I’ve been shooting for around 36 years, but I had never a seen a break-open three-barreled rifle and shotgun combo. So when Chris Dumm and I stopped by the Merkel booth at SHOT Show, I thought I had stumbled upon something, um… “new.” Calling Chris over, I said: “Check this out.” He comes over and says: “Oh, cool, a drilling.” “A what?!”, I responded with a confused look on my face. Chris says “It’s a drilling: a three barreled rifle shotgun combination.” Surprised that Chris would know anything about high-end European rifles, I asked: “How did you know that?” He responded “There was an article on TTAG a while back, for one thing. They have been making these things for over one hundred years in Europe.” Hmmm. Ok, I’m feeling kinda stupid at this point . . .
Merkel manufactures four different type of drilling rifles. The basic 96K model is a double barreled shotty (12 or 20 gauge) with a rifle barrel attached below (.223 Rem., 243. Win., 7x57R, 7x65R, .308 Win., .30R Blaser, .30-06, 8x57IRS, 9,3x74R.
The second model, the Doppelbock Drilling 961L, features two rifle barrels in the same caliber, and a shotty below. It comes standard with a with a driven hunt trigger. The front trigger serves as a single trigger for the two upper rifle barrels. This enables a rapid second shot without the need to change grip. The rear trigger is reserved for the lower shotgun barrel.
The third model, the Bergstutzen drilling, features two rifle barrels of different caliber and one shotgun barrel. One of the barrels will be a large caliber (.30-06, .30R Blaser, 8x57IRS, 9,3x74R) and the other is a small caliber (5,6 x 52R, .222 Rem).
Finally, the fourth model, the Rifle Drilling/Shotgun Drilling, features three barrels of the same type.
Here are two photos (below) of the business end of a Merkel Drilling. Of these two, the double rifle variants are going to more difficult to manufacture, since it requires the craftsman to get two rifle barrels to shoot to the exact same point of impact. The Merkel 961L Doppelbock Drilling is a double rifle chambered in 9.3 x 74R wth a 20 gauge slung along the bottom:
The Merkel 96K Drilling features side-by-side 12 gauge shotgun barrels, with a .30-06 thrown in for good measure:
Here’s the side profile of the Doppelbock 961Lmodel:
The following photo shows the breech of the Merkel 96K 12 gauge / .30-06 combo, showing case colors and engraving. “Simple arabesque” engraving is standard on these guns:
This image highlights the breech of the Doppelbock 961L 9.3 x 74R/20 gauge combo, with more elaborate engraving. Merkel has 12 engravers and master engravers on staff, most of which come from the academy in Suhl.
Barrel marking are found on the right side of the Drilling:
This particular sample featured the option SSM (Suhl pivot mount) system, which is a return-to-zero scope mount which has proven effective on breech action rifles: