28 March 2014

Anatomy of a Schuetzen Underhammer

Dear readers, I do apologize for the lapse in features of late; I have been busy with several issues. One of my highest priorities has been a redesign of my beloved Faeton rifle. For many years I have been working to refine the design and finishes of the Faeton and I am near completion of the project. It won’t be long before I will unveil for you my new Peerless Faeton™. Believe me when I say that it will be worth the wait.

For those of you new readers who are unfamiliar with the Faeton, scroll to the bottom of this page for a close up of the Faeton.

On another note, several years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long) I published a photo of an experimental schuetzen underhammer based upon my earlier Zephyr pattern. Since then I have received quite a number of inquiries about that Zephyr Schuetzen expressing a desire for close up photos showing the design features – especially, the rear sight. Since I have long ago sold that rifle, I will share what I have and trust that your imaginations will fill in any blanks. You can always email me if you have specific questions that the pix don't address.

 Zephyr Schuetzen

Schuetzen rifles are a unique breed and express design concepts that seem exaggerated to the untrained eyes. But when you understand the game, you will see that the schuetzen design makes perfect sense – as an offhand rifle. Understanding of the concept leads to an appreciation of the beauty of the form as some schuetzen rifles are truly functional art. I like to think that the Zephyr Schuetzen was one in that class.

 Vintage view of Harry Pope demonstrating
the proper schuetzen offhand shooting stance.

Clicking on any of the images will enlarge them for easier study of details. Clicking the White X in the upper right corner will return you to the text.

The exaggerated features of the schuetzen rifle are designed to provide the perfect ergonomic fit of rifle to shooter for 200-yard offhand shooting. The idea being that the shooter simply stands in a comfortable, un-strained offhand pose and the rifle fits the pose perfectly.

 The extreme sculpted cheekpiece provides a very comfortable face-fitting support while the light Swiss buttplate helps hold the rifle firmly on the shoulder. This buttplate is actually quite large and flat and distributes recoil very well making the 20-shot string less fatiguing and more comfortable to shoot.


Coupled with the unusual forward-arcing finger rest, the well-proportioned thumb rest on the right side of the buttstock allows full control of the rifle by the right hand while still isolating trigger finger motion from adverse influence on the rifle while squeezing off the shot.

 In my version the forearm provides a palm rest that keeps the left hand away from the upward swinging hammer. Or if the shooter is one who rests the forearm on his finger tips, there is a thumb hollow on the bottom of the forearm which makes for a secure support when using that hold.

Good sights are essential for 200-yard offhand shooting.Turning the sight disk (yes, it is wood) loosens it and allows course adjustment to get your shots on target quickly, while the calibrated thumbwheel allows for finer tuning to zero the shot. The round "window" on the tang of the sight allows viewing the number settings stamped on the thumbwheel for exact repeatability in sight adjustment. Each revolution of the thumbwheel raises or lowers the sight in .050-inch increments. A windage adjustment screw is also provided at the rear of the tang on the right side of the sight.

Perched at the muzzle is a fine bead sight protected by an ample globe. Together with the rear aperture sight, they create the clear and precise sight picture necessary to win at this game.

Because this rifle is strictly a range rifle, loading is accomplished with a range rod, hence no ramrod, which simplified construction.

Combining the ultra fast underhammer mechanism with a good solid offhand shooting platform such as the schuetzen seen here, resulted in a very accurate rifle. And while strange looking to the novice, these rifles handle like a dream and will out-shoot the capabilities of most shooters. To those in the know, it is truly a thing of beauty.

Well, I certainly hope that the Zephyr Schuetzen will provide some ideas and inspiration to you builders to be brave and go explore the possibilities that exist out here on the edge.

If you care to see some of my more recent work, come on by for a visit: www.rjrenner.blogspot.com



Anonymous said...

Hey, that is really cool!

I've never seen a underhammer target rifle like that before. You really have great stuff on this site.

Anonymous said...

I have stared at this rifle many, many times over the years and it is still beautiful.
I have 2 actions that I am building up now, and I'm using a lot of styling cues from this rifle and this website.
Thanks for the pics,

Jon said...

Truly beautiful, I could (I have) look at this for hours, thank you.

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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!