James D. Julia: An Overview of 4-Bore Stopping Rifles

The 4-bore (approximately 1″/25mm bore diameter) is the largest shoulder-fired rifle actually used for hunting. Developed in the days of black powder muzzleloaders, it was intended to be the ultimate rifle of last resort, to stop a charging elephant, rhinoceros, or other angry behemoth by sheer size of projectile. The cartridge continued to be used through the development of centerfire metallic ammunition and smokeless gunpowder, although it would be made obsolete by the greater penetration available from smaller smokeless-power cartridges in the 1890s and later.

While they were used by professional guides and hunters as well as sportsmen, the 4-bore was often a presentation and display gun, as it was simply too much for many people to want to carry and shoot. The most notable high-end bespoke gunmakers like Holland & Holland offered 4-bore rifles of exquisite quality and engraving, and in this video I’ll take a look at several of those (including guns from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad).

In addition, I will fire a couple rounds through a single-barrel 4-bore rifle rebuilt by J.J. Perodeux of Enid, Oklahoma. This rifle is truly a shooter’s gun, without the decorative embellishments of the guns from aristocratic collections. Whatever your taste in elephant rifles, I have something here for you!

Single-Barrel “shooter” 4-Bore
Holland & Holland
Pair of Roddas


  1. Talk about overkill. I’d only take one on a heavy mount and even then only if there were a clear and present danger of getting charged by a rhino or some warlord’s helicopter gunship (by the way, I believe one Soviet helicopter was lost to a century old Martini-Henry in Afghanistan because the Afghan headshot the pilot through the windscreen).

    Did I mess up?

      • That one is, of course, not at all shoulderable. Punt guns were, as their name somewhat archaically implies, meant to be mounted on boats and used to fire shot at flocks of birds — often by poachers. They may even have made some muzzle-loaders larger than 1 gauge, given that they’re effectively light cannon comparable to the “swivel guns” you see in pirate movies.

    • According to what literature is available, of the pre-Stinger losses of Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan, they were not caused by shots from below – the Hinds were too heavily armored for that.

      They were caused when Soviet pilots flew in the valleys and were shot down by snipers on the mountain tops who were aiming for the much more lightly armored turbine intakes.

      “Due to its heavy armor, the Hind is nearly impervious to guerrilla small arms unless the guerrillas can fire down at the helicopters using weapons positioned high on the sides of mountains. The Hind has only three known vulnerable points: the turbine intakes, the tail rotor assembly, and an oil tank inexplicably but conveniently located beneath the red star on the fuselage.”
      — ‘Soviet Air Power: Tactics and Weapons Used in Afghanistan” @ http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1985/jan-feb/nelson.html

      Read further in the paper cited to see how the Soviets reacted and changed their tactics to this threat.

  2. I suppose the closest an average person could get to that shooting experience would be a 10 gauge shotgun slug, which generates “only” about 2780 ft·lbf (Federal). That said, even 10 gauge slugs are difficult to find here, since the few people who own a 10 gauge scattergun use them almost exclusively for bird hunting.

  3. Euroweasel, if you have a 12 gauge magnum running 3 1/2 inch slugs you can get 4759 ft. lbs. They are also more common to find than a 10 gauge.

    • Perhaps Karl will try to buy that thing… Considering it’s not antique or collectible, the price should not be too high.

  4. Nice! Interesting to see a 4 bore fired by someone who knows what they are doing. BUT, did you hit what you were aiming at? How accurate? Minute of rhino?

  5. By coincidence, I’m reading The Gun and its Development by W.W. Greener (1897) right now. You can find a pdf for free here;


    I was reading the chapter on these massive guns just this morning. Here are a few observations from Greener;

    1. The .465 Express was so called because it had a MV over 1,600 F/S, and a maximum point-blank range of about 200 yards (i.e., before noticeable bullet drop below LOS began). Any rifle with these two attributes was considered an “Express” back then; in fact, the 0.303in Enfield loaded with either black powder, Cordite, or Riflite was defined as an Express round, as was the .264 Mannlicher (6.5 x 54) that Ian mentioned. (It was used by W.E. “Karamojo” Bell to shoot African elephant by inducing the big bugger to charge, then darting to one side and firing it into his ear canal and thus into the brain at a range of under five feet. No.Thank.You.)

    The .465 was a typical rifle for Indian hunting, considered prime medicine for tiger, etc., but was considered a bit light for African elephant, rhino, or hippo. It was considered way too light for Cape buffalo.

    2. The actual bore spec on a 4-bore is a nominal 1.25in (31.75mm). However, most 4-bores have “choked” or “constricted” bores near the muzzle, which was supposed to increase pressure and therefore velocity. This can “skew the returns”, and is another reason no two of the things are exactly alike.

    3.Besides round balls, 4-bores were often used with short conical bullets with a single cannelure or “grease groove”. Sometimes, explosive bullets were used, with a filling of potassium chlorate and a fulminate of mercury “pellet” as a detonator. The objective was that the projectile burst inside the target, generating a maximum avulsed area. Greener reports that an 0.303in bullet like this made a .3in hole in a bullock’s skull and when it blew inside, completely destroyed the contents of the skull cavity.

    4. The sights on these rifles were intended for fast pickup at close range (under 150 yards), mush like pistol sights. hence the wide, rather shallow “V” rear sight. You may have noticed that odd brass “button” behind the front sight. That is actually a flip-up “night sight”, intended for use in low-light conditions. Similar brass “rod” flip-up front sights were used on the British Army’s Baker rifle in the Napoleonic Wars.

    5. The short barrel length had less to do with weight than fast handling in the bush. Getting the barrel tangled in a low-hanging tree branch is not a good thing when an elephant decides to charge.

    6. The sliding tab behind the hammer on each side is a safety, rather like that found on percussion “muff pistols”. Greener was unalterably opposed to such hammer-locking safeties, as he had seen too many cases of them being “on” when the gun had to be ready to fire in an instant. His definition of a safety was “don’t cock the hammers until you’re in position” and “keep you finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target”- good advice, even today.

    7. The muzzle-loader is what was known as a “Cape rifle”. The two-groove rifling was inherited from the British army’s Brunswick rifle, introduced as a flintlock in 1832 and later converted to percussion. It fired a belted round ball; the “Cape” version had a conical bullet with two “flanges”, as Ian stated. Neither one was considered accurate enough for military purposes, but out to 200 yards either one would consistently put its bullets into a 12-inch circle, and for shooting at an elephant that was close enough.

    8. The rebuilt single barrel is neither a Greener or Holland & Holland action, as they never used that particular underlock block design. It is a modified Anson & Deeley-type underlock, which Greener didn’t think much of. The action was probably made in Birmingham around 1880 or so, and would not be considered a “best” gun.

    9. People today overestimate how much these guns originally cost. A typical H&H or Greener double 8-bore went for about 20 guineas, the 4-bore around 40. In modern terms, that’s about ({[40×21/16]4.75}27=) about $6,733, about what you’d pay for a modern high-end (non-custom) hunting rifle from most European makers, or about half what the few doubles still being made commercially costs (they average $12K MSRP).

    I hope this wasn’t too long or too boring.




    • No, it isn’t boring. Dumb question: would any elephant gun or Nitro-Express piece be powerful enough to go through Mi-24 windshield glass and instakill the pilot/weapons-controller?

      • Doubtful. IIRC the windscreen of an Mi-24 is armored against 23mm AA rounds, which are dramatically more powerful than this.

        • Drat. But are we talking about 23 mm rounds fired at a chopper that’s hovering ten meters above ground or flak thrown at a chopper cruising at perhaps 100 meters above ground? Was Mi-24 built to resist auto-cannon fired at baseball pitching distance?

          • I think I probably answered that question already, but no, it wasn’t build to resist 23mm or even 12.7mm AP projectiles at close ranges. The Afghan rebels allegedly managed to shoot down several Mi-24s with 12.7mm DShKs firing AP or API ammunition. That was said to be one of the reason why the Soviets switched from a 12.7mm rotary cannon and 57mm rockets to 30mm or 23mm cannon and 80mm rockets in the later Mi-24 models. The larger caliber weapons could be fired at greater distances effectively.

        • More correctly it is resistant against 23mm HE ammunition, which means that a single 23mm HE shell will not in most cases make a hole in the cockpit. A second hit close the the first one probably will. 23mm AP at close ranges will go through, but since close range hits are fairly unlikely, that is not a huge issue for survivability.

        • Correct. OTOH, it would make a real mess of most automobile or truck engines unless it had a really abominably bad route through the coachwork. The sheet metal not being noticeably tougher than an elephant’s skull bones.

          Tell a truck load of poachers in a Bedford QL to stop. They don’t, you fire into the radiator. 1 inch or so hole through radiator, shattered water pump or carburetor blown off the top of the block, depending on the exact angle of impact.

          “Karamojo Bell” shot through cab as they pass if you missed anything vital with your first barrel? Right through both doors, side-to-side, would be my guess. Anybody or anything in-between would have to take their chances.

          Not much different than bringing down a bull elephant in musth, really.

          BTW, the top of the canopies on the Hind-D wasn’t armored as heavily. 0.303in or 7.9 x 57 would punch through it perfectly well, as when some Hind pilot flew through an Afghan valley and a mujahadin opened up with a Bren, etc., firing down at the helo from a sangar further upslope.

          And yes, there was many a Hind pilot who wished he’d known that ahead of time.




          (reposted because it dumped my first one for some ewird reason)

          • It’s almost an academic question – the likelihood of getting a valid hit with an old black-powder rifle as an antiaircraft weapon is vanishingly small (this is why MANPADS exist, people) and the armor on any modern attack helicopter is built to withstand much nastier stuff than Victorian lead bullets.

    • There are of course many different ways to count current worth of historical money values:


      So anything from £1,870.00 to £31,000.00, if price was 20 guineas (£21) in 1880. Although the RPI calculation would indicate a relatively low value, I would say the average earning calculation (£9,400.00) is closer to how expensive the guns “felt” to middle and working class people at the time. A quote from the site:

      “On the other hand, if you are wondering how “affordable” this would be to the average person, use the GDP per capita, or a wage or average earnings index. For the US, we have an index of unskilled wage or the compensation of a production worker, and for the UK we have an index of average earnings.”

  6. Probably most powerful (in terms of energy) weapon designed for smokeless powder ever produced in quantity and officially named rifle is German WW2-era:
    2,8 cm schwere Panzerbüchse 41
    meaning 2.8-cm heavy AT rifle [model of 19]41 [year], you might argue that this is cannon not rifle but nevertheless it officially was rifle (Büchse).
    It used taper-bore which give HIGH muzzle velocity:
    This gun launch 0.124-0.131 kg APCR projectile at velocity of 1430 m/s giving (assuming average mass of 0.1275kg) 130362.375 J of energy, that is over 4 times more than 14.5×114 with B-32 bullet!
    But this was achieved at cost of barrel life – it has to be replaced after 500 shots.

    • The most powerful rifle one could actually fire from shoulder without a carriage or tripod was probably the Swedish Carl Gustaf 20 mm m/42 recoilless rifle. It fired a 108 gram (≈ 1670 grain) projectile at 950 m/s (3117 fps) for 48,883 J or 35,944 ft·lbf of energy. There are of course much larger bore shoulder-fired recoilless rifles (the US 90mm M67 is the biggest I know of), but they fire HE or HEAT ammunition, which in my opinion disqualifies them.

    • After Soviet Union captured some 7.5 cm Pak 41 which use taper-bore it sparks intensive development of all sizes of taper-bore guns. To name few:
      ТКБ-369 by М. С. Кнебельман (mostly known as designer of AK-630) was 37/25mm automatic aeroplane cannon firing 300-350 rpm launching 212g projectile at 1400m/s
      С-40 by В.Г.Грабин was 76/57mm AT (towed) gun firing at 2.45 kg projectile at 1332m/s which can pierce 230mm armour at 1000m
      КС-29 by Factory No. 8 (Sverdlovsk) was 85/57mm AA gun with muzzle velocity 1500m/s
      КС-24 by Factory No. 8 (Sverdlovsk) was 103/76mm AA gun with muzzle velocity 1300m/s
      Project of 220/152mm AA gun for destroying high-altitude spy-planes or bombers
      All proved to have too short barrel life and were never mass produced.

    • While officially a “Büchse”, it was always carriage or-pintel mounted, though I believe the wheels could be readily removed from the carriage for easier concealment. Of course, any anti-tank rifle had to be fired prone from a bipod as a practical matter. Firing from the shoulder in any other stance would knock the shooter head over heels.

  7. With regards to modern high end rifles and shotguns, the market has changed a lot in recent decades. The aristocrats and ultra-wealthy old money don’t go on safari very often these days, and game like Cecil the lion are getting shot by American dentists instead. That has taken a lot of the appeal out of it for people with the money to spend.

    In the UK, the aristocracy and the wealthy people who like to be seen with them are still using high end guns, but these are shotguns for exclusive invitation-only grouse hunts in Scotland where having an “appropriate” gun is as important as wearing “appropriate” attire. This is what keeps the “London” gun trade in business.

    With regards to the Nizam of Hyderabad, about half of British India technically consisted of independent states which were bound to the Empire by trade, defence, and foreign policy treaties. This meant there were a number of rulers of these states who were not shy of showing off just how fabulously wealthy they were. However, the rulers did what the British “Resident” (ambassador) told them to do, or else the British Indian Army would march in and replace him with someone more compliant. Today we would call this “regime change”.

    • W.H.B. Smith once observed that what drove small arms development on the Continent in the 18th and 19th Centuries was “what will kill the greatest number of men at the greatest distance”. That is, purely military R&D by the army establishments of the national governments.

      England was different. There, the driving force was sport, pure and simple, specifically upland game shooting by the aristocratic “leisure class”, which included landed gentry who were below titled rank (hence, “Esquire” or simply “Squire”).

      Reading Greener, I learned that while the British Army held on to using paper and brass composite cases in 0.577 Snider-Enfields, and coiled copper foil/brass head cases in .577/.450 Martini-Henrys until the 1880s, sporting gunmakers like himself, Holland & Holland, etc., had been using what we would recognize as quite modern centerfire drawn brass-cased ammunition in their products in the mid-1860s. Also, after a brief false start by Pauly and Houllier in France in the 1820s, what we think of as the traditional “break-action” shotgun (double barrel side by side or over under, or single-barrel) was almost entirely developed to its present form by British gunmakers between 1855 and 1880. Even the unusual Darne sliding-barrel side-by side action was based on a British original, designed in 1868, and using full-length brass centerfire cartridges even then.

      But that was all the British gunmakers were interested in developing. Because that was what their main market, the “shooting gentry”, wanted. They had no use for repeating shotguns of any kind, and even less for repeating rifles.

      Even sporting rifles there were still break-action, single or double-barrel. The most common sporting rifles were “rook” and rabbit guns; “rook” was the local term for crow, grackle, and other avian crop pests.

      These used special “rook and rabbit” rounds which were basically longer versions of revolver cartridges in .22, .25, .30., .32, and .38 caliber. The .380 Rook cartridge, for instance, is interchangeable with the .38 Colt centerfire used in metallic-cartridge conversions of Colt M1851 and M1861 “Navy” percussion revolvers- except that the .38 Colt round is actually a bit more powerful.

      The range and power of rook rifles, especially, was kept low for safety reasons, as they were used to shoot up at the birds when they were perching on limbs in trees. At such exaggerated elevations (often almost straight up), a miss could come down a long way “downrange” if power were not kept at “pocket pistol” levels, which frankly was good enough for the intended purpose, anyway.

      You may have noticed that most British military arms were designed by non-British designers, like Jacob Snider, James Paris Lee, Hiram Maxim, etc. (Lee, BTW, was a native of Ireland, but did most of his work in the U.S.) This was a consequence of the British government’s lack of interest in modernizing its arms until it was literally unavoidable. They simply did not have the same sort of R&D establishment the other European powers did. (In fact, it was more like ours, that resulted in our army getting stuck with execrable “trapdoor” Springfield for over thirty years.)

      The only actual exceptions were the revolvers and automatics from Webley & Scott, Adams, and Tranter. And those, as Greener admits, were almost purely commercial in their intended “target market”, and also largely “responses” to American designs from Colt and Smith and Wesson.

      Webley’s “Army Express” was basically a double-action Colt Peacemaker. The later Webley top-breaks were basically S&W Schofield copies, with double-action triggers and a more secure “stirrup” lock over the topstrap. Even the 0.455in round was basically a .45 Colt or Schofield reduced in length to fit a shorter cylinder.

      Great Britain has pursued its own course in arms design throughout its history, from the slings of the Saxons to the Welsh longbow and on down to the present.

      But its main line of development going into the 20th Century was entertaining the landed gentry with grouse shoots, and the occasional revolver “just in case”. Not preparing for two of the bloodiest wars in world history.

      The bill got called due each time.



      • eon,

        Considering some of the turkeys the continental powers marched to battle with in 1914, you may be being too charitable to them.

        I also think you’re being too harsh on the Trapdoor Springfield – it was certainly as good as any of the other single-shot rifles used worldwide by military forces at the time. The only criticism you could make of it is a relatively weak lockup, which was not a problem in actual service. Not to mention the US Army was an early adopter of proper brass cartridge cases which made the Trapdoor a dramatically better weapon than, say, a Martini-Henry for much of their respective service lives.

        • When referring to turkeys in 1914, I suppose you mean weapons other than rifles? Because the main service rifles of the major continental powers seems to have been quite modern and functional. The Lebel with its slow-to-load tubular magazine was admittedly somewhat old-fashioned, but otherwise a fairly good and reliable rifle, and the large capacity compensated the slow magazine somewhat.

      • Well, British national defense was primarily given to the Royal Navy (and eventually the Royal Air Force). Which matters more when your opponent must cross water to get you, rifles or big ship mounted guns and airplanes?

        @Armchair Warlord: The US Army had reliable weapons, but idiots for gun procurement. I won’t say that the Trapdoor Springfield was terrible, but the combat philosophy it embodied was already overturned by developments on the private sector. If a platoon of American infantry reservists armed with Springfield rifles came across an equal number of bandits armed with lever-action repeaters, the former group is outgunned and more than likely to lose the shootout.

        @Euroweasel: Lebel and Kropatschek rifles are probably best used by someone who doesn’t need rapid magazine reloading, like a sniper. Regular grunts would appreciate a short reloading cycle, which is why charger loading and the eventual rise of detachable rifle magazines was a must. I would still prefer the Lebel over any muzzle-loader!

        • Actually, the Trapdoor Springfield was terrible. It had a very weak lockup, that was fundamentally only held shut by a spring catch and the hammer’s driving spring (the hammer landing on the end of the firing pin where the percussion nipple used to be). It also had a fairly weak hinge assembly.

          If the catch failed, the hammer spring wasn’t strong enough to hold the breech shut by itself. And with wear, the catch often broke or just didn’t latch properly.

          The result was the breechblock flipping open, the case-head (now unsupported) failing, and the shooter getting a face-full of hot gas and brass fragments.

          To add to the shooter’s problems, the Trapdoor had poor primary extraction and was noted for case-head separations. The occurrence of this at Little Big Horn was blamed on poor-quality copper-cased ammunition, and was stated to be a contributing factor in the destruction of Custer’s unit. But in fact the case-head separation problem was less due to ammunition quality than the nature of the extraction geometry.

          The Trapdoor was adopted simply because it was “hatched on the premises”. Erskine Allin, the director of Sprignfield, created it by “borrowing” patented features from several other breechloading actions, notably the first Berdan design that was used by the Russian army. Note that he gave no credit to anyone else, nor were any rights purchased or royalties paid, ever.

          Jacob Snider, one of Springfield’s in-house engineers, designed his own “trapdoor” breech. It opened to the side, and was basically a steel “brick” inside a steel “box”.

          Since the hinge was in line with the bore, it couldn’t be forced open by breech pressure; to do that the pressure would have had to compress steel upon steel, and that just wasn’t going to happen. Extraction was a combination of an angled “cam surface” that turned the case slightly and pulled it back a bit to break it loose 9solving the primary extraction problem) and simply puling the block when open straight back on its hinge pin to pull the case most of the way out. A coil spring shoved it back forward when you let go of it. Simple and pretty much “soldier-proof”.

          His design had a spring-latch, too, but it was just to keep the breech from “flopping” open when the rifle was inverted or slung.

          He entered his design in the RfP competition. Allin accused him of insubordination, had him hauled before a review board (with Allin officiating) and got him fired.

          Snider, fed up with all the nonsense, took his design to Britain, where a similar RfP competition was underway. The result was the Snider-Enfield breechloader.

          About two decades ago Gun Digest had an article in which a “gun writer” claimed that the Trapdoor was inherently the safest of all single breechloaders, and that the Remington Rolling Block was by far the most dangerous. Why?

          Because the Trapdoor breech always fails- often spectacularly- before the barrel does in an overpressure event.

          By comparison, the Rolling Block breech is so tough, the barrel invariably lets go, usually by splitting near the breech, before the breech fails. The Snider does the same thing. Ditto the Sharps, Alex Henry falling-block, Peabody & Martini rear-pivot dropping blocks, etc. All of which this “expert” concluded were somehow more dangerous to the shooter than the Trapdoor breech.

          I submit that this “expert” didn’t understand physics very well. I also suspect he would be perfectly happy shooting .35 Whelen rounds in a rechambered Ross straight-pull rifle.

          Myself, I tend to avoid the Ross, and the Trapdoor. Just a personal preference, you understand.



          • Eon,

            Irrelevant. The Trapdoor action was strong enough to fire the .45-70-500 reliably and had a comparable rate of fire and ballistic performance to any other military rifle of the era – and by the way, a much better rate of fire and ballistics than any Snider conversion. Certainly any theoretical safety problems with the action were not enough to turn the Army off it, and it’s not like there were not alternatives.

            Also, case head separation was not a problem at the Little Bighorn – battlefield archaeology has found few separated cases. Being dramatically outnumbered, I suspect, had more to do with it.


            So you say, but the Army was in exactly those kind of fights all the time and we generally won. We also sometimes had to deal with Indians at half a kilometer, which your Winchester lever gun was going to be dramatically unequal to. In fact, Ian himself ran a Trapdoor Springfield vs. Mosin-Nagant match, of which video is available, and you’d be surprised which rifle won.

          • I also note that this is apparently the same hidebound, mouth-breathing Ordnance department that in 1892 replaced the “in house” Trapdoor with a design from Norway, and in 1903 replaced that rifle with a design from Germany. And in 1936 replaced that rifle with a semi-auto designed by a French-Canadian. One complains about the acquisition processes of a hundred years ago, but given what you hear about the DOT&E we may well be doing a worse job. Ordnance at least had an incentive to actually field things.


            The Mosin-Nagant is not a particularly good rifle either. Nor is the Berthier. Certainly they’re serviceable, but I’d prefer an SMLE. In fact the general British array of small arms available during WWI seems to me to have been the best out of any country involved.

          • Mosin-Nagant is just fine, nothing particularly wrong with it. It was probably not the best among its contemporaries, but there is no reason to say that it was the worst, either. In any case, not a “turkey” by any means. The Berthier had lower capacity than other contemporary bolt-action rifles prior to the M16 modifications. A less than ideal solution for sure, but again, not a “turkey”, since the Berthier was generally a reliable design. If the poilus had not been “spoiled” by the high capacity magazine of the Lebel, they probably would not have complained so much about the Berthier.

  8. Weapon of choice scenario:

    Why did I ever agree to guard the train station? There’s a huge group of bandits on horseback headed this way (on the horizon as I speak), and they’ve already cut the telegraph lines, so I can’t call the cavalry! It doesn’t help that there’s a train full of uncut diamonds sitting here with a steam locomotive that needs two hours for necessary repairs, water, and stocking up on coal. The train’s driver just broke a leg from tripping on his own shoe laces, so even with repairs, the train isn’t going anywhere. Here’s the worst part: I’ve only got sporting and hunting weapons here, along with some pistols and perhaps one machinegun. What do I do now, scream “Mommy?”

    If you want to help, get something from the list below. If not, start running! And please send four coffins back if you really don’t think I’ll live.

    1. 4-Bore double rifle
    2. Lebel-Grasset Nitro-Express
    3. Winchester Model 1912 or Stevens 520 Trench Gun and bayonet
    4. Luftwaffe Sauer M30 Drilling
    5. Mauser Wehrmanngewehr chambered for 8.15x46R
    6. FN Model 1903
    7. 6-shot Mauser C96
    8. Smith & Wesson 41
    9. Fiat-Revelli M1914
    10. Ordnance QF 6-pounder loaded with HE or canister, alternatively the 7.5 cm kanon PL vz. 37 with HE
    11. Or per the usual, screw the budget and have your favorite toy airdropped on site

    This activity is totally voluntary. You are not required to participate if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,


      • Ouch, that’s going to hurt. At least you can’t possibly lose unless your loader has been drinking on the job… Or am I wrong?

        • I hired trained monkeys so I didn’t have that problem, but I’m nearly broke from buying truck loads of bananas.

          • Ouch, the bankruptcy… And the awesomeness of training monkeys to kill bad guys from half a mile away.

          • An infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of automatic weapons would eventually write a sonnet by Shakespeare on the barn wall, or such…..

            Just wanted to mention that around 1971 I had a copy of Guns Illustrated (which was sort of an abbreviated version of the annual Shooter’s Bible, with just the catalog pages and none of the advertorial “reviews”) and the Stoger catalog included a full page of “colonial trade” flintlocks which had been rendered surplus to the inventory by the end of colonialism. “Modern” stocks and barrels in a variety of calibers, gauges and lengths (Lord knows when they dated from)mated to locks that were advertised as being Napoleonic-vintage, sold through the first half of the 20th century in colonies whose residents were denied cartridge arms, and one of them was a four-gauge smoothbore “elephant gun.” With a crescent buttplate… ouch!

            I’m a bit of a fan of the historic novels of South African author Wilbur Smith, and most of his 18th and early-19th century books feature “four to the pound” muzzle loaders.

    • You need range and rate of fire to deal with that sort of problem. Take the Fiat-Revelli M1914, and remember that a “cavalry charge” against a bunkered-in HMG almost never works, anymore than knights charging a few ranks of longbowmen or crossbowmen does.

      Mainly because horses are much bigger targets than men are. And a man who takes a spill off a horse when the horse suddenly crumples under him at a gallop has a better-than-even chance of being in no condition to get up again after hitting the ground at about 30 MPH.



    • “Here’s the worst part: I’ve only got sporting and hunting weapons here, along with some pistols and perhaps one machinegun. What do I do now, scream “Mommy?”
      If you want to help, get something from the list below. If not, start running! And please send four coffins back if you really don’t think I’ll live.”
      Mannlicher-Schönauer if enemy has to cross open space before reaching us.

  9. I have read about these rifles, it has been said that many hunters who used them needed to have their gun bearer sit back to back with him to keep from being knocked over when he fired the rifle. Way too much recoil if you ask me

  10. Amazing you got the chance to fire that, give what the auction estimate for the box of 10 rounds is. How did the recoil compare to the L39 Lahti? Have you fired a manual repeating .50bmg? etc?

  11. “There’s no shame in having a recoil pad”, too true!

    Those big guns are easier to shoot if you don’t even try to hold them down. Just let the thing fly up, it’s not like you’ll get a quick follow up shot and fighting the physics hurts. And as your slow motion shows, it’s useless anyway.

    We forget how much the old time shots actually shot. It was very typical to fire fifty or a hundred 12 bore shots every day week in and week out, out of very light guns. Not many people nowadays sling a ton or two of lead at flying targets every year.

  12. The recoil on that thing looks about what the recoil on the 20 inch barrel SMLE I fired once had. We didn’t have video cameras in 1965 but my buddy and I watched each other fire the thing – talk about muzzle blast ( at night )!

  13. Here’s mine in action in AU, c.1887


    It was made for 4 7/8 ounce (2133 grain) conical bullets and 14 drams of powder with an “emergency” loading of 16 drams. I’m not quite sure how that was supposed to work.

    Most of the company records burned during the war, but I have a solid history from 1962 and some info from the immediate post ww2 years. I would love to know the 1887~1930 history!

    Anyone who comes on up to Anchorage on May 7th is welcome to shoot it and a plethora of other bore rifles and double guns at the range just north of town during our annual AK double rifle shoot. Lots of informal fun and many cool old hunting rifles to try out.

    As a note, recoil is VASTLY lower with smokeless than black powder for a given velocity. 10 dram BP loads easily lift your foot off the ground even with a healthy lean,smokeless ones aren’t worse than a 500N or such.

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