In the mid-1800s, at the height of the British Empire, explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton returned from Africa with amazing stories and a new word: safari, the Swahili word for long journey.

Then the rush was on, as young gentleman explorers and hunters headed to Africa and India in search of game and adventure, and with them, they brought perhaps one of the best firearms ever made, the magnificent English Double Rifle.

In a time before repeating rifles, two shots made a lot more sense than one, especially facing dangerous game. Even today, the double rifle can fire two shots faster than any other type of sporting rifle. The great African hunting doubles are known for their barely controllable hugely powerful cartridges. The black powder 4 bore, with its one inch diameter bore, recoils so viciously that famous African hunter Frederick Selous claimed it affected his shooting for the rest of his life.

The legendary double gun makers include Wesley Richards, who set up shop in 1812, Harris John Holland, James Purdey and Thomas Boss. Today you can still buy a magnificent double rifle from the companies founded by these four men. The great double rifles are truly the stuff of dreams, perhaps the firearms equivalent of Japan’s magnificent swords. To hold one, is to touch history.

For more information on Gun Stories w/Joe Mantegna, visit www.outdoorchannel.com.

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