Sunday, 26 September 2021

Thoughts On The Gentleman's Stalking Rifle

These days I shoot my Tiktac a lot more than anything else, its a big black lump of cast aluminium and its latest barrel has turned it from tactical to bench-artillery.  I've taken it stalking a few times, not through choice. By the time you're dragging a deer across a ploughed field, you'll wish you'd brought something built for speed not comfort. 

The Stalking Rifle. It's lighter than a dangerous game rifle, both in the hand and in its chosen load - somewhere between .240 and .280 [6mm and 7mm in the new money].  
A modestly figured, svelte stock of  Walnut, you wouldn’t want to flinch at the sight of a shale bank or a barred wire fence, a recoil absorbing stock pad, at the other end probably an Ebony or Rosewood tip. Perhaps some case hardening. No engraving. 

To be carried for what feels like miles over rough ground, fired once, and carried back again. 
In England TT Proctor, John Rigby & Co., Westley Richards, Holland & Holland and a host of others made [or still make] iterations on this theme.  
There once was another contender. One who ploughed his own furrow, who’s insights are as valid today as they were then. Not to everyone’s taste and at £1000 in the early 1970’s (about £12k today) appealing to a limited clientele. You’d have had to make a trip to Pipewell Hall where a sport could commission Messers David Lloyd & Co. Riflemakers, who had put a lot of thought had been put into building such an instrument. 
The proprietor, an experienced stalker himself, coined the expression 'Attach a rifle to a scope'. While the others all made an open sighted rifle adapted for a scope, David Lloyd made his rifles solely  for use with one of the new fangled four or six power scopes.

Using the rifles that bore his name David Lloyd is rumoured to have accounted for more than 5,000 highland reds in a stalking career that spanned 60 years. Knew a thing or two about it then. 
For him name of the game was to create; an ergonomic, flat-shooting rifle, capable of dependable accuracy at 300m [+/- 100m] without recourse to adjusting the scope. His stipulation was that the scope be attached with mounts so robust that the rifle could confidently survive the rough and tumble of highland stalking without ever needing to be re-zero'd. To that end he silver soldered his mounts in place. That for ain’t rattling about. 

My somewhat more modest experience suggests that; he was right about the point-and-shoot requirement, up on the hill there's no time for fart-arseing about with adjustments to elevation and windage. The shot, and the Ghillie, wait for no man. 
Following my highland humiliation, where the scope was loose enough to rattle in its rings, no sportsman who still casts a shadow is a bigger believer in anchoring scope and rifle together than your pal SBW. Regular readers may remember The Ghillie also has strongly worded views on the speed with which clients cycle an action,

The stalking rifle, as bespoken by SBW

Chambered to shoot 100gr + lead-free Bullets. The weight means legal for all six species in the UK, and lead-free means the carcasses meet the coming standard to enter the food chain. 
A round that can be bought over the counter for use while staking on forestry commission land and other places where home loads aren’t permitted.  The Creedmoor revolution of the last ten years means that there's now an excellent chance of buying 6.5mm in any gun shop.
A slim wand-like Walnut stock. The laminates are too heavy, the composites are too chunky, and the full carbon are more than I want to spend on the whole rig. 
Magazine-fed. call me over-cautious but I prefer to do all that bouncing about in the back of a Landrover with an unloaded rifle, and clambering in and out of highseats without a loaded rifle will always be preferable. 

Decocking safety. Stalk with one in the chamber, but still be able to safely use the rifle as a club if needed. 
A super slick fast action, a straight pull fills this part of the brief nicely 
Barrel of 20”max, and lightweight: this is rifle to clamber in and out of high seats and Landrovers, carry across muir, up monroe, and down glen.  Fire one shot, and then carry back to the cottage, hopefully dragging a dead beast along.  
Screw cut for a lightweight moderator. I use a B&T [Br├╝gger & Thomet] which gives the rifle a nice balance. The new generation of 3D printed titanium moderators are still in the £850-£1500 range. So No. 
Ceracoat not blued; rough treatment, blood and guts, anti reflective. Welcome to the 21st century 
While we're on the subject of carrying, [and lessons learned from highland disasters], I want to anchor the sling to the rifle by the strongest fitting available, with the rear swivel on the flat of the butt to carry the rifle flat against my body, so crawling isn’t impeded. 
A robust scope in the European low-light class, with a simple reticle: cross hairs bob-on at 200m capped turrets so nothing to adjust or get knocked out of place.
The lowest rings possible. Spuhr do a hunting set at 19mm/4mm, milled to their usual super-high standard.  

For the action; its all personal taste. I'm still all about Heym's Fortner action'd SR30, sacrificing a little englishness for a little extra svelteness I chose the Bavarian stock, a little more 'pistol' in the pistol grip and a few grams shaved off, but still with the look of a sporting rifle

Of course you could just buy a Tikka off the rack and have done with it. But where’s the fun in that?

More soon
Your pal

An onboard cleaning kit wouldn’t go amiss, snow in the barrel only happens a couple of miles from the landrover. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or you could simply order a new David Lloyd M2000 in .244H&H from the guys at Ronald Wharton.
I know which one I would be willing to spend my money on.