Piotti Take-down Carbine: technique and elegance for African expeditions

There are three ways to make a takedown rifle in powerful calibers, and all three refer to the disassembly system, in the case of a carabine chambered in a single caliber. If there are two interchangeable calibers the matter gets more complicated and if the calibers are three and they require a pair of bolts that are dimensionally different from each other, we are in the empyrean of the high-end weapon craftsmanship. Of the first two ways, one is to make a very rigid connection, which requires considerable force to be separated and almost always the use of a rubber mallet too; the other is to adopt tolerances that allow easy disassembly and with which the connection is not completely solid when the pieces are assembled so that, if the weapon is used intensively, it will tend to get slack.

Carabine a confronto
Three Piotti carabines compared: the take-down is at the top.

You must keep in mind that if the connection has a play of one tenth of a millimeter, at the end of the barrel it will be amplified several times. A suitable tie-rod or a cam that pushes the parts against each other can - apparently at least - solves the problem, but this is not how fine rifles are made, because their use will inevitably lead to backlashes. The third way, applied on the weapon we are talking about, is Piotti's one. They disassembled my carbine by hand - there was not even a single drop of oil to make it easier to move the parts - and then the reassembled carbine was rock solid. This, of course, with all three barrels.

Dettaglio della carabina Piotti Take-down
Precious details: the bolt handle.

In theory there should be no problem, because the hole-shaft tolerance system is on all mechanical technology books. What is not in books is that this tolerance applies to perfect surfaces, which no machine tool will ever produce.

It is true that you can grind them, but acting in confined spaces with a shaped diamond grindstone, on an undercut is not quite simple, also because tools are being imperceptibly consumed and must necessarily act on hardened surfaces. If adjustments were made on the surfaces when they are still soft, the imperceptible movements that occur during the hardening process could only ruin them.

Controvite carabina Piotti Take-Down
The screw counterplate is made like this.

It is therefore a matter of gradually approaching the perfect setting by hand, with minimal removal of material because you can always remove it later but you can't add it.

Moreover, any small approach to the precise connection must be perfectly finished, since a subsequent finishing would entail a further removal of material, even if minimal. As you know, the devil is in the details and in our case details are paramount.

Features of the Piotti Take-down carbine

After this long introduction - which was necessary since the union between two parts is a delicate issue and precision can be felt only when you hold the weapon in your hands - we can finally talk about the carbine.

The keyword here is elegance. There is little to say: the rifles of the great weapon makers are beautiful. It is a fact determined by the general aesthetics and not by the profuse engravings, because a rifle must look beautiful even if the receiver is blank.

And although it is not easy to explain it to engravers, a smooth side plate with just a hair thin  scroll and a small engraving in the middle is beautiful. We are talking about the action and not the receiver, but the concept is the same: there's elegance here, and it shows. It's made of small, important details: for example, the outer part of the junction is thin enough to not ruin the aesthetic, even if that junction, which in our case is placed at the front end of the action, must always be solid.

Otturatori della carabina Piotti Take-down
The two bolts compared.
I due otturatori della carabina Take-down a confronto
The comparison between the two bolts heads.

The weapon has a classic Mauser K98 type action, naturally finished to perfection. There are two bolts, since the calibres are all dedicated to African hunting. These are the .458 Lott, 375 H & H Magnum and .416 Rigby; the first two calibers share the same bolt while the .416 has a different case rim.

It goes without saying that the action is long, as required by the three calibers concerned. The corresponding calber is indicated on each bolt; each of them flows smoothly without any play even in the position of maximum retraction and has a polished finish. This is the proof, for those who had never been to the Piotti laboratory, of the long series of completely manual adjustments that distinguish fine weapons and explain the many hours of work necessary for their completion.

The precious details on the Piotti carbine

Otturatore carabina Piotti Take-down
One of the bolts: the silent safety is a side lever.
Testa otturatore della carabina Piotti Take-down
A close view of the bolt head.

Even Ivo Fabbri, master of numerical control, admits that in his rifles there is still a good thirty percent of manual labor.

The details that embellish the whole are constituted by the engraved racemes, the finely finished bolt handle, the magazine floor engraved with an African animal. A real gem is the end of the screw that sustains the recoil, which has a finely embedded and engraved counterplate.

Because of the areas where the weapon will be used, the three barrels are equipped with a double front sight, day and night, mounted on an appropriate, engraved ramp.

Tacca di mira Carabina Piotti Take-Down
The leaf back sight is graduated over distances of 50 and 100 meters.
Doppio mirino della carabina Piotti Take-Down
A close view of the double front sight.

Optic mounts

Of course each action has a European optics claw mount calibrated on the specific barrel and ammunition; on the base of the rings the corresponding caliber is inlaid in gold.

The detachable part of the weapon (here I use the term weapon for brevity, because in fact we have three weapons that have a part in common, as may be required by those who want to go hunting in Africa and do not intend to bring with them three rifles with relative bureaucratic and customs wrangling) includes barrel and forend, each barrel having a precise longitudinal reference mark that allows a precision insertion in the action, where a corresponding slot is machined.

Attacchi per ottica su carabina Piotti Take-Down
The optics claw mounts.
Blocco anteriore attacco ottica carabina Piotti Take-Down
The front block of the optics claw mount.

Of course, three forends to be mounted on the same stock will pose the problem of woods. It is impossible to find identical ones, because wood is not built in laboratory but grows by its own nature and there are no two identical trees from which the necessary blanks can be obtained. It is already difficult to find almost identical woods - “almost” is the keyword - and this also explains why two paired rifles are more expensive than two single rifles.

Codetta estesa sulla carabina Piotti Take-Down
Appropriately for carbines chambered in African calibers, the rifle tang is extended.
Incastro take-down
The male joint for the take-down.
Aggiustaggi carabina Piotti Take-Down
Precision adjustments are made by hand of course.

Basically, a tailor-made solution created on request for an African hunter - this is the characteristic of the Piottis, who produce everything: side-by-sides, over-and-unders, expresses, kipplaufs and carbines, for which they are able to assess the feasibility and mechanical strength of each request, however special - has led to a real weapon system with very fine features and a flawless formal elegance.

For further information please visit Piotti website.

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Piotti Take-Down

Fucile Piotti Take-DownRoberto Allara

Fratelli Piotti 
Calibers.458 Lott, .375 H&H Magnum, .416 Rigby
Weapon's feedInternal magazine
SightsDouble, day and night
Barrel lengthCustomer choice
Optics mountsEuropean claw mounts
On request