My Favorite Cartridges for Africa (Part 18)

by david on November 14, 2012

The last two cartridges I want to talk about are different than all of the other cartridges I have talked about.  They are for double rifles rather than bolt-action magazine rifles.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with double rifles, they are based on the same principle as a double-barrel shotgun.  There are two rifle barrels side by side, rather than two shotgun barrels.  I dearly want one of these and maybe someday (if I ever have more money than sense) I’ll own one.  There several advantages to a double rifle, which I’ll go over in a minute.  However, I want to go over the main negative point first. 

            The biggest problem with a double rifle is the cost, both to own and to shoot.  These rifles are expensive with a capitol E and the rest of the letters too.  The least expensive I have seen one is $6000, and they go to well over $100,000.  The reasons behind the expense are many, with one of the culprits being they are difficult and time-consuming to make.  The barrels must be regulated to hit at the same place from a prescribed distance.  If the barrels were simply at 90o from the action, the bullets would hit at different places down-range.  The barrels must be angled ever so slightly towards each other at the muzzle end so the bullets will hit at the same place.  This is quite often at 50 or 75 yards.  To do this, the barrels are soldered together, fired, and the points of impact then measured to see how close they are together.  The whole process is repeated time after time until the barrels align perfectly.  If you can imagine the per-hour labor rate for a master gun maker, you can see how this adds up quickly. 

            Another thing that makes them expensive is they are normally works of art as well as being a gun.  The wood is normally of the best quality and is chosen for its straight, tight grain.  This is needed to keep the stock from cracking after many rounds of severe recoil.  The guns are often engraved as well.  Hours of hand engraving will often add thousands of dollars to the cost.  The end result is a working rifle that will pass as a work of art, and it will last forever if properly taken care of.

One last little item that makes these rifles’ cost prohibitive is the retail cost of the ammunition and components.  The current price of the brass on my favorite reloading website is between $3 and $5 each, and loaded ammunition is between $6 and $18 per round.

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