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Double Rifle buying guide

We get an increasing number of calls from prospective buyers of double rifles. And when you search online it’s no wonder that people are a little confused or daunted by the options available to them. So, in an attempt to dispel a few myths and assist the potential buyers, here is an eyes-open guide to buying a double rifle, whether in the traditional side by side or the less traditional over and under format.

Do you actually want or need one?

This might sound a ridiculous question; however we do get some clients who want a double rifle because they have always wanted one and then again other clients who just think they need one. So which one are you?

Why I ask is that if you are looking for a double rifle because you want to tick either African plains, big game or driven boar off your bucket list as a one-off, then you are definitely in the think you need one camp. If you really do need one, a good agent/outfitter should be able to provide you with a loan gun as part of the service. If you would like the peace of mind of owning your own firearm then think out the box slightly. For example, do you even need a double rifle? If you are a stalker in the UK and wish to try African plains or driven boar then think about upgrading your UK bolt rifle in such a way that it lends itself more, such as purchasing a straight pull in .308 or 30-06 which is perfect for driven boar, smaller plains game and is perfectly at home stalking in the UK and offers the option to barrel swap very easily as you can purchase larger calibres if so required.
Now if you just want one because you’ve always wanted one, then that is absolutely fine. It’s you that will have to convince your wife that you need one. If you say to us ‘I just want one, I always have’ then we will understand, (because I, with my two kids and muddy dog have always wanted an E-Type Jag…). From this point on, we’ll assume you either need or want a double rifle and you are comfortable dealing with your divorce.

What format?

The UK buyers of double rifles tend to be more traditional, AND there’s nothing wrong with that! So  if you are looking to move it on in the future we’d always recommend side by side. Double rifles with either scopes or open sights. They don’t have huge characteristic differences like shotguns, so you don’t have to over-think that decision for starters.

What mechanism?

Now we could confuse the hell out of you here but we won’t.

Option 1, the traditional Anson & Deeley boxlock mechanism favoured by Merkel.

Option 2, a variety of continental type open gate/blitz style actions such as Chapuis.

Option 3, a variety of sidelock actions from makers such as Grulla or Merkel.

Regardless of which mechanism, we would always recommend double triggers especially on big game doubles. Why? Single trigger mechanisms in side by sides are inherently complex so add to that powerful loads and dusty hot environments, you would be a lunatic to go single trigger. A very robust, tried and tested double trigger mechanism will give you piece of mind. Go single trigger if you want, but when you face down a charging Buffalo and it won’t go bang and you are wearing horns and a tail, it won’t look pretty.

Budget?
First of all, let’s get the notion that you can buy a good double rifle for about £4,000 out of your head. Yes you can purchase one at auction and if you are using it for plains game or driven boar it might be worth the risk. But, ask yourself why it is in auction in the first place? Yes it might be perfectly fine, bucket list gun no longer required. Or, it could be a complete pig that has been barrelled by someone after an afternoon in the pub, or hide other horrors!

Worth noting – We do offer a buying service that will give you some piece of mind but even we won’t guarantee it can be zeroed if we don’t get the opportunity to test fire it. You don’t get that opportunity at auction – beware. If when that severely pissed-off and angry Buffalo is charging at you and your recently purchased bargain double rifle either doesn’t fire, or the second shot shoots so high that all you can do is give an Impala a nasty poke in the eye half a mile away, you won’t get the chance to kick yourself for being a tight-arse.

What Calibre?

First things first, if you are one of these chaps who have swallowed a ballistics textbook and have convinced yourself that some obscure calibre offers the flatest trajectory blah blah, STOP! When you get your daft double where you’ll be using it, either you or your agent/outfitter will spend hours trying to find someone equally daft who stocks it. We’re a firm believer in the KISS method, Keep It Simple Stupid.

If you are shooting plains game or wild boar go with either .308 or 30-06 which you can get in most destinations and they work very well. If you want to be different and pack a bigger punch, go 9.3 x 74r. Yes you can also use .375 H&H on both plains game and some big game too but not recommended on Wild Boar.

If you are specifically looking for a big game double then for peace of mind we’d always go for either .416 Rigby, .470 Nitro Express or .500 Nitro Express.

Also don’t be a complete limp wristed pansy when test firing a big game rifle by complaining about the recoil please! Yes we have had one client who wanted to shoot Buffalo and then couldn’t handle the recoil on a .416 Rigby Merkel, we have no idea what he was expecting! It has got to stop a huge beastie for pity sake, grow a pair!

If you are contemplating getting two barrel sets on one rifle action, then order the second set at the same time, as retrofitting them after the event is a pain and again akin to skinning a fart (false economy) if you even think you are going to do it eventually anyway.

What Budget and what Rifle?

I think by now you will have surmised that we don’t think it is worth scrimping if you either want or need a double rifle, come on really what is the point? You’ll spend a reasonable amount on your trip and then put it in jeopardy for the sake of a few thousand pounds.

We choose to retail Chapuis, Grulla and Merkel as we believe they offer excellent quality and a plethora of customisation options that should satisfy all your needs and wants. If you want something really bespoke then we’ll make you one ourselves, see our new 470 nitro express rifles in the making by visiting our blog, Perfect Gun. Furthermore having the rifle made for you adds to the whole experience, and we can ensure eye relief is taken into account at the point of purchase.

A double rifle from Chapuis will cost from £5000 and go up to c£22,000 depending on the wood grade, engraving and other options you choose. The Chapuis actions, trigger mechanisms and barrel technology are robust. Also, with a Chapuis you can add some very nice personalisation touches for very little money. Semi-custom engraving and choosing your own wood for example.

Merkel is a different proposition altogether and is more favoured by those buyers who like no-nonsense, high quality German efficiency. They start from c £8,000 and go up to £35,000 depending on wood grade, engraving and the various other options you might choose. We are particularly a fan of the octagonal barrel format mated with a case colour hardened action for no other reason than it looks simply superb.

Grulla is really for those who like very traditional English style sidelock rifles. They work on the classic Holland & Holland 5 or 7 pin action and are 100% completely bespoke. Prices range from c£12,500 to £25,000 and these guns are both beautiful and reliable. Like Jane Seymour!

Our own doubles tend to be only for big game and are built to order, taking two years to complete. We are speculatively making five .470 nitro express rifles currently, please visit our blog (Perfect Gun) or contact us for more details.

In summary – would you really want to buy a second-hand, only once-used bullet-proof vest? Nope, we thought not. Have a new one and live to tell the story!

 

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