Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why did some seemingly excellent double rifle cartridges fail to become popular? (question from CalPappas.com)

Why did some seemingly excellent double rifle cartridges fail to become popular such as the .360no2, .369, .475, .476, and .600 (to name a few)? Josiah H., USA


Josiah:
I’ve often wondered this myself--we must be on the same wave length--why so many good and great cartridges failed to make the grade. I can think of a few reasons and I’m sure there are more.

First, is that another cartridge came along earlier and stole the show, so to speak. When the .475 nitro came along there were already several choices within that balllistic window to choose from.

Second, is that the later cartridge duplicated the ballistics of an earlier one. If it were not for England’s ban on the .450 caliber in the Sudan and India, the world would probably have been content with the three .450s. The .465 to .476 duplicated what the .450s did and were perfectly useable in Africa and the rest of Asia after the English ban.

Third, a great cartridge that people wanted was not released to the trade. So, if one wanted that caliber, they only had the choice of that maker’s rifles.The best expample that comes to mind is the .476 Westley Richards. Elmer Keith loved this one and with its 520 grain bullet was just a bit more ballistically than its cousins--but not enough to make one bit of difference. To the best of my knowledge, it was a Westley Richards proprietary cartridge. I have never seen of a .476 by a maker other than WR.

Last of all, the rifles may have been too expensive. A fellow who wanted a .465 Holland may have had only a .450 Army and Navy budget to work with. I guess this is certinaly true today in the double rifle market--both new and used.

Today, these seemingly unpopular cartridges work just fine and are sought after by collectors because of their rarity. Rarity may drive up the price a bit but, on the other hand, may keep the price low. A friend just bought a .475 Rodda for approximately 2/3 of the value. If it was a .470 the rifle would have fetched 1/3 more. Any differnce ballistically between the two? None. But today’s market favors the .470 and it was to my friend’s benefit. Also, with brass and bullets available today there is no reason to decline a purchase of a rare caliber.

Good shooting,

Cal