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J. Rigby & Co. - Bolt Action Versus Double Rifle?

When picking a dangerous game rifle, there is the ever present discussion of bolt action versus double rifle. While I think I can make a strong argument in favour of either platform, at the end of the day, it comes down to which style you as a hunter are most comfortable with. Safari season is in full swing and as our friends and clients are in pursuit of some of the World’s largest and most dangerous game, two rifles in our inventory come to mind.


The bolt action is chambered in Rigby’s venerable .416 Bore and built using an original, near mythical, Rigby pre-war magnum length single square bridge Mauser action. These actions were made by Mauser to Rigby specs and represent some of the finest bolt action receivers to ever be manufactured. The gun had a new stock and barrel by Rigby around the early 1990’s (1994 London Proofs). While the .416 Rigby won its popularity from Ruark’s writing as much as anything, the cartridge certainly had the performance to back up that popularity, which it still enjoys today among dangerous game hunters as well as collectors. Besides being in what I would argue was Rigby’s most famous cartridge, there are a few reasons I like this particular rifle; being based on an original single square bridge action but being stocked and barrelled to new is a great combination. It has also always been my experience that guns made under Paul Robert’s tenure at Rigby, as this rifle was, always function with great reliability and shoot equally as well, this rifle keeps with that tradition.


The double rifle I have in mind is another classic from Rigby's; a best quality sidelock ejector in .470 3 ¼” NE. This rifle was made circa 1911 and incorporates Rigby’s patented third grip or club head rib extension. Interestingly, production of this rib extension overlapped with that of the much talked about Bissell Rising bite. Certainly one cannot argue with the strength of a screw grip type action and Rigby must have thought the same. Additionally, the rifle is chambered in .470 NE. John Rigby was a noted expert on firearms and ballistics of the day and this is the cartridge we see many of these best quality rifles chambered for. Additional classic features of this Rigby best quality rifle are the dipped-edge locks, the carved fences and the original and near perfect 28” barrels.

J-Rigby-&-Co-#17722-795-3 J-Rigby-&-Co-#17722-808-3

As I said before, I think I could argue just as convincingly for one type of rifle as the other. A double rifle’s near instant second shot versus 4 rounds in a bolt action that, with some practice, can shoot two shots as fast as a gun with a second barrel. It’s an age-old argument that will rage around fires in hunting camps for many more hunting seasons. No doubt the best way to solve the debate it is to simply have one of each!

Please see both rifles and many other high quality additions on our new used gun website: J. Rigby & Co. Bolt Action , J. Rigby & Co. Double Rifle .


  • vance daigle on June 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Good Day LD,

    This is a couple of good looking guns you have up for sale. Rigby was certainly top drawer maker especially back in that era. Thank you for the pictures and the story, another pebble for my well

    In Christ

  • Rammoy Ray on November 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    No matter how much one practices the second shot from a bolt action rifle will take long enough a time which might prove the hunter's last. To eject the spent cartridge the hunter has to lower the rifle take fresh aim and lose precious time and that is where a side by side double scores several points over the bolt action.

  • Navaratna Rajaram on June 30, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    I would choose a well made bolt action (like Rigby) over a double any day. Fast second shot is fine, but what about the third and more shots. There is no guarantee that two alone will do the job for lion and/or buffalo. That is why old time professionals like john (Pondoro) Taylor and J.A. Hunter carried both.

  • Navaratna Rajaram on August 6, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Most hunters going to Africa today are trophy hunters, not professionals like old timers. For them a good bolt action rifle like .416 Rigby or Reminton magnum will do the job at reasonable cost. No need to burden oneself with a double which you may never use again. .416 Remington magnum is especially appealing because it can fire 300 and 350 grain bullets, in addition to the 400 grain. It has essentially upstaged the .375 H&H Magnum. This means you can continue to use it even after the safari.

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