload these  cartridges. In the reloading process, we noticed that the used brass  had varying OALs.

My friend suggested that we obtain a case trimmer for the brass. My question to you is this: do you have to trim your .600NE brass? And  if so, what would be a source for the cutting head and the pilot?  The belt and rim diameter of the .600 Overkill cartridge is the same  as the .505 Gibbs, and I already have the collet to hold this  cartridge.... I just need the cutting head and pilot, which would be  the same dimensions as the .600NE.

Cal, thanks for any help you can give me. Best to you, and good  hunting. Chip.

Hi Chip:
I remember well.
When I purchased my .600 it came with a trim die. I put a case in the  die and anything that sticks out of the top of the die I file off. The  top of the die is hardened more than the file so the die is not  damaged. For what little shooting is done with a .600 this is a far  better system than a custom brass trimming machine and special cutter  head.
Cheers,
Cal
On Mar 24, 2011, at 10:56 AM, Tripod Mailer wrote:


Cal: Thanks for the response. Actually, the guy that's helping me with the reloading said that a trim die might be the solution here. Even though I've only managed bolt guns so far....I know a big double is in my future. Before I take the plunge, I'm going to want your counsel....if you're willing! Best to you, Cal. Chip.

Mr Pappas
When we last communicated, I was impressed with your knowledge of DRs.
I am hoping that you might help me understand a few things with my new
Searcy double rifle.

Since my new Search 470 NE has arrived, I have had some time to dry fire
(with snap caps of course) and that has prompted a few thoughts.

I found that the front trigger was crisp with no creep, however the rear
trigger does present some creep. Is that common?

Also, the barrel assembly to receiver fit is snug. I find that the
barrel does not open easily when released, even if neither trigger has
been pulled. When I release the barrels (triggers not pulled therefore
no re-cocking needed), the action only opens about half way then
requires downward hand pressure on the barrels or the whole unit sort of
bounced in my hands to get the barrels to open fully. Since I have no
experience with such things, I was wondering about whether new rifles
start out that way and eventually work in, till the barrel will open
freely. I certainly can understand some resistance after firing because
it would need re-cocking, but when not fired? I would be very hesitant
to use it as is, on a dangerous game hunt, the way it is, because
reloading would be significantly impacted. Note: I have yet to fire a
round in the rifle.
Any thoughts.
Bob 
Bob:
Good to hear from you and you caught me with my computer on for a quick reply.

The trigger pulls and creep should be equal and, if not, can be easily repaired. I have heard from a few sources that on many doubles the front trigger has less of a pull than the rear so the rifle does not double upon firing the first, or right, barrel. (This I personally have no experience with and I fire the left barrel first anyway).

As to the ease of breaking the action open, What you have is very common in new rifles and common in vintage rifles if they were not used much in the past. My Henry 8-bore was fired very little and it is a chore to open it today--the rifle was made in 1883!). The more you use your rifle the easier it will be to open. Many of my older doubles that have a history of use just fall open (if already cocked). If a new rifle was made to open easily, it possibly would shoot loose sooner rather than later.

I hope this helps. Send a photo of your rifle for my website with the specifications.
Good shooting.
Cal


Mr. Cal:
For the bore rifles, say for example the 4 bore, do you have a reloading press big enough to reload the shells or do you use some sort of manual hand reloading tools? If so, were they custom made for the calibers and large brass? Do you cast your own bullets or buy them from somewhere? What kind of powder works best for the 4 bore? Sorry if this is too much just wanted someone with experience if I ever get a big bore double.
Much Appreciated,
Ben P. USA

Ben:
Thanks for your email. To answer:
Die holes on press: .600 takes 1" dies, 8-bore takes 1 1/4" dies, 4-bore takes 1 1/2" dies
Lyman has 1 1/4" hole and bushings for 7/8”, 1”, up to 8-bore
RCBS Ammomaster for 50 BMG has 1 1/2" hole and that is what I use with bushings or inserts for smaller size dies down to the standard 7/8"
Brass is made at Rocky Mountain Cartridge in Wyoming from chamber casts or a fired case
Bullet moulds from NEI or I also use old original moulds
Blue Dot is the best powder for the bore rifles in smokeless loads and FFg GOEX for black powder loads. FFg is close to the old Curtis and Harvey number 6. Other smokeless powders will work well, I’m sure, but Blue Dot meets all of my expectations so I did not experiment further.
RCBS, Lyman, NEI, and Rocky Mountain are all on the web--just Google them.
Anything else, just email or call.
Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Mr. Cal,
What I would like to know is what companies made 10-bore doubles on 8-bore actions? Were all the British gunmakers the only ones that made  10-bore on 8-bore actions or did the  the Spanish or the German gunmakers do the same? A lot of us are trying to make the old Paradox on true 8-bore actions, so if we can find some of the old 10-bore shotguns on 8-bore actions we are in business. 

Also when will your book on the bore rifles be available? One more thing--will you do a chapter on reloading procedures, ballistics and the old tools and moulds?                                                                                                                                                             Thank You.
Big Al W. USA







Al:
It is always good to hear from you.
My 10-bore shotgun was built on a 8-bore frame in Birmingham, England. This is determined by the width of the frame or distance across the face. While this is a big 10-gauge at over 11 pounds it would suffice only for moderate 8-bore rifle loads--such as were produced in the early breech-loading years of the 1870s. Any shotgun frame is not made to withstand the pressures and torque of a heavy rifle charge (so beware of .577 and .600 nitro doubles that were made on the frame of a 12-bore European shotgun--and there are many!). I do not know if makers on the continent made 10-bore on 8 frames but it would be possible. Not that this was a standard practice, but if a customer wanted a 10-bore to recoil less, and specified a heavier than normal weight, the company would use one of their in house larger frames and fit 10-bore barrels to it.

As for my book. I hope to have it completed by the end of 2011 and off to the printers by the first of 2012.

Good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal:
I read you load 105 grains of IMR 4831 in your .500 nitro double. I load 110.0 grs. IMR-4831 under a 570 gr. Woodleigh with Fed 215 primer which regulates perfectly and gives right at about 2,150 fps in the .500 NE which is the same load Butch Searcy regulates with. Just wondering why you are loading 4 to 5 grains less (or I am loading 4 to 5 grains more)? Is that out of the deference to older vintage rifles or were they regulated to a lower velocity or is there just that much spread in regulating charge weights between different rifles?
Thanks,
Andy, USA


Andy:
Good day. I load to regulation. The .500s I have loaded for worked fine with 105-6 grains. Others may use a bit more or less. Even though the original cordite charge was the same, time adds a few variables such as bore wear. 1 or 2 thousandths of an inch of wear would generate a bit less pressure thereby necessitating a bit increase of powder. And, each rifle is unique in its own way. Such as the 75% rule--it works fine in some rifles and not even close in other rifles. With all the above, it is possible to add a few grains to my load and I'm sure pressures would remain safe and regulation would be fine. I just stopped on the low side of safe when the barrels printed together. Also, new rifles can be made to any regulated load. Older rifles were most likely tested with 28-inch proof barrels and one must subtract velocity from the stated 2150 fps if the barrels (in a vintage rifle) are 24- or 26 inches. I doubt a vintage .500 nitro double with, say 24-inch barrels, achieved 2150 fps muzzle velocity--more like 2050 or even a bit less.
Hope his helps.
Cheers, and good shooting
Cal




Hi Cal,

I saw your posts on Accurate Reloading recently regarding your thoughts that the Verney Carron was the best modern, non-English double rifle.  I presently have a 500 NE Westley Richards drop lock.  It has served me well.  But, you know, you can never get enough.  I’ve been bitten by the itch to get a 600 NE.  If I got another Westley Richards my wife would probably kill me.  It appears the Westley drop lock and Verney Carron and Heym 600s are not that far apart in numerical amount but the Westley is quoted in British pounds so it is at least 60% more than the other rifles.

So I am looking towards either the Verney Carron in either the Azur Safari Deluxe grade or the Azur Safari  grade.  In the Heym their 600 is built on the 88B Jumbo frame with a true sidelock action.  I understand the Heyms used to kick quite a bit but in the last few years they have gone to straighter stocks and a bit more weight and are now good in the recoil management area.

I also realize you need to pick your caliber and then your maker.  For example, Merkel and Chapuis are good in 9.3X74R but get muzzle heavy with poor handling dynamics in larger calibers such as 470 NE.

There is one other potential fly in the ointment as well.   I have gotten hooked on the penetration the 500 NE offers.  The 570 grain bullets at a nominal 2150 fps will penetrate deeply from about any angle.  One concern I have about the 600 NE is that the nominal velocity is 1950 fps from the 28” test barrel.  In 26” hunting rifle barrels that nominally drops to ~1900 fps.  However, a number of the manufacturers seem to be loading the ammo down a bit, so a real world velocity expectation, I have heard, is more like 1850-1875 fps with 26” barrels.  I become a little worried about penetration.  I know the old 120 cordite load was allegedly a 2050 fps load.  I am wondering if any of the current ammo makers makes such a load or if a double rifle maker will regulate with that load or a customer-supplied equivalent?

My overall question in addition to the 2050 fps ammo question above, is what rifle would you recommend for a 600 NE if I want to buy a modern rifle but not one of the current high end British rifles?  How do the Heyms and Verney Carrons compare, especially in 600 NE?

Thanks for any info or suggestions you can provide.

Best regards,

Ray K. USA


Ray:
Thanks for your email and it is always good to hear from those of a like mind.
To compare the Heym and V-C: both are excellent, new, non-English double rifles. They will work, shoot accurate, and give a life time of dependability. The V-C .600 is about 24,000$ and the Heym about 50,000$ with the engraving additional. If money is a concern--the V-C is the better buy. I also like the locking lumps of the V-C and I doubt they will ever come off the face. But, the Heym is a find product and is made to last.

As to penetration. No doubt the .500 and the .577 penetrate better due to the shape of the bullets. But, as John Taylor said, how much penetration does one need? The .600 will penetrate as much as you want. In the old days the English could have made the .600 with a semi-pointed bullet as the .500 and .577 but I feel, (unsubstantiated) they chose the blunt shape to avoid over penetration (i.e. an exit hole).

If you are going to have any double made it can be made to order with the 2050 fps load you want. However, there is a price to pay as to recoil. I shot my .600 Wilkes with a 2050 fps charge by accident and the recoil was much more severe.

I don't have any experience with new factory ammo as I only handload and have been doing so since the late 1970s. Shorter barrels will see a velocity loss and  24" barrel balances the best with a caliber the size of a .600. My Wilkes has 26" barrels and I shoot it to 1900 fps but, for the sake of balance and ease of handling, I would rather have 24" tubes.

The new WR droplocks in .600 (I believe) are about 70,000$--nearly 3x the VC. But there is something to be said about an English double!
Cheers and good shooting. Email if I can be of service.
Cal







Cal:
I am seriously considering a double from John Rigby in London. It will be tailored to my specifications, and will thus be "my rifle".
As far as I know, Rigby has quite recently been re established in London. I visited them last year, and they seem to be serious people.
Have you heard anything about this "new Rigby"? Do you think that a new rifle from Rigby has the potential to be a classic tomorrow?

Best regards
Anders M. Belgium.


Anders:
Thanks for your email.
I don't’ know the whole story on the new English Rigby. I have been told the California Rigby people did not register the name in the UK so another group did. Whatever the story I, am sure they will produce a fine rifle--such as Anderson Wheeler does. While of modern, excellent quality, no new Rigby, California or English, will have the quality, class, character, and history of the original Rigby. There will only be one, original, Rigby.

It will be “your” rifle, made to your specifications , and will be a gem you will be proud to own and pass on to your heirs. As to becoming a classic, and with a subsequent appreciation in value, only time will tell basing on a few factors: the number of rifles produced, the market demand, and the reputation of  quality.

Good luck and good shooting.
Cal





Cal, Good Day:
I was wondering if you do research or appraisals on double guns? I have a RB Rodda 450/400 3.25" NE (hammerless with ejectors) that I'd sure like to know the manufacture date, and even more so who it might have gone to,  The serial # is 32xx. Please advise if you do such research and the general fee structure you have.  I enjoy your column very much !
Best regards,
Steve T. USA


Steve:
Yes, I do do research and appraise. My fee is between $50-100 USD depending on the amount of time and length of the final letter to you AND I do it from detailed photos--no need to send the rifle to me. My appraisals come with a life time update for no additional fee. (If you want the value changed to reflect the market I wills do so or will add a paragraph if you later find your rifle was owned by the King of England). Some rifles, such as your Rodda, do not have the maker’s ledgers available so there is not much researching to be done but a fair market value can be obtained from comparable sales in the recent past.

Good shooting,
Cal



Hello Mr. Pappas

I have read some of your articles and like your approach to what you write about. You are a very informative no-nonsense writer, and obviously a very learned man in your field.

I am a double rifle maker in Tasmania, Australia and I have a client inquiring about building a 600 Nitro Express. I have built doubles up to 500 NE, but not a 600.

I have a pair of unturned .619" barrel blanks (that need final lapping) and the steel bar-stock for the action, but I have no idea of what barrel dimensions I need or the initial convergence to set those barrels at.

Would it be possible for you to please measure one of your 600 doubles in a few places for me to have a starting point? I want to build a graceful rifle with nice lines, not something that is "clubby" in appearance. Some time ago I saw pictures of an Army & Navy (??) in 600 NE. It looked lovely, big but not chunky if you can understand that.

The measurements I would like to achieve this point are as follows: 

(I added the measurements to the original letter--Cal)

 1  -  Over-all width across breech face----------------2.580”
 2  -  Chamber wall thickness at breech face----------.375”
 3 -   Length of action flats---------------------------------2.893”
 4  -  Barrel diameter at 6" from breech face----------1.125”
 5  -  Barrel length-------------------------------------------26 inches
 6  -  Barrel diameter at muzzle----------------------------0.845
 7  -  Over-all width across muzzles----------------------1.842”
 8  -  Foresight height from bottom of barrels----------1.071”
 9  -  Weight of rifle-------------------------------------------15 pounds and 8 ounces
10  - Length of pull of rifle----------------------------------14 3/4"
11 -  Powder charge rifle is regulated for------------110 grains of cordite

Many thanks.

ALEX BEER
Managing Director
Alex Beer & Co.
Fine Custom Rifle makers
www.alexbeer.com



                                                                                                                                                          

Cal:
I met you several years ago coming from the SCI show in Reno - we set next to each other on the flight from Reno to SL city.  We talked about the new 20 ga double rifle that Conn. Shotgun Co. had just released.  I am a double fan - have been to Africa 5 times and have been published in the SCI mag.   Just purchased a 12 bore F.T. Baker gun in "like new" condition. - not a refinished gun. Have not the chance to shoot the gun yet. Any suggestions as to loading into brass?
Thanks
Ron A. Montana

Ron:
Good to hear from you and I remember talking about the 20-bore Galazan Paradox.

I reload into brass shot shells for both shot, ball, and bore rifle loadings. I use a sizer die and not a press such as MEC. I set wad pressure on a simple bathroom scale to 100 pounds (approximately) add any spacer wads, the projectile, and seat the neck crimp the bullet, roll crimp over the bullet in a paper case, or set an over shot wad. I use 209 primers as I have not had much luck with rifle primers in the larger shot shell cases (many brass bore cases are made with rifle primer pockets). I use a punch to deprime and a Lee Auto Prime 2 to seat the primer (modified to use the larger 209 primers)

Many use a press to seat the wad and crimp but I have not the volume of production to warrant this. Others have modified a MEC press to 8-gauge but, again, I have not done this.
I hope this helps and good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
What are the details of the “75% Rule” I have read about on the internet forums? How does it work and will it work for all double rifles?
Dawson M.
Australia


Dawson:
G’day, mate.
The 75% rule is not cast in stone--sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. It can be viewed in two ways:
1. use the full charge of powder in your double rifle cartridge and a bullet that weighs 75% of the regulated projectile or,

2. use the full weight of the projectile and 75% of the powder charge.

This a a method of shooting accurately a reduced load to lessen the recoil. It does not work always. I does in my .450 no2 and my .600 but  my .450-400 3-inch won’t hit the barn even if I shoot the rifle from inside the barn!
Good shooting,
Cal






Mr. Pappas:
I have read some of your articles online and decided to write you.
I own an Alexander Henry 500/450 BPE double rifle.  I think it was made in 1881.  A friend of mine owns a Lyon & Lyon 450 BPE made around 1896.  Can you help us on how we might find some information on the history of these guns?
Also, we are paper patching our bullets and would love to have 16 pound 25%-100% cotton fiber paper.  Do you know of a source?
Thanks for any assistance you can provide.  I look forward to hearing from you.
M. Larry C. USA

Larry:
Good day and thanks for your questions.
I do not have a contact for the 25-100 paper as I do not paper patch. However, this week I will have a 'smith make a paper patch mould for my .600 nitro and begin the process.
As to your rifle: you can Google Dickson and MacNaughton. They have the records of all the Scottish gun makers. Expect a charge of approximately 50$ for a copy of the ledger page to be mailed to you.
Your friend's Lyon and Lyon will remain a mystery. L&L was a retailer in India along with Manton, W. Locke, P. Orr, and others. Their records are not available or have been lost for decades. I do not know of anyone who has found records for the above retailers. They sold from numerous makers along with camping equipment and everything else under the sun. 
I hope this helps a little.
Good shooting,
Cal


2010

Hello Mr. Pappas:

My Merkel 375 H&H came with very heavy trigger pulls; 7.5 front and 10.5 rear.  I do a lot of shotgun shooting with SXSs with trigger pulls of 3.5 to 4 pounds but I was told by a number of people that a double rifle should have much heavier trigger pulls.  I had the Merkel adjusted to 7 front and 9 rear.  Since then, other told me they like their double rifles to have trigger pulls of 3.5 to 4 pounds.  What is the right answer or is it a matter of personal preference?



Richard H.
PS. I used the rifle in Zim last October.  I only had it for a few days before departure.  I plan to return next year and I would like to get the rifle in optimum configuration.  The sights consist of square notch leafs (50 & 100) and a square blade up front.  What is your opinion of that set up? Incidentally, I am not young but I seem to be able to see  the sights OK. 

Richard:
The sight setup is fine if it works for you. Shoot over a standing rest for accuracy and then off-hand to see how close you can come. The trigger pull (my opinion and this varies with the "feel" of the rifle such as the sights) should be 4-5 pounds. Too light and a quick-fire may result and too heavy and accuracy will suffer. There are no absolute right and wrong on these two issues--it is a personal choice.
Cheers,
Cal

Dear Cal:
 I am a student in college and am just getting into big bore rifles.  I am wanting to start shooting the big stuff and because I am a student can not afford to buy a gun.  I am looking into building my own 4 bore which I have shot once and loved.  I was wondering if you had a drawing of the Jones underlever action in your 4 bore.  any other input would be greatly appreciated.

Robert S. USA

Robert:
It was not that long ago I was in your shoes and living the life of a student’s poverty. To get to your question, the bigger the bore the more expensive the rifle will be. This holds true for building one--the tooling costs are so great and production is so low that costs will be in the sky. And, the 4-bore is the biggest one can get! May I suggest looking to a smaller caliber or bore size such as a 12-bore or a .450 or .500 black powder express? If the big bores are to your liking how about a 10-bore shotgun built on a heavy frame and mono blocking a pair of rifle barrels to it? If you can buy any rifle “right” and sell for a profit when you upgrade you will eventually get the rifle of your dreams. I didn’t get a .600 or the 4-bore until after retirement. Also, I do not have any drawings but can supply you with detailed photos if you need them.

Good shooting,
Cal




Dear Cal:
I really appreciate your willingness to help and provide advice to those of us who are not nearly as knowledgeable about double rifles.  I am new to this area, but am learning every day. What would you suggest I do to learn more?

Regards,
Leon R. USA

Leon:
Thanks for the kind words. Just keep doing what you are doing. Ask questions and get as many opinions as you can for each question or subject area. A few good books are on the market: Boddington’s Safari Rifles II, Taylor’sAfrican Rifles and Cartridges, Wright’s Shooting the British Double Rifle, are three of the best. Follow the auctions and the listings of the “name” gun dealers for what is available and to keep tabs of prices. Most of all, when you obtain a double, shoot it and shoot it often. Get used to the “feel” of a double and how to hold it. Get some experience on varying your loads to get a load that regulates well. Last of all, buy some copies of vintage catalogs and also some copies of newer catalogs. This will let you know what is being made today and how it compares with the rifles of yesterday.

Good shooting,
Cal



Dear Cal:

I'm in the market for a four bore.  Any place I could pick one up for less than a second mortgage?

Leon H. USA

Leon:
This could be the quickest reply I can do for this column. The answer is simple, “No”. To explain a bit, the bigger the caliber in any type of rifle the more expensive the price is. And, when one adds an historical value into the equation the rise in value in even greater. I can give you an idea of prices. In 2009 and 2010 four 4-bores have come up for sale. The Rodda 4s (perhaps the most common trade name) carried an asking price from 70-125,000 USD and the condition was from a rusted rifle missing the forend on the low end to a 90% original rifle. Another is selling for a price midway between those figures (my Hughes). To make or buy an new rifle the price is less but still high. A single shot 4 with an extra barrel in .700 is on the market for 40K, and a new sidelock 4-bore double is around 100K.

There is no way around it, 4s are just expensive.

Good shooting,
Cal



Dear Cal:
What is your take on the .600s lack of penetration?
Charles S.  USA

Charles:
Great to hear from you and what at GREAT question !

The .600, I'm sure, does not penetrate as much as the .577 and perhaps, too, the lesser calibers with greater sectional density (ratio of diameter to length). Taylor and others wrote of this often. However, I have a theory albeit unsubstantiated:

When the .600 was developed penetration was an issue then (as it is now). The greatest nitro-charged caliber up to then was the still new .577 nitro express. The English are no dummies and they knew and still know how to make a rifle and ammunition. I will bet that they knew that if the .600  cartridge was designed with the same type of pointed (or semi pointed) bullet as the .577 or .500 there would be a problem of over penetration. (The argument/debate over keeping the bullet in the animal to expend its energy there or exiting and leaving two blood trails will go on forever.)

I believe the .600's blunt nose bullet was made to keep the bullet within the animal and also to maximize the shocking power of the bullet (as in a frontal or side brain shot). Today we have gone full circle on this one. It is now believed the highest shocking power a bullet can have is with a very blunt nose.

Taylor summed it up correctly when he said how much penetration does one need? The .577 penetrates more deeply but the .600 goes deep enough AND with more foot -pounds of energy.

That's my take, anyway.
Good shooting and stay in touch,
Cal




Dear Cal:
On one of your reality shows on Television that is shown over here an athlete is called “Nitro”. In his case the name stands out for publicity. Where did the term “nitro express” come from?
Hans G.
Germany

Hans:
Nitro express brings up images of large rifles, usually doubles, that were (and still are) used to take the world’s most dangerous game animals. The term was somewhat used then as a publicity stunt and also to describe the firearms. It happened in two stages. In 1856 James Purdey wanted a term to describe his new philosophy in rifles. He was manufacturing rifles that shot lighter bullets with greater than normal charges of powder which (for the day) produced high velocity. At the same time, both in England and America, railroad trains were reaching higher and higher speeds and the 100 miles per hour mark was within sight. Purdey coined the term “express train” to describe his rifles. Being in the days of black powder, and a bit later when the word “train” was dropped, the rifles and calibers were known as black powder express. In the 1890s smokeless powder was gaining acceptance. The new powder was based on nitrocellulose so “nitro express” came in to vogue.

I hope this clear things up.
Good shooting,

Cal



Cal:
Really like your site. I'm an experienced vintage sxs shooter looking to move into vintage double rifles. What's the source for ammo for something like a .500/450 BPE or a .450 3 1/4 BPE double. It is available commercially or will I have to load? Any thoughts on these calibers? Mostly for targets but maybe back to Africa for plains game (too light for Buff?). If I reload, where can I get dyes, brass, load data, etc?
Thanks! Stewart M. Charlotte NC

Stewart:
Good evening and thanks for the kind words about my site. To get to your questions:
I know of two sources for factory loaded ammo in the two calibers you mentioned: Kynamco in the UK and
Superior here in the States. Expect to pay 20$ per round or more.

My thoughts... excellent cartridge choices for plains game and fine for buffalo with a well-placed shot. Countless game has been dropped in Africa with the .450 bpe.

Reloading is a great option not only for the cost savings but you can taylor your load to the specific rifle for regulation. Dies and shell holders are at Huntingtons (RCBS) and CH Tool. Brass and bullets are from Huntingtons also (Bertram, Horneber, and Woodleigh bullets). Bullet moulds from NEI Handtools. Bullet sizers from Huntingtons.

When you are ready to go call me and I can give you the formulas for modern powder to work in a bpe double rifle.

Look at Keith Kearcher's site. He has a nice .577 bpe for $6800 which seems like a good price.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal: 
I have a William Douglass double in .470NE and like it a lot and I am after a trade label.  Do you know where I could get one? Thanks.
Cheers
Steve M.
USA

Steve:
Good day. Galazan (Connecticut Shotgun) has a good supply of labels as does Mike Messina who does gun case work for Griffin and Howe. Either of these should find you the label you need.
Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
I am in discussions with Butch Searcy about acquiring one of his Classic DRs.
His web site says price is $18K.
My questions:
#1 If I get his Classic, what is the best caliber if I expect to sell the rifle within 5 years.
#2 If I keep the rifle in as new condition, what should I expect to see as a reasonable price if I sell it within 5 years?
Thanks,
Bob N.
USA

Bob:
Good to hear from you.
Butch makes an excellent double rifle and has a loyal following the world over. While my interests lie in vintage English doubles, I would purchase one of Butch's rifles in a New York minute for any hunting should I want a modern rifle. To answer your questions:
1. The bigger the caliber the more desirable it will be for resale. Nothing smaller than .450-400. That, and the .450, .470, and .500, has commercial ammunition readily available and that is a plus. The .577 and .600 are there, too, but most folks would rather stay away from the added recoil and cost.
2. For a new rifle you will be doing good to recoup your cost. I doubt it will appreciate in value and, depending on what is being made when you are ready to sell, you could see a small loss. 

For additional thought is this: if you have 18K to spend, why not look for a vintage English double? You should find one in a mid-sized caliber and it will have history, lines and balance that any modern rifle can't match, and should climb in value as the years pass.

Good luck in your choice and good shooting.
Cal




Dear Cal:
 I live in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and have done a fair amount of hunting myself. Spent my boyhood years in the south-east, in Chiredzi where I did a lot of plains game hunting. As the years marched on, I looked for bigger challenges, namely buffalo and elephant, using a friend's .416 Rigby.

Many years ago, about 1998, I shot a rifle which gave me quite the boot. I think that it was a .450 Ackley. Is there such a weapon of this calibre? If so, could you provide me with some information on it, plus something on it's ballistics?
Regards,
Andy B.

Andy:
Good to hear from a fella in my favorite country!
The .450 Ackley is the original .450 Watts case with the taper removed and the smallest of shoulder. In the world of cartridge oneupmanship it was supposed to add a grain or two of powder but I doubt any big game animal felt the difference. Ballistics are the same as the Watts round or the .458 Lott which followed the Watts 22 years later. I will mail you a scan of the cartridge and its ballistics for your information.
Good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal:
I am so glad I found your site!  I, too, love double rifles!  I have a question...I need an 8-bore and a 4-bore cartridge for my collection.  Could you please shed some light as to where I can find one?  Inert will be OK!  Any help would certainly be appreciated!
Bill B.
SC, USA

Bill:
4s and 8s are found via cartridge collecting organizations and they can be Googled as I don't have any personal experience with any of them. If you will accept new brass then Google Rocky Mountain Cartirdge and talk to the owner, Dave Casey. I doubt he will run one case but when he makes a run for a bore rifle owner perhaps he can make an additional one or two for you.

Cheers and good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal:
I am still looking for a double.
Do you have any experience with Rigby`s "B" class? (Their "A" class and "Best" rifles are way beyond my reach.) They seem to be very nice rifles, at a reasonable price.
Will English "B" class rifles usually be of the same quality as their more expensive relatives? I will use the rifle for practical hunting in the African bush.

Best regards
Anders M.

Anders:
It has been awhile. Nice to hear from you!
The English grading of best quality and A-B-C grades are for embellishment only. The quality of materials is the same as is the construction and craftsmanship. You can't go wrong with ANY double made in the UK. I do not have any personal experience with Rigby's B grade. However, if it is a London Rigby, it has to be good!

Good shooting,
Cal






Dear Cal:
I purchased a Holland double in .450 BPE. It is breathtaking! I will follow with Larry at Superior on the ammo.

I looked at a Patstone in .577. There was also had a Rigby in what is called a  .577- 500 magnum. Are those the same cartridges? I assume that is a serious stopping rifle for buff and elephant? I like the Rigby name but it's about twice the price of the Patstone and it, too, is in excellent condition. Thoughts? Do you think Superior would also be a source for ammo for the .577? 
Thanks!!!
Stewart McD.
USA


Stewart:
Good to hear from you. I looked at the rifles, the .450, .577, and .577-500. Very nice! The two cartridges are quite different.
The .577 3" which was most likely made for 6 drams and a bullet between 570 and 650 grains and is a straight case.
The .577-500 magnum is a case 3 1/8" long and a .577 necked to .500. The .577-500 no2 is the same configuration but with a case about 2 3/4" long. The magnum is much preferred but more rare.

The Rigby would be my choice as it is a Rigby. I've not heard of Pastone before. 

Superior can make the ammo no problem--and so can you. Just get .577 cases, trim them to length, and run them through a sizing die and you should have it. See Cartridges of the World for info on the calibers. The magnum 3 1/8" case can be made from trimmed then necked .377 3 1/4" brass.

If you are interested in big bore shotguns, I have a 4 and 8 bore single shots on my site.

Contact me if I can be of any service and good shooing,
Cal


Dear Cal:
You have been kind enough to help me for reloading my .470 NE. I hope you don't mind if I ask you another question (I do enjoy reading your articles in the African Hunter.)

I have attached a picture of a .470 NE lead cast bullet with 4 wax gas checks.  Do you use bullets with gas checks in your doubles?  I am shooting a Chapius.  Will gas checks, and in particular several gas checks, result in excessive pressure?
Thanks
Roger F.
USA

Roger:
It is always good to hear from you.
The gas checks your refer to are lube grooves. Correctly, you have filled them with wax to help the bullets pass through the bore and leaving as little lead as possible in the bore. They will not have any affect of pressure and I use them on all of my cast bullets.

A gas check is a metal cup that is pressed on the bullet’s base to keep the lead from melting with the hot burning gas from the gunpowder. This will cause lead deposits in the bore. You have  a plain-base bullet for your .470 therefore a gas check can’t be fitted.
Good shooting,
Cal




Dear Cal:
What is an acceptable deviation between the regulated bullet weight and a different bullet weight of choice?
J.D. E.
USA

J.D.
There is no “set in stone” deviation for double rifle bullet weight and regulation. Some doubles will only shoot one weight to one velocity and that is that. Others will shoot a large variety of bullets styles, weights, and velocities and group fairly well. It does seem the larger the bore size the more forgiving the rifle is as to changes from the regulated load. Shooters are finding that many lighter bullets will regulate with the “75% rule.” This can be a bullet weight of 75% and a full charge of powder or a 75% powder charge and a full bullet weight. I’ve seen both shoot well and others not shoot accurately at all.

With the newfound popularity of double rifles, shooters are experimenting more and finding more things what will work.

Good shooting,
Cal








Dear Cal:
What is your opinion on the best caliber for elephant and buffalo in double
rifles?  It seems the .450 calibers with their 480- to 500-grain bullets are very
close in performance.  The .500 NE with its 570 grain bullets seems a step up, but
in performance but I don't know.  Your thoughts, please.
Tom V.
USA

Tom:
You are right--there is little to choose between any of the offerings between .450 and .476. If the British bureaucrats did not outlaw the .450 caliber in India and the Sudan in the early years of the last century the big-game hunting world would had been content with the three .450s: the .450 3 1/4, the .500-450, and the .450 no2.
The .500 is indeed a step up but only by approximately 10%--not that much.

As to my opinion as to the best is this: any caliber over .400 that the shooter can shoot well and not be afraid of the recoil. With the correct bullets, all will drop any elephant or buffalo, with correct placement, of course. Choice of rifles is also to be considered--bolt or double--and that may determine what cartridge one uses.

Good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal:
I am starting the loading project with the Holland and Holland .500 3 1/4 BPE I showed you. I have read Graeme Wright's 3rd edition for insight,  and am about to slug the bore to assess for taper and check the neck dimension.  HDS is selling a Woodleigh 440-grain jacketed bullet of .510”, but I'm not sure this is intended for the Holland bore, since the original bullets were lead grooved and lubed, not paper patched.  I would assume that this is a thinly jacketed bullet that is intended to resist the problems with black powder fowling, however, if the H&H bore is .500 to .502”, I'm not sure I could use these due to limited chamber diameter at the neck and potentially pressure problems.  I'm inclined to start with a soft lubed bullet first, sized to the bore and see what it does.  If you have any insights, I would appreciate any help. 
Dave P.
USA

Dave:
Good to hear from you. Why don’t you come up this weekend and reload and shoot a bit?

The Woodleighs may be too hard for an old black powder steel--especially so if that is all you shoot. Your rifle was made for lead, so I feel it is best to stick with lead. Also, the tapered bore of your rifle may be too small for a standard diameter bullet--most so at the small end of the taper.

The tapered bore you write of must have been a headache to produce. The fine rifling--only .001-.002” deep will, indeed, prevent not only much black powder residue but also lead deposits. First of all, I would use a soft lead bullet--much as muzzle loaders use--so the bullet will bump-up to fill the bore. Then, I would size the bullet to the largest diameter of the bore. Size and trim the brass and use a powder charge to approximate the original load--let’s say 130-135 grains of FFg GOEX. Place a wax wad between the powder and the bullet. I doubt you will need a spacer wad. The bullet should weigh in the neighborhood of 440 grains.

Good shooting and let me know how how the accuracy is!
Cal



Dear Cal:
I have question regarding the impact points for a double rifle; if a double rifle is regulated at 50 Yards, does this mean (assuming perfect conditions in all respects) that both barrels are shooting to exactly the same spot over 50 yards and then at 100 yards the two bullet holes (one from each barrel) should have a distance between them which is equal to the distance between the two barrels with another doubling at 150 yards and so on?

The question is prompted by my having fitted a telescope (Swarovski 1 - 1.5) to my Krieghoff .375 H&H mag. The gun is regulated at 50 yards for Norma 350gr ammo.

Regards,
Chuck in SA

Chuck:
Good question, a bit complex for my knowledge, but I will give it a go.

A double shoots to a point of regulation due to convergence of the barrels. This convergence is combined with a constant velocity and bullet weight. Things can change and keep accuracy but it is best to keep with what the rifle was regulated for.

Because the right barrel moves up, back, and to the right upon ignition and the left barrel moves up, back, and to the left the bullets will print at the regulated velocity. Move the target farther out and the bullets may cross. They will also cross at the regulated distance if the velocity is increased. Move the distance closer than the regulated distance and the bullets may print apart. Remember, as he bullet is moving down the bore the barrel is moving to the (right or left).

When you change the characteristics of the rifle, including adding weight to the rifle such as a scope, the recoil characteristics will change as so will the bullet’s path. When I had a scope added to my .450-400 to aid my old eyes I had a gunsmith find a midpoint regulation for both scope and open sights--but regulating for either would have seen a tighter group. If I had to do it all over again, I would keep a fine regulation with open sights and sight in the scope for one barrel only (I fire the left barrel first) to pinpoint accuracy to 200 yards. I don’t think there is a mathematical formula for this. If there was, then fine doubles would be regulated by machine rather than by hand.

I hope this helps.
Good shooting,
Cal





Dear Cal:
I am waiting for Butch Searcy to give me a bit of feedback with regard
to the double rifle he agreed to make in trade for my Harley.
I elected to request the 470 NE, but must admit that since I received a
couple of sample bullets, that caliber may be over the top for me. I am
already having second thoughts that the 450-400-3" may have been a
better choice, since I am not likely to ever get to  Africa to hunt
dangerous game.

I am lacking a bit more information and think your expertise would help.

As I look at the myriad of double rifles that come up for sale, I am
unable to discern whether the rifles command greater prices when
accompanied by a custom case. Can you comment on this. (i.e. Do you
recognize a substantial benefit in value and desirability related to
resale when a custom case accompanies a DR.) I ask this because Mr.
Searcy offers a custom case for $1500. Believe me when I say that a case
in that price range exceeds the value of most other rifles I own, even
some of my pre-64 Winchesters, and as such I don't want to make a
foolish purchase. If a Searcy custom case will add somewhere in the
neighborhood of $1000 of after market value should I elect to sell the
rifle, I think I would make the investment.
Any thoughts?
Thanks,
Bob N.
USA

Bob:
As a Harley (one of my unrealized dreams) man you will understand my reply.

You will add all the accessories to a Harley to make it truly yours--chrome, saddle bags, etc. You will never get your money out of all the add-ons when you sell it.

The same is true with a double rifle case. They go with the rifle when it is sold. I have never seen a rifle priced to sell with a second price for the case. This is true for new doubles as well as vintage rifles and shotguns.

While the caliber may be a bit too much if you are not hunting elephant or buffalo the rifle will be worth more upon resale than a smaller caliber.

I don't know what a custom case is in this situation. A good English style oak and leather case has value. Huey makes them and will cost up to 4,000$ with accessories and tools added and fitted. If the custom case is a plastic or aluminum case and made to fit a wide spectrum of guns, I'd pass. But, no matter what you do, think of the Harley accessories thought above.

Cheers,
Cal




Cal :
What can you tell me about the 500 nitro? What kind of range does it have and can it be hand loaded? Im thinking of getting one to go to Africa to hunt with. Is it a good round for dangerous game?
Alex D. USA


Alex:
Thanks for your email.
The .500 is an outstanding African cartridge--far less recoil than the .577 or .600 and more punch than the .450-class of cartridges. That being said, I do feel the .500 has been a bit overstated in literature.

The .500 is about 10% more in muzzle energy, recoil is 15-20% more, and rifles are much more expensive (for vintage English doubles) than in the .450-.470 class or cartridges.

Hand loading is no problem but you must keep to safe pressures and to also to obtain the correct regulation of the bullets. Brass and bullets are obtainable at Huntingtons and the dies and shell holders from both Huntingtons and CH Tool.

The range of most doubles is 100 yards (approximately) but many shoot accurately much farther than that. Dangerous game is usually shot at much less than 100 yards, however.

Are you looking at a modern production rifle or an older one? If you get  a single shot you can play with the velocity and bullet weight much more than with a double.

I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal

A quick  question.  Is it ok to fire the pins on spent cartridges if I was
to dry fire?
Andrew B. Zambia

Andrew:
I would certainly say, “no.” A spent primer already has the striker indent so there would be nothing for the striker to land on. If you don’t have any snap caps I would suggest taking a fired cartridge, removing the spent primer, and filling the pocket with very hard rubber, plastic, or even an epoxy that dries quite hard. This will give the primers some purchase to protect the striker if the hammer falls.

Good shooting,
Cal






Dear Cal:

I've been offered a .450 Watts built on a Mauser M98 action. As a hunter in Zimbabwe, hunting a fair number of elephant and currently using a .404 Jeffery, I am very interested. There seems to be confusion as to exact dimensions  of the case. Should I rechamber to .450 Ackley? Comments/advice please.

Mark J. Zimbabwe

Mark:
The .450 Watts has a place in my heart due to my friendship with James Watts and the subsequent book on his life I wrote. James was the first to blow out the .375 H&H case to a straight dimension to hold a .458-inch bullet. The length of the case is 2.850”. 22 years after James developed this round (in 1949) Jack Lott shaved .050” off the case to place his name on it. He gets the credit as he was a well-known writer and hunter and James was not so well-known; as well as a very quiet and unassuming man. The .450 Ackley is the Watts case with less taper and a very slight shoulder. You will get small increase in case capacity but no buffalo will ever know the difference. The advantage of the Watts is that you can fire the Lott round in it as well as the shorter .458 Wincherster (which is also a Watts invention--he called it the .450 Watts Short and released it to Winchester in the mid-1950s). Dies and brass are readily available but not so with the Ackley version. Getting the Ackley round in the states is a bit of a hassle but I would guess a major headache in Zimbabwe. Go with the Watts and let me know how it works for you.

Good shooting,
Cal






Cal:

Thanks ever so much for your time.  The rifle I am interested in is a Springer, and listed as a .450 Long, the German version of the .450 X 3 1/4 BPE. I have the same caliber in a Springer drilling and as an avid rifle person have been interested in an African hunt using a fine quality vintage firearm. I was fortunate to locate a Springer drilling and now have made a deal on the Springer .450 double. I wish to hunt thin-skinned game such as leopard and plains game. Now that I have the arms I need guidance on a load for the .450. From the ground up so to speak. Brass, bullets, powder, dies, ballistic charts or formulas, etc. Once I get the rifle in hand I will inform you of the markings on the rifle and I will note you immediately for your opinion.

Once again thanks for your time.
Russ T. USA

Russ:
From the photo you have a wondeful rifle that looks as nice as any English rifle of the same time period. Since the case is the dimensional and ballistic twin of the .450 3 1/4” bpe I will give you the data I have. Brass cases can be found at Bertram or Huntingtons. Dies can be found at Huntingtons or CH Tool as well as the shell holders. The original round was loaded with 110 grains of black powder so the smokeless powder to use and the formula for the correct velocity is this: 40% of the original load (110 grains) is 44 grains. Use IMR 4198 and the 44 grains should give the approximate nitro-for-black velocity. 350-grain bullets, either Hornady jacketed or cast lead, is the proper bullet. Use large rifle magnum primers for good ignition of the powder and some kapok or pillow stuffing to hold the powder against the primer. When you shoot the target, if the bullets hit a bit far apart then the velocity is too slow and if they cross fire then the velocity is a bit too fast. Then, adjust the charge up or down until they print to the sights, 2-3-inch group at 50 yards is fine. I would suggest you slug the bore to check for a proper diameter of .458”.

With the above you are ready to go and I have done exactly the same for a dozen black powder express rifles in the past.

Good shooting.
Cal


















Cal:
I met you in Dallas and Reno, bought your book on 600s, and also have a 600.Can I get any 8 bore ammo from your sources? I'm the guy with the 700ne if you recall. I found 25 rounds in UK. Its all soft nose. Do you shoot solids? I'm sure solids are a must on eles.I can get the softs for my June trip, and locate solids for a future trip. Please let me know who could reload the components for me (if you don't mind), as well as bullet type. 

George Caswell at Champlin said that an 8-bore would shake my cage and a 4-bore is like a major automobile accident. I may need to start off with the 8 bore. I have chipped teeth from the "little" 700, from a hasty buff shot. You are quite a big guy, and after looking at your web page pictures, and the recoil experienced, I may stay in the shallow end of the pool for starters. My friend,Nick Holt in the UK, had a 2 bore made for Prince Phillip. Nick shot it and has had dental work,after the first and only shot. It actually lifted him up and back,where he was caught by the rifle maker. If I can get a copy of the firing I will send it up.  I don’t want to start out with out "wipe you out" recoil with the bore rifles. I plan to shoot 4 elephant next year and more the year after, still using as many different rifles as I can. The 8-bore idea made more sence after I talked to you in Reno.  A 4-bore is something to look at after the 8- bore can be resolved.  

Glad I met you and saw your web page. You really have your act together on these big guns.
Best,
Bill J. USA

Bill:
Yes I remember you well and it was a pleasure to meet you, show you my .600 and 4-bore, and talk of the big doubles we love so much. Subsequently I have seen you on Craig Boddington’s dvd and I enjoyed seeing your rifles with Craig.

8-bore compontnts can be had as follows: brass from Rocky Mountain Cartridge, bullet moulds from NEI, wads from Precision Reloading, dies and shell holder from CH Tool, and the big Ammomaster press from RCBS or Huntingtons. I will send you articles I have published for the reloading procedures from the African Hunter and the Black Powder Cartridge News. I do not know of any commercial reloaders for the bore rifles. I would be pleased to offer my assistance but shipping ammo from Alaska is a major pain and I am 100 miles from the FEDEX office.

The recoil is not as bad as people say or write. The “wipe you out” recoil you saw on my website is a heavy 4-bore load for a double rifle fired in a single shot 4-bore that weighed 6-8 pounds less than the double. The nice thing about the bore rifles is you can shoot a variety of bullet weights and powder charges and still maintain a good group as the bigger the bore the more forgiving the regulation is. Enjoy the 8s and when you are ready for a 4 give me a call. Or, if you have some time, fly up and spend a day or two shooting at my place.

Good shooting,
Cal
  







Dear Cal:
Here is a description of shooting the .600. “Up until fairly recently (early to mid-1980s) the .600 nitro express was hands down the biggest, nastiest, hardest hitting, and heaviest weapon you could by. It was designed for one simple purpose...to knock an elephant flat on his butt...it was really built as an exhibition piece for guys compensating. This cartridge is known for breakng collarbones, arms, shoulders...of the shooter. The .30-06 has a recoil index of 1. The .600 is 9.4--9.4 times more punishing power than a .30-06.

Joe P. USA

Joe:
Armchair experts like to write things what make the reader go, “Wow.” If the reader was not taken back by what was seen in print most of today’s writers would not get much of a following. The .600 lets you know it when you pull the trigger, do doubt about it, but your feet will remain on the ground (and so will a 6-ton elephant’s feet remain on the ground) and the muzzles will rise about 6-8 inches if you hold to control the recoil. They will rise a bit more if you let the rifle float upward upon ignition--but not uncontrolable. I, too, read what you sent and I had a good laugh. The next day I shot my .600 for ten rounds (standing) and was still alive to write these words.

Good shooting,
Cal





Good afternoon, Cal
Thank you for the email address for G.R.  I have been in communication with
him related to hunting with him in August.  He thought 10 days for a hunt.  We would be in the Limpopo Province close to Zimbabwe.  I told him that I did not know how many animals I would want--he said I could shoot a "full bag" or animals of my choice.

At any rate, the plot thickens as they say and I have questions:

1.  What are your thoughts on mounted heads?  I am more partial to European mounts
rather than the typical wall mount with a cape.  Is there a difference in the
taxidermists cost?  What have you done?

2.  I am inclined to take my .30-06 with 180-grain controlled expansion bullets. 
Does this sound right for plains animals to you?

3.  Clothing for an August hunt?  Gert says it can get up to 90 degrees---sounds
like shorts and cotton clothing.  What about boots?  I normally wear Lowa ankle
high hiking boots---will they be too much for SA?

4.  Tipping?  Who do you tip on this type of hunt?  How much should I budget for
each person on the hunt?

These are only brain spasms of the moment---I haven't even booked this yet.

Thanks for putting up with my ramblings.
Rob P. Anchorage



Rob:
It’s great you are making the trip to Africa for a hunt. I promise that it will not be your only trip there. While this column is for double rifles I will do my best to reply in the column as many readers may be thinking about their first hunt as are you. To answer:

1.European mounts are an excellent choice and some skulls are a wonder to behold and that wonderment can’t be seen in a shoulder mount--such as a hippo or warthog. The cost is far less: less to pepare, less to dip and pack, less as the shipping box is smaller to make and lighter and smaller to ship, less to tan, and less work to mount. I have stopped shoulder mounts all together and now do my own skull mounts.
2. The .30-06 is an excellent choice and willl drop any animal you shoot with a well-placed bullet far better than a magnum caliber where bullet placement is less than perfect. Well-constructed soft points will work fine for what you are doing.
3. It will get warm there--especially so for us Alaska hunters. Light, neutral color cotton or synthetics are best and boots that are well broken in with sock protectors.
4. I tip 10%( if I’m pleased with the hunt) for the PH and about 200$ for the camp staff if they did their jobs well. A few gifts for them like visor caps, lighters, and gloves are welcome. You can ask the PH if he needs anything from the states, too, for your tip.

Let me know how it all turns out. I have hunted with your PH three times and he is a skookum guide who can track with the best black trackers.
Good shooting and hunting,
Cal




Dear Cal:

We met at a gun show last year, and I figured you are a walking Lexicon on Double rifles or as close to it as can be in Alaska.  

I shoot a Daniel Fraser 450/400 3 /14" and have had some (limited) luck finding bullets for this rifle.  I have shot some Woodleighs through it and it shoots wonderfully.  I had purchased some bullets by a company named Hawk Bullets and a friend of mine who has been in the double game for a long time says they are too soft.  They do claim they have a thin copper jacket and soft lead to really make a wound channel.  That is all good and well, but my friend tells me that as soft as they are they increase pressure in the bore.  Okay, some things I believe and others you have to show me..  I am an empirical guy and believe a lot of what I can see, hold or measure.  I checked the diameter of the Woodleighs and they are ".4095".  The Hawk bullets are ".411".  I received several loaded rounds with the rifle and the bullet diameter was .4095.  Here is my question and I think I know the answer to it:  Will the softer Hawk bullets be okay running at normal velocities or will they deform? Should I just stay away from them and slug the barrel?  If the Hawk bullets are too big, who do I contact to swage them just a bit smaller in diameter?  I assume it will not be cheap to buy a set up to change the diameter.

As I said, I am an empirical guy, and I am leaning towards measuring the bore.  

Thanks in advance, Cal.
Matt M. Anchorage

Matt: 

Good to hear from you. I've never heard of soft bullets causing a rise in pressure-- it is the hard ones. Think of it. If it was due to the softness then lead would cause the highest pressure. But rather lead is the low pressure alternative.

As to diameter, 1 to 1 1/2 thousandth I do not believe will cause pressure problems. All of the old rifles had variations in bore diameter. However, pressue will rise with the harndess of the bullet. Barnes has solved this problem with their banded solids that are .002” undersize.

For your nitro rifle, you're using 400-grain bullets you should be fine for .001” oversize. Use copper and not steel jackets as I now am a believer in OSR. CH Tool can possibly give you some information in reducing the diameter of jacketed bullets.

We have a shoot planned at my place Sunday. You're invited.
Good shooting,
Cal








Dear Cal:
I have read of hunters in the old days reusing bullets taken from animals they shot. Was this done out of necessity or just to prove a point? Have you ever reused any spent bullets?
Amthony K. USA

Anthony:
Interesting questions and I’ll do my best to answer to your satisfaction. I, too, have read of the bore rifle hunters removing a hardened ball from an elephant and shooting it again to kill another beast. Necessity, I’m sure. Perhaps the hunter was out of balls or wanted to conserve what he had. Most of us hunters are interested in bullet performance and so it was in the days of old. Back then, as well as now, hunters examined the bullet or ball out of curiosity. If the bullet or ball was not deformed it would have made for an interesting experiment to reshoot it.

That being said, I feel it would be unsafe to do so today. Many solids are recovered from game with seemingly only the rifling grooves cut into it. However, if the bullet has even a small out of round deformity--unseen to the naked eye--dangerous pressures may result. Of an interesting sideline, this winter I did some shooting on the warmer days. The target was stapled to a piece of 1/2-inch plywood and set against a snow bank. I fired several dozen rounds from my .450-400, .450 no2, .600, and some round balls from my 7-bore. 

Last week, after the snow was about gone and I was raking my lawn I noticed the bullets and balls-all were within a one meter circle and in perfect shape, except for the rifling grooves. The plywood offered little rersistance and the soft snow gradually slowed the projectiles until they stopped. By not stopping abruptly they did not loose shape. If I can check for roundness on a run-out gauge, I may try reshooting them for fun.

Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal,

I recently purchased a Daniel Fraser 475 NE Double Rifle from Classic Arms in Witbank, South Africa. While eagerly awaiting my license from the South African Police Service, I am trying to do more homework on the Rifle, its origin, the calibre of the rifle, and what sort of ammunition I should be using, or rather not use. Hope you can help me with either some information or a direction as to where I could get more information on this subject.
Kind regards,
Heine Van N.
South Africa

Heine:
Good to hear from you. One of the advantages of living in Alaska besides no taxes is no firearms license--just buy any rifle, shotgun, or handgun and carry it whenever and wherever you want. Downside? -60 degree winters!

Daniel Fraser was one of Scotland's premier gun and rifle makers and their work takes a backseat to no other maker--including London's best. You can see a Fraser .450-400 I appraised on the double rifles page of my website.

There are three .475 calibers: the .475 nitro which is a 3 1/4 inch case, the .475 no2 with a 3 1/2 inch case, and the .475 no 2 Jeffery with a larger diameter bullet and a bit less powder than the original no 2 loading.

If you have the .475 straight case, 3 1/4", you should shoot .483" diameter bullets of 480 grains and if you hand load your ammo, 100-105 grains of IMR 4831 will give you a load that will equal the original and regulate in your rifle. A friend has a .475 Rodda and this is the load I gave him and it works fine in his rifle.

You can Google Daniel Fraser to learn more of the company and today Dickson and MacNaughton in Edinburgh owns the Fraser records and can sell you a copy of the ledger page of your rifle. I don't know the exact origin of the cartridge but any good reference book on English sporting cartridges should give you what you need.

I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal


Dear Cal:

I have recently purchased a Jeffereys 600 single shot rifle.  The barrel is marked 100 grains of cordite with a 900 grain bullet.  I would like to know what smokeless powder charge I can use in this rifle?  I have reloaded ammunition for many years but I have never attempted to load a cartridge of this size.  Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards
Fred S.
USA


Fred:
Congrats of the purchase of such a fine rifle.
Do you have a copy of my .600 book? It is the bible of .600s.
If you send your serial number I can send you the listing in the factory ledger.
As to loadings, for a 100-grain charge I use 150-grains of IMR 4831 and a 900-grain bullet to equal the factory proof velocity.
Stay in touch as I'd like to communicate more on your rifle.
Cheers and good shooting,
Cal





Hi Cal:
Great site. Myself I use bigbores and always wanted to try a bore gun- was considering a double 8 or 4 bore in my future. Could you sum up the charge stopping abilities of these? I know they might have had problems on Elephant frontal brain shots, but for stopping buff do they put the game down as quickly as say a 450, 458 or even 600nitro? The old stories vary a lot, some guys shooting same animal 10 times, others like Baker flattening his with 1 shot from a '3-4 ounce gun'. I assume this is to do with the great variance in drams they can use? Anyway sorry to ramble on.always been curious to know just how the real heavyweight bore guns loaded max, do against the faster nitro's in actual charge stopping time.
Serj R.

Serj:
Good to hear from you!
You can get an idea of the energy generated by the 4-bores by looking on the double rifles page of my site. I have calculated up to 9400 ft lbs of energy with a hot round ball load and nearly that with a conical bullet.

No doubt the smaller calibers in the 450-600 group penetrate better with solid bullets, but there is no question as to the knock down power of a 3-4-5 ounce bullet even at moderate velocities in the old bore rifles.

I have shot cape buffalo with my .600 and when hit wrong they keep going and if hit right the fall quickly. There is no magic about the .600.

To give an idea of penetration I did an experiment at my cabin several years ago. I shot two lead bullets at 1200 fps into spruce blocks. One, a .22 at 40 grains and the other a 7-bore at 1620 grains. Same velocity. The .22 penetrated a couple of inches and the 7-bore 42 inches! Big bullets at moderate velocity are the answer over high velocity and lighter bullets.

What type of 8- and 4-bore are you looking for? 8s are very common as thousands were made but less than 100 4-bore doubles were made. I am planning on putting some of my bore rifle doubles  on the market, an 8 and 4 to start, and maybe a 7 and some nitro express later on to thin out my collection. Let me know what you are looking for and maybe I will have it or can direct you to one who has.

You won't go wrong with a bore rifle--especially the 4 as they are the biggest shoulder arms ever made and the most powerful. They certainly draw attention at the range!

Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
I have a supply of several hundred original Kynock 450 31/4 nitro cart.s that I that I purchased when I acquired my Westley Richards double in 1986. Some of it is loaded with cordite, and some with "modified flake" propellant, as stated on the box. I have read that both these powders become unstable over time, and as they date to at least the mid 60's, I was wondering if it is safe to fire this ammo still. I have experienced several mis-fires with it, but a second snap of the strikers always touches them off. I wouldn't hunt with the stuff, I just don't want to damage the rifle.
Pete M.
USA

Pete:
Good to hear from you. It is a good choice not to use this ammo for hunting. I do not have any information if old cordite or flake will increase pressure as it gets older and I have shot lots of the old stuff in my rifles when I had it. I believe it is safe to practice with but nothing is guaranteed. If you have lots of the stuff you can pull the bullets to reuse as well as reload the case if you have the tool to remove and replace Berdan primers. You MUST fire the primers then remove them as the hook device that RCBS sells could ignite a primer when it is lifted out.

Another idea is to sell the ammo to collectors at 10-15$ per round.

Good shooting,
Cal

Hi Cal,
Got your book a couple of days, many thanks!  I will pick up your .600 NE book once I have some income coming in again.

I have a question for you.  I have always avoided fillers and wads when loading for doubles and big bores.  Just always figured it was better to fill up the case and be safe rather than maybe sorry.  I read the section in Graeme's book regarding fillers and chamber ringing and he seems to believe ringing occurs from airspace which makes sense.  However, I and just about everyone else load smaller caliber bottleneck centerfire cartridges, which operate at much higher pressures, with less than 100% load density leaving significant airspace all the time and have never had a ringed chamber.  Do you have any idea why that would be?

Thanks again,
Andy D.
USA

Andy:
Good to hear from you. Here is my take on your question. I hope it makes sense.

Modern bottleneck cases to indeed have some space between the bullet's base and the top of the powder charge--but not that much. The problem with the nitro express cases is that the cordite that was originally loaded was in long strands like spaghetti. It not only took up lots of space but the cases were intentionally made with a large interior volume to lessen pressure. The cordite was very heat sensitive and a larger case equated to less pressure which was welcome in the heat of the tropics. To load a charge of modern powder to equal the regulated velocity usually leaves lots of room in the case. Many times the powder charge is away from the primer spark and can cause a hang fire.

This problem is magnified in the black powder express cases where a smaller charge of modern smokeless will give the regulated velocity and is magnified even more so in the huge bore rifle cases. An example would be my 4-bore on the upper end of the spectrum. With Blue Dot smokeless I can have over 2 1/2" of air space so something is needed to keep the powder against the primer.

The issue of a chamber ring was talked of a great deal in the 1980s when double rifles were coming into popularity again. Many folks said (although I do not know of one actual case) where a thick over powder wad was pushed against the powder to keep it against the primer leaving an air space of various length between the wad and the bullet's base. Upon ignition the wad shot forward and before enough pressure was built up to move the bullet the air pressure outward caused a slight ring in the chamber. Again, I have never seen an actual instance and if one exists there are a lot of variables that need to be looked at such as the actual powder charge, was the bullet weight and diameter to specifications, etc.?

To avoid the possibility of the ring, reloaders used some sort of filler to prevent this as well as give more positive ignition. I use a pinch of pillow stuffing from craft stores in my nitro rifles. Others used a cereal filler such as Cream of Wheat. Some use styrofoam cylinders cut to length. All have their good and bad points. In the big bore rifles I use felt wads to take up the space.

I hope this helps.
Good shooting,
Cal

Thanks Cal, that helps and makes sense.

I have only loaded using a filler once and that was some loads in my .450 Dakota using RL-15 and Dacron filler.  It sounds like in your opinion loading using a filler is acceptable and even necessary in some of your rifles.  Do you think it would be possible for the powder to work its way past the filler, for example, after a couple of days on aircraft and then maybe a couple of weeks of bouncing around in a Cruiser?  Or would a tuft of Dacron that was large enough to compress the powder tightly prevent that?  

I load my .470 double with 107.0gr IMR-4831 over the 500gr Woodleigh soft to 2,150 fps and it shoots beautifully.  Others recommend from 85.0-89.0gr RL-15 and a filler which I have never loaded reasoning that the only benefit may be slightly less recoil and I don't consider the .470 to be that bad of a kicker anyway.  Am I being overly-cautious?

Andy D.
USA


Hi Andy:
A tuft of pillow stuffing pushed into place with a pencil eraser end seems to stay in place--at least in my experience. I don't use too much stuffing as extra weight will raise pressures in maximum loads. Just a pinch seems to work best for me.

In my .450 and .475 I shoot 105 to 109 grains of IMR 4831 with a pinch of stuffing. I don't have much experience with RL 15 but I know many who shoot it and it recoils less due to the smaller charge. I guess I never changed as the 4831 works so well for me. The less recoil is very noticeable in my .600 with RL 15.  

You are nto being overly cautious, just careful and nothing wrong with that.
Cal

On Jun 12, 2010, at 10:29 AM, Marcus Medved wrote:
Hi Cal,

You have a very good memory.  Sabina and I are doing well; this has been a good year.  A little snag we ran into is that we finalized a Zimbabwe hunt on a Monday, and found out Sabina is pregnant the following Wednesday.  So much for the best laid plans.  Of course we're excited (in my case scared), but the timing could have been a little better.  Sabina was really looking forward to Africa.  With a November due date a Sepember safari is of course out of the question, even though she put up a good fight.

The price on Sabatti's is very low, $5000.00 for the 450 NE.  I went and looked at one yesterday, and it appears to be well made.  But what do I know about double rifles.  I've been on the message boards and most comments are to be positive.  Several negaive comments come from European members saying they have had problems with the shotguns and from owners of the high quality doubles.  One gentleman is certain they won't compare to his H&H....

The 450 NE are selling quickly.  The rifle I looked at yesterday is on hold for a gentleman from Montana.  He had been calling several Cabelas until he found one in Post Falls, ID, 40 minutes from my house, which had one not listed on the website.  I put one on hold yesterday that is in Lacy, WA.  It was funny coming home yesterday to do some research and finding a post from the guy who has it on hold, small world.

I'm leaning toward not buying the gun, it just seems like a bit of a gamble.  Although, some people think the low price is a way to get into the market, then the prices will go up.  I'd hate to buy a rifle that doesn't function reliably.  On the other hand, if it is a good utilitarian rifle, it would be a mistake not to buy it.  I need a backup for my Lott, don't I?? 

Of course I would much rather own a vintage English (or German) double, however, the ones I've seen were VERY expensive.  I've probably been looking in the wrong places, can you recommend some sites?  Another problem is that I wouldn't know what to look for in a vintage gun, I could easily waste my money buying the wrong rifle.  I realize you can't believe everything you read on the boards, but there have been some real horror stories of people buying guns, then being told they would have to put 40K into it to get it back in shape.  I do understand the people who bought them.  It must be difficult to resist a rifle with such history.  Some of them come with receipts, letters, or other information that give a detailed history of the rifle and the previous owners.  Owning one would probably turn me into a recluse, I'd be sitting with it on my lap all day daydreaming!

I am going to Zimbabwe in September for a Buffalo/PG hunt, so a 450 NE, or something similar (600!!!) would be tempting.  However, I already own a 458 Lott, and I really don't need both.  Any rifle I buy will be used in the states as well, from deer on up to elk, moose, and bear.  So maybe a 9.3 or similar would be the logical choice.

Marc





Marc:
I remember you well and I hope all is going fine in your world.

I do not have any experience with the Sabatti rifles but friends do and I believe one is posted on my website. I would imagine they are fine working rifles such as Merkel or Heym. I'm sure Cabelas would let you handle and possible shoot one if you were an interested buyer. Of course, nothing will ever beat a vintage English double and it is possible to find one at a reasonable price at times. What caliber are you looking for and what do you intend to hunt?

I received your second email earlier today but wanted to give it some thought before a reply.

First, congrats on being a father. Something I have never experienced. I understand scared.

On the double rifle issue. A double is like buying a car. Buy a new one and the value decreased each year. Not as bad as a car, but the value lessens. However, buy a '39 Packard or a '67 Corvette and you will pay a premium but the value will go up each year. You won't take a loss on a vintage double from England or Scotland. And, the market is still good in troubled economic times--the wealthy can still afford a good double (or Corvette).

As to what to look for so you don't get taken--when you are ready just call with the rifle you are looking at and I will walk you through a series of steps of what to look for: barrel ringing, tight on face, accuracy, original or refinish, wood to metal fit, proof marks, etc...

You can still find good values on doubles but rarely from a dealer. Champlin Arms has an Army and Navy .450 for 12,500$ that seems like a good buy. Others are there but mostly private sales. Go to gun shows.

Price goes up as the caliber increases. If a trip to Africa is coming up but mostly you will hunt in the USA then a .375 flanged is a good choice and less in price than a .450-400 or the .450 to .476 class. I will be putting several of my doubles on the market soon but they are not entry level doubles and of larger caliber, too.

I can also give some hints as to finding the history of a double. Sometimes luck is with you and often times it is not. Someday I will share with you the history of some of my doubles and some I wish I had not sold!

Don't be in a hurry and call with any questions you have. We can get you in a nice vintage double for a good price, I'm sure.

Cheers to you and Sabina (I had a student named Sabina many years ago).
Cal

2009


Dear Cal:
     It was good to talk to you at the SCI convention. It took awhile to put two and two together and realize you were the same guy who writes the Doubles Column for the African Hunter magazine. When we were taking you had some Barnes monometal solid bullets in your hand and were planning to run tests on them. I have always understood that one never should shoot a monometal, or monolithic, solid in a double rifle. Why is this and what will they do to a double?
Don Martinez
Las Vegas

Don:
     Greetings from Alaska. I remember our discussion well.
     I arrived home to a fairly comfortable -10 and went to the shooting range. In my memory were  all the fairy tales I, too, was told of monometal bullets. Some of the stories I remember was that the barrels will "blow up," the rifling will be seen on the outside of the barrel, and (my favorite) the rifling lands will actually come out of the muzzle! (I also recalled the stories about Damascus-barreled guns and rifles and how they will blow up is shot with smokeless power.)
     I had to break many years of nearsightedness and use some logic to think. What could cause a barrel to "blow up?" Oversized bullet diameter is one. Too much powder or a powder that is too fast for the cartridge are two more. Too much bullet weight is a forth. Any of these will cause higher than normal pressures and will perhaps cause a barrel to burst. (That is why the Brits had their proof house to show a rifle or shotgun was safe to shoot after it was tested with a higher than normal charge of powder and lead.)
     All of the above is true. In addition a barrel that has been weakened by pits, rust, a crack in the steel, or if the barrels are too thin will also cause bursting. But (and this is the logic part) ANY barrel shot with one or more of the above conditions in place could cause bursting.
     On the flip side, if your bullet (monometal, lead, or jacketed) fits the bore of the rifle, if its weight is correct, if the powder is of the correct type and charge, if the rifle is in sound condition, and if the velocity is to original specifications, how could anything go wrong?
     With that in mind, I shoveled the snow off my standing rest at my 50-yard range and set up some targets in the stand. I must admit I was a bit nervous from all that I had been told and began by shooting two bullets at a low 1000 fps after checking he bullet's measurements against the bore and chamber cast of my vintage John Wilkes .600 nitro express.
     No problems. Two more with the same results. Then, four shots with lead bullets, four with Woodleighs, and four with Barnes banded monometal. I gradually worked up in velocity to the regulated 1900 fps. With the three bullets the targets were about the same. The rifle's recoil seemed to feel the same. The action opened as easy with all three. And, the rifling lands remained in the barrel.
     Now, a word on mono-bullet types. There are three basic types of monometal bullets I know of. The first to come along was a turned solid, of brass or bronze (I'm not much into metal specifics). These bullets generated the highest pressures as the shaft of the bullet was in complete contact with the bore. The banded solids (such as produced by Barnes) are turned .002-inch undersize and the bands allow for less of the bullet to come in contact with the bore of the rifle. Also, the bands allow displaced metal to flow into them--something the solid-shaft turned bullets do not allow for. Last of all, and a relatively new design, are the banded bullets with many smaller bands--or grooves--cut into the bullet.
     The only problem I have with any monometal bullet is the non-traditional look of the nose. I did not have any problem with the shooting but understand I only shot less than two boxes with my rifle only. I took careful measurements and would not have shot them if the bullets did not match the bore. I understand the solid-sided monometal bullets will generate higher pressure than the banded solids. I do not have any experience with these bullet types.
     And, I also shoot my Damascus-barreled guns and rifles, too!
Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
What were the choices in the days of old for bore styles and is one better than the other? Also, what is a "Jungle Gun?" I've read the name but don't have a clue as to what it is.
Clark C. USA

Dear Clark:
The basic types of rifling were:
Oval bore. Invented my Lancaster to add spin to a bullet with the ease of cleaning of a smooth bore. The oval bore is an out-of-round bore--say .005-.010" and this oval twists as it makes its way down the bore. My Lyon and Lyon is an oval bore and it is the most accurate of any rifle I have ever shot.
Fully rifled. In the old  bore rifles, a twist of approximately 1 in 100 inches meant a round ball regulation. A twist of 1 in 60 was for a conical bullet. For the rare rifle that was regulated to shoot both a conical bullet and a spherical ball the difference in twist was split--say i in 80.
Paradox. A Holland and Holland patent of a rifled choke. The last 3 or 4 inches of the bore was choked to full and rifling was cut. The advantage of this was the bullet traveled most of its path down the barrel in a smooth bore with less recoil and pressure (the bullet not having to squeeze its way through the rifling). The stabilizing spin to the bullet being given at the muzzle rifling. The guns can be made to weigh less and shot can be fired. The paradox is a super invention and there is no reason why it is not used today.
Cape. Cape guns were made with one bore smooth and the other rifled. One ball, one load of shot, and the hunter was ready for birds or beasts.
Smooth. As accurate to 50-60 yards as a rifled arm according to many of the English and Scottish makers. For a spherical ball only (bullets don't really stabilize with a smooth bore) and ease of cleaning black powder, the smooth bore was the true "elephant gun" of old--gun being a non-rifled arm.

The Jungle Gun was a term used my Lyon and Lyon to refer to their ball and shot gun. My L&L is a 12-bore, smooth bore, choked improved modified and improved full with an oval bore in both barrels about .005" out of round. It will print both barrels side-by-side at 50 and 100 yards and a shot pattern to equal the IM and IF choke pattern. A low cost coil spring sidelock for the colonies, the Jungle Gun allowed the low income hunter access to both birds and game with one moderately priced weapon.

Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
Hi. I would like to know if a .375 H&H is really an effective rifle for hunting kudu, leopard, and lion. Please supply me with reloading info for 340-grain Rhino soft point bullets that I want to use for bushveld ranges up to 180 meters.

Dear Nameless reader:
I don't spend much time responding to anonymous correspondence. The .375 is fine for anything that walks, crawls or swims if you shoot it right. I don't supply reloading data for liability reasons.
Cal

Dear Cal:
I have a chance to buy a .600 nitro express double rifle from a dealer in Nevada. the price is $8000 and seems like a good buy and a good investment. Can I get your opinion, please?
Richard P. Nevada

Richard:
The old expression that if something is too good to be true it probably is holds fast here. The photo you sent is of a Spanish shotgun in 12-gauge. The barrels have been cut to a monoblock and .600 barrels sleeved in. Notice the gold band about 4 inches ahead of the breech. It is there to cover up the joint. The joint is also visible at he breech. If you look close you will see it. There is no rib extension which is needed on a powerful firearm--the Brits called it a "doll's head." Check the balance point. With heavy barrels added to a former shotgun I'd guess the balance point is several inches ahead of the hinge pin. The pistol grip is too shallow for a heavy rifle. Again with English names this is a Prince of Wales grip. It is about half way between a straight grip and a pistol grip. Last of all, notice the small stock. The number of square inches of the butt is not enough to absorb the recoil of a .600.

If this gun shoots loose you will have an expensive repair on your hands. If it falls apart upon ignition you or a bystander may be severely injured. If you sell it you should make the above points known to the buyer. I'd pass on this purchase at any price.

Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
A friend just bought an 8-bore rifle with 32-inch barrels. He loves the gun but I think it is a shotgun with rifle sights added. How can one be sure a gun like this is for real?
Rob A.

Rob: I know the gun you are speaking of. It has invisible rifling--rather than lands just a slight rise of the bore to grab the bullet. If you look a the sights notice the rear sights fold flat to allow the front bead to be used as a shotgun. Flip up the leaves and it is now a rifle. If you ever suspect a gun was a sawed-off shotgun with sights added, look at the muzzle and see how close the barrels are. A cut shotgun will have the barrels somewhat apart. If they are close, say 1/8" or less, then it is most likely a regulated rifle.

Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
I've seen videos on the internet of guys shooting big bore double rifles and sometimes they fly out of the shooter's hand--or nearly so. How does one control such large rifles? I'm of average size, not built like a professional wrestler. Can someone like myself shoot these rifles?
John Purvis. New York

John:
There is not trick to shooting a large caliber double--just some common sense. I have a photo of Elmer Keith shooting a .600 and the muzzles are pointing to the sky! Makes for good hype but my .600 sees the muzzles rise 6-8 inches and it is regulated for the heavier 110-grain charge of cordite. First, your left hand is grabbing the barrels with the for end resting just barely in the palm of the hand. Your thumb and fingers are grabbing the barrels in a firm grip and also pulling the rifle back into your shoulder. The three fingers of the trigger hand have a firm hold on the pistol grip and are also pulling the rifle back to the shoulder. The trigger finger is relaxed for a gentle squeeze. Read Mark Sullivan. This great hunter has more experience with a .600 than any hunter in history. He states you must feel the sear disengage.
Do this and practice a lot and you will get used to the recoil. After all, Sutherland was not a big man at all and he handled his .577s with ease.

Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
I like your stories on the .600 nitro express. While a super rifle, it seems the bore rifles were bigger and packed more punch. How do the ballistics of the bore rifles compare with the .600 and other nitro express big game rifles?
Mark S. Arizona

Mark:
To be quite honest, the recoil of a full-house 4-bore or even that of a 7- or 8-bore makes the .600 seem quite pale. This is due to a few reasons: the weight of the projectile (up to 2200 grains compared to 900 in the .600), the quick ignition of black powder compared to the slow burn of the smokeless .600, and the weight of the powder charge itself (up to 440 grains in the big 4 to the .600s 113 to 165 grains of Reloader 15 or IMR 4831. To give a few examples:

caliber        bullet weight     powder charge  powder type          MV              ME          Taylor's KO       recoil
.600                  900gr                   165 gr.              IMR 4831        1900
7-bore            1620gr                  400 gr.               Fg GOEX        1510
7-bore            1000gr ball          100gr               Blue Dot           1720
4-bore            1400gr ball          440gr                 FFg GOEX
4-bore            1400gr ball           120gr                Blue Dot
4-bore            1882gr                   385gr                FFg GOEX
4-bore            2160gr                   330gr                Fg GOEX


Dear Cal:
How does one reload for a bore rifle? Presses don't accept such large calibers as to length nor to the diameter of the dies. Are dies available for the big bores?
Ron Williams, Palmer AK

Ron:
This is a complex question and is best answered in a comprehensive article on the subject. Look for the details soon.
Good shooting,

Cal


Cal:
I have 12 Ga SxS Shotgun, 28'' barrel, Non-ejector and english stock. On the rib of barrel written as " THE HAMMERLESS PARAGON" R.B. Rodda & Co Calcutta & Birmingham. English Proof Marks. pl share info, if any, about this gun


Amjad:
Thanks for your email. Where are you emailing from?

The Paragon was marked by R.B. Rodda beginning in 1888. I was made in 12-16-and 20-bore and guaranteed to be "all British" in manufacture. It was noted as the most popular shotgun name known in India and was also made as a ball and shot gun to shoot the Rotax cartridges and this gun was made with folding rifle sights. In 1930 the price in India was 135 Rs with steel barrels and 175 Rs with Damascus barrels. The ball and shot gun was priced at 154 Rs.

If you email me later on, I may be able to scan a page from the Rodda catalog for you.

Cheers,

Cal


2008


Dear Cal:
What is your side of the single vs. double trigger argument? 
Harold ‘Nick” Nickles, USA

Nick:
I would imagine this question goes as far back as the first rifle or shotgun with twin tubes. There is probably no right or wrong answer but John Taylor had it right in the end when he suggested all your rifles be of the same style.  An excellent suggestion from Taylor’s era and  the mindset of a professional hunter. Sound wisdom today also but, perhaps, not such a necessity as few of us will ever be in a life or death situation.

The thought behind a single trigger is, of course, a quicker second shot. Double rifles are quick for the second shot and even more quick if one does not have to adjust the trigger finger. How much time is saved? A fraction of a second at most. To some, single triggers look nice and they are a higher refinement of the double rifle’s mechanism. James Sutherland, who hunted with a pair of Westley Richards' single trigger .577s wrote that the mechanism never failed to shoot the second barrel--they were perfectly reliable. A friend in Alaska just sold Andy Anderson’s single trigger Westley and agrees with Sutherland--never a problem.

In the vintage years when hunters in the Dark Continent were literally months away from a gunsmith, having two triggers, and thereby two separate rifles, could be a life saver if one trigger or lock failed to operate. If one failed, the hunter still had a single shot rifle. Not so with a single trigger. A failure and the entire rifle is negated to a boat anchor.

Today, we don’t hunt for ivory to make a living and our lives are not in jeopardy on our African hunt. With this, most rifles  are in collections and used only occasionally. Having a combination of double and single trigger rifles will make for a complete collection. As for me personally, I prefer the double trigger as it looks more traditional but, given the right rifle, the right caliber, at the right price, a single trigger would be welcome in my gun safe at any time!

Good shooting,

Cal

Dear Cal:
Why were double rifles so popular in the old days when single shot and early bolt rifles were so much less expensive?
Ed Graves, USA

Ed:
You are thinking on this one, Ed. I believe the reason is four-fold. First, is the instant second shot that could save one’s life. The hunters of old did not take their first shot at 300 yards. They waited until the critter was close, too close maybe,  by today’s standards. The second shot would be taken when the enraged animal was at one’s feet. A quick, 100% reliable, second shot was needed and there usually was no time for a third.

Second, with two separate locks the double rifle is actually two single shot rifles joined together. If one failed to operate through wear or accident the other was ready to go. Single barrels rifles (and single trigger doubles) don’t have this advantage.

Third, is the balance and quick pointing nature of a fine double rifle. They shoulder and point quicker than any single barreled weapon. Try it sometime with a double that fits you. Close your eyes and shoulder the rifle. When you open your eyes you will be on sight and ready to shoot. When you need a quick snap shot, there is nothing like a double--then or now.

Last of all, it was double rifles (and some singles, too) that were made for big game cartridges. The early repeaters and many single shots were mostly made for smaller, military-style cartridges. Many single shots were also target rifles. And, these too, shot cartridges that were not elephant stoppers. The largest of the Winchester repeating lever actions were the 50 express calibers. At best they were 1/2 to 2/3 of the .500x3 inch black powder express in energy, lead, and gun powder. If you wanted to hunt big game--you bought a double. And so it should be!

Good shooting,

Cal


Dear Cal:
Why did some seemingly excellent double rifle cartridges fail to become popular such as the .360no2, .369, .475, .476, and .600 (to name a few)?
Josiah Hanson, USA

Josiah:
I’ve often wondered this myself--we must be on the same wave length--why so many good and great cartridges failed to make the grade. I can think of a few reasons and I’m sure there are more.

First, is that another cartridge came along earlier and stole the show, so to speak. When the .475 nitro came along there were already several choices within that ballistic window to choose from. 

Second, is that the later cartridge duplicated the ballistics of an earlier one. If it were not for England’s ban on the .450 caliber in the Sudan and India, the world would probably have been content with the three .450s. The .465 to .476 duplicated what the .450s did and were perfectly useable in Africa and the rest of Asia after the English ban. Some made it. Some didn't.

Third, a great cartridge that people wanted was not released to the trade. So, if one wanted that caliber, they only had the choice of that maker’s rifles. The best example that comes to mind is the .476 Westley Richards. Elmer Keith loved this one and with its 520 grain bullet was just a bit more ballistically than its cousins--but not enough  to make one bit of difference. To the best of my knowledge, it was a Westley Richards proprietary cartridge. I have never seen of a .476 by a maker other than WR.

Last of all, the rifles may have been too expensive. A fellow who wanted a .465 Holland may have had only a .450 Army and Navy budget to work with. I guess this is certainly true today in the double rifle market--both new and used.

Today, these seemingly unpopular cartridges work just fine and are sought after by collectors because of their rarity. Rarity may drive up the price a bit but, on the other hand, may keep the price low. A friend just bought a .475 Rodda for approximately 2/3 of the value. If it was a .470 the rifle would have fetched 1/3 more. Any difference ballistically between the two? None. But today’s market favors the .470 and it was to my friend’s benefit. Also, with brass and bullets available today there is no reason to decline a purchase of a rare caliber.

Good shooting,

Cal

Dear Cal:
Why are so few doubles in use in Africa today?
Phil Adams, USA

Phil:
I love to see doubles at work in Africa and would love to see more of them. However, I doubt that will change unless the lower priced doubles from the continent become more popular. First of all is the expense of a vintage or modern English double. I know it may surprise some of us, but today’s PHs are not the highest paid professionals in the working world. The average PH‘s wage in Zimbabwe is US$150 per day and up to $225 per day if he has and maintains his own vehicle. Even by African standards and the cost of living there being low, it would take a long, long time to save up for a good double.

With the above, is the chance of theft or confiscation in Africa. Add to that is the chance of theft whilst flying between African airports and then charter flights. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m definitely not saying it is dangerous to fly with a double but, when you do it all the time, year in and year out, the chances of loss increase.

The value of a double, added to cost of repairs, may make it a poor choice for a working rifle in Africa where the rifle may not be treated with the tender, loving care it deserves. Gunsmiths, I mean qualified gunsmiths, are few and far between in Africa and the choice of a bolt rifle makes more sense. Also, ammunition availability is easer to come by and is less expensive with most bolt action calibers than with double rifle calibers.

Added to the above, is the fact that many PHs have a member of their African camp staff clean and care for their rifles. Some may have a staff member carry their rifles when in the bush. The average worker does not know the value of a rifle ‘with two pipes’ and may treat it a bit rough.

Last of all, is the increased magazine capacity of a bolt rifle. It may make many modern hunters feel a bit more secure knowing they have four or more cartridges in reserve. Especially when backing up a client with little or no experience.

Good shooting,

Cal

Dear Cal:
What are the sight options on double rifles?
Hugh Addams USA

Hugh:
If you are asking this question, then a double is in your future! Sights on a double can be as simple or as complex as one wants. No matter what type of sight is chosen, always remember the range limitations of a double rifle.

Your basic choices for a rear sight are: leaf, both fixed and multiple leaves, peep or aperture, and telescope. The leaf sights are traditional albeit a bit optimistic. Most rifles in the big game category had one fixed sight for 100 yards and two folding leaves for 200 and 300 yards. In all of my double rifle shooting, I have yet to use anything but the first leaf. (I once saw a Boswell [or Bonehill?] .577 bpe with leaves to 500 yards and a tangent to 1200 yards)! The advantage of the leaf sight with a wide, shallow V is that it is quick to get on target, nearly indestructible, and looks so at home on a double. A disadvantage that has risen its head several times in literature is that the folding leaves tend to pop up when not needed and cause the shot to fly high.

The peep or aperture sight, so common on the Winchester and other American lever actions and early bolt actions (such as those made by Griffin and Howe), is perhaps the quickest sight to place on target accurately. The eye naturally centers the object to be shot at in the center of the circle. The eye only needs to focus on the front bead and the target--not the bead, target, and rear sight. A major disadvantage of the peep sight on a double rifle is that has to be mounted close to the eye thereby interfering with the top lever. On hammer doubles, the sight was too close to, and between, the hammers and interfered with the manual cocking of the hammers. A minor complaint is that the peep can fill with dirt or other debris at the most inopportune time.

The  telescope sight. Well I’m a bit torn on this one. A scope looks out of place on a double, at least for me. And, they are not needed on the larger calibers (.450 and up) used for hunting dangerous game--the shots are too close and the brush too thick. However, on smaller calibers (.450-400 and down) they are a definite help for failing or old eyes (such as the pair I own). I have a Swarvoski 1 1/4-4x on my .450-400 Harrison and Hussey boxlock ejector and took a hippo, croc, leopard and lion in Tanzania with it, a sable in Zim, numerous plains game in South Africa, and game in Alaska. The scope was not needed on the hippo but that is the rile I had in my hands. For the lion and croc it was an advantage. The leopard would not have been shot without the scope. The light was on its last and I could not see Mr. Spots until I looked through the scope. The clear picture and light gathering qualities of a good scope are a plus. On the negative side is the added weight, a scope alters the balance, the non-traditional looks, the delicate nature of the scope, and the shooter has to hold his cheek high off the stock to get a proper sight picture. Last of all, add a scope to a double and the bullet placement may change and re-regulation will be needed.

In conclusion and on a personal note, if a scope must be mounted on a double rifle, purchase a German or Austrian ‘scope. The light gathering qualities are far superior to anything else on the market and they look the best on a fine English double rifle.

Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
Why are not today’s super magnums used in modern doubles (or re-chambered to older doubles)?
Gary Hopkins, PH, Zimbabwe

Gary:
It is always good to take a question from my friend and PH!

Today’s fascination is with cartridges that hit harder and go faster so it may be a surprise to many that more are not seen in double rifles of modern manufacture or re-barreled or re-chambered in vintage rifles. However, there are five problems with this. First, the mentality of the super magnum desire is to reach out and shoot one’s elk, or sheep, or antelope at 700 yards. Anything beyond 150 yards is stretching it for the double rifle due the regulation complexities. No matter how optimistic the folding sight leaves say the range may be, double rifles are not long range rifles by any means.

Second, is the muzzle blast and how it affects shooters. The higher velocity of modern magnums gave rise to the muzzle brake or  porting of some sort. Neither is conducive to accuracy in a double rifle. Besides being down-right ugly (author’s opinion) and as far from traditional as one can imagine, muzzle brakes would destroy regulated accuracy. Also (and third), they are death to the ears of those in close proximity. In fact, many PHs in Africa will not allow their hunters to shoot with a brake.

Number four, is the pressure in the modern magnums are too high for most doubles. Many cartridges have  a pressure of 60,000 psi whereas some of the larger nitro cartridges are half that or less. Remember the British used the larger cartridges to achieve lower chamber pressure in the heat of Africa and India (cordite was very hear sensitive). The double rifle action is far weaker than a bolt rifle and high pressures caused difficulty in opening the action after discharge.

With the above, and last on the list, is extraction difficulties. High pressure makes extraction more difficult and ejectors can tear through the thin rim if the cartridges sticks in the chambers. And, today’s magnums are of a rimless design and rimmed cartridges work best in double rifles.

I guess I should add another. The forte’ of a double rifle is dangerous game hunting. Most high velocity magnums are for long range shooting and use light weight bullets. 500, 570, 750, and 900-grain bullets are for close up work and not for  shooting across a canyon in the southwestern USA. A double is for quick, snap shots at critters that can hit back and, no matter what Roy and others say, I would rather have a 500-grain bullet at 2150 fps (or 900 grains at 1950!) rather than a 180 grain bullet at 3600 fps. ‘Nuff said!

Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
What would be recommended reading for an introduction to the world of double rifles? I would like to learn of the history, early users, and some good technical data as well as hunting and shooting stories.
Gerry Whitehead, Zimbabwe

Gerry:
As far as magazines go, the Double Gun Journal now includes single shots so coverage is limited to perhaps one article on double rifles per issue. The African Hunter is the only African journal that publishes a regular column on double rifles. And, where do double rifles really belong? In a magazine about Africa, from Africa! The generic hunting magazines from the States have the occasional article to keep a few readers happy but not on a regular basis. (Personally, I have little interest in reading opinions that are not backed up be personal experience. If you are going to write about a .600 or an 8-bore, own one and shoot it. Often!).

As to books,  The Hammerless Double Rifle by Alexander Gray is an excellent source to see how a double is put together. Graeme Wright’s, Shooting the British Double Rifle is the best book for learning how to shoot a double rifle successfully. It is the ‘Bible’ on the subject.(In my opinion, it is a waste to have a nice double in the safe and do nothing with it. Shooting it is the next step and then hunting with one is the zenith of ownership). Craig Boddington’s Safari Rifles provides an excellent look at caliber and rifle selection and is a modern update to John Taylor’s African Rifles and Cartridges. Taylor’s book is the best of the vintage texts on the subject and Taylor is quoted more than any other writer. 

Most hunting books are stories of the hunt as most hunters don’t seem to be riflemen. James Sutherland is an exception and his book The Adventures of an Elephant Hunter is an excellent story of his exploits with a .577 Westley Richards. S.R. Truesdale's The Rifle is  a composite of hunters before WWII and what were their rifle choices. Lots of good double info here. Greener's The Rifle and its Development is the best technical book on the subject with lots of double rifle info in it.

I hope this helps, good shooting,

Cal


Dear Cal:

How far do double rifles go back in history?
Ed Dyer, USA

Ed:
This will be a quick answer as most of the history of the double rifle is beyond me. I mentioned to Editor Heath I would share all of the questions and answers with him. I hope he does not fire me when he sees how little I know about this topic! That said, a close friend here in Alaska has a marvelous collection of double rifles including several flintlock doubles. Then, of course, was the natural progression to caplock or percussion.

I do know that in order to double the firepower in the muzzle-stuffing days that a second barrel was the only way to go. I do not know if the twin tube design went as far back as the wheel lock and the match lock. I have seen only side-by-side double rifles in flint lock and cap lock. I do not know if an over and under doubles were produced in this early period. (I just learned of a percussion double in .600 by Greener!)

Good shooting, 

Cal

Dear Cal:
What makes a double rifle famous or desirable over others, thereby increasing its value?
D. Karjala, USA

Dear D.

I can think of three things that increase a vintage rifle’s value: a famous owner, a letter of origin that substantiates the original specifications, and a documented history of use.

From personal experience, a few examples. I once owned a hammer under lever light nitro rifle in the rare caliber 20-.577. This, an invention of Alexander Henry, was the 20 gauge brass shot shell 2 3/4 inches long and necked down to accept a .577 bullet. My rifle was originally made by John Dickson as a 12 bore rifle in the 1860s. In 1900 it was re-barreled by Alex Henry and purchased by Malcolm McNeill. McNeill had a career in the army and was the recipient of numerous awards. He was also a noted big game hunter, had a museum in his home town of Oban, Scotland, for his trophies, and wrote of his hunting adventures in Somaliland in 1902. He killed a pair of man-eating lions with the .20-.577. He was one of the fifty + sportsmen who chipped in some pounds sterling and donated the .500-450 Holland and Holland to Teddy Roosevelt and is mentioned in TR’s African Game Trails. There you have it--an original owner of notoriety. (Did I write I ONCE owned it? Damn!)

If your double rifle was made by a current maker, it is most likely you can get a letter of origin. The letter will state the serial number, stock dimensions, barrel length, weight, sight specifications, extractor or ejector, caliber, and cordite regulation. It may also give the name and address of the original owner. This letter will tell you if the rile of your dreams is to original specifications or if it has been altered in any way. Some records are not available due to the destruction during WWII bombing or perhaps the company is out of  business.

With luck, you may be able to trace the life of the rifle if you know the original owner or, at least, an owner of the rifle’s early years. My .450 no2 was owned by an army officer who left the military to farm in Kenya. He became a professional hunter with White Hunters Africa. Between the letter of origin from Joseph Lang and his biography from the Scottish Military Museum I am able to trace the rifle from its making in 1904 to when it left Kenya in the 1950s to be returned to the factory for repairs and alterations.

A friend owned a .577 single trigger Westley Richards drop lock double rifle. At my suggestion he wrote for a letter and discovered his rifle was owned by Andy Anderson, an elephant hunter of some fame and a friend of James Sutherland. His hunting exploits are documented in his book and he is also mentioned in Sutherland’s work.

The above adds a romance to owning a fine double rifle--a romance that a new rifle can’t have.

Good shooting,

Cal


Dear Cal:
Can I (we) see some of the double rifles you write about, please?
Ron Williams, USA

Ron:
At present I own only five. I have sold my .450, .500, and a 20-.577 and, of course, all my single barrel weapons. My rifles now are a .450-400 Harrison and Hussey boxlock ejector, with 26 inch barrels, and a Swarovski 1 1/4-4x scope to assist my ailing eyes. This is my primary hunting rifle and has taken lion, leopard, hippo, croc, sable, many plains game, buffalo in Australia, and caribou here in Alaska.

My other hunting rifle is a best quality Joseph Lang .450 no2. Originally it was a 28-inch barreled, ejector, three leaf rear sight, with an automatic safety. Fully engraved with a cheek piece and exceptional wood, it is a beauty! In 1956 the rifle was returned to the maker for repairs and alterations. When I purchased the rifle, the rear sight was a single leaf, the safety was manual, and the ejectors were changed to extractors (a preference of many PHs).

My .600 is a John Wilkes best quality, 26 inch barrels, extractor, three leaf rear sight and a bead with flip up ‘moon’ front sight. The regulation is for the heavy 110 grain charge of cordite. Recoil is a bit stiff even at 15 1/3 pounds.

My two bore rifles are a rather plain Walter Locke 7-bore with 24 inch barrels, weight of 17 pounds and is a hammer, under lever. The other is an Alex Henry 8-bore, best quality with 23 inch barrels and weighs 15 1/2 pounds. It, too, is a hammer under lever rifle. The rear sight is set back to the breech as  specified by the original owner in 1883.

All of my rifles are cased with accessories and I shoot them several times per week in the shooting season at my home in Alaska--April thru September. I hunt with the three boxlocks each season at home and also in Africa each year. They are great fun!

Enjoy the photos and good shooting!

Cal

Dear Cal:
What is the best and safest way to transport a double rifle to Africa for a hunt?
Greg Hoversten, USA

Dear Greg:
The best thing, above all else, is to insure your double rifles against theft, loss, or damage. You can shop around for the best rates but I would suggest you Google Eastern Insurance as they have the fewest exclusions and the best rates I have found.

After a good insurance policy, you MUST obtain form 4457 from a US Customs office. A few years ago it used to be a good idea to use this form as proof you owned the rifles before you departed on your journey. (Actually, use the 4457 for anything with a serial number--scopes, binocs, cameras, etc.). Now, it is mandatory to have this form when you re-enter this country and many African countries, as well as countries you transit through, require this form as proof of legal ownership.

Take detailed  photos and carry copies of these with you. In fact, carry copies of all of your hunting paperwork in each of your bags and the originals on your person. (If you loose your passport you’re in trouble, if you have a copy of it you will find life easier to tolerate when visiting the embassy to get a replacement).

Follow all laws and regulations to the letter-- I mean dot every i and cross every t-- for the airlines, TSA, airport procedures, and, most of all, when you are in a foreign country. Don’t argue with anyone even if you know they are wrong. Just smile and be very polite! Calmly ask for their supervisor if you must. Keep your ammunition locked in a small hard case and in a separate luggage bag from your rifle. Don’t even think of traveling with black powder cartridges. Don’t take ammo other than what your rifle(s) is chambered for (no ammo gifts for your PH). And, your ammo’s headstamp must match the rifle’s (i.e. no reformed cases). Don’t put snap caps in a double rifle or shotgun (the unknowing will absolutely jump out of their skin if they see a snap cap in a chamber). Buy the best hard case you can and put your rifle in a padded soft case within the hard case. Have a replacement locking mechanism along (extra lock and key or SKB replaceable locks). Carry cleaning implements with you (no spray oil--take a squeeze bottle). 

Try to attract as little attention as possible. By this I mean don’t advertise you are a hunter by your clothes or loud talk. There are plenty on antis out there who love to make life difficult for a hunter. (One of which I have personal experience works in the permit office in Amsterdam. He stated to me each week for six consecutive weeks my permit was on the way. After speaking to the director, I received my permit pronto). It may be a good idea to pack your break-down double in a short hard case and put this case in a canvas luggage bag.  Or, put your gun case in a large hockey player’s gear bag. If you are going to return with wood or stone carvings, bring along some bubble wrap and, on the  way over, use the bubble wrap around your rifle(s).

If you have a long layover, you can claim and recheck your luggage. This way you will know if it is there and if not, you can trace it from your last point of departure.

Last of all, it has become common in South Africa for criminals within the airport to use an ice pick to open the zippers of a locked bag and steal items. It may be better to travel with two locking cases without zippers. If this happens don't expect any assistance from South African Air! 

I hope this helps. Good shooting,
Cal


Dear Cal:
Exactly what came in the original cases with double rifles?
Ed Johnson, USA

Ed:
It is great finding a vintage double rifle in its original case and even more of a treat to open the case and see an assortment or original tools and accessories there. What came in a case largely depended on what the owner was to do and where he was to go. Accessories can be broken down into five categories: cleaning, repair, reloading, telescope and sighting, and miscellaneous.

Cleaning. Every cased rifle or gun was equipped with cleaning implements. Included in the case were a cleaning rod, various tips including a jag, slot, brush and mop. An oil bottle was  a necessity, too. Last of all was a grease pot and wiping rag.

Repair. For general repair a set of turn screws fitted for each of the screw slots, a firing pin wrench (called a striker key across the pond) for hammer rifles and guns, and a firing pin removal tool for the hammerless. Usually included was a spare set of strikers. Perhaps a set of main springs or a compete set of locks for the finer arms, also.

Reloading: I am talking cartridge arms, here, and included a capper and de-capper, powder measure, bullet mould in the lead bullet days, bullet seater and maybe a crimping tool.

Telescope and sights. If a scope was fitted to the rifle and also to the case, then a set of turnscrews for installation and adjustment and perhaps an extra set of mounts. Scope caps or covers were also fitted to the scope. Many double rifles had an extra fore sight in a small wooden, ivory, or brass box.

Accessories could include, but not limited to, snap caps, cordite funnel, broken cartridge extractor,  extra screws, sling, ammunition compartment, bullets, primers, factory load data (called a charge card) and targets.

Replacement accessories can be made new by many craftsmen today and most dealers have a supply of vintage items in their back rooms and they will include some in a case to make a sale.

Good shooting,

Cal

Dear Cal:
What got you interested in double rifles and Africa?
Mike Mooney, USA

Mike:
I’ve got to do some soul searching for this one...it’s been such a long time. I guess my first exposure to Africa, and to a lesser extent, double rifles, would be old movies such as Hatari (John Wayne) and King Solomon’s Mines (Stewart Granger). At the same time period of my life I would be looking at and reading my mother’s books on African hunting. Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? But my mom was an artist in her younger years (1930-40s) and loved to paint animals...including African animals. At the time her only source of photos was in books by Hunter, Bell, Taylor, and others. I read and re-read the old classics without knowing how my later life would be influenced so. Today, these first editions are in a special place upon my bookshelf.

With the above in my memory banks, and like most kids of the 60s and early 70s, I liked guns, shooting and hunting. During the spring semester of my 11th grade year in high school, mom shelled out $3.95 for a copy of the 1972 Guns and Ammo Annual. Photos of 8 bores, .600 and .577 rifles and cartridges, Elmer Keith on elephants, an article on Selous, an article on the .577 Snyder handguns, etc...I still have the book and it is still looked at but now is held together with clear tape.

Last of all, in the late 1980s in Alaska, I dated an artist who had a copy of Bartel Bull’s book Safari: a Chronicle of Adventure. In this most excellent book I read a detailed account of the African safari and hunters from the early 1800s to the 1980s. It was also at this time I purchased my first double rifle, a Mortimer and Son .500bpe number 5280. A few years later, 1994, I booked my first hunt to Zimbabwe (the year the African Hunter was launched).

I was bitten and had the fever!

Good shooting,

Cal


Miscellaneous dates:

Cal: I would like to use Blue Dot in a 4-bore muzzleloader I'm building--do you have any input on this? As a machinist of 40 years I've done quite a variety of gun projects. The 4 will resemble the real early stuff, smooth bore muzzleloader etc. BUT I started with 4140 Chrome-Moly when I made the barrel and used 4345 for the breach. I was always under the impression the concern was in the steel used in these guns, am I mistaken? I am 1.700 across the flats and 1.5 at the muzzle which gives me a certain level of confidence. My shooting will be limited to 1216 gr. conical or a .875 round ball in a sabot. Thanks for any input Mike L. USAHi 

MIke: Interesting question. I do not have any experience loading any smokeless in a muzzleloader but in a modern rifle, with new steel, and built heavy enough to withstand the pressures generated, I do not see why it would not work. Pressure data is paramount and you can get a close approximate by taking the bullet weight and projected powder charge and comparing it to a nitro express cartridge with the same weight and style of bullet and powder charge and velocity. This is for a new rifle only--never should readers attempt this in a vintage front-loader. A second point comes to mind, your priming charge or cap should be able to ignite the smokeless powder easily. Good shooting, Cal




Hi Cal: I’m an avid hunter in Zimbabwe and come from a hunting background. But I’m a farmer and hunt in the Zambezi valley maybe once or twice a year. My dad is a PH and will be at the SCI convention. I have always dreamed of owning a double .470 or .500. I see Sabatti is making very good looking doubles and quite affordable. Can you give me advice on them ? I hear they not very accurate?I've also asked my dad to try and test a .450 or .500 Sabatti while he is over in the States. Thank you. Pieter P. Zimbabwe P.S.: I enjoy your doubles column in the African Hunter and look forward to your response. Thank you Good day, Pieter, Zimbabwe


Pieter: While I’ve had no personal experience with the Sabattis, all reports are to the positive and what limited problems I have heard of, such as poor regulation, is quickly taken care of by the importer, Cabelas. For the price I don’t think you can go wrong for this utility rifle. Good shooting, Cal


Cal:   I’m a new reader to the African Hunter and bought some back issues and a subscription at the Dallas Safari Club show. I’m also new to double rifles and want one very badly. May I ask you some questions? You are the only source I know to ask.
  • What is meant by a .450 no2? 
  • Is it the same as a .450 Rigby? 
  • Then, what is a .470 Rigby? 
  • What is a .375 flanged? 
  • What is flanged? 
  • Makers: Osborne, Army and Navy, John Wilkes--is one better than the other? Merkel--is as good as an English rifle? 
  • Why the low price? 
  • What kind of ammo for a .450 or .470 nitro do you recommend? 
  • How can I learn about reloading for the double rifles?  

Sincerely Ajit. R. Arkansas

Ajit:
   Glad to assist. Welcome to the wonderful of double rifles and the African Hunter magazine. You could not have chosen a better firearm than a double nor a finer magazine than the AH.
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   To reply: First in the .450 caliber in nitro express was the .450 3 1/4” Rigby. A second cartridge by a competitive maker was 3 1/2” long with a greater internal capacity to lessen chamber pressures. It was (is) a bottleneck cartridge, also of .450 caliber, but designated a no2 to separate it from the first round. When England banned the .450 caliber in the Sudan and India (about 1903-4) the makers rushed to come out with calibers of the same power but with a larger diameter bullet. They were the .465 Holland, .470, .475, .475 no2 (with two diameters bullets--.483” and .488”), and the .476 By Westley Richards. The Rigby designation is the make of rifle the cartridge is chambered in.
   A flange is a rim. Always use a flanged, or rimmed, cartridge in a double rifle to be sure extraction or ejection is sure. A rimless cartridge requires small pawls to reach into the extractor groove remove the case. They will work fine most of the time but are prone to failures--especially so in an ejector rifle.
   The makers you mentioned are superb English makers and all are of excellent reputation. Merkel is a European rifle, a good utility rifle, and will serve you well. It is priced lower due to fewer man hours of labor intensive hand work. A non English rifle does not have the balance, fit, feel, and lines of a fine English gun or rifle. But, that is my opinion only. Hornady, Federal, Superior and others make excellent ammo of you don’t reload.
   As to reloading, I will write a separate reply as this will take some time. Also, contact me via email and we will go from there. 
Good shooting, 
Cal

LABELS: EMAIL

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2010

Dear Cal:
You have been kind enough to help me for reloading my .470 NE. I hope you don't mind if I ask you another question (I do enjoy reading your articles in the African Hunter.)

I have attached a picture of a .470 NE lead cast bullet with 4 wax gas checks.  Do you use bullets with gas checks in your doubles?  I am shooting a Chapius.  Will gas checks, and in particular several gas checks, result in excessive pressure?
Thanks
Roger F.
USA

Roger:
It is always good to hear from you.
The gas checks your refer to are lube grooves. Correctly, you have filled them with wax to help the bullets pass through the bore and leaving as little lead as possible in the bore. They will not have any affect of pressure and I use them on all of my cast bullets.

A gas check is a metal cup that is pressed on the bullet’s base to keep the lead from melting with the hot burning gas from the gunpowder. This will cause lead deposits in the bore. You have a plain-base bullet for your .470 therefore a gas check can’t be fitted.
Good shooting,
Cal




Dear Cal:
What is an acceptable deviation between the regulated bullet weight and a different bullet weight of choice?
J.D. E.
USA

J.D.
There is no “set in stone” deviation for double rifle bullet weight and regulation. Some doubles will only shoot one weight to one velocity and that is that. Others will shoot a large variety of bullets styles, weights, and velocities and group fairly well. It does seem the larger the bore size the more forgiving the rifle is as to changes from the regulated load. Shooters are finding that many lighter bullets will regulate with the “75% rule.” This can be a bullet weight of 75% and a full charge of powder or a 75% powder charge and a full bullet weight. I’ve seen both shoot well and others not shoot accurately at all.

With the newfound popularity of double rifles, shooters are experimenting more and finding more things what will work.

Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
What is your opinion on the best caliber for elephant and buffalo in double
rifles?  It seems the .450 calibers with their 480- to 500-grain bullets are very
close in performance.  The .500 NE with its 570 grain bullets seems a step up, but
in performance but I don't know.  Your thoughts, please.
Tom V.
USA

Tom:
You are right--there is little to choose between any of the offerings between .450 and .476. If the British bureaucrats did not outlaw the .450 caliber in India and the Sudan in the early years of the last century the big-game hunting world would had been content with the three .450s: the .450 3 1/4, the .500-450, and the .450 no2.
The .500 is indeed a step up but only by approximately 10%--not that much.

As to my opinion as to the best is this: any caliber over .400 that the shooter can shoot well and not be afraid of the recoil. With the correct bullets, all will drop any elephant or buffalo, with correct placement, of course. Choice of rifles is also to be considered--bolt or double--and that may determine what cartridge one uses.

Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
I am starting the loading project with the Holland and Holland .500 3 1/4 BPE I showed you. I have read Graeme Wright's 3rd edition for insight,  and am about to slug the bore to assess for taper and check the neck dimension.  HDS is selling a Woodleigh 440-grain jacketed bullet of .510”, but I'm not sure this is intended for the Holland bore, since the original bullets were lead grooved and lubed, not paper patched.  I would assume that this is a thinly jacketed bullet that is intended to resist the problems with black powder fowling, however, if the H&H bore is .500 to .502”, I'm not sure I could use these due to limited chamber diameter at the neck and potentially pressure problems.  I'm inclined to start with a soft lubed bullet first, sized to the bore and see what it does.  If you have any insights, I would appreciate any help. 
Dave P.
USA

Dave:
Good to hear from you. Why don’t you come up this weekend and reload and shoot a bit?

The Woodleighs may be too hard for an old black powder steel--especially so if that is all you shoot. Your rifle was made for lead, so I feel it is best to stick with lead. Also, the tapered bore of your rifle may be too small for a standard diameter bullet--most so at the small end of the taper.

The tapered bore you write of must have been a headache to produce. The fine rifling--only .001-.002” deep will, indeed, prevent not only much black powder residue but also lead deposits. First of all, I would use a soft lead bullet--much as muzzle loaders use--so the bullet will bump-up to fill the bore. Then, I would size the bullet to the largest diameter of the bore. Size and trim the brass and use a powder charge to approximate the original load--let’s say 130-135 grains of FFg GOEX. Place a wax wad between the powder and the bullet. I doubt you will need a spacer wad. The bullet should weigh in the neighborhood of 440 grains.

Good shooting and let me know how how the accuracy is!
Cal


Dear Cal:
I have question regarding the impact points for a double rifle; if a double rifle is regulated at 50 Yards, does this mean (assuming perfect conditions in all respects) that both barrels are shooting to exactly the same spot over 50 yards and then at 100 yards the two bullet holes (one from each barrel) should have a distance between them which is equal to the distance between the two barrels with another doubling at 150 yards and so on?

The question is prompted by my having fitted a telescope (Swarovski 1 - 1.5) to my Krieghoff .375 H&H mag. The gun is regulated at 50 yards for Norma 350gr ammo.

Regards,
Chuck in SA

Chuck:
Good question, a bit complex for my knowledge, but I will give it a go.

A double shoots to a point of regulation due to convergence of the barrels. This convergence is combined with a constant velocity and bullet weight. Things can change and keep accuracy but it is best to keep with what the rifle was regulated for.

Because the right barrel moves up, back, and to the right upon ignition and the left barrel moves up, back, and to the left the bullets will print at the regulated velocity. Move the target farther out and the bullets may cross. They will also cross at the regulated distance if the velocity is increased. Move the distance closer than the regulated distance and the bullets may print apart. Remember, as he bullet is moving down the bore the barrel is moving to the (right or left).

When you change the characteristics of the rifle, including adding weight to the rifle such as a scope, the recoil characteristics will change as so will the bullet’s path. When I had a scope added to my .450-400 to aid my old eyes I had a gunsmith find a midpoint regulation for both scope and open sights--but regulating for either would have seen a tighter group. If I had to do it all over again, I would keep a fine regulation with open sights and sight in the scope for one barrel only (I fire the left barrel first) to pinpoint accuracy to 200 yards. I don’t think there is a mathematical formula for this. If there was, then fine doubles would be regulated by machine rather than by hand.

I hope this helps.
Good shooting,
Cal

Dear Cal:
I am waiting for Butch Searcy to give me a bit of feedback with regard
to the double rifle he agreed to make in trade for my Harley.
I elected to request the 470 NE, but must admit that since I received a
couple of sample bullets, that caliber may be over the top for me. I am
already having second thoughts that the 450-400-3" may have been a
better choice, since I am not likely to ever get to  Africa to hunt
dangerous game.

I am lacking a bit more information and think your expertise would help.

As I look at the myriad of double rifles that come up for sale, I am
unable to discern whether the rifles command greater prices when
accompanied by a custom case. Can you comment on this. (i.e. Do you
recognize a substantial benefit in value and desirability related to
resale when a custom case accompanies a DR.) I ask this because Mr.
Searcy offers a custom case for $1500. Believe me when I say that a case
in that price range exceeds the value of most other rifles I own, even
some of my pre-64 Winchesters, and as such I don't want to make a
foolish purchase. If a Searcy custom case will add somewhere in the
neighborhood of $1000 of after market value should I elect to sell the
rifle, I think I would make the investment.
Any thoughts?
Thanks,
Bob N.
USA

Bob:
As a Harley (one of my unrealized dreams) man you will understand my reply.

You will add all the accessories to a Harley to make it truly yours--chrome, saddle bags, etc. You will never get your money out of all the add-ons when you sell it.

The same is true with a double rifle case. They go with the rifle when it is sold. I have never seen a rifle priced to sell with a second price for the case. This is true for new doubles as well as vintage rifles and shotguns.

While the caliber may be a bit too much if you are not hunting elephant or buffalo the rifle will be worth more upon resale than a smaller caliber.

I don't know what a custom case is in this situation. A good English style oak and leather case has value. Huey makes them and will cost up to 4,000$ with accessories and tools added and fitted. If the custom case is a plastic or aluminum case and made to fit a wide spectrum of guns, I'd pass. But, no matter what you do, think of the Harley accessories thought above.

Cheers,
Cal

Cal :
What can you tell me about the 500 nitro? What kind of range does it have and can it be hand loaded? Im thinking of getting one to go to Africa to hunt with. Is it a good round for dangerous game?
Alex D. USA


Alex:
Thanks for your email.
The .500 is an outstanding African cartridge--far less recoil than the .577 or .600 and more punch than the .450-class of cartridges. That being said, I do feel the .500 has been a bit overstated in literature.

The .500 is about 10% more in muzzle energy, recoil is 15-20% more, and rifles are much more expensive (for vintage English doubles) than in the .450-.470 class or cartridges.

Hand loading is no problem but you must keep to safe pressures and to also to obtain the correct regulation of the bullets. Brass and bullets are obtainable at Huntingtons and the dies and shell holders from both Huntingtons and CH Tool.

The range of most doubles is 100 yards (approximately) but many shoot accurately much farther than that. Dangerous game is usually shot at much less than 100 yards, however.

Are you looking at a modern production rifle or an older one? If you get  a single shot you can play with the velocity and bullet weight much more than with a double.

I hope this helps and good shooting.
Cal