April Musing - Merkels, Double Triggers and Doubling

Apr 01, 2018
Good day all.

This is a piece I wrote several years ago about double rifles, in particular Merkels, double triggers and doubling. Some of you may find it of interest.


I was brought up with double trigger side by side shotguns and was taught to fire front (right barrel) first followed by the rear trigger. Right barrels normally had less choke than the left, if the tighter choke barrel was required first it was selected by simply using the rear trigger, doubling was unheard of. This was standard practice in the UK.

Moving on to double rifles for dangerous game it follows to use the same instinctive operation. Front trigger first. Instead of using the choice of trigger to select the choke, the choice of trigger could be used to select a solid or soft nose bullet if one of each was loaded in each barrel.

I’m not wishing to pick a fight but if you have to pull the rear trigger first to avoid doubling then you are doing something wrong. Maybe a single trigger double rifle is the rifle for you, although I personally feel that you are loosing some of the benefit of having a double when you opt for a single trigger.

I use a Merkel 140 double in 9.3 x 74R, I purchased her new, I have fired over  800 rds in the last two years, a mixture of reloads and factory and never had her double. This Merkel is a firm favorite of mine and she will be leaving with me for our fourth Safari on Saturday. My rifle was ordered with no set trigger and manual safety as I want to have her as a back up rifle for dangerous game (my first rifle been an old English .470 NE) and I wanted to keep the operation the same as my .470 and simple. There is no adjustable muzzle device on my Merkel. I instinctively always fire the front trigger first. I should also add that I am left handed, my guns are unaltered and I never have a problem.

All Merkel double rifles are designed to have the front trigger operated first, with the lighter caliber (up to and including 9.3 x 74R) the correct firing sequence is to fire the front trigger (Right barrel) first following by the rear trigger. For optimum accuracy the second barrel needs to be fired with in ten seconds, this is due to the heating of the barrel. This is the same sequence which is used when the rifles are regulated.

Set triggers are normally standard on the lighter calibers, these are very much a personal preference. Safeties are normally automatic and on a non dangerous game rifle this is fine, unless like me, you prefer to have your personal rifles standardized.

The larger caliber Merkel double rifles, .375 H&H and up are fitted with a flatter sear angle on the rear trigger, this is to allow for the inertia when the front trigger fires the right barrel and help avoid doubling. These rifles are also regulated with the front trigger firing the right barrel first followed by the rear trigger firing the left, so for optimum accuracy and reliability this is how they should be operated.

My personal view, which is a strong one, is that on a double rifle intended for dangerous game, the choice of which trigger is pulled first should have absolutely no bearing on weather the rifle is likely to double or not. I will only accept 100% reliable operation and with my option of barrel selection. Why anyone would accept anything less for the price is beyond me. Next week I will be carrying my old .470 with a solid in the right barrel and a soft nose in the left whilst I hunt Cape Buffalo, I do this with 100% confidence in my rifle and my ability with her.

Merkel will on request fit the front trigger with same flatter sear angle as the rear trigger, this will insure that operators like me who require the option of barrel selection and those of you who prefer to pull the rear trigger first will have no problems with doubling. In the future when we order Merkel rifles in the large calibers will always order them with these matching triggers. I am told they a little heavier, I don’t have the weights.

We have requested that this information is added to the operators manuals and we are told that it has been their intention to do this.

I hope this information is of assistance, for what’s worth I think that Merkel double rifles offer exceptional value for money, but any new piece of equipment should be given a good work out before you bet your life of it’s reliable performance.

Keep your powder dry,
Mr Wolverine

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