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June 18, 2008

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Make Mine a Double

In my semi-long and dismal life I've owned just about every gun that anyone with taste could possibly want--except a double rifle. There is no earthly reason for anyone to own a double rifle, just as there is no earthly reason to own a ZO6 Corvette, but if you gave me either I would not turn it away.

I came very close to owning a double rifle in the early 1980s. Safari Outfitters, which was then in Ridgefield, CT, got hold of a Westley- Richards Droplock, with barrels in .300 H&H, .375 H&H, and .458. It had a American-style stock FOR A LEFT-HANDER, and had been made in the 1960s for a majarajah who had never used it. The rifle cost $30,000 and I seriously considered taking out a second mortgage to buy it, but I didn't.

Not only have I never owned one, but I've never hunted with a PH who used a double, or owned one. Mostly, they cost too much, and they are useful only on dangerous game. There is a myth that double rifles handle like shotguns, but that is a crock. A side-by-side shotgun weighs maybe 7 pounds while a double rifle in a serious caliber weighs anywhere from 12 to 15, and most of that is in the barrels. You tell me how something like that is going to handle like a shotgun.

But a double will give you two very quick shots, and because it's more compact than a bolt gun, it can be very quick to maneuver in thick brush where much of the fun takes place.

If you're in the market for a double, here's some advice: Don't get one in .375 H&H or smaller. A true double is .45 and bigger. Probably the most popular cartridge is the .470 Nitro Express, and if you can take the recoil, the .500 Nitro Express is even better. Get a boxlock rather than a sidelock; the latter cost a fortune if they're any good.

Right now, I think the two best using doubles on the market are the ones built by Butch Searcy and Blaser. Searcy's rifles start at $15,000, and the Blasers begin at around $10,000. Both are first-rate working guns. The Blaser in particular has the best iron sights for a dangerous game rifle that I've ever seen, and you can carry it loaded but completely safe, which may prevent you blowing someone's head off besides that of the buffalo.


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Jim in Mo.

Do they even make such a thing or were you wishin'.

Dennis L. Crabtrey II

I'm currently shopping "Drillings" in 12x12x9.3x74R, 12x12x30-06, and 20x20x308 win. They're neat, but a little pricey at $2-8K depending on condition/maker.


Unfortunately I have to admit to have one friend who owns a Z06. 200 mph in high gear, 0-60 just under 4 seconds, and 20 miles to the gallon IF you keep you foot out of it. Most impressive automobile and the price is not bad compared to it competitors. Better performance than the old '67 427 Tri-power big blocks including handling, maybe superior to L-88's and ZL-1's. As if this is not enough he shipped the Corvette to a shop in Minneapolis last Friday to have a chip, better injectors, headers, and a cold air intake installed. I guess some folks are never satisfied.
As some of you may remember another friend just received his custom Heym .470 NE double rifle which we recently used to shoot prairie dogs. Recoil is nothing like you would think but ammo is SUPER expensive. I just bought a set of dies and figure even reloads will run about $12.00 each which is considerably better than $25.00 each round for new stuff. We will reduce this cost somewhat by another friend casting some hard 500 grainers for it. We have fired his bullets in our .45-70's at more velocity than the .470 without any noticed problem and excellent accuracy. Of course this will be for "play" as only Sledgehammers and Bearclaws will go to Mozambique and Tanzania this coming Monday with the Heym and the good doctor. One other advantage to this design is that you instanteously have access to two guns as each barrel and trigger is a somewhat a separate in event of a misfire at a most inconvienant and unentertaining moment. However one must be attuned to the use of double triggers, something at which most of us no longer excel.


Interesting thing about big-bore double rifles: If you have a persistent need for one, you can probably afford it.

It would be silly for most of us to take out a second mortgage to buy a gun we would only use on a single trip, our once-in-a-lifetime Africa adventure. It makes far more sense to borrow or rent one if you'll only be in Africa once or twice.

And if you can afford to hunt in Africa whenever it suits your fancy, then ten or twenty grand for a rifle is probably chump change to you.

For me, I'd rather split that $10,000 up into $2,000 a piece for the five rifles I'll actually use all the time. And $2,000 can definitely buy a plenty good gun, whether you want an heirloom, a user or both.

Dave in St Pete

The Remington Doubles never really existed. They wre made (probably still are) by Baikal but were never imported.

NAA (I think) started the process then Remmy took it over but it never happened that I know of.

Dave in St Pete

Sorry EAA not NAA




Re: Recoil and 'doubling' a double.

Col. Whelen is quoted as saying most any shooter can handle a recoil of 15 ft-lbs or less. In rifles that basicly means a .308Win or less.

Now 'doubling' doesn't git ya twice the kick but four(4) ... yes four times the KICK. Them ol troublesome laws of physics again!

So, firing a 12 ga 3" MAG can loosen your fillings at 60 ft-lbs ... but doubling could put you on Medicaid!

Peter H.

the rifles kind of cool lookin ..but nothin fancy

Peter H.

the 06 double that is......
they even advertised it in their last catalog. but its not on their website...soo ...i guess they never did make it.




I believe I've seen the Remington Doubles for sale by CDNN.


Being on disability anything over $1000 isn't ever going to be an option for me, got to feed the family and pay for the house.
(at least that's what the wife tells me)


Any comments on O/U double rifles?
I would love to have one in 7x57 rimmed or 9.3x74. For the time being though, I will have to settle for a Ruger no. 1 in 9.3x74. Why? Hell, it is the ultimate turkey/prairie dog rifle. Actually, I intend to use it on hogs.

Henry in MT

Why not a double barrel bolt gun?


Jim in Mo.

Cool video, I'd like to get more info on that gun.


Any idea what that Westley/Richards rifle would be worth today? Perhaps 4 to 5 times what you would have paid for it. It might have been worth the mortgage/divorce/etc. At one time I had the opportunity to buy a high grade Win. 21 with 2 sets of barrels. I also seriously considered a bank loan and pay it off much like a new truck. Wish I had. It would put my son through a few semesters of college today.
O/U double rifles are extremely popular with European hunters. How about an article on these guns today?

Boolit Butt

Silly me, but how can a double rifle be in three calibers?

Del in KS


Probably comes with 3 sets of barrels

Peter H.

I just found out what shotgun i really want....a 3" 12 ga. Benelli.M2

Peter H.

a little pricey but after you bought it what other shotgun would a person really need. I like that one cause of the way it fits....either the other ones are to fat ..or heavy...or just don't come up right....the only other shotgun that felt good was the

remington 870 Wingmaster...not the cheap versions but the Wingmaster.

Peter H.

I did not compare doubles to tell the truth..i was just comparing repeaters.

Dave Petzal

To all: The reason I don't own a double is because where buffalo are concerned, I would rather have more than two shots at a time--14 or 15 would be nice. Also, if a rifle that valuable gets lost in the airlines, you are out a bunch of money.

The Westley Richards I wrote about would probably be worth at least three times what it was when I considered buying it. Who knew?

Dave Petzal

Also, I forgot: Some time in the 1970s I had a Westley Richards .577 NE double on me. As I recall, the gun weighed about 15 pounds, so the recoil wasn't that painful; I simply walked backward and couldn't stop. For several weeks thereafter I had visitations from the Legendary Chicken Fairy, but those went away.

Ralph the Rifleman

Dave...you are one funny man!

Boolit Butt

Del in KS; So would it be three doubles, a sixple, or a triple duece?

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