Germany has a great history of guns and gunmakers. Most famous centers of gunmaking for hundreds of years were the small villages of Suhl and Zella-Mehlis. But in the 19th and 20th century, there were also a lot of small makers and manufactures spread all over the country. Certainly one of the most typical German hunting arms is the Drilling, originally made as a shotgun with an additional rifle barrel. Those Drillings mostly had barrels of 68 cm length or even more. Soon, several variants were designed with different arrangements of the barrels. For example the Doppelbüchsdrilling with two rifled barrels and a smooth bore, or the Flintendrilling with three shot barrels, to name only a few. It needs a lot of knowledge and craftsmanship to make a good Drilling, which has to swing well and is not too heavy. Those former Drillings often weight no more than 3 kg, sometimes only 2,8 kg! I think, until the early 70ies of the 20th century, the Drilling belonged to the most popular hunting arms in Germany. But times have changed, and the Drilling in the hands of German hunters has become very rare. One reason is, among others, the change of the hunting relations and of course it’s a question of temporary fashion. Today Drillings are still produced by some German companies as Krieghoff or Merkel and only a few small manufactureres. One of them is Thomas Heuberg.
Thomas Heuberg – passionated Gunmaker
In the small village of Mosbach, situated at the border of the Odenwald forrest in the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, there lives a man, who is passionated in gunmaking. Thomas Heuberg always wanted to become a Büchsenmacher, but unfortunately in his youth it was very difficult, to get an apprenticeship. So young Thomas started as apprentice with an engraving company. He soon became a master engraver and started also in working with modern CNC operated milling machines, Laser and eroding machines. But Heuberg never lost sight of what he wanted most: to become a gunmaker. Finally, after years of hard working, especially in making parts for the guntrade, he succeeded and made his master examen as a gunsmith in Suhl. In 1996 he started his own business by making not only guns and parts, but also repairing guns.
For Heuberg, gunmaking means to work by hand as well as with modern machines. All parts of his guns were made inhouse, from the tiniest screw up to the actions and barrels. And some of his modern machines are also designed and constructed by himself. This makes him absolutely independ and gives him a prominent position among today’s gunmakers worldwide, including even the most famous brands, who are not able to do so. Thomas Heuberg combines the best of two worlds by making his guns in a traditional and modern way. And the results are simply perfect and stunning.
By the way, his masterpiece was a SXS Double Rifle in 8×57 IRS, still carried by him today while hunting on his own hunting ground near his hometown Mosbach.
This was also his first gun with the famous Nimrod action and sidelocks. Heuberg considered it to be the perfect action for all breech loading guns and rifles. The name comes from the Nimrod-Gewehrfabrik of Thieme & Schlegelmilch from Suhl, and the Nimrod Verschluss was one of their most important patented inventions.
It’s called “Nimrod Nasenverschluss”, because of the two nose-shaped protrusions on the underside of the barrels that engaged recesses in the water table of the action and act like recoil shoulders to prevent loosening of the barrels from the action. They serve as additional fasteners besides the traditional Greener bolt on top and the Purdey type bites on the underside and also prevented side to side loosening of the barrels.This action is very strong and longlasting and the sidelocks are very safe.
Today Thomas Heuberg is able to produce nearly all kind of hunting arms, as Drillings, Double Rifles, Kipplaufbüchsen and of course Double Guns. His latest baby is a limited edition of Heeren rifles.