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The following is an excerpt from the October/November 2009 issue of Machinist's Workshop

A Quick Double

By Fred Prestridge


I have wanted a double rifle for a long time. They have always been way out of my league in price, though. For those of you who are not familiar with them, there is a reason they are expensive. The process of getting both barrels to shoot to the same point of impact is a time-consuming chore called regulation. The traditional way of building double rifles has used a lot of hand labor. Because the price has always been high, double rifles have traditionally sold to people with real money, so many double rifles have a lot of expensive engraving and precious metal inlays. Today, you could easily spend the price of a luxury automobile on one.

In the past, there have been ways devised to skip the regulating. None of them have really worked well. The first one that comes to mind is the idea of using lasers to get both barrels exactly aligned. This has been done, but it didn’t work very well. Because of various factors, among them vibration, a barrel does not necessarily throw a bullet in the exact direction it is pointing. There is at least one company that has made a muzzle-loading double percussion rifle with a different solution to the problem. They have put a rear sight on with two independent folding leaves. Each one is sighted in for one barrel. The idea is to always shoot first with the barrel that is used with the leaf you have up and if a second shot is needed, flip up the other leaf. This works, if you remember to do it.

The flipping leaf idea is a possible solution, but part of the idea behind a double rifle is to have a very fast second shot. Taking the time to flip a leaf slows this down. However, with a muzzle-loader, it is still fast compared to the time it would take to reload. Basically, if you want the quick second shot accurately placed with a breech loader, you will have to regulate.

“A Quick Double” appears in the upcoming October/November 2009 issue of Machinist's Workshop. If you are a subscriber, stay tuned! The issue will be in the mail soon!
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