Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Understandable Error, Matt!

I don't know about a banana (see Matt's comments below) but most Americans would see a double rifle from England, with its barrels arranged side by side, as a shotgun. We have not quite NEVER built a double rifle here but I would be surprised if we had built over 100 in the last century. Everything from our hunting habits (long, open country shots) to the expense of "regulating" doubles, which like everything about them is done by hand, works against this. (The English and European demographic for hunters, restricted to expensive private land for the most part, skews much higher than ours; no US mag, however pretentious, could call, as a review in The Field recently did, an 18,000 pound gun "modestly priced". And The Field isn't even pretentious-- just comfortably what it is.

Here is a "typical" VERY Best London side by side shotgun, perhaps my favorite, a Boss in 20 bore. As it could go for over $100,000 used I will never own one unless like one lucky writer I know I am given one as a present by an older man who is retiring it.
Another shotgun, a Churchill, rather stouter...

The next two are rifles but without seeing the iron sights how would you tell? The first is a classic Rigby with its distinctive "dipped" lock plates, in .470 Nitro (rather like the small shotgun but BIG rifle bore of .410, and just one actual caliber lower than Bond's .500); the second, also by Rigby but made in California I think-- very long story-- is what is known in my circles as the Lion Porn gun, proving that money does not convey taste though it may buy craftsmanship...

Incidentally Ian Fleming's brother Peter, who wrote books that are among the 25 I would take to the proverbial desert island, especially News From Tartary (you should also read his travel companion Ella Maillart's Forbidden Journey; when have two such writers written two such delightfully different books about the same trip?)* shot a pair of Purdeys, rather like the Boss above, and a ".275 Rigby" bolt rifle like my friend Jonathan below. We are entering the realm of "affordable with effort" here, but I doubt I will ever own a double rifle that costs more than my house, truck,and last trip to Asia combined.

*Links still slow but both available on Amazon and other places.


Matt Mullenix said...

Steve, you are a saint.

Anonymous said...

I don't have it in front of me, but there was a passage in the book "Hunting the West" that described 19th Century American hunters' disdain of the British Doubles of the era. Poor choice for the West.

I'm still hopelessly attracted to them...

Jim Cornelius

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

From these pics, you can recognize them by the extra beef, beef around the breeches, at the head of the stock, and through the grip. The extra girth counters recoil, protecting gun and shooter alike. That said, there are dead give-aways in both photos, the first has a massive pistol grip, again, for dealing with monumental recoil. The second, well, only a best double rifle would get defaced with 24 karat lion porn.

There's no indication of scale in these photos, but the bigger double rifles are often on larger than normal frames, 10 and even 8 bore. They tend to have barrels in the 24" neighborhood, and typically truck axle thick. Last but not least, they have express sights, though there is an extremely cool Merkel, 9.3X74R, that has square post and notch pistol sights sitting at Ron's right now. I'd snap it up in an instant if I could cover the tab. What a thing to chase elk and oryx with!

James in Albuquerque

Jonathan Hanson said...

The, er, "Fuckin' Lion gun," as our friend Bruce referred to it, was actually a late Paul Roberts/London Rigby, before the ball-cap-wearing redneck in California got hold of the Rigby name and really ruined things with shoddily built pretenders.

Happily, Rigby guns are once again being made in England under new ownership. Perhaps there is hope.