Tuesday, September 4, 2012
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.