The barrels of the Blaser S2 are kept like insert
barrels in two outer barrels. These outer barrels are held at the
muzzle by a kind of double interconnected "O" – rings a feature that
gives the double rifle a somewhat unusual look. The inner barrels
are free floating and can expand independently from each other. This
means that if the rifle heats up from shooting the barrels are not
bending sideways as they do in a conventional DR. Sighting in a
conventional DR can be very annoying and time consuming process. You
have to wait until the barrels have cooled enough to continue
shooting. With the S2 you can just go on shooting and it doesn’t
matter in which sequence you shoot the barrels. Due to the free
floating barrels concept you do not have to observe any specific
time interval between the shooting of the two barrels. It is also
irrelevant whether you shoot the right or the left barrel first.
Blaser’s S2 has no ejectors
In my eyes this is no shortcoming. Please read
Taylor’s or Boddingtons comments on this topic. I tend to agree to
their opinion that you don’t need ejectors.
Tilting block lock
The tilting block locking system was invented in the
early years of the last century by Jäger, a gun maker working in the
famous gun making town of Suhl. It is immensely strong and locks
directly into the barrel(s). During the years it was used on and off
by several German and Austrian gun makers. British gun makers never
copied it, I don’t know why. Perhaps it was the "NIH" (Not Invented
Here) syndrome. It might also have been a question of license fees
because Jäger certainly took out a patent on his invention. In 1986
Blaser revived the tilting block lock, using it in their famous K77
UL ("Ultralight") break open single shot rifle. From then on it has
been a design feature of Blaser rifles, single shot, combination,
drillings and doubles.
As mentioned before it is one of the strongest DR
locks. The .470 NE develops a maximum pressure of 2700 bar (ca.
39200 psi). Lutz Moeller reports on his website that Scheiring from
Ferlach built a break open single shot tilting block rifle in cal.
.300" Pegasus. Due to a loading error this
rifle was fired with a .300 Pegasus cartridge that developed ca 6000
bar (87,000 psi). Result was quite a loud boom, but the rifle
survived this without any problems.
You might therefore assume that with the Blaser S2 there should be
no problems with "hot" loads. But even in a rifle with a tilting
block lock, you would be well advised NOT to use overloads!
from the fact that any load going beyond max pressure is unsafe, you
might get extraction problems. Even should the lock of your DR take
the overpressure, your cartridge cases might stick to the chamber.
This would slow down reloading and that could be fatal during a big
Keeping the pressure within the barrel/tilting block
is one of the main advantages of this locking system compared with
any other DR lock. Conventional DR’s are kept close by the under
barrel lugs. There is usually an additional device to resist the
barrels tendency to pull away from the standing breech when firing.
This could be a "dolls head" or a "Greener" cross bolt passing
traversally behind the standing breech and through a matching hole
in the rib extension. This conventional kind of design is much more
pressure sensitive. Each firing of the rifle pushes the barrels
away form the breeches face. Therefore there is an inherent
tendency of conventional DR’s to "shoot loose" and to "come off the
face" of the breech - depending of the quality of steels used, the
quality of workmanship and the frequency of use, of course.
With the Blaser tilting block design the forces of
the pressure is kept within the barrel/tilting block system. There
is only the force of the recoil and it pushes the barrels plus
tilting block against the standing breech not away from it.
To further explain the implications of the tilting
block lock: you could take the barrels out off the rifle, put
cartridges into the barrels, fit the tilting block onto the barrels.
Now, holding the barrel plus tilting block in your hand - you could
hit the firing pins with a hammer and fire the cartridges. That
is certainly not something I would advise you to do because the
recoil would certainly rip the barrels violently out off your hand!
I mention this only to explain that even under this condition the
cartridges explosion would be contained within the barrel - tilting
block system. The tilting block would not be ripped out off the
barrel just because the action is not closed.
I am often asked: "Does the barrel overhang hinder a
fast reloading?" My experience is: no, absolutely not! Funny thing
is: when I was using double rifles of conventional design nobody
ever inquired whether the dolls head or the rib extensions of a
Greener lock hindered reloading!
Reloading Double Rifles
This is a good opportunity to talk about reloading
double rifles. Sometime ago I saw a video issued from a German
hunting magazines. The topic was "Big Game Hunting". It showed a
sequence where a hunter shot an elephant. With his first shot he
tried a brain shot. That, however, had not the intended effect. The
elephant turned and ran away. He was then able to anchor the
elephant with his second shot, a hipshot. Now he had to reload,
because the elephant was not down yet. He opened his double rifle (a
non ejector) picked the empty cases out one after the other and then
started to scrabble around in the pocket of his hunting jacket for
new cartridges. After sometime time he was able to locate them and
to inserted them into his rifle. This reloading sequence is
interesting because the hunter did almost everything wrong. He was
lucky that the elephant did not turn around and attacked him.
Reloading a double rifle goes in two steps. Step one
is getting rid of the empty cases. This is easy if you have an
ejector rifle. Opening the rifle the ejector catapults them out off
the rifle. The Blaser is a non ejector. You don’t have to pick the
empties out - just lift the barrels after opening about 45 degrees
and the cases will drop out of the barrel.
Step two is inserting new cartridges. Do not carry
your cartridges in your pockets or in a cartridge holder that is
closed with a flap. This slows down the reloading process
considerably. Instead carry them in a cartridge belt or a cartridge
holder in your front where you can easily grip two cartridges side
by side ready to insert them into the rifle.
The magic recipe here is to experiment with
cartridge holders or cartridge belts to find the one that fits you
best. The other "secret" is training. If you fire your double only a
few times each year do not expect to be a fast reloader. To build up
your reloading speed you have to repeat the act using dummy
cartridges until a muscle memory develops that allows you to do it
The Blaser’s S2 manual cocking system
Both barrels are cocked by pushing the cocking
device forward that sits on the top of the receiver. This means that
you can safely carry the DR uncocked with cartridges in both
barrels. If the rifle is opened, both locks are automatically
This is a very useful feature because this way you
are always positive about the state of the rifle. Load the gun and
close it and it is NOT cocked and on safe. By the way: cocking the
action is completely noiseless.
"Black velvet" barrel finish.
The S2 shares this feature with other Blaser guns.
This finish is very corrosion resistant. I have used Blaser guns
since about 15 years. Here in Germany I hunt in all kind of adverse
weather. Many times I go out in rain or snow. Coming back home from
a hunt late in the night usually I just put the gun away. Next
morning I wipe down barrel and lock and apply some gun oil.
I have to confess that due to business pressures I
sometimes forgot to do this. But even with this somewhat negligent
way to take care of my guns I never had the least bit of rust on any
of my Blasers. The black velvet finish also has the advantage of not
being light reflecting. That is an important feature for any African
hunt. One of the most stupid Big Game rifle designs I ever saw was a
gun that came with a highly polished stainless steel barrel and
action. This may look very pleasing to the eye, but using such a gun
in the bush is like carrying a lighted signal wand around,
advertising your presence to the game.
does the Blaser Safari DR shoot?
When I started testing the S2 the
immediate result was that the two barrels didn’t group together, but
each barrel for itself produced very thigh groups. I was told that
it would not be possible for my local gunsmith to regulate the gun
and that it had to go back to the Blaser factory at Isny. There it
was regulated for Wolfgang Rommey ammunition with 500 grains
Woodleigh soft nose bullets. The regulating was done by exchanging
the double "O" – rings which keep the barrels together in such a way
that a thigh group was achieved.
After regulating the rifle Blaser
sent it back to me. It came with a test fire report (please see
The size of the test-group is 1.2
inches – at 100 m (109 yards) – that is almost minute of an angle
precision! Boddington in his book Safari Rifles I (1990) mentions on
page 167 that two shots with a DR into two inches are "exceptional"
and four inches are "acceptable accuracy". Compared to this the
Blasers regulation is sensational. However I decided to even improve
on this result!
My objective was to develop my
own ammunition and to find an optimal load. Starting point were
loading data published by DEVA ("Deutsche Versuchs- und Prüf-Anstalt
für Jagd- und Sportwaffen" = the German test-center for sport- and
hunting guns). They published the following load:
Woodleigh 500 grains SN bullets
with 113.0 grains of N 160 (Vithavuori) powder with a muzzle
velocity of 2238 fps.
The advice of Graeme Wright from
his book "Shooting the British Double Rifle" turned out to be very
helpful. Graeme Wright points out that the center of gravity of a
double rifle is lower than the barrels. "Hence … the effect is
that each individual barrel will move away from the other barrel and
upwards. The right barrel moves upward and to the right and vice
versa. When a cartridge is fired the bullet starts to move in the
barrel and at the same time the barrel starts to move in recoil"
the hand loader this knowledge can be used to adjust the ammunition
for a particular rifle … if a bullet is going too slow (right
barrel) it will stay in the barrel too long and receive too much
upwards and right movement and therefore should land high and right
to the aiming mark."
Conversely if the bullet goes to fast it will not stay long enough
in the barrel and will impact below and to the left of the aiming
mark. So by changing the amount of powder it is possible to change
the point where the bullet lands on the target: if you increase the
velocity the impact points of the barrels move together.
If you go on increasing the
velocity the barrels "cross each other" i.e. the left barrel hits to
the right of the right barrel. Graeme Wright warns that this process
may not always work as described but with my Blaser S2 double rifle
it worked beautifully (see below)
For my test loads I used
Vithavuori N 160 powder, Federal 215 primers and Woodleigh 500
grains roundnose bullets. Distance was 100 meters (109 yards). Scope
was a Leupold Vari XIII (1.5 – 5 x 20) set at five times
magnification. I started with a load of 112.0 grains N 160. With
this load the right barrel produced a tight group to the right of
where the left barrels shot. Diameter of both groups taken together
was 5 inches.
My next load was 112.2 grains of
N 160. Now the left barrel printed to the right of the right barrel.
In other words the barrels "crossed over". According to Graeme
Wright the ammunition was to fast. So I reduced the load to 112.1
grains – and bingo, both barrel shot perfectly together. (See
picture). (Scale on the left side is in centimetre, 1 cm = .39
inches) L1 and R1 are the results of the first two shots from the
left and right barrel, L2 and R2 are third and fourth shot
immediately after L1 and R1.
week later I tried this load again; and the results were
sensational! However, one word of caution: since double rifles can
act very temperamentally we have to assume that other S2 with this
load may not shoot equally well. If you would use a scope that is
not so heavy like the Leupold or heaver than it, the S2 might react
differently. So I suspect that each S2 owner has to find an optimal
load for himself using the same procedure that I employed. This
should be no problem for hand loaders – but if you use factory ammo
you have to take what they sell. Perhaps one of the professional
hand loaders could help you.
With such precision there should
be no problem to use the S2 on plainsgame on distances up to 150
yards. So it seems that Blaser is quite right when claiming on their
website that S2 can be used on a "single rifle safari". In other
words when you are hunting with the S2 for big game you don’t have
to take a second plainsgame rifle along. (However I do admit that
using a .470 NE on a klipspringer might be a little extreme…)
intrepid Hans J. Wild is 74 years old and has been
involved in the IT industry for 40 years. He is a
veteran safari hunter and has been on 12 African safaris
so far including safaris to Zimbabwe and Namibia. He
plans to continue his safari career this year…
The above mentioned optimal load
is not too hot: the spent cartridge cases just fall out off the
barrel. When I increased to loads to DEVA published maximum of 113.0
grains N 160 the cases were extracted but did not always easily fall
out of the barrels chambers.
The final step.
The final step of a "Dangerous Game Rifle" test is
to take the gun to Africa and try it out on big game. But this is
another story – to be told in future.