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Sometimes, while walking through the bush — or a convention — it pays to look up. While perusing some of the finer double rifles, or side-by-side rifles from the more higher end of the spectrum it seemed like I was walking in circles . . .

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First Purdy, then Krieghoff, then Heym, then Rizzini, then Merkel, then Rigby…. I want to learn the differences between the different manufacturers of double guns. I thought I had decided on an inexpensive Sabatti in .470 NE. But everywhere you go, there are simply magnificent specimens of the classic African double rifle.

European calibers such as 9.3 X 64, older nitro calibers like the venerable .470. Newer (since the 2000’s) calibers like the .458 Express. Engraved models, fancy wood, plain old models. And this caught my eye:

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A Damascus steel Purdy. I get to work with some pretty fancy Damascus where I work, but this was stunning. Then I remembered I’m looking for a shooter, not a show piece. A $100,000.00 show piece? No thanks.

Counter guy, in some kind of euro accent: “Ahh, one of our finer pieces, there is a buffalo hide case with it along with…wah, wah, wah, wah, wahhhhh.  I think my brain just shut him off. All I was hearing was Charlie Brown’s teacher.

So I made my way down the next aisle, glancing at art work, bronzes, animal hide furniture and such. Trying to find my way back to the gunmakers village. As I was a bit distracted, I almost didn’t notice this fellow sitting behind stacks of books for sale. Ooo, shiny object!

Books! Books on hunting. Safaris…one of my weaknesses. I like books. A lot. I choose my title, and the gent offers to autograph it for me and I unashamedly ask for a photo.

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The gent without the lip warmer is Mr. Craig Boddington, former Marine Colonel, hunter, conservationist, speaker, author and TV host. Needless to say, I watch his show. (Somewhat embarrassed here as my gig line was off in front of an Officer).
We chatted a bit and I then was off again to look for a decent, somewhat affordable double rifle.

I remembered a few back at the Blaser booth and consult the 4,000-page directory. Yup, other end of the 99-acre building.
Found it!

Now, I know the price here is going to be a turn off for some of our Armed Intellengentsia members, but I look at it as a buy once, cry once price. Certain guns just don’t really depreciate in value. Some even appreciate quite considerably.
I recently sold my McMillan .50 BMG for more than I paid for it after seven years and several hundred rounds. My thought, after careful consideration, is that double rifles bought at a good pric will likely appreciate in value. As long as one doesn’t ding the heck out of it.

Enter the Blaser S2 Safari Luxus.

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I’ll call this a mid grade (personal opinion). It has decent wood, terrific metal finish, and I really liked the gold bead front sight. It reminds me of a S&W combat masterpiece.

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What really intrigued me was the barrel lockup. The booth dude said it can’t come loose or be shot loose. They call it their “tilting block locking mechanism”.

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This is an ejector model and that’s what I’m looking for. If I am in need of a reload, I want those dead pieces of brass out. And fast.

It seemed solid. And speaking of solid, the quarter rib for mounting a scope was pretty beefy. Personally, I find a scope on a double rifle abhorrent. The price for this beauty? A bit over $12,000 for the .500 Nitro Express caliber model shown.

Hmmm, where was the Sabatti booth again?

42 Responses to Hunting the Safari Club Floor for a Double Rifle

  1. Thinking about it, $12,000 is about one-third of the price of a Toyota Prius or a “Smart” car. And this gun will provide you with far more enjoyment for many more years than one of those prissy little “green” cars, plus be worth more than you paid for it in 25 years – when the cars will be hard-to-recycle scrap.

    And bottom line for anyone who tries to tell you that you shouldn’t pay that much for a GUN!: It’s your money and none of their effin’ business.

    • That’s a great point, IdahoPete! Might have to do something silly in the not-too-distant future involving an expensive rifle and a bank loan.

    • Getting slightly off topic here, to get the environmental effect of driving a Prius, you would have to drive it for over 300,000 miles. The metals used in the batteries and other electronic components are called “rare earth metals” for a reason. Most of the mines are in the Congo, Russia, or western China. And China has spent the last 20 years securing the supply, while the western world was fiddling with Xbox and PlayStation. A Prius arrives at the showroom with 120,000+ miles of carbon debt built into the car after the cost of mining, transporting, and processing the metals, and then there are the fabrication costs. But to maintain efficiency the battery pack has to be replaced every few years at several thousand dollars each. The Prius is a false-economy car. Save the environment and buy a used car.

      Getting back on track, the cost of double rifles is because you are paying expert artisans to hand craft and fit two rifles on to one receiver, and regulating both barrels so they impact together at a given distance can take weeks or months of testing and shimming until they are right. If someone wants such a piece of art to hunt with there are those willing to provide them, at a price. But most buyers in this market are not too concerned about the price for the exclusivity.

      • Thank you SCross. I’ve been preaching this for years. It really chaps my ass when I see some sort of “Green” sticker on a Prius or similar hybrid. They’ve done nothing green and only accomplished the opposite. Effing self-righteous morons.

      • “The metals used in the batteries and other electronic components are called “rare earth metals” for a reason.”

        According to Wiki:

        “Despite their name, rare earth elements (with the exception of the radioactive promethium) are relatively plentiful in Earth’s crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper).”

        Extracting them from land ore is very ‘dirty’, why the Chinese have been the ones to do it.

        In 2011, the Japanese discovered vast quantities of the ‘rare earths’ on the Pacific seafloor near geothermal vents. Being mud, extraction can be done with a weak acid, unlike the toxic nasties used in land refining.

        China won’t have a headlock on rare earths for long.

        And that is a Martha Stewart “Good Thing’.

      • Yeah, it’s funny how many of the “green car” owners are in a state of denial about the mining of the materials of their “green” car, and the sources of the electricity to charge the batteries.

    • Normally, I’m of the economic type and will be one if the first to deride an overly-expensive firearm. However, if there’s a good reason for the cost (regulating the barrels, as has been said), it’s acceptable. I’d love a nice double rifle.

      • Looking at that pic, I imagined that was close to what that woman saw when Travis the chimp literally ripped her face off.

        Talk about a ‘Should have been a DGU’…

  2. You mentioned scopes on a double rifle. I’ve never used a double rifle, only a sxs smoothbore. Can you put peep sights on a double rifle?

    • Most double rifles either have a low-powered scope, or they have “express” sights, or they have a very simple sight on a rib.

      These rifles aren’t used for long-range work. They’re made for “holy crap, that’s huge and close!” encounters with dangerous game.

  3. I saw a guy on a hunting show rocking an over under 45-70gvt on a safari and have since been obsessed. It will be a while but one day I plan to have one.

  4. I’ve always wanted a double rifle. .375H&H or .458.
    Or only of those old school combo guns. Double barrel shotgun with a rifle barrel underneath….

  5. That’s s fine rifle. I think I’d dig 45-70 or 375h&h not that bigger isn’t better just seems like id have a few more options for game.

  6. FWIW, don’t use a lead sled with a double while working up loads. The barrels will never regulate.

    Learned that the hard way. Suck it up and use your shoulder.

    • Or malaria, dysentery, typhoid, yellow fever, amoebas, G.I. Bacteria infection, coupers da route, tomba flys, and Loa loa (yeah Google that one and good luck sleeping tonight).

      People think Africa is all safaris and Hakuna Matata. Lol. Most westerners have never been to the real Africa and wouldn’t last 5 minutes if they did. South Africa is what we cal “Africa lite”.

      So go ahead and buy your 25k drilling in .672 1/2 Smithshire and have at it.

      • I lived in Zaire for three years as a kid in the early 80’s. Spent a vacation in Kenya on the floor of our hotel room when they had their coup attempt.

        Had malaria a few times…

        It’s an… interesting…. place.

  7. If I was into that sort of hunting, and paying for the plane tickets, guides, tags, etc. then I don’t think $12k would be out of line – and it is a very nice looking gun. More reasonable than $6k for a dinky little 1911.

  8. I want a double rifle in the worst way. But…. I have no intention of going on safari in the next 30+ years so it would be a fun toy for the range and would thus need to be in a semi affordable caliber. I’ve looked at the baikal’s in 30-06 for about $1200 new but… even then I think I’d spring for a Blaser in 308 or 30-06, I’ve seen listing starting at $6000.

    What is a guy to do who wants a semi cheap double rifle?

    Dyspeptic Gunsmith if you are still here, what would you approximate the cost of converting a sxs shotgun to a double rile?

    • I can’t answer that directly. I can tell you from having seen one done that there is a LOT of work involved. So the price will depend on your gunsmith’s per-hour rate, coupled with how many times he’s done this type of conversion.

      I’d say that the lower end of a price job for this type of conversion would be $2000 – and that doesn’t include the price of the SxS shotgun action. That’s the cost of the barrels, making a monoblock, fitting the monoblock and getting it on-face, etc. Then buying two barrels (budget $500+ for two barrel blanks, which your smith will have to turn to contour). You’ll need a few hundred $ for the top & bottom ribs, and quarter-rib if you want one.

      There have been several such conversions done. I think that you need to understand that you can’t put the really heavy cartridges into all such conversions. I think that the first thing you need to do is determine what cartridge you’d like to launch out of such a rifle. Be modest in your desires here.

      Then you will need to determine what SxS action you can start from. The strongest actions will be something that has a third point of lockup. SxS shotguns typically have two points of lockup – the bite on the lump, and the hinge pin. For heavier cartridges, you need to get an action with a third point of lockup, such as the Greener crossbolt action.

      A good book to obtain to educate yourself in the complexities of this job is:

      Building Double Rifles on Shotgun Actions, by W. Ennis Brown. You can order it through Brownells, maybe MidwayUSA.

      • You sir, or madame, are the man! Lots of great info and exactly what I was looking for.

        I figured I’d be more or less limited to lower pressure cartridges and you gave me exactly what I wanted to see, a ball park price.

        I’ll be checking out that book for sure.

        Thanks again!

  9. OMG! I lost it all on this line,

    Somewhat embarrassed here as my gig line was off in front of an Officer.

    That brought back 1000 memories. Thank you Dan.

  10. Heym makes very nice O/U double rifles.The prices for the none Safari calibers are very reasonable and the rifles shoot great (I have one) They are VERY ammo specific though. I live in Germany and picked mine up at the factory. Drillings can be picked up used for very good prices (under 1000 Euro for older Suhl manufactured drillings) I just picked up a nice 7x65R 16/70 Suhl drilling for a song.

    The Blasers will hold value but not sure how big the market in America is for used Double Rifles.

  11. “A Damascus steel Purdy. I get to work with some pretty fancy Damascus where I work, but this was stunning.”

    Just curious, Tom, what type of work is your day gig, nowadays?

    Knife making?

  12. Considering what Holland & Holland are asking for used double guns, that Blaser is smoking bargain at $12k brand new. Then again H&H also charge $25k for used bolt action rifles that are functionally no different than a $2500 CZ550, albeit fancier.

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