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Friday, August 8, 2014

Krieghoff Classic Double Rifle 9.3 X 74R: American Gun Review

It took a year and three months to arrive from the time I placed my order, and was worth the wait. My first double rifle.
Beauty and Function, Much Like Me
The rifle came in its own fitted case, green exterior, blue velvet lined, not much larger than an attaché.  Quality. Quality. Quality. This seems to be the byword with Krieghoff.

I decided on the 9.3 X 74R caliber after a fair amount of consideration and after consulting with Dieter Krieghoff, whom I met at the NRA annual meeting a few years back when he was manning the Krieghoff booth in the Exhibit Hall.   Even before talking with Mr. Krieghoff, I had decided against the big bore calibers such as the 470 Nitro Express.  It's not that I don't admire them, but beyond sheer fun and joy of ownership, I didn't see any immediate application to the sort of North American Hunting that I have done. Moreover, I plan no African trip.  The only way that I might ever shoot an elephant would be if it insisted on messing with my garden. Or if I saw it in my pajamas one morning. And I have never ever even seen a rhino except at political events.

I love to hunt elk. In Montana. Whenever I can. With a good rifle. 

My initial considerations included the .375 H&H for my double rifle caliber. Mr. Krieghoff recommended the 9.3 X 74 R in part because a rimmed cartridge is a better choice in double rifles. This has to do with simplicity and ease of extraction. A rimless cartridge complicates the extraction mechanism. He was very proud of his company's rifles, especially the sliding safety cocker which cocks and decocks the action, and renders the rifle completely safe, and yet functions, on the outside,  essentially like a very positive version of the standard tang safety with a bit of added gusto and meat.  

The fact that I had some experience with the 9.3 X 62 caliber helped guide my choice. I respect the caliber and the cartridge, which is ballistically the identical twin of the 9.3 X 74R, a 286 grain bullet at about 2300-2400 feet per second. Other weights are available, but the 286 grain seems to be the standard. I killed the biggest Whitetail of my life, a sneaking ten point, with the 9.3 X 62, while he was in the act of taking a step, his last, as he continued on down to earth. He barely trembled.  Of course I did not shoot him in the ass.  Some fine bullets are available in 9.3 caliber, including the Nosler partition, which I have used successfully on elk, but only in my .340 Weatherby, specifically the 210 grain loading. A 286 grain partition in 9.3 caliber would certainly connect in a meaningful way indeed on an elk or moose.


Initial Shooting freehand at 50 yards

Krieghoff equipped the rifle with express sights at my request: two folding leaves ahead of a stable rear sight, pyramidally shaped in cross section, the famous express sight shallow "V" recommended by Elmer Keith and other double rifle aficionados. A simple white vertical inlay below the bottom of the "V" aids the eye in aligning the sights. A subtle but impressive feature, a luminous bead flips up to abut and augment the front gold bead sight, at the options of the shooter, in low light conditions. Clever, simple and well rendered, all. I think this is called a "Moon Sight" but only picked up this term second- hand while talking with Dave at Jaqua's Fine Guns in Findlay, Ohio, who had been talking directly with the Krieghoff USA folks in Pennsylvania, who apparently not only do the final sighting but even add the sights to the rifle after it comes in from the Fatherland.


I had never shot a double rifle until mine arrived. Up until this point it had been a fantasy rifle and now I had to learn how to effectively use it. Now was the time to transition from consumer to hunter. The rifle came with a test target at 50 meters, showing four shots in a very respectable group of perhaps 1.5 inches, although the Krieghoff people measure all these things in germanic centimeters. I was a bit worried because the factory test target had been fired with the 232 grain Norma Vulcan bullet, which is not what I wished to use for hunting, and which I do not regard as particularly suitable for elk hunting, especially in the timber.  I agree with Keith. Long heavy bullet is best on large game. How would the double do with 286s?  I had read much online and elsewhere that discussed the need and difficulty of "regulating" barrels for a particular load such that both barrels shot to the same point of aim at the intended distance of use.  The Classic does have a feature, a sort of adjustable wedge between the twin muzzles that allows for after-the-factory regulation, but I have no desire to trifle with it, being, despite my fair amount of research, a neophyte regarding double rides in any practical sense. Maybe someday. But I would prefer not to need this feature.

I decided not to shoot off the bench.  This to me is a freehand rifle for use in the field.  It might likely be fired in a kneeling or seated position, off my knees, but certainly not a bench.  Plus I wanted to learn how to shoot the rifle and call shots.  I tried 3 loads: the 232 grain Norma Oyrx, the 286 Norma Oryx and the 286 Hornady Interlock.  All are billed as a premium hunting bullets.        

50 Yards Freehand Ist 8 Rounds

The manual recommends firing the right barrel first followed in 5-10 seconds by the left barrel.  That is how it seems to be done at the factory. Because the barrels heat up, too much firing in an episode changes the point of impact in both barrels, which are of course interdependent.  These rifles are designed to shoot once, maybe twice, a few times, with utter reliability, quickly if need be, and to handle well, not for an afternoon of sustained fire.  

I did not even attempt to dry fire the rifle first.  First were the Norma 232s.  The right barrel struck immediately above where I was holding at 12 o'clock. Recoil was not inconsiderable, but not horrifying either, but still I pulled the second shot down to the right. The triggers, both, were great, surprisingly so. The 286 Norma I place a bit low, as marked on the target.  The 286 Hornadys went into the ten ring and immediately above at about 11 o'clock  Their recoil was noticeably less.  As this was the load for which I asked for the gun to be sighted in, this was gratifying.  I tried then two very quick shots with the 232, both respectable, but too fast considering my newbie condition.       

That was it for the day.  I was learning. I was pleased that the 286 Hornadys did well.  I called the left barrel Hornady 286 that went a bit left, but still in the black, and was getting used to the trigger, which was smooth and would suddenly break the shot.  Also I learned that one should not engage in what some call "stock crawling," i.e., moving the head forward on the cheek piece.  It shot best for me and most comfortably when I held my head erect like shooting a shotgun. Plus this minimized or eliminated recoil effects on my cheekbone.

A note.  The slide-cocker safety device works well and naturally.  

The next day, I fired 6 more shots from a cold barrel.  Utilizing what I learned the first day, the 286 Hornadys did very well.  And I tried the moon sight with the 232 Normas and found to my surprise that I fired the first of the two rounds into the X ring and the second into the 9 at 3 o'click, two quick but unhurried shots. The moon sight may be the way to go for me, but I won't really know until I extend my ranges out to 100, 150 and even 200 yards.  I will next obtain a box or two of Nosler factory custom loaded Partitions in 286 grain. This would be my personal perfect bullet if it handles well in the double.

I have little doubt that I can handload either the Partition or the Hornady bullet more or less to perfection.  Unfortunately, non factory ammunition is Verboten, says the Krieghoff manual, at the risk of loosing the one-year warranty.  I understand why.  Perfectly.  In fact, to tell the truth, I would prefer factory loads if they do what I want for hunting purposes.  But I would like also to replicate this optimal load for practice so that I can shoot enough to become thoroughly comfortable with the rifle.  It feels good already, but I want the confidence of knowing exactly how to make it work my will at the ranges that the cartridge will accommodate, maybe 200 yards or a bit more depending, of course, on the shooter's abilities. This is not a 400 yard rifle in any case. And it is also a pricy rifle to shoot.  Perhaps it's like the old admonition that was applied to luxury boats: if you have to ask how much fuel it burns, then you can't afford it. Too late now for me.  I Bought the boat.  But at least 9.3 X 74 ammunition is very modestly priced in comparison to the  bog bore double cartridges such as the 470s, which may go for six or eight dollars or more per round.

Second target, six rounds, freehand, called pull on right

Before the rifle arrived I had already obtained new Redding 9.3 X 74R reloading dies, a fair quantity of unfired Hornady brass and bullets, as well as a good supply of Nosler partitions. I use the same bullets in my FN Mauser 9.3 X 62 anyway. A phenomenon that I have observed with different loads in high power rifles is how recoil and muzzle blast changes with powder without necessarily any change in velocity/impact.  This is a complicated business, some use terms like "impulse" to describe it, but if I can get the same velocity with a softer effect, I will. This might be the only free lunch around. I know the laws of physics say there just ain't no free lunch to be had, nohow. But I know, too, that many gun writers use terms like "perceived recoil" to get themselves out of this logical paradox.  I will do the same.  For example, the Hornady 286 is noticeably softer in perceived recoil (subjectively experienced) than the Norma 286 Oryx, even though published muzzle velocities are virtually identical. My handloading would take this into account in choice of powders.  Usually it is the slower burning choices, the lower pressures, less bark, that lead to this perceptual result.  In any case I will not begin this search until after the warranty expires.      

Some shooters employ claw mounts for scoping their doubles.  I will not because I think the beauty of a double is in its compact appearance and elegance, kind of like Audrey Hepburn. The rifle has the appropriate base for this type of mount should I ever wish to deviate from the high road.
Incidentally, I have called this column, if that is what it is, an "American Gun Review." But the Krieghoff is German, you may say.  Well, I am an American, and now, so is my Kriegkoff: it is becoming naturalized. 


I have continued my freehand shooting, extending my range out to 70 and 100 yards with good results. The heavy slugs thunk in a very satisfying way on the one inch thick steel disc at 100 yards.  I have noticed three things:  (1) If I focus on the front sight and control the trigger, the gun strikes where I aim. (2) It doesn't seem to be as fussy as I had expected regarding different bullet weights and configurations, e.g., the 232s v the 286s, or the flatter pointed Oryx v the more pointed Hornady design, and (3) My best shooting is done with my head held up, naturally, and not "crawling" the stock. I am gaining confidence and knowledge of the rifle.  I likes it!   Need a sling for field carry.

I have more ammunition on the way, Nosler 286s and am trying to find some Sellior and Bellot, too, to continue my lessons/experiments.  Prvi Partisan has announced 9.3X74R ammunition in their line, but I haven't yet found any. I would like to try this too, as I have had very good results with their 9.3 X 62 fodder.  Ranges will increase as well. One step at a time.   Elk watch out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Brian Anse Patrick Video Newsfeed on Zombology

A new 20-minute video newsfeed features an interview by Ohio Supermodel Brooke Wagner of author and professor Brian Anse Patrick on the meaning of the zombie phenomenon and its connection with widespread fears of Western decline.  See:

The book is available on Amazon.