13 October 2007

Underhammer target rifles

An arena in which the underhammer really shines is the realm of target rifles. Everyone is pretty much in agreement that a fast-action lockwork is an essential element of the accuracy equation and most underhammer actions are indeed fast.


During the latter half of the 19th century there were a number of makers of underhammer target rifles, two of the most notable among them were the famous New York gunmaker, William Billinghurst, and to a lesser degree, his contemporary, David H. Hilliard of Cornish, New Hampshire. Yes, there were many more makers of underhammer target rifles but I would like to draw your attention to these two for a moment.

Both produced fine examples of underhammer target rifles, although quite different in their basic designs. A Google search will provide info and photos of their outstanding work for those who don't mind a bit more snooping.

Today there are a few underhammer makers who have taken some of the older designs and added their own thoughts, ideas and improvements. One such gunmaker is Tilo Dedinski of Kulback, Germany. Inspired by the work of Billinghurst, Mr. Dedinski has produced a first-class modern-day Billinghurst that has proven its worth by taking gold in international competition.

His "Billinghurst," seen here in its offhand version, is available in two configurations and calibers intended for 50-meter and 100-meter matches. You may wish to visit his website: www.dedinski.com for more information on his full line of underhammer arms.




While some makers have chosen to emulate Billinghurst's designs, it seems that the underhammer designs of Hilliard have inspired a number of other modern European gunmakers to produce and offer their own versions of his justly famous target rifles as seen in the photo to the left.

Although Europeans developed their own underhammmer systems, they have long admired the features represented in American underhammer designs and the quality of materials and construction employed by them indicates the respect that they have for American underhammers.



The Italian Artax is a very modern rendition of the percussion underhammer system and is more evidence that the underhammer concept and its development is still alive and well, both here and abroad. Below is the more traditional Artax underhammer target rifle. Unfortunately, there are no current U.S. distributors of what appears to be a very fine rifle. Clicking on the photo will allow a detailed view of the Artax. Clicking the Back button at the top left of your screen will return you to the text.



During the War Between the States, underhammer rifles were used quite successfully by a number of snipers and I believe it was the underhammer's performance on the battlefield that may have lead to their post-war use and development as target rifles.

Some have asked me about producing a (smaller bore) underhammer rifle with more influence of a target rifle than a hunting rifle. While I prefer crafting hunting rifles, I have made some rather wild target rifles based on the underhammer system, the most extreme being a .54 calibre offhand schuetzen rifle.

A reader of this blog had asked if I had photos of any of the underhammer target rifles that I had made. As it turns out, the only one that I bothered to document with photos is that schuetzen. I have included it below as an example of what can be done for anyone who wishes to venture down that road.

Good luck!



4 comments:

RJ Renner said...

Here you go, Dan. You asked about target rifles and for more photos.
How am I doing so far?

Cheers!

Roger

uncle will said...

Beautiful gun, I'm trying to do something similar using an Ingram (sp?)underhammer action fitted with a Greenmountain .45 cal bbl. Do you perhaps have measured drawings for the stock?
Uncle Will
mcpo_curmudgeon@bellsouth.net

Anonymous said...

WOW! That is some kind of wild looking rifle. In all of my gun related research, I have never seen an underhammer schuetzen rifle before. It is an incredible design that seems more like art than just a rifle.

Actually, the more I study it, the more I like it. It's really growing on me. Do you still offer them?

I really like your aperture sight design and can see that it would make precise sight adjustment pretty easy compared to the typical German sight which does not usually have much in the way of reference marks.

The quality of your pictures is great, too. Good job and thanks for a great blog for us underhammer guys.

Mark in Ontario

PS: Anything else that you're working on that we should know about?

Anonymous said...

Hey its Christmas 2014 and i just found out David Hilliard is my 4x Great Uncle.

Adam W. San Jose,Ca.

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About Me

Roger Renner


Hi. I've been a student, admirer, and designer/builder of underhammer guns for over 30 years. In that span I've built over 200 semi-custom underhammers exploring the possibilities from the ordinary to the exotic. In 1996 I founded Pacific Rifle Company to explore the market's interest in a high-quality underhammer rifle. Thankfully, that interest was, and still is, there. I sold PRC in 2006 but continue to craft high-end underhammers as I am truly afflicted with underhammeritis - which can be contagious!