Merkel traditional double hunting rifle – not just for safaris

The double rifle is a classic design, the pride and joy of any manufacturer’s product range – and this Merkel really is a beauty.

“The only way really to make a double rifle is the traditional way, with craftsmen – and in the Merkel factory in Suhl they still retain the craftsmen and the engravers to make the wonderful, traditional double hunting rifle,” enthuses Andy Norris, of UK distributors Viking Arms.

Andy Norris from distributors Viking Arms displays his own Merkel double in 8x57 calibre

There’s certainly something about the design of a double rifle, with its classic lines similar to a best London side-by-side shotgun. “Most hunters like the idea and the romance of a double rifle, even if they’re never going to hunt wild boar or go on a big African safari,” Andy continues.

He’s shooting one in 8×57, but the gun is available in a range of calibres all the way up to .470 Nitro Express. “Those bigger guns start at a price of around £10,000,” Andy says. “It’s a lot of money for most people, I know, but if you went to an English gunmaker you’d be looking at £150,000. It puts it into perspective. This is a hand made gun at a reasonable price.”

And what a gun! “It’s a beautiful bit of kit, well balanced, mounts and moves nicely. Plus if something fearsome is coming towards you then you’ve got the backup of that double trigger. You’re not relying on an inertia system. It’s 100% reliable.”

With handling similar to a traditional side-by-side shotgun, this rifle has double triggers for extreme reliability

This one is Andy’s personal rifle, and he loves using it. “There’s the pride of ownership, and I do get more enjoyment out of hunting with a rifle like this. You’re not just shooting animals, you are hunting. You have to get within a realistic range to make a humane shot on a deer, so it’s getting back to basics and relying on fieldcraft and the Mark 1 eyeball. I like to use it in the rut, calling in a couple of deer to put in the freezer.”

With a gun like this, it's real hunting, relying on fieldcraft and the 'Mark 1 eyeball'

“I’ve got some of these rifles coming into stock,” says Andy. “Alternatively you can have the hunting rifle you desire made for you, to your spec, with your choice of engraving, stock dimensions and everything. It’ll be a year’s wait, but you’re investing in heritage and quality from the hand made department of the factory.”

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