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The Double Falling Block Rifle

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Bailey Bradshaw is one of the best new rifle builders to come along in a long time. He has been a master metal smith as well as a very good artist for many years. When you combine the two with a mind that thinks a little out of the box. He actualy thinks way out of the box - in fact he’s so far out of the box he has his own zip code. I am honored to call Bailey a friend and I hope after you read this article you will see why.

I first got a look at one of Bailey’s rifles on line. My first though was "why didn’t someone thing of this before now!" I talked to Bailey on line a few time and discovered we where both going to be at DSC the next January 2011. This would give me the chance to get my hands on Bailey’s new rifle and see if it felt as good as it looked. I was not disappointed.

Baileys design has a lot of inherent features that make it one if the best balanced and point able rifles I have ever had my hands on. One of the things you will notice when you pick up the double falling block it the balance is centered more over the triggers. This enhancement in balance is due to the shortness of the over all action and the general configuration of the falling block rifle

The second thing you will notice about the rifle it the short lever and how fast and easy if functions. This is going to be a great improvement for those who purchase this rifle. I believe that with a little practice the owner of one of these will be able to shot two rounds and then load two more in less than two seconds.

At this point, some of you are shaking your heads and rolling your eyes. For those nay sayers I will explain: if you are in a dangerous situation you can have both barrels ready to go and have two rounds in your left hand holding to fore stock. As soon as you fire both barrels you lever the action without moving the rifle from your shoulder as you lever to the open position you hold the lever, now you slid the two waiting rounds into the breach of the rifle with a foreword motion and as your grasp the fore stock you close the lever. With practice this becomes one fluid motion. So two rounds fired and two fresh rounds loaded and you are ready to go without removing your rifle from your shoulder. And as an added bonus you don’t lost your sight picture either. (If I’m given the opportunity to write another article on this rifle I will demonstrate the load technique with pictures.)

Action

The action works as smooth as spreading warm butter on toast. Bailey has redesigned and improved the spring system in his double. I have been around his shop and we have talked enough that I know this was a hair puller for Bailey (did I mention he is absolutely a sticker for perfection). I for one want that in a rifle builder!

He worked and re worked the spring in his prototype rifle more time than he likes to think about before he came up with the perfect combination. Once he achieved his goal it was well worth everything he had put into it. The action is tough as a Marine Colonels heart! And as smooth as ... well, smooth.

Now for the best part: this double is an extractor model that thinks it’s an ejector model - and at no extra cost. This puppy will throw brass over your shoulder if you get heavy handed with the lever work. Another great point to mention if you are in a dangerous position you do not have to think about your brass. Throw the level and it disappears into the bush never to be seen again.

Triggers

The triggers also have a slight design difference to them on this prototype. On the action Bailey discovered that if you angle the back trigger just a little it is more comfortable and easier to acquire than with traditional double triggers. I have always been a little uncomfortable with standard double triggers because I can not get from the front trigger to the rear trigger as quickly and smoothly as I would like. Bailey demonstrated to me the difference in finger position and the angle of your finger joints with a traditional set of triggers and then with his slightly angled triggers.

I was surprised at how easy it was for me to acquire the rear trigger on the range after I fired the first round. It has a more natural feel and is in a more natural position - for me at least. A word on the thumb safety: the shape and size of the thumb safety look prefect to me. But not Bailey. He is still losing sleep over what he can do to improve the look of the safety.

Barrels

The barrels are built to specification, and Baily has spent untold hours figuring out just the right way to regulate his barrels with out using high-pressure, dremal tools, high heat and grinder or a hammer. In other words he does it the old fashioned way.

With skill and precision, using a method he developed and refined in his shop - and after shooting his 6.5 at 230 yards and having it hit dead on I figure he knows how and what he is doing. Sean and I where at Baileys a few weeks ago and we where shooting a target 230 yards away, and dinging it with a double. A week later Sean’s still smiling and I am too. I have been shooting since I was seven and out of all the rifles I have handled over 50 years I do believe this falling block double handles and shoots better than any of the others and that includes some of the finest double made in Europe.

Sights

As with most rifles of this quality you can order it with most anything you can imagine Baileys standard sights are of course express sight for big bore rifles. But he will add anything the customer wants even a scope (if you want to uglyfy your rifle) I’m sorry but putting a scope on one of Bailey Bradshaw’s double falling block rifles is like putting a beautiful woman in coveralls. It just does not look right.

That being said, it still shoots great even after uglyification. The quarter rib and express sight look great and for use old guys he can add a ghost ring aperture that looks good and folds down out of the way if you want your express sights.

Stock

The wood Bailey uses on his rifle wither double or a single is far superior to any of the off the shelf rifles that are available - but in most case’s it is superior to most of the high dollar rifles out there at three to five times the price. And if you want to go even farther, Bailey can get wood that is amazing in beauty and price. For those of use on a budget Bailey’s standard wood is better than we could hope to ask for. His talent’s as a stock maker is above anyone I have ever met personally and his checkering is flawless. When he inlays the butt plate it looks like it has grown into the wood

The maker

When you meet Bailey you are surprised that some one as young (young being and subjective term) as he is has the talents that he has. He is a master metal smith, an engraver, a wood carver, a machinist, and an artist to boot. When you put all these together with a high IQ and a semi reclusive personality you get one Bailey Bradshaw who sat around and for kicks and giggles decided to build and amazing rifle.

Bailey will build you a rifle to your specs. Color case hardened, blued, stainless, I even heard mention of one out of Damascus. I can only imagine how great a falling block double rifle built out of Damascus with engraving would look. For one of his normal lightly engraved standard model rifles the base price is US$ 8000.

I’m going to spill the beans on how strong the double falling block is. Bailey made what could have been a devastating mistake one day in the shop. He inadvertently loaded some ammo with the wrong powder. (In his defense he is new at reloading - something I will help to cure him of in the future) he went to the range with a new dead soft (not heat treated) rifle to check the calibration. When he fired the rifle he thought it had doubled when actually it had so much pressure it bulged the barrel. No harm to Bailey and the only problem with the rifle was a bulged barrel. With some work back at the shop he extracted the case. On inspection the rifle which as it turned out had only minor damage to the frame. By minor I mean the frame was a few thousands out of shape - no stress fractures, crystallization nothing!! With an afternoon’s work and new barrels the rifle preformed flawlessly.

Don Hooker is 56 year old and grew up in a small Northern California sawmill town hunting and fishing. After working as a Nurse for ten years without a vacation, he took a trip to Kenya - and that was the beginning of his love affair with Africa. He has spent from three to eight months a year since that first trip traveling to East Africa.

It is without a doubt it is the best feeling rifle I have had the opportunity to shot. Bailey produces an extraordinarily beautiful rifle with great European lines and the fit, finish and feel you can only get with a fine handcrafted rifle. The rifle has a natural point ability and balance that I have not felt in any other double rifle I have handled. If you enjoy a fine rifle you owe it to yourself to check out Bailey’s rifles.

You will not be disappointed.

Don Hooker


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