Right out of the gate, I am now the proud owner of a Sabatti double in 45-70.


Click, as it were, to embiggen. Mine doesn’t have a single trigger, it has two. Otherwise it’s as you see it there. Also, it embiggens even more if you expand, and the detail is magnificent.

Now, for the tale.

Some ages ago, a good friend of mine and I, both afficionados of fine doubles, learned of the (supposedly) imminent availability of the Baikal doubles in 45-70 and in 30-06. So he conspired to try to get us some.

he never said anything about it for a long time, and then about a month ago, I get a call. “I have your rifle, and if you don’t come get it I’m keeping it”.

And I had a wedding, and all manner of other bullshit in the interim.

So it was last wednesday that I saw the rifle for the first time. I was expecting a Baikal, an ugly duckling of a rifle I’d put a decent stock on and try to make it look a little nicer, and then have some fun shooting it.

And he pulled out the rifle.

For one of the very few moments in my life, I was speechless.

Ever since I watched a jury exhonorate OJ, I have been pretty much incapable of surprise. I can still be startled; if scarlet colored aliens shaped like prolapsed, prehensile rectums landed in my office and held up a sign that said “we are holding Elvis’ brain hostage on planet Zort” I would be startled. But not surprised.

But I was damned sure surprised.

So I made it through the week, dreaming of charging capes, thinking about leather belts full of 45-70 rounds. And tuesday the rifle arrived at my local dealer.

So wednesday I scrambled through my day, barely able to comprehend the cluster surrounding me. And at the end of the day, scream off to the dealer to make the transfer. I fill out the form. I hand off my license. The counter girl calls it in. And in what seems like an eternity I wander out of the store with a double rifle in my hand.

Let me talk a little about my love for doubles, for a moment.

I have, since I was old enough to remember, loved fine rifles, and especially doubles. I had read ‘Use Enough Gun” at the local library at ten or eleven and was hooked. I started my collection of firearms, the first firearm I ever purchased, was a double shotgun. I took it afield and took shots at birds, imagining i was Ruark, holding a fine english double on the ear-hole of a grazing elephant with tusks the size of my calves. I looked at every book that had guns in it. I read every article about double rifles I could find. It wasn’t exactly an obsession, but no double ever escaped my gaze. From the 9.3x74r cartridge in “Snows of Kilimanjaro” above, to the 450 nitro express in “Ghost and the darkness” I lusted after fine doubles. Figuring I’d never have one, I looked constantly at large bore bolties and single shots,. and have been looking at a Ruger #1 in 458 Lott or an Enfield 1917 in 416 Rigby. I’m a recoil junkie anyway, and these just seemed fun.

But now, I was putting a large bore double rifle, and not a crappy IZH clunker but a well made Italian job, into my truck.

And then the counter girl came out with my 4473.

It seems my drivers license had expired. So I took the gun back into the store.

Now, if I’d gone in and they said “your license has expired, you need to fix this and come back” it would be one thing. I have never been so angry at a single moment in my life so far.

I had filled out the 73, I paid my money, and I had already walked out the door. The counter girl had written down the expiry date on the form her own self, and had let me leave before noticing that it was expired. Ten seconds later and I would have had it on it’s way home. So this morning I’m headed to the license bureau to get renewed. And trhey took a typical bad picture but at least I got it.

Now. I will never live long enough to deserve this generosity. If my benefactor had weighed my soul like Anubis he would surely not have given me a fine rifle but more likely had used it on me. I am humbled by the fact that he felt highly enough of me that he did this, and I hope to be able to earn this someday.

In the meantime, lest anyone cast aspersons on anyone, let me also point out that this is not a “typical” double rifle, in the way “typical” rifles cost. This is a well made “consumer” grade rifle, and one that looks like it will hit the market in the neighborhood of $4k. Most of the thumping safari chamberings will be available.

yes, that’s still a wad of cash for a rifle. But I know people who have 1911’s that cost more. I know people who have AR’s that cost more. And I know people who will go out and drop $6k on a motorcycle without thinking about it, and that’s a jap bike.

But long after that jap bike has been recycled to razorblades and screen doors, this rifle will still be able to stop big things that are coming at you fast, and do it well.

I will be narrowing the scope of my gun cabinet very soon. It will contain this rifle, and a few others. It will have what I need. And what I have wanted for as long as I can remember wanting.

I have cooled off somewhat since this happened and I have deleted some of the ranting associated with this. I understand the counter girl wiht the facial hair problem was only doing her job, but she could have done it better- and I am not interested in anyone hunting me down or giving anyone any excuses to prevent me from owning firearms. At the same time I could just have split, and they would have been in trouble for letting a guy walk out the door without a valid license.

At any rate, it’s home now. I just took it out of it’s case, assembled it, and aimed it at some chipmunks in the backyard. The dog barked in encouragement, fully expecting me to send the Chippies to chippie heaven. Having not enough time to play, I put it back in it’s fitted case, came to post this (mostly written last night) and get my ass to work.