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

Dr. Shorb's Rifle (and shotgun)

Dr. Shorb's Rifle (and shotgun)
by Cal Pappas

As many of you know who read my articles, I absolutely love vintage double rifles from the UK (England and Scotland). Even  more so is when I find a vintage double with the original case and accessories. Then, is the added plus of a rifle with a strong history behind it. Such is the rifle herein.

Born in 1836 to a wealthy, influential, and politically connected family in Maryland, Joseph Campbell Shorb graduated from medical school in 1860 to follow his father in medicine. He was a surgeon during the early years of the Civil War. In 1863 his commission was over and he resigned the army and he and his younger brother, James Debarth Shorb (1842-1896) traveled to California. Only a state for 13 years, California was the promised land for a pair of young men with a sound financial backing. James (an attorney and civil engineer) married Maria Wilson in 1867 who was daughter of Benjamin Davis Wilson (1811-1878), a mountain man during the fur trading era and a prosperous land owner. He purchased thousands of acres of land to add to his in-law's property and developed San Gabriel Winery--at the time, the largest winery in the world, capable of pressing 250 tons of grapes in one day and storage vats holding 1.5 million gallons! He owned or controlled several other businesses including a railroad to bring his wine to market. Shorb Street in Alhambra is named after the family.

(Benjamin Wilson's first wife died and he married again. One of his four children, Ruth, married George Patton. One of their sons was the famous WWII general).

J. Campbell continued in his profession as a surgeon and was known as one of the most in demand doctors in southern California. He ran for the senate unsuccessfully and was married to Sophia Dallas (daughter of the US Senator) of Philadelphia. Their marriage was not a happy one and they lived apart for several years.Unfortunately, the doctor suffered from a nervous disorder making it difficult, if not impossible, to sleep. He used morphine to induce sleep until becoming tolerant to the drug. Then he used chloroform. On October 1, 1889, after five sleepless nights, he fell asleep with the chloroform-soaked cloth still on his face and he died in his sleep. First reports were suicide but a subsequent investigation showed his death accidental. 

About 1878 Dr. Shorb ordered this rifle and shotgun combination from a relatively new company in London: Gye and Moncrieff. Why he didn't order from an more established firm, such as Holland and Holland or Purdey will remain a mystery. 

Lynedoch Needham Moncrieff was born in 1841 in Scotland and when he was 15 he joined the Royal Navy. In 1863 was was a Sub-Lieutenant and was award a bronze medal for saving a seaman who had fallen over board that same year. After he was discharged he went into business with Lionel Gye and opened a firearms shop at 60 St. James St., Picadilly, London in 1874. Gye was a former Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. Their business thrived for approximately five years and was dissolved in 1879 when Moncrieff volunteered for service in South Africa. He was killed in battle on November 5, 1883.

The highest G&M serial number I have found is number 1698, for an approximate average of 340 guns and rifles sold per year for the five years the company was in business. Of the G&M firearms seen by the author, all double barrel rifles and shotguns were of the exposed hammer and top lever style. Two .455 revolvers were found, a few double rifles in caliber .577-500 no2, one in .360, several double shotguns in 12-bore, and one single shot rifle in .577 3-inch have been documented. All firearms were for black powder cartridges. The doubles, rather than having an extension of the top rib, had the extension of the lower rib for a third fastener. The quality of Gye and Moncrieff firearms is equal to the best London or Birmingham rifles and shotguns of the era.

This unique set was made in late 1877 or early 1878. Gye and Moncrieff was not a maker of firearms but rather retailed arms made by others with their name, address, and serial number on them, or purchased "in the white" and finished at their premisses. Number 1250, as purchased by J. Campbell Shorb, is a top lever, exposed hammer of the rebounding style, one set of barrels is in caliber .577-500 no2 black powder express and 26 inches in length, fitted with a single rear sight. The additional pair of shotgun barrels are 32 inches in length, choked cylinder and cylinder.  With the shotgun barrels, the balance point is on the hinge pin. With the rifle barrels the balance point is several inches ahead of that. The rifle barrels are the heaviest I've seen for a black powder express rifle--almost heavy enough for a full nitro proof.

The weight with the shotgun barrels is a comfortable 7 3/4 pounds. With the rifle barrels the weight is very heavy for a black powder express at 11 pounds. The rifle barrels alone weight 7 1/4 pounds.

The action is 90% coverage in fine rose and scroll engraving of the period, two triggers, and two forends with a Deeley patented latch. The butt stock has a vacant oval escutcheon, sling eye, hard rubber butt plate, and a plaque inset in the left side of the stock which is now missing. The bores of both barrels are in near mint condition--showing very little use or immaculate cleaning after use. 

This rifle/shotgun combination is fitted in a two-tiered case with a complete set of cleaning and reloading implements for both the rifle and shotgun barrels. Included are a paper patch bullet mould of 300 grains and the hollow point pin, adjustable powder and shot measures, a trim tool for paper shot shells, striker key, chamber brush, turn screws, reloading dies for the rifle cartridges, and two cleaning rods, tips, jags, brushes, oil bottle, striker pot, a sling, and two leather sleeves for each set of barrels. The case is oak and leather with two Wells Fargo shipping labels intact and a brass plaque with "Dr. Shorb" engraved. A very complete and historical firearm.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Westley .470 double

A few years ago a gent contacted me for suggestions on buying a used vintage double rifle. We exchanged a few emails and he decided to buy a new one. After a three-year wait, here it is: A new Westley Richards box lock double in .470 nitro express. Have you ever seen a finer piece of wood? My friend would like to remain anonymous but his rifle just had to be shared with you. Thanks for the pics, Mr. X!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Update: 12-27-2015

Good day, all. Making good use of the shooting shed with the wood stove in it. Shooting every week and sometimes a mate from Anchorage or Palmer joins me. Some pics here for your enjoyment. Also, several doubles have been added to that page--works of art, all. Our double rifle shoot is May 7 and, while four months away, time goes by fast. I will have a table at the Palmer show with a few nice rifle on display, May 4-5th. Last of all, I'm looking into a trip to South Africa for plains game with the .350 Rigby if all is safe then (July).

Below is the shooting shed and a .450 no2 Lang and the Whistler 12-bore.
Cheers and thanks for looking.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

.405 double

Charles S. had his first double made for him in caliber .405 Winchester. Teddy Roosevelt's "lion medicine" in the model 1895 lever action was an ideal big game rifle in the early 1900s and the cartridge still is today with a 300-grain bullet at 2200 fps. Many of the Winchester cartridges, both black powder and smokeless, are well suited for double rifles and many have indeed been chambered in vintage English and Scottish double rifles: .405, .35, .348, .50-95, .50-110 as well as .44-40 and .30-30, and the .22 Savage Hi Power. Stunning wood on Charles' rifle.

Holland Royal

Peter C. emailed photos of his Holland and Holland Royal in caliber .375 x 2 1.2 inch. Peter writes: Built for Lord Durham in 1906 it was resold to Wing Commander Woicjiech Kolaczkowski in 1947 at which time the 2.5 x Zeiss 'Scope was fitted. It's one of my treasures.  Kolaczkowski was in the Polish 303 Squadron in the battle of Britain and emigrated to the States in 1948 apparently. In the mid 90's he married his cousin Martha and moved to Sarasota, FLA. He died there 19 July 2001 aged 93. 

12-bore Rigby

Peter C. sent in these pics of his Rigby 12-bore double. History means a lot to me (as a former history teacher) and Peter also appreciates doubles with history. His Rigby was made for the Maharaja of Bulrampore, Sir Digbejai Singh, officially titled: Bahadur. Badadur is a title that means "The Warrior" or  "The Brave". The K.C.S.I. is the Knighthood he was awarded for assisting the British during the Indian Mutiny. It stands for Knight Commander of the Star of India. Bahadur K.C.S.I,  1868.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Jonathan T's .600--almost done. A magnificent work of art!

There is no use putting words to these pictures. I can't pen the proper words to describe this .600 for Jonathan by Trevor Proctor. As said, a picture is worth 1000 words, so here are all the pics Jonathan sent me last week. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

More of the .577 Jeffery

Here are three more pics of Mike's .577 Jeffery. Enjoy. Mike has the rifle in the early stages of load development and it is good to report all is working well and accurate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 4th update

Good day all.
May 7 is the next double rifle shoot here in Alaska. Keep following the posts for further information. All are invited and we have visitors from the Lower 48 states and from overseas. Great fun, great shooting, great food, and most of all, great rifles!

Check out the two posts on the double rifles page--the engraving is done on the .600 and a stunning .577 Jeffery bpe is added for more eye candy.

Winter is almost here and el Nino is warming things up so shooting is still commencing but a bit slow due to full time work at the local school and some home projects. The 12-bore Whistler is shooting better than ever with new cases from Rocky Mountain Cartridge and with shotgun primers (209) I can use Blue Dot without hang fires. The .450 bpe Reilly is shooting well, also and it is nice to shoot a mild recoiling double. The .350 no2 Rigby has been returned from the gunsmith with a repaired front sight (damaged in the importation process) and the scope mount/rings adjusted. She will accompany me to South Africa for plains game in July. Yes, I may bite the bullet and go again (trip # 17 to Africa) but I must admit I dread the long flight and it's more of a nightmare than an adventure of the early hunts.

Thanks to all of you for you kind emails and book purchases. I still have a good inventory of books for those of you who have not seen or bought my titles on double rifles and the only double I have for sale now is the 8-bore Jeffery box lock.


.577 bpe Jeffery

Below has to be one of the finest .577 black powder express rifles on the planet! A heavy .577, made for 6 1/2 drams (about 180 grains) and a 560-grain bullet, this beauty will take anything that walks on this God's green earth. Amazing wood and engraving and in excellent condition. I saw this rifle and did not go after it as I had such a difficult time importing the .350 no2 Rigby. Mike Warren was the lucky buyer and he states his new rifle is a keeper. Congratulations, Mike.

.600 engraving--the end is near!

As you can see the engraving on the .600 by T. Proctor is completed and the rifle is in its final stages.
What an amazing work of art!