Double Rifle fun

Those hardworking boys at American Rifle have been plinking African style with a double barreled rifles chambered in .470 Nitro Express.

Picture 6-32
A spectator shouts “Fix bayonets!” 🙂

A question to those who know more about these things than me: I noticed that the first rifle shown in the video featured ejectors while the other two rifles did not, Is there any reason not to have ejectors on a dangerous game rifle? In a real-life situation a fast reload could be the difference between taking home a trophy or being taken home in a coffin so I would have thought ejectors would be standard.

Hat Tip: Ed @ Tell Me Why?





Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Col. Cooper was fond of pointing out the lack of need for telescope sights on heavy rifles for dangerous game, but you see some of those rifles with scopes. I’m with you on the need for an ejector, but I bet some people would consider them too low for a gentleman to use.

  • Mu

    There is also the possibility that the ejectors are turned off as to not damage the $5 a pop brass when firing for fun.

  • Bill

    Given the distance at which most double rifle shots ar taken, there simply is not time to reload, ejectors or not. By the time you take both shots and break the gun open, the animal will be upon you. If you fail with both shots, you’d better pray your PH can take care of you.

  • georgeh

    When game was more abundant, hunters often didn’t wish to risk the ping of the ejectors if they were in the middle of say, a herd of Cape Buffalo or elephant. The higher frequency sound is much more directional than the boom of firing.

  • Matt Groom

    Ejectors were not invented until the 20th century, all doubles had extractors before that. That is why Ejectors are not allowed in Cowboy Action Shooting, because none of the pre-1899 long arms had them. Ejectors were basically invented for big game rifles.

    Truth be told, if you don’t stop a charging water buffalo with two rounds, you probably won’t have time for a third, and certainly not for a reload. This is why doubles were preferred over Bolt-Actions for example. No practical firearm on Earth is faster or more reliable than a double. Semi-auto technology has only recently progressed to the point of being strong enough and reliable enough to work with these high powered cartridges.

  • A little off topic but.

    The one thing I noticed in the video was that the lane was full of storage stuff. A lot of steel. Doesn’t exactly seem to be promoting safe practices.

    I would however opt of the extractors.

  • Tod

    Cartridges that don’t have rims just don’t work really well with ejectors. Yes, some companies have rimless ejectors that mostly work–but others would rather not bother.

    Also, some hunters want ejectors and some don’t–so some companies offer their rifles either way.

  • Tod

    Sorry–one extra note: the purpose the double is to have two rapid shots. Having to pick the brass out doesn’t change the fact that even with ejectors it is still “too long to reload” at the close ranges for which these are intended.

  • Noah

    I read in Cooper’s “To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth” that after a shot, animals that may have been relaxed are very alert, and the sound of the ejectors is distinctly unnatural and can give dangerous animals something to home in on. This was apparently more of a concern for market hunters who would march into a herd of elephants or buffalo than for the modern sport hunter.

  • I have been studying Africa safari history and have read a couple works on rifles for safari. Most white hunters with hundreds of animals to their credit insist that ejectors be de-activated. Being able to change loads or reload one barrel silently is a good thing.

    Others think the time save by ejectors in a tight spot is better. Like all subjects to do with firearms there are many on both sides of the discussion. I believe it has to do with the professional hunter versus the once in a life time safari client that is backed up typically by a bigger gun in more experienced hands.

  • Steve,

    As has been pointed out here, ejectors have a ping sound that could spook game exspecially when early hunter style down-the-herd tactics were employed. But there is a reason why some people did not prefer ejectors and chose extractors well after ejectors became available – balance. The British had turned double gun handling into a fine art based on their early experience with double shotguns and they used much the same knowledge to build their double rifles. There are subtle differences in balance though it is, of course, possible to learn to shoot virtually any double – ejector or extractor. In any case, most of the traditional double rifle rounds are low pressure rounds and all you have to do is raise the barrels and the empty cases will fall out.

    In any case, as far as resale is concerned these days, double rifles with ejectors are always sold at a premium over those with extractors. Does say something about desirability at present. Just an aside – there are some major double rifle and big bore contests every year – Ernie Stalman of Badger Barrels in Wisconsin organises the Big Game Rifle Club of North America along with his lovely wife eErri (herself an experienced hunter of buffalo with a double rifle) at Lodi and you also have the Vintagers match near Washington DC and in California. Both organisations share an interest in sport shooting with double rifles with the grand-daddy of this sport – the Big Game Rifle Club of Australia, of which the Nitro Express FOrums are the official forum.

    It is good to see the NRA becoming interested in double rifles – American gunmakers were late to warm to bolt action rifles but this country now builds the best bolt action sporters in the world. And now that Americans have developed an interest in double rifles and we have gunmakers like Butch Searcy, Reto Buehler and now newcomer to double rifles but a very skilled guy nonetheless, Bailey Bradshaw, I do think that this country will soon offer the world’s best double rifles bar none.

  • Matt Groom

    I wish someone would build a low priced double, say $700, in a common and handy caliber, like .30-30 or .30-06. And I don’t mean two barrels strapped together with screwed on bands like those ugly Russian deals, but two barrels as one forged unit. You cannot convince me that it would be cheaper to build yet another bolt action than has to compete with dozens of nearly identical competitors than it would be to make an All-American Double.

  • Noah

    An All-American Double would truly be a wonderous thing, but every article that I read about doubles includes the process of “regulating” the double, where a wedge is moved between the barrels to control the distance at which the barrels meet. This process is always described as being very labor intensive and requiring the touch of a master. If this process could be controlled through some form of automation, that would be a massive step in the right direction.

  • M. Werner

    When I was a kid in the sixties, the outdoor magazines were full of “white hunter” safari tales and such.
    As I recall, the British in particular felt that the double rifle should be as simple and reliable as possible. Two entirely separate lock mechanisms made, in effect, two separate rifles.
    Even ejectors, with another level of mechanical complexity, were frowned on.
    Rapid reloads could be accomplished much the way double scattergun shooters used to do it; by holding two fresh cartridges between the fingers of the left hand.
    With a smooth movement, one could break the rifle, sweep the empties out with the left hand, and by simply reversing the motion slap two fresh ones in.
    Or so they said…I can’t claim to having ever seen it done!

  • ah, that makes sense. Thanks gentlemen for the explanation.

  • hunterforlife

    Teke175…the “storage stuff” you were referring to are chronographs…they need that stuff in the range to do all the testing they do for their mags

  • Spiff

    The beauty of a double rifle is you LEARN not to miss!
    Spiff