When it comes to fine double guns, the spotlight typically falls upon Britain. The country, after all, has a long history of producing some of the finest side-by-side shotguns and rifles around, but they are hardly the only nation to turn out impeccable doubles.
Germany has produced its fair share of elegant specimens of this style of gun, with Merkel being among one of the more renown manufacturers. And the gun maker recently gave shooters another choice in double guns with the introduction of a new side-by-side shotgun.
The Merkel 40E breaks a bit of a dry spell for the company, it being the first new shotgun the manufacturer has introduced in nearly a decade. And the smoothbore is also a bit of a departure, at least in the embellishments department, from the rest of the company’s offerings.
Essentially, the new shotgun is the Merkel 47E sans the hand engraving and rich finish. In the company’s words, it’s meant to be a “working man’s” option, but the 40E still boasts a hefty price tag. Some jaws will clench at the $4,595 MSRP, but relative to the rest of Merkel’s guns, which quickly go into five-figures, it is somewhat more accessible.
The gun maker, however, is giving shooters plenty with the 40E. Enough that those looking for a legacy double could find it a value, particularly since the smoothbore is offered with an array of options.
Shooters can choose trigger style (double or single-selective), stock style (English or pistol) and, of course, gauge (12 and 20). There is also a limited run of the 40E in 28-gauge, however it is only available with a single, non-selective trigger.
At the heart of the Merkel 40E is its Anson & Deeley boxlock action, the original hammerless shotgun action design, one continually heralded for its reliability. The action is further strengthened by a Greener cross-bolt locking mechanism and double under-lump locking lugs, creating multiple locking points and an overall solid platform.
The 40E tips the scales at a scant 6.2 pounds, which has the potential to make it a bit of a thumper recoil-wise. This could be particularly true if a shooter takes advantage of the 3-inch chamber of the 12- and 20-gauges.
The possibility of kick, however, should be offset another attribute of the gun's weight — its manageability. It is light enough that it shouldn't be a burden, even on the longest and hilliest grouse hunt.
The Merkel 40E is stocked with oil-finished Turkish walnut fitted to a steel receiver with a silver nitrate finish. And it has been equipped with 28-inch cold-forge-hammered barrels, cold blued and polished. The shotgun also features selective automatic ejectors and is available with choice of two integral choke options — improved cylinder and modified.
Merkel 40E Specs
Gauges: 12, 20, 28
Action: Anson & Deeley boxlock (steel with silver nitrate finish)
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Sights: Front Bead
Trigger: Double, single-selective (single non-selective on 28-gauges)
Stock: Turkish Walnut (oil finish)
Length of Pull: 14.375 inches
Drop at Comb: 1.5 inches
Drop at Heel: 2.56 inches
Weight (empty): 6.2 pounds