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Allan Quatermain's Express Double-Barrelled Rifle
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I've just been reading the Isandlwana chapter of 'Finished' by Rider Haggard, where Quatermain describes arming himself with his Express Double-Barrelled Rifle, which I found more details about on the internet.

http://www.purdey.com/expressdouble.php

I'm glad to have an actual name of a firearm of this type mentioned in use at Isandlwana, even if only in a novel. Very Happy

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Having recently mentioned the above firearm again in another topic, I thought I'd also add the following, which is as near to the Bowie knife Jason Patric used in the modern version of 'The Alamo' as I could find.

http://www.hibbenknives.com/alamo_bowie.htm

Isn't it fantastic ? Very Happy

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If this weapon was included in a screenplay about Isandlwana, which was owned by a (new) character, would it be acceptable, without being too out-of-place ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:M1887_LH.JPG

I know it was produced 8 years later than the battle, but it could fit in.

I visualise it with pistol-grip, rather than full-stock. If you move the photograph across, so that the right side almost meets the lever-action, you'll get an idea of what it would look like.

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This is another firearm I'd like to introduce -

http://www.civilwar.si.edu/weapons_spencer.html#

I've decided that actual Winchester rifles and the legendary Colt revolver, would be too 'Old West'.

The other firearms that I'm trying to find on the internet are a Royal Irish Constabulary revolver 1867 (a sort of nod to Gen. Custer) , and perhaps a Sharps 1874 rifle.

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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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The double barrel rifle was a common piece for big game hunters, it gave you a second chance if a bull elephant was charging you!. Calibres reflecting on the expected target, Rhino, Elephant, Hippo.

Famous gun makers like Holland and Holland made them, commonly in big calibres such as .45 or in 45/90. Externally they were double hammer, similar to an old shotgun design.

I had the chance to fire one at the range, being used to martinis and Sniders this was a fearsome beast, a Holland 50 calibre, the owner insisted that I brace as the first round would give you a nosebleed, the second detaches your retina!, wow. I didn't fancy the second shot.

The resultant eruption in the sand was testimony to its power, baring in mind the Martini used 85 grains of powder, the double rifle was 120!.

Only one thing came to mind... Blimey!

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Neil
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Neil

Makes me wonder what sort of effect it would have on a human, knowing what damage a Martini Henry bullet can inflict. Shocked

I would imagine it would kill the person outright, along with several others directly behind him.

The firer, I guess, would have a few wounds also, not by the enemy, but from his rifle itself.

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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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If anything the bullet for the double rifle would be harder allow than a military rifle, with a military round you are looking for sheer hammer effect, so the lead alloy was soft approx 90% lead 10% tin, the idea is to splat open maximising its stopping power.

With a big game rifle the bullet allow needs to get through tough hide, hence a harder lead alloy. The effects against a human target would be to go clean through and maybe into the next two behind it.

The velocity of a MH is 1360 fps officially, but given fouling and atmospherics more like 1250 fps. A Big game rifle I would expect to be in the 1700-2200 pfs, so you have a hard bullet going 50% faster.

What is interesting is the fact that the MH sporter derivative of the Military rifle bacame immensely popular with hunters across Africa and Asia, long after the rifle was obsolete in Military service. Gunmakers such as Westley Richards, Turner, Greener and a host of others produced them well into the 20th century, indeed the ammunition was still being made for Kynoch by ICI in the 60's. Except Orange paper patched for A Nitro load.

"I love the smell of blackpowder in the mornig!"

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Interesting.

I don't know too much about Rider Haggard himself, only really some of his books. However, he must have known his firearms.

His character Allan Quatermain appears to be a firearms expert, his choice of personal weapons reflecting this.

I was looking for more details about Quatermain's collection and those characters who may have accompanied him on his 'adventures', and found a site (Lead Adventure Forum ?) where a small list has been compiled.

Quatermain, being a big game hunter, has opted for what seems to be a powerful arsenal, of the highest degree, although I've not searched the internet for any images other than the above Express double-barrelled rifle.

I wonder if Haggard was himself a hunter of sorts, or mixed with such company, that he was familiar with, and could identify certain firearm makes/makers ?

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Haggard knew his way around South Africa in our period alright - 'twas he who raised the Union Flag over Church Square in Pretoria on behalf of Sir Theophilus Shepstone at the time of the 1877 annexation of the Transvaal. I would be surprised if he hadn't at some point met you know who...! There is quite a good TV documentary on him somewhere in the world but I'm afraid I can't remember its name. A quick internet search should pull up his biographical details fairly readily.

As ever

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Thanks Mike

What surprised me, is that I've read that Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling were good friends. I didn't know that. An oversight on my part.

I'm amazed how many things that I am researching at the moment, are linked to each other in some way.

There is a book about them both on Amazon. It appears to be a kind of 'comparative history'.

Fascinating.

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Allan Quatermain's Express Double-Barrelled Rifle
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