Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Huge Brown Bear

Will Gay, a good mate here in Alaska, shot this world record brown bear with a .450 no2 double rifle. You can see this bear in the Anchorage airport. Will has a few fine doubles he has shared with me but to take a huge bear with a vintage hammer and under lever doubles---well---it just does not get any better!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Steven Howell's double rifle. Read and learn--as did I.

This story is too fascinating for me to tell it. Let Steve tell it in his own words:


Sure, you can put the photos on your site.  I took a series of photos during the building of the rifle barrels as I had never built a shoe lump set of barrels before and if you like I can send you several e-mails with photos attached and you can decide what you want to use.  I am not certain that any other person in the USA has attempted to build a set of DR barrels on the shoe lump method.  It was a significant emotional event for me to tackle this and set me back 3-4 months on schedule as I had to teach myself how to build these and correct the errors till I was able to make a shoe lump perfectly.

The DR weights 7 lbs 15 ounces without the ribs.  The barrels are 22 1/2" in length and I spent weeks in getting them balanced and to the light profile I wanted.  The barrels together with the lumps, fore-end loop and muzzle collar weight 4lbs 4 ounces.  I started with two barrel blanks that weighed 5 lbs each, and the shoe lump began as a 2" diameter round bar of 4140 alloy steel 2 1/2" long weighing 2 lbs.  After machining, the lump weighed 4 ounces requiring several days of work.   I plan on the DR weighing in with scope, Talley QD rings, ribs, ramps and so forth at 9lbs.  The barrels are 4140 alloy steel as well with .367/.377" bore/groove diameter.

The cartridge is near the standard .38-55 size and wall thickness, except that the cartridge length is 2.125" versus about 2.080" of most .38-55 cartridges manufactured today.  M.L. McPherson, a sporting firearms author and sportsman and I suppose ballistics expert developed this longer  case for better accuracy a few years back.  Due to the extra length and therefore propellant capacity, the cartridge case can be loaded to meet the ballistics of the .375 Winchester with only 38,000 or so psi chamber pressure, versus the 52,000 psi chamber pressure of the .375 Winchester round (brought to the market by Winchester in the late 1970's).  To my mind this makes a wonderful cartridge for a light DR, because the cartridge can be handloaded  to take all the large non-dangerous game in North America; and it can be loaded with pointed or round tip bullets since it is used in a DR.  The .38-55 is one of those "sleeper" cartridges that can be loaded to equal the original  circa 1890 H&H  2 1/2" flanged nitro express that even took elephants before the real cartridges were developed by the Brits.  I would not want to try them on elephants.  The loading of such heavy loads in the .38-55 cases is the reason my rifle has a bit over 1 inch diameter barrels at the breech end.  The recoil on this rifle so far is about like my 1954 M/S .270.

Attached are a couple more photos of starting the machining process as well as a link to Verney-Carron video showing how they make shoe lump barrels.  The youtube video is in French, but you will have no trouble knowing what is happening.  Pay close attention to the brazing of the barrels to the shoe lump as this is how I did my DR as well.

Good shooting on your turkey hunt,  I may go later on this week myself, 15 minutes away to my daughters farm.

Thank you for your interest in my work.  Also, since I retired 8 years ago I have learned to engrave and I will later engrave the DR.  I will attache a photo of some of the engraving on the first DR I built.  Turnbull did the case coloring for me.

Steve Howell

On 4/12/2016 11:28 AM, cal pappas wrote:
Thanks for the email Stephen. I'm impress with your work (I don't even turn a screw on my doubles I have so little skill).
From the barrel thickness at the breach I'm curious about the weight. Of course no recoil will be felt. Is the cartridge the standard .38-55 WCF, or close to it?
I'm in the states to hunt turkey and will be home in early May. Can I put your pics on my website?
Cheers, and thanks again.
On Apr 12, 2016, at 7:20 AM, Stephen & Yvonne Howell wrote:


Last year I decided to build another DR for myself and that this one would be a .375 2 1/2" flanged NE.   However, after looking a ballistics and the availability of 2 1/2" flanged cases, I decided to build a rifle in .375 that I could load to same or similar ballistics to the 2 1/2" flanged NE.

The cartridge is the 2 1/8" .38-55 McPherson with new cases being made by Star and chamber reamers by Pacific.  Buffalo Bore already makes a 255 gr Heavy .38-55 with velocity of 1950 fps.  Hawk Bullets of Salem, NJ  have made some custom order .375" 250 gr Round Tip bullets to my specification for this DR, which have only a 0.025" thick soft copper jacket.  This should cease the problem that .375 shooters have with poor to no expansion of bullets under 2,200 fps velocity.

I also decided to build the barrels using the dog lump process famed by Heym and Verney-Carron and to also build the lumps where the face of the rear lump will lock up tightly against it's mating surface of the action ( the "draw") and remove the pressure from the hinge pin (about 0.003") during firing.  I have done all this and the rifle works very well and more importantly shoots very well in the preliminary regulation.  I am in the process of fitting the ribs and quarter ribs as well as the sights and ramp.

I hope to have the DR ready by end of this month to start the engraving.

Here are some photos that I thought you would have interest in seeing of the DR as well as my shop.  I am retired from the heavy engineering and construction business (Fluor Corp), having lived and worked in South Africa and the UK.

cal pappas

HC 89 Box 397
Willow Alaska 99688

the best in double rifles and African hunting

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 7 update and double shoot

Not much to write about until now as I've been building an addition on the my house for my mother to move in as she is getting up in years a bit. In April I drove to the People's Socialist Republic of Taxachusetts to bring her and her belongings back to AK towing a horse trailer. Made it back a few days before the May 7 AK double shoot. Please look to the Double Rifle pages to see pics of the rifles at the shoot. Great fun.

On the way down I stopped in Kansas to hunt turkey with some good friends but it was a bit early in the season and the males were not coming to the calls. Oh well, next year.

I may be getting some black powder express doubles in this summer so if you are in the market for anything, let me know. Should be 12-bore rifle, .577-500--both the magnum and no2, .500 and 450 bpe.

In July I'm off to Zimbabwe with a mate from Anchorage. He is after plains game for his first safari and I will seek bull elephant and plains game with my beloved .600 Wilkes. I will keep you updated.

Last of all, check out the new posts of double rifles added to the page of the same title. Outstanding rifles, all.
Until next time.
PS. Also, the African Hunter magazine has gone through a complete makeover and is a sight to behold.  If you don't subscribe already, please do so and show support for this, the finest of all African magazines.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Alaska double rifle shoot,May 7, 2016.

Here are a few photos of the rifles at our latest double shoot.
Good weather, good food, good friends, great rifles. All make a super day.

Hank's 500 nitro

Hank's 8-bore

I forgot the caliber of Hank's fine single shot

Cal brought 10 doubles, from left: 4-bore Hughes, 8-bore Locke, .500 ne Watson, 12-bore Whistler, .600 Wilkes, .450-400 Harrison and Hussey, .450 no2 Lang, .350 no2 Rigby, .450 Rielly bpe, .500 no2 Gye and Moncrief with 12-bore barrels, too.

Dave's 8-bore Westley Richards is the only muzzle rifled 8 WR made (Paradox style)

Dave's fine .577 ne Westley

Ron's .303, .577 nitro, .577 light nitro

Ron's .577 ne, .577 light niter, .375 flanged

Rob's 8-bore and 10-bore and young Daniel's BB double

Rob's .577 Howdah

Rob's Thompson, 4-bore single, and ??

We won't mention this one

Some of Rob's toys

Cal's ammo, 4-bore, 8-bore, and .500 Watson Brothers once owned by Jack Lott

Cogswell and Harrison--forgot the caliber (damn)

A follower of my site sent in these two pics of his Cogswell double rifle. I lost the original email and can't remember the caliber. My error.

.577-500 magnum 3 1/8" case

A gent down under send these a pic of his Jeffery .577-500 magnum bpe. 26-inch barrels and a good shooter. This rifle is for sale so contact me if you are interested and I will put you in contact. The second rifle is a Lancaster .400-350.

10-bore Greener

Jim Johnson picked up this Greener 10-bore for his first double. Stunning wood.

12-bore Baker double rifle

Here is a 12-bore by Baker which I hope to add to my collection soon. Fully rifled, good bores, and a good shooter with 26-inch barrels.

4 Bore Muzzle Loader Double!

A mate on the east coast specializes in punt guns but acquired this magnificent 4-bore front stuffer. He says: It's a double barrel 4 bore smooth rifle or ball gun made by Henry Beckwith between 1864-1868. The barrels are just 20" long. It was owned by a minister who held a mission in India. Apparently the gun was kept on hand to supply meat for the mission and to dispatch rogue elephants and other dangerous game if the need arose. It was sourced from the mission and brought to the US around the time of WWI where it remained in the same family until the gentleman who had it at Baltimore bought it. I wish I could find more info regarding who originally used it but I don't have any names to start with. The date 1871 is carved in the stock which may have some historical meaning? I mainly collect large waterfowl guns as you know but always wanted one good elephant gun and am excited to own this one. Take care!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Proper .600 regulation

Why are doubles so expensive? Well, outside of the hand craftsmanship is the regulation--repeated over and over until a proper target is obtained. Of course, one can muzzle grind such as Sabatti did a few years ago. That's why they cost $5000. Here is Jonathan's rifle in the process of regulation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Double rifle regulation

Jonathan T.'s new .600 is about ready and you can see pics of this masterpiece if you scroll down a bit. Here is the regulation process: Shoot to a target and see the grouping. Heat the muzzle solder and adjust the muzzles up, down, in, out, a tiny bit and shoot again. Keep doing so until a proper target is reached.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Update 1-14-16

Good day, all.
Just had to show you the new double rifle. For details see the double rifle page. Briefly, it is a Gye and Moncrieff .577-500 no2 double with extra barrels for a 12-bore shotgun. A full, and I mean FULL, compliment of every accessory imaginable. Here is a photo to stimulate your interest. Yes, I have dies and brass on order to get this beauty shooting accurately and I will shoot grouse this fall with the shotgun barrels. Not much shooting news but more in the next update. Cal