“Gimmicky” might be the best way to describe most long guns featuring more than two barrels, but the new Vierling from gunmaker Johann Fanzoj is anything but a gimmick. The Austrian company has been making firearms for over nine generations, and they’ve spent the last six years crafting a totally custom four-barrel rifle/shotgun for an unnamed customer in the U.S.
The Vierling (which comes from the German word Vier, meaning “four”) is “an astonishing technical tour-de-force, from the conception, design & crafting of this masterpiece over a six year span, following a client’s specific request and fantasy,” the gunmaker says on its website.
The rifle/shotgun combines a side-by-side rifle chambered in 9.3x74mmR with an over-under 20-gauge 3-inch chambered shotgun. The rifle’s caliber has been popular in Europe and Africa for decades and is commonly used to hunt medium-to-large sized game.
The long gun’s break-open action allows users (or, in this case, user) to load two rifle and two shotgun cartridges simultaneously. Dual triggers combine with a rifle/shotgun selector on the comb to enable the user to fire all four rounds before unloading the firearm.
The gun also features deep-relief ornament engraving depicting a variety of animals by Johann Fanzoj’s master engraver F. Mak.
But the Vierling is more than just a pretty face. Weighing in at 10.1 pounds, the gun “handles magnificently” and is “perfectly balanced,” according to the company’s website.
Fanzoj gunsmiths also regulated all four barrels to one point of impact using both iron sights (at 35m) and a scope (at 100m). We reached out to Johann Fanzoj for a more detailed description of this process, and they described it as a “technical somersault” that relies heavily on the gunmaker’s extensive experience.
“This method has now been used for about 150 years,” a company rep told us via email. “It involves aligning the set of barrels straight to the bore axis and then soldering them with the ribs and sight. A solderable shim on the muzzle then enables the barrels to be regulated relative to each other.”
“The gunmaker keeps testing and soldering until the point of impact is satisfactory,” the rep continued. “It is a time-consuming process based solely on a sense of proportion and experience. The gunmaker essentially tests the rifle by firing a shot and moving the shim (alternately) until he succeeds in adjusting the two barrels’ point of impact to ONE particular distance.”
To prove the quality of their work, Johann Fanzoj published images of group sizes. The group on the left was shot with the rifle barrels from 100m using a Swarovski scope, and the group on the right was shot from 35m using the shotgun barrels.
Four-barrel firearms aren’t entirely unprecedented. Charles Lancaster famously manufactured four-barrel rifles, shotguns, and pistols in England in the nineteenth century, and, more recently, Winchester produced a four-barrel “shotgun Derringer” in the 1960s.
The company rep didn’t say precisely how much they charged their American client for this six-year project, but she did say the final bill was comparable to the MSRP of a Mercedes-Maybach “without extras”: $170,000-$200,000.
Don’t expect to find a Vierling at your local gun store, but the gunmaker does offer a collection of rifles and shotguns ready to be hand-crafted for their next client. They even have this pre-made 5.6X50RM rifle available to purchase today (no price listed).