Monthly Archives: November 2014

Beautiful Nightmares and The Stopping Rifles

Beautiful Nightmares

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There Are Hunting Rifles, and Then There Are Stopping Rifles – Part I. 

All Photos By The Morrisons, less the Rembrandt, please do not use without permission. 

Thanks to Stirling and Doug for filling out the rifle selection in this article, and making it possible. Thanks to Big Matt for offering a nearly 300lb human brick wall of a recoil absorber as a test medium.

Note: With good fortune I will be using Stopping Rifles this winter on Rhinoceros, and with more luck Elephant, and will report back on further and much more fleshed out thoughts after. So far my experience with them is limited, though I’ve used the .375 aplenty on toothy, horned, and clawed creatures. So I hope I can adequately relay some of the emotions and sensations.

 

Facing the Music

I’ve left a good deal of work unfinished, or perhaps better said I opened a subject, and have completely failed to reasonably conclude it. In my last article, “Fauna and Weaponry of Another Age: The Tools and Range of The Megafauna Hunter”, I quite sheepishly crab walked out of an important section of the subject of Tools. That is to say, I stopped at .375, throwing sideways compliments further, but rested at my preferred chambering of .375 as the most reasonable choice. The time has come to face the music.

There are of course larger, and arguably better choices… for the man who can handle them; I was not sure if I qualified frankly. These options are not for the faint of heart, and I don’t mean to discuss your .375 H&H alternatives, that is anything medium bore including the .404 but perhaps not the .416, but rather those very narrow purpose, true monster guns that throw accelerated bolts of metal weighing 500 grains or more at speeds considered respectable amongst men’s rifles. These are your .458 Magnums, your .470 and .500 Nitro Expresses, your .500 Jeffery and .505 Gibbs, upward to the .577 and .600 Nitro Expresses in the extreme.

Now take your average first dangerous game hunt in Africa, the hunter most often pursuing Cape Buffalo armed with a .375. Almost universally, the rifle performs admirably and results in a clean kill- just as it did in my very own first dangerous game hunt. The hunter goes home with great memories, and the lingering, almost guilty internal question of whether dangerous game is really all that dangerous? And do monster rifles sporting bores of .45 and up, charged with a hundred and more grains of powder truthfully have a logical place in hunting, or are they mere adventure and bravado expressed in brass tubular form?

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Or Perhaps they are bygones and hangovers of unsound theory from an era of ballistics past, since overtaken by our better bullet construction, far more consistent and higher performance propellants, and higher velocities? You’ll never find the answer on the internet, nor of course by that reason can I hope to answer it here. The answer lay in the exceptional and rare circumstances when things go very, very wrong in adventurous circumstances. Like many of curious motivations, I still seek those circumstances, and the one time I was truly charged I was not holding anything near the right tool for the job. All I gained was a story of how fast an incredibly awake man can put a tree between him and a beast, while trying to cover ground in sloppy boots. That’s another story and one I’m not fond of.

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Now few will ever see, or experience the realm and purpose of these great guns, that being when the noise starts and I don’t mean gunfire. It is when a sudden rush of cracking twigs and swishing brush explodes out of the jesse, alders, willows or scrub… this I have experienced without the triumphant ending of standing over the beast, barrel(s) smoking. So please note that while the following depictions of the moments are in earnest, they are without true knowledge of the fantastic culmination. Like a soldier who sought combat his whole career and was knocked out tripping over a root as his comrades rushed to the fire, my story is one I actually prefer not to tell. There is nothing dishonourable in it, I assure you, and nothing remarkable either other than being caught completely off guard and fully realizing through a surge of adrenaline that was “it” and I wasn’t ready.

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It is an awkwardly uncomfortable realization, and some may know what I mean. You can spend a lifetime, which I have not yet, as a travelling hunter sticking your nose where it shouldn’t be and getting away with it, often with no indications “it” was even close. Even the few Professional Hunters I can now call friends say the same, you become so blasé about the game and the risks you almost cease to believe they are fully real. Then your reality is turned on its head in an instant and you realise you do not enjoy the control of your surroundings you presumed you did. For those equipped and prepared for that moment, this can end in the greatest moment of their hunting careers. For others, such as myself thus far, you gain nothing but a reckoning and uncomfortable subject to ponder those strange nights at 23:45 in your armchair.

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Now for those that have been there or wish to through the same unsound reasoning a deluded few share, the Elephant’s trumpet, the thumping of hooves, the guttural warning rumble of a Lion that shreds and tears into a frenzied launch of furious movement is a drug. We crave it even though most never experience it physically, for all who share the dysfunction experience it those late, cold quiet nights with a neglected and warming drink hanging in hand. You know that moment when one can feel their eyes dilate, the rush of coolness as if hit by an icy blast when covered in sweat despite standing in thirty-five above. You see when there are but moments before a deadly, and hell-bent creature sets horn, hoof, tooth, or tusk into thee there is no such thing as enough firepower- in either imagination or real life.

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Every boy inside every man has to be able to dream with me here and picture the situation in a far-flung corner of a very wild place. In this nightmare of a wonderful dream you would upgrade to the largest possible weapon the split second before the trigger is pulled when your adversary breaks cover for you, if possible. I’ve been blessed to be in that situation several times, without the darkly beautiful finale. Recoil suddenly does not matter, muzzle blast is forgotten, sighting is instinctive when the reflex of fight is triggered… Indeed the heady stuff of beautifully dark dreams. It is in these special minority of events an entirely different class of rifles comes into its scarce limelight, whether that limelight is real to you or merely appreciated. These tools of enormous power require far more practice and resolve to wield effectively than standard hunting arms, more money and hassles to feed, and overall a dedication to the wild and curious side of life. These instruments are the ultimate physical expression of dangerous game’s most pivotal and defining moments; the Stopping Rifles.

.30-06, .375 H&H, .450 Rigby, .47o Nitro, and .505 Gibbs

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The Rifles

Now these chunks of wooden and steeled reality that underpin some Misadventurers’ dreams are one of the few things we can all actually hold, handle, sweat upon and use from those beautiful nightmares. This is why hundreds of Elephant rifles are sold for every Elephant hunted, and that isn’t a shameful concept, it’s a wonderful illustration of the fire of imagination and curiousity alive and well. Now on to reality, and numbers. Arguably the .416s could be included in this cadre and I agree, though conventionally a stopping rifle begins at .45 and up, very much outside the typical power range of the conventional hunting rifles. I actually view the .416 Rigby as slightly superior to the .458 Winchester, but I’ve met so many Professional Hunters who use the .458 Winchester I cannot in my relative ignorance deny its well informed following, nor can I deny its 20th century Elephant history.

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Therefore the base of the range is outlined by the .416 Rigby and .458 Winchester Magnum, moderate and pleasant cartridges among this bunch, and the chain of stopping cartridges is anchored by the .577 Nitro in standard usage, and .600 Nitro, .585 Nyati, and the like amongst drunkards, writers, and the brave. This review and article will focus on the standard spectrum of Stopping Rifles, and those which I myself have found in the field in particular. They also happen to be those which I can source, though I managed to procure .577 ammunition for the future, and have a .577 double rifle slowly coming together on the workbench, so expect more on this later. Amongst PH’s rifles I have personally walked alongside in the field in Africa, though there are many more passing introductions with interesting rifles in camp, the following are the handful I’ve seen at work for days at a time.

 

Professional’s Stopping Rifles Encountered in the Field in Africa,

 

.375 H&H Model 70 Controlled Round Feed Stainless (“Pre-64” / Classic style).

This is a notable rifle and stopped a Cape Buffalo charge at spitting distance in 2010 in Zimbabwe for the PH. The closest call by far of his career, he normally carries a .458 Lott but grabbed the .375 that day for whatever reason.

 

.458 Lott converted Model 70 Controlled Round Feed (“Pre-64” / Classic style).

Veteran rifle of many Cape Buffalo hunts and follow ups in Zimbabwe, it escorted me and my .375 on my first Dangerous Game hunt.

 

.458 Winchester Magnum Zastava Mauser, customized (new stock, sights, tweaks).

The owner and PH said he would not do this again, but would rather buy a higher-grade rifle that is ready to work. Nonetheless this rifle has followed up and given mercy to many head of stray game and has worked in Zambia as I understand it on Lion and others.

 

.458 Winchester Magnum FN Mauser.

Veteran rifle of many Kalahari Lion hunts and held against charges, mock and real.

 

.470 Nitro Express Double Rifle, custom South African maker.

Notable rifle, shot a Lion off a fellow PH in the Kalahari in 2013. As a side note Boddington also hunted Lion with these gentlemen alongside this rifle recently.

 

Rifles in Hand

For this article, I procured the following, with very appreciative thanks noted to the owners of the two kindly loaned gems. My scale was unavailable, and I don’t want to guess, so weights will have to be updated in later. Note the balance points, what seems a slight shift in balance point yields an enormous difference in how the rifles feels, as a rule across the range below the closer to the butt it balanced, the better it felt and faster it snapped to a target, and transitioned target to target.

 

Merkel 140 AE .375 H&H Double Rifle. Automatic selective ejection, 24” barrels, overall length 40 1/8”, balance point at 18 1/8” from butt, the fastest rifle for two rounds in this test.

Merkel 140 AE .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle. Automatic selective ejection, overall length 40 1/8”, 24” barrels, balance point 18 ½” from butt, the second fastest by only a smidge though delivering much more payload, and deepest penetrating rifle in the test. Doug’s rifle, generously loaned.

Ruger RSM .375 H&H Controlled Round Feed. 4+1 cartridge capacity, overall length 43 ¾”, 23” barrel, balance point 21 3/8” from butt, likely the fastest bolt action in the test, but not by much.

Ruger RSM .505 Gibbs Controlled Round Feed. 2+1 cartridge capacity, overall length 43 ¾”, 23” barrel, balance point 21 1/2” from butt, lovely rifle of surprisingly reasonable shooting characteristics, and barely slower than the .375. Most powerful rifle in the test. Stirling’s rifle, generously loaned.

Empire / GMA .450 Rigby Magnum Mauser. 4+1 cartridge capacity, overall length 41 ½”, 20 ½” barrel, balance point 19 ¾” from butt. The second most powerful, and my least favourite rifle of the test, it jammed on a blunt nosed solid once on me, which you can note in the video, and I do not trust it.

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Now, I delved into relatively in depth reasoning for my preference for double rifles on Dangerous Game in the previous article, “Fauna and Weaponry of Another Age: The Tools and Range of The Megafauna Hunter”, so I’ll avoid turning that ground again. I will say and refresh that I am an iron sights hunter, and it is all I’ve hunted big game with on my own rifles, ever. There is something wonderful about irons, and how vividly you’re in the moment, how well they work up close, which are my favourite ranges, and the challenge in using them far. I love carrying them with their lack of protrusions, durability and resistance to losing zero in rough handling, and the rapidity of putting them to work on a target.

Therefore I will exhibit a preference for rifles with good irons, and you may note that here. So there are my two biases; irons and doubles, you can likely throw out my opinions on bolt actions now that you know if these are your preference, as I can neither argue nor agree with you effectively. I figure by sharing that up front perhaps you’ll be able to better glean what you wish from my thoughts on the guns. Now I like to think I use a bolt action effectively as well, and have done so a fair bit in Africa and home in Northern Canada as these were the second type of rifle I was introduced to, following my grandfather’s Winchester lever gun, and my most hunted action type. Here is a relative comparison of the two styles at dangerous game ranges on wooden blocks which I am tipping.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whONoc09xF0

 

Part IIWhat It’s Like to Unleash a Monster

If you’re anything like me, you’ll approach a .505 Gibbs like you would a neighbour’s senile Rottweiler. It’s probably not going to hurt you but it’s big, it has a reputation, and few want to dance with it. There is a bit of panache in that, a true Monster Rifle, the tool one fetches to slay the biggest, nastiest beasts on the planet in the worst situations imaginable. This class of gun is designed to bark when things have gone wrong for the client, and often enough by that point, for the Professional Hunter too even if it’s only ensuring a wounded animal isn’t lost. That big half-inch range hole is the period at the end of a very adventurous story, at least that is it’s purpose, one needs to properly wield it to allow that period to grace the tail end of a happy ending. Without getting mythical, for these are only guns, let me describe my introduction to the .505 Gibbs. Please bear with me the path winds a bit.

While the boy that hunted past the creek on his farm still inextinguishably dwells inside me, today the creek has turned into the Atlantic and my favoured hunting fields lay in Africa, though British Columbia, Canada, with its Grizzlies, Sheep, Goats, Wolves, Cougar, Lynx, Moose, Elk, and Wood Bison is my home and cannot be ignored. Yes, I left out too many of British Columbia’s species, but I could do a whole lifetime of articles on hunting just here and must curtail myself to remain on point. One thing certainly changed in that first trip to Africa, and all those that follow, as compared to my adventures in the back meadows at the farm. As a matter of fact, a glimmer of the adventure, as strange as this will sound, was lost chasing dangerous game amongst the thorns of the Dark Continent.

You see, the big difference in the meadows past the creek was that I was king. Master of my domain, feared by even the fearsome Coyote, recognized immediately by the Crows, and avoided like the plague by the Deer. Perhaps most importantly, the hunting brought me solitude, I figured things out on my own, and that was the most empowering feeling a boy can enjoy. I was blessed to grow up that way, in a place just safe enough to let me disappear into the woods a whole day, and just wild enough to give me plenty to chase. The arms back then were smaller, first a slingshot, then a Crossman .177, and finally a Cooey .22. When I was burning nitrocellulose in that Cooey I thought I had the hammer of Thor in my hands, that fascination has grown slightly out of control as you’ll see.

Now Africa, granted a much wilder set of meadows replete with the beasts I dreamed existed past the big boulder by the spring in the back meadow. Every step of the way in Africa until you become a repeat customer, and if you’re lucky friend, you’ll be guided and assisted. Let’s take Buffalo as mentioned early in the article. You’ll be expected to be a proficient marksman, with an appropriately powerful rifle typically a .375 H&H, and if you have a sense of class a .404 Jeffery, or for the properly competent or over-confident a .458 and up. You will not however be expected to carry larger than medium bore unless it’s a curiousity of yours, or you’re an experienced hand and choose to do so in sound judgment, in which case it is of course welcome. That case is unfortunately rare and PH’s loathe nothing more I assure you than an ill-practiced and impeccably armed man of means with a rifle he’s more afraid of than the Buffalo. It makes their job interesting, and just like in my profession, interesting is to be avoided at all costs. Except for just enough perhaps to flesh out a couple good stories, but that’s another matter.

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So, rather content with the client-PH relationship, or better said I’ve accepted it and appreciate what the PH does, I came to view my extremely lethal .375 as near ideal. Recoil is extremely manageable to most any experienced shooter, it can kill absolutely anything, ammunition is as available as clean water and sometimes more so, and the rifles are affordable and of manageable weight. A man can own one in stainless, single shot, double rifle, push feed and controlled feed, plastic stocks, junk wood or Claro, of European, Japanese, American, or even African manufacture… It is the small block Chevy of the African hunting world, and I assure you it came to be there upon its merits. So why leave such a lovely agglomeration of the middle ground, the best all rounder I’ve ever shouldered? It all changed when a fellow named Cam and I started talking about arranging an Elephant hunt in the still very much raw and wild jungles of West Africa. There was going to be a difference here, in an exchange we’re trading the services of my day job flying helicopters and I’ll be doing this hunt on my own; the kid on the farm is back in the pasture. Cameroun, or Anglicized Cameroon, is the last place to my knowledge Chasse Libre is possible on Elephant, that is self-guided hunting.

This changed everything. No longer was I to be guided by a consummate professional, I would be chasing the most dangerous animal I’m ever likely to hunt, and doing it on my own in some of the most challenging conditions to hunt such a creature. The Elephants I’m chasing are also likely the most dangerous in Africa, responding to pressure with extreme aggression and then melting into jungle thick enough at ten yards they are gone. I am also booked to hunt Rhinoceros this winter, a creature that along with Elephant truly stretches the .375 if anything can, as these two living-Pleistocene creatures barely belong in this age. Suddenly greater than .375 started to seem sensible, and I was blessed quickly be in touch with hunting associates who could help. Stirling was incredibly kind and generously loaned a .505 Gibbs RSM of his, a light as far as .505’s go, slim conversion that points wonderfully. A kindred adventurous soul, he happily agreed to the possibility of it going overseas for Rhinoceros. I took the ferry with my son to Vancouver Island, and met with him and his family to pick up the rifle. He’s a lucky man, with a beautiful rifle and more beautiful family, living in one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Thanks again, your generosity is appreciated and won’t be forgotten.

Now, on to a subject I addressed in the Megafauna article recently, that of the power required to physically kill Megafauna, in this case Elephant and Rhinoceros in particular. Truth be told, as anyone who knows anything about Bell is informed, it can be done handily with a .275 Rigby, .303 British, .318 Westley Richards, or even .256 Mannlicher. Bell however both lived in a different era, one of unpressured Elephants in enormous herds with many opportunities from which he could select, and he was a literal surgeon of Elephants whose experience none will ever be able to match; most especially so I. Even Bell, if you read his work, was on shaky footing for a good while early in his career, taking vitals shots and not the famous brain shot that now holds his name, with many a long follow up. I very much recognize I am on no better footing than that early Bell, for he had significant experience on big game having hunted wild meat for camps in Northern Canada, very close to my home range oddly enough, prior to his African ventures.

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Also I have no illusions about the conditions I’ll be facing these Elephants in, thick jungle, Bell’s least favourite conditions for Elephant hunting. Finally, Bell wrote of dropping successive bulls one after another in open areas, while the others looked on confused and unaware of the danger. Times have changed. The Elephants of today respond viciously to pressure, especially in the forests of West Africa, and present far more fleeting and inferior shot opportunities. Under these new considerations, and given more than a century of various experiences relayed through the writings and verbal knowledge of hundreds of well versed minds on the subject of rifles for Megafauna, it is an absolute conclusion to me that bigger is better, if you can handle it. Heavy cartridges are just more reliable killers in my experience, especially from inopportune angles. Hunting dangerous game, especially Elephants in jungle, has about as much in common with hunting Whitetails and the classical shot placement possibilities most of us grow up with as fishing does to swimming, and as such you’ll likely see me hunting with a .470.

 

The Beasts at Work

Until very recently, I had thought the dark things above .375 beyond me, that changed in a heartbeat when I caught myself wholly interested in how a penetration target stack below reacted to the .375, .450 Rigby, .470 Nitro, and .505 Gibbs respectively. When we were surprised by the .505’s results, I immediately reshot the stack to confirm, and much to my surprise caught myself shooting and holding both eyes open through the recoil keen to see how the stack was reacting. This is key in shooting big rifles; do not shoot them merely to experience the recoil. This is why so many poor souls at the range handed a .458 Lott find it so vicious, I’ve been in that position myself in the past. Give your big rifle a purpose, focus on it, and you won’t even notice the recoil, it’s just as you never remember the noise or recoil of a rifle when hunting; your mind is elsewhere and focused on more important matters. I had a bit of an epiphany, I had just fired a rifle I was afraid of days earlier, as casually as I’d shoot my .375. That is to say I shouldered it, leaned in, and shot my target without considering what I was doing.

 

The penetration I found, two rounds each to confirm the figure into a stack of 3” thick spruce planks was,

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Both .505 Bullets are Visible Stopped in the Same Plank, so Results were Consistent.IMG_9844

6 Planks, 18” of Spruce – .375 H&H 300gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw factory Federal ammunition, sorry no solids, this was what I had on hand on the short notice in which we did the shoot.  This bullet is a premium Cape Buffalo class bullet that is essentially a monometal core and base, with a nose of bonded lead to an extra heavy jacket, ideal Cape Buffalo, and Lion ammunition.

12 Planks, 36” of Spruce -  .505 Gibbs, Superior Ammuntion factory ammunition firing a 535gr monometal flat nose copper solid.

15 planks, 45” of Spruce – .450 Rigby, Superior Ammunition factory ammunition firing a 500gr monometal brass RN-FP (flat meplat, radiused nose edge) Woodleigh solid.

16 planks, 48” of Spruce – .470 Nitro Express, 500gr Woodleigh RN solids handloaded over 95grs of H4350. This is 5 grains below the load of 100grs I used later as these penetration testing rounds were the first two rounds loaded and fired, and I never penetration tested the 100gr loads. So even at base performance, or at the equivalent of a slightly downrange depleted velocity level, the .470 was the best penetrator. I was impressed.

 

A Layman’s Take on Recoil

 None of these are unmanageable, or even borderline, much as I’d like to be able to claim I’m on a different level of shooters. To my astonishment, right up to the somewhat light for cartridge .505 all are completely manageable, and actually even pleasant to use. Likely the rudest rifle of the bunch is the .450, you cannot deny it climbs as the video shows, though it still is no mythic beast of a rifle, but merely a solid kicker and nothing other wordly. I was actually concerned some might assume the rifles are downloaded, I assure you they are not, as they were so unremarkable to shoot, and even to shoot fast at that. I received respective “That’s it??” comments as each was fired by my shooting partner, braced to block the opening of a small portal to hell from going the wrong direction in the world. Like my friend, I like to lean in to a rifle and “take it”, stop the recoil dead and get on with hitting the target again. Associates who shot the rifles, though not big Matt, often performed a comfortable rolling reception of the recoil that ended quite muzzle(s) high. Whatever suits you go with it, we all shot the rifles well, though if you want to work fast do not be afraid to get right behind any of these rifles and take control of them, even the .505.

The .505 in Full Recoil, This is a Freeze Frame of the Highest Point of the Climb

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I suppose I was most surprised that there was no muzzles swinging thirty degrees off target pointed skyward, no loss of situational awareness or stunning of the shooter, or for that matter really no blaze of Nitro Expressed glory. Just hearty recoil, a rifle that hits what you aim at, and is well… pretty much a non-event. This immediately changed my take on stopping rifles, and I will now employ them with a .470 and .577 planned to enter the battery. I did hot rod the .450 Rigby to .460 Weatherby specs, as it is for all intents and purposes the same cartridge but beltless and without a radius shoulder, and is quite downloaded in factory spec. It was quite stiff, not at all uncontrollable, but you know you’re shooting a big gun, and this rendered the muzzle over the horizon situation I was looking for, as my .450 is quite light to boot. I still can’t make a show of even that recoil, as it still isn’t half what I anticipated. So all I can suggest is if you’re an old hand at .375 H&H, not only will I recommend the stopping rifles to you, I can tell you that you are unlikely to be impressed; by the recoil that is. As a last point, don’t shoot any of these rifles just to experience the recoil, aim at something and focus on hitting it. Too many shooters are put off guns that put out actual recoil (a .30-06 doesn’t, for instance, in this realm) due to shooting it only to see what it feels like. Do that, and you’ll feel it, so instead aim at something and shoot for a target, think about cycling the action or changing triggers, and it’s no different than anything else if your stance is right.

The video is below again, incase you want to view it with these points in mind. Do note the rocking of the camera towards the ground, it was fixed upon my helmet rigidly not some floppy mount, I wore my helicopter flight helmet so it was literally glued to my cranium. So that is my head getting left behind by my body in recoil, and I don’t have an easily moved set of shoulders with regards to rifles, so it takes some getting used to and I risk perhaps downplaying the recoil a bit in the paragraph above. The sentiments I’ve shared I have to recognize come from expecting the quaint portal to hell I mentioned, and being taken aback when all I found in my hands was a manageable rifle. The video certainly removes all the sensations and the watertight camera muffles the shots to near nil, making it all appear quite mild. There is the odd jarring sensation of getting punched in the head from the .450 and .505, that sour sensation anyone who spent too much time around bars as a young guy knows all too well. It is modest and fades quickly enough, and I only encountered it in the speed shoots and snap shots where set up wasn’t absolutely ideal. Again, focus on hitting targets and not the rifle and you really only think about the sensation when you’re finished and have lowered the gun.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whONoc09xF0

 

My favourite gun of the shoot was hands down the .470 Nitro Merkel 140AE double, and there are some things I must admit. I’ve practiced for quite some time with my own .375 H&H Merkel 140AE, and this undoubtedly influences my proficiency with it. It was literally twice as fast as the bolt guns, even the .375 RSM which of all the guns I have by far the most trigger time on, and it felt like magic, the kind of gun you forget is a gun and see simply as a hitting instrument. Just as when you instinctively snatch a swatter and take a swipe at a fly, the swatter isn’t there it’s an extension of you, the .470 (and unpictured .375 double for that matter) feel like that. See the kill snap shot at the end on my Lion in the Lion point of view video taken without forethought or planning unlike the first shot from the sticks; your computer mouse is less of a point and click interface than a good double. Yes, they are short on ammunition capacity, and I’m a quick shooter but a homely reloader, as you can see in the same Lion video for an illustration. So, you bolt fellows have my ear, and I can’t argue, this is just my preference and it’s all on feel. The odd hang up with the bolts certainly cements that opinion, as with the .450 in the video, full on jam with a blunt nosed solid.

Unfortunately I’ve had several jams of good guns for various reasons, the doubles have yet to cause me more grief than one failure to eject a Kalahari sanded case, though it still extracted fine. This was on video too, in the Gemsbok point of view hunting video, note my reload while running. I didn’t notice until back in camp and reviewing the video, but I had to pluck the case from the sandy chamber. The .505 was wonderful, and a fair bit of work on the bolt handle and in managing the recoil and swing of the rifle; everything about this gun is big. It pulls its weight however, delivering big hits with respectable speed, but it is not the wand the doubles are. You can feel how big those cartridges are through the bolt handle, the sound of one exiting the chamber as captured in the video is the most poetic relation of what this gun is like to work I can think of. The .375 is what it is, as always the benchmark in both double and bolt. Does what you expect, no frills, no drama, no excitement really either.

With that, thank you for listening. I’m having some serious frustrations with my hunts this winter, my Rhino CITES permit is not yet issued, and it bumped back my Elephant hunt as the two have to be back to back to fit in with work at home.  I may be delayed in sharing the on Megafauna effects and videos, so please bear with me. In the meantime, a Holland & Holland Royal .375 Flanged is landing on my bench to help quell my frustrations, check back for a review, detailed pictures, and shooter’s point of view video wielding arguably the finest rifle in the world. Certainly the finest I’ll ever use. Muzzles skyward- even if they don’t quite make it there, and hopefully the next correspondence is again from Africa and everything comes together for me on the hunts.