The gun aficionado who appreciates rare and very exclusive rifles would do well to take note of George Hoenig’s unique rotary round action double rifles and shotguns.
The Hoenig Rotary Round Action double barrel features a perfectly cylindrical action. Hoenig’s patented Rotary Round action guns all but defy conventional firearms design and occupy a small but firmly ensconced part of the niche gun market, relying on supreme design and flawless execution, making one of the most interesting, aesthetically pleasing and functional firearms the world has ever seen.
A remarkably talented toolmaker before becoming a fulltime gunsmith, Hoenig was responsible for designing and manufacturing a stock duplicating machine that has been recognized as one of the finest designs ever. It was so good, in fact, that the last one manufactured was bought by Holland & Holland.
Whilst designing precision machinery, Hoenig explored an idea he had been thinking about for some time. He had always wanted a “Universal Hunting Gun’ and in his mind, this would be a four-barrel gun out of necessity. The main design problem was that Hoenig wanted to stay away from a hinge-pin based system due to the fact that the pin, or in modified designs, a cross-block or dolls-head style engagement, takes all of the stress upon firing. He also wanted to eliminate the very slight flexing open of the breech face upon firing.
Hoenig’s new idea mated the receiver and the breech in the same manner as an artillery gun where there is no single point of stress, rather a distributed locking engagement. This led to designing a perfectly round action where large lugs, very similar to the lugs on a bolt-action rifle, completely encase the extractors and cartridges alike.
The shotgun and rifle barrels rotate in and out of shooting position by moving a small lever on the left side of the action labeled “R” and “S” and twisting the barrels ninety-degrees. The overall result is a compact, and extremely strong action that is by all accounts unconventional when compared to its modern counterparts. There are no levers to push, no exposed pins or screws and to the uninitiated, there is no discernible way to load the rifle.
Loading is accomplished by grasping the pistol grip in the right hand, while holding and gently turning the forend away a quarter turn with the left hand. When it stops (and the barrels are now juxtaposed) pull the two halves apart and allow the barrels to hinge downward. To close, simply raise the barrels, slide the two halves together and reverse the quarter-turn motion.
The first prototype was completed in 1992, with the result being a vierling with two 20-gauge barrels along with 5.6 x 50R and .22 Long Rifle barrels, a versatile rifle worthy of being called a “Universal Hunting Gun.” The design was a success and demand has been such that Hoenig is exclusively engaged in building these unique rifles.
Today, Hoenig focuses on double rifles and shotguns. The Hoenig Rotary Round Action double barrel is an elegantly built, precision engineered firearm handbuilt at a rate of just five rifles per year. This should explain why such a rifle sells for around US$30,000. Despite the hefty price tag there is currently at least a five year waiting period for delivery.
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