Friday, December 7, 2018

A very unique double rifle

A gent from Europe sent me four photos of his double. I must admit in all of my years playign with doubles, I have never seen such a unique double rifle as this. From the owner's email:

The right barrel is in caliber 11,15x65r Lancaster but with a heavier charge of power and a steel jackett bullet. 
The left barrel is .600 nitro express (German proof marks, 7,5 gram and steel jackett bullet). 
The lever under the trigger guard opens the barrels when pushed forwarf. 
When pushed, backward lower trigger cocks the hammers and the rifle is ready to fire. 
The auction is the Schildzapfenverschluß, made Robert Schrader in Göttingen. 
The rifle is maybe for work in the German colonies befor WWI. 
I have all 3 books of yours. 
Best wishes 

Alois S.

Buffalo hunt with Mark Sullivan

2018 Buffalo hunt with Mark Sullivan.

Mark Sullivan—Tanzanian PH and as my “tour guide” in South Africa
Basie Kuhn—owner Haakdoorn farm.
Angela—Basie’s wife.
Basie and Angela’s three daughters—Chene’ 17, Shyla 14, Sheena 10
Johan Biewenga—farm manager and South African PH registered for both plains and dangerous game.
Joey—Johann’s wife
Stefen Fouche’—1/3 owner of the African’s Sportsman magazine, there to get the story.
Andrew Tolmay—camera man and 1/3 owner of the AS magazine, there to video the hunt.
Clarence Voyles from North Carolina to hunt buffalo and plains game.

Haakdoorn is about 3.5 hours drive north of Jo’burg, approximately 60 km from Botswana border and about 50 km out of the town of Thabazimbi

I arrived at 5:30 am SA time at OR Tambo airport and  Basie was there to pick me up.
A black police officer was a rude pain in the ass for my gun permit so it took 20 minutes and no one was there from the plane that was a hunter. He took my SAP 520 and went on break! I still would not pay for the pre permit.

Basie and I drove to Pretoria for some of KFC and Stefen picked me up for the trip to the farm as Basie had some business to take care of. Basie, then, flew his helicopter to the ranch and was there when we arrived. Stefen publishes the Africa’s Sportsman and Andrew the cameraman. Both are part owners in the magazine.

Clarence was to meet me in Dubai but he did not get the firearms permit from Emirates. They would not let him fly but refunded all of his money except for $400. He then booked a last minute flight on Delta and arrived at 10pm that day. Johan drove in to get him and they arrived in camp at 1am.

Mark was at the camp and also Angela, the three girls, and Joey. We went out in the afternoon for an impala for camp meat and for me to take a shot. 48 yards through a rangefinder and one shot just behind the shoulder anchored the impala. The impala ran 40-50 yards and collapsed. We followed an immense blood trail but only for a short distance. Entrance hole .60 caliber. Exit was nearly two inches! Amazing how such a small animal could run as far as it did with such a large hole in it and so much blood loss. The .600 is, for me personally, the medicine gun for impala.

Off for buffalo the next morning With Mark and I, along with the South African PH, Johan, and Andrew with his camera.. 15-20,000 acres of bush of varying thickness and a huge piece of plains grassland about 2x10 miles. We spotted several buffalo in the grass which was two feet high. When we determined the one I wanted we began stalking but the buffalo laid down in the grass. We approached to 15-20 yards and the buff stood up. He was side ways to us and Mark could not tell his horns to see if he was the buffalo we sought. Then he started to run, turned away from us, and looked back. Mark said he was the one and I took a quick snap shot and shot but shot over him—a complete miss. Two more shots were a waste as he was too far away. Off for 2-3 hours of followup. He was not wounded so we let him quiet down and went back to camp for lunch. Also, the wind was blowing not only hard but changing directions and the buffalo winded us many times. We would circle and the wind would shift and he would run. All of this took place in the huge grass plains. I haver never been able to take running or snap shots with a heavy double. Lack of practice, I guess.

After lunch we searched for a few hours and found the bull again. And again, he laid down in the grass after we watched him for some time, perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile distant. We began the stalk. Mark and I marked his location on a distant tree so we knew approximately where he was and we walked a straight line towards him. But, we didn’t know the distance he was at. The wind was blowing hard but towards us and not shifting so that was a big plus.

At 50 yards or so we were close enough to see a horn tip above the grass. Now we knew the distance and it was a matter of time until he faced us. Mark and I walked very slowly through the grass, as quiet as possible, accompanied by Johann the SA PH, and Andrew and his camera. 50 yards, then 40, then 30, then 20. A few more steps and the buff sensed something. He stood up to face us. Mark identified him as the buff we were after and said, “Take him.”

During the stalk I was thinking to keep the bead low in the shallow V of my 1914 vintage John Wilkes double rifle in the iconic .600 nitro express caliber. Snap shooting causes me to take a large bead in the V and shoot high. Now the time was here. It was now or never. A miss or wound in the late afternoon would give very limited time for a stalk and followup. Nightfall could cause us to lose him and have to take up the spoor in the am. The buffalo could be anywhere by then. In retrospect I would have liked to shoot for the brain as that is the classic Sullivan trademark. 

The 16-pound .600 came up to my shoulder quickly and I took a fine bead on the center of his chest and pressed the rear trigger. (I have always shot the left barrel/rear trigger first for 25 years. It is now a reflex. When the rifle is raised to my shoulder I slip the automatic safety to off as I place my finger on the rear trigger. When the rifle is at my shoulder, it is ready to fire). The buffalo’s rear legs collapsed and he fell instantly. My finger was now on the front trigger but I knew he was not going anywhere. I reloaded the empty barrel just in case the unimaginable happened but when the rear legs collapse as they did a spine hit is evident.

A moment later Mark and I moved around and approached the buffalo from the back side. He was breathing so I put an insurance shot down from the top of his shoulder but it was really not needed. He was an amazing buffalo. Huge bodied—perhaps 25% bigger than I have ever seen in the past ones I have shot. The horns and boss were amazing to see close up. From the distance when he was first spotted he was estimated to be 42 inches. I have shot several buffalo but none had measured 40 inches.

We rolled him over to the small clearing he was in and placed him for photos. Back in the camp’s skinning shed the workers recovered the two bullets. The first shot hit the spine and was slightly belled at the nose. Both bullets lost three grains—900 down to 897. The insurance shot was not deformed at all. Now, the calipers came out for the measurement of the horns: 43 1/4 inches and the boss at 14.  

To reflect on the experience and to compare the buff I have shot in Zimbabwe: there is no doubt hunting in South Africa has a different flavor than my beloved Zim (after the hunt I would fly to Zim for my 14th trip there). SA does not have the feeling of wild Africa but on a large ranch fair chase hunting is still a challenge. I have hunted ranches in Zim (Dingwall and Marakanga) and had great experiences there as well as several in SA. 

Basie’s ranch is a huge piece of real estate. I forget the exact hectare amount, but I would guess 15,000+ acres or about 25 square miles. We walked for hours, and drove, too, and did not see a fence after we left the camp area. There is a border fence and also a fence around the living areas but the land is open and wild, both wooded and bush and the large grass area. Plains game abounds as are many shootable buffalo. As in SA, I have shot sable on a ranch in Zim and three consecutive years hunted a ranch in southern Zim for plains game and leopard. It was not “put and take” by any stretch of the imagination. While some may find fault with my hunting there I will defend it as fair chase and did walk my tail off, both on my hunt and when a friend wounded a buffalo at 8am and the chase took all day up until the very last light at 6pm. 

I also know having Mark Sullivan as my PH will begin another debate and stir some emotions but I will stand by these words: Mark is one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known. He knows Africa, the black population, the animals, tracking, and all aspects of hunting dangerous game. In addition he has a great sense of humor, is honest-ethical-truthful, can drink with the best of them, and is a true American patriot with a deep sense of God, family, and country with a strong conviction of borders, language, culture, and the conservative ideals that made America the envy of the world. And, of course, his ability with a double rifle is legendary. I am proud to call him my friend and hope to hunt with him again.

Basie’s Haakdoorn Safaris is absolutely the best and most comfortable hunting camp I have ever been in. His family is actively participating in the operation. His wife, Angela, and their three daughters are there riding horses, preparing the meals, and fun company, etc. The game is managed with limited take off so the animal populations remain stable. Basie forbids shooting from a vehicle. The game available are buffalo, giraffe, kudu, roan, gemsbok, hartebeest, impala, warthog, sable, blue wildebeest, and the bird shooting is fabulous. While many hunting operations will state, “Come as a client and leave as a friend” I can attest this to be true in my experience there. I will return for another buffalo next year. Haakdoorn Safaris has my highest recommendation. 

If any of you gents out there wish to join me next year, please contact me. If a few of you would like to go on a small group hunt shoot your buffalo with my .600 we can “make a plan.”

Thanks for reading this.


A great .577 Howdah

The owner of this howdah sent me the following information:
Maker is: B. Woodward and Sons.
Caliber is: .577 Snider
Barrel length: 7”
Browned Damascus side lock double barrel, Jones under lever with extractors. Blue back action locks engraved and color case colored. Double triggers. Checkered forearm and grip. Case colored pistol grip cap.
Barrels with proof marks stamped under and the bore number 25 stamped there too.
A super clean pistol with beautiful work. Chambers and bore are in excellent condition.
B. Woodward and Sons marked atop rib and both locks.
Benjamin Woodward [1838-1842 and son 1842-1883] gun and pistol maker.
At 260 New Town Row 1838-1839 and 10 Whittall Street 1840-1883. Both locations are in the Birmingham Gun Quarter.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Westley .450 no2

Martin O. sent me pics of his lovely Westley Richards-made .450 no2. Sans embellishment she is a working double rifle and if she could talk wht stories she could tell. I don't know the details of the rifle and I'm assisting Martin with reloading as I've been shooting my Lang .450 no2 for close to 20 years. Enjoy the photos.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


It's been months since I've posted here as I have beenunable to log onto my site (blog). A good friend who knows about computers figured it out for me so I will be doing some posts on a regualr basis with some photographs.
First, the annual Alaska double rifle shoot went very well with 60+ folks in attendance including 8 from the flatlands of the Lower 48 and two gents from England. 50 or more fine doubles were there including two 4-bores, a few 8s, many bpe doubles, 12 and 10 bores, and a bunch of nitro express doubles from .350 to .600 and everything in between.
Second, in two weeks I depart for South Africa and Zimbabwe with my trusty .600 Wilkes. I'm getting too old to lug this one around in the bush so this will be the old girl's last hunt.
Third, I have taken several of my firearms to the Antique Gallery in Anchorage for sale. I will lis thtem here shortly and if any of you fellas are interested you can contact the gallery. In addition I will be selling an Italin 4-bore double shotgun with extra barrels in 8-bore and also a .50-110 Winchester single shot model 1885 high wall.
Cheers, all, and sorry for the absence.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Verney Caron 7x57 rimmed and Kansas whitetail

A very close friend took this wonderful whitetail on his farm in Kansas. The rifle is an outstanding double by Verney Caron in the cartridge 7x57 rimmed, or .275 Rigby rimmed. I can't recall the specs of the rifle but I have shot it and it is as well balanced as the finest English double, very accurate and, of course, very mild recoil. The report is the buck went down immediately, got up, and ran 50 yards and collapsed. This is a wild buck, not a farmed or ranch hunt. Congratulations and thanks for the photo.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Uruguay double rifle!

Eduardo Zorilla de San Martin from Uruguay sent these two photos of his lovely .500-450 no1 express double rifle made by Bishop and Company of London. Both the company and a double from Uruguay are firsts for me. Eduardo has owned the rifle for 30 years. Shooting 60 grains of black powder and a 325-grain bullet, it is just the ticket for axis and gama deer and wild boar. He tells me it is easy to get a license and own up to three firearms and there is no limit if one has a collector's lecense (but it is more difficult to get one of those). Auto weapons must be deactivated. Thanks for the pics, Eduardo, and please come to Alaska on May 5 for our AK double rifle shoot! Cal
PS. Barrels are 28 inches and the weight is 8 3/4 pounds.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Westley .400-360 for sale


A mate on the east coast has this Westley Ruchards box lock .400-360 for sale. I don't know all the details but the pics speak volumes. If I didn't have my Rigby .350 no2 I'd be looking at this one. Actually, I prefer a slower and heavier bullet to a lighter and faster one. Enjoy the photos and if you develop an interst in this fine double, email me and I'll put in contact with James W. Price is $12,000.
Thanks for looking and I'll post this in both the double rifles page and the for sale page. Cal.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

George Gibbs .450 NE

A mate in the fine state I moved to Alaska from (Vermont) sent me pics of his .450 nitro Gibbs and a wonderful cape buffalo and wildebeest to took this summer in Africa. The Gibbs' 28" barrels give excellent accuracy and velocity. Contratulation to Robert R. for a successful hunt and a great double rifle.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Newton .500 bpe

Francis Lombardi of Foxtrot Sporting in upstate New York sent me these photos of an amazing double he has for sale. I don't know the specs but you can call Francis at 315-373-5850 for the details and also visit his website. (I just purchased a .577 Manton bpe from Francis and enjoyed very much doing business with him). All I know is in the title--a Newton .500 bpe. Look at the engraving and the wood to metal fit! These old timers could teach a lesson or two to today's "gunsmiths!"

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Best of the Best--a new Westley Richards .577 nitro express

PH Basie Kuhn of South Africa is the proud owner of this new WR .577--a bespoke rifle made to his specifications. I don't have the details of this rifle but it is eye candy to be sure! I will be hunting on Basie's ranch in 2018 with Basie and Mark Sullivan. Basie will have this magnificent .577, Mark will have his custom Heym .577, and I will carry my vintage Wilkes .600. Enjoy the photos of this WR .577!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

.405 double

A mate from the net has a wonderful double in .405. Here is his nilgai from Texas. Stunning wood!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Unique Watson Brothers

A gent sent in this pair of pics of a new double he just bought. A Watson Brothers .400-360 with a very unique forearm. At present I do not have any details of this fine double rifle. I hope the specifications and more pics follow. I suggested the owner contact Watson Brothers to see if they have any information on the for end as well as ledger info with the build date, etc.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 Alaska Double Shoot

Good day, all.
The 2017 Alaska double shoot was a great success. Gents came up from the Lower 48, Ukraine, and England to join the AK gents. 50 doubles, great food and fun for all. From now on, the shoot will be the first Saturday in May. Now you can plan to attend well into the future. Here are some pics:

A gent looks over Cal's table. From the bottom up: 4-8-10-12bore, 577 & 450 bpe

Ron's table. Right to left: 577 ne, 450 no2, 375, 450-400.

Rob's table sports a 4-bore single and an 8-bore.

Jonathan aims Cal's 8-bore Locke

Todd's table of Hollands

Hank's .475 no2, .577 Howdah, and a bpe.

Three Howdahs made it to the show.

Cal's table from right: 350 no2, .450-400, .450 no2, .500, .600, .450 bpe, .577 bpe, 12, 10, 8-, 4-bore.

Cal's .600 bites a visitor from North Carolian

.450 no1 bpe from Namibia

Thsi GE Lewis bpe in .450 no1 lives in Namibia. The wedge forend fastener and spur guard grip date this rifle to the 1870s.