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Drilling 16B/8MM

This clever shotgun and rifle in one is a suitable firearm for all kinds of quarry, says Lewis Potter

Drilling 16B/ 8mm

Drilling 16B/8MM

This Classic Gun is a drilling, manufactured circa 1920. It is a combination gun I know well because I once owned it, having bought it from local farmer friend at the end of the 1970s for £40. When I had it on my firearms certificate, there was a condition added that “only the shotgun barrels to be used when game (pheasant) shooting”.

A typical example

It is a typical example of this sort of combination gun and, while at first it appears to be a boxlock, it actually has trigger-plate lock work. The internal hammers are mounted on the wide trigger-plate and the barrel selector is where a tang safety would normally be located. The safety is a Greener side-mounted non-automatic type.

All this lock work within the head of the stock and a side safety means a lot of wood removed and a potential source of weakness. It is not therefore that unusual to find guns in otherwise good condition that have been restocked and, like this one, even fitted with an additional cross-pin for extra security. The lock-up is strong, the action bar is deep and sturdy, and the standing breech sports side-clips to give extra lateral support while the barrel extension engages with a Greener cross-bolt.

How it works

The “S” visible in front of the tang-mounted barrel selector does not indicate “safe”, but means the shotgun barrels can be fired. Pushing the selector forward raises the rearsight that is let into the top rib and selects the lower rifle barrel, which is fired by use of the front trigger. This trigger can be “set” by pushing it forward for an ultra-light pull and is also adjustable.

The 16-bore shotgun barrels both have full-choke and, with the drop on the stock to aid sighting as a rifle it shoots flat, without any tendency for the pattern to go at all high. Handling with the 26½in barrels is fast with an all-up weight of a smidgen over 6½lb.

Drilling 16B/ 8mm

The barrel selector is mounted on the tang

Potential problems

Apart from the potential for stock weakness, heavy trigger-pulls are not that uncommon. It can be a bit of a fiddle setting them up to give a safe, usable trigger-pull. With older drillings, some cartridges used are obsolete or of limited supply, and conversions to .22 rimfire long rifle or .22 Hornet were once very much in favour.

My choice in an older drilling would be 7 x 57R (rimmed) with the 8mm like this one a second choice. Even here, care has to be exercised as there are two sizes of 8mm, the original 8 x 57JR (0.318in diameter) and the later and still obtainable 8 x 57JRS (0.323in)

A further complication is proof marks because those proved during the years of the Third Reich are not accepted as valid. This means it would need to be reproofed prior to sale with the associated cost and the possibility of failure. It is also best to find one with a rifle scope already fitted if intended for serious use, because retro-fitting is a complicated and expensive business.


The heavily chiselled decoration, cut to show a variety of animals such as waterfowl, ground game, roe and red deer, gives a good idea of this drilling’s intended or potential use. Combination guns in their more complex arrangements, such as four barrels and different bores/calibres, qualify as a solution looking for a problem, but the double shotgun with a rifle barrel underneath is probably the most practical of its type. Either way, the world would be a poorer place without such creations.

What to look for when buying a Drilling

Barrels: check for pits and other damage and make sure they have valid proof marks.

Action: though the lock-up is strong, extensive use can eventually result in the barrels coming “off the face” (loose).

Weight: 6½lb

Value: an older drilling like this in tidy condition and chambered for a still- available cartridge circa £600, with a riflescope nearer £1,200, plus a fitted case around £1,400.