(.416 member)
18/10/05 07:08 PM
Re: Building a double rifle

The problem with building heavy-calibre double rifles on shotgun actions using the existing monobloc is that it is near impossible to get the weight-distribution right. Shotgun barrels taper steeply from the breech-face, so they make it hard to keep the weight high around the area of the hinge-pin, 'between the hands' as it were.

Its fine to say that such a big-calibre rifle should be 'heavy' and leave it at that, but that extra couple of pounds we're talking about simply must be added between the hands, NOT in the barrels out towards the muzzles. To build a 12.5 lb rifle on a shotgun action without making a new monobloc essentially means that the barrels will have to be made very heavy along their entire length, including the muzzles. Such rifles can't help but be un-handy to hunt with, as well as being tiring to carry. I know: my .577, although short, has these tendencies. A lively, quick-handling double simply has to have the weight back between the hands, and isn't that the essence of shooting a SxS double after all?

Perhaps this sketch will help illustrate my point:

I have often thought of trying to get hold of depleted uranium rod to insert into the head of the butstock, or at least a steel-tube filled with mercury. This would add weight back of the hinge-pin, but just forward of the trigger-hand. Still in the 'too-hard' basket at the moment however. Simply adding weight under the recoil-pad to 'balance' a heavy-barrelled rifle does more harm than good IMHO, as it increases the moment of inertia even more and makes the rifle even less lively to shoot in the hunting field.

Once you have hunted with a well-proportioned double, you will find it difficult to use heavy-barreled rifles again. My Jeffery .400 has really spoiled me in this regard. Here's a pic of GG's old .400 double, a Webley boxlock, which illustrates well the proper proportions for correct 'moment of inertia', or good handling qualities.

This is what we should be striving for when we make the effort to build rifles out of shotguns, or indeed from scratch, rather than simply making a shooting machine that has two barrels.

I hope the readership will take my comments in good faith, they are not intended to criticize anyone's stirling efforts, but hopefully will add something of value to the think-tank. As I said at the beginning, it is near-on impossible to achieve this magic weight-distribution, but imho THAT, NE450No2, is the TRUE Holy Grail of double rifle craftsmanship!

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