Thursday, 30 June 2011

Double Barrelled Air Rifle - Double Want One

Now there's something you don't see every day

Here's what I was able to google about it's history
"...The Imperial Double Express was the "cover girl" on "Airgun World" vol. 10 no. 9, April 1987. There was also a one-page article, two-page centerfold photo, and a full-page ad from The Airgun Centre in Rayleigh featuring the gun (price: 550 pounds).

The gun was designed and built by Mike Childs of Skan electronics, aided by Chris Price of Helston Airgunsmiths. [Skan make amazing pump action air rifles - have a look here]

The Double Express was designed to give two shots at about 10 fpe apiece, from only 10 pumps. It has the appearance of an over-under shotgun, but the lower tube is the pump tube of course, the shot tubes are side-by-side in the upper tube. It was intended to be available in .177, .22, or .25 per the customer's choice; two calibers in one gun was do-able. Each barrel was controlled by a separate trigger, and adjustable for zeroing at any desired distance. Power was adjustable as in all multi-pumps.

The breech design was very unusual, a single lever opening the pivoting breech for loading, and then a large brass button sizing both pellets on their way into the chamber. It had a safety.

The gun was reportedly well-balanced and weighed only 7 pounds without scope. No open sights were provided..."

Sale A1054 Lot 10


A RARE .22 MULTI-PUMP PNEUMATIC DOUBLE-BARRELLED AIR-RIFLE MODEL 'DOUBLE-EXPRESS', serial no. 13, circa 1986, with blued, shrouded 20 1/2in. barrels, blued receiver with hinged loading gate to rear engraved 'THE IMPERIAL AIR RIFLE CO. LTD, ENGLAND' on the left hand side and 'DOUBLE-EXPRESS' on the right, chequered walnut half-pistol grip butt with ventilated rubber recoil pad, chequered walnut forend/pump-handle, the whole appearing little used (two spots of mild corrosion on the left hand side of barrel and pump housing, valves require service) TOGETHER WITH an 'OPTIMA' 1.5-4X20 telescopic sight
Provenance: Always intended as a limited edition, only 25 of these unusual air-rifles were produced between 1986 and 1987
Estimate £2,500-3,000

Between writing this post and posting it the gun didn't sell so I got an email telling me it was in the un-sold lots an available for £2,500. Nice very nice, but not for me.

This one went for a grand as recently as last year

Back to posts about things that are vaguely affordable very soon
Your pal

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fallkniven F1: Used Abused Loved

Nothing good is unmarked by the passing of time. 
I've had my Fallkniven F1 for quite a while now, and its seen a fair bit of use, it's been back to the factory to be re-ground and its the suffered the slings and arrows of heavy use. If I'd put it in a drawer, still in its original packaging, it would be nominally worth double what I paid for it (I bought it in the US at a time when the dollar was lower against the pound and our tax rate was lower) but that would be to spectacularly miss the point of owning such a knife. Sure some knives are designed to be worn with fine boots once a year, some are designed to be kept in the pocket of a dinner jacket and then be admired for their workmanship and materials as they are used to trim the end of a fine cigar, but a knife such as this was designed to be used, abused, and then loved for its utility.

I sharpened the knife she gave me. The buffed factory edge, though shiny and new and perfect to see, was not keen when I took it up to use. Stoning the edge to a shaving sharpness left it uniformly and finely scratched where it had been as mirrored as the blade, and to a collector (those ill preservers) less valuable. Sharpening and using the knife is an act of being alive. Touch and pressure and wear are real and whole, and nothing good exists absent of them. Nothing good is unmarked by the passing of time.

From the excellent Rum and Donuts [if you aren't reading his blog yet, clear some time. It's that good]. In the comments section of this R&D post Some Guy mentions a passage about box-fresh knives from a William Gibson novel that's worth repeating

...Stood staring blankly into a glass-fronted cabinet, the shelf at eye level displaying military Dinky Toys and a Randall Model 15 "Airman," a stocky-looking combat knife with a saw-toothed spine and black Micarta grips. The Dinky Toys had been played with; dull gray base metal showed through chipped green paint. The Randall was mint, unused, unsharpened, its stainless steel blade exactly as it left the grinding belt. Fontaine wondered how many such had in fact never been used. Totemic objects, they lost considerable resale value if sharpened, and it was his impression that they circulated almost as a species of ritual currency, quite exclusively masculine. He had two currently in stock, the other a hilt-less little leaf-point dirk said to have been designed for the US Secret Service. Best dated by the name of the maker on their saddle-sewn sheaths, he estimated them both to be about thirty years old. Such things were devoid of much poetry for Fontaine, although he understood the market and how to value a piece. They spoke to him mainly, as did the window of any army surplus store, of male fear and powerlessness. William Gibson - The Bridge Trilogy

For our ill fated scouting trip to Italy the F1 was the only knife I took with me, I cooked with it, I split fire wood with it, and when trying my hand at digging for water - I have to admit - I hit it with a brick hammer to get through some tree roots. To fund my Kifaru habit I've been selling off my posh knives; the clever designs, and the interesting timbers, but this one's a keeper. My companion has some gnarly scars and a few titanium rods to remember the his trip by, I have the scars on the F1.

More soon

PS seriously though; if you must get a Randall it's gotta be a model 18, not boxfresh but real user, abused and loved in equal measure like Albert's.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Unboxing: Kifaru Zulu G2 Review

 It's finally here and out of the box, a Zulu in Foliage Green [what other colour am I going to get?] 52.4 litres capacity and tough as old boots. I haven't been this exited to unbox a pack since the last one arrived.

Kifaru divides the internet into two piles: The 'you can buy a perfectly good pack from Walmart' guys - these are the same chaps who'll tell you a dullard GF is as much fun as a smart one, all Scotch tastes the same, and that a Hand Made Suit is the same as one from the discout store, and in the other pile: those of us who know you've just got to suck it up, buy the best once, safe in the knowledge that you'll be remembering quality long after you've forgotten the price you paid while numb-nuts has had to buy and re-buy with what little money he has left after buying the chiropractor a Mercedes.

Size of a LateSeason, but from the Military/Tacticool range, I do like the weight saving of the hunting range, but for this size of pack I needed super robust, and no one does super-tuff like Patrick Smith and Kifaru Tactical. If you want to be able to fill your pack with tools and hoist it into a filthy crawl space in a loft, fill it with scrap copper tubing and chuck it into the back of a rubble filled truck, hose it down and take it on the plane to go gold prospecting - you'll see why I wanted something a little tougher than your average bear. 2kg is a fair old weight for a pack in the 50l class, but I'm not sure you could make one as tough weigh much less.
 The lid that comes with the Zulu does a fine job of compressing the load, but is a rare example of Kifaru not really delivering on the design front. Seeing as the lid has two layers of material I found it a bit disappointing that its not got a zipper giving you a pocket between them. I bought my Zulu almost new and the chap I bought it off was happy to sell it with the standard lid or the XTL.

I saved some cash by not going for the Xtreme Top Lid as a couple of guys on the Kifaru forum told me they use and prefer the LongHunter lid, which I already have.

 Another difference between the hunting and tactical pack is Kifaru equip the tactical packs with quick release buckle on the shoulder straps, they are surprisingly useful.

With the Kifaru Cargo Chair, small off-spring, dead deer, firewood, and big fuel drums carried with ease. I'd call them the most 'must have' of all the add-ons you can order.

Kifaru sell most of their packs with 'optional' hip belts, this is a bit like buying a car with 'optional' wheels; as the hip belt is so integral to Patrick Smith's vision for load carrying where 100% of the load is supported on your hips and the straps are just to stop the weight toppling backwards. An extra $50, I'll order mine this week.

More gear freakery/kit-tart-ism, books, food, and attempts to escape suburban life as they happen
Your pal

Saturday, 11 June 2011

I Am Sad, As In Pityful

A few weeks ago on a forum I frequent a fella sold off some Kifaru boot bags, yes a bag to keep your muddy boots in. He had three, I missed the colour I wanted but I bought one anyway. I kept my stalking boots in it. Just a bag to keep my muddy boots in.

Usually I only confess things like this to Chad and The Northern Monkey, but such is my shame I'm going to tell you all.

The guy who bought my first choice of colour put his up for sale, and sold it while I was off line, so I wrote to the buyer

He wrote back straight away "We are cut from the same cloth!" and we swapped bags to keep our muddy boots in. I feel so ashamed, but somehow comfortingly colour co-ordinated.

Until the next time
Your sado pal (in Foliage Green)

Friday, 10 June 2011

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Survival In The Bush: When Bears Eat Your Dinner

Shot in 1954, Bob Anderson a producer with NFB and Angus Baptiste, his guide and minder, are given a thorough drenching and then left dripping wet in the bush with just an axe and Baptiste's knowledge and ingenuity to keep them going while Baptiste rustles up a birchbark canoe for them to travel home in.

Shamelessly hammed up for the camera [in a far more honest way than todays 'reality' TV] but still informative, and interesting to see how Bushcraft was portrayed on TV nearly 60 years ago. We've come a long way, but are we traveling in the right direction?

More soon

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

And Thoreau's Mum Did His Laundry Every Week

Paleo-Survival TV has been on my mind this week and while I would happily sell what few scraps of dignity I have left, and appear on pretty much any one of them for a sandwich and a glass of tap water I've got to say I just don't get it. Sure they are entertaining, I love watching the hippy and the butch military guy bicker like a pair of fishwives and I could watch the posh boy eating rotting meat for hours. The whole genre poses one question, why the pretend adversity? There are lots of things I've learned from the idiots lantern, TV can educate and entertain at the same time, so why is the bar set so low?

The legendary Tim Smith of Jack Mountain must have been musing on the same thing as he posted a link to this article in Mother Jones.

Like any TV genre-of-the-moment, the roster of primitive-skills programming represents a series of variations on a theme. The ur-example is arguably Man vs. Wild, which premiered in the US on Discovery Channel in March 2006. In each episode, the buff and charismatic Grylls is dropped into an isolated and menacing location, then forced to find shelter, improvise tools, and eat carcass scraps, all the while offering lessons on how intrepid pioneers might have handled the situation. The show is phenomenally entertaining, owing largely to the schoolboy enthusiasm of the former British Special Forces host, who manages to sound exuberant even when delivering schlocky, back-from-commercial bumper lines like, "I've just dragged a dead sheep out of an Irish bog."

The TV executives that I've met are very very good at talking up 'cross platform' broadcasting, but when's it going to arrive? There's a HOOJ audience of people like me, and probably you, who want to learn more and are deeply cynical of the pretend urgency of these guys and the fake way in which they offer the irresponsible illusion of preparedness. By faking their way out of another supposedly life threatening situation they are telling a generation of viewers, for example, that its pretty easy to climb back out of the freezing waters and onto the ice. Bullshit.

How would you like to see it done differently?

Your pal

PS To who ever left the title of this post on the comments on the Mother Jones site, Genius!

Picture credit

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Biggest Known Elephant Tusks

For scale the cardboard plaque is 2 meters or 6.56 feet tall 
and together the tusks weigh 183g or 403.45lbs

In WMD 'karamojo' Bell's 1923 book 'The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter' he mentions a tusk in the 'South Kensington Museum'. About ten years later it was later reunited with its twin, and there hangs a tale.

The tale as Bell tells it:

On our arrival at Mani-Mani we were met by one Shundi--a remarkable man. Karirono by birth he had been captured early in life, taken to the coast and sold as a slave. Being a man of great force of character he had soon freed himself by turning Mohammedan. Thence onward fortune had smiled upon him until at last he was, the recognised Tajir (rich man) of all the traders. Having naturally the intelligence to recognise the value of bluff and from his primitive ancestors the nerve to carry it off, he was at this time the greatest of all traders. Just as he had been a leader while slave-raiding was the order of the day, so now he led when ivory had given place to slaves as a commodity. One other thing that makes him conspicuous, at any rate, in my mind, and that he had owned the slave who who had laid low the elephant which bore the enormous tusks, one of which now reposes in the south Kensington museum. these tusks are still, as far as I know, the record. The one we have in London scales 234lb. or thereabouts. According to Shuundi his slave killed it with a muzzle-loader on the slopes of Kilimandjaro.

Kilimanjaro Tusks (1898)
More soon

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Book Review: The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter

A while back when I spent what was to be the first of many hilarious weekends with blogger, deerstalker and rifle aficionado, The Bambi Basher.  Amongst other things he considered it essential that I receive a lesson in vintage rifles 101 he showed me around his .275 Rigby-Mauser rifle and mentioned one of it's most famous proponents, the Scottish adventurer and hunter Walter Dalrymple Maitland 'Karamojo' Bell and his numerous african hunts with the 7mm rifle. I'm not an experienced reader of the safari memoir genre, but as usual I was drawn along by The Bambi Basher's enthusiasm, and soon wanted to know more about the story of  'Karamojo Bell' and his adventures on the slopes of Kilimanjaro a hundred or so years ago. I put his long out of print book 'The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter' on the list and the back burner as other things took precedence. When I was lucky enough to receive a copy of as a birthday present I was intrigued to see how I'd find him and the times he lived in.

Bell is from a different time, when ivory was a common(ish) luxury material and he made a fortune out of the 1,100+ elephants he shot. In one (exceptional) day he tracked and shot nine elephants. He estimated that he had just earned £877 from the ivory the days work brought him. Not a bad wage today - this was in the 1920's!

The style of the day was to try to take as much of the Edwardian world with you as possible.  Eating tinned food brought from home, off tableware from the English midlands, accompanied by fine French wines from Irish crystal glasses. Even having a 'gun-bearer' to carry your rifle, while there's another servant who draws your fold-up bath as you get plastered on 'sun-downers'. More glamping than bushwhacking. As the twentieth century was getting going, this reaches new levels of absurdity with 'motor safari's' becoming fashionable amongst the western elite. Newly rich industrialists positioning themselves as 'sportsman' by shooting wildlife from the safety of the motor car, and their debutante daughters re-branding themselves as fearless 'safari chicks'. Wounded game died unrecovered, and the locals were treated as semi-cognate. 

Then there was Bell. As is usually the case with the people who get truly remarkable results Bell approaches the whole enterprise in a totally different way to his contemporaries. Carrying his own rifle, living entirely on local foods, and importing a pair of Canadian canoes to explore uncharted river courses. While his fellow Europeans stride across the continent with the arrogance of pseudo-gods, Bell and his companions tread a lot lighter, with a mixture of humility and cunning, he's courting the local support he needs as a matter of great urgency. Calling himself by the name the locals have for him Longelly-nyung (Red Man). Seeking to present himself as someone benign, who just happens to be passing through, and if anyone would be good enough to point him in the right direction, as an almost endless source of free food for those that help.  Bell is part adventurer and part psychologist. With balls of steel and an eye to the main chance.

And so we became friends I was not going through the blood-brotherhood business, with it's eating of bits of toasted meat smeared with each others blood, sawing in two living dogs or nonsense of that kind. I took his hand and wrung it hard, and had it explained to him that amongst us that was an extraordinarily potent way of doing it. That seemed to satisfy the old boy, for the act of shaking hands was as strange to him as the act of eating each others blood is to us. 

When an opportunity to defend the underdog (and serve his own interests) presents itself he delights in disrupting the activities of slavers.

A chance to assert ourselves occurred on the first day of our arrival among the Lakkas, for no sooner had the camp been fixed up than our merry band had a Lakka youth caught and bound and heavily guarded . On enquiring into this affair it transpired that this youth had been taken in a previous raid, but had escaped and returned to his country. We had this lad straight away before us, asked him if he   wished to go back to Buba Gida, and, on his saying this was the last thing he desired, at once liberated him. He did not wait to see what else might happen; he bolted. Of course the kings people were furious with us. We, on our part were thoroughly disgusted with Buba Gida for having designed to carry on his dirty work under the cloak of respectability afforded by two Englishmen on a shooting trip...

In short Bell was not as I expected to find him: he wasn't as racist, or apart from the odd incident as keen to enforce his morality on others, most of the time he was the only white dude for miles (not that would have meant anything to the Belgians), he understood that his reputation would be travelling a lot faster than he was, and was even quicker with his wits than he was with his Mauser.

He had of course heard all about our refusing to allow any 'recruiting' of slaves to be carried out and I daresay was furious with us. He remained polite but cold, and we noticed a great falling off in the presents of food, ect., which were demanded by custom. Among other things we were distinctly annoyed to find that we were classed by the king as third-class white men. To Buba Gida there were three classes of european. In the first class were French governors, French administrators and French military officers. For these people sweet Champaign was forthcoming in quantities to suit the individual importance of the visitor. Class two comprised minor French officials, important American or English travellers  scientific expeditions, surveys, ect. ; these got whiskey, while ginger beer was reseved for elephant hunters, clerks, or small commercial people. We were Ginger Beerites.

I've read that 'Wanderings' were originally published as a series of articles in a long defunct Scottish outdoor magazine [Update: it was Country Life which is still published, although with less interesting content] and the book reads as though that's true, its tantalisingly vague in parts, and eludes to a far more amazing set of tales, but is well worth a read if you can face flashing up for the out-of-print price.

The house Bell retired to Upper Corriemoillie, Garve, Rosshire, Scotland

Stay tuned for more about WMD Bell and more of the usual nonsense from yours truly
Your pal
PS if you know any more about Bell, or who W. was drop me a line

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ethics, Karma And Dead Deer

Dear You know who you are.

We live in a world where it is socially acceptable to have others mistreat animals before we eat them. Fact.

Unless you have hunted: felt your nervous system change gear and go into predator mode, killed and felt the vortex of emotions, then feasted on the flesh of another being, your opinion is abstract, a fantasy based on accumulated preferences, prejudices, and reactions to social norms. It's your right to engage in that, I'd defend that right to the death if need be. Just, please, please dont eat a burger from a factory farm and tell me killing is wrong.

So you used to be vegetarian, but now you eat some meats, but nothing with a face. A lot of animals died for your vegetables to grow, so it's OK to kill mice and bugs but not deer? I keep searching google images for that 'fish that doesn't look like fish', and the 'faceless animal' (we both know you've never tried worms) and they don't seem to exist. Those soya beans grew in a field where a lot of plants and animals had to die for a mono-culture to exist. Your morality, the same morality your parade in front of me, can only exist if someone else kills and processes animals for you out of your sight.

Oh you like eggs? Me too, lets us put the suffering of the factory chicken to one side for a moment, and think of the Fox who had to die so you could have eggs. Non lethal means? So you'd prefer Mr Fox starved to death rather than the bullet he never saw coming?

Karma: I'm going to spell this out for you. Nowhere in the original concept is there a one-to-one relationship between actions. End Of. Karma is not a concept of fairness, never has been never will be. "Karma's a bitch, she'll get you every time" is an entirely western concept. A comfort blanket for the person who wants revenge, but wants to take no responsibility for seeking revenge and cannot bear to think of themselves as a vengeful person. I'm sorry but life just isn't one plus one equals two.

Now for the emotive bit:

The other day a wannabe Buddhist and I sat down for a chat, I'll admit I was stirring the pot - when I need to spend time with someone who agrees with me I stay at home and talk to myself - I told him about WDM Bell and the 1,100 elephants he shot. Bear with me I said it was the emotive bit.

Wannabe Buddhist pulled his 'oh the pain of the world' face and told me that it was to be Bell's karma to be the last elephant, and to be shot by a fat american. Putting to one side his prejudice against fat people (frankly he could lose a few himself) and his prejudice based on the accident of a persons birthplace.
Bell did it for the money, yes he revelled in a sense of adventure, but fundamentally he shot the elephants because he wanted the money their ivory was worth. As a by product of the way he hunted, he fed hundreds of people. Yep he went to Africa and fed poor people. Where Elephants lived wild and free he shot them without their ever having known he was there, they were dead before the rifles bang reached their ears. The locals ate them. Where the Elephants were trampling and eating the crops of the poorest people on earth, he turned the loss of farmed foods into meat. Now tell me about about your cozy definition of Karma.

Sitting Bull "when the buffalo are gone we will hunt mice, for we are hunters and we want our freedom."

Let's not get started on the racism of your views about indigenous hunting, me and the deer are indigenous to northern europe, maybe if I dressed a little more colourfully you'd show me the same courtesy?

At last when we've talked it over, and you can't overcome the simple honest logic of the meat eater hunting their own dinner, I ask you if your objection isn't simply that I enjoy it, and you've said yes, so I'd like to pose this question

We humans are hard wired to enjoy the things we need to do in order for us to survive, thrive and procreate. Only in industrialised society do people toil at jobs they hate, to live lies that leave them unfulfilled.  I wish to live wild and free in nature, I'd like my dinner to live the same way, it's a freedom I'd extend to you too.

Thanks for reading

If this post has made you think differently about your dinner, or your more certain than ever, or somewhere in between Leave a Comment I'd like to hear what you think.