A Unique Pre-WWI Custom Combination Gun

This unique custom sporting rifle (and shotgun) is a very cool example of the true gunsmith’s art. This firearm began as a Mauser model 98 action, which was embellished and fitted with a fancy barrel (chambered for 8mm) and express sights. The gunsmith, Georg Knaak, of Berlin then added a 16ga shotgun barrel below the rifle barrel, on a pivoting mount that allows it to open to the right for loading and ejection. A second trigger and associated hammer mechanism allow the two barrels to be fired independently. The proof marks on the rifle section indicate that it was produced just prior to World War One.

21 Comments

  1. Talk about a vintage game getter. Just what could be the intended prey? And how many shots were fired to get the sights zeroed on the new barrel?

    • If I were of a romantic turn of mind, I’d say this was less a “sport” hunting arm than one intended for “foraging”. That is, a gun intended for an explorer or etc. who might anticipate being out in the boonies for long periods of time, probably traveling considerable distances either by plane or (more likely pre-WW1) on foot.

      As such, weight would be a prime consideration, as would availability of ammunition. Back then, 7.9 x 57 and 16-gauge shotgun could be found anywhere German colonists or colonial troops were, which would explain the caliber choices.

      As to where it was likely to be used, the best bet would be German East Africa.

      Note that the British proofs indicate that it went through a British proof house, therefore the likely original owner was English. The optical sight setup (note the buggered-up screw head slots) suggests that owner or a later owner decided that the express sights were insufficient. (On a 7.9 x 57, I’m inclined to agree.)

      The state of the rifle indicates care but hard use. I don’t think this one stayed in the gun case except for an annual running deer or grouse shoot. My guess is it saw the elephant- literally.

      Once more, I find myself wishing a gun could talk of its travels.

      (Cue the Indiana Jones theme….)

      😉

      cheers

      eon

    • Cherndog if you look at hunting in Europe a large segment of it is driven game and since it can be a mix of small game, big game and game birds running/flying past the option of being able take all game running past is very appealing. I reckon this was probably about that context. There’s certainly a special kind of frustration with being equipped with the wrong gun for the game encountered.

      • Note Brian’s comments in the following threads. Combination guns are much heavier than regular hunting pieces and do require training for handling and aiming the different loads. Thankfully the shotgun function on this long gun requires a manual cocking before the trigger is pulled. Otherwise you get “OMG I just shot Johann in the knee!” And while European game is often driven, African game varies from relatively harmless birds to dangerous large animals (including lions, rhinos, and elephants-OH MY).

        Did I mess up?

    • “This’d be a great concept to see resurrected.”
      For modern repeating rifle, somewhat linked with this (2 barrels, but both are repeating, NOT repeating+nonautomatic) see:
      http://fuchsfineguns.com/index.php/fine-guns/
      I am not sure why they decided to make double-barrel bolt-action repeating (with BOTH barrels for same caliber) rather than self-loading rifle. Someone can explain?

      • These might be some causes;

        If the bottom barrel fired first, by the fact that its barrel axis being in line with shouldering contact, following second shot can be made very fast and accuraly since little or no barrel rise would occur.

        By means of great leverage, bolt action loads and ejects the cartridges in an up most dependability. No other action type can match its reliability in this field.

        Especially in big and dangerous games, dependability, speed and accurate shots are most seeked features like as contained in the sample in the link you pointed out. IMHO.

        • Comment is released for “Blue Boy” model only. Side by side rifled doubles give muzzle rise and swing to the direction where which barrel fired and usually lateral adjustment except the zeroed one point, is nearly impossible by the cause of the hardness of crossing shooting lines of their barrels through regulations. They do not deliver two precise and quick shots as fast as their over under counterparts.

      • Obvious reason No.1 is legal – semis are restricted, bolt actions are not.

        Obvious reason No.2 is that there are already plenty of semis on the market, but hardly any double-barrel repeaters.

      • The Szecsei & Fuchs double-barrel (side-by-side) bolt action rifle;

        http://www.range365.com/double-barrel-bolt-action-rifle

        Was specifically designed as a dangerous-game rifle. The idea being that it can deliver two shots almost instantaneously, one right after the other,like a conventional double rifle, then be reloaded as fast as a conventional bolt gun, except having two more rounds ready after one bolt cycle. It normally has a three-shot magazine for each barrel, so with a round already chambered on each side it has eight rounds on tap without having to reload the magazine(s).

        The genesis was simple. Mr.Szecsei was in Africa on a safari and while knocking down one elephant he was charged by two more. Fast and deft handling of his double rifle solved the problem, but he concluded that when working close-in to a herd of Jumbos, a double rifle was slightly deficient in firepower, just as a bolt gun was rather deficient in speed for a follow-up shot. His solution was to combine the two.

        I’m sure a semiautomatic version would be possible, but I suspect it would probably have to work on the Gast interlocked breech system; the gas or recoil of one barrel reloads the other and vice versa. This means that a dud primer stonewalls the whole production, whereas with a bolt action system simply pulling the trigger for the second barrel gets the job done.

        A pump-action might be more feasible, But I believe the bolt action was chosen for the Szecsei & Fuchs on grounds of reliability, durability, and also giving the best primary extraction due to bolt head rotation of any of the common action types. Anyone who’s ever had a jammed case under the extractor of a double rifle while facing an irritated rhino or hippo will understand the reasoning.

        cheers

        eon

        • “I’m sure a semiautomatic version would be possible, but I suspect it would probably have to work on the Gast interlocked breech system;”
          Misunderstanding. I was thinking about single-barrel self-loading system instead of double-barrel repeating.

  2. This would be a particularly overweight 16ga. shotgun. My suggestion for folks interested in hunting big game, wing shooting, and small game hunting: Buy yourself a nice bolt action big game rifle, a well fitted shotgun, and a nice .22 rifle. You’ll be a lot happier than if you got yourself a combination gun that’s bad at everything. These things are a novelty item, and a miserable pain to regulate to a common point of impact.

    • You have good points, but a proper gentleman hunter foraging through the wilderness may NOT wish to manhandle 3 long guns at the same time (add the ammo and survival gear and you’re hauling at least 100 pounds of stuff on your back)! To say nothing of dealing with the fact that dangerous game never gives you a convenient 20 second period to safely switch between loaded weapons (if you blasted at a flock of birds but attracted a lioness barely 100 feet away, your shotgun is useless except at point blank), hence bolt-action double rifles or break-action drillings. Did I mess up?

      • A “proper gentleman hunter” will, of course, have gun bearers. ^__^

        And, most folks bird hunting in dangerous game country will have an experienced companion along with a big bore bolt action ready to go. The idea that you can keep an eye out for a stalking lion while you’re busy shooting birds is a bit of a laugh.

        Drillings are fun to look at and show off to your friends, but miserable out in the field.

    • “overweight”
      After some thinking I see analogy between this weapon and rifle+under-barrel grenade launcher – smaller barrel with magazine over single-shot, for example GP-25: http://modernfirearms.net/grenade/rus/gp-25-and-gp-30-e.html
      What is shortest usable length of barrel for 16 gauge shotgun?
      If short enough maybe it might be made similar to grenade launcher (for example H&K AG 36) and with usage of light-alloy be light enough?

      • “What is shortest usable length of barrel for 16 gauge shotgun?”

        It depends, do you want to hit the birds? ^__^

        I prefer a 6.5 to 7 lb. gun with 28 inch barrels if I’m hunting upland game birds, all my 16 gauge shotguns are side-by-side doubles. Although I find it easier to actually hit things with 30 inch barrels, when I’m walking the fields 28 is a good compromise. But, what works for me may not work for you, and everyone I know shoots better with a longer gun.

        Also, shotgun fit and rifle fit are two very different things. When you’re trying to bring down a flying bird the gun needs to fit you so you can swing it. When you get a shotgun that fits you properly, things get a lot easier. I like my rifles to “point” and my shotguns to “swing.” ^__^

  3. If it is in fact pre-WWI, it is a very early “Monte Carlo” stocked rifle. Also, the holes at the bottom of the patchbox are more likely from the point of the drill bit used to bore out the mortise.

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