DOUBLE RIFLE AND SHOTGUN
The double express rifle has never been in much demand in this country, but any American who has occasion to shoot in India or Africa will find it wise to include one or more of these weapons in his armory. Men who hunt game of the nature of elephants, rhinos, lions, and tigers, have long pinned their faith to the double rifle, and we have no grounds for disputing their good judgment. Perhaps in course of time some form of magazine rifle will replace the double express, but up to the present date no other weapon has been found quite so deadly and reliable upon a charging beast at close quarters. More emphatically is this true where the English manner of stalking is followed, with the sportsman carrying one rifle and his shikari the second. If any rifle ever supersedes the double it seems now that it must be an automatic.
The highly finished English double rifle has long been considered the finest example of the art of gun building. Beyond question it requires more gunsmith's skill to put together two rifled tubes and insure that they will shoot to the same center at all distances from short range to the maximum than to construct any other style of gun. Not every double rifle will do this either, and the sportsman who finds himself in need of one of these arms should purchase only from the very best maker, and even then should carefully target and test his weapon.
The trouble with the double rifle is that both barrels may not shoot on exactly the same elevation, or they may shoot apart, or cross their missiles. Indeed it is quite impossible to make double rifles quite as accurate at all ranges as a single barrel, but for practical purposes, at sporting ranges, they are just as effective.
There is no disputing the claim that a double hammerless, self-ejecting rifle of high grade is a splendid weapon. It is quicker with its two shots than any repeating rifle with the exception of the automatic; there is no such thing as balking or jamming it for the two shots it contains, whatever the excitement, and the arm is chambered for the most powerful sporting cartridges in use. Rifles of this description, when constructed of moderate weights to use medium cartridges, should have much the feel and balance of a shotgun which especially fits them for the sort of instinctive snap work that must sometimes stop a charging beast.
Double rifles can be obtained suitable for shooting any species of game from rooks and rabbits to elephants, in weights from five pounds to twenty. If it were worth while to purchase one of these weapons for American shooting, the .333 as made by Jeffery, using a 250 grain bullet driven with a velocity of 2,600 feet should certainly prove a killer. This cartridge is more powerful than anything we have and might appeal to the man who is looking for striking force and deadliness.
For service in India and Africa the double rifle can be obtained in various bores and cartridges. Some of the best liked are the .375, .400, .404, .450, .475, .500, .577, and .600 cordite. The latter is charged with one hundred grains of powder and a nine hundred grain bullet and is warranted to kill anything before it—perhaps behind as well.
No less an authority than W. W. Greener maintains that the recoil of these great rifles is unbearable, and that they never should have been built in such calibers. Probably the best double rifles for African game would be the .333, .400, .450, and .475. They appear to be quite powerful enough for elephants, have velocities and trajectories equal to the ordinary military small bores, and the recoil is to be preferred to the swing of an elephant's trunk.
In purchasing a double rifle economy should not be considered. A first rate rifle can hardly be secured under three hundred dollars and five hundred might well be expended for one. These rifles are made after the same design as the ordinary double shotgun by some builders, hammerless, ejector locks, top lever, and single trigger, where desired. The most favored mechanism for the more powerful cartridges, however, is the under lever, in which the lever which withdraws the lug bolts lies under the guard. It is stated that the under lever has ten times the withdrawing force at the top and that it entirely obviates jams from the tremendous pressure which sometimes occurs and disables the gun temporarily where the top lever is in use. The one excuse for the great double express rifle is its danger and it would not do to add to this by a mechanism that might possibly render the weapon useless in a time of peril.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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