Everyone should try a double-rifle

Pedersoli .45-70 double rifles. (Photo: Roscoe Stephenson)

The Pedersoli .45-70 double rifles. (Photo: Roscoe Stephenson)

Double-barrel rifles are a bit mysterious to most shooters because they tend to have a very specific purpose and cost a lot of money. But for those interested in trying one, the Pedersoli Kodiak Mark IV might be the ideal choice. The quality is there for a price that isn’t too outrageous.

“Double rifles” aren’t very common here in the US—at least not in the circles I travel in. That’s because they typically cost more than most people will ever pay for a car.

They cost so much partly because of prestige. These kinds of guns were favored by people who could afford the best and who typically wanted to have one for big- and dangerous-game hunting. Another reason is they’re typically made from high-end, top quality materials. But the main reason is the amount of work that goes in constructing a double rifle to work properly. It’s a process called “regulating” the gun.

“Regulating” means to get both barrels to hit a target with a certain degree of accuracy at a given distance and while using a particular load. If you think about it this is a pretty difficult task because you have to sight in one barrel first and then the other. And in tweaking the adjustment on one, you’re likely to cause the other to be knocked out of alignment. It takes a lot of skill and work to ensure the mechanics on the rifle works properly on top of shooting accurately.

If you’re like me, and haven’t had much experience with a double rifle, your first thought on seeing one is that you’re looking at a shotgun. It takes a moment to remind yourself that you are in fact looking at and handling a rifle.

My first experience with one, which wasn’t too long ago, was with a Pedersoli Kodiak Mark IV. It’s a replica of a double rifle that was originally produced about 1880. It’s just one of many that Pedersoli, an Italian company, manufactures.

It has exposed hammers, double triggers and a three-leaf rear sight, which gives you the option of shooting at a range of 100, 200 or 300 yards.

And the Pedersoli Kodiak Mark IV is a gorgeous gun. The bluing is quite good, uncommonly so in this day and age. It also has a simple steel receiver and hammers (not case-hardened) with standard engraving—attractive, inexpensive. The wood stock front and back was lovely walnut, well finished and mated to the other components.

The Kodiak Mark IV is regulated to shoot the .45-70 Government cartridge accurately at 100 yards. This is a 405-grain bullet that moves at about 1,400 fps and is considered adequately powerful for any game in North America at about 100 yards in distance.

My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, so my buddies and I opted to try the Kodiak first at 25 yards, then at 50, not expecting the shots to be regulated at those distances.

At 25 yards it was a little squirrely, but at 50 yards both barrels would hit within about four-inches of point of aim. That’s the level of accuracy expected at 100 yards and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it would actually perform if not better.

Shooting it was fun. The recoil was noticeable, but fairly mild. The gun has enough heft to suck up recoil, and the rubber butt-pad helps as well.

The gun handles very well and I opted to shoot it while standing after using the bench rest. It felt very much like my dad’s old side-by-side 12 gauge shotgun, both in feel and in recoil. I found it a very natural fit for me and accuracy was not affected by shooting from a standing position either.

I have just one small complaint. Just as I’ve experienced with other guns that have double triggers, the second shot, which uses the rear trigger, caused the front trigger to impact the front of my index finger solidly. I used to have this problem with my shotgun as well and got in the habit of either wearing light shooting gloves or just putting a band-aid on with the pad facing forward to absorb impact. Otherwise the triggers felt like they had been polished to perfection at the factory—they were crisp and smooth.

While it is still a pricey gun, the Pedersoli Kodiak Mark IV can be found for about $5,000 new and less than $2,000 used. Still too rich for my blood, but much less than what many other double rifles go for. Pedersoli has managed to offer a quality firearm for just a fraction of what you’d spend for most double rifles.

All in all it is a wonderful gun. I’m very happy that I had a chance to give it a try. Let’s hope you do as well.