Monday, May 21, 2012

Magazine Articles by Cal

The flowing are articles I've written over the years. Enjoy them and use them as you wish.



Text and photos by Cal Pappas

In John Milton's (1608-1674) Paradise Lost, man was forced to exit the Garden of Eden due to his sin. 
And, for six thousand years, man has searched the globe for a suitable replacement. While not as perfect as the Garden, Marakanga Ranch in Zimbabwe may just be as close as one can find today.

     I was introduced to Marakanga Ranch in a manner that is a bit unorthodox. I was there for ten days in June of 1997 as a hunting client of a well known professional hunter, Barrie Duckworth, who had over-booked his own property and needed an area for my plains game hunt. Barrie, one of the most respected men of his profession in Zimbabwe (and perhaps in all of Africa's hunting community) chose the property of his close friend, Jerry Whitehead of Chiredzi, Zimbabwe.

     The story of the Whitehead's management of Marakanga begins in the late 1980s with the idea to expand the interests of the family to working with land and game as Jerry had done in his younger days. Owning a successful engineering firm in Chiredze made the thought of buying property a reality.

     After looking at several real estate parcels in southeastern Zimbabwe Jerry and his wife Rose settled on a section of the former Nuanetsi Cattle Ranch. The Nuanetsi, a generation ago, was one of the world's largest cattle ranches. By the late 1980s its million plus acres were broken up into several small ranches intermixed with native communal land. Any real estate agent worth his salt would not have shown Marakanga to a prospective buyer. The land was over grazed, there was no surface water, and only a half dozen impala remained on the scorched landscape.

     The Whiteheads drew from their knowledge of Africa to see a tremendous potential. One large valley with rock cliffs could hold several year's supply of water if it was damned. On remote sections pans could be dug and water pumped from underground springs. Water was the key. With water vegetation would grow. Then the animals would come. Another flight over the ranch in Jerry's Cessna 210 closed the deal and Marakanga would now be theirs.

scan000061.jpgJerry and Rose purchased Marakanga in 1989. Working together with their son, Brian and daughter-in-law, Tammy, they have made Marakanga into a prime hunting property that may well indeed be Zimbabwe's best kept secret.

     The story of the growth of the ranch is a text book study of combining land management and game management but is beyond the scope of this article. Skipping over the years, Nyala Dam was constructed to catch water in the rainy season. Twenty-seven feet high it now dams water over one kilometer into an excellent fishing lake (with crocs, too). A leak allows water to flow downstream in times of drought and six small pans have been dug to add water to outreaching areas of the ranch.

     Game was introduced to the ranch. Animals that managed to survive the trek across tribal lands to Marakanga stayed. Today Marakanga is lush in vegetation and rich in huntable game. Herds of zebra, wildebeest, eland, sable, greater kudu, impala, and waterbuck are seen daily as are dozens of giraffe plus warthog, wild pigs, nyala, bushbuck,  duiker, baboons and monkeys. Breem and bass swim in Nyala Lake with the crocs and 150 species of birds grace the skies. A small section of the ranch is used to grow citrus with 6,000 grapefruit trees adding to the income of the ranch (with 4000 more planned for the year 2000).

     I hoped for a pleasant hunt for my introduction to Africa. Jerry flew to the Duckworth's Mokore hunting camp to fetch Neil Duckworth (Barrie's son), my young professional hunter, and I. In less than an hour of flight we approached Marakanga.  The flight to Marakanga was quite a contrast to what lay ahead. Over native lands I saw nothing but scorched earth. No animals. Not one! The land was brown dirt with a few dried out trees. I thought to myself, "Some hunt this will be!"

Jerry and Rose Whitehead at Marakanga Ranch

Ahead was what looked like an oasis. It was--an oasis named Marakanga. Green trees lined the far side of the dry riverbed of the formerly-named Nuanetsi River. It was now the Mwenezi River. Beyond the river the land was rich in grass and trees and an abundance of game was spotted from the air. My heart beat began to step up!

     After landing, introductions, and putting away the gear Jerry drove Neil and I around the ranch. "There are no game fences here," Jerry told us, "just border fences. The game just doesn't want to leave."

     The first day of the hunt we concentrated on eland. Kudu was my first choice but eland are the more difficult to hunt and not as common. First day success was not to be but the second was. We crossed eland spoor in the early morning and began following the tracks of a small herd of bulls. After two hours we knew we were close. I should clarify that statement. Neil and the tracker knew we were close--I didn't have a clue.

     How these guys can track in the conditions on Marakanga is beyond me. Now I've hunted off and on for nearly thirty years and can track a bit. It's even easy at times. But on Marakanga it is not an overstatement to say that where ever one looks at the earth, the earth is covered by tracks. I mean everywhere! Yet the tracker could pick out the tracks of my potential trophy and follow without error.

     We were moving slow now. The eland were just ahead. Neil and the tracker could hear them and so could I. The tracker stayed behind as Neil coached me to the slowest stalk I have ever experienced. Nearly two hours were spent moving perhaps thirty yards. It was imperative the wind stayed in our favor. The last ten yards and one hour were spent crab-walking with my Mortimer and Son .500x3-inch black powder express double rifle across my lap.

     Neil was as still as a statue with his finger pointing to the front left. I inched closer to observe a bull eland lying down and resting in the mid-day sun. He was old and steel-blue in color with horns worn down from age. Neil thought he would measure 33-34 inches. Since eland was not my top priority I hoped to go better but, after a stalk that stories are made from, I took the shot. Thirty to forty yards was a easy sitting shot with my elbows resting on my knees. It was then I knew the advantages of an underlever hammer double rifle. I remembered John Taylor's writings of how an exposed hammer rifle could be cocked without any sound. His theory worked! I held the front trigger back as my thumb brought the right hammer to full cock. I did the same with the rear trigger and the left hammer. Complete silence.



The shot rang out and the eland started to rise. Neil shouted, "Hit him again" and the left barrel spoke. The eland went down with a shot to the spine. My first shot was a poor hit--deflected by a blade of the tall grass I shot through from the sitting position. Aiming at the shoulder, my bullet hit the neck and passed through with little damage. A good second shot saved precious time searching for a wounded animal or perhaps a lost $1500 fee.

     After the photos and handshakes the tape came out. Initially I was disappointed with a 27 1/2-inch bull. But I had made the error so many of today's hunters make--that of putting measurement ahead of the quality of the hunt. It was the best stalk of my life. Nothing will replace that. Now, when I look at my eland, I remember the experience and not the horn length. Excluding the weight of elephant ivory, most of the old-timers rarely, if ever, mentioned measurements.

     More was to follow. A zebra, impala, and baboon completed the hunt. A trophy kudu didn't materialize although they were seen. But that was okay. I knew I wanted to return. Mentally I made plans for a 1998 hunt. It was to be a two-part hunt. One for buffalo in the north with the Duckworths and another at Marakanga for plains game. Schedules didn't match so the buffalo hunt had to be set aside.

     June of 1998 was to be another hunt of future memories. This time kudu would be top priority. During the pre-hunt drive around the ranch I saw my dream trophy. There in front of me was a bull that Jerry and Brian estimated to be in the upper fifties and possibly stretching to the magic sixty- inch mark. Barry Duckworth, just passing through on a visit, confirmed the huge bull. But I didn't have my rifle! I wasn't to hunt for two days and my just purchased 1926 vintage Cogswell and Harrison takedown Mauser .375 lay in its case at the ranch. I had to be content watching this magnificent animal trot off into the sunset. His massive horns were parallel to his back as he held his head high with pride.

Nyala Dam took three years to build--all by hand. The Whiteheads employ 40 Africans on the ranch

Finding this bull would be easy. It's track was huge. If Rowland Ward or SCI had a category of feet I would have my first world record!

     The next day we returned to the area and picked up the spoor right away. We could hear him barking in the trees but he was not to be seen. Not that day, or the next, or the next. And so it went for several days. Tracks, a quick glimpse, barking, but no clear shot.

     When we saw him the excitement grew. Just a shadow in the trees, that's all. His excellent colors, horns that blend in with branches, combined with uncompromising  sight, smell and hearing work together to make the greater kudu one of Africa's most difficult animals to hunt.

     It wasn't long before he spotted us and the chase was on! The thickness of the woods worked to our advantage as well as to the kudu. We could not see each other very much. We began to parallel him--sometimes moving very slow, sometimes at a full run--but the chance of an open shot seemed to elude me. Then, two hundred yards off the bull stopped to look at us through the bush. Curiosity was to be his doom. I was panting like a dog in mid summer as I tried to steady myself for a shot. The .375 roared and the kudu disappeared.

     Running to the area, his tracks told the story in the earth. He moved away at high speed. I was cussing my miss when the tracker spotted blood on the ground several yards away. After a short time to let the kudu stiffen up we followed the spoor in to very thick bush. He was standing on a rise and I could only see his upper back and lower neck. After three unsuccessful tries to find him in my scope at 1.5x, I removed the Griffin and Howe mount I took the finishing shot, with open sights-through the neck, breaking the spine.

     Moving to the bull, through the brush and into the small open space where he fell, I noticed a beautiful horn. That's right, horn. Singular. We had managed to follow another bull with a huge track. A print longer that a loaded .375 cartridge. Another bigfoot! The brush so thick we never got a good look at the quarry. We just assumed, from the track size, we had the monster bull of the first day. The first shot took him in the lower chest, passed through his body, and exited in front of the rear left leg.

     The left horn was broken off at about fourteen inches. It was a great hunt and I wasn't disappointed in the least. If I didn't get a trophy kudu this year I would the next. It was on this hunt I decided to hunt Marakanga each year until I retire in 2004.


     Two days later another kudu was spotted after two hours of tracking. Not the monster we first saw, but a respectable bull of 53 1/2 inches. However, the highlight of my hunt was taking  wildebeest of almost 31 1/2 inches after nearly a full day of tracking a small herd. It may be coincidence that Marakanga has excellent wildebeest (several were spotted in the 30- to 31-inch range) as Jerry Whitehead holds the former number three wildebeest in Rowland Ward. Three plentiful evenings of bird shooting brought my hunt to an end.

     The summer of 1999 will see my third hunt on Marakanga. This time leopard (a dozen live on the ranch), sable, and waterbuck are on my wish list.

     The pleasant memories and thoughts of my hunts on Marakanga have many facets. First is the quality of people the Whiteheads are. Committed to the land and game their ranch has evolved from a desert to a productive game ranch. Ethical hunting is the rule and game is never shot from a vehicle. Fair chase tracking is the only method. Also, due to the income from the citrus and the engineering company, hunting pressure is low. Four hunts per year is the norm with one or two being bow hunts (Jerry and Brian are avid long bow hunters). With this is the guarantee that the client is the only guest at the ranch during the hunt. No sharing the ranch with strangers. The Whiteheads will host only you and your party.

     And of course the hospitality. Excellent food and accommodations, competitive daily rates and trophy fees (excellent rates for leopard and sable), horseback riding (Tammy Whitehead owns a riding school), fishing, bird shooting, plentiful game, and photography make for memories the client will have forever.

     If you would like to know more about Marakanga Ranch feel free to contact the author at 8100 Country Woods Drive in Anchorage, Alaska 99502 (907-522-8616) or write the Whiteheads directly care of Whitro Engineering, PO Box 177, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. I'll be there each June for at least five years. Perhaps I'll see you there--in paradise!


1. Jerry and Rose Whitehead at Marakanga Ranch.

2. Nyala Dam took three years to build--all by hand. The Whiteheads employ 40 Africans on the ranch.

3. Nyala Lake keeps the land and game watered even in dry spells.

4. Author's second kudu.

5. Almost 31 1/2 inches put this wildebeest well in to the record book.

6. The result of an excellent stalk that illustrates the honor in fair-chase hunting.

7. This stallion fell to the author's .270 Weatherby (serial number 891).

8. Brian Whitehead who, in the author's opinion, is in dire need of shotgun instruction and practice.

9. Another of Marakanga's dams which keep the ranch providing water for the game even in dry spells.

Nyala Lake keeps the land and game watered even in dry spells.


by Cal Pappas

Three of the best summers of my life were spent on a remote ranch in southeastern Zimbabwe. 1997-98-99 are remembered as safe, free, clean, exciting with more emotions than words can readily describe. I was a guest of the Whitehead family of Chiredzi for three hunting vacations. The Whitehead's management of the land and wildlife on their Marakanga impressed me so much I penned an article for The African Hunter magazine for volume 7, number 3.

For my article, I chose the title, Paradise Found. It was a take off on John Milton's Paradise Lost, written in the 1600s. To paraphrase, the two-page story chronicles the Whiteheads 10+ year transformation of a dry and desolate land into land teeming with abundant animal life and rich, lush vegetation. I closed the article with my vow to return there for at least five years until my retirement from secondary school teaching.

Sadly, the world of Zimbabwe has been turned upside down with the policies of the current government. I learned of the changes a few months before my June of 2000 flight to Chiredzi for what was to be my forth consecutive visit. Word was spreading fast of the Mugabe government's plan to allow veterans of the 1980 War for Independence to confiscate land owned by white farmers. This land was the breadbasket of Zimbabwe. The country's food supply was grown here. Tens of millions of foreign dollars came to the country from tourists and hunters. I was one. My yearly savings was spent in Zimbabwe as it was the zenith of my dreams.

The Whiteheads have always had a good working relationship with the black Africans. Dozens of families are employed on the ranch which boasts a store and gardens for the workers. In the town of Chiredzi, Whitro Engineering employs several dozen more indigenous people. When there, I felt safe and secure without bars on the windows or having to lock the door at night.

But on May 15, 2000, a report came to Gerry Whitehead about some vagabonds cutting down trees on the ranch. Upon confronting them, Gerry was told the government had given permission for them to settle on the property. The next day Gerry had a peaceful meeting at the ranch's store. There were threats that trouble would ensure if the Whiteheads did not vacate the property. Gerry advised me to cancel my June vacation. (Coming with me would be my mother and two of her relatives).

The remainder of 2000 saw Gerry finding wire snares, dead animals, and cut trees. He found those responsible, arrested them, and took them to the police station. They were let go without charges. DISPOL (the district police) were controlled by the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and it was the government's wish the intruders were not to be prosecuted, he was told. Daily sightings of vultures told the story--animals were being killed by the score. The hundreds of impala, herds of zebra, eland, kudu, nyala, wildebeast, wart hogs, bushbuck, the majestic sable, giraffe, and more, were in serious decline.

Gerry's diary for 2001 pictured a worsening situation. Since Gerry was a member of Movement for Democratic Change (MDF)  (the political party in opposition to Mugabe) he was a target. His workers were threatened with beatings and death if they did not leave the ranch. Some of the workers were actually members of the Central Intelligence Office who were funneling information back to the government.

What must be understood here is that it is not only violence toward whites but also toward black Africans who are living in harmony with the whites. And, most of the "war vets" are too young to have participated in the war of 1980. Most are lawless thugs who want free land. However, when the farmland is taken over, buildings are burnt, trees cut, forests set afire, machinery destroyed, etc... in an orgy of destruction. Now, the land unable to be tilled and Zimbabwe is on the edge of mass starvation.

In February the ranch was attacked, the Whitehead's home looted and the store for the workers was destroyed. Workers were again threatened but many were staying as it was their home and they enjoyed their relationship with the Whitehead family. Upon filing a complaint to the authorities, Gerry was cited for public violence and his property searched. He was released from prison and found not guilty but while he was away packs of dogs began running down game on the ranch. The dogs would chase and kill the animals and the poachers would locate the carcass by following the vultures to the kill. They would take what they wanted and leave the remainder.

The year continued with more poaching with dogs and wire snares. There was also more destruction of property and violence against the workers. Gerry continued to work toward saving his property and arrested violators when he was able. No support was coming from the police and those arrested were soon back on the land. Gerry's life was threatened on more than one occasion and workers who were held captive by the invaders overheard of plans to assassinate Gerry. The police would not get involved.

Gerry Whitehead is the legal owner of the property and he wrote to the Amani Trust to investigate the human rights violations. There was no response.

By the end of 2001 most of the fences were destroyed--the wire used for snares. It was estimated over half of the animals on the ranch were now dead and the actual figure was probably higher. It amazes the author that there is so much public outcry over legal and fair-chase hunting when no one is speaking up about the millions of animals who die a slow and painful death from wire snares. An animal caught in a snare keeps fighting to free itself. The wire eventually wears through the skin and bare flesh is exposed. Without food and water the animal dies slowly in a few agonizing days. If fortunate to break free, many spend their remaining days minus a leg.

2002 saw a continuance of the year before. Gerry was shooting dogs when he could. Hundreds fell to his aim but they were always replaced by more. The poaching, tree cutting, and destruction of property continued. One worker who spoke up against the invaders was killed and on January 22 and two more were executed by the outlaw "vets". Again Gerry wrote to the Amani Trust. And again, no reply. Requests for assistance in solving the murders went without investigation from the local police.

By May, Gerry was informed his property had been divided into blocks for the war vets. Ten thousand orange and grapefruit trees were to be divided among the vets. The cash crop of the ranch that provided funds for animal welfare was and workers salaries and medical care was about to cease.

In August Gerry was arrested for not following the government's order to vacate the property. I had been in South Africa in June and July and watched reports on the televised news where Mugabe made it illegal for a white farmer to harvest crops or in any way improve or protect his land. (Can you imagine the world outcry if a white government passed such a set of laws against black or other indigenous people?).

By the end of 2002 Gerry estimates 80 percent of the wildlife has been killed. Hundreds of snares are found and destroyed but were soon replaced by others. Poacher's dogs continued to be shot by the dozen but they, too, were replaced by others.

2003--More of the same. The Whiteheads finances are wiped out trying to salvage their property. The engineering company in Chiredze is nearly bankrupt as there are so few farmers bringing in machinery for repair. Gerry's son, his wife, and their daughters have departed for Australia to begin a life of security there. For Gerry, Zimbabwe is all

he knows as his family has lived there for several generations as has his wife, Rose. If he leaves, he takes nothing with him--the law won't allow it. But every day he stays, his life is in jeopardy. Only a few impala can be seen on the ranch's thousands of acres. The herds have all been killed.

Can Zimbabwe be saved? Can Marakanga return to its former glory? The answer is "YES" if the world community can get involved and support those in need by pressuring the government to change the current policies. The human rights violations (to both black and white) must stop.

Paradise Lost can be Paradise Regained. Can you help? Will you help?


text and photos by Cal Pappas

Disappointed with the trophy quality of your last safari? Perhaps you were overcharged? Maybe the camp was not the condition you were shown in the photos. Cheer up! After reading the author’s experiences with ten overseas hunts your experience will seem like a ray of sunshine.

Hunt 1. My first trip to Africa and was I excited! Booked in 1993 and scheduled to depart in June of 1994 I was set to go with one of the top professionals in Zimbabwe for buffalo, sable, kudu, and eland (I had to drop lion and leopard due to a divorce). Upon landing in Harare I was greeted by a 20-year old  who introduced himself as my PH. “Your regular PH was overbooked and I was hired to replace him.” I learned several things from my young and talkative PH--the better animals were to be saved for clients on more expensive safaris, how much of a tip was expected, of his disdain for the black race, and that he was unfamiliar with the area and it would take several days to acquaint himself with the geography to locate water holes and find the buffalo. As the days progressed and trophy buffalo were nowhere to be found I also learned that the owner of the company would make more money if I did not shoot a buff as the buff could be resold with another daily rate. I named my PH the “really must guide” as he would say, “You must really have one of these” every time we would see wildlife. I was a bit out of shape on this hunt and when we would come to a hill I would be challenged to run. “I love to run up steep grades” he would say. After eight days of basically nothing, my PH greeted me in the morning with, “Cal, I’m sorry. I don’t know where the buffalo are. Where do you want to go?” “Back to Harare” was my reply.

     A few months later I met with the owner of the company in Anchorage and he apologized  for the behavior of the PH and offered me a leopard and plains game hunt at the observer rate. Since I was soured on Africa I wanted to think about it for a while. When I later agreed, the owner backed down and said he would no longer make me the offer. I was done with Africa--or so I thought.

Hunt 2. After a year of Africa pulling, I decided to book a plains game hunt with another of Zimbabwe’s best. I was assured by an acquaintance in Alaska that this PH was a skookum individual and I would hunt with his son who was also a top notch hunter and very ethical. Off I went and the hunt was fine except for a couple of disappointments. Kudu was my most desired animal but I agreed to hunt eland first if I could bag a real trophy. We saw and stalked and then I shot a bull that my guide said would be 33-34 inches. Turned out he was 27. I later learned that the eland was prepaid on the ranch we were hunting on and if I didn’t shoot one the PH would be out the money. I guess that was the incentive to shoot a small bull. Half way through he hunt I went over the cost sheet of my hunt to make sure I didn’t over spend. My PH agreed with the list of charges his father quoted me upon booking. At the end of the hunt I noticed an additional $500 airport pick up fee. I questioned this and was assured all clients paid the fee, that it was in the brochures, and was an oversight on his dad’s part. I later discovered the $500 was not in any brochures, and when I called other hunters who were in camp upon my return to the states none of them paid the fee. I checked the SCI hunt reports, and called those who hunted that year, and not one of them paid the fee. I would not have gone to the trouble to tip my PH a few hundred dollars of archery equipment had I foreseen the padded bill. (Worse than the extra money was the outright lie told by a young man who came so highly recommended). Last of all, after waiting a year for my trophies (the bill was paid long before) I called the taxidermy company in Zimbabwe. They had been sent months ago. Where could they be? More months passed and I received a call to confirm my address for delivery of the shipment. When I stated my address, the caller said, “No, I need your address in Amsterdam--that’s where I’m calling from and that is where your box is.” It took some time to convince the voice on the other end of the line I did not have a residence in Europe. No problem, the box would be forwarded to me in Alaska upon receipt of additional shipping charges. It took a lengthy negotiation but the box was finally delivered without having to pay for someone else’s error.
Hunt 3. I booked again the next year to the ranch where I hunted the year prior but went directly to the owner. This time I knew I had found a ethical and honest individual. We hunted 15 days but  I took only three animals. No one’s fault, we hunted hard, I just could not connect. My first kudu was shot in the thick bush and had a broken horn at 15 inches. “No charge, let’s get another” the owner quickly said. We later took a nice bull in the mid-50s and a huge blue wildebeest over 31 inches. I vowed to return next year. The taxidermist in Zimbabwe quoted me what seemed to be a high dollar figure for freight to New York. (I would be vacationing there to pick up the crate in person and drive it to Alaska). Research showed the figure was 2-3 times the standard rate  so I asked the owner of the ranch to ship it for me. The same box, same dimensions and weight, same shipper, and the same route was 1/3 of the quoted cost. I guess some taxidermists get a cut of the shipping, too. When the trophies arrived, one of the kudu’s horns was four inches shorter than the other. They were the same length in the photos!

Hunt 4. I returned again to hunt on the same ranch. This time for leopard and sable. South African Air lost my baggage and gun case and we waited three days in Bulawayo for them to arrive. My bags were found in Harare so we drove there through the night, collected  them, and continued on to the ranch. Three days of lost hunting. As luck would have it, I missed the sable and developed a dry cough during my stay there. Later I would find the new medicine my MD put me on to control my diabetes caused a dry throat--not the best thing for sitting in a leopard blind. The “ah-hem” every few minutes told spots we were there. Towards the end of the hunt, I became quite ill with tick bite fever and was down for the last four days of the hunt with the chills, sweats, and general weakness.  So, my 15 day hunt was actually 8 days of hunting. I did take several bait animals and enjoyed my stay immensely. I would come back next year. An official at SAA gave me a reimbursement form to complete and he would personally see to it I had financial satisfaction. He never replied to my correspondence. It took several months, with the help of my travel agent, to get a refund check for the hotels and lost daily rate.

Hunt 5. My planned hunt Zimbabwe was canceled in 2000 due to Mugabe’s land takeover. I was to hunt as well as bring my mother and her two cousins on an Africa vacation. A travel agent at the SCI convention gave me great rates and I paid for the four tickets on my VISA card. The tickets never arrived. After two months of the promise, “They will be in the mail tomorrow” I canceled the tickets. After documentation I was given a 100% refund on my VISA. The travel agent’s response was that she mailed the tickets to me but had no record of mailing. A call to SCI headquarters in Arizona to have them look into the situation brought the reply that the agent was not listed as one of the vendors. She was there doing business without anyone’s knowledge. After all this was behind me and I began looking into new reservations, the hunt was terminated by the ranch owner due to the political instability of the country and the ranch slowly fell into the hands of the “war vets”.

Hunt 6. I decided to go to Australia instead. I called the PH whom I met at SCI and told him my Africa plans fell through and could I hunt with him this year rather than the next year as we discussed at the convention. The hunt was booked and a deposit paid. I called the airline to book a ticket to Darwin--a long but direct flight--until I said I wanted to use my mileage for a free ticket. Then the travel itinerary changed. Anchorage-Seattle--LA and an 11-hour wait, Auckland, Sidney, Brisbane, Carnes, Darwin. The same route home! It didn’t cost anything, but what a long flight. My PHs partner failed to show up at the airport and I spent two days in a hotel until he arrived. The hunt went well but was one day shorter than booked and paid.

Hunt 7.  A PH from South Africa contacted me and asked if I could assist him in writing and publishing a book on his 35 years of African hunting. After some correspondence on his story, we began talking about a hunt in South Africa. I booked a 10-day hunt for several species of plains game. On my first shot at a hartebeest the muzzle blast hit the surrounding trees just right and echoed into my left ear with painful results and a permanent loss of 50% of the hearing in that ear. The hunt continued and I took seven animals. My main desire was for a warthog as I had not even seen one in all my previous trips. On the last  hunting day I finally found a warthog. He was nearly dead in a snare and I shot him to put him out of his misery. The joke was (and remains to this day) I can only shoot a warthog that is tied up. After loading the warthog in the vehicle we went out in the same field to shoot some birds. I had gone less than fifteen yards when I stepped in an ant bear hole. My heal went down, my toe went up, and my Achilles tendon was torn in two. I was put in a cast and managed to keep my scheduled flight back to the states. SAA did a seat change to accommodate my leg needing elevation but at the airport the SAA personnel there did not know of any change so my foot was down under the seat ahead of me. Lots of pain meds took care of the throbbing. My MD in Alaska stitched me up and I spent the summer in a full-leg plaster. I missed all of Alaska hunting that year including a permit for sheep in the best area of the state. That is not the end of the story. The nurse who removed the stitches two weeks after surgery (I think her name was Ratchet) left one stitch sticking out of the skin. It festered in the new cast for six weeks (did it itch!) and when the cast was removed and oxygen flowed to area a lower leg infection set in resulting a week-long stay in the hospital on IV antibiotics (better safe than sorry for a diabetic). The South African taxidermist  did an expedient job of mounting my seven animals and they were ready to ship four months after my hunt. A two month delay in Johannesburg and they were in Alaska. Turns out, my friend and PH wants to be 100% successful on his hunts so he shoots the first animal visible. My animals were all little--including a cow hartebeest. While I had a good time on the hunt and made a lifelong friend with my PH and his wife, my critters were the smallest of anyone I know who has hunted plains game in South Africa.

Hunt 8. I returned to South Africa for another plains game hunt with the PH of the year prior. And  on the giraffe hunt, I again shot a smaller animal. We were tracking a herd with four bulls in it. One bull stood 1 1/2 to 2 feet taller than the rest and I wanted him as I was to have a full skin rug made. After a long lesson is stalking giraffe I dropped the bull with two quick shots from my .450 no2 double. Later the video showed he was not the large bull I wanted, but the first bull who stopped and turned to look at us. The quoted price of the rug was nearly doubled upon completion. “Just a misquote. Sorry, Cal” was the friendly reply of the taxidermist.

Hunt 9. This time to hunt buffalo in Zimbabwe. I asked my SA friend and PH to arrange for a buffalo hunt and he did so by contacting a well-known PH in SA who has connections in several southern African countries. We arrived in Vic Falls to meet the Zimbabwe PH who was to conduct the hunt. He was not there. He did send a friend to tell us of a last minute change in plans and we were to fly on to Harare, via Bulawayo, and we would drive to Kariba. I purchased the tickets and did so. I was after buffalo and hippo on a seven-day hunt. On the drive from Harare to Kariba, the Zimbabwe PH’s car quit a dozen times due clogged fuel injectors. He was able to clean them by flashlight and we arrived in camp in the early morning hours. In camp, I discovered that, without consulting me, the hunt was scheduled for six days (I paid for seven).  We saw a nice bull behind some brush and my SA PH told me to shoot through the brush as not to chance losing him. I should have known better but I shot anyway and lost him.  Luck was with me on the third day as I bagged a nice old bull. Not the “near 40” I was told but closer to 37. On to the hippo hunt. One problem--the Zimbabwe PH told his staff the hunt was over (he was not aware I wanted a hippo) and gave them some money and time off to party in Kariba. He sent word for them to return and they had an accident with the vehicle.  1.5 of days hunting lost. We searched for the hippo and saw many but did not have time to search out a big older bull I wanted for the skull. Oh yes, after the accident, we had to push start the Land Cruiser. The story is not over yet. The Zimbabwe PH did not pay the trophy fee to Parks and Wildlife so they would not release the trophy to the taxidermist.  It took almost a year and lots of strongly worded letters from the two PHs in South Africa but the trophy was finally paid for and then released. When the buff was packed and ready to ship to the taxidermist in South Africa, the holder of the paperwork was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. Another six months and the bull made its way to SA with the importing company charging me for the crate the Zimbabwe taxidermist constructed and charged me for. The price to import the bull from Harare to Pietersburg SA was more than the cost to ship the bull to Alaska! Then, the taxidermist bill was 50% higher than quoted. Again, “Sorry,Cal”. I decided to have the buff and other South African trophies combined in the same shipment for route to Alaska. FED EX in South Africa would not accept the box for shipment even though the FED EX folks in the states assured me the size and weight were fine. So, after a few months, I found a new shipper and received my trophies.

Hunt 10. Another trip to South Africa for  nyala, water buck, and a trophy warthog. I didn’t see any water buck but came out with a super nyala and a good warthog (finally!) and the two were to be added to my box of trophies that were still in South Africa. I wanted to have the warthog’s skull but my PH thought  a shoulder mount would be better and had the skull cut down for the taxidermist (forgetting my desire for the skull). The last few days of the hunt I became afflicted with an intestinal bacteria that knocked me down and out. The MD I saw in SA told me, “Thank goodness you got sick here and not in Zimbabwe--the witch doctors there would butcher you.” (I was to go on to Zimbabwe for elephant, hippo, buffalo, leopard, and sable). He prescribed some antibiotics that would kill the bacteria and I could be on with the hunt.

Hunt 11. I made the flight to Harare, barely. I was too sick to hunt and lost 23 pounds in two weeks. A doctor in Bulawayo (I was transferred there for medical attention after three days in camp) told me I was on the wrong medicine and he put me on the right stuff. The PH and I decided to get on with the hunt to the best of my ability as I was recovering. One hour later the transmission in the hunting vehicle broke and the required spare vehicle was not in camp. The hunt was over with and I had a long discussion with the PH. He wanted me to fly back to Zim in the fall and complete the hunt. After some consideration, I told him of my decade of bad luck and vowed this was my last trip to Africa. Nothing against him, I just had such a poor return for my hard-earned dollars over the years I didn’t want to do this again. Being and honest and ethical man,  he gave me a refund on the unused portion of my daily rate and did not charge me for other items such as transportation and a ten-day stay at his home in Bulawayo. He also took me to a ranch in southern Zim where I shot a nice sable bull for only the trophy fee. And, he battled for me with the owner of the concession who wanted an additional $2000 USD for the special order of diet Coke he had to bring into the camp. Zimbabwe’s winters are hot compared to the temperature in Alaska, but I don’t drink that much!

Is this the end of the story? Did my vow in July 2005 hold true not to return to Africa again? Well as this is written in December ‘05, I learned my Zim PH of this year is moving his operations to Tanzania for the 2006 hunting season. I just booked an August  ‘06 hunt in Tanzania for elephant, lion, leopard, two buffalo, hippo, and croc. Some guys never learn! And that’s fine, for the story has a good ending.

After a week on Kilimanjaro, I flew into Gary Hopkins’ L-1 concession bordering on the Lumbelho and Kilombero Rivers in Tanzania’s Selous. Gary’s ethics of the previous year were instrumental in my agreeing to another African hunt. It was a good hunt. No, it was a great hunt! But the Pappas luck was still with me as the elephant we saw had ivory that was too small to be taken and, for some unexplained reason, we didn’t see any buffalo--not one in 18 days!. All of Gary’s other hunters shot buff, but it was not to be for I. In addition,  my luck with with me upon entry in to Tanzania. The police tried to shake me down for a $200USD business visa (tourist visas are $50) and the man who issued the permit for my rifles could not match the serial number with my pre-approved form. Both wanted a bribe but Gary’s man in Tanzania, Robert Nyiti, took care of matters.

On day two, Gary suggested a strategy for hippo hunting. We needed lion bait more that I needed to shoot a dry land hippo with my .450 no2 double Lang. I agreed and brained a bull with one shot from my .450-400 Harrison and Hussey on the bank of the river. The lion bait worked as on day six I shot a good male. Not much mane but a full-grown 6 year old male. He dropped to one shot with my .450-400 and the 400-grain Stewart soft point tore off the top of his heart. I shot him again for insurance and reloaded quickly (ejectors are nice!). The lion started to crawl away so two more shots through his back and down into his chest cavity ended the battle. The day before we saw this lion quickly as he ran off and his four girl friends came out of the long grass to look at us! Exciting.

At last light on the eighth day I took a leopard also with the .450-400. He was an average male that should have weighted 130 pounds. However, he had been shot by a client two months prior in the leg and the cat was sick. His internal organs were green with peritonitis and he was starving. His coat was beautiful but it was just hanging on over emaciated muscle. It was good to put him out of his misery. One shot did it, but as he crawled into the grass, Gary and I both shot him again for our safety.

Gary, tracker Max, and I then went on to look for buffalo, elephant, and croc. On the river bank, I slipped and fell. The stock of the .450-400 broke at the wrist--a complete separation. Croc hunting was done and I would concentrate of buffalo with the .450. A few days later, we saw a 13-foot croc on the bank of the river. Having a buffalo a few years before, Gary and I made a new plan for the croc. Using several 1x4 inch pieces cut from a Coke can, electrical tape, and green sable hide, I bound the stock of the .400 tight and set it in the sun to dry. We looked for buff without any luck and spent four afternoons looking for the croc. For four days he would slip into the water upon winding us. This was frustrating as was the ribbing I took from an Austrian PH who was in camp with us. He would say, in an Arnold accent, “You will never take a croc with a double rifle, it is a waste of time, it is a stupid thing to do, it’s never done that way,” etc...

The day before the last day, luck was with me as I brained the croc at 60 yards. He didn’t move an inch! Gary, myself and the trackers loaded him into the truck and arrived in camp before my Austrian friend. We put the croc at the entrance of his tent and shut off all the camp lights at nightfall. When he arrived, I explained there was a generator short so we were without light until it was repaired. As he made his way to his tent in the dark he told me to take a scope sighted .375 bolt action to get my croc. When a loud scream echoed throughout the camp, everyone erupted into laughter.

What a great way to end the hunt of my life. Two days after this is being written, I’m off to Zimbabwe for a December vacation with Gary Hopkins and family in Bulawayo. And, of course, we’ll talk of yearly hunts together until we get too old!


8-8 Departure. Day started well--green bag was overweight but the lady at Ak Air did not charge me and the gun case was not weighed. Every leg was on time. Flight to Amsterdam was nice. Saw the Canadian Rockies and the flat lands on to Hudson’s Bay. In Seattle, the Northwest/KLM girl at the counter said she did not have to see my gun permit was was surprised that I had firearms with me. She said, “How did you get them past security?” The idiot thought I had them on my person! All went well on the flight to Dar es Salaam. A long wait for my Visa and the police guy wanted to charge me $200 for a business Visa and not the $50 for a tourist visa. Donald Nyiti took care of it. The next police officer could not match the serial numbers of my .450 rifle. He also wanted a bribe but Donald took care of that situation, too. Overnight at the Sea Cliff north of Dar.

8-10 Dar to Arusha and to Springlands hotel in Moshi Town. K.C. and party are on a photo safari and will return at 4. Hotel is kind of Dumpy--no phones or tv but clean. Planned climb, stored gear, and paid my balance due.

8-11 Rented a sleeping bag and rain coat and took a one hour drive to Machame gate. Over 40,000 people a year climb this Kilimanjaro. Moshi is 4500 feel in elevation, Machame is 5400. We climbed 7 hours, 11 miles up to 10,050 feet through a rain forest. It did not rain but the walk was very muddy. Huge trees and vines but no animals. I didn’t expect any due to the amount of people that pass through here. Sweat like hell and I was a bit tired--quite different than my daily walks at sea level. Night temp fell to about 20.

8-12 Catching up on jet lag sleep--up at 4 after 6-7 hours of rest. Breakfast and depart by 9:15. Lunch at 1 and arrive at camp by 3. Out of the rain forest and into a dry high desert. No signs of altitude sickness and I have more energy due to much-needed sleep. Above the clouds and it is clear and sunny. Must wear sun block and glasses as the thin atmosphere does not filter the sun’s rays. I have a concern about staying healthy for the hunt. A sprained ankle will cancel the hunt so I take it easy and won’t push it. Days are 65-70, nights below freezing. Elevation at camp is 12,600.

8-13 Slept well and in tent from 8pm to 7am (good thing I have a pee bottle!). One hour into trip I got a bit sick but the doctors check me out and I was fine. Lunch at 15,400 feet and back own to 12,700 to camp. Best day of the trip as to scenery. We walk averaging one mile an hour. Today was an 8 hour walk.

8-14 Started off with a 100 foot vertical climb to a plateau but only about 5 hours on the trail.

8-15 Up early for a 4 hour walk to camp at 15,000+ Lunch and rest. Early to bed as up at 11pm for the climb to the summit to see the sunrise.

8-16 Decided, after two hours to 17,000 feet, I would return to camp. I was too worried about the fatigue and possible injury to jeopardize the hunt. Late morning, greeted the other 14 members of the party--all of whom made it to the top. After a rest, we’ll descend about 5 hours to the rain forest for our last night on the mountain at 10,000 feet. downhill is much harder and my knees are legs are aching a bit--not so with the climb up.

8-17 Back down to another gate, a short walk to a village (dozens of people trying to sell stuff--some good artwork, some cheap crap). Hotel and a much needed shower after 7 days, dinner a the Indo-Italilan restaurant for a pizza.

8-18 Day in Moshi with K.C. and Dave. Lunch and dinner at the same place. Same pizza!
K.C. made an interesting observation while walking around Moshi. “No one here is over 40.” He was right. Poor health care and AIDS keep people from old age.

8-19 To Dar and on to Sea cliff with K.C. and Zach and meet with Dave and Chris.

8-20 Met Mark Sullivan at the hotel and he made a short video for Donna. Taxi ride to airport for the charter to camp. Toilets out of the tourist areas are interesting--a hole in the floor with no paper--just a bucket of (dirty) water to wash one’s left hand! Chartered in with K.C., Zach, Peter Hillman and his adopted Daughter, Jennifer. Met Gary at airstrip. A black mamba crossed the road on the 1 1/2 hour ride to camp.

8-21 Up at 4 in a cool morning. Out to track buff by 6:30 and they winded us and ran three times. By 10 I was a bit under the weather and my noon I had to return to camp very ill. With meds, I was OK by dinner time. K.C. and Pete went out and Pete shot a hartebeast and K.C. an impala--both for bait and camp rations. Temps are ok--70s if cloudy, 80s if partly cloudy, and near 100 in the sunshine.

8-22 Up at 4:30 out by 5. Check leopard and lion baits. Leopard fed at lion bait by the Kilombera River--25 miles from camp. Lunch at 11. Cloudy and cool--in the 70s. I want a dry land hippo but I need lion bait more. Gary explained to me I can always get a “deal” on hippo, croc, buff, hippo, and even elephant--but not so on lion. The permits are drying up and countries are cutting back on the allocation. Botswana and Zambia charge up to $175,000 for a lion hunt. So, this is a one-time deal for me on lion. With that in mind, we set off for the river to look for a bull hippo in the water. We saw several bulls but they were too far out in the water for a shot with a double rifle. Then we spotted one close to shore, about 100 yards downstream. Still too far for a shot so we made a very quiet stalk in the thick brush by shore until I was on a bank 20 feet above him and he was only 20-30 yards away. He was resting his head on the back of one of four cows he was with. A single shot down through the top of his head was an instant death via brain shot. He rolled and sank as the bank was very steep and the water deep close to shore. We waited 1 hour and 45 minutes then K.C. shouted there was a sand bar where there was not one before. We were getting worried as it takes maybe an hour for a hippo to surface when he starts to gas up. There was no current at that place so he did not go downstream and we saw his bubbles after he sank. Gary, Max, and I went in with a rope and pulled him to shore up stream onto a small beach. The game scout was shooting in the river to keep the cows and crocs away. It took until dark to get him cut up and loaded in the Land Rover. Back at camp at 9:30. Tomorrow we bait.

8-23 Set five baits an shot an impala for camp meat and a leopard bait.

8-24 Happy birthday. Cold this morning means it will be hot today. Woke at 4:40 with lions roaring by camp--exciting. Went to the Kilombero to check on the bait. We were in the back of the land Rover watching elephant as Lusaka was driving to the bait. Then, a male lion jumped up from the bait and ran off. He was a big male but with not much mane. Since he was at the bait, the leopard will be pushed out of the area. We departed quick to keep him there and went to check other baits. PM walked up to two bull elephant but he ivory was too small. The smaller of the two bluff charged us at sundown and last light. Cat hunting does not require much walking.

8-25 Up at 4, out by 5 to check the Kilombero bait by 7. What a day! Gary, Max, and I went in to check on the bait. We walked in very slowly and quiet about one mile and came up to an ant hill 80 yards from the bait. We were waiting quietly with Lusaka and Mohimbi and KC and Zach in the rover a mile away with Lusaka. Then, a lioness came out of the grass--the very grass we just walked through--looked at us about 30 yards away and turned and went back into the grass. A few minutes later her, and three other lioness’ moved out of the grass. We had heard the male roaring a few hundred yards behind the bait. At the same time we heard the lioness and a hyena fighting. The larger female had blood on her nose so she must have killed the hyena. Our guns were up and ready! A call to the Rover and and we were out of there quick to return later in the afternoon to build a blind. When we returned, vultures confirmed the lion kill in the grass. 3 kilometers away, a leopard was feeding on a hippo bait and closer to camp another leopard was feeding on an impala. This was a fresh feed and we may have chased him away as we walked in. tomorrow we will build two leopard blinds and may spend the night at the lion bait.

8-26 Leopard at bait one-a small female. We used Peter’s warthog to set up another bait and build a blind. After lunch, back to the river to stay in the blind there. By 2:30 we were up in a tree blind (too many lioness and a hippo trail prevented us from a ground blind). Gary and Max were sleeping and I was resting. A quick snack on candy and I started to doze off with Gary watching. I felt his hand on my leg and I thought, “Oh shit--Brokeback Mountain!” The lion was standing in the karonga slowly making his way to the bait. When he looked away I slowly--oh so slowly--into position. It took several short moves as when he looked my way I froze. He walked past the bait and when he turned to go back to feed he paused broadside to me. I remember the heart on a lion is behind the shoulder so I lined up and squeezed the rear trigger. He dropped as if hit by lightning! I put in another shot through his chest and he started to get up. As he started to crawl away, two more through the top of his back and angling down into his chest ended him. The first shot took off the top off his heart (we learned later at the skinning shed) and he was dead but I had to keep shooting to keep him from entering the long grass. What a moment. The high point of my hunting life. We called for the truck and close to camp shots were fired, trees were put on the truck for decoration and the camp met us in a big celebration.

8-27 Checked leopard baits and took down the lion bait to use as croc bait. Hot today--in the 90s

8-28 I was up sick all night, throwing up and diarrhea so it was time for Cipro. It was nice having K.C. in camp to take care of me but he departed on day 5 for Zanzibar. I stayed in this morning and Gary went to check baits. Gary returned at noon with news of a large leopard feeding on the bait closest to camp. We are to go to the blind in the late afternoon. In blind by 3:30 and at 6:45 the leopard’s head pops up in the grass close to the bait tree. Light is fading fast. I can’t see him with just my eyes--I needed the scope. One shot hit him the the shoulder and he went into the grass. We followed by spotlight is it was dark. He was in the grass and I shot my .400 when Gary fired his 12-gauge shotgun with buckshot. He was a mature male about 7 feet long but was starving--two months ago he weighed 120-130 pounds and now he was down to 70 or so. We saw later at the skinning shed he was shot in the leg by a Russian client two months prior and the organs in his abdomen were all green--peritonitis. When I saw his head I thought he was facing to my right so I shot for the shoulder. Turns out he sitting facing the bait and looking to my right. But I could only see his head so when I shot the bullet hit him where the leg meets the shoulder and out the front of his chest--not through he chest if he was broad side to me. His teeth are good so he was in the prime of his life but very sad to see him in such rough shape. It was good to put him out of his pain. The hyenas would have taken him soon. Same celebration as with the lion but not as elaborate.

8-29 We collected all baits today. Tanzanian law says baits can’t remain in the tree. The rotting meat was a memory that will remain a long time! Croc bait. We walked upstream in the Luhombelo River from camp to look for sign of a large croc. I slipped on mud with my flip flops and fell. The stock of my .400 broke at the wrist. Shit! Croc hunting is over as I need a scope for this animal so it is off for buffalo with the .450.

8-30 Up at 4 and out to help Peter look for buff sign. They have moved out of the area and only a few daga boys (bachelor bulls) remain. In the drive out, I asked Gary to stop so I could use the loo. He said to wait as there were tracks of four lion in the road. Less than a minute later, we bumped the four in the road and they ran off. We tracked two daga boys to water and the wind shifted and we  lost them. On the drive back for lunch we ran into more lions--two females and five cubs. No crocs on the bait so back to track buff. Wind is blowing in all direction and changing often. No luck so back to camp by dark.

8-31 Up at 5, out by 6. Lion tracks over the daga boy tracks so buff are gone. Drove the boundry of the hunting block (L-1) but no buff tracks in the road. Gary is reevaluating buff hunts later this year. They have moved out of the area. Why is anyone’s guess? Will check for crocs.

9-1  Early am departure to get to the water pool at the rock formations. Daga boy tracks are fresh and the shit is still hot! After 2 1/2 hours we lost the track in the long grass. Drove to the long karonga to check the long water hole and burn grass. Gary said, “Cal, get on the big ant hill while we burn.”  15 minutes the ant hill was in flames. After lunch, we drove to the game bridge on the Luhombelo River and walk upstream towards camp. A mile or so, we came to a one kilometer pool that was deep. A 13 foot croc was sunning himself but the shot was too far of a .450 with open sights. He winded us and went in the water. But he was worth going after. Back at camp at sundown, Gary and I decided on a plan to get the croc with the .400. I took some strips cut from a Coke can, electrical tape, and strips of green sable hide and bound the stock tight.

9-2 Up at 4 and out by 5. Tracked daga boys 6:30 to noon, in a big circle, but no buff. The .400 is in the sun and the sable hide is shrinking as it dries. After lunch, I shot three targets from the left barrel and zeroed in the scope to shoot within one inch at 50 yards. At 2 we went to see the croc. He winded us again and went in the water. So, we burnt the grass for a silent stalk and built a blind. John shot a wildebeast so we will use a leg for bait tomorrow.

9-3 9am croc is basking but went into water with the wind. 11am he was still in the water but looking at the sand bar a few feet into the water. 1pm on sand bar with two others. Slow stalk into blind--crab walking 30 yards in 15 minutes. I raised the rifle to my shoulder and the croc slipped into the water. Shit. He was still gone by 3 so we improved the blind by adding camo burlap. The bait was attracting vultures so we put it in the water. Saw a salamander that was gray behind the shoulders but the head and front part was yellow with spots like a leopard. Also, a pure white butterfly with orange wing tips.

9-4 What a day! 8am croc was in water. 10am croc bashing but the wind shifted and we retreated before he winded us. 12 noon and 1 the same--be backed off as the wind shifted. 2pm wind was right and the large croc was basking alone. Bait was gone. A slow quiet stalk into the blind, rifle to my shoulder and lined up for the shot. Since I was 20 feet up on a bank, I raised the cross hairs one inch on the side of his head to compensate for a brain shot. One shot and the croc only twitched his tail. He didn’t move a bit. The bullet went right through the brain, split his skull open, and he was done instantly. Pulled the croc up the bank with the Rover and back to camp by sundown. Put croc at the tent of Norbert (the PH from Austria) as he said I would never shoot a croc with a double rifle. When Norbert returned after dark we turned off the lights in camp and told him there was an electrical short. When he went to his tent, we followed and enjoyed the scream when he bumped the croc!

9-5 Buff in the morning but didn’t see them. Tracks were at the water hole but as the spoor got into the long grass it was too slow tracking and they were moving away from us. The temperature of the shit told us that. Back to camp for lunch and to rest and pack. Nice dinner with a goodbye cake from the staff. This is the best hunt and camp I have been to. Food was great with Shumway, James, and Patrick as the waiters and Bob as the head cook. I didn’t get the names of the other camp staff.

9-6+7. Charter out to Dar. Met Donald and had dinner. Bags were overweight so Donald tipped the KLM girl $20 to avoid overcharges. Smooth flight all the way home, all on time, and bags were there. A great hunt and vacation!

hunted hippo day 1 and 2. shot him on day 2
hunted lion day 1-6 and shot him day 6
hunted leopard day 1-8 and shot him day 8
hunted croc on day 9, 12-15 and shot him on day 15
hunted buff day 1, 10+11 and the mornings of day 12-13+16
hunted elephant on day 2 


June 10
Completed my packing, and checked in to the airport. Have seat 26F, a single seat on the exit row (must remember this for future flights.The flight was on time and all went smooth.

June 11
On time, have seat 74D--the only seat on the tight fitting Airbus with no seat in front of it so lots of leg room. Met Mike Mooney in Atlanta. Switched seats with Mike as his back was .

June 12
Landed on time in Johannesburg. VIP services made passport, customs, and police firearm check in very quick. Met Gert and a young PH, Rinehart. and we departed for Greytown. Very tired, we arrived at Peter and Des Van Rooyen’s estate and, after a quick meal went to bed by 9.

June 13
Same as in the past, up at 2 am. Early am, off to look for Nyala. Drove about 30 Mlles from Greytown and down a very rough (!) dirt road into a valley that was thick with thorn bush. Lost of nyala bulls but could not connect. We all took one shot to sight in our rifles. Glassing hillside for nyala and heard dogs barking low in the valley. Poachers use dogs to get game--to locate and run them down. Heard a warthog grunt and a dog yelp and then silence. Again, a bigger yelp and the hog got a dog good. We drove around the bend and an hour later saw the dogs up on a hill and we gave chase. Rinhart took his .303 and I my .450-400. Up a steep hill a few hundred yards and four dogs had something on  the ground. I thought it may have been a warthog. One black dog went to my left and i shot him. Rinhart shot the with dog and another. I shot the last dog. I saw a big tail and thought it was a python but it was a big lizard--called a mountain lizard--about 3.5-4 feet long. He was alive but exhausted. The poacher was seen running away. Gert asked why I didn’t shoot the poacher? We arrived home at dark, about 6-6:30 for a meal and early to bed.

June 14
Gert gave good advise: go to bed early and take one or two sleeping pills to sleep through the night. It worked! Slept to 5:30s wake up call. Up and departed at 6. Went to the same valley. . In the morning we worked a hill side and Rinehart was on the opposite side directing us via hand signals to the nyala bulls that he could see in the open areas in the thorn bush hillside. He saw 5 bulls but we didn’t see any due the the thick brush. Early lunch at 10 am and off to the valley floor. Moving very slowly and an impala didn’t see us at 30 yards. Heard bush buck barking. Saw a bull moving away and feeding. It was difficult for me to see him--just the ivory tips of his horns moving up and down as he as feeding and then looking around and he was chewing. Gert said for me to shoot him anywhere on the body as “it is a small animal and a big rifle.” The bull was more than quartering away at 60-70 and when I shot. It was that or risk him moving into the thick. I thought a rump shot but it was a raking shot on this left side. He was down then up and running. We found a blood drop on  a rock then on some grass so we paused to let him stiffen up and relax. Off again and a quick glimpse did not offer a shot. Then, again, I had him in my sights and squeezed the trigger only to find the safety on and he was gone. We all (Gert, Rinehart, myself and three blacks) stopped to make a plan. Gert suggested we line up about 30 yards apart and move through the bush as we lost the blood trail. It worked as he flushed. (Turns out he was lying down only 50 yards from where we were).  I put in  a quick shot and followed him to a dry stream bed where he was down. As he made a feeble attempt to rise, I ended it with a shoulder shot. The Barnes .049” jacket 400-grain soft points did what they have done in the past--broke up and separated. That is why my first shot didn’t react his boiler room. Gert was surprised as the bull’s horns hit the magic 30 inch mark! (When were were letting the nyala stiffen, Gert confided in me he didn’t check the trophy size--he just wanted me to get my bull! This, after I told him , “No more small animals”).  Peter later said he would have hit 32 inches in his prime a few years prior. It was a long, hot day in the thickest thorn country I have ever been in. At 20,000 open acres, it was free range hunting as its best. We got in at dark, about 6:15.

June 15.
Sleep is still to being screwed up--up at 1:30am. Very cold night with a frost! Mike  is to try for a reed buck with beaters driving the buck to him. Rinehart and I walked up the hillside to look for a bush buck and a bush pig with no luck. Get, Peter, and Mike drove around to the top to spot and wait for us. They saw 6 bush bucks and a family of 8 pigs but we didn’t see anything. They, they went to spot for reed buck as the sun went down. It is easy to sit and spot with binocs and a long-range rifle (not my doubles, however). Mike took a nice buck of 14 1/2 inches. As always, dinner was wonderful and Des told us of earthquakes in California (7.0) and Alaska (6.0).

June 16
Warm an sunny. Went out  to look for bush buck and bush pig with the tracker Funyun(sp?). Quick glimpses of both and one buck a good trophy but no time for a shot. Then, back to climb the sam hill as yesterday to meet Mike and Gert but no luck there either. During the drive, one of the beaters got hit in the mouth with a large rock thrown by one of the other beaters. The poor kid lost six of his front teeth and his lips were in shreds. Decided to drive to Pietersburg today and arrived at 10:30.

June 17
Haircut (barber is gay), taxidermist, mall for mail, film develop, and dentist.

June 18
Drive north to Vivo for Mike to hunt on the same ranch I got my giraffe two years ago. . Later in the afternoon Mike got af male zebra with a single lung shot. After loading the zebra a herd of wildebeest cane along and Mike took a 250 yard shot in the chest, a bit to the left, and the bullet passed between the shoulder blade and the rib cage and the bull took off. Soft tissue damage only and no blood spoor. It was an hour or more of tracking in the soft sand. The truck was then stuck in the sand. Back at 8 too clean and quarter the animals, eat and off to bed. . Tomorrow we drive north west to the Limpopo River for my water buck and Mike’s kudu and gemsbok.

June 19 
Sunday. We’ve been here one week. Cold night, about 40, an slept out. The night sky is beautiful. Am off to look for warthog but no luck. It  is nice to be trusted as I went off alone today. With Peter, Gert, Hans and Marina Cadlitz it is a nice place to stay. last night is where Don and I stayed in ‘03--south of the  mountains and the ranch where we hunted. About 26 km east of Vivo.  2:30 to 4 pm we drove to the Limpopo. The land is fenced on the SA side but the river and the Botswana side is a wild as anything in Africa. Electric fence in SA keeps the elephants and hippo out of the crops. I’ll sleep here outside too, by the fire. The moon will be nearly full and it may be possible to video elephant with the night vision on the camera. If Mike recovers, he’ll follow us for water buck in the morning.

June 20.
Slept out, beautiful sky, no sounds except monkeys, but it was cold--40 degrees. In the morning took a 4 hour walk and saw dozens of bush bucks, warthogs, impala, and female water buck. Hippos, too, lots of birds, a python track, and the spoor of a “bleddie big” mamba. Mike staved in camp today. At 11:30 took a drive for Mike to look for his kudu. His rifle dropped and his scope broke so Gert will let him shoot the .243. In the late PM went back to the Limpopo to look for water buck where we were this morning. We looked over some small water holes as the animals don’t drink from above the dams due to the crocs there. About two hours and saw nothing except a pair of impala. After sundown a group of warthogs were on the Botswana side. One big male, a female and  several young. The male was mounting the female and I have it on x-rated video. We hustled quickly across the river and up the far bank and quietly got within range. I wanted a rest on a large tree but when I moved to my right to get in position a bush blocked the view of the male. He came into view and stood broadside about 60-70 yards away. One shot from the .450-400 took out both shoulders, both lungs and the heart,. he dropped as if hit by lightning. Kicked and rolled over and was done. I love hunting with a double rifle! Warm night tonight and a full moon.

June 21
Early morning departure for water buck. Saw duiker, impala and 22 water buck--all small and female. Gert sent the tracker to flush them out. He went further than expected and said he saw a big male and two females and waited for them to cross the river into our sight. They didn’t. At 10 went back to look for  a kudu for Mike. Spotted a good bull about 200 yards from the koppie. Mike hit the bull in the lungs with the .243. He ran 75 yards and dropped. Back to the island at 4 to look for water buck. Cool and windy so no critters.

June 22
A warm night and the winds kept the critters quiet. I slept by the fire through the night to the 5:30 alarm. Full moon. Went to the same area and saw impala and young and female water buck. A king fisher was fun to watch diving in a pool for food. At noon Mike went to a ranch to look for gemsbok. The ranch as good game but has shooting stands at each water hole--not much sport. In the PM walked the river again. No water buck but lots of tracks and impala and a warthog family. The female has nice tusks with a curl but small. Saw a good 16-inch bush buck near dark.

June 23
AM the same stuff--walking the river about two miles but no water buck bulls. lots of bird life and fresh elephant tracks. The smaller game seems to be nervous this morning. Get thinks a lion is in the area and later the tracker saw some fresh lion tracks from the botswana side of the river.  Last night was warm but the temperature dropped before dawn and it was near frost levels. A leopard and baboon were dueling so I was awake listening to the noise. It was only 1-200 yards from my bed by the fire. I stayed in and midday to shower, relax, and read while Mike and Gert went back to the other ranch to look for gemsbok. Mike can’t walk much (due to his injury) but he shot a good 38+ incher. In the PM we went south on the river but no water buck. Saw a huge impala with 25-inch horns and a nice spread but he was too far away for my 400 and we were unable to stalk close enough for a shot.

June 24
Up at sunup for a morning drive back to Pietersburg. Last night a leopard was fighting and maybe killed a baboon and the noise of the battle was tremendous. All the baboons and monkeys were screaming. Heard the leopard snarling, too. In Pietersburg went to Taxidermist and I began to feel a bit ill.

June 25
Dentist, Ken Stewart, dinner, shopping

June 26
Relax and pack for the trip to Gert’s condo in Pretoria.

June 27
8 am to the airport for the 1.5 hour flight to Harare, Zimbabwe.

NOTES: I may have tick fever. I’m feeling air sick, bad chills, hot sweats, weak, tired, no appetite, no desire for water, and bad diarrhea. Saw Dr. Pretorius and he did some blood work and gave me some antibiotic pills. Was a bit better fir the flight and the drive to Makuti.

In Harare, met Gary and drove to the camp. Arrived after dark at 8 pm. Truly beautiful tent camp in a wild and remote safari area about an hour drive from Kariba and the lake.

June 28
Up before daylight to plan for elephant. I’m still a bi till. Saw lots of elephant and put them on video. Back at 2 to check the leopard blind. I’ll rest the remainder of the day while Gary scouts. I’ll go back to the blind at 6 tomorrow morning as the cat was feeding this morning. If not, then off to the lake for Hippo and fresh bait.  If no improvement in my condition, Gary and I will reevaluate the hunt plans.

June 29
Up at first light to check the bait for the leopard. Sleeping was rough as I tossed all night, lots of  chills then sweats, and for the second night had hallucinations when I closed my eyes. (I know now what it was like to be a hippy in the sixties). I managed to get to the blind but had to have a tracker carry my rifle I was so weak. Sat for and hour or so and no cat. Will rest in camp before breakfast and check out the hippos on Kariba. On the way there Gary spotted an elephant a mile or two away and he said it was a bull worth a look. The walk was slow and OK but the ivory was light--30 and 38 - 40 pounds for the tusks. I had him in the sights of my .450no2 Lang at 25 yards--excitement to be sure--but did not shoot. At the water we saw two herds of elephant, all bulls, with some reaching 50 pounds per tusk but it was not an area in which I was licensed to hunt jumbo. Back at makuti, wen to look for zebra for fresh bait but could not connect.

June 30
Bad night, can’t sleep, sweats, chills. Gary suggested an MD in Kariba but he was not in the office so we went an hour the other way to Karoi. The doc said I had an intestinal virus, to take the antibiotic I had with me (the one Pretorius gave me was incorrect), and continue the hunt. He got his degree in Birmingham, England, and seemed very knowledgeable but the condition of hi office was not up to USA standards, by a long shot. The visit was $500,000 Zim--about 50 USD. His old exchange rate showed a 10:1 ratio rather than the new ratio of 10,000:1 so he initially asked for $50,000 UDS! Back to Makuti with the desire to hunt and the second gear on the Land Rover went out! Gary offered me a free hunt next year and part of my ticket cost. Nice guy!

July 1
Woke at 5, departed by 6, and back in Bulawayo by 5:30. Crystal (Gary’s wife) is nice and they live in a comfortable house with two nice dogs. I appreciate Gary working with me to find a solution and I think he appreciates me not bitching about the lost hunt. I can’t hold down any food so it is early to bed in his guest chalet. Feeling a bit better but can’t get a phone connection do Donna.

July 2
Good sleep and a bit better. Mid day lunch with Crystal’s sister and her family, tried a short walk of a few miles but was very tired, and had dinner at Gary’s parent’s house.

July 3
Relapse and very sick

July 4
Saw Dr. Omara and he gave me the correct meds and assured me I will be better soon. The antibiotics I brought from the states are not strong enough for what I have. If better, will go to Dingwell for sable tomorrow.

July 5
Feeling a bit better today so an early 40 mile drive to Don Bower’s Dingwell ranch. Probably the most beautiful ranch I’ve see. Lots of high grass, trees and a good view. Game is plentiful. Even the staff live in attractive roundels with plumbing. This makes a good impression on visiting clients. Dingwell is known for sable--at one time there were 450 on the ranch. Anyway, we left Bulawayo at 4:30 and arrived at first light. It is about 10 degrees colder here than in town. Went out for a drive and animals were everywhere. But unlike South Africa the game is not stocked as adults, they brought in breeding herds and they multiplied naturally. Saw a lone bull (we don’t hunt breeding bulls in the herd) and he took off. After a few sightings on foot (I’m still weak but won’t spot, track, or shoot from a vehicle) we came up to him as he was feeding while moving away from us slowly. He was going into the wind so that was good. We approached to 90-100 yards very slowly and quietly and he turned around to look. Gary and I were motionless and the bull gradually turned broadside to us, facing right. I fired the left barrel and the 400 grain bullet broke the bull’s right shoulder and on through the lungs and heart. As usual, the Barnes bullets (.049” jacket) separated and the jacked remained in the animal and the lead exited ahead of the opposite shoulder. He ran less than 100 yards and fell. Sable take a lot of killing and are very tough animals. I put two more into his boiler room as he was fighting the whole time--not falling down and waiting for the end to come as do so many others. He as a very old bull and was blind in the right eye. His horns were worn but he still managed 38 inches which was the minimum I wanted. A good lunch (the first time I’ve eaten much) and off to look for warthog. Saw a family feeding bu t no good males so back to Bulawayo by dark. I became quite sick on the way,

July 6 and 7
Just rested as I’m still weak but took the sable to the taxidermist.

July 8
Finally over it. Now it is just time until I regain my appetite and strength. Will stay in Bulawayo until the 13 and relax, walk, visit with Gary and Crystal’s families and do some shopping.

July 13 and 14

Fling to Johannesburg and on time and smooth as was the flight to Atlanta and Hartford.

Taylor's Knock Out Value on Hippo
by Cal Pappas
Photos by Greg Hoversten, MD

John Taylor's African Rifles and Cartridges is my favorite book, no doubt about it. It may be yours, too. Now, I'm not much of a hunter. My interest lies in double rifles and the ammunition used in them and that's why I like Taylor's works so much. While I have a fairly comprehensive library of old hunting books from Africa and India, the books that interest me most are the volumes where the author writes of his firearms, ammunition, ballistics, and their terminal performance on game. And, since I have no interest in modern arms, I don't read modern hunting books nor do I read any modern hunting or firearm magazines (except the African Hunter, of course!).

I have always been interested in a comment of Taylor. On page 41 (first edition) he states, "A .577 will keep an elephant down for anything up to about twenty minutes; a .600 for close on half an hour." Many have disputed this as fact and many read it, as did I, with interest but no actual experience or proof. Until my hunt in Zimbabwe's south east Lowveld in June of 2013. I was hunting for hippo with my .600 on the Chiredzi River with PH Andries Kotzie on Barry Styles' Buffalo Range Safaris. On the first day of the hunt, around noon and after our return from tracking buffalo in the early morning, we came upon some hippo slowly moving out of the water to sun themselves on a small island in the river. For an hour or so we watched from the high bank as the herd ever so slowly moved into the sun. One bull stood out among the rest. Not due to his size. Just the opposite, in fact. He was small enough to pass for a cow. At first we thought he was a cow but was covered with scars--so many scars that he had been the veteran of many lost battles. Cows are not generally scarred. This young bull had too many scars for his age. Why?

Upon glassing the hippos for nearly an hour we saw something was different about this particular hippo. He didn't move with the rest of the herd. He kept by himself and mostly just stood in one place. He was standing parallel to me, facing to my right, and his body was one mass of scar tissue. After some time he slowly turned facing me and I moved down the bank and stepped out from the tall grass to get a better look. Upon doing this one or two cows saw me and slipped into the water. The other hippos followed suit, except this young bull. Studying him I could see the reason for his isolation. He was blind. One eye was missing and other was discolored. Being blind would explain the reason for his moving slowly, standing in one spot, and being so covered with scars. He was the brunt of attacks from other hippos due to his disability. He was not a trophy by any stretch of the imagination but that was OK with me. I had a great hippo skull from my Tanzania hunt in 2006 in the Selous, and two on tag here, so I decided to get ready for a shot and end this poor animal's misery.

Andries set up the shooting sticks and his range finer measured 56 yards. There was no need to hurry as the hippo could not see us and his mates were safely in the water. I set up for the shot with my 1914 vintage John Wilkes double rifle in the greatest of all calibers: the mighty .600 nitro express. I aimed for the center of the triangle between his eyes and the top of his head and gently squeezed the trigger. The perfect brain shot! The hippo's legs folded up under him and he dropped straight down without any other movement. It was good to do this in Zimbabwe as on my 2008 buffalo hunt in Matetsi I shot poorly with my .600 and now I felt I had redeemed myself. Andries, my close friend, Greg (who was there to film the hunt), and the tracker all shook hands and we began to formulate a plan to get the hippo to shore for butchering.

(The week prior I shot some wildebeest with my .600 and both dropped instantly to the shot. The .600 is not exactly a text book example of a plains game rifle but practicing on live game is the best preparation for larger game. And, the day after this hippo fell a cape buffalo fell to a single shot. And, the day after that, a second hippo went down. In the following weeks two water buffalo were taken east of Katherine in Australia's Northern Territory. Grizzly hunting in Alaska was not productive but a nice caribou bull was taken in the northeast corner of the state in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). Hunting with double rifles is great fun)!

About ten minutes had elapsed and what did I see? The hippo began to kick and try to get up! It was hard for the four of us to believe. He went down so hard like any brain shot animal would. There was nothing else to do but to shoot again in wonderment, which I did--twice--and the hippo breathed his last. Or so I thought. He stopped kicking with a pair of shots to the neck. A quick left and right and he was again still. After nearly the same ten minutes, perhaps a bit less, he began to kick again. Two more shots in his body finally put the quietus to him. Now, I had some detective work to do.

The camp staff brought a small boat to our location, rowed to the hippo (yes, he was now dead), and tied a rope to him. Floating, he was an easy tow to shore and we began the task of cutting hum up for camp meat as well as to check for the paths of my bullets. The final body shots were easy to locate but the head shot was bit to the left. The neck shots would be found later upon skinning the head in the skinning shed. Here is what was found: the brain shot was to the left of center and missed the brain by a small amount. This shot knocked the hippo down and out instantly as if brained in the truest sense. He was not dead, but he was out--for ten minutes. Of the next two shots, one went through his neck, passing through soft tissue and did no real damage. The second neck shot was basically the same as the brain shot as to instant results. The 900-grain Woodleigh solid hit the spine and broke the vertebrae but did not sever the spinal column. Again, the shock of the bullet knocked the bull down and out, but not dead! The final two body shots penetrated the heart and lungs and he was done. Finally.

In my own amateurish way, Taylor's theory was proved correct. Who can argue with John Taylor?

Where Have All the Hunters Gone?
by Cal Pappas

  Where have all the hunters gone?
Long time passing.
  Where have all the hunters gone?
Long time ago.
  Where have all the hunters gone?
Behind high fences every one.
  When will they ever  learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

     The year was 2002. I booked a plains game hunt to South Africa after four trips to my beloved Zimbabwe. After a pleasant (but rather long) flight to Johannesburg and a  greeting from my PH we drove to a ranch north of Pietersburg. The next day we were up bright and early and, as I stepped into the Land Rover, my PH said to me, “Cal, today I’ll drive you up to a nice waterbuck for you to shoot.” My reply was, “No. Let’s drive out a bit, find some tracks and follow the spoor on foot and then, if I see a good representative animal, I will shoot.”
     My hunter looked at me as if gut-shot with surprise. Then he offered his hand and said, “You are the first American I have guided who wants to actually hunt.” His reply was an eye opener. Upon returning home I began a long look into all aspects of our sport (or activity) and what folks do to hunt less and kill more.

     “It’s not the fault of the hunting industry over here,” my PH went on to say. “We only do what the clients want. If they are not happy they will go home and say so and we take a loss of revenue.” What he said was probably true. I remember on my second hunt in the Save Conservancy (1997) and hearing a doctor say how he shot his kudu at night as it was transfixed on the vehicle’s headlights. The PH confided in me he didn’t like it but what could he do? In the early 1990s when I was breaking into the hunting world a booking agent offered me, “All four North American sheep in two days--if you have the money.” As time goes by the list gets longer.

     After thirteen trips to Africa and one to Australia I don’t have the last word in experience but I do have a bit more than armchair memories. My Zimbabwe PH tells me the majority of his bow hunters shoot with a rifle and pose with a bow. The same was echoed by several South African PHs I spoke with--many allow the bow hunter to use their rifle. Add this to the number of bow “hunters” who just sit at a water hole or feed stand and wait for thirsty or hungry game to appear in front of the blind, or hide. This takes the excitement and high skill out of bow hunting. In fact, when I go to Anchorage and stay at a friend’s condo and watch the Outdoor Channel I have never seen a true bow hunt in the wild. Everything is from tree stands or ground blinds. They can shoot a bow very well--but they can’t track and they can’t hunt. Many ranches have one waterhole in each high fence enclosure. The animals must go there to drink.

     It’s not just the bow hunters. More and more rifle hunters shoot from blinds, from a vehicle, use a spotlight, or drive through the hunting area looking for game to shoot-sometimes not even stepping out of the vehicle. Craig Boddington said in his excellent dvd, Boddington on Elephant, “Of course no one would ever shoot an elephant over a water hole.” It would be great if Craig’s words were followed by hunters. In the Tsholotsho area of Zimbabwe, boardering Wanke Park to the south, I know of elephants only being taken at the water hole and at night with a spotlight. I really don’t see many honest tracking hunts anymore. Fair chase includes chasing in a vehicle, it seems. I like and appreciate John Sharp’s advertisements in the African Hunter magazine: “Track down your game on foot--the real way.” And that is the way it is meant to be. But isn’t so much anymore. A video of a pronghorn hunt in the western US showed the shooter with a  bench and a mechanical rifle rest on a hilltop. He made his kill at several hundred yards but didn’t hunt and didn’t track.

     Look at all of the gadgets that are sold to increase one’s success but keep those from truly experiencing what  actual hunting is. Scent blocking shoes, clothes, and even chewing gum(!), muzzle loaders that don’t look like muzzle loaders, bows that don’t look like bows, recoil reducers, muzzle brakes, barrel vibration reducers, telescope  reticles that look if they belong in a submarine periscope, hearing amplifiers, motion sensors, game cameras, feeding stations (some that play music so the game equates the music with food), tree stands, blinds, vehicles with shooting stands mounted on them, electronic calls, ghillie suits, more camo patterns than one can count, super whiz-bang magnums (some with ridiculous names) that shoot farther, faster, and flatter that any hunter could possibly shoot, devices to hold the rifle in place  (like bench rest shooting in the field), and the list goes on. Guaranteed hunts, pre-measured animals, game farming, and, if all of the above fails, some buy taxidermy for their walls. I’ve seen a photo of a “hunter” in a hot tub on top of the shooting platform in Texas that overlooked the feed station.

     I have to wonder how did our forefathers manage to kill a turkey for the first Thanksgiving? How did the buffalo hunters wipe out the herds of bison? How did early wing shooters, wild fowlers, and deer hunters manage success? They didn’t have any of the above stuff when they hunted. A well-known deer ranch invited me to hunt there in 2010. 3000 deer on 3000 acres (surrounded by a high fence, of course). The first hunters pay the most (about $20,000), the second batch a bit less (after the top trophies are gone), the third less than that, and so it goes through the season. 100% guaranteed kill with so many deer the quality of the trophy is also guaranteed. Since the first group of  shooters selects the top scoring bucks the next group takes a decrease in size, and so it goes. Fishing in a barrel? Lots of tall tales about the business man’s shoulder mount but I doubt details of the one-day hunt are told with 100% accuracy.

     As I write this (April, 2010) South African lion hunting is the topic of discussion on many forums on the internet. Canned lion hunting is the rage now as sportsmen (mostly from America) take hundreds of well-maned lions to show their friends. I doubt they tell of the lions being separated by size and mane color in paddocks, of the lions being fed meat by the land owners, of the short duration of the hunt (as compared to a true lion hunt in Tanzania or Zambia taking three weeks). And, I bet, the lion charged.

     In a South African hunting magazine, Jag-Hunt, there are as many fence companies advertising as there are game farms. The price listings are for standard trophies and the price tag increases as does the horn length (“For nyala over 24 inches, price on request”). And, it is possible to have one’s trophies pre-measured to guarantee quality. One fella I know did just that. He had his pre-measured white rhino waiting for him. The “hunt” was on video for all his friends and relatives to enjoy and he knew his name would be well-up in the record books. His field experience of the “hunt” was a few hours. A ranch in Montana is saving their top bison in a separate pasture for the “hunter” willing to pay $10,000 for their top trophy.

     In the vintage years of the Victorian and Edwardian eras rarely did a sportsman (or woman) keep a list of horn length or trophy size. Only ivory was weighed with the magic 100-pound mark being the holy grail. I don’t read much of Selous having to shoot a kudu with horns 1/2 an inch longer than that of Teddy Roosevelt.

     Today 57-inch kudu are commonly taken as trophies. In Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa he writes of a 57-inch kudu as having the “...most unbelievable pair of kudu horns in the world” (page 291, 1953 edition). Hemingway did an experiment in writing Green Hills. He wanted to see if a book that recorded the actual experience of a hunt could be as successful as a fictional story. It was, and today Hemingway’s African stories are read with interest and awe even in the anti gun and anti hunting liberal college campus classrooms across this great country.

     Look at today’s trophy record books. In fact since Hemingway wrote of seeing the magnificent 57-inch kudu, Roland Ward has recorded 536 greater kudu (southern species) having a horn length of 57 inches or greater (26th edition). Of those, 381 have been taken in South Africa-AND only one of the entries dates before the mid-1930s when Ernest went on his safari (69 1/4 inches from 1916). Either evolution is making the greater kudu even greater (and doing it rather quickly) or they are being raised on game farms to be shot after attaining a specific horn length. Look at how many entries come from South Africa compared to Zimbabwe or Tanzania. (I know there is a difference between the southern and the East Africa species of greater kudu but I am trying to make a point).

     On my second Zimbabwe hunt in 1997 I shot an old, blue eland with a .500 black powder express double rifle (Mortimer and Son # 5280). My over-zealous young PH far estimated the length of the horns at mid-30 inches (through inexperience or perhaps the desire for the trophy fee). When the animal measured  about  27 inches I was disappointed. Then, I thought, “This was the best stalk of my life, shooting at less than 30 yards and taking over an hour to get that close,  and using a beautiful double from 1890 of which I had the history of the first two owners.” After that I vowed to myself my emotions would never again be ruled by the tape measure.

     In 2008 (I believe) a record book elk was shot in Canada but reported  as being a fair chase animal taken in the States. I guess even the high-fencers do not want to admit to a canned hunt. I was offered a shot at a record book elk in America’s west in the late 1990s. I was to arrive and  take a late morning walk to pick out my elk. After the shot I was to have a nice lunch while the animal was skinned, the skull and horns prepared, and I would be ready for an early afternoon departure. The ranch was 10 1/2 acres! A Canadian outfitter who hunts in open land admits to me that if he could do it all over he would change his operation to a high fence enclosure. “That’s where the money is,” he says.

     The antis have lots of time and money. The entertainment elite like to pick a cause to rant over. I honestly believe when canned and guaranteed hunts are publicized our situation will worsen. In the liberal education field anti gun and anti hunting attitudes prevail. In my teaching career many parents have asked me to remove hunting photos so as not to traumatize their delicate child (they must think their burgers and steaks come from the meat tree). However, the majority of parents who, after hearing my rationalization of fair chase hunting, with the meat being used at home or in Africa, don’t have a disagreement with what I do. Imagine if I told them about shooting deer in a fenced enclosure?

     My trophies are not the biggest, the best, nor the most numerous. However, I have never shot from a vehicle, or with a spot light. The soles on my Courteney boots wear out from walking “miles and miles of bloody Africa.” I don’t list my animals in trophy books--my reward comes from my memories, not from what others see or think. My choice of rifles for the past several years have been open sighted doubles and, as my eyes have grown older, I now use a 1-4x scope on my .450-400. I wear cotton in the heat of Africa and wool in the cold of Alaska. An ash bottle tells me of the wind. And, I don’t carry a tape measure. I hope Teddy would be pleased.

Kariba Buffalo
by Cal Pappas

Hunting cape buffalo with a vintage double rifle does not get much better in the vista of one’s life experiences. I have had the pleasure of doing so on several occasions and, coupled with Australia’s water buffalo, they make for some memorable hunts. Perhaps most so is the first time. Actually the first buffalo hunt I was on was in the 1990s but I came home empty handed. Several plains game trips followed, and in 2003 I booked a Zimbabwe hunt with my friend and PH Gert Rall in Pietersburg, South Africa, now renamed Polokwanie. 

The hunt turned out to be a wonderful hunt but the logistics were a real pain in the neck. Being an SA PH, Gert had to book through a fellow SA PH, Cassie DeBruin as Cassie had Zimbabwe connections. In his area, a bit east of the town of Kariba, he arranged for Evans M’Kanza to be my PH in name only with Gert accompanying me on the hunt. Evans has since lost his PH license in Zim and proved himself to be the most incompetent idiot on God’s green earth.

With me on this hunt was a favorite double rifle--a Joseph Lang .450 no2 from 1904. The details of the rifle were in issue 2 of volume 5 of this fine journal, page 24-27, in my article, Arctic Grizzly. The .450 no2 cartridge is the choice of George Caswell of Champlin Arms and if anyone knows doubles, it is George. The no2 has the lowest pressure of any of the big nitro express rounds, looks imposing with its 3 1/2 inch case length with a symmetrical bottle neck, and a 500-grain bullet seated to give an overall length of about 4 inches. Its thick rim will never shear even if the chamber is pitted causing a stuck case and the low pressure equates to nearly an endless amount of reloads. In a nutshell, it just plain looks nice and it belongs in Africa!

Gert and I drove to Tembo airport in Johannesburg and then few to Victoria Falls on Air Zimbabwe to meet Evans and make the long drive to Kariba. But, no Evans. We waited, waited some more, and more still. A phone call was made and an associate of Evans came to the airport. “There is a change of plans, Evans wants you to fly to Harare and meet him there.” With that, we flew to Bulawayo and then up to Harare. Evans was waiting there with the excuses that he informed Cassie weeks ago of the change.

The drive to Kariba was a long journey as the fuel filter in Evan’s car was clogged and we stopped several times during the night drive as the car quit. Each time the filter removed, cleaned, and replaced by flashlight (torch), only to clog and stop the car again within a half hour. We arrived early in the morning just before sun rise.

A late start and we were off for buffalo in the Charara block. A two hour drive on a rutted dirt road, crossing a cement bridge with no side guards, and abundant wildlife with no (then) settlement problems. Long walks were the order of the day as I prefer to walk if at all possible. Highlights of the days were seeing countless hippo and croc on the flood plain and once having an impala run in front of us at full throttle. Following close on his heels was a lioness in hot pursuit. It was interesting watching and studying the hippo. The flood plain was seemingly without life. About 10 am a hippo would appear from one of the countless pools that were not visible from my vantage point. One, then another, and another, until the plain was showing dozens of the animals. On one particular walk, the green plants floating on the surface of a large pool were motionless. Then a slight ripple that grew as it moved across the pool away from us. At its zenith, with a wave large enough to surf. A hippo burst from the water and ambled up the far bank and continued away from us in a fast trot. My reason for spending so much time looking at hippo is I also had a tag for a trophy bull. Seen, too, were numerous elephant, some excellent bulls, feeding on the green under the Kariba power lines.

On the third day we rested for lunch and a bull elephant came out of the bush, nearly on top of us. Later, we came to a slight elevation overlooking the thickly wooded banks of a dry steam bed. We could hear buffalo feeding and they were moving in our direction. Often we could catch a quick glimpse at them through an opening in the woods. They were moving slow and Gert suggested they may know of us but were unsure of our exact location as the wind was in our favor.

We managed to get ahead of the herd and I positioned myself on the bank overlooking a small clearing. A few buffalo passed in sight but they were cows and young bulls. Then a nice bull appeared. He was not quite the magic 40 inches but had a nice boss and I liked the shape of his horns. Quickly the Lang came to my shoulder with my thumb sliding the automatic safety button forward. Placing the front ivory bead in the notch of the shallow V and lining up on his shoulder I fired the left barrel. He spun around towards me and the right barrel fired when he was quartering on. Off he ran but I knew my bullets were placed well and he would not go far. 

We listened as he ran off and less than a minute later we all could hear his death bellow. Following the spoor, in less than 100 yards he lay dead. Upon skinning the bull the story was revealed. The first shot went through the near shoulder, through the lungs and heart and was lodged in the bone of the far shoulder. The second shot, quartering on, penetrated the heart from about a 45 degree angle and continued through soft tissue into his hind quarter. Both bullets were Hornady solids of 500 grains weight.

As the buff was cleaned the tracker went off to bring vehicle. Of interesting note was the number of vultures that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Circling on the warm air currents, seeing their effortless gliding made me sleepy. Then, a loud shout! The skinner yelled and pointed. Gert and I jumped up. 50 yards away was a pair of lions, male and female, sitting and watching the gut pile and carcass. The buffalo herd was nervous but it was not because of us. The lions were in the area and stalking the herd, too.

Next it was hippo but the hunt turned for the worse. Evans gave the staff money to drink in Kariba that night so they didn’t show up for the hunt the next day. Later in the afternoon they arrived with a smashed in Land Cruiser. Drunk, they had an accident on the way back to camp that night. We looked for hippo but didn’t spot a bull large enough to shoot as time was short (I booked 7 days and hunted 5--including the missed day of the broken car). Evans kept the tip money I gave for the staff and I later found out kept the trophy fee. Without the fee, Parks did not release the buffalo skull and cape. Some strong emails from Gert and Cassie managed to obtain its release and then the gent with the paperwork was tragically killed in a highway accident. Well over two years later the buff arrived at my home in Alaska. It is the only taxidermy from Africa I still have. All the others, from many hunts, were in such poor shape or fell apart over the years that they were all discarded. Africa taxidermy--never again!

Evans got his due in the long run as he lost his PH license in Zimbabwe. I don’t have that many memories of him on the hunt as he was behind Gert and I talking on his cell phone to his wife or girlfriend(s), or both. I do remember Gert and I getting a good laugh watching him one day walking ahead of us with his .458 bolt rifle over his shoulder in the African carry position. When he would step forward the butt of the rifle would swing one way and his fat ass the opposite. Back and forth, back and forth, right and left, we watched his gyrating movements as he waddled through the bush.

Since that memorable hunt (both positive and negative) I have shot many buffalo, all with double rifles. Better trophies, some, and great reflections all, but there will always be something special about this first buff on the flood plain of Lake Kariba with my .450 no2 Lang.

lang rifle showing the best quality features, cartridges shown with .270


Text and photos by Cal Pappas

Part I: Mr. Mortimer

     Thomas Mortimer is one of the celebrated gun and rifle makers of Scotland. His firm Is also the oldest--dating to 1775. Later, after his son's apprenticeship, the firm changed its name to Mortimer and Son. Today Mortimer belongs to a conglomerate of Scottish gunmakers: Dickson and MacNaughton (incorporating John Dickson, James MacNaughton, Alex Henry, Alex Martin, Daniel fraser, and Thomas Mortimer). The above represent the "Big Six" of Scottish gun and rifle makers and the quality of their work, both today and yesterday, are on equal level with the finest of the English firms in London and Birmingham.

     It was in the fall of 1990 when I became acquainted with Mortimer and Son. A local antique and firearms dealer had two double rifles as new inventory and I had my eye on them. He, in turn, had his eye on three of my Winchesters. Both rifles were exposed hammer, Jones underlever double rifles. The .577 seemed to be a bit on the muzzle heavy side-- albeit I did enjoy the larger caliber. The second, the Mortimer .500, balanced much better, was two pounds lighter, and priced about $1500 less. 

     After a bit of traditional gun-room negotiations a deal was struck and a Winchester 1894, 1892, and a beat up 1866 Yellow Boy were traded for the Mortimer. I have never regretted the trade once in the past ten years.

     My new rifle rested in its original case and an inscription on the lid read, "A.J. King  King's Own." (I was to learn the significance of that later). The original case label was intact but a bit worn after a century of use. 

     The rifle itself was in excellent shape considering its age. Most of the barrel blue (actually black) was there, the stock was dark with decades of oil buildup, the recoil pad was hard and cracked, and the action had traces of the original case colors. Best of all, the condition of the bores were absolutely mint!

     Several things had to be done to make this treasure fulfill my dreams. I had to know the history behind the rifle. Then I had to clean it up to the standards I enjoy in when handling an antique firearm. Of course I had to shoot it. And, last of all, go hunting with it. Where to begin? Let's see....

     Being a history teacher--well, history is a good place to start. Since I didn't have any knowledge of prior owners and there was no information available from the seller, I wrote to the firm of John Dickson in Edinburgh. (This was before the mid-1990s merger of Dickson and MacNaughton). A helpful reply from A. Nelson was a dream come true. First, was a copy of the factory ledger stating the particulars of the my rifle.

     My rifle was made for Captain J. A. Mackenzie of the 1st Inverness-shire Artillery Volunteers. Delivered on May 9, 1890, the rifle was regulated to shoot 136 grains of Curtis and Harvey's number 6 black powder to propel a 340-grain bullet at a velocity of 1925fps. The barrels were a standard 28 inches long, had 3-inch chambers, with a bead front sight and a three-leaf rear sight with the leaves graduated for 100, 200, and 300 yards. The hammers were of the rebounding type. This nice feature means the hammers do not have to be brought back to  half-cock before opening the action. After contacting the strikers (firing pins) the hammers rebound to a position away from the strikers and hold there. A stalking safety is provided so the hammers lock in the rebound position to prevent an accidental discharge.

     Additionally, Mr. Nelson suggested I write to the National Museum of Scotland to obtain information on Mr. MacKenzie, the original owner, as well as for A.J. King (the name on the lid). The National Museum houses Scotland's military records. This I did and a most friendly reply came from Ms. Edith Phillip in the library.

     Mrs. Phillip supplied the information above on Mr. MacKenzie. As a member of a volunteer group, not much is listed. Much more was given about A.J. King. Alexander James King was of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. He served with distinction in the Sahara, Egypt, and Nile River Expeditions, South African Boer War (including actions at Reitfontein, Ladysmith, Transvaal, Orange River, then at Wittebergen) and World War I (France and Belgium). He earned several awards and medals becoming a Major in 1906 and retiring a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry.

     Next, I contacted my friends at Griffin & Howe in Bernardsville, New Jersey, to bring the Mortimer up to specs. Joe Prather (President) and Paul Chapman (vice- President) agreed the best thing to do the  action was to leave it alone. Enough case color remained to give it an aged look with the quality of character. The barrels were to be given a good blacking, the recoil pad replaced, and the stock de-oiled and a new hand-rubbed English oil finish applied. 

     A few months later the Mortimer returned and the results were fantastic. I was pleased but not surprised. What else could the finest custom guns shop turn out as a completed product? My thanks to Griffin and Howe.

     Concurrently with the work on the rifle, the interior of the case was relined in red felt to duplicate the original. The turnscrew and striker key (to remove the firing pins) had ebony handles added, a cleaning rod was added to replace the long-missing original, and the oil bottle and box of original ammunition (that came with the rifle) were fitted. In doing the work it was noted the leather name plate bearing the name, A.J. King, was added at a date later than the case's construction. Apparently Mr. MacKenzie did not hold on to his rifle as it came into the possession of Mr. King at a later date. Or, could it have been a gift? The only way to possibly find out would be to locate decedents of these two gentlemen and hope family history records would turn up something. But, to find a specific MacKenzie in Scotland would be akin to locating a specific Jones in New York. Perhaps this will be an endeavor during my retirement.

     Now for the shooting. Since this was my first double rifle I didn't have much information to begin with. I assumed all I had to do was to load the cigar-sized cases with 136 grains of 2F GOEX, cast and seat a bullet of approximately 340 grains, and fire away. How wrong I was!

     (Over 100 years ago riflemen who had a preference for a .500 caliber arm had four choices as to loadings in the 3-inch case: 340 and 380 grain bullets with 136 grains of powder [most likely Curtis and Harvey's number 6] or 440 and 480 grain bullets with 142 grains of powder. The latter two loadings were also available in a 3 1/4-inch case for lower pressure and were "long range heavy game" loads.)

    My first group at 50 yards was about 10 inches to an even foot in size! I won't repeat the complexities of regulating a double rifle as the Winter 2000 issue (number 32) of this fine journal contains all the information in my article, Child of a Cannon.

     To make a long story short, I tried 2F, 1F, duplex loads of the above with smokeless, Pyrodex, then 3031 and 4198. The black powder loads averaged 1650 to 1700fps and accuracy was the pits. Pyrodex was even worse! I didn't spend much time with duplex loads but, knowing what I do now, could probably have made them work by regulating the velocity to a higher level. 3031 was very erratic as to velocity as many unburned kernels remained in barrels. The light bullet did not generate enough heat and pressure to efficiently burn all the powder.

     IMR 4198 was where the experimentation ended. Beginning with 45 grains and working up in one grain increments I was able to see the bullet holes in the targets come together as the velocity increased. When the velocity was too high, the holes began to move apart--but now in a cross firing pattern. The final load was 55 grains of 4198, a wad of toilet tissue to keep the powder held firmly against the Federal 215 primer, and 440-grain bullet. Muzzle velocity averaged 1860fps and muzzle energy 3420fp. John Taylor's knock out value at the muzzle averaged 60 which was far better than a .375 H&H with 41.

     "A 440-grain bullet is 100 grains heavier than the original and you stated in a former article that bullet weight must be kept to the original weight for proper regulation" (I can hear dozens of readers saying this as I sit here). It is time to throw one more wrench into the already confusing procedures of regulating a black powder double rifle. 

     By the turn of the century it was evident that smokeless powder was here to stay. (I know some readers may disagree with this!) However, there were countless thousands of black powder rifles--black powder double rifles--in use. The English (and Scottish) had to develop a smokeless powder cartridge that could be accurately fired from a double regulated with black powder. How they did it I don't know, but for a .500 black powder express cartridge a load of 55-grains of Cordite and a 440-grain bullet seemed to regulate. This became the standard loading for nitro-for -black cartridges of .500 caliber. (The same principle applied to other express rounds--.360, .400, .450, .577.)

     Note the powder charge is the same both for the English cordite and 4198. Yes, they can be used on an 1:1 ratio for the low pressure nitro-for-black loadings. This makes loading such rounds quite easy.

     The formula (40% of the original black powder load of 4198) worked and my Mortimer rifle shot to 2 inch groups at 50 yards. Not bolt-action telescope-sight accuracy levels but better than acceptable for a double rifle. In fact, if a new $100,000 Holland & Holland double shoots to 2 inches at 50 yards that is what you'll get.

     Now, with everything done, it was time to go hunting. But where? How about Zimbabwe!

Part II: The Eland

     The flight from Anchorage to Seattle was 3 1/2 hours and quite comfortable. The 5 1/2 hours from Seattle to New 

York was a bit long. Then, after several hours in the Big Apple a 14 1/2 hour flight to Johannesburg was almost unbearable. I was so tired I spent the night at the Holiday Inn (1/2 mile by shuttle bus from the airport) to rid myself of a terrible case of jet lag. It is amazing what a few good meals and a soft bed can do to uplift one's spirits.

     The next morning it was off to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe--only a bit over an hour's flight. Bulawayo is the second largest city in the country, with Harare the largest. I chose Bulawayo as it is much easier to drive out of and all aspects of international travel seem to be easier in a smaller environment.

     Neil Duckworth was to be my PH (Professional Hunter). He is the son of Barrie Duckworth, one of Africa's most dedicated and respected hunters. As Duckworth's Mokore Ranch was over booked Neil and I were flown to the Marakanga Ranch of Jerry and Rose Whitehead. Marakanga is in the southeast section of the country, called the Lowveld, near the town of Chiredzi. I'll save the particulars of the hunt for a future article as the hunt was all-in-all a good one. There were a few negative aspects that folks should know of in order to be well informed if they plan for an African hunt. (I know it may be beyond the scope of this journal for a story of African hunting, but if Steve OKs it, I'll write it.)

     I landed at the Whitehead's private airstrip in Jerry's Cessna 210. After introductions to Rose (wife), Brian and Tammy (son and daughter-in-law) and the staff, I settled in to a comfortable hut made from stone walls about four feet high with a thatched roof set over a frame of wooden poles with a steep pitch. The open space between the  roof and walls were covered by heavy wire to keep out leopards, bats, large snakes, lions, tigers, and bears (Oh, my!).

     The first day of the hunt was spent driving the ranch to get accustomed to the geography and see the hunting areas, water holes (pans and dams), and view the abundance of wildlife. I brought my rifle just in case bud did not do any shooting that day except to shoot a few targets to show my new-found friends I was somewhat capable with a rifle.

     The second day was to be one that all hunters dream of. My priority animal on this plains game hunt was a greater kudu. Neil, however, suggested that eland be top priority as they are of greater rarity and more difficult to hunt. (I learned later the animals I sought were prepaid to the Whiteheads and therefore my hunter wanted me to shoot an eland [$1500 fee] first and a kudu [$600 fee] second. Hunting is a business.

     First light in Zimbabwe is about 6am and we were off in an antiquated Land Rover that was, surprisingly, quite 

comfortable and reliable. After a breakfast of bacon, toast, coffee, cereal, grapefruit and orange juice I was ready for a long day. 

     Mornings in Zimbabwe are quite cold as June is mid- winter there. Being from Alaska I enjoy the coolness of the 45 degree (F) mornings. It was quite humorous to see Neil in insulated Carharts, gloves, winter hat, and a scarf around his face! 

     After an hour's slow drive a tracker (dressed in the same manner as Neil) pointed to some eland tracks that crossed our path. It is amazing how the black African trackers can see (much less follow) one track out of hundreds. In addition, they know how big the animal is, his sex, how old the track is, and even where his destination will be!

     The Whiteheads have a policy on their ranch of not shooting animals from a vehicle. That also follows my ethic. Sadly today many "hunters" ride in a vehicle until an animal is seen and only shoot from the confines of their auto.

     We departed the Land Rover knowing we were in for a long stalk. The tracks were made several hours earlier-- perhaps midnight. It was a small herd of young bulls with a larger bull with them. Off we went with the tracker in the lead, Neil, myself, and two skinners bringing up the rear. I mentioned to Neil again that since an eland was not my first priority that I only wanted a good trophy--one in the mid-30-inch range. He agreed.

     We walked quietly but briskly for about three hours when the tracker motioned for us to slow down. The eland herd was less than a mile away and slowing down as the sun was well up in the sky now and it was getting hot. They would be resting soon and would continue to lie down until late afternoon when the temperature began to cool off. We had to move very slow and careful as they would be quite wary and listening attentively.

     We covered between 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile during the next hour--always keeping the wind in our face. Then, through the brush, the tracker became motionless and was pointing with his finger. The herd could be seen a few hundred yards ahead. A few shadows, that's all. Where some were moving about slowly, it was certain others were lying in rest. The trick now was to move in and locate the largest bull.

     The skinners remained behind as did the tracker as his job was done. Neil and I moved closer, crawling much of the way. When the crawl was not slow, or low, enough we crab- walked with our rifles across our lap. The wind remained on 

our favor and in another hour we moved to shooting distance. (At times like these sometimes I often wish I had a .300 Weatherby and a 4-12x scope. That feeling only lasts a few seconds then I bring myself back to the reality of what I enjoy most about hunting--the stalk and being in close proximity to wild and free animals.)

     Neil pointed out the best bull and wrote in the sand with his finger he would go about 33-34 inches (which was acceptable). He was lying in the tall grass not quite side-on but not quartering away either. He was chewing grass and looking casually from right to left. Beyond were a few others--lying or milling about slowly. Our stalk was good as they didn't know were there.  

     I began to position myself for the shot when the old bull looked away. I remained motionless as he turned in my direction. As he looked away I slid the stalking safeties off. Then I held back the front trigger and silently moved the right hammer to full cock. I did the same to the rear trigger and left hammer. 

     I had to shoot from the sitting position I settled in to from the time-consuming crab walk. The distance was about 30 yards. The sights were lined up on the old bull's left shoulder when the right barrel spoke. The eland jumped up and Neil shouted, "Shoot him again!" A quick second shot from the left barrel brought the old bull down with a hit to the spine.

     Approaching the downed bull I was finally able to notice and appreciate his immensity. About 1500 pounds and steel blue in color with horns somewhat worn from years of wear. Bull eland turn from brown to blue with old age and this grand old man was a fine example. My shooting, however, was less than fine.

     In shooting from a sitting position in high grass with open sights my first shot hit a blade of grass and was deflected nearly three feet to the left and passed through the thick muscles in the eland's neck. The 440-grain slug at 1850fps passed through 15 inches of muscle and did little damage. It was the quick second shot that saved us from a long follow up and the possibility of a lost animal.

     At first I was a bit disappointed as the eland's horns came up short at 27 1/2 inches. I would not have shot if I had known this but perhaps Neil made an honest error in judgment or perhaps the trophy fee caused the optimistic judgment. Then the reality of the situation hit me. I had the best stalk of my life and took the eland with a 107 year old rifle with open sights. Never again, I vowed to myself, would I be ruled by the tape measure. 

     The skinners did their work and later that night the eland steaks were as tender and tasty as the finest beef. Eight more days of hunting awaited and I fell in love with Marakanga and southern Zimbabwe. A European skull mount is above my fireplace and the cape is in storage for a future shoulder mount. The memories will last a lifetime.

     Final score: Mr. Mortimer 1, Eland 0.

     If any readers are interested in hunting in Africa or Australia I would be pleased to offer suggestions and recommendations. I can be reached at: 3400 West 86th Street, # 17, Anchorage, Alaska 99502.

     Please note that the ammunition loads listed here work for the author in his rifle. Neither the author or the publisher of this magazine recommend or guarantee similar loads in your rifle due to the complexities and variables of reloading, the components used, and the condition of antique firearms.

Photo captions:

1. The 1890 vintage Mortimer and Son .500 x 3-inch black powder express rifle shown in its original case with accessories.

2. Zimbabwean eland, the Mortimer, and the author.

Dangerous Game…Or Is It?
by Cal Pappas

Dangerous Game. This pair of words certainly does have a flair! Of fairly recent usage in common hunting lingo, dangerous game, or DG, has been popularized by hunters and the makers of firearms and hunting gear. Ammunition is DG, hunts are specifically for DG, accessories are for DG, and Cabelas offers a rifle rest/vise that is DG (for those hunters who want to sight in a DG rifle without feeling the DG recoil).

I like Big Five. I also like Big Game as in Big Game Hunter which is synonymous with Professional Hunter (today's favorite) and White Hunter (yesterday's favorite). But Dangerous Game does not cut it with me and I've tried to find the reason why. First, there must be a dividing line between big game and dangerous game. Leopards are possibly dangerous, but they are not big. Giraffe are big, but not dangerous. I guess it is in the eye of the beholder.

Personally, I feel the only true DG today are the elephant due to their immense size, and lion and brown/grizzly bear due to their size, temperament, and predatory nature. No to the tiger as they are not hunted anymore. No, too, to the rhino (both white and black) as they are mostly locked up in pens in South Africa and not hunted in the wild any longer. Hippo on dry land and close up is dangerous. Assassinated in the water by a brain short from the bank and they are not. Croc, too, sometimes called one of the Dangerous Seven, is definitely not dangerous when brain shot from a safe distance. Nor, too, are the elephant, lion, and the big bears dangerous when shot from a few hundred yards with a 'scope sighted whiz bang super magnum.

I hate to write it, but the buffalo is not in my DG vocabulary--both the cape and water variety, as well as the American Bison (in error referred to as a buffalo for the past 175 years). I posted on a well known forum that my opinion of the cape buffalo is that they were cattle, not dangerous game, as every one I have ever seen, either single dagga boys or herds, ran for the next county when they saw or winded me. A few well-meaning gents took issue with my statement and gave me a few shots about milk cows and my youth (as I was raised on a dairy farm). One stated I insulted the cape buffalo. I disagree, respectfully. If I made any insult it was to the hunters who go off to Africa with a vintage double rifle or the newest whiz-bang magnum with a puffed up attitude of their putting themselves in danger by hunting an animal who, in the words of one self-styled expert in African hunting (with countless thousands of posts of unsolicited wisdom on the forums), stated there were thousands of true stories of buffalo who will gore and stomp you to death. 

Mark Sullivan, whom I have great respect and friendship for, looks for the charge. In his words to me, only 5% of wounded buffalo charge. And that is when they are followed up close and personal in the hope a charge results. The remaining 95% run off leaving a blood trail. The owner of the best forum and most popular forum on the internet has killed hundreds of buffalo and never had a charge. But my website, emails, phone calls, and personal contacts has so many hunters returning from Africa where the buffalo charged that I am amazed. 

I am not the last word in African hunting but I have 14 trips of experience in addition to three to Australia so I am not an arm chair expert. Maybe one step above. I recognize many have been tragically killed by cape buffalo in Africa in recent times. The circumstances that lead to their premature and tragic deaths were indeed dangerous. Driving automobiles in the States is not dangerous even though 40,000 people die each year in traffic accidents. Their circumstances were dangerous, but driving is not. Hunting cape buffalo is not dangerous. It would be interesting to know the numbers of how many cape buffalo have been hunted in the past 1 1/2 centuries and how many fatalities resulted. I bet the number is akin to being hit by lightning or bitten by a great white shark. Danger lurks there, too, but I still walk in the rain and swim in the oceans when on vacation.

Hype sells. Think about it. Articles on African hunting would not be that popular if the topic didn't generate emotions of excitement. Peter Capstick embellished his stories and they were best sellers. Mark Sullivan sells more videos than any other PH (I would guess) due to the excitement they show. Folks that write of shooting big rifles (and I do have some experience with them) will state the 4-bore recoils like a freight train, the .600 will cause (pick one) teeth to come loose, filling to come out of teeth, ears to bleed, shoulders to be dislocated, and animals shot by a .600 will flip head over heels. Yes, all of the results above, and more, have been written about. I have photos of Craig Boddington and Elmer Keith shooting a .600 with the muzzles pointed skyward in recoil. Actual muzzle rise is less than 12 inches and usually half of that. 

Hype sells. At SCI, DSC, and other conventions folks that sell buffalo hunts do so with great success telling of the danger, the charges, etc. I would imagine their sales would suffer a bit if they had a line such as, "You'll shoot your buff at 100 yards, no problem, no danger." I would again also add that even the animals that I consider true dangerous game (elephant, lion, brown bear or grizzly)  are not dangerous when assassinated from several hundred yards.

So, forgive me, please, as I know many (if not most) will disagree. To we must include the cape buffalo in a poetic moniker let's return to the Big Five and drop Dangerous Game.

South Africa Giraffe
By Cal Pappas

Many of my friends ridiculed me for the desire to hunt giraffe. “It was not sporting, giraffe is not a true game animal, there is no trophy to take home, and they are too beautiful of an animal,” I heard countless times. I endured this banter for a couple of years but in 2003 I was off to the northern section of South Africa, near Vivo, to hunt a large ranch for giraffe. Actually, I was scheduled to try and take an old bull off one ranch but prior to my arrival the bull was bitten by a black mamba. He was dead in 45 minutes I was told and I could only imagine how little time a man would have if bitten by the same snake. The big bull was estimated to weigh 3000 to 3300 pounds. A 200 pound man would be dead before he could get to his snake bit kit!

Another plan had to be made and my friend and PH Gert Rall of Pietersburg made a few phone calls. He joked that I should have better luck this year. (The year prior, on the last day of a 10 day plains game hunt, I stepped in a wart hog hole and tore my left Achilles tendon completely in two. Both sections unraveled like nylon rope and the next day I flew to my surgeon in Anchorage for repair. I was to spend two months in a cast, missed a sheep hunt in the Tok mountains, and when the nurse removed the stitches after two weeks she missed one and an infection set in and I spent a week in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Not a good summer!).

Back to the story. Gert found a ranch with a giraffe problem. An old bull was keeping the younger bulls from breeding and he actually killed a younger bull. The ranch owner wanted him taken out and I agreed if it was to be an on foot fair chase hunt. Gert assured me it would be as the ranch was several thousand hectares and we would track on foot once spoor was crossed.

And track we did! Several hours later we spotted a small herd of giraffe. I asked Gert which is the bull to shoot and he pointed out the largest bull--approximately 17 feet tall. We made a plan to stalk close enough to shoot with my .450 no2 Joseph Lang double rifle. My plan was to crouch and sneak behind bush to bush and make our way forward. Gert listened to my plan and agreed. The problem is that giraffe are so tall they could see us making the plan and watch us crouching and creeping from bush to bush. After several attempts with each ending in failure as the animals moved off a bit within their safe “bubble” Gert said, “Let’s try it my way.” I had to agree as what I was trying to do was not going to work,. Unless, of course, I had a .300 Weatherby in my hands and it being topped with a 6-18x scope.

Gert laid out his plan of attack. We were outside of the giraffe’s bubble, they knew where we were and could see us, and were not alarmed. We would get up and walk--not towards them, but back and forth, left to right, several times. I commented, “But they can see us” to which Gert replied, “They see us now. Just do it and see what happens.”

This we did and the giraffe did not move. After several minutes of this back and forth walking, Gert suggested we slowly begin angling in toward the herd while continuing our left to right and right to left walk. This we did. I could see the distance between us and the giraffe getting smaller with each pass but the giraffe remained calm.

80 yards from the herd we came to a small dry stream bed which we dropped down into. Up the other side and we were obscured by some brush. Stepping to the side of the bush the herd was feeding and watching. The bull was an easy target standing broadside to me, facing to my left. I fired the left and the right barrel at the bull’s shoulder and he was immediately stunned. Later I learned this was not necessarily because of the bullet’s impact and the foot pounds of energy entering the animal. I was told giraffe have very high blood pressure and when my bullets punctured the lungs the bullet holes released pressure and the animal was staggered a bit. He did run off as I reloaded but fell 60-70 yards away. With front legs nearly 7 feet tall, it was only took a few steps for the bull to travel the 60-70 yards. When I walked to him he as breathing his last and another shot was not needed.

It is interesting to see a bull giraffe up close the first time. He is massive, weighing a ton and a half. What looks like a small head from a distance is actually quite a large skull with two eight inch bony knobs protruding upward. His hide was beautiful and over an inch thick at the brisket. His hooves were huge and his underside was covered in hundreds, nay thousands, of ticks.

My two bullets entered a bit high on the shoulder, about three inches apart. The top of his leg bones were penetrated by the 500-grain Hornady solids but the lethality of the projectile’s path was two holes in the top of his lungs. He immediately began to bleed out.

A taxidermy company from Pietersburg sent their truck and two skinners to tackle the job of removing the entire skin--not wanting to trust the job to the local workers. At my log cabin in Willow, Alaska I have a full rug, nearly 17 feet long and over 10 feet wide, in my loft. I also have two end tables supported by his front feet and the skull is atop a book cabinet. Students at several Alaska schools have admired the skull and rug as well as well as other African skulls and items from my several hunts.

Giraffe bull was an exciting animal to hunt and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Stalking on foot is indeed a challenge. If you are on a large enough property to hunt fairly, on foot, and shoot from close range and not from a vehicle, such a hunt will be a fond memory the remainder of your years. In fact, as I pen this (November 2013) I am planning a Zimbabwe hunt and hope giraffe will be on the ticket. Giraffe hunting has my highest recommendation!

John Wilkes .600 vs. Dagga Boy
by Cal Pappas
photo by Greg Hoversten MD

I know he's not the widest buff in the world but, after reading about his taking, I'm sure you'll agree with my decision to pull the trigger and let the vintage John Wilkes .600 speak in the hunting fields once again.

I was scheduled to hunt several areas of Zimbabwe's Matetsi concession (south of Victoria Falls) between September 3 and 12 of 2008. My Professional Hunter (and close friend) was to be Gary Hopkins of Zimbabwe. Known as the Bulawayo Bull, Gary and I have been hunting together since 2005 and I have become good friends with both Gary and his wife, Crystal, and their respective families. In fact, I arrive a week early to visit with my Zimbabwe family before commencing with a hunt.

Gary had great success this year at Matetsi taking buffalo, leopard, elephant, and plains game and was confident my hunt would be successful, too. A few weeks before my arrival Gary had a cancellation so he was to be in Bulawayo for two weeks of vacation and would be at the airport for my arrival.

After a few days of  shopping, relaxing, and visiting, Gary and I drove the 5- hour road trip to Matetsi. With us were two close friends who flew over the Pond with me: Greg Hoversten, an emergency room physician from Iowa, and Ron Williams, co-owner of the Palmer (Alaska) Veterinary Clinic. Greg was to video the adventure and Ron was to hunt plains game and non-trophy elephant. The drive as safe and secure. No problems in the country and we were waived through the police roadblocks with a smile.

When we arrived in camp the sky was dark with smoke. Huge brush fires had so filled the sky with smoke that the sun did not cast a shadow until late in the morning and the temperature was 15 degrees F cooler than normal. We saw absolutely no fresh buffalo sign for two days. The herds had moved away from the fires and smoke. At the end of the second day, Gary contacted a fellow named Theo about hunting on a neighboring concession. The reply was, "No. The buffalo will come back." After three more days of no buffalo, permission was granted for only one day on the Woodlands concession. There were no buffalo at all on the concessions of Breakfast, Kisibi, Kalala, and Chicabela. (Gary was a bit disappointed with only one day to hunt there as a leopard hunter from Woodlands was hunting in my areas upon my arrival. Since a buffalo hunter was to arrive on my 7th day I had only my 6th to hunt).

We got on tracks at first light and followed five dagga boys for several hours. All were solid-bossed bulls with one going over the magic 40 inch mark. They winded us and took off with three going one way and two, another. We sat down for an early lunch and to let them settle down. Upon following the two, one bull stopped to look back at us from a distance of 60 yards. It was 1pm, 5 hours left to hunt and I had to make the decision to take this bull--in the mid-thirty inch range with a good, solid boss--or risk going home empty handed. If we had a few more days to hunt, I would have passed and gone on to look for the larger buffalo. But, with time short and needing a buffalo to put in my upcoming book on the .600 nitro express rifles, I decided to take the shot.

A cloud of dust rose from the chest of the old timer a split second after pulling the rear trigger. His head went down and he took off at a full gallop as I fired the right barrel. The first shot hit him high on the chest and penetrated to his right rear quarter leaving a 1 1/4-inch diameter wound channel. Tracking was easy as the ground cover was burned off to bare sand. Brown leaves remained on the trees and brush making visibility poor with only 20 to 50 yards to see our quarry.

After a few hundred yards of a slow follow up he snorted at us through the brush and ran off--once again disappearing into the thick. He was hit hard and was sick. If he was hit with only a slight flesh would he would have been running to the next county. Since he was staying in the area it was only a matter of time until we would see him again. 

A quick glance between the trees, a streak of grey/black, and I took a couple of 'Hail May' shots and hit too high. (After the fact, I discovered my problem. All of my practice shooting in Alaska was taken with slow, deliberate aim. I was not used to shooting quick, snap shots and was aiming high--seeing too much bead in the rear sight's V. Snap shooting takes practice and even more so with a near 16-pound rifle). Two more shots and the buff stopped to breathe his last. One more 900-grain Woodleigh through the shoulder and he went down to end a very exciting hunt with a magnificent rifle.

Upon a close examination of the buff he appeared to be over ten years old with very thick horns, a solid boss, and worn tips. He was covered in dried mud thereby earning the coveted moniker, 'dagga boy'. While not as wide as I would have liked, he was a strong, old warrior who died with fight in his blood. It was an excellent hunt with good friends. Life does not get any better. In the end, the final score was Wilkes 1 and the buffalo 0.

A video of the kill can be seen at       "The best in double rifles and African hunting."

Photo caption: PH Gary Hopkins of Bulawayo (left) and Cal Pappas with the old dagga boy and the Wilkes .600 from 1914.


text by Cal Pappas
photos by Matt DeVincenzi and Doug E. Griffin

   The title of choice for this article was bor­rowed from an advertisement in a William Evans catalog from the 1880s. if there was ever any doubt about the large bore rifles being "bone smashers" no doubt will remain after pulling the trigger on a full-house load of black powder. How-ever, before divulging into the realm of ballistics perhaps a bit of information of this particular rifle should be in order. 
   After shooting some 8-bore double rifles with a friend in New Hampshire in the latter 1990s (which began a fascination with these, the largest of firearms) I knew that someday I had to own one. I had heard from those "in the know" that two different 8-bores existed. The first (and most common) was the standard 8-bore shooting a bullet or ball of an approxi­mate diameter of .835". Rifles of this cali­ber utilized a paper case or a thick-walled brass case from 3 1/8 to 4 inches in length, with 3 1/4" the most common.
   The second 8-bore, and of a more rare variety, was referred to as the "large" 8-bore and shot an .875" diameter bullet from a thin-walled brass case. And, in the spring of 2000 (May in Alaska) when I noticed a large 8-bore for sale in the catalog of Wes­tley Richards I was immediately on the phone inquiring about the details and specifications.

After the stan­dard gun room negotiations a deal was struck and the rifle was mailed to myhome in Anchorage in time for a Memorial Day shoot at my cabin. 

   When the rifle arrived I was in awe of its size. In "used but not abused" condition with excellent bores this cannon was begging to be shot. In a separate box were reloading dies, shell holder, paradox-style bullet mould and 18 rounds of brass cases with shotshell primer pockets (but no headstamp).

The proof marks told me this large 8-bore was manufactured in Birmingham, Eng­land, and was later retailed by the firm of Walter Locke and Co. of Calcutta, India. The barrels measured 24 inches long and

weighed 10 1 /2 pounds. A 3/4" file-cut rib provided a wide base for the 3-leaf ex-press sight graduated for 50-100-150 yards. The weight of the rifle was 17 pounds, the stock sported a comfortable 14 1/4" pull (including the solid rubber recoil heel plate) and the pistol grip has a gentle slope to it but not enough to qualify as a semi-pistol grip. (This  open grip' feature is much appreciated as it keeps the hand a bit farther back from the trig­ger guard thereby preventing painful contact with the middle finger upon ignition). The receiver still retained much of the original case color between the ham­mers and other protected areas.

Knowing the bore diameter I ordered a round ball mould and a rounded flat nose bullet from NEI of Scappose, Oregon, (503-543-6776). I also spoke to a friend in a nearby town who is knowledgeable in the bore rifles and he suggested several loads, both in smokeless and black powder, for the three bullet types. To me there is absolutely no use in owning a fine and historical rifle and keeping it in the safe to look at and (hopefully) appreciate in value over the years. They were meant to be shot a hundred years ago and they are meant to be shot today. Not to do so would be an injustice.

First of all, bullets had to be cast. I enjoy the simplicity and ease of wheel weights and have an ample supply. The three bullet types weighed as follows: the round
balls cast to 1000 grains, the para­dox bullet at 1350 grains, and the flat-nosed bullet at 1620 grains. A lesson was to be learned here. A 1000-grain ball is seven balls to the
pound                                                     thereby
making my rifle
(and all other "large" 8-bores) a 7-bore. (A true 8-bore has round
balls weighing eight to the pound or 875 grains). In muzzleloading
days the proper bore size was
stamped on the rifle. When the transition to breech-loader was made it seems the proof houses grouped the 8 and 7 bores under the 8 bore stamp and the 4 and the 5 bores were both stamped with a 4. The bore stamp should be located in a small diamond on the barrel flats.

The balls cast to .880" and I ran them (and the other two bullet styles) through a .875" sizing die. This makes them easier
Jerry and Rose Whitehead at Marakanga Ranch

to seat in the case and all bullets fit the bore grooves tight but not overly so. I pan lubed the two larger bullets with LBT Commercial Blue--a bullet lube with the consistency of candle wax thereby avoiding the sticky and greasy mess of softer lubes and rolled the balls in Lee alox to lube the 'equator'.

At this time I asked a local gunsmith to make a chamber cast. My rifle has cham­bers 3 1/4" long with a 3/4" throat before meeting the rifling. The brass cases hold nearly 15 drams of black powder if filled to the top. The rim of the case is .100" thick and 1.00" in diameter. Shooting this rifle was going to be fun and both a his­torical and learning experience-everything shooting should be. But...where to begin?

In the long days of the Alaska summers in 2000 and 2001 I shot my big rifle for en­joyment at targets. During the summer of 2002 I sustained a ruptured Achilles ten-don on the last day of a hunting trip in South Africa. Since I would not be shoot­ing the big bore that summer I sent the Locke off to Griffin and Howe in New Jer­sey (908-766-2287) for an examination and recommendation as to refinishing. Paul Chapman, vice president, suggested leaving the receiver as it was as just enough case colors remained to give the rifle character. The stock was to be de-oiled and hand-rubbed with an English oil finish and the ancient recoil pad replaced. The barrels were to be blued and an old 10-bore oak and leather case was on hand if I cared to have my rifle fitted to it. Of course I did!

By spring of 2003 the rifle was returned to me and it looked magnificent. I would not have expected less from the finest cus­tom gun and rifle shop in the States. The case was not quite the size required so Mike Messina (516-794-1979) set the barrels on their side and had to cut a re­cess in the lid and bottom of the case. He also had to recess the areas in contact with the hammer screws. Now it was time for some serious shooting over a chrono­graph to see what this 7 bore could man-age. Since black powder was the original propellant that is where the shooting was to begin but smokeless propellants were the long term goal due to a personal dis­like of the immediate cleaning of both rifle and brass that is necessitated by the cor­rosive qualities of black powder.

Reloading components were gathered on my bench: Fg GOEX, 1 1/4x12 dies, Win­chester 209 shotgun primers, 1/8" over powder card wads, 1/2" felt filler wads, 1000-, 1350-, and 1620-grain projectiles, and some handy homemade cartridge holders. (Plastic .375 magnum 20-round cartridge boxes are drilled with a 1" bit transforming four cartridge chambers into one large chamber thereby equating to a 5-round box).

The velocity figures below were the aver-age of six shots. Since the rifle came with 18 cases, it was convenient to shoot three groups of six shots at the range before returning home to reload again. The velocities I obtained were less than expected due to the quality of today's black powder. In the days when black powder was the only propellant available the manufactures competed with each other to make the best stuff they could. Today, it seems technology has reversed itself. Grain for grain, modern powder falls a bit short.

I began with 8 drams (220 grains at 27.5 grains to the dram) and increased by one dram increments to a maximum of 14.

The muzzle velocity was measured by a PACT chronograph and muzzle energy was calculated using the formula: velocitysquared multiplied by the bullet weight and divided by 450240. John Taylor's knock out value is calculated thusly: bul­let weight x velocity x bullet diameter di­vided by 7000. Using the 1000-grain round ball the ballistics were:

8 drams
9 drams
10 drams
11 drams
12 drams
13 drams

14 drams

NOTES: The velocity did not increase after 12 drams or 330 grains. Apparently the lightness of the projectile did not allow the powder to burn efficiently.

Next I used the same Fg powder charges with the 1350-grain paradox bullet. The ballistics were:
8 drams
9 drams
10 drams
11 drams
12 drams
13 drams
14 drams

NOTES: Recoil was a bit severe with the two highest loadings. Also, the heavier bullet seemed to burn the powder cleaner as less fowling remained in the bore than with the 1000-grain ball.

The large 1620-grain bullet was the third tested. Ballistics were:

8 drams
9 drams
10 drams
11 drams
12 drams
13 drams
14 drams'
15 drams
NOTES: Recoil is unbearable in the up-per loadings. The 15-dram load was a fully compressed load and the velocity is the result of one shot only. The recoil can't be described in plain words. It seems the higher the powder charge with the heavier projectiles the velocity in-creased in larger increments.

One additional observation. For the last century or more a debate has raged over heavy bullets at a slow[ long rifle pene­trated a bit under 3 inches. The 1620-grain 7-bore penetrated just under 42 inches! ( I have read, but not personally substantiated, a .458 Winchester will out penetrate a .460 Weatherby with the same 500-grain bullet while moving 500fps slower.)

Reverting back to the 1000-grain ball but using FFg GOEX the change was im‑
8 drams
9 drams
10 drams 1387                4273           173
11 drams 1451                4676           181
12 drams 1522                5144           190
13 drams 1591                5622           199
14 drams 1674                6223           209 NOTES: The above tests did not show any signs of excessive pressure and ve­locities averaged almost 200 fps faster than Fg. The primers remained intact with no signs of blow back or gas leakage.
Nyala Dam took three years to build--all by hand. The Whiteheads employ 40 Africans on the ranch

Also, FFg burned much cleaner than sin­gle F.

I did not, however, risk using FFg on the heavier projectiles. There is a lot of steel in the barrels and they are solid rolled steel, but I am not experienced enough to venture into realms unknown. I did shoot 8 drams of FFFg and the 1000-grain ball and the velocity averaged 1461 fps. Again, I did not use increased charges due to fears of excessive pressure.

Accuracy of the above ballistic tables was acceptable at the 50-yard targets I shot at through the chronograph. It seems the larger the bore on double rifles the for forgiving the regulation. (Heavy loads should not be shot off the bench!)

The above tests were the last time this cannon burned charcoal. The conven­ience of smokeless powder, the ease of cleaning, the economy of shooting less grains, and being able to fly to a hunting destination (it is not possible to fly with black powder ammunition in domestic or international flights) were justification for me to make the permanent switch to smokeless powder.

Blue Dot was the powder of choice as it came highly recommended by several friends who are experienced with the bore rifles. I'm sure other powders will work but since Blue Dot performed so well I felt there was no reason to expand my experimentation.

Components used were 1/8" over powder wads (70-80 pounds of pressure) and 1/ 2" felt spacer or filler wads (lots of 'em). Primers were Winchester 209. Beginning with the 1000-grain round ball the ballis­tics were:


60 grains

65 grains

70 grains

75 grains

80 grains

85 grains

90 grains

95 grains

100 grains 1719

NOTES: It is a joy to avoid cleaning black powder residue! Recoil was mild and even tolerable with the heaviest loads. Accuracy remained the same as with black powder.

The 1350-grain paradox bullet was next. Velocities were:
60 grains
65 grains
70 grains
75 grains
80 grains
NOTES: Recoil was getting heavier but still within my limits. Accuracy remained good--about 4 inches at 50 yards.

The big 1620-grain bullet was last. Ve­locities were:
60 grains
65 grains
70 grains
75 grains
NOTES: With the low velocity, soft lead bullets would be needed for hunting. Ac-curacy remained good and recoil was much easier to digest than with maximum black powder loads. However, velocity ws approximately 300fps slower than with heavy black powder loads.


When it was time to order new brass the only source proved to be the best source--Dave Casey's Rocky Mountain Cartridge of Cody, Wyoming (307-587-9693). I have used Dave's products for several double rifles as have many of my friends. The brass is of excellent quality and Dave's lathe-turned brass holds up as well as any drawn brass (HDS, Ky­noch, Bertram, BELL, A-Square) I have used. I asked Dave to make up two boxes each of shotgun and rifle primers. I wanted to see if rifle primers would ignite such a large quantity of Blue Dot powder. If they could work I would be easier for my reloading process to deprime and rep-rime with standard large rifle primers. (The size and deprime die can push out the rifle primer and it will fall through the slot in the ram. That can't be done with the shotgun primer so each has to be driven out with a punch and hammer. I use a Lee Auto Prime II which easily primes large rifle primers through the shell holder. Again, shotshell primers have to be manually pressed into the case using the press, a dowel, and a plug in the die hole to push the primer in place with the ram of the press).

Large rifle magnum primers with 1000-grain round ball had occasional hang-fires. When they worked the velocity av­eraged about 80 fps behind the same load ignited with shotgun primers. How-ever, due to the hang-fires I avoided fur­ther use of rifle primers. Perhaps a hotter primer will be developed in the future and I would consider using it.

Large rifle primers with 8 grains of FFFg black powder under Blue Dot and 1000-grain round ball worked very well. In fact using both rifle and shotgun primers with the small charge of 3F black powder ve‑

locity increased about 60 fps and there was far less variation in the velocity of each shot string (25fps vs. 80fps). The only drawback is the cleaning of the bore and brass. Since shotgun primers didn't hang-fire there is really no need to use a duplex load. With rifle primers, a duplex load is a necessity. So, I placed an order with Rocky Mountain Cartirdge for a life-time supply of shotgun-primed brass cases.

Game awaits. Now my tendon is healed and back to normal I hope to take the Locke on a hunting trip in 2004. I have scheduled a six week trip to South Africa in 2003 after buffalo, hippo, and plains game but this is not the time for the big seven. Perhaps a moose hunt in the fall would work out. (In the fall of 2000 I called in a moose that was too small to be legal to shoot but the 7-bore was shouldered and ready to go).
In closing, I have settled on three loads that will fulfill my target practice and hunting needs. For the 1000-grain ball I shoot 85 grains of Blue Dot, for the 1350-grain Paradox bullet I shoot 75 grains of BD, and 65 grains of BD with the big 1620-grain bullet. They are below maxi-mum and are safe in my rifle. I also made three changes to my shooting. I had a machinist friend modify the Lee Auto Prime II to accept shotgun primers, I tumble lube all three bullet sizes with Lee alox lube as this reduces fowling and is easy to apply, and I now shoot a 1220-grain original paradox bullet. This new bullet gives a about a 70-90fps increase with the same powder charge over the 1350-grain bullet. The only other notes on my shooting I have is the right barrel shoots about 45fps faster than the left barrel and I wrap one layer of nylon thread tape on the equator of the round

balls and that completely eliminates lead buildup in the bores.

Owning this bore rifle had opened a new world of shooting enjoyment for me. It gathers spectators with every visit to the range and it is remarkable how well a 17-pound rifle can be handled. The only road not traveled is that of locating a copy of the Locke factory ledger with hopes of finding the name of the original owner. Several letters and phone calls to Eng­land have been dead ends. But that gives me something to shoot for! Any lesser rifle could have been used anywhere in the hunting world but this cannon was only used on the largest of game. It de-served no less.

One last note. The loads listed are safe for the author to shoot in his rifle. The loading specifications above are for in-formational purposes only. The author and publisher do not recommend them for use in your firearm(s). Always consult a gunsmith before shooting any antique firearm. Due to the complexities and vari­ables in reloading ammunition the author and publisher are not responsible for any injuries or damages resulting from infor­mation contained in this article.

The Largest Bore
by Cal Pappas

Speculation abounds in the world of big bore rifles as to what was the largest rifle and the largest shotgun bore in the vintage years of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Today, in the world of cartridge and rifle “one-upmanship” the debate continues but with a new twist: instead of just talking about the biggest, folks now are making the biggest. A good example would be the nitro express elephant rifles. The .600 ruled the roost from 1900 to the post World War II years. When Holland and Holland completed the “Last .600” in 1975 it was the end of an era. Until, that is, when a gent from California wanted one and Holland refused. He then, with the assistance of Holland and BELL Brass developed the .700. (The .700 is not properly referred to as a nitro express cartridge as it is not loaded with cordite). A decade or more later, a gent from Europe made a .750. This was followed by another fella who wanted the biggest on the block so he commissioned an .800. In turn this was followed by an .850. All called “nitro express” albeit incorrectly. (Of course bore sizes in the mid-.800” and above are nothing new. They are just renamed 8-bores).

In the vintage years it was common to see an 8-bore in the game fields of Africa, India, and southeast Asia. Bore sizes vary greatly in the 8s as so many were produced. Perhaps thousands. As small as .819” (about 9-bore) and as large as .888” (about 7-bore) most 8s have bore diameters between .835” to .850”. The average charge of black powder was 10 drams or 275 grains with some at 12 drams or 330 grains and at least one with 14 drams or 385 grains of Curtis and Harvey’s no. 6. Projectile weight varied from a spherical ball in the mid-800 grains (an exact 8-bore is 8 balls to the pound or 875 grains) to 1000 grains for the larger diameters. Paradox style bullets of 1250 grains, and conical bullets from 1182 to upwards of 1600 grains were also used. The average case length was 3 1/4 inches with some at 3 inches or less to as long as 3 3/4 inches and perhaps 4.

Far fewer were the 4-bores. While a true 4 has a bore diameter of 1.052” most 4s were made with a bore diameter of about .970” (5-bore) to allow for the thickness of the paper, and later brass, cartridge cases to securely hold the bullet. Some bore diameters were as small as .919” or 6-bore, but all were known as 4-bores due to the standard size of the chamber. Most 4-bores held a black powder charge of 12 to 14 drams and a few up to 16 drams, or a full ounce of powder (approximately 440 grains). Case length averaged 4 inches with some less and at least one at 4 1/2 inches.

Weights of the above rifles were great, but not to contain the explosive force as the cartridges. Even with the enormous power they generated the 8s and 4s developed very low pressure. The weight was needed to control the recoil. 8-bores averaged between 15 and 17 pounds with the lighter figure common with 8s made in the late 1870s and gradually increasing, as time went by, in both powder charge and projectile weight. A good average weight for a 4-bore was 20-22 pounds with some tipping the scales at 24 pounds. We are talking double rifles here with singles weighing 3 to 6 pounds less, respectively, with the powder charge and bullet weight lessened for recoil management purposes.

With Blue Dot smokeless powder, I have chronographed the following:

bullet wt.
Taylor’s KO
2150 gr.
1750 gr.
1400 gr.
1620 gr.
1350 gr.
1000 gr.

Of course when the topic of big bores rises its head the .577 and .600 nitro express rounds must be mentioned. However, while the most powerful of the smokeless powder rounds of the first half of the last century, their bore size regulates them to a lesser status. While their muzzle energy figures are, indeed, up there, their recoil calculations as well as John Taylor’s knock out value leave both in the dust.

bullet wt.
Taylor’s KO
900 gr.
750 gr.

Was there anything larger than a 4-bore? Of course there was. Most often mentioned, but incorrectly so, was Samuel Baker’s “Baby.” 

History and its writers have written extensively about Baker’s rifle as a 2-bore due to his quoting the weight of the projectile being “half a pound” or 3500 grains. A true 2-bore would have a bore diameter of 1.326 inches and a round ball of that diameter of pure lead would, indeed, weight 3500 grains. The problem with this logic is that Baker writes of his 3500-grain bullet as being an elongated explosive projectile. Well, if one elongates a round ball of 1.326” diameter it is obvious the weight will go up. Also, the powder charge is given by Baker was both 10 drams and also 16 (275 to 440 grains). 10 drams was a common 8-bore load, extremely light for a 4-bore (usually 14 drams with a conical and up to 16 drams with a ball) and not even in the ball park for a true 2-bore. The above two facts, coupled with no known documentation of a shoulder-held 2-bore exists, leads me to believe Baker fired a common 4-bore with a heavier-than-normal projectile weight and a light-for-normal powder charge (10 drams) or a heavy-for-conical charge of 16 drams. Last of all is the 22-pound weight of Baker’s rifle. 20 pounds was common for a 4 with 22 even more so, and some at 24 pounds. A 2-bore frame and barrel (even a single) would have to weigh upwards of 30 pounds to manage the recoil as well as keep the shooter in one place (and one piece).

Baker states, “I had a very ponderous single rifle weighing 22 lbs., which carried a conical shell of half a pound with a charge of 16 drams of powder.” He goes on to describe the projectile as a combination of steel and lead: “My half-pound shell was exceedingly simple. A cast-iron bottle, similar in shape to a German seltzer-water, formed the core, around which the lead was cast. The neck of the iron bottle projected through the pointed cone of the projectile, and formed a nipple to receive the percussion-cap. In external appearance the shell was lead, the iron bottle being concealed, within half an ounce of the finest grained powder was inserted through the nipple by means of a small funnel; this formed the bursting charge” (Wild Beasts and their Ways). The iron bottle contained approximately 220 grains (8 drams) of fine grained powder to make an explosive shell. A percussion cap was at the bottle’s mouth to detonate the charge.

What he did was that Baker shot a 4-bore with a special bullet of his own design and used either 10 or more drams of powder, up to 16.

So, if the largest shoulder held sporting rifles and shotguns were 4-bores, why did the English proof houses have designations for 2 and even a 1-bore (1.665-inch diameter)? The answer is simple. There were other arms in existence other than sporting rifles and shotguns in those days and many were larger than the 4-bore. Whaling guns, many built on single shot rifle actions, and also military weapons were proofed for safety at the proof houses. Large bore diameters, yes, but not that powerful. Many of the whaling guns that shot projectiles between one to three pounds used as little as 2 1/2 drams of powder or about 67 grains. Many of them showed their relative power by their light weight with many examples of these guns (if muzzle loading) were cast from a single piece of iron or steel--the stock, action, and barrel as one casting.

The punt guns are another example of larger than 4-bores with accompanying proof marks. Called punt guns as they were “guns” (not rifled arms) mounted in a punt or boat. The punt was an oversize row boat and, with the large gun mounted in the bow, perhaps on a swivel, and firing  a pound or more of shot, entire flocks of ducks fell to the water. The tool of the market hunter, these huge firearms were proofed in Birmingham or London but were not the traditional shoulder held shotgun. The largest shotgun fired from the shoulder was the 4-bore firing 8 to 10 drams of powder (220-275 grains) and 3 1/2 ounces of shot from a 4-inch brass or paper case. While not fastened to the boat  often times a hole in the stock was present for a lanyard rope to keep the gun in the boat--not from excessive recoil but from an accidental spill into the water from a capsized boat. The rope would keep the gun attached to the boat for easy retrieval to avoid loss to the bottom of the channel or the sea.

Today larger and more powerful arms are being constructed. A gent in the UK is making a true 1.052” 4-bore single shot shooting a 3500-grain bullet. He refers to it as a 2-bore. Again, as with Samuel Baker’s a 2-bore, by projectile weight only. (By this logic a .600 nitro express with a 900-grain bullet can be called an 8-bore). Let’s keep to the facts so we are all on the same page without illogical exaggerations to make an unsubstantiated point. 

New rifles in .800 caliber and .850, too, are being built. Modern single and double barrel full sized 2-bores are currently being produced. Of course, the .50 BMG is produced as a single shot, bolt action, and semi automatic sporting rifles as are variations of the 20 mm cannon shell known as the .950 JDJ. All made to have the biggest rifle on the block and the bragging rights that come with the honor. While there is always the “What if” factor or “What about the...” question, the fact remains the largest shoulder held sporting shotgun and rifle, both single shot and double, was the 4-bore in the glorious days gone by. They were a piece of history that will not be replaced by the modern attitude of “I can make mine bigger.” The 4-bore’s place is here to stay. Permanently.

by Cal Pappas

I read with great interest Craig Boddington’s piece in the May issue, Those Terrible 2s.  It is always a enjoyable to read Craig's articles and even more so when he writes of my areas of interest: large bore English guns and rifles. Since Craig was kind enough to mention my name in the article and I thought it a good plan to tell what I know about Samuel Baker's “Baby.”

History and its writers have written extensively about Baker’s rifle as a 2-bore due to his quoting the weight of the projectile being “half a pound” or 3500 grains. A true 2-bore (as written of by Craig) would be a bore diameter of 1.326 inches and a round ball of that diameter of pure lead would, indeed, weight 3500 grains. The problem with this logic is that Baker writes of his 3500-grain bullet as begin an elongated explosive projectile. Well, if one elongates a round ball of 1.326” diameter it is obvious the weight will go up. Also, the powder charge is given by Baker as both 10 drams and also 16. 10 drams was a common 8-bore load, extremely light for a 4-bore (usually 14 drams with a conical and 16 drams with a ball) and not even in the ball park for a true 2-bore. The above two facts, coupled with no known documentation of a shoulder-held 2-bore exists, leads me to believe Baker fired a common 4-bore with a heavier-than-normal projectile weight and a light-for-normal powder charge (10) or a heavy-for-conical charge of 16 drams. Last of all is the weight of Baker’s rifle. 20 pounds was common for a 4 with 22 even more so, and some at 24 pounds. A 2-bore frame and barrel (even a single) would have to weigh upwards of 30 pounds to manage the recoil as well as keep the shooter in one place (and onepiece).

Baker states, “I had a very ponderous single rifle weighing 22 lbs., which carried a conical shell of half a pound with a charge of 16 drams of powder.” He goes on to describe the projectile as a combination of steel and lead: “My half-pound shell was exceedingly simple. A cast-iron bottle, similar in shape to a German seltzer-water, formed the core, around which the lead was cast. The neck of the iron bottle projected through the pointed cone of the projectile, and formed a nipple to receive the percussion-cap. In external appearance the shell was lead, the iron bottle being concealed,  within half an ounce of the finest grained powder was inserted through the nipple by means of a small funnel; this formed the bursting charge” (from Wild Beasts and their Ways). The iron bottle contained approximately 220 grains (8 drams) of fine grained powder to make an explosive shell. A percussion cap was at the bottle’s mouth to detonate the charge.

The only documented 2-bores were the punt guns. These over-sized shotguns were mounted on the bow of a boat, weighted upwards of 100 pounds, and did fire 3500 grains of shot to bring down dozens of ducks for the market hunters.

As a disclaimer, records can be incorrect and so could I. A true vintage 2 (non punt gun) may surface, but I doubt it. Until then, good shooting. Craig, if ever you are in Alaska you are welcome to shoot my .600, 8, and 4-bores to your heart’s content. It was a pleasure to meet you in Dallas and Reno. 


text by Cal Pappas

photos by  Matt DeVincenzi and Doug E. Griffin

The title of choice for this article was borrowed from an advertisement in a William Evans catalog from the 1880s. If there was ever any doubt about the large bore rifles being "bone smashers" no doubt will remain after pulling the trigger on a full-house load of black powder. However, before divulging into the realm of ballistics perhaps a bit of information of this particular rifle should be in order.

After shooting some 8-bore double rifles with a friend in New Hampshire in the latter 1990s (which began a fascination with these, the largest of firearms) I knew that someday I had to own one. I had heard from those "in the know" that two different 8-bores existed. The first (and most common) was the standard 8-bore shooting a bullet or ball of an approximate diameter of .835". Rifles of this caliber utilized a paper case or a thick-walled brass case from 3 1/8 to 4 inches in length, with 3 1/4” the most common. 

The second 8-bore, and of a more rare variety, was referred to as the "large" 8-bore and shot an .875" diameter bullet from a thin-walled brass case. And, in the spring of 2000 (May in Alaska) when I noticed a large 8-bore for sale in the catalog of Westley Richards I was immediately on the phone inquiring about the details and specifications. After the standard gun room negotiations a deal was struck and the rifle was mailed to my home in Anchorage in time for a Memorial Day shoot at my cabin.

When the rifle arrived I was in awe of its size. In "used but not abused" condition with excellent bores this cannon was begging to be shot. In a separate box were reloading dies, shell holder, paradox-style bullet mould and 18 rounds of brass cases with shotshell primer pockets (but no headstamp).

The proof marks told me this large 8-bore was manufactured in Birmingham, England, and was later retailed by the firm of Walter Locke and Co. of Calcutta, India. The barrels measured 24 inches long and weighed 10 1/2 pounds. A 3/4" file-cut rib provided a wide base for the 3-leaf express sight graduated for 50-100-150 yards. The weight of the rifle was 17 pounds, the stock sported a comfortable 14 1/4" pull (including the solid rubber recoil heel plate) and the pistol grip has a gentle slope to it but not enough to qualify as a semi-pistol grip. (This ‘open grip’  feature is much appreciated as it keeps the hand a bit farther back from the trigger guard thereby preventing painful contact with the middle finger upon ignition). The receiver still 

retained much of the original case color between the hammers and other protected areas.

Knowing the bore diameter I ordered a round ball mould and a rounded flat nose bullet from NEI of Scappose, Oregon, (503-543-6776). I also spoke to a friend in a nearby town who is knowledgeable in the bore rifles and he suggested several loads, both in smokeless and black powder, for the three bullet types. To me there is absolutely no use in owning a fine and historical rifle and keeping it in the safe to look at and (hopefully) appreciate in value over the years. They were meant to be shot a hundred years ago and they are meant to be shot today. Not to do so would be an injustice.

First of all, bullets had to be cast. I enjoy the simplicity and ease of wheel weights and have an ample supply. The three bullet types weighed as follows: the round balls cast to 1000 grains, the paradox bullet at 1350 grains, and the flat-nosed bullet at 1620 grains. A lesson was to be learned here. A 1000-grain ball is seven balls to the pound thereby making my rifle (and all other "large" 8-bores) a 7-bore. (A true 8-bore has round balls weighing eight to the pound or 875 grains). In muzzleloading days the proper bore size was stamped on the rifle. When the transition to breech-loader was made it seems the proof houses grouped the 8 and 7 bores under the 8 bore stamp and the 4 and the 5 bores were both stamped with a 4. The bore stamp should be located in a small diamond on the barrel flats.

The balls cast to .880" and I ran them (and the other two bullet styles) through a .875" sizing die. This makes them easier to seat in the case and all bullets fit the bore grooves tight but not overly so. I pan lubed the two larger bullets with LBT Commercial Blue--a bullet lube with the consistency of candle wax thereby avoiding the sticky and greasy mess of softer lubes and rolled the balls in Lee alox to lube the ‘equator’.

At this time I asked a local gunsmith to make a chamber cast. My rifle has chambers 3 1/4" long with a 3/4" throat before  meeting the rifling. The brass cases hold nearly 15 drams of black powder if filled to the top. The rim of the case is .100" thick and 1.00" in diameter. Shooting this rifle was going to be fun and both a historical and learning experience--everything shooting should be. But...where to begin?

In the long days of the Alaska summers in 2000 and 2001 I shot my big rifle for  enjoyment at targets. During the summer of 2002 I sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon on the last day of a hunting trip in South Africa. Since I would not be shooting the big bore that summer I sent the Locke off to Griffin and Howe in New Jersey (908-766-2287) for an examination and recommendation as to refinishing. Paul Chapman, vice president, suggested leaving the receiver as it was as just enough case colors remained to give the rifle character. The stock was to be de-oiled and hand-rubbed with an English oil finish and the ancient recoil pad replaced. The barrels were to be blued and an old 10-bore oak and leather case was on hand if I cared to have my rifle fitted to it. Of course I did! 

By spring of 2003 the rifle was returned to me and it looked magnificent. I would not have expected less from the finest custom gun and rifle shop in the States. The case was not quite the size required so Mike Messina (516-794-1979) set the barrels on their side and had to cut a recess in the lid and bottom of the case. He also had to recess the areas in contact with the hammer screws. Now it was time for some serious shooting over a chronograph to see what this 7 bore could manage. Since black powder was the original propellant that is where the shooting was to begin but smokeless propellants were the long term goal due to a personal dislike of the immediate cleaning of both rifle and brass that is necessitated by the corrosive qualities of black powder.

Reloading components were gathered on my bench: Fg GOEX, 1 1/4x12 dies, Winchester 209 shotgun primers, 1/8" over powder card wads, 1/2" felt filler wads, 1000-, 1350-, and 1620-grain projectiles, and some handy homemade cartridge holders. (Plastic .375 magnum 20-round cartridge boxes are drilled with a 1" bit transforming four cartridge chambers into one large chamber thereby equating to a 5-round box).

The velocity figures below were the average of six shots. Since the rifle came with 18 cases, it was convenient to shoot three groups of six shots at the range before returning home to reload again. The velocities I obtained were less than expected due to the quality of today's black powder. In the days when black powder was the only propellant available the manufactures competed with each other to make the best stuff they could. Today, it seems technology has reversed itself. Grain for grain, modern powder falls a bit short.

I began with 8 drams (220 grains at 27.5 grains to the dram) and increased by one dram increments to a maximum of 14. The muzzle velocity was measured by a PACT chronograph and muzzle energy was calculated using the formula: velocity squared multiplied by the bullet weight and divided by 450240. John Taylor's knock out value is calculated thusly: bullet weight x velocity x bullet diameter divided by 7000. Using the 1000-grain round ball the ballistics were: 

 charge         MV          ME          MKO (Taylor)

 8 drams     1031         2361         129
 9 drams     1116         2766         139
10 drams   1196         3177         150
11 drams   1243         3431         155
12 drams   1295         3724         162
13 drams   1296              --               --
14 drams   1301              --               --
NOTES: The velocity did not increase after 12 drams or 330 grains. Apparently the lightness of the projectile did not allow the powder to burn efficiently.

Next I used the same Fg powder charges with the 1350-grain paradox bullet. The ballistics were:

 8 drams     1012         3084         171
 9 drams     1087         3523         183
10 drams   1132         3859         192
11 drams   1200         4336         203
12 drams   1312         5184         222
13 drams   1395         5834         235
14 drams   1480         6541         249
NOTES: Recoil was a bit severe with the two highest loadings. Also, the heavier bullet seemed to burn the powder cleaner as less fowling remained in the bore than with the 1000-grain ball.

The large 1620-grain bullet was the third tested. Ballistics were:

 8 drams        952         3259         193
 9 drams     1006         3641         204
10 drams   1065         4079         216
11 drams   1111         4438         224
12 drams   1225         5396         248
13 drams   1312         6193         266
14 drams   1444         7502         292
15 drams   1509         8193         306
NOTES: Recoil is unbearable in the upper loadings. The 15-dram load was a fully compressed load and the velocity is the result of one shot only. The recoil can't be described in plain words. It seems the higher the powder charge with the heavier projectiles the velocity increased in larger increments.

One additional observation. For the last century or more a debate has raged over heavy bullets at a slow[r long rifle penetrated a bit under 3 inches. The 1620-grain 7-bore penetrated just under 42 inches! ( I have read, but not personally substantiated, a .458 Winchester will out penetrate a .460 Weatherby with the same 500-grain bullet while moving 500fps slower.)

Reverting back to the 1000-grain ball but using FFg GOEX the change was impressive.

 8 drams     1199         3192         150
 9 drams     1310         3811         164
10 drams   1387         4273         173
11 drams   1451         4676         181
12 drams   1522         5144         190
13 drams   1591         5622         199
14 drams   1674         6223         209
NOTES: The above tests did not show any signs of excessive pressure and velocities averaged almost 200 fps faster than Fg. The primers remained intact with no signs of blow back or gas leakage. Also, FFg burned much cleaner than single F. 

I did not, however, risk using FFg on the heavier projectiles. There is a lot of steel in the barrels and they are solid rolled steel, but I am not experienced enough to venture into realms unknown. I did shoot 8 drams of FFFg and the 1000-grain ball and the velocity averaged 1461fps. Again, I did not use increased charges due to fears of excessive pressure.

Accuracy of the above ballistic tables was acceptable at the 50-yard targets I shot at through the chronograph. It seems the larger the bore on double rifles the for forgiving the regulation.  (Heavy loads should not be shot off the bench!)

The above tests were the last time this cannon burned charcoal. The convenience of smokeless powder, the ease of cleaning, the economy of shooting less grains, and being able to fly to a hunting destination (it is not possible to fly with black powder ammunition in domestic or international flights) were justification for me to make the permanent switch to smokeless powder.

Blue Dot was the powder of choice as it came highly recommended by several friends who are experienced with the bore rifles. I'm sure other powders will work but since Blue Dot performed so well I felt there was no reason to expand my experimentation. 

Components used were 1/8" over powder wads (70-80 pounds of pressure)  and 1/2" felt spacer or filler wads (lots of 'em). Primers were Winchester 209. Beginning with the 1000-grain round ball the ballistics were:

 charge           MV            ME          MKO (Taylor)

 60 grains   1094        2658         137
 65 grains   1163        3004         145
 70 grains   1235        3388         154
 75 grains   1315        3841         164
 80 grains   1418        4466         177
 85 grains   1470        4851         185
 90 grains   1560        5405         195
 95 grains   1631        5908         204
100 grains 1719        6563         215
NOTES: It is a joy to avoid cleaning black powder residue! Recoil was mild and even tolerable with the heaviest loads. Accuracy remained the same as with black powder.

The 1350-grain paradox bullet was next. Velocities were:

 60 grains   1025        3150         173
 65 grains   1068        3420         180
 70 grains   1143        3910         193
 75 grains   1191        4253         201

 80 grains   1256        4730         212
NOTES: Recoil was getting heavier but still within my limits. Accuracy remained good--about 4 inches at 50 yards.

The big 1620-grain bullet was last. Velocities were:

 60 grains      980        3456         198
 65 grains   1025        3780         208
 70 grains   1090        4275         221
 75 grains   1160        4841         235
NOTES: With the low velocity, soft lead bullets would be needed for hunting. Accuracy remained good and recoil was much easier to digest than with maximum black powder loads. However, velocity  ws approximately 300fps slower than with  heavy black powder loads.

When it was time to order new brass the only source proved to be the best source--Dave Casey's Rocky Mountain Cartridge of Cody, Wyoming (307-587-9693). I have used Dave's products for several double rifles as have many of my friends. The brass is of excellent quality and Dave's lathe-turned brass holds up as well as any drawn brass (HDS, Kynoch, Bertram, BELL, A-Square) I have used. I asked Dave to make up two boxes each of shotgun and rifle primers. I wanted to see if rifle primers would ignite such a large quantity of Blue Dot powder. If they could work I would be easier for my reloading process to deprime and reprime with standard large rifle primers. (The size and deprime die can push out the rifle primer and it will fall through the slot in the ram. That can't be done with the shotgun primer so each has to be driven out with a punch and hammer. I use a  Lee Auto Prime II which easily primes large rifle primers through the shell holder. Again, shotshell primers have to be manually pressed into the case using the press, a dowel, and a plug in the die hole to push the primer in place with the ram of the press).

Large rifle magnum primers with 1000-grain round ball had occasional hang-fires. When they worked the velocity averaged about 80 fps behind the same load ignited with shotgun primers. However, due to the hang-fires I avoided further use of rifle primers. Perhaps a hotter primer will be developed in the future and I would consider using it.

Large rifle primers with 8 grains of FFFg black powder under Blue Dot and 1000-grain round ball worked very well. In fact using both rifle and shotgun primers with the small charge of 3F black powder velocity increased about 60 fps and there was far less variation in the velocity of each shot string (25fps vs. 80fps). The only drawback is the cleaning of the bore and brass. Since shotgun primers didn't hang-fire there is really no need to use a duplex load. With rifle primers, a duplex load is a necessity. So, I placed an order with Rocky Mountain Cartirdge for a lifetime supply of shotgun-primed brass cases.

Game awaits. Now my tendon is healed and back to normal I hope to take the Locke on a hunting trip in 2004. I have scheduled a six week trip to South Africa in 2003 after buffalo, hippo, and plains game but this is not the time for the big seven. Perhaps a moose hunt in the fall would work out. (In the fall of 2000 I called in a moose that was too small to be legal to shoot but the 7-bore was shouldered and ready to go).

In closing, I have settled on three loads that will fulfill my target practice and hunting needs. For the 1000-grain ball I shoot 85 grains of Blue Dot, for the 1350-grain Paradox bullet I shoot 75 grains of BD, and 65 grains of BD with the big 1620-grain bullet. They are below maximum and are safe in my rifle. I also made three changes to my shooting. I had a machinist friend modify the Lee Auto Prime II to accept shotgun primers, I tumble lube all three bullet sizes with Lee alox  lube as this reduces fowling and is easy  to apply, and I now shoot a 1220-grain original paradox bullet. This new bullet gives a about a 70-90fps increase with the same powder charge over  the 1350-grain bullet. The only other notes on my shooting I have is the right barrel shoots about 45fps faster than the left barrel and I wrap one layer of nylon thread tape on the equator of the round balls and that completely eliminates lead buildup in the bores.

Owning this bore rifle had opened a new world of shooting enjoyment for me. It gathers spectators with every visit to the range and it is remarkable how well a 17-pound rifle can be handled. The only road not traveled is that of locating a copy of the Locke factory ledger with hopes of finding the name of the original owner. Several letters and phone calls to England have been dead ends. But that gives me something to shoot for!  Any  lesser rifle could have been used anywhere in the hunting world but this cannon was only used on the largest of game. It deserved no less.

One last note. The loads listed are safe for the author to shoot in his rifle. The loading specifications above are for informational purposes only. The author and publisher do not recommend them for use in your firearm(s). Always consult a gunsmith before shooting any antique firearm. Due to the complexities and variables in reloading ammunition the author and publisher are not responsible for any injuries or damages resulting from information contained in this article.

Photo captions:

009 The 7- bore in its case with accessories

011 With an original paradox  mould

014 same as above--different view

022  Rifle with pith helmet and two books about hunting in India

024 With the case accessories

014 The action is open showing the huge 7-bore cavities and cartridges

035 The rifle and elephant tusk over an American Rifleman  from the early 1970s

042 Same as 022-different view

The 4-bore in History
by Cal Pappas

     A short while ago my article on shooting the 4-bore double rifle was published in this fine journal. Some of the feedback I received via my website asked about the hunters of the old days who used the biggest of the shoulder-held firearms, the 4-bore, in their daily hunting pursuits. We can never relive those grand days when the colonial powers had a hold on the greatest of the hunting lands (Africa and India) but we can look to their writings for a insight to their lives. An interesting note is that few hunters wrote about their experiences and only a small minority of those that did write included details of their firearms. The big guns and rifles were tools of the trade and , if we look at it logically, how many tradesmen write of their tools? A carpenter or cabinetmaker will write of the building of his project and glorify in the finished product but how many include details of their saw, hammer, or nails? It is was the same with the hunters of old. Unlike today’s sportsmen who relish in the hunt, their new whiz-bang super magnums, or to “collect” more trophies than the other guy, the old-timers were practicing an economic trade--either ivory or perhaps to map an uncharted area for their country. It is not surprising then how little we know of the actual rifles they used. In looking through dozens of books in my library (and friend’s book collections, too) below are five individuals who used the mighty 4-bore. But, first, a note about the 4s from one of the era’s most gifted gun smiths, William Wellington Greener.

    Greener, in his excellent book, The Gun and its Development, wrote this about the bore rifles, “The use of the large-bore rifle is restricted to the hunting of large and dangerous game, for which purpose many experienced hunters deem them indispensable. The rifle should be double-barrelled; the weight is required to lessen the recoil, and the second barrel is decidedly advantageous. The double 4-bore with barrels of 20 inches long will weigh from 14 to 18 lbs., and fire a charge of 12 to 14 drams and a spherical bullet of 1510 grains. The recoil is undoubtedly heavy, but an Indian hunter of great experience in their use states that it is not noticeable when firing at game, and that on one occasion a rifle with 12 drams and a four-ounce bullet went off both barrels together, but he did not notice the recoil. The great weight of the rifle, as much as its recoil, is against its general use; sportsmen who possess 4-bores of this type usually hold them as weapons in reserve. It is not usual to groove the barrels of the 4-bore ball gun; it is intended for use a short ranges only, and the accuracy of the smooth-bore is serviceable to 60 yards, beyond which distance the 4-bore is seldom, if ever, used, whilst the muzzle velocity is greater than from the rifled barrel.

 Sir Samuel W. Baker (1821-1893) hunted in Ceylon and India (1845-55), Sudan (1861-73), and North America (1880-82). His bag included the following: elephant, tiger, sambur (Ceylon), elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, and antelope (Sudan), bear, buffalo, and elk (North America), and tiger, bear, and sambur (India). Baker used a variety of firearms on his adventures. His muzzle-loading firearms included a 4-bore single shot by Gibbs which fired a 3-ounce belted ball propelled by a full ounce (16 drams) of powder, an 8-bore single by Blissett which shot a 2-ounce ball with the 16 dram charge, a 10-bore double by Beattie (his favorite), and a pair of doubles in 8- and 10-bore by Reilly. His black powder breech-loaders included a .577 double by Holland, and a .400 double by the same maker. He wrote of his .577 as being his favored rifle in his later years. With all of his experience, Baker wrote in Wild Beasts and Their Ways (1891) his choice for large and dangerous game would be an 8-bore double firing 14 drams (385 grains) and a 3-ounce bullet (1312 grains).  Some speculation has risen over his Holland “that carried a half-pound explosive shell.” Baker wrote, “with 10 drams of powder behind a half-pound shell, the recoil was so terrific that I was spun around like a weathercock in a hurricane.” This rifle has been written of as a 2-bore but other sources state it was a 4-bore shooting a heavier than normal projectile. Samuel Baker was also quite fond of the Paradox, “The ‘Paradox’ is a most useful weapon, as it combines a shot gun (shoots No. 6 shot with equal pattern to a best cylinder-bored gun) with a rifle that is wonderfully accurate within a range of 100 yards.”  (scan Baker 1, Baker 2)

William Finaughty (1843-1917), in his Recollections of an Elephant Hunter 1864-1875 was one of the many who wrote so little about his bore rifles--a 12 and a 4. “I had two guns with me at the time and with one of them I fired at the  bull at close quarters. Unfortunately if missed fire--the cap went off but the spark failed to reach the powder. I immediately handed it to my boy for him to put on another cap and in the meantime planted a bullet in the elephant with the second gun. I was watching the elephant all the time and did not notice what the boy was doing. The stupid fellow instead of putting on a fresh cap only, put in another charge of powder and a second bullet. Seeing the old elephant which I had wounded coming for me at at the charge I reached out my hand for the gun, put it to my shoulder and fired.

     “There was a terrific explosion. The flew out of my hand; I saw stars and was knocked flat on my back in the river bed. For the moment I was stunned, but, promptly recovering, I sprang to my feet and saw the elephant, trumpeting with rage, nearly upon me. I tried to run but could make no headway in the loose sand while the big flat feet of the elephant enabled it to get a grip and to move almost as easily as upon solid ground. I could feel him almost on top of me and as a last resource doubled short back...In trying to turn upon me he had twisted his shoulder at the knob, just where I had lodged my bullet...As it was, the elephant was helpless, for of course he could do nothing on three legs and it did not take me long to finish him off…” 

     Again, with his bore rifles, “Upon examining my pouch I found I had only four bullets there, with one in the gun. However, I set to work with my five bullets...The horse swerved and I pulled the trigger simultaneously. Upon going back to the elephant I found  that my chance shot had, fortunately for me, proved fatal and he was lying down close to where I shot him. Upon looking him over I noticed a curious little knob on the shoulder and pulling out my knife, I cut a slit in the hide and there I found my bullet as perfect as when it was moulded. Firing at such close quarters it had passed through the elephant and nearly out the other side. This bullet came in very useful for with it I got another that with five bullets I performed the unique feat of getting six elephants.”   

     The only clue to his 4-bore rifle was when, “I...parted with my old gun. It was foolish of me, for it would have been a great “curio”, and I have regretted it ever since. I traced it for some time. The man Horn to whom I sold it very soon had enough of it, and parted with it to a man named Cunningham who, after having his cheek nearly knocked off by the old muzzle-loader’s terrific kick, sold it to a Mr. Saunders who had his eye damaged for life with it. The last white man I heard of as its proud owner was poor old Blanch, previously mentioned, who, I was informed, used to tie a three-pound bar of lead to the muzzle to keep it from jumping up, when fired. It even got too much for Blanch’s nerves and at last he sold it to a Bushman, for a tusk of ivory. The old gun certainly had some peculiarities, but I had grown accustomed to them and could counteract its kick to some extent, but it always gave one a good shock and did its best to knock one out of the saddle. Still, what could one expect with a gun of that ancient pattern, whose charge was a handful of black powder and a bullet weighing something like a quarter of a pound?”

Edward S. Grogan and Arthur H. Sharp wrote one of the best books on the African experience, From the Cape to Cairo, and also wrote much about the use of bore rifles. 

     On an exciting hunt for rhino, after tracking the beast from 7:30 to 12:30, Grogan upped his weaponry to a 4-bore. “...I was just beginning to despair when I heard a snort, and, looking up, saw the rhino trotting round the corner of an ant-hill, behind which he had been sleeping...I (turned) round for my 4-bore, found that all my boys had bolted up a small thorn tree...They had thrown down the gun, and I was compelled to stoop down and grope about for it in the undergrowth; he continued blowing and snorting only fifteen yards away, and I felt very uncomfortable, as in my position I offered a magnificent target. However, at last I found the gun, and, firing past his cheek, hit him full on the edge of the shoulder; instantly there arose a very hell of sound, squealing, stamping, and crashing of bushes and grass; the smoke hung like a pall around me, and I though he was charging. having nowhere to run to, I stayed where I was, and suddenly his huge mass dashed past the edge of the smoke-cloud, and I saw him disappear at a tremendous pace into the grass. We followed hard, but though he bled freely and lay down several times, we did not come up to him again till 3 p.m., when we found him standing at ten yards distance in a bushy nullah far up in the hills. I fired the 4-bore at his shoulder, knocking him down, but he rose again, and tried to climb the far bank; so I fired the second barrel hurriedly; the cartridge split at the back, and I was knocked over a tree two yards behind....I found that the first shot had penetrated about 2 ft., smashing all the shoulder...”    

     As with many hunters in the vintage years, accidents at time caught the hunter unawares. “The boy who was carrying my 4-bore had slipped the safety-bolt back, and the trigger had caught in a twig. He was, of course, carrying the gun loosely on his shoulder, and the effect of the explosion of fourteen drams of powder was terrific. It knocked him several feet of the path and stunned him, while the gun described a graceful parabola and landed, muzzle downwards, on a patch of soft soil, fortunately escaping damage.”

     Writing of a young African, Makwira, and the area of his village, Grogan mentions the huge 4-bore in a poetic statement. “...a few years ago, when the elephant still roamed in thousands on the Elephant Marsh, undisturbed by the shrill whistle of the stern-wheeler or the bark of the playful 4-bore.”

     Hunting rhino, Grogan, “...fired the 4-bore burning fourteen drams and throwing a four-ounce spherical ball; then, as he swung round to bolt, I popped in a forward raking second barrel, which quickened his pace considerably...then swayed from side to side, staggered, recovered himself, and finally with a shrill squeal, toppled over, kicking his four fat little legs in the air, and gave up the ghost, or the rhino’s equivalent...” And then hunting elephant, “Having weighed the pros and cons of all, I eventually decided on the 4-bore. I had to shoot at two yards, as at any greater distance I could no longer see him; so I fired at the root of his tail, hoping thereby to paralyze his hind-quarters. The result of firing a 4-bore, burning fourteen drams of powder at an elephant’s stern at two yards in dense cover may be better imagined than described.” The shot had little effect on the elephant and Grogan followed his quarry for “many miles.”  

     Grogan, like many of the early explorers and hunters saw things which they could not imagine--such as cannibalism. He writes of seeing “a bunch of human entrails drying on a stick” and of men eating meat dipped in each other’s blood for a ceremony of “blood-brotherhood.” He used his big rifle to make an impression on the natives. “Thereupon I had the 4-bore brought forth and told my headman to fire it, while my gun-bearer supported him, an advisable precaution. The tremendous report, the obvious recoil, and the shriek of the huge bullet impressed them mightily.”

     Back again to hunting rhino. “Two shots from a 4-bore, two 10-bore, and a few .303 bullets did not stop him, as though the first shot from the 4-bore knocked him fairly off his legs, he was up and away in a twinkling.” 

     For all of his experience with the 4-bore Grogan was not in favor of the big rifle. In the closing pages of his book he writes of the advantages of the modern small-bore rifles having flatter trajectory, greater accuracy, ease of handling, lighter-weight cartridges, and greater penetration with solid bullets. “Our battery consisted of a double 4-bore burning fourteen drams of powder, a double 10-bore paradox, a double .500 magnum, two double .303 express rifles, and an ordinary sporting pattern magazine .303. Both Sharp and I did all our shooting with the double .303 and killed most things from an elephant to plover. After nearly losing a rhinoceros and quite losing three good elephant with the 4-bore, I gave it up in disgust, and took to the .303 even for heavy game...” And, “I remember firing fourteen shots from a 10-bore at the shoulder of an elephant which was too badly wounded to move...”

    Grogan closes his book with a new-found belief in a hunting battery. “In selecting a battery, it should always be remembered that there must be two departments--the offensive and the defensive. For my own part I should never again take more than a double .303 and a double 12-bore paradox, and, if much elephant hunting were to be done, I should add a magazine .303. A 12-bore is quite strong enough to stop a lion, and sufficient to turn an elephant or rhinoceros. It is the flash and smoke that does this and not the weight of metal. Hence the defensive weapon must always burn black powder.”

George P. Sanderson (1848-1892), between 1864 and 1877 in India, used four breech-loading bore rifles: a 4-bore single shot by Lang, a 12- and 8-bore both from Greener, and a 16-bore by Purdey (the last three were doubles). He wrote in his Thirteen Years Among the Wild Beasts of India, “The elephant at last stopped, and in another moment was swinging round, the picture of rage...I fired at his shoulder, as he was too unsteady to afford me a certain head shot. There must have been something the matter with my 4-bore, for it kicked most unmercifully, and nearly sent me on my back; but it did more for the elephant, knocking him over like a rabbit. The elephant quickly regained his feet, whilst I endeavored in haste to withdraw the exploded cartridge...The heavy charge of powder had so expanded it that I was unable to extract it, whilst the elephant made across to our right. Seizing my 12-bore Greener, I ran to get a side shot...I admired the conduct of my second gun bearer, who was on his knees at my feet behind the tree, trying with his teeth to extract the 4-bore cartridge.”

     One of the more notable hunters and explorers, one whose name is on the largest game reserve in the world (in Tanzania), was Frederick Courteney Selous (1851-1917). Selous (pronounced Se-loo) was born in London on that year’s last day. His father was a well-to-do chairman of the London Stock Exchange and young Frederick was educated in the finest schools in England, Switzerland, and Germany. He was both academically gifted in languages and had good athletic ability. More so, though, was his love of nature and the outdoors. Free time and vacations would see young Frederick fishing, trapping, hunting, and collecting--with bird’s eggs his specialty. He was an avid reader and, when inspired by books about the Dark Continent, off he went to South Africa when he was but 19.

     Within two years Selous was well on the way to mastering Afrikaans and several native dialects and made his way to the Kimberly mining area. He wanted to be a hunter however elephant hunting was over with in South Africa by this time. With hunting in his blood, as well as a lust for adventure, Selous was off to today’s Zimbabwe which was under the rule of King Lobengula. Lobengula’s father, Mozelekazi, had defeated the Shona people and his Matabele people were the rulers of the land. Lobengula had given permission for the South African Boer hunters to ply their trade in what was to become Rhodesia and young Frederick Courteney Selous followed suit.

     Knowing his .577 Snyder and 10-bore were too light for elephant, Selous purchased a pair of 4-bore single shot percussion duck guns, for 12 pounds sterling,  made by Issac Hollis of Birmingham. “With these two guns and another similar, but weighing two pounds heavier which I bought the following year from a Dutch hunter, and using nothing but the common trade powder that is sold to the Kafirs in 5-pound bags, I killed in three seasons, 78 elephants, all but one of which I shot on foot. Since then I have shot with very expensive large-bore breechloaders and Curtis & Harvey’s best powder, but I have never used or seen used a rifle which drove better than these common-made old muzzle loaders. However, they were so light [12 1/2 pounds] that, when loaded as they were by the hand from a leather bag of powder slung at my side (I find that an ordinary handful of powder is over 20 drams [550 grains]), they kicked most frightfully, and in my case, the punishment I received from these guns has affected my nerves to such an extent as to have materially influenced my shooting ever since, and I am heartily sorry that I ever had anything to do with them.” )

     A common story is of Selous’ native gunbearer double charging one of his 4-bores.  This happened more than once. “My boy had put in the powder with  his hand, and must have overloaded it, for the recoil knocked me down, and the gun itself flew out of my hands.” In a second incident the recoil sent Selous flying backward with the upward movement of the rifle cutting his cheek to the bone and a temporary paralysis of his right arm. “Taking a good sight for the middle of his shoulder, I pulled the trigger. This time the gun went off--it was a 4-bore elephant gun, loaded twice over, and the powder thrown in each time by a Kafir with his hands--and I went off too! I was lifted clean from the ground, and turning round in the air, fell with my face in the sand, whilst the gun was carried yards away over my shoulder. At first I was almost stunned with the shock, and  I soon found that I could not lift my arm. Besides this, I was covered with blood, which spurted from a deep wound under the right cheek-bone, caused by the stock of the gun as it flew upwards from the violence of the recoil….Whether the two bullets hit the elephant or not I cannot say; but I think they must have done so, for he only went a few yards after I fired, and stood still, raising his trunk every now and then, and dashing water tinged with blood over his chest.”

     With his body in shock from a severely-bruised shoulder and his right arm nearly useless, Selous abandoned the chase. As to the double charging, Selous writes of “two bullets” hitting the elephant. 8 ounces of lead and a standard charge of 12 to 14 drams of powder would produce horrible recoil. A single 1/4 pound ball if propelled by 20 drams of black powder (a Selous handful) would have a velocity approaching 1700 feet per second. The muzzle energy would exceed 5 1/2 tons! Either would be equally damaging to the hunter or the hunted! Selous’ recovery from this double charging took three months.

     Selous respected the power of the 4-bore, “...a four-ounce round bullet, hardened with zinc and quicksilver, is no trifle, even to such a mighty beast as an African bull elephant.” However, his experiences showed not even the mighty 4 was a sure killer all of the time. “Though I could scarcely believe my eyes, the fact remained. The elephant, after having received five four-ounce bullets in the body and two in the back of the head, had got up in the night and gone off!” 

     There are more, no doubt, who used the 4-bores and of course the 8-bores were the most common for use against the biggest game. We will never know how many 4s and 8s were manufactured as many of the ledgers and records of the gunmakers have been lost to history. It was a bit easier to track down the largest of the nitro-charged elephant rifles--the .600 nitro express--as there were fewer makers of that caliber therefore fewer records to track down. However, of one looks to rifles sold over the past decade or more less than 10 4-bores have been offered for sale. Within just he past three years seven .600s have been for sale from auction houses and quality gun dealers. I can document about 100 .600 doubles and maybe 50 single shots. Based on the number of rifles for sale since the 1990s, it would seem there were less 4s produced than .600.


The .600 Nitro Express:
Setting the Record Straight
by Cal Pappas

Much has been written of the .600 nitro express in the past century and perhaps even more so within the last two decades’ renaissance of double rifle interest in the United States. Much of the information that some of the best-known authors and hunters (and some little-known authors and hunters as well) has been incorrect due to copying the inaccuracies of others or maybe just an unlucky guess. After two years of research the author hopes to set the record straight on the greatest big-game rifle caliber ever developed: the mighty .600 nitro express.

     It all began in 1989. Little did I know then that seeing a .600 nitro express double rifle in an Anchorage antique store would change the direction of my life. In that year I purchased my first double rifle. It was a Mortimer and Son .500 black powder express that dated from 1890, number 5280. I was bitten and had the fever. A modest collection of the ever-present Winchester lever actions was gradually sold and replaced by rifles of the twin-tube design.

     It was a few years after the Mortimer purchase I noticed something unique in Walter Earl’s Antique Gallery on Anchorage’s 4th Avenue. It was from Walter I purchased the Mortimer and I was a regular visitor to his “Roosevelt Room” to eye the finest group of firearms in Alaska. Before me lay a rather plain and brown double rifle by John Wilkes. The caliber was one I had read about in Cartridges of the World and a few other publications: .600 nitro express. I didn’t know much about the caliber or the maker then and the rifle was out of my price range anyway--around the $10,000 figure if memory serves. And, the rifle was gone on my next visit so that was that. Out of sight and out of mind.

     At a local gun show a year or two later I was talking to a friend who casually mentioned he purchased the .600. Actually, another gent was to buy the rifle and he passed at the last minute and John stepped in and acquired the Wilkes. As time went by and I began a small collection of doubles I often asked John if he would sell me the .600. The years went by, then many years passed, with the same question that was replied to in the same way, “Someday.”

     Someday was about fifteen years later when I was at John and Susan’s house for a visit and John casually said, “Cal, it’s time to move the Wilkes. Are you still interested?” Was I? Does a bear...? The deal was struck, a quick visit to the bank, and I drove home with my new treasure. The rifle came with dies, foam wads, shell holder, brass, both Woodleigh and cast bullets, and original ammunition, so I was ready to begin shooting. It was not difficult to develop an accurate load. Using a formula of 1.33 x the original cordite charge (110 grains) of IMR 4831I was close to home on the first few shots. For my rifle I eventually settled on 160 grains of IMR 4831 and a 900-grain Woodleigh soft nose bullet for a muzzle velocity of 1900 feet per second. (Original velocity of 1950 fps was from a 28-inch barrel and, in my 26-barrel, 1900 fps was just right). Accuracy was there showing a 2-inch group at 50 yards over a standing rest and, after taking a cape buffalo in Zimbabwe, what was there to do? Being a retired history teacher I now had to seek out as much information as I could as to the rifle, the caliber, and what history had to say about the .600. What follows is what I read (in italics) over the years AND what I leaned from my research to be factual: 

Origin of the cartridge.
     Many writers have used the dates 1902 to 1904 to be the years of the .600 nitro express cartridge’s introduction. 

     The .600 nitro express probably was thought of in the late 1890s. It is basically a 3-inch 20-gauge brass shot shell launching a bullet of just over two ounces and with a thicker rim thereby preventing its insertion in a 20-gauge shotgun. Alexander Henry, many years prior to the turn of the century, necked the brass 20-gauge shot shell 2 3/4 inches long down to accept a .577 bullet and called his invention the 20-.577. His cartridge equalled the ballistics of the already-famous .577 3-inch black powder express round. So, in the late 1890s folks were experimenting with the 20-gauge case and it can be safely assumed that by 1898 it was a topic of discussion. On January 13, 1899 

a drawing of a “Proposed Jeffery .600” bore Cartridge” appeared. This original drawing specified a case of 2.8 inches, a powder charge of 110 grains, and a bullet of 800 grains. Modifications to this original drawing dated to June 2, 1902, increased the bullet weight to 900 grains, lengthened the case to 3 inches, and reduced the powder charge to 100 grains of cordite. There were also minor changes to the dimensions of the brass case. It was in 1899 comments and questions about the new cordite cartridges, including the .600, began to appear in shooting magazines in the United Kingdom--The Field may have been the first with their issue of October 21, 1899.

The first rifle.
    The year of the first .600 is often quoted as 1902, 1903, or 1904. The first Jeffery rifle has many times been given as number 12175. 

     The first .600 rifle was Jeffery number 8231. The factory ledgers state the following statistics: .600 bore under lever snap action single barrel, A&D action, 25 inch barrel, sighted to 150 yards, and having Krupp barrels. The rifle was made by Saunders, purchased for 19 pounds and sold for 30 pounds on April 30, 1900. The next .600, and the first double rifle, was Jeffery number 8371. The ledger gives the following: .600 bore, lever over guard, double rifle with back action locks. 25-inch Krupp barrels, sighted to 300 yards, and border engraving. The rifle was also made by Saunders, purchased for nearly 25 pounds and sold for a 10 pounds profit on February 28, 1901.

The rifle’s action.
     Writers throughout the 20th century have stated that all Jeffery rifles were snap action and that all doubles were on box lock actions

     While Jeffery produced the most .600s and most of these were on their snap action, Jeffery also produced 2 or 3 side lock double rifles and their first double rifle was an exposed hammer and Jones under lever. Holland and Holland, Purdey, and R.B. Rodda also produced side lock .600s.

Makers of the .600.
     Holland and Holland, John Wilkes, Purdey, Westley Richards, Jeffery, P. Webely are the most common makers cited in .600 production as well as a few miscellaneous makers from the continent.

     No one will ever know exactly how many .600 were built nor will it be known each maker of the .600. Ledgers were lost, discarded, or destroyed through the years. Many factories were bombed during WWII. .600 rifles were also sold by Army and Navy, Evans, Chruchill, Greener, Lancaster, Lang, MacNaughton, Osborne, Rodda, Webley and Scott, and Wilkinson. On the continent, Belgium, French, and German makers produced the .600. The retailers in India also included P. Orr, Walter Locke, and Manton. There were many more .600 makers and retailers, no doubt.

Cordite charges for the .600.
     The 100- and 110-grain charges were the most common and one Jeffery rifle exists that is proofed for the 120-grain load. One writer stated that all Jeffery rifles were proofed for the 100-grain charge.

     Only 9 of the 70 Jeffery rifles list the cordite charge in the factory ledger. It seems most Jeffery rifles were made for the 100-grain charge (and perhaps all of the single shot rifles) and it was a mixture of the 100- and 110-grain charge that was spread between the remainder of the makers. While only one Jeffery is listed as having a 120-grain charge, there may have been more. During my research a unique Westley Richards single shot has been uncovered for a perhaps one-of-a-kind charge of 105 grains of cordite. In addition, Kynoch mentions in an early catalog (1905): “W.J. Jeffery uses 130 grains of cordite which we load on his responsibility.” The sentence was underlined to show its importance. To the best of my knowledge no ammunition for the 105- and 130-grain charges have been discovered nor has an original rifle regulated for the 130 grains of cordite. The 120-grain Jeffery was advertised and sold approximately in 2000 or a bit later.

The number of rifles made.
     Jeffery has been credited with making 32 doubles and 24 single shots rifles in .600 nitro express.  Westley Richards has been listed as making 3, Purdey and Holland and Holland with 6 each, Wilkes making 9. The total production of .600s has been quoted between 75 and 100.

     In my search of the Jeffery records in July, 2008, I found 70 rifles--37 doubles and 33 single shots. No one will know the exact number produced by all makers but I would not be surprised if 100-120 doubles and 50-75 single shots were made during the vintage years. Wilkes did make 9 to be sold under their name and an uncounted number that were sold “in the white” to the trade. Holland made 7 including the “Last .600” of 1975 and more may surface. Purdey is listed with 3 up to 1949 and, again, more may surface. Westley Richard made 6 up to 1906 and perhaps another 7 between 1906 to post WWII. Numerous other makers (whose records are unavailable) made from one to any uncounted number. We will never know the exact production number. Post-WWII production increased the above numbers dramatically.

     A big cartridge must have big and impressive ballistics. Up to 8400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy has been quoted both in modern writings and vintage catalogs. Muzzle velocity as been quoted at 2000 feet per second.

     Standard factory ammunition was listed as 1850 fps for the 100-grain charge and 1950 fps for the 110-grain charge. 2050 is the velocity for the 120-grain charge and many old catalogs quoted this figure as the velocity for an impressive number and also to draw attention from the .600’s closest competitor--the .577 nitro express. The 1850 and 1950 fps figures are from 28-inch test barrels. To obtain an accurate velocity one must subtract approximately 25 fps per inch of barrel less than 28 inches. In many old catalogs 8400 ft. lbs. of energy is listed to appear as a standard figure. This figure was, in fact, correct for the 120-grain charge and only one of those rifles in known and at best only a few more may have been produced.

Original ammunition.
     The .600 had been written of has having two charges of cordite--100 and 110 grains. A figure of 200,000 cartridges has been given for the total production of .600 ammunition.

     As mentioned, no cartridges have been found for the 105-, 120-, and 130-grain charges of cordite. The 200,000 figure has not been substantiated and, if it is correct, and a maximum of 200 double and single shot rifles were produced in the vintage years, that equates to 1000 cartridges per rifle. Quite a number considering how little the .600 was actually used. It was considered as general knowledge that a .600 was not a hunter’s primary rifle but as a backup for a more common caliber, such as a .450. 

     In examining vintage cartridges, no less than 32 variations in the combinations of bullet styles, bullet metal, primer sizes and primer metal, and the type and number of crimps.
The recoil. 
     I get the most enjoyment reading what experienced and expert rifle shooters have to say and write about the recoil of the .600. The stories abound and it seems the writers have a philosophy of one-upmanship in their shooting tales. One had the fillings in his teeth loosened. Another is spun around 1/2 to a full turn. One had to stop shooting the .600 when his ears began to bleed. Yet another has to rest 10 minutes between shots. Still another states the possibility of a broken shoulder or collar bone will result when the trigger is pulled on a .600. And it goes on and on.

     While the recoil is heavy it is not unmanageable. I have read that in the 1980s when Bill Feldstein was developing the .700 nitro express, in conjunction with Holland and Holland and Jim Bell, it was determined the most recoil a man could handle was that of a .600 nitro express. To make the .700 to have the felt recoil of a .600 the rifle was to weigh 19 pounds. With that in mind, I have a theory: When the .600 was developed the .577 nitro express was already in production and the recoil of it was at a shooter’s and hunter’s limit. To make the .600 to have the felt recoil of a .577 the rifle’s weight was to average in the 15-pound range (about 2-3 pounds greater than the .577).

     All the stories of the horrendous pounding a shooter will suffer are nonsense. If the .600 double rifle is held correctly--with the forward hand gripping the barrels with the for end wood just resting in the back of the palm--and both hands pulling the rifle into the shoulder the muzzles will rise less than a foot--sometimes half of that. 

Weight of the rifles.
     Stories of the recoil are usually matched by a diatribe of the great weight of the .600. 16 pounds is very common increasing to 18 pounds. Some have approached the 20-pound mark.

     From the records the average weight is a bit less than 15 pounds for double rifles and about 12 pounds for the single shots. The lightest weight .600 I have found is a Jeffery single shot weighing 10 pounds and 9 ounces. Only two have been found at 18 pounds and one is not confirmed. One single shot by Lancaster, built on a 4-bore frame, weighs 21 pounds and 12 ounces. (This rifle may have been used to detonate sea mines in WWI. It has 33-inch barrel, set trigger, and sights to 700 yards. The long barrel gives the 110-grain cordite cartridge a 2100 fps velocity.)

The “Last .600.”
     Much as been written about this rifle of near mythical status. It has been written that the owner of the “Last .600” was offered a great sum of money or a H&H shotgun for his children if he relented and allowed Holland to continue building the .600s. That the rifle was made for an eccentric collector who wanted the best of everything money could buy. That the rifle is stored in an underground grain silo, etc.


     By 1970 it was common knowledge the years of elephant hunting were about over and ammunition was getting scarce with no hope of Kynoch continuing production. To honor the great .600 caliber Holland and Holland decided to build what many at the firm believe to be the finest rifle they manufactured. It was completed in 1975 and sold to a gentleman from the midwest. He and his son had a 50-50 share in this rifle. The son, who is the owner of the rifle now, stated to me he wanted to go in 50-50 with his father so it would be in his collection someday. Holland stated it was to be the last rifle of this caliber they would produce and the rifle was sold with that understanding. The father and son hunted in Africa numerous times and collected many fine rifles--including several vintage .600s--as a labor of love, before it was stylish to do so.

     In the late 1980s an American collector and hunter with vast African experience wanted Holland and Holland to build him a .600. The company refused as they were bound by the contract to the purchaser in 1975. A few years later, when Holland and Holland was approached by additional collectors regarding a .600, they came to an agreement with the owner of the “last .600” to again begin production. A pair of Royal 20-bore shotguns, in individual oak and leather cases, was produced for the owner of the “last .600”. Holland and Holland again resumed .600 production as they were released from the contract. Today the rifle is most assuredly NOT in a grain silo!

About the author
     Cal Pappas is a retired school teacher living in a small log cabin 100 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. He writes on double rifles and hunting in Africa. His website is    The information in this article came from his new book The .600 Nitro Express: A Look at the World’s Finest Rifles. The book is available from Safari Press or from the author.

Article Rebuttal
by Cal Pappas
About the author. Cal Pappas is a retired school teacher who lives in a log cabin 100 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska with his black lab. He writes on double rifles and hunting in Africa and encourages readers to see his website:      “The best in double rifles and African hunting.”    Cal is the author of The .600 Nitro Express.

The .600 nitro express has been a misunderstood cartridge almost since its inception. The myths abound today and are found in book(such as Dangerous Game Rifles) and magazine articles like the one I responded to below. The African Hunter (my favorite magazine) published a very poor piece earlier in 2009 and they later published a watered-down rebuttal in volume 15, issue 2. They first copied my rebuttal to the author but I did not get a reply. For you readers of my website and blog, here is the rebuttal in full. I hope it sets the record straight.

The article on the .600 nitro express in volume 14, number 6, is so damn inaccurate it is an embarrassment that it was published.

Paragraph two lists the cartridges created by Holland and Holland and the .600 as "the most talked about calibre" and of its inception in 1903. It was Jeffery that introduced the cartridge--not to infer that it was Holland's cartridge. It was designed on paper (Kynoch--January 13, 1899) and written of in one journal (The Field, I believe) in 1899 and the first rifle was sold in 1900 (number 8231 sold on April 30th for 30 pounds sterling).

The next paragraph lists the muzzle velocity as 1950 fps. This is from a 28-inch barrel only. And, Taylor owned two .600s. His favorite was a Jeffery regulated for the 100-grain charge of cordite and the other, an unnamed rifle, as the double discharger. The average weight of .600 rifles is in the 14-pound range.

Holland and Holland has built 16 .600s, not 14, from the records I received from Mr. Wilkin earlier this year. More may surface.

The Maharaja Gulab may not have used the rifle that is the subject of this article much, but his size and stature have nothing to do with that. A close friend here in Alaska has Gulab's Jeffery .600 snap action and it is well used! Gulab's also hunted with 8- and 4-bores.

.600s don't weigh 18 pounds. Boddington wrote of this weight in his Safari Rifles (page 94), but they don't. I have 204 rifles in my data base and only 2 are listed at that weight and one of those is unconfirmed.

The paragraph stating the statistics of the H&H .600 that was sold by Holts was taken directly from the Holts auction catalog and credit should have been given. The same for the beautiful photo. That photo is the copyright of Holts. Permission should have been given for its use as well as credit given.

A direct insult to Holland and Holland is in the paragraph about the last .600. Holland did build a "few" .600s "over the years" but to state that, "those   [plural] being sold with the express guarantee that it would be the last and largest H&H built" is absolutely incorrect. Only one rifle, began in 1970 and completed in 1975, number 35478, was produced as the last .600. A company of Holland and Holland's reputation to the world would never state to more than one customer their rifle would be the "last." Also, nothing was ever said about the "largest" rifle being the .600 as they produced 8- and 4-bores. (One unconfirmed story is that Holland and Holland, knowing the glory days of elephant hunting and cartridges for the rifles were coming to an end, was to build a series of three "last" rifles--.600, .577. and .500 nitro expresses. Only the .600 was produced. As to why the .577 and .500 were not produced has been lost to history--if they were planned to be made at all.)

The information on the beginnings of the .700 is basically correct, but never, repeat never, threepeat NEVER has the .700 been loaded to 2600 fps. This has never been suggested by Holland and Holland nor the originator, Mr. Feldstein. To do so would most certainly destroy a double rifle.

The last paragraph is also incorrect. The owner of the last .600, which he bought 50-50 with his father (and now its sole owner since his father's passing in 1993), was not paid a "significant sum of money" to allow H&H to begin producing the .600 again. The agreement was a pair of Royal 20-bore shotguns. The pair are numbered 1 and 2 but are in individual oak and leather cases so as to be passed to two separate heirs one day. Customers are friends of Holland and Holland and the deal was between friends.

In closing, Mr. Murphy's facts are so distorted in this piece I am suspect of his past articles as to accuracy and will read his future articles (.700 nitro express) with the same skepticism. And, as to "nasty stuff that gores or stomps," "hunt the odd blue whale," or an "orthopedic surgeon [to send] his kids to a good university," well, let's leave the Capstick-isms to PHC.

Cal Pappas
Willow, Alaska
African Hunter Double Rifle Advisor

PS. I have spoken at length with Mr. Feldstein, many at Holland and Holland, and the original purchaser of the last .600, and have handled and photographed the last .600 and the pair of 20-bore shotguns.  All of the information above will be in my book on the .600. The printers have it now and delivery should be in August or September. Information can be found shortly at     "the best in double rifles and African hunting"


text by Cal Pappas

photos by Doug E. Griffin and Matt DeVincenzi

The theory of evolution perhaps came to be a fact when I began to trade and sell my Winchesters as double rifles began to call. The clarion call was irresistible and doubles have become the object of my affection. (After all, the most elaborate Winchester is nothing more than a mass-production rifle with embellishments added.) My interest in firearms evolved to the highest level with the English doubles and I have never had a moment of regret. 

One aspect of my general interest in firearms that carried over to my  new -found love of doubles was that of a duality of the specific era (late 1800s to early 1900s) and the history of each individual firearm. Now, a double rifle has found its way into my possession that needs to be shared with you. Not only is this rifle unique in caliber and configuration but it is also a gold mine of history. Before going into the details let me relate the circumstances on its acquisition.

The last non-double rifle I planned to dispose of was a classic Cogswell and Harrison Mauser bolt action in the .375 H&H magnum cartridge that dated to 1926. It sported a Griffin and Howe side mount, three leaf express sight, a 26-inch barrel, cheek piece stock, and a desirable takedown feature. Cased in oak and leather it was a difficult one to part with. What awaited was by far more of a treasure.

The double rifle that was soon to me mine (after a trade with a bit of boot added) was a John Dickson exposed hammer, Jones underlever rifle in the rare caliber 20-.577. This cartridge was a proprietary round by the Scottish firm of Alex Henry. It is a 2 3/4" 20-gauge brass shotgun cartridge necked down to accept a .577 bullet (.584” dia.). The powder charge was the same as the standard .577 3-inch at 165 grains (six drams), although one is known to the author with a proof of 7 drams, and a few  have a nitro proof stamp.

The rifle sported 28-inch barrels, a straight grip stock with a semi-pistol grip formed by the bottom strap, a cheek piece, and recoil pad. The action was finely engraved and the rifle had undergone an excellent refinish sometime in the past--stock finish, case colors, and barrel blue were in excellent condition. Last of all the Dickson rested in an oak and leather case with accessories. (I've never missed the .375...much).

Upon acquisition of any  new rifle I first attempt  to learn about its history. The summer of 2002 seemed to be a good time to so. 

I was on vacation from my job as a high school history teacher and was spending the next eight weeks in a full-length leg cast due to a complete rupture of my left Achilles tendon sustained on the last day of a hunting trip in South Africa the week prior. (Just before I departed for my hunt the Dickson became mine.) 

A letter was faxed to Dickson and McNaughton (a fairly new corporation encompassing most of the famous Scottish makers of the past century). A reply was short coming but upon reading the copy of the Dickson ledger I was disheartened. The rifle, my prized rifle, was made for a James Robertson, Esq. in 1868 as a "double central fire breech-loading rifle, number 2894, gauge 12." That's right a 12-bore rifle! Did I have a non-original rebarrel? 

The ledger continued with the stock dimensions and the "weight of barrels 5 3/4 lb., length 27 inches. Back lock, charge of powder 3 drams, stock unvarnished, spur guard." I now knew the proper name for the grip formed from the bottom strap--a spur guard. But I was saddened by the 12-gauge rifle barrels  with the 27-inch length.

But wait! On the barrel flats was another number: AH7186. Knowing the 20-.577 cartridge was developed by Alex Henry and, to the best of my knowledge, was not released to the trade I reached for the phone.  My call to Dickson and McNaughton came with a request to search the Alex Henry ledger. (I must state the folks in the Scottish and English gun and rifle trade are the most polite and willing to assist).

The sad news (I was told) was the serial numbers stopped well before the AH number, 7186, of my rifle. However, before a tear could fall, my new found friend in Scotland said, "One moment, here are some unregistered numbers for after-market work." Then he read to specifications of number 7186. "New barrels to Dickson rifle, 20-.577, 28 inch steel, nitro proved, upright sight--standing and two leaves, 1-2-300 yards, usual front sight--plate tip, 26th Nov., 1900, Kynoch solid drawn shell, 70 grs. rifleite, 650 gr. bullet, nickel coated soft nose, barrel weight 7 lbs. 10 oz. for Cap't McNeill." A copy of the ledger would soon be mailed.

I looked at the new object of my affection. Everything I enjoy about double rifles was here--quality, originality, and history. Since it would be a while before I was able to walk to the range and shoot it I sent if off to my friends at Griffin and Howe in Bernardsville, New Jersey (908-766-2287) for an inspection and a replacement of the recoil pad. I also placed and order to Rocky Mountain Cartridge in Cody Wyoming (307-587-9693) for two boxes of brass cartridge cases and to 4D-CH tool (740-397-7214) for a set of dies and a shell holder.

A good friend in Alaska who is also perhaps the finest machinist I know made a chamber cast for the reloading die specifications as well as a bullet mould to the approximate weight and shape of the original projectile. I requested a 650-grain bullet that I planned to cast from wheel weights. Two days later I received a call, "I have your mould ready. It casts at 647 grains. Is that OK?"

The 2002 summer drew long in my full-leg plaster.  I cast a lifetime supply of bullets for all of my rifles and lubed and sized the same. I was unable to pursue my outdoors passions in the 24-hour daylight in Alaska as I have done for the past twenty years. All of my hunting trips (moose, caribou, black and grizzly bear, as well as a permit for Dall sheep in one of the finest areas of the state) had to be canceled. 

All facets of double rifle ownership that I enjoy were coming together but there was still one more question to be answered--who was Cap't McNeill? Well, I wasn't going anywhere so I began to follow this route. A letter to the Scottish Military Museum was promptly answered by Ms. Edith Phillip from the library. If gold had been struck in the factory ledgers, I was about to uncover the Mother Lode!

Captain Malcolm McNeill was born on January 30, 1866, the son of Lt-Col A.C. McNeill. He entered the army in 1885 when he was 19, serving in several African campaigns and World War One. He won several medals and awards and died suddenly on June 3, 1917. (It is not stated if McNeill died of illness, war wounds, killed in action, etc...). His main recreation was big game hunting, fishing and shooting and a museum stands in Oban, Scotland (his home) with his hunting trophies. And it gets better. He authored a book about his military life and hunting trips in Somaliland. Entitled, "In Pursuit of the Mad Mullah--Service and Sport in the Somali Protectorate,” the book only had one printing (1902).  I had to locate a copy.

My mom has a bookseller friend in (the People's Republic of) Massachusetts and she asked him to do  an internet search. Three copies were found. The two in England were not in the best of condition. Johannesburg, South Africa, was home to the best copy and it was soon on its way to my home in Anchorage as a birthday gift. A framed photo of the captain was located in London and it, too, was expressed to me.

Captain McNeill was scheduled to go to India in late 1900 but had a last minute order change that was to see him off to Africa's Somaliland. He purchased the 20-.577 in late November of that year so he would have an adequate rifle for his big game hunting. "...just as I was preparing to return to India, I received notice from the War Office to the effect that I had been selected for service with the Somaliland Field Force, and that I was to report myself without delay at the Foreign Office" (p.2-3). McNeill had served (and hunted) in Somaliland in the mid-1890s and his dream to return was fulfilled.

I had thoughts of Captain McNeill's book filled with stories of man-eating lions and charging elephants all stopped with his trusty 20-.577. Of course the book would be decorated with photographs of the captain, his rifle, and his large and dangerous trophies he brought to bag. Reality was almost as good!

The front piece of the book has a photograph of the captain sitting with the 20-.577 cradled in his arms. No game photos are printed with my rifle but one is printed of McNeill's first lion (one of four man-eaters he was after) killed with his 12-gauge Paradox double. The story is a good one. 

While on a mission to capture the renegade Mahomed Abdullah the Captain was told of four man-eating lions that were terrorizing a small village. He detoured from his mission to investigate and found the remains of a man and two camels in the newly deserted village. "I had with me a 12-bore paradox, shooting 4 drachms--just the weapon for night work--and a .275 sporting Mauser. The latter was hardly the rifle for lion shooting, but I had brought it for dibtag, and my .577 had gone on with my camels" (p.45).

The first lion he took (with his 12-bore)  was 8' 4" long. His camels arrived soon after and he was able to now take his 20-.577 in pursuit of the remaining three lions. "I also had my .577 by now, and felt quite prepared to meet anything that might turn up" (p.53).

Upon successfully tracking lion number two, McNeill "...immediately knelt down and fired with my .577, taking him just in front of the shoulder. On receiving the shot he pulled up at once, nearly falling as he did so, and the left barrel knocked him clean over. He managed to crawl under a small tree about 2 or 3 yards off and to get his head round facing me. I put in another shot for safety's sake when I got to about 80 yards from him, but he did not really require it--either of the first two would have killed him. This lion was the biggest of the three I got that day, 8 feet, 10 1/2 inches as he lay--a big, powerfully made beast, but with no mane" (p.57-58).

The remaining two lions were out of sight in the tall grass. Later that day McNeill bagged his third lion--the second with the 20-.577. Unable to flush the beasts out, McNeill started a grass fire. "He stood at the edge of the fire 

about 80 yards from me, broadside on, and I at once gave him the .577 in the left shoulder. On receiving the shot he turned round and charged straight back through the fire (which was about 18 or 20 yards off), burning his whiskers and singeing himself generally, but not very badly. On getting through the flames he stood on his hind legs, pawing the air, and then fell over on his side--dead" (p.59). The last lion, a female, departed for safer grounds and was not seen again. 

I was one happy camper! The remainder of the book is divided into McNeill's military exploits and small game hunting with his .275.

Now it is spring 2003 and nearing the end in perhaps the warmest winter on record in Alaska. McNeill's book has been read and reread, the dies are here, the brass is here, the rifle has returned from Griffin and Howe, and I have reloading information from a friend in Florida who also has a 20-.577. (His rifle is a Holland and Holland, regulated for black powder, is a best quality weapon, and very accurate).

My prior experience with light nitro and nitro-for-black loadings has shown IMR 4198 the best choice. In most instances I have found accurate loadings will result with a grain-for-grain charge. Since my rifle was proved for 70 grains of rifleite (an early cordite) I began with a starter load of 60 grains of 4198 with kapok filler. I increased the charge 2.5 grains with each 4-shot string. Shooting through a PACT chronograph I recorded the velocity as well as noted the left and right pattern on the 50-yard target. 

All 4-shot groups patterned quite well but the rifle shot several inches high at 50 yards. (A bit of filing on the rear sight should take care of this minor problem) The load settled on was 75 grains of 4198 with a tuft of kapok pillow stuffing to keep the powder next to the large rifle magnum primer. The wheelweight cast bullets of 647 grains exit the barrels at an average of 1743 fps. The muzzle energy calculates to 4366 fpe and John Taylor's knock out value is 94. The recoil is a bit heavy but manageable in the 12-pound rifle. The bores pick up a bit of lead due to the pits remaining from the cordite days. Woodleigh 650-grain jacketed bullets should solve this second minor problem.

What does the future hold? 2003 was spent hunting with a .450 no2 double and saw success with a cape buffalo, giraffe, and an arctic grizzly bear. Next year the 20-.577 may see a spring bear hunt or perhaps a water buffalo hunt down under. Whatever happens, it will be a joy to take Captain McNeill's rifle to the field after a 100+ year rest.

One last note: due to the complexities of reloading and the condition of antique rifles neither the author or publisher of this journal makes any claim as to the safety of the loads listed herein. They have only been proven to work in the author's rifle. Have your antique rifle checked by a competent gunsmith before firing. Good shooting!

Post Script: The long, cold, and dark winter  nights are here and I’m reading one of my  favorite stories. Teddy Roosevelt’s African Game Trails has been my companion on more than one subzero night at my cabin over the years.  This time, something struck me as if hit by lightning. How could I have missed it before and now have it standout so significantly? There it was, right in front of my eyes,  in the “List of zoologists and sportsmen who are donors of a double elephant rifle to the Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, President U.S.A.”   (p.28-9). The rifle was the elegant Holland and Holland Royal .500-450. On the list, accompanied by famous names such as Rothschild, Buxton, and Selous, was... Captain M. McNeill!

It not get any better than this!

Photo captions:

001 The rifle is a connection between McNeill’s book and TRs African Game Trails

002 The 20-.577 with some African artifacts

006 The lock with the Dickson name and engraving

036 The rifle at rest in its case 

044 A photo of  Captain Malcolm McNeill

062 Action open with cartridges

075  With the case accessories

081 Action with the spur guard

Supplemental papers

Frontpiece of McNeill’s book with photo
African Game Trails with McNeill’s name (page 39, 5th from bottom)

text and photos by
Cal Pappas

It is absolutely true. Interest in double rifles is stronger than ever and continues to rise! In the interest in showcasing more doubles in the African Hunter, here is a short photo study of two pairs of double rifles.

Well, not really actual pairs which, by definition, would be consecutive serial numbers and made to the order number (which could have differing specifications such as a pair of shotguns made for a man and wife.) Perhaps the proper term for both pair of rifles shown in the article would be two comprised pairs--rifles that fit together by style or other similarity, but were not made on the same order. Whatever the definition you prefer, the point of this piece is to share with readers of the African Hunter two pairs of rifles that will make one’s mouth water. They don’t get any better. So, sit back and enjoy the photos of four really fine rifles.

The first pair before you are two .600 nitro express double rifles by the firm of John Wilkes. Wilkes rifles, in my humble opinion, are as fine as any Holland, Purdey, or Westley Richards. The two here are nearly identical in quality and engraving and both are pre-WWI rifles. Their main difference is their weight--one was built on a true .600 frame and weighs 15 1/2 pounds. The other was built on a .500 frame and weighs a bit less than 12 pounds--quite a handful in the recoil department. The heavier Wilkes has 26” barrels and 24” on the lighter of the two. Both are extractor rifles and both are made to the regulated charge of 110 grains of cordite.

The next pair is a lesson in size comparison--about the biggest and smallest from Holland and Holland. Both are owned by the same man: a 240 flanged and a .600 nitro express. Both are Royal model ejectors; nearly identical in construction except in mass--one a rifle for a man’s man and the other to be fired comfortable by a petite woman. The detachable locks, ejectors, and cheek piece stock are similar but the .600 has an extended top strap.

A note on the photos.
The two Hollands are quickly identified. The Wilkes pair take a bit of study. In the side shots the lighter rifle is notice by a thinner for end. The heavier rifle has a longer rib and a folding moon sight. In the photo of the top of the actions, the heavier rifle is to the left.

The .600 Nitro Express: History, Reloading, Refinishing

By Cal Pappas

The .600 nitro express. Say it slowly. Nothing, and I mean nothing, brings gun aficionados to attention faster than mentioning this, the largest of the smokeless charged elephant rifles. Shoot any lesser double rifle caliber and a spectator is quick to say how he shot a .600 at one time. Have one at the local target range and a crowd quickly gathers. It is amazing how some calibers do this--and how many don’t.

My interest in double rifles dates to the late 1980s. A few years later Griffin and Howe refinished the first double I owned--a .500 Mortimer and Son black powder express--and, under Paul Chapman’s guidance, I have had G&H refinish several of my doubles from .400 to 7-bore. Please understand, refinishing an English  double rifle or shotgun is not the blasphemy associated with putting new color on a Winchester or Colt. The English refurbished their guns and rifles on a regular basis. And so,when a 20-year search ended with the purchase of a beloved vintage .600, it was off the Bernardsville in October of 2007 to chat with Paul. But first, a bit of history.

It seems the .600 idea dates to about January of 1899 with a case of 2.8 inches in length, an 800 grain bullet, and a diameter approximately the same as a 20 gauge shot shell. Shortly thereafter (1902) the length was increased to an even 3 inches and the bullet weight increased to 900 grains. As to powder charges, historical records agree the .600 never saw a loading with black powder--it was a nitro cartridge from the get go.

Three charges are listed as being produced in the .600: 120, 110, and 100 grains of cordite--all with a 900 grain bullet. The most common, by far, is the 100 grain loading at 1850 fps. The vast majority of Jeffery rifles were made for this load and regulation. Next in popularity was the 110 grain charge. My own rifle is the only rifle I have seen for this loading but I’m sure there are others. The 110 grain charge of cordite launched a 900 grain bullet at 1950 fps. Last of all, the 120 grain charge of cordite propelled a 900 grain bullet at 2050 fps. At least one Jeffery rifle was manufactured for this load. (Early records show a 130 grain charge was a possible development but never made it to the production stage).

As to the number produced, the .600 is one of the rarest of calibers in double rifles. Holland and Holland’s The Shooting Field (page143-145) reports 6 rifles made by H&H, the same number by Purdey, 3 by Westley Richards, 9 by John Wilkes, and 32 by Jeffery. All of these were double rifles with Jeffery producing 24 single shots. The above statistics are not complete as a friend has a .600 double by Wilkinson (12 1/2 pounds!), a recent contact has an Evens, I have seen an Osbourne top lever hammer .600 and a MacNaughton. Webley made at least one, and many were produced by Wilkes (and others?) for the trade such as the Army and Navy stores. In all probability the total number of rifles, both single and doubles, is approximately 100.

Only a few .600s are documented by the original users. Carl Larsen used his Jeffery .600 to bag seven tigers in five minutes and his photo is in an old copy of Jeffery’s catalog. Bill Pridham, a Uganda game warden used a .600 by Wilkes, John Taylor used a Jeffery and wrote of it in Pondoro, and Powell-Cotton also used a Jeffery. Elmer Keith owned a .600 by Wilkes. Where have all the other gone?

Owners of vintage .600s can shoot their rifles with a modern charge of powder to equate to the original ballistics. In my rifle, I use 160 grains of 4831 to launch the 900 grain bullet at nearly 1950 fps. Reloader 15 can be used with a ratio of 1.19:1. So, in a 100 grain cordite rifle the velocity can be approximated by loading the case with 119 grains of Reloader 15. The original ballistics were taken at the proof house in England with 28” barrels. Therefore your velocity may be at bit short of the published velocity--about 25fps per inch less than 28.

On a personal note about my Wilkes .600. I had seen the Wilkes for sale in Anchorage in the early 1990s when I was first developing a strong interest in double rifles. The price was a bit out of my reach then but it was good to see it sold to a good friend. He owned and shot the rifle for many years and I admired it whilst visiting his house. We discussed often selling  the rifle to me and the reply was,”someday”. At least I had the commitment of first refusal. This was important to me as many acquaintances would have loved the chance to purchase the Wilkes.

The time finally came in the spring of 2007. I brought my mother to John’s house to see a mammoth skull and tusks when she was on her annual Alaska vacation. I nearly fell over when John said he was ready to sell the Wilkes. It took a few months but by August the rifle was mine. There was no negotiation. No talk of partial trades for an SKS--the rifle is too rare to chance missing it. The price was quoted and my reply was, “Sold”!

The Wilkes .600 was in well used condition and overall brown in color. The barrel blue was faded as was the action color. The stock needed a de-oiling and new finish applied and the checkering recut. The silver was missing from the ‘safe’ inlay. The triggers needed adjusting and the action needed an inspection and a strip clean. The good news was the bores were very good and the rifle shot to the sights when I developed a load to equal the original velocity. A bullet mould was ordered from NEI, a sizer die form 4D-CH Tool, and a supply of jacketed Woodleigh bullets from Huntington's. I shot the rifle in the remaining warm days of summer and early fall. When cold weather came, the Wilkes was brought to Griffin and Howe for a refinishing. I flew to the east coast for a turkey hunt and drove to Bernardsville  with the .600. It was good to see Paul Chapman, Bill Supple, and others. After a pleasant visit and taking Paul’s recommendations as to refinishing I tearfully parted with the Wilkes for several months.

The .600 Wilkes is now returned. It looks wonderful! That is no surprise as Griffin and Howe always exceeds my expectations. Now, the Wilkes is patiently awaiting a hunt. Will be Africa for elephant or buffalo, or hippo? Perhaps Australia for water buffalo? Or, maybe, brown bear  in my home state of Alaska? Whatever the choice, it will be a pleasure to take this historic and rare cannon to the field. My thanks to Paul and the crew at Griffin and Howe for the excellent care and treatment they have given this treasure.




     Is the muzzle energy calculation misleading in determining the ballistics of black powder express cartridges? The author thinks so!

     My interest in antique firearms began with American lever action Winchester rifles. My grandfather's Model 1873, "the gun that won the west," caught my eye when I was in elementary school and did not let go. In wide-eyed wonder I stood with anticipation dreaming of the day I would be big enough to shoot that Winchester. At that age I could barely work the lever, much less shoulder the rifle. But each week I was there with an oily rag and patches to wipe the dust from the exterior and swab the bore. The old Winchester didn't need the thorough going over each week, but grandfathers will do anything to please their grandsons.

     After college and six years of competitive Olympic weight lifting I continued to shoot and began to collect Winchesters. After relocating to Alaska in 1984 to continue my profession of teaching high school my interest in firearms began to slowly change. Dreams of hunting the Dark Continent with a double rifle gradually replaced the wonder of the American west and the famous Winchester rifles. And, while my interest in firearms and geography may have changed, one focus remained the same: that of the older black powder express cartridges.

     The term "express" originated in England with James Purdy. His "express train rifles" of the 1850s shot light- for-caliber bullets at velocities that were higher than normal for the day. The term 'express' travelled "across the pond" to the states in the 1870s and hitched itself to large caliber Winchester rifles firing a bullet that was much lighter than usual for the given caliber. .38-90, .40-110, .45-125, .50-95, and .50-110 were the five Winchesters express calibers. The first number representing the caliber and the second the charge in black powder. The .38, .40, and .45 cartridges were 3 1/4-inch cases and were only suitable in Winchester's single shot rifle (Model 1885) while the shorter .50s were available in lever action repeaters.

     Just before my conversion to double rifles hours were spent reloading, casting bullets, target shooting and hunting with the antique firearms. All this enjoyment lead me to a disturbing question. How did these old cartridges drop big game in North America and Africa while having such low ballistic properties? My own experience showed a caribou was not partial to being shot with a .338 magnum or a 

.50-95. Subsequent chronograph tests equated the original ballistics of the original black powder rounds. Low velocity equalled low muzzle energy.

     What initiated the above question (and what was responsible for the eventual answer) was the purchase of a Winchester Model 1876 rifle in .50-95 express. Made in 1884 with a 26-inch round barrel, half magazine, shotgun butt, and a case-hardened receiver, the rifle was "sighted, shot, and regulated by Holland and Holland..." in England and so stamped on the barrel just ahead of the H&H three leaf express sight. The rifle also has Holland Holland bead- on-ramp front sight and English sling eyes.

     Visions flashed in my mind of an English hunter of royal blood in pursuit of lion, leopard, and buffalo in the Dark Continent or stalking a man-eating tiger in the jungles if India. But what hunter with a sane mind would attempt to hunt dangerous game with a rifle that shot a 300-grain bullet at 1550 feet per second with a muzzle energy of approximately 1600 foot pounds?

     The answer, I believe, was found in John 'Pondoro' Taylor's book African Rifles and Cartridges. Taylor was one of the best known African hunters in the pre- and post WWII era. He states the muzzle energy calculation is quite misleading as the formula puts too much emphasis on velocity. Rather, Taylor believed, the bullet's weight should contribute more as should the bullet's diameter. The formula for muzzle energy is velocity squared x bullet weight divided by 450240.

     To make up for the lack of diameter, and to increase the bullet's weight in a calculation, Taylor developed his famous 'knock out' value. Based on the belief the largest African calibers would knock down and knock out charging beasts like elephant, rhino, and buffalo Taylor's new mathematics used the following equation: bullet weight x diameter x velocity divided by 7000.

     Taylor had this to say about his knock out formula: "I am fully award that many ballistic experts would look very much askance at these figures, but I do not care because I do not pretend that they represent 'killing power;' but they do give an excellent basis from which any two rifles may be compared...Theoretical, mathematical muzzle energy lays too much stress upon velocity at the expense of bullet weight..."

     As I made the aforementioned transition to collecting and shooting double rifles, I kept my love of the older black powder express cartridges and the rifles that shot them. When I compared the older Winchester cartridges to modern nitro (or smokeless) cartridges, I also calculated 

the older British black powder cartridges to compare them to the nitro-fueled cartridges of this century.

CARTRIDGE     BUL WT          MV          ME          MKO

.460 WEA       500           2700        8095          88
.458 WIN       500           2105        5110          69
.405 WIN       300           2250        3380          40
.338 WIN       250           2710        4080          33
.30-06         180           2710        2940          21

.600 NE        900           1950        7610         156
.577 NE        750           2050        7020         126
.500 NE        570           2150        5850          89
.505 GIBBS     525           2300        6180          87
.470 NE        500           2125        5030          71
.450 NE        480           2150        4930          67
.416 RIGBY     410           2350        5010          57
.450-400       400           2150        4110          50
.375           300           2550        4330          41

8-BORE        1882           1330        7400         361
4-BORE        1250           1500        6920         234
.577 BPE       610           1650        3690          82
.500 BPE       380           1850        2890          51
.450 BPE       365           1700        2340          40
.50-110 WIN    300           1605        1720          35
.50-95 WIN     300           1557        1615          34

     To compare the above KO values, note there is no comparison with the 4- and 8-bore cartridges. For close range work they still rule the roost. Loaded with a heat-treated lead bullet with a Brinnell hardness of 20 to 22 points, the gauge rifles would be more than adequate for anything that walks within the range limitations of these rifles. The great and famous .600 and .577 do not even come close!

     The .577 BPE is in the same ball park as today's highest velocity 450 caliber--the .460 Weatherby and is well ahead of the .458 Winchester Magnum. The .577 is just behind the .500NE and the .505 Gibbs. Falling behind the .577 BPE are the .470 NE, 450 NE, and .416 Rigby rounds.

     The .500 bpe is on par with the famous .450-400. A cartridge that was Taylor's choice as the best all-around cartridge for African hunting.

     The .450 BPE, with a KO of 40 equals the .375 Holland and Holland Magnum and the .405 Winchester--Teddy Roosevelt's favorite for lion.

    The two largest American express calibers, Winchester's .50-110 and .50-95, equal the ubiquitous .338 Winchester Magnum and are far ahead of the venerable .30-06.

     The above comparisons may not be the last word in the ballistics game. Round table discussions about the merits of one's favorite cartridge will continue long after I'm gone. Agreed, there is no doubt about the advantage of smokeless powder, jacketed, solid and pointed bullets, and telescopic sights. I do believe however, the knock out calculation well illustrates the reason the old time cartridges were able to take dangerous game in years past and why they should not be out of the picture for today's hunting adventures.

     If your are ever on safari with your black powder express rifle and are getting odd stares from members of your party, show the doubting Thomas' the ballistics and knock out value of your rifle's caliber, hit what you aim at, and you will make a believer of the most die-hard Weatherby fan!

     Good shooting!


1. Big game calibers from the United States.
   Left to right: .460 Wea., .458 Win., .405 Win., .338 Win., .30-06.

2. English nitro-fueled cartridges.
   Left to right: .600, .577, .505, .500. .470, .450, .416, .450-400, .375.

3. English black powder cartridges.
   Left to right: 4-bore, 8-bore, .577, .500, .450.

4. Winchester Express black powder cartridges.
   Left to right: .38, .40, .45, .50-95, .50-110.

5. Winchester's African rifles of the black powder era--the Model 1885 single shot and the Model 1886 lever action repeater.

by Cal Pappas

Some time ago a gent called from the lower 48 asking my opinion on OSR. He is a friend, one whom I never see enough of nor ever will. The desert where he lives is too hot for me and I doubt he will move to sub zero winter temps. We have enough in common to keep a strong long distance friendship going and he has visited my home in Alaska. We also hunted together in Australia in June of 2012. 

For years I thought the myth of OSR was just that, a myth. The stories I heard of it were evidence to the nonsense: of rifling being pushed to the outside of the barrel, of a severe case where the bore was now smooth (like a shotgun) with the rifling now on the outside of the barrel, and the best one was an urban legend told me by a gent in North Carolina: he actually saw the rifling lands pushed out of the muzzle by a monometal bullet shot in a vintage double. To put it politely, “nonsense” I thought. 

One fella who has wrote of OSR is Graeme Wright of Australia, the author of the best book on double rifles, Shooting the British Double Rifle. When I bought the first edition of Graeme’s work I wrote him with my experiences with IMR 4198 and suggested he include it in future editions in the chapter of black powder express rifles. Long story short, Graeme was an international pilot who stopped in Anchorage for fuel between the Orient and the east coast of the US. We visited often, rode in my ‘69 Corvette, and shot a few doubles. In fact, some of the ballistic work in volume 3 was shot at my Alaska home with my rifles.

At an SCI convention a few years ago Graeme asked me to accompany him to see an example of OSR. At a table he handed me a gent’s rifle. It was a pre war .450-400, three inch case I believe, and I was asked to examine the rifle for OSR. I did so and could not see anything. I was then instructed to open the rifle and look down the bores while holding the rifle to the ceiling lights. I did and did not see anything. Then he asked me to look down the exterior of the barrels as the light was reflected on the surface. I could have been knocked over with a feather! There is was. For lack of a better term, shadows of the rifling were seen in the reflected light. Looking down the bore and back to the exterior several times there was no doubt what I was seeing.

Let me interject here Graeme is a fine and honest man. His writings show his logic and common sense, and his conclusions are based on experimentation, not emotion, and what he stated to me in the past was based on the above. I had to see it to believe it. I did see it and I do believe it.

The man who owned the rifle was very angry with Barnes bullets as, he relayed to me, their attitude was standoffish and refused to accept the damage to his fine rifle was caused by their bullets. 

I went to Barnes and spoke of the subject. I also came away with a few boxes of Barnes Banded Solids to try in my beloved vintage .600 by John Wilkes, completed in April of 1914. I will get to my shooting shortly. First is the question of why OSR happens? There is no doubt it occurs, but why? Here is my theory. Now I don’t have as much hunting experience as many or most of you readers but I do have a bit of experience with doubles and shooting and researching them. OSR is due to one or more of the following:

1. Soft steel in old barrels
2. Perhaps thin barrel walls
3. Very hard bullet material
4. Bullets with no for few bands for rifling-displaced metal to flow
5. Bullets shot at too high velocity and/or too high pressure
and the big one:
6. Bullet with too large of a diameter for the bore.

Since I doubt anyone will use a vintage and expensive doubles to experiment with the jury will most likely be out forever. For those that say OSR is nonexistent they are, from what I have seen, wrong. From my experience with double rifles a combination of the above six factors are the key to the answer. OSR is also quite uncommon. There are not that many who have had the unfortunate experience to shoot monometal bullets in their old double.

When I shot the Barnes Banded Solids in my .600 I was confident there would be no problem. The bullets were .002” undersize, the many bands allowed metal to flow when it was cut my the rifling, and I began with a slow velocity and worked up to the factory regulated velocity of 1900 fps. OSR did not happen in my rifle as the bullets were the correct size and shot to the correct velocity.

In addition, I just sold a Winchester extra light weight, deluxe, .45-70 with a pencil thin barrel. Even more thin than the standard extra light barrels. With (for the time) nickel steel barrels and soft jacketed bullets (or lead) OSR was not a problem. However, I did notice the rifling was very shallow. I would guess .002”. Did Winchester, in 1902, purposely build such thin barrels with shallow rifling to avoid such a problem such as OSR? Could OSR occurred in such a thin barrel with rifling of a standard depth? Just a thought to ponder

Recoil--Is It Really What They Say It Is?
By Cal Pappas

From Hemingway’s Guns, by Calabi, Helsely, and Sanger:  Leonard Lyons in his New York Post column of 26 June 1953 wrote that he had accompanied Hemingway to the basement shooting range at Abercrombie & Fitch where Papa wanted to test-fire some old .577 cartridges. Papa induced Lyon to shoot too: “...the recoil hurled me back against the back of the cement booth and the gun fell from my hand. ‘You OK?’ the salesman asked. Only a wrenched shoulder. ‘Lucky’ he said. ‘They usually break a collar -bone” (pp. 93-4).

The subject of recoil comes up often with the resurgence of double rifles, large caliber bolt action and single shot rifles, and even a few shotguns. I have written of recoil a few times and I am getting a bit of experience with .600s and 8- and 4-bore double rifles. Some seem to say recoil is not bothersome at all, others seem to write of horrendous effects of recoil on the body. There are ways to measure recoil and this works well if all variables are the same--taking into account the rifle’s weight, weight of the projectile, its velocity, and the weight of the powder charge. The use of these four factors will give excellent values to compare felt recoil of big game cartridges. The rifles, however, as well as the shooter, have other variables that add or subtract to the felt recoil that is received by the shooter’s shoulder: the drop of the stock, shape and material of the butt plate, length of pull, the physical characteristics of the shooter, and shooting from a standing position (over a rest, shooting sticks, or free hand), seated, or (not with a 4-bore!) prone.

I remember the old days when I was fascinated by the Winchester lever action rifles. My main interests evolved to the larger .50 express calibers as well as the .405. The stories of the .405’s punishing recoil abound--no doubt brought to light by the small stock, drop, and the crescent metal butt plate. The rifle also did not weigh that much. This all worked to swell the effectiveness of the .405 caliber and the light 300-grain bullet at a moderate velocity of about 2200 fps. Recoil is not a factor in killing power but many shooters and hunters in the days gone by thought of the .405 as excellent for African big game--read dangerous game. But, the fact of the matter was (and still is) that a short 300-grain bullet at 2200 fps only generates about 3200 foot-pounds of muzzle energy--not much better than a .30-06 or a .300 H&H flanged. But, because the .405 kicked like a mule (to some, anyway) it was deemed a big game rifle, or “lion medicine,” by the famous Teddy Roosevelt.

The .405, in my humble opinion, is no great kicker and not, by any stretch of the imagination, a rifle for buffalo, lion, hippo, or elephant. On the other end of the spectrum are the great double rifle calibers that were made for the big stuff and nothing else. While shooters have different tolerances to felt recoil there is a definite upper limit. In the 1980s Jim Bell, Holland and Holland, and Bill Feldstein determined the .600 nitro express was at that upper limit of recoil toleration. When the above were designing the .700 it was determined the rifle was to weigh 19 pounds to have the (approximate) felt recoil of the .600 (about 100 ft. lbs. if both are loaded with the same type of powder). I have written before of my totally unsubstantiated theory of the .600s development over 110 years ago: that shooters and gun makers believed the full-house .577 (100 grains of cordite and a 750-grain bullet) was at the upper threshold of recoil toleration. Therefore, the .600 rifles were made to weigh up to 16 pounds to equal the felt recoil of a .577 at 13 pounds (95.43 in the .600 to 91.51 for the .577).

So, with all the stories of the horrendous recoil of the .577, .600, 8-bore, and 4-bore double rifles, lets look at how they stack up with the calculation of felt recoil. Also included are three of the most common smaller nitro express rounds. Remember, however, that the variables of the rifle’s design and the shooter’s physique are not taken into account.

.600 ne,         900-grain bullet,   1950 fps,  16-pound rifle,  110 grains cordite
.577 ne,         750                        2050 fps,  13                      100 
.500 ne          570                        2150 fps,  12                        80  
.470 ne          500                        2150 fps,   11                       75  
.450-400ne   400                        2150 fps,  10                        60  
8-bore,         1150                       1500 fps,  16                      275 grains black
4-bore,         1882                       1400 fps,   22                     385 

The formula for the felt recoil used in this article can be found on the following web site:

The felt recoil for the above cartridges using the this formula is (all figures in foot pounds):

.600            95.43
.577            91.51 
.500            63.08
.470            54.47
.450-400    38.34
8-bore      158.06
4-bore      251.05

Now, let’s take the above selection of cartridges and see how the felt recoil compares when the rifles weigh the same--say the 11 pounds for the .470:

.600              138.8
.577              108.15
.500                 68.81
.470                 54.47
.450-400         34.86
8-bore           229.91
4-bore           502.11

Next, to make all of the above calibers have the same felt recoil that is acceptable to most shooters--again, say the 54.47 of the .470--here is what the rifles would have to weigh--approximately:

.600             54.53 in a   28-pound rifle
.577             54.07 in a   22-pound rifle
.500             54.07 in a   14 pound rifle
.470             54.47 in a   11 pound rifle
.450-400     54.78 in a     7 pound rifle
8-bore         54.98 in a   46 pound rifle
4-bore         54.15 in a 102 pound rifle   

In conclusion, what does this all mean? I don't  know, really. It was interesting to compare the fixed variables to see the felt recoil figures although I find it hard to believe a full house 4-bore would need to weigh 102 lbs. to “feel” like the recoil of a .470. This is not the last word in recoil or ballistics--those discussions will continue long after I am gone. But it will make for interesting opinions and discussions for the present time. I welcome your comments. Please email them to me via my web site:    Also, it is interesting (and to me does not make THAT much sense) on how the weight of the powder charge affects the felt recoil. In my 4-bore Hughes, a 100-grain charge of Blue Dot and a 1743-grain conical bullet with a velocity of 1437 fps has a felt recoil figure of 121.53. The same bullet and  a velocity of 1410 fps but with 15 drams or 412 grains of FFg black powder has a recoil figure of 242.80! Double just because of the weight of the powder. (Is the burning rate part of the figure--I don’t know?) I know the recoil is greater--but that much(?)!

Single photos:
The author taking a bit of a push from a 4-bore double at his Alaska cabin in 2009--16 drams of FFg (440 grains) and a light 1400-grain round ball.

Cal at his cabin with his two big rifles--a 4-bore Hughes and a .600 Wilkes.

Photo sequence:

The most horrific recoil I have ever felt and, yes, I’m wearing a sissy pad! The cartridge was a heavy load for a 4-bore double: 385 grains of GOEX FFg (14 drams), a 2133-grain conical bullet, at a muzzle velocity of 1350 fps (through a PACT chronograph.) The recoil calculation was an amazing 386.86 as the rifle only weighed 16-pounds--a single barrel. If the same load was fired in my 22-pound double, the recoil figure would be 281.35 --a substantial reduction of approximately 25%. The video of the shot can be seen at my web site: click double rifles on the navigation bar.


Gun Room BS
by Cal Pappas

Fables, misspeaks, and outright lies from the gun dealing brethren amongst us.

Many scientists of the past few decades, using DNA, have linked all human beings to one common ancestor in Africa. While I can’t speak to the accuracy of such research as I am uneducated in that area, I honestly believe used gun dealers, pawn shop owners, and used car salesmen descend from a common tree-swinging thimble-brained ape from the bush land of a primitive world.

Many of us who show an interest in guns, from a casual shooting to the most serious collector and hunter, have, at one time or another, been the subject of deception on the part of the seller to make a sale. Here are a few examples from some of the best known con artists in the field I have had the pleasure to know. No names to protect the guilty (but you do know them!!) A few others are thrown in for amusement. My personal favorite lies are in bold.

A .50 express model 86 Winchester I refinished and repaired and later traded off came up for sale at a nationally known gun dealer. It was advertised as refinished by Holland and Holland. I called to question the claim and was told by the owner, “You would not know this, but I do as I have an eye for such matters.” When I told him I refinished and repaired the rifle he asked how I could make such a statement. I then told him the serial number and the location of the stock repair. Without a word, he hung up the phone.

I once saw a Model 1894 Winchester at a local gun shop that I thought a friend in Wisconsin would like. The price was $750. My friend called the dealer and wanted the rifle. When I went to pick up the rifle a few hours later the new price tag was $850.

I bought a bag of Remington SP-10-gauge wads from the same shop. After I arrived home I called to ask how many bags were in stock. Since only 6 or 7 bags were on hand I said I would come in a buy them all. When I arrived, the $5.50 price was crossed out and $9.95 was written above the old price.

When I noticed a Model 71 for sale in the unique .40-.348 Watts, I decided to buy the rifle and keep the .411-inch bullets for my .405 Winchester ‘95. The owner of the gun shop told me the price on the rifle did not include the bullets. He called James Watts from the back room and told me the bullets were an extra $50 which I paid. That night I called James and asked why he would not let the bullets go with the price of the rifle. He said he did not receive any phone call that day about the rifle and bullets and he gave them to go with the sale of the rifle.

Around 1990 I noticed a Winchester 1886 in .50-110 for sale for $3200. At the time the price was high for a brown rifle. The owner told me, “I paid $2800 for the rifle and will sell it to you for $2900. Just let me make $100 on the rifle.” I passed on the deal and noticed the rifle still for sale some months later. Again I was told, “I paid $2300 for the rifle, let me make $100 and sell it to you for $2400.” Again I passed as I remembered the first offer. Six months later I was offered still another deal.  “Cal, let me be honest with you. I paid $1800 for the rifle” I was told. “Let me make $100 on it and sell it for $1900.”

When and old English gentleman passed away and his guns were for sale, I noticed the .450 Dickson and said I had seen the rifle some years prior at the gent’s house. I was then told me I was wrong as it had been his private collection for many years. Apparently he did not want it know he bought the collection from the widow (at low prices) to sell for a substantial profit.

A Scottish .450-400 2 3/8” double rifle with India markings was for sale at too high a price. I offered what I thought was a fair price and was declined. Two year later, the rifle sold for less that I offered.

The same thing happened with a 10 bore double rifle. After three years it sold for less than I offered when it was first put up for sale.

Many years the owner of a local shop appraised a deluxe Winchester 1895 in .405 for me for $4500. A few years later I was asked  if I had a .405 to sell as he knew I had several  and he had a potential buyer. I brought in the deluxe he appraised for me years earlier. “This is not a very desirable rifle--I’ll give you $2100 for it and mark it up just $100 and sell it for $2200.”

Another well-known dealer sold my 12 gauge Holland and Holland Rivera Badminton for me. When I came to get my check I was told it would take several weeks for a credit card to process (the buyer paid by credit card). I phoned six weeks later and was told the buyer’s check would take additional time to clear. When I said, “Which story is it--credit card or check?”  “Come get your money” was the angry reply as he slammed down the phone.

The price tag code on the guns at one store works like this: The marked price is $4000. The reverse of the tag reads: C 6. That  equates to the bottom price is $3600. When I was buying a rifle and was told what the bottom price was I mentioned the best price was in the code (which he confided to me years earlier). “No, the code you see is the price I paid for the gun” he said.

A doctor in town had an expensive shotgun for sale. Months, maybe a year and a half went by, and he was told over and over again the gun had not sold and it was making the rounds at the lower 48 gun shows. Then, the doc noticed the gun for sale by another dealer. A call revealed the gun was purchased several months prior and was traded or resold a total of five times! He was just keeping and using the money.

The day I was to leave for a two week buffalo hunt in Australia I saw a deluxe .50-95 Model 1876 Winchester for sale at a giveaway price of $5500. Plain ‘76 express rifles were selling for upwards of $10,000. The owner told me it as all original, that he had a factory letter for it, and just wanted to move it. It looked too good to be true but I could not get the money as it was a Sunday and I was to leave that night. I called a friend and Winchester expert in Wisconsin. He offered to call on the gun and buy it for me. If it was correct, he would keep it for me and if not he would return it. Larry had my rifle when I returned from my hunt. He was told of the factory letter but it never came. Long story short: the owner had a letter that said it was a .45-75 so it seemed to be a rebarrel. When Larry called the Cody museum he was told a new employee made an error on the ‘yellow sheet’ (informal letter of specification). The rifle lettered correctly and valued at 3x the selling price. But, the dealer thought he had a rebarrel and purposely misrepresented the rifle by selling it as original.

Many years later I brought another deluxe Winchester rifle to the shop to sell it as my interest in Winchesters had given way to double rifles. I gave the price I wanted and the owner told me the rifle was refinished. I said it was not--all original. We argued a bit about this in a friendly disagreement. To solidify my position I mentioned the fella I bought the rifle from gave me a guarantee it was original. That didn’t convince him. Then I said the fella I bought it from has an e-mail from the fella he bought it from guaranteeing it original. Again, “No” was the reply. Then I said, “The fella he bought it from was you.” A long pause and back pedaling began and and he agreed it was original. The reason for the denial of the rifle’s originality to me was to give me less money but the rifle would have been (and was) marketed as original. I did get my price upon selling.

The same dealer has sold about 10 rifles and shotguns for me over the years. I have often wondered why a high end dealer would ship, advertise, and market a rifle(s) for a small commission. I have the answer. You see, all of my rifles (and the rifles of many of my friends who are his customers) sell on the last day of the contract and then an excuse is made why it will take many weeks to get the money. The rifle(s) in question may sell the first week but but the dealer uses the money as an interest free loan for several months. Remember ALL of my rifles have sold on the last day and all of the sales had a reason for delayed payment.

One year I deposited  .577 rifle for sale. A call from the gun show by a close friend told me a well-known dealer just bought the rifle for a client. I called the dealer who had my rifle for sale to ask of its whereabouts. “I still have it” was the reply. When I mentioned the buyer, he stumbled on his words and said it was tentatively sold but no cash was received, that it would take a month or more for the funds to arrive. The buyer told me he paid cash for the rifle.

A friend had the same problem. As I write this his .450 double has not been seen for six months at tables or in the store. He is told it has not sold. When my friend went to the store to pick up his rifle, “It just sold, but it will take 30 days for the money to come in.”

Once, when I was browsing and not really buying, the owner Turned off the lights in the store and stood in the doorway waiting for me to leave. “I’m closing early.” I departed and when driving by the lights were on and he was open for business. (Another gent has told me this also happened to him).

When I offered three of my rifles for trade on my first double rifle (.500bpe) and a 90-day wait for my rifles to sell, I returned to the store in three months. Turns out one of my rifles (the most expensive one) was still in the store. The owner didn’t want to give me cash for the two he sold. He as angry and said, “Take your rifle and leave.”

$5500 was the price I was quoted on a brown .45-90 Winchester 1886. It was too much so I asked a friend (and a VERY good customer)  to check on it for me. He was quoted $2500. He returned and bought it for me.

Several years later I asked about a .450 no2 double. $15,500 was the price I was told. A friend bought it for me as he was quoted $10,000.

Same guy sold a one -of-a-kind Rigby bolt rifle to a friend. When he later found out how rare it was he called and demanded the rifle back, saying it was only on loan.

Same guy asked another friend to let him display two rifles at gun shows in the lower 48 but was asked to sign a seller’s agreement as it would simplify paperwork requirements at the shows.

A friend in New Hampshire who deals out of his home without a license told me he paid $8.50 for brass 10 gauge shell cases. They cost $4 directly from the manufacturer at the time.

Same guy said he paid $18,500 for a Greener 8-bore double rifle. I traced the gun back to when he said he acquired it, and it sold for $10,000. I was told the rifle was accurate and the 19-inch barrels were original but no factory records existed for it. A friend researched the rifle and the factory records did exist and the barrels were made as 24 inches. Also, the rifle grouped its shots into an 18 inch circle.

Another time the same gent tried to sell me the 19” barreled Greener cape gun. He told me he paid 24,000$ for it and wanted to get his money out of it. The same week he told a friend of mine in the south he paid 18,000$ for it and wanted to just get his money out of it.

Same guy said he had an out-of-production bullet mould for $125. They were in current production for $70.

The above guy tried selling me a belt with 8-bore loops. “I paid $350 for it.” Two years earlier he told me he paid $250.

He also sold me an original 8-bore rifle cartridge that he had reloaded and with out any powder. I disassembled the cartridge to find this out and later on he told me he sells reloads without powder to avoid a law suit if fired in an old 8-gauge shotgun. He did not offer to refund me the price of the “original” shell and came up with a story he bought it from a dealer as original. 

The same fella tried to sell me a leg-o-mutton case. “I paid 300$ for it and just need to get my money out of it. That was 100-150$ higher than any l-o-m case I had seen so I declined. Three weeks later, again at his house, I expressed an interest in the case. “I paid $650 for it and just want to get my money out of it” was the immediate reply.

A gun dealer at an Alaska gun show had a ‘1 of 1000’ Winchester 1873 for sale for $18,000. He said it was original but did not have a factory letter. I said the  rifle would fetch him $100,000 if the gun lettered. He said he did not want to spend the time and money to get the letter from Cody and would be happy with the 18K. 

I sold a 10 gauge Model 1901 Winchester to a guy and his check bounced. Two months passed and each promise of payment failed. I called him at work and was angry. I said I would tell my insurance company the situation and they would come after him for the $2000 insured value. My payment arrived the next day. When I called is work the phone call was on the speaker phone and was recorded at the FAA office. Both his colleagues and his boss listened to the conversation.

I was to buy some .458 500-grain bullets from a gun shop. They were being sold as new bullets but the scratch marks on them showed me they were pulled from loaded cases. The dealer told me the scratch marks were factory defects.

A dealer offered me $5 for a bullet mould and it was not worth anything more. He had several at his table for $50.

A nationally known dealer in Winchesters wanted to buy a deluxe 1876 from me and offered me $2,000 for it as it was refinished, he said. It was not, and was guaranteed original from three previous owners, a letter from the Cody Museum, and from the next buyer who paid handsomely for it as he knew it was original. He also suggested I include the express mould and reloading tool as they had “little or no value anyway.” The rifle sold for over 10x the price he offered and the tool and mould sold for more than he offered for the rifle.


by Cal Pappas
photos by Don Lietzau and Cal Pappas


     Clay pigeon shooting, in all its forms, is great fun with black powder cartridge shotguns. Albeit at times it is difficult to shoot doubles if the air is still and the smoke cloud blocks the second flyer but the old shotguns attract attention at the range. They function just as well as the newest arms that look akin to something out of Star Wars. The only problem with Alaska shooting sports is the climate. April is warm enough to shoot but snow is still on the ground, May through July is great with 24 hour daylight! In August the rains begin. September is cool but it is hunting season. October to March is too darn cold except for the dyed (died)-in-the-wool enthusiasts who are a bit ‘touched’ to shoot at -30.

     I shoot  clays not as often as I like so one requisite in my current property search is that I can have both a rifle range and an automatic trap thrower in my back yard. To date, I have four black powder smooth bores I hunt and target shoot with. All have twist, or Damascus, barrels. Two are ‘Alaska-sized’ guns and two are of more traditional lines.

     My traditional gun for skeet is my grandfather’s W&C Scott 12 gauge. Made in the early 1870s it sports 30-inch cylinder bore barrels. With no choke it is perfect for skeet. Three drams (82 grains) of FFFg and 1 to 1 1/8 ounces of #9 shot work very well. This beauty was a wedding gift to my grandfather in 1918 and is truly a family heirloom--the details of which may be found in BPCN number 43 (fall 2003), page 19. The chambers have been lengthened from 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches to shoot modern factory ammunition. (Yes, I shoot smokeless in all of my antique firearms but that is beyond the scope of this article).

     For trap shooting, more choke is required so I use my Williams and Powell 10 gauge with 30-inch barrels choked modified and full. The maker’s address on this old waterfowl gun tells me it was made between 1894 and 1896. It has a very heavy breech--the barrel wall thickness is .300” so it was made on an 8 gauge frame. The 10  1/4 pounds swings in to place well as the weight is between the hands. Four drams (110 grains) of FFg and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 ounces of number 9 shot does the trick. The chambers are 2 7/8 inches and the very slight shoulder in the chambers says this gun was made for thin-walled brass cases. I shoot a variety of cases--Rocky Mountain Cartridge brass, older Winchester (red) and Remington (green) plastic cases, and several lesser-known makes of paper hulls. Remington SP-10 wads, or my own cut with a punch, make for a variety of reloading procedures.

     The condition of the ten is fine. Some color remains on the action’s protected areas and the bores are a little rough but not excessively so. The Damascus pattern has faded to about 50% but the wood is a sight to behold--stunning English walnut. I am surprised such a fine piece of wood adorns such a plain shotgun. The engraving is minimal but in a tasteful pattern. The top lever engages the doll’s head extension--a unique feature that adds to the strength of this old fowler.

     The 10 bore was for sale in Idaho in 2004 at such a low price (I can sell the butt stock for more than I paid for the entire gun) I could not pass it up. The low price came with the dealer’s warning, “This gun has Damascus barrels and is sold for decorative purposes only. DO NOT SHOOT THIS GUN!” (May the unknowing continue status quo so I can add to my collection at inexpensive prices)!  I had to tighten the hinge pin a bit to set the gun on the face and the pull was far too short for me so a local gunsmith added some spacers and a thick pad.

     The above two guns have a certain class and character that modern arms lack. The wood to metal fit is superb, the engraving is fine and expertly executed (but not ostentatious), the checkering is sharp, and original case colors remain on both guns--more so on the twelve. For Alaska clay shooting, though, something more is required. Alaska is a big state and big guns are at home here.

     Permit me to digress with some Alaska statistics: If Alaska was cut in half, Texas would be the third largest state. We have the world’s biggest bears and moose, three million lakes (Minnesota has a mere 10,000), ice fields and glaciers larger than some New England states, more coastline than the lower 49 combined, enough oil, coal, and gas to end our dependance on the Middle East if all reserves were utilized, and we have the coldest temperatures in the country. I can’t remember how many times, when watching the national news at my cabin at -50, the anchor person said, “The coldest area in the country was so-and-so Montana at -3. The above stats were in mind when, in order to join the Hairy-Chested He-Man Club of Alaska (clay target division),  I shoot the following:

     Skeet shooting is a challenge with this Alex Henry of Edinburgh 8-bore gun. This is not a rifle nor is it a shotgun. The factory ledgers state it was made as a smooth bore for ball--the true Elephant Gun of lore and legend. Dated to September of 1883 and made for J.L. Laird MacGregor Esq., the gun sports 23-inch barrels, exposed hammers, Jones under lever, and a cheek piece stock with the original leather covered recoil pad. The rear sight is a wide shallow V specified by Mr. MacGregor to be set back to the breech. The chambers are 3 1/4 inches long and the bores measure .840” The condition is 95% plus and the bores are absolutely mint. It is the finest firearm I own--the Mother of All Guns. No, the Jessica Simpson of all guns. The action is very stiff to open so it has been used very little. Interestingly, Mr. MacGregor had an identical rifle made to this one and is consecutively numbered but in 10 bore, fully rifled. The Henry is cased with a nice assortment of original reloading tools: decapper, primer seater, mould, cartridge extractor, a cleaning rod with several different tips, oil bottle, powder measure (10 drams), and turn screws.

     The bores are a cylinder (no choke) so it is perfectly suited for skeet. It is a bit heavy (15 1/2 pounds) to swing but once on target the clays turn to dust. This gun was proved for 10 drams (275 grains) of Curtis and Harvey’s number 6 black powder and a two ounce (875 grains) ball. I load 10 drams of Fg and two ounces of shot and the same 10 drams but with FFg when I shoot  a ball. (Ten drams of Fg launches the two ounce ball at 1300 fps. FFg increases the velocity (and recoil) to nearly 1600 fps). I use Rocky Mountain Cartridge brass, Winchester 209 primers, a 1/8” over powder wad with 80-100 pounds of pressure,  shot, and a 1/8” over shot wad. With no choke, however, the old Henry fails miserably on the trap range so an Alaska-sized trap gun was sought.

     One was found and purchased in November of 2005. For your enjoyment is a Thomas Bland of London 4 bore double barrel shotgun. It was love at first sight and, knowing how rare 4 bore doubles are, my checkbook flew out of  my pocket as if by magic! (4-bore single barrel guns are also rare but they can be found with a bit of effort. However, my records show only 4 dooubles have been for sale since the early 1970s). This market gun dates to April of 1887, has 41 1/2 inch barrels, and weighs 21 1/2 pounds! Originally she was chrome plated on the action and forend furniture to avoid salt water corrosion. The finish now is a luster blue but a local gunsmith suggested it may be the original black chrome (I need to research this). A working gun, she is totally void of any embellishment. The hole in the butt stock is for a lanyard rope--to keep the gun in the boat. Not from recoil as is commonly believed, but a spill generated by a capsized boat.

     The bores of this cannon are nearly one inch in diameter and the chambers four inches long. It is proved for  3 1/2 ounces of shot and the powder charge would have been 10-12 drams (275-330 grains). Both barrels are choked extra full (.080”--down to 6 gauge) so I have to wait until the clays begin to drop before pulling the trigger. If I’m off target and miss a few, I reduce the powder to 8 drams (220 grains) and increase the payload to 4 ounces of shot. Vaporizing clays is easy with 2340 little number 9 balls exiting each barrel! Recoil, however, is a bit of a jolt and the long barrels do not swing and follow through worth spit. But it is fun! Rocky Mountain brass is used in the 4 bore with the same loading procedures as with the 8. (Dave Casey’s company is answered prayer to shooters of antique firearms).

     It has been my fortune to enjoy shooting my older guns and can’t see any reason to keep such fine arms in the safe to appreciate (hopefully) in value. Would it not be nice if today’s companies made products that lasted over 100 years?

     If the suggestion not to read this article was not heeded by those who disagree with shooting Damascus barreled guns, allow me to make the following statement. I believe (and have done so for 30 years) that Damascus guns and rifles are safe to shoot it they are in sound and solid condition and the cartridge is loaded to the same velocity and pressure, the same weight of shot charge or weight and diameter of bullet as originally intended. Any firearm, antique or modern, loaded to excessive pressure or with the barrels in a weakened state is unsafe to shoot with any cartridge.

    In closing, two items. 1) The loads listed above work in the author’s arms only. They are not to be used in any other guns without the consultation of a competent gunsmith. Both the author and publisher accept no responsibility for the misuse of the information contained herein.  2) I believe some states allow gauges larger than 10 for turkey hunting. I would love to take the big 4 (and maybe the 8)  for turkey  someday and would appreciate information on what states allow it. If any readers can help with this, please e-mail the author at:

     From Thomas Bland & Sons: “This gun was manufactured as a 4 Bore Damascus double barrel shotgun. The gun action and forend iron was to be finished with chrome finish to protect the gun from the elements. The barrels were 41.5 inches of best Damascus. The forend was a wedge type for stability and of sturdy walnut. The stock was to be of sturdy walnut for strength. The pull was to be 14 1/8 inches. The weight was 21 pounds 6 ounces. The gun was completed and delivered on 18 April 1887. The address on the gun should be 106 Strand London. The gun was to have been furnished with the proper accessories for a 4-bore.”

     From the ledgers of Alexander Henry of Edinburgh: “Double central fire gun for ball, best quality, 8-bore, 23 inch Damascus, back lock, bolt safety, 1 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 14 1/8”, lever forend, sloping rear sight, very obtuse notch, 10 September 1883, 15 pounds 6 ounces, Kynoch solid brass shell 3 1/4”, 10 drams number 6, spherical bullet, for JL Laird MacGregor, Esq.”

     The mystery twin of this rifle, with a consecutive serial number only differs from the above by the following: 10 bore, 13 pounds 13 ounces, Kynoch solid drawn shell 2 7/8”, 7 drams. Yes, I am searching.

Photo captions:

1. Skeet with the 8 bore Henry
2. The 4 bore Bland
3. Blood is drawn after firing the big 4
4&5. Skeet is impossible with the tightly-choked 4 bore

Photo captions on Disc:

005. L-R 12g Scott, 10g Williams and Powell, 8g Henry, 4g Bland
011. T-B  4-8-10-12 gauge
012.  The 4 gauge Bland (top) and the Alex Henry 8
013.  To compare the size of the 12 gauge and the 4
014.  The 12 Scott and the 10 gauge W&P
015.  L-R the four guns from the breech. Note the size of the 10 bore.
017.  The breech of the 12 and 4. Note the case colors on grandfather’s 12 gauge
018.  10 gauge W&P
019.  12 gauge W&C Scott

020-021-022 The 8 gauge Alex Henry. The finest firearm I own.

Arctic Grizzly
by Cal Pappas

A confession is in order for an introduction. I’m really not much of a hunter. My passion is vintage (pre W.W.II) English and Scottish double rifles and I take them to the field occasionally as they were meant to be used in that fashion. To break it down, my sporting life is 90% doubles and 10% hunting. In the first few years of the new millennium I took some game in Alaska, Africa, and Australia. I guess I like places that begin with “A”. This is a short story of an arctic grizzly taken in east central Alaska, 25 miles south of the town of Eagle and about 5 miles from the Yukon border. Eagle is an early Alaska community on the banks of the mighty Yukon River and is a lovely combination of modern homes and century old log cabins.

Since rifles are my forte’ allow me to tell you a bit about one of my fine double rifles. Made by the London firm of Joseph Lang and completed on August 19th., 1904, my .450 no2 has an interesting history. It was originally purchased by Captain J.C.H. Grant, a retired officer in the Boer War in South Africa. The cost was a bit over 47 pounds. After his military service he settled in Kenya as a farmer. Farming was not quite up to his standard and he became a White Hunter and ordered the .450 no2 as his big game rifle. The rifle remained in Kenya until 1952 when it was returned to the factory for some work by its then owner, S. Toft, Esquire. The automatic safety was changed to non automatic (simply by removing the transfer bar), the three leaf sight was changed to a single fixed leaf, and the ejectors were removed and changed to extractors. (Upon my acquisition, two of the three items were brought back to the original standard).

For 48 years the whereabouts of the Lang was unknown. It did show up at a gun and antique shop in Anchorage, Alaska, in the year 2000. A best quality double rifle with full coverage engraving, drop points, and a 24-inch barrel...well, it was love at first sight. The problem was that the price quoted me was beyond reasonable and I passed on the purchase. I asked a friend to look at the rifle for his opinion. He is a much better customer than I and the proprietor quoted him a price over 1/3 lower than what I was quoted. The rifle was bought and I transferred funds to the buyer and took possession.

The condition is excellent for a well used rifle nearly a century old. The bores have a bit of cordite burn in them but the rifling is strong. The night sight was sans the ivory bead, and the length of pull was quite short. In following suit with many of my doubles, the Lang was sent to the fine gunsmiths at Griffin and Howe in Bernardsville, New Jersey. In a few months the rifle was returned to me with a fine express sight of three leaves, automatic safety, a stock refinish, ivory bead added, and a thick Silver’s recoil pad to lengthen the pull to my 14 3/4 inches. The barrels were blacked and the action strip cleaned. At a tad over 10 pounds she balances well and would be a dream to shoot (which I was soon to find out).

In developing a load my choice for powder was IMR 4831 due to the volume that fills the case to the base of the bullet. Using a formula of 1.33 times the original cordite charge I was able to tweak the formula a bit to come up with a load of 105 grains for a soft nose bullet and 102 grains for a solid bullet. Both group two inches at 50 yards which is more than acceptable for a century old double with open sights. I am fortunate to have a 50-yard shooting range in my front yard so load  development is quick and painless. I load four cartridges, step outside to my combination standing and seated rest and shoot. If the load needs adjustment, either up or down, it is a few steps to my basement reloading room and just as quick back out to the range. The freedom of rural living! Even more so in Alaska with no state gun laws. I can carry and shoot anything, anywhere, anytime, with no permit(s) required!

At the time I began my venture with the Lang, Woodleigh bullets were very scarce here in Alaska, even when ordering them from “outside” (an Alaska term for the Lower 48 states). I used Hornady 500-grain bullets that were abundant at local gun shows--and cheap! It seems many folks purchased a .458 Winchester or .460 Weatherby magnums and reloading components, discovered the recoil was beyond their comfort level, and sold the rifle and other items at reduced prices. Now, however, Woodleighs are available and I’ve made a few trips to Australia to hunt and always return with some bullets in the diameters I require. This, coupled with friends from down under who hunt in Alaska and bring me some boxes and an occasional order form Huntington Die, keeps me supplied well with the beloved Woodleighs.

With great accuracy, a velocity of 2150-2175 fps, it was time for a hunting trip. In the summer of 2003 I took the Lang to South Africa and Zimbabwe and took a nice cape buffalo and giraffe. Back to Alaska and it was time for an August trip to the wonderful and quaint town of Eagle on the Yukon River, just a few miles downstream from the border with Canada’s Yukon Territory. After dinner and camping in Eagle I backtracked about 25 miles south on the Taylor Highway to American Summit which is the only area of the road that is above the tree line. One can see for miles and miles and, with a good binocular and a bit of patience, it is possible to see caribou, moose, wolf, wolverine, sheep, black bear, and grizzly. Over the years I have seen and videoed all these--many times bringing my mother or a lady friend to the summit to camp and watch grizzly bears feeding on the carpet of wild blueberries that cover the tundra.

The drive from my home in Willow took about 10 hours. Camp was set up out of the back of my pickup for convenience and I spent several sunny days glassing the open country. In a low valley ahead of me I watched some moose feeding and a young caribou ran up behind me.  A near full curl Dall sheep crossed the hills. Then I noticed a back spot on the horizon that was moving. I don’t carry a spotting scope due to weight but my 10x40 Leica binocs brought him in close enough to tell me it was a bear. It was black as coal so I imagined it a black bear. However, it walked like a grizzly and had the telltale hump on his shoulders. I watched him closely. He was moving in my direction feeding on blueberries as he moved slowly across the tundra. I, too, was eating blueberries. It is a fact that when I hunt in the early fall I carry a bowl, spoon, and a can of whipped cream in my backpack!

As the bear moved towards me, still miles away, he began to move both down to the valley and to my left (north). He could only do a couple of things. I doubted he would stay in the low valley with the thick spruce trees as there would be few berries there. He could go south but the valley was lower and thicker with spruce. I knew he was not after the moose as he was moving too slowly. So, using a bit of logic I began moving to my left. Walking north I would parallel the bear; he on the east side of the valley and I on the west side. He would come into view off and on and the wind was right so he didn’t get my scent. We were both moving up hill and the brush in the valley’s lowest area was thinning rapidly. My hope was to get ahead of him and move east to head him off but a change in the wind foiled my plan.

Only one thing to do. I crossed through 100 yards of thick and low alders to meet up with him. Nearing the far side I saw just his ears and the top of his head. I whistled and he stood up looking. I was motionless and in a minute or less he dropped to all fours. I moved forward behind a small spruce tree, perhaps six inches in diameter and whistled again. Again he stood and looked, this time he was focused in my direction. Another whistle and he was on all four paws running towards me. This was not a charge by any stretch of the imagination. He was just curious as to what the whistling was and if it would taste good. When he was 8 paces from the tree I stepped to my left, shouldered the .450 no2 while moving the automatic safety to the off position and placing my finger on the back trigger. (I always shoot the left barrel first as I have a better grip on the rifle). I should also point out here my watching the bear told me there were no cubs present so it was a male or a barren female. It turned out to be a male grizzly.

When the grizz saw me he suddenly stopped. At that moment I shot and the bullet struck his brisket dead center. A spray of blood shot from his nose and mouth and he fell on his side, dead instantly. He was not a big bear but his claws belonged to a 10-footer. He had amazing toe nails! His coat was black as coal with a few small wisps of yellow mixed in. A beautiful early fall bear. 

After a photo or two I skinned the bear. Interestingly, his interior was shaded blue or purple from the blueberries he had been dining on the past few weeks. Berries were in his mouth, esophagus, stomach and in his intestines. His fat was blue/purple. So were his internal organs. After a bit of a rest I began the few miles of walking the tussock-covered tundra back to camp. My .450 in my hand and the green hide draped across my shoulders. On the last leg back to camp I walked the Taylor highway that connects Eagle with the Alaska Highway east of Tok. A tourist bus drove by and the driver slowed. Retirees from the Lower 48 don’t often see a tired and dirty hunter with a double rifle and a grizzly skin on his shoulders. Cameras were everywhere. In albums across the United States is a nameless Alaska hunter in them with a double rifle and a grizzly skin!

I fleshed and salted the hide after a delicious meal of military MRE and a diet Coke. With the chores completed I drifted off to unconsciousness in the bed of my pickup whilst reading Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee.

The bear was sealed in Eagle and I tanned the skin but over time sold, gave away, donated, or disposed of this and all of my Alaska or Africa taxidermy. I miss it a bit due to the unusual color and the outstanding time of the hunt: being far north, using a fine vintage double, shooting at close range after a long stalk, and the climate, eating wild blueberries, and being in an historical part of Alaska with a century plus of gold mining here and in the Yukon Territory. 

by Cal Pappas

                       “I know what you’re thinking, “‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’” Seeing how this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and can blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask your self, “’Am I feeling lucky?’”  Well, do you, punk?”

     And so began one of the most popular lines from Hollywood’s films. If you haven’t guessed already, Clint Eastwood is speaking to a wounded bank robber (played by Albert Popwell) in the opening action scene of Dirty Harry. Clint repeats the same lines again at the close of the film but with more a more dramatic ending. In both instances, the wounded criminal is down with a bullet wound in the shoulder. A bullet wound from the .44 that put a hole through the shoulder of the intended victim. The mighty .44 magnum didn’t blow anything, “clean off.” 

     No doubt about it, hype sells. Ask most publishers today and they will say that, “Just the facts, ma’am” are too dull to sell hunting articles, books, and dvds. I think most of the consumer public for such media knows hype from truth but most (myself included) enjoy hype to one level or another.

     For this article I define hype as mild to gross exaggeration of the facts. This includes animal charges, terminal bullet performance, recoil, and the perceived dangers of hunting big game. Please don’t get me wrong. The hype didn’t begin in the modern era. Over one hundred years ago writers were stretching the truth a bit for readership. It continues today many times over.

     I became interested in hype when my hunting and shooting experiences did not come close to what I’d read. The buffalo didn’t charge. The venomous snakes slithered away from me. The brown and grizzly bears seemed to mind their own business. When shot correctly the animal went down and when shot incorrectly the animal ran off. They didn’t get bowled over nor did their insides didn’t get blown to the outside. When shooting the biggest vintage guns and rifles (4-bores and .600s) I remained on my feet--and lived to tell the story. So, with respect to writers over the past generations as well as today, let me shed some light on hype by quoting various writers.

     “There wasn’t a body to fall out of the tree.” An excellent book on Winchester rifles titled The Winchester Lever Legacy, it is filled with reloading data for all of the lever action pieces of American history. The author’s premise is that the rifles can be loaded to impressive ballistics and not just kept at anemic black powder velocities. Using the example of shooting a raccoon out of a tree with a .45-90 the author states the force of the impact of the .300-grain bullet traveling at a bit over 2000 fps was so great that the raccoon just blew up on his perch! The reality is that a 300-grain bullet traveling at 1500 fps (black powder load) to 2200 fps (high velocity smokeless load) will put a .45 caliber hole through a raccoon. That’s all.

     “The recoil will spin you around 1/2 to 3/4 of a turn,” “After three shots (his) ears began to bleed,” “I have to rest ten minutes between shots (to recover), “The fillings in my teeth began to come loose,” “(It) was designed to knock an elephant flat on his butt,” “The buffalo did a summersault backwards,” “He shot from a prone position and the recoil lifted him up and over--a complete turn,” and there are countless more examples when writers refer to the .600 nitro express. The fact of the matter was best described by a fellow Alaska double rifle shooter who is rather new to the double rifle scene (being only 27 years old). He states, “When you first let me shoot your .600 I was a bit afraid of the kick because of what I had read in the past. After the first shot, it wasn’t so bad. Now that I’m used to it, it is no problem at all.”
     “A 4-gauge would weigh thirty-five pounds and fired a four-ounce bullet.” Quite a mis- statement about he rifle’s weight. One can’t shoulder a 35-pound rifle much less shoot it with any accuracy. The heaviest 4-bore I’ve seen is 24 pounds with most in the 21-22 pound area. Some single shots made for lighter charges and round balls tip the scales at 16-17 pounds but shoot 2-4 drams less powder.

     “...Sir Samuel Baker’s monster rifle called ‘Baby.’ This brute was...”  Over the generations many have written of Baker’s rifle as a 2-bore due to his statement it fired a 3500-grain projectile. A bit of history and a bit of common sense and logic will prove otherwise. First, a 2-bore would have a bore diameter of 1.325” (approximately) and a shoulder held rifle would weigh far more than anyone could reasonably manage to hold and shoot. 2-bores were common punt guns for waterfowl hunting from small boats and they were mounted in the boat semi permanently. Holland and Holland records have not revealed a 2-bore being produced as a sporting rifle. Also, Baker’s writings about the 3500-grain bullet describe an explosive shell weighing eight ounces. For a true 2-bore the 8-ounce projectile would have to be a round ball. Anything longer would equate to a heavier weight. Most likely what Baker had was a 4-bore firing a heavier than normal projectile with 10 drams of powder. 4-bores were fairly common and not “monster(s)” or “brutes.” 

     Dangerous Game has replaced Big Five over the past years. I guess “Dangerous” sounds more intimidating than “Big.” It’s dangerous game this and dangerous game that. Books carry the title. Ammunition carries the title. Even rifle rests (for those who want a dangerous game rifle but don’t want to feel any recoil when sighting in the rifle) carry the title. While numerous stories abound about the dangers of the “Big 5” and countless hunters return from Africa with tales of life-threatening charges (many from canned hunts in South Africa) I must wonder how dangerous these animals are? Potentially, they are all dangerous. However, subtract the number of actual charges and the number of actual victims from the total of animals hunted to see if the danger factor stretched a bit.

     One of my favorite writers is John Taylor. Perhaps he is my favorite. However, I did pick up some interesting ideas about Taylor’s writings over the years. (I am fortunate to have first editions of both African Rifles and Cartridges andPondoro. There is no doubt Taylor was broke financially throughout most, if not all, of his African career. And, there is no doubt of the soundness of his knowledge of ballistics, terminal bullet performance and penetration, and quality double rifles. As you read is works, do what I did: make a list of all the fine double riles he wrote of that he used. To me, it just does not add up. A man with limited income (and one who gave much of his money to the Africans when he did have any) living in remote Africa, owing dozens for the finest and most expensive rifles then in production. I know I could be all wrong on this and it is just my  opinion, but it still does not add up. 

     I also enjoy reading Peter Hathaway Capstick. I believe he is credited to reviving the African safari industry after a lull in the 1970s and early ‘80s. He had a magical way with words in describing the details of the African experience as no other then, previous, or since. (Kind of like the way Bob Dylan’s word and phrase usage was far above anyone else in his industry.) As you read Capstick’s books make a list of all the near death experiences he had, the animals that were the most dangerous, and the gory details of the kill. Compare those instances with how many years he was a PH and talk to other PHs with similar experiences. As much as I like PHC I think you will find (as did I) his facts are a bit blown out of proportion--but they do make for great reading!

     I have a few photos of well-known shooters in full recoil with .577 and .600 rifles. When I shoot mine, the muzzles rise about 8 inches on average. Photos of these shooters (with more shooting experience in a year that I will have in a lifetime) show the muzzles pointing to the sky like they are shooting ducks with the elephant rifle. There must be a mathematical formula that will equate distance of muzzle rise with the distance the rifle recoils to the rear. If such a formula exists it would be interesting to use it when looking at a photo of super recoil and compare muzzle rise with the rearward movement of the rifle.

     I read with interest probably the most famous gun writer and shooter in American literature. Of shooting a flying hawk with a revolver at 100 yards distance and hitting wooden doors at 1/3 of a mile with a Colt .45 SAA revolver. I wasn’t there. Neither was anyone else.

     Today I read with interest all the gadgets shooters use to make killing easier while hunting far less. Endless one shot kills, shooting cape buffalo at 900 yards with a 50 BMG, shooting via a video cam, using a rifle rest in the field for 500+ yards shots. Yes, technology makes such shots more possible than in the past but where has hunting--tracking, spotting, stalking, and finally making the shot--gone? While many use hype to bring readers to the edge of their seat, modern-day writers use technology-hype to thrill readers. “They don’t know how to hunt, and most can’t shoot worth a damn, but they can quote ballistics and range-finder yardage form memory” said a well-known professional hunter who wishes to remain anonymous. If he publicly denounces the super fast wiz-bang magnums and the foolish practices of clients, he may lose business. So, like most true PHs, he smiles and thinks to himself the truth he knows.

     In closing I must admit I enjoy reading hype-filled articles as much as the next guy but I also enjoy separating hype from truth. Perhaps the reality of hunting and shooting is too dull for factual articles. Maybe I need to think of some hype-filled statistics for my next piece on reloading or shooting for double rifles. Some examples:

“It took so much force to size a 4-bore case I tore my triceps tendon.”
“I only keep one barrel of my 4-bore loaded. I keep a Coke and lunch in the other.”
“My .600 Wilkes doubled on me and tore my right arm completely out of the shoulder socket. The tracker had to carry my rifle back to camp and the skinner carried my arm”
“In Zimbabwe the animals actually surrender when I’m in the jesse with my .600--I don’t have to shoot them--it has such a reputation.”
“Our Land Rover was stuck in the sand so bad we could not push it out. I put the butt of my 8-bore on the rear bumper and fired. The recoil actually moved the vehicle forward with such force it became unstuck!”
“A .600 will actually split an elephant or hippo in half.”
“My old 4-bore will shoot accurately to its military sights--1100 yards--and will shoot a 1-inch one shot group at that distance.”


Elmer Keith shooting Dr. Sutton’s .600 Jeffery in the 1930s (photo credit: American Rifleman). As much as I like Elmer’s writings on double rifles and large-caliber rifles in general, .600s don’t recoil this much. They just don’t.

King Solomon’s Mines
the story of a great African film
by Cal Pappas

     Written in 1885 by Sir H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines had three takes in Hollywood--the first was in 1937 with Cedric Hardwicke and Paul Robeson. The second starred Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr in 1950. Number three was in 1985 and featured Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. I doubt anyone will disagree with the statement that Granger’s film was the best of the three and (arguably) the best film on the African safari to come out of Tinsel Town--others being The Macomber Affair, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Mogambo, Out of Africa, and a few more. Great films all, but the subject of this article is at the top of the list in my opinion. While the film has been spoken of as a great African film, there are many errors in the film that the curious eye can easily pick up. When the African elephant is shot it is an Indian elephant with (very) false ears that charges. Also, crocs don’t stay still when stepped on. Many times when Granger is pointing out animals or geographical features the camera will show jungle, next is desert, the next will be the plains of East Africa. In Stewart Granger’s autobiography, Sparks Fly Upward, he tells the interesting story of the film’s production.

     Granger was a bit nervous when he flew to Hollywood to begin the film for two reasons. First, Sam Zimbalist (the producer) hired Granger without meeting him in person and there was some (unfounded) fear the working relationship may not be an easy one. Secondly, Deborah Kerr and Granger had a torrid affair some time prior and Granger was concerned not only about their past relationship but of Kerr’s current husband, Tony Bartlett, whom Granger introduced to Kerr. All worries were set aside when all got along great from the start. 

     While in Hollywood John Huston (the director of  The Maltese Falcon--with Bogart, Lorre, Greenstreet, and Astor) asked Granger to try out for the lead role in Quo Vadis which would begin shooting when KSM was completed. He read the script and a young Liz Taylor was present. The part was eventually given to Robert Taylor (who starred with Deborah Kerr.)

     On to London where Granger received typhoid, paratyphoid, tetanus, cholera, smallpox, and yellow fever shots. Granger held back no words when he spoke his disapproval of the director, Compton Bennett. And, Bennett greeted Granger in London with, “I have to tell you right now that I wanted Errol Flynn in the part.” Also in London he went to visit Westley Richards and spoke to Malcolm Lyell--”a charming fellow.” Lyell fitted Granger with a pair of Holland and Holland rifles--a .240 and a .375 and a Westley .577 double. Stewart was to do a bit of sport shooting whilst on location.

     From the UK, Granger and crew took a flying boat to Africa. The trip took three days, via Naples and Khartoum, before landing in Kenya’s Lake Niavasha. He noted the animals he saw as well as the people--both Africans and Europeans. The first shooting of film was in the town of Machakos, a driving distance from Nairobi. It was here that Granger was introduced to the famous Philip Percival, the “Dean of White Hunters,” who had hunted with Ernest Hemingway. Percival suggested Granger improve his hunting outfit to look more the part of the traditional White Hunter. Granger added the famous leopard skin hat band, sewed cartridge loops to his shirt, and carried a revolver. Alan Tarleton, who supplied the snakes used in the film, loaned him a Colt .45 Frontier. He also noted gravestones with the inscription, “Killed by Buffalo,” in Nairobi.

     Over 60 years ago (1949) Stewart Granger noted some facts about Africa’s black population that would be politically incorrect today. He states European slavers did not capture slaves themselves, but rather bought slaves from coastal tribes who went inland on slave raids.  He also writes authoritatively on how the media reported on European exploitation of Africa while he observed the planters and farmers taking good care of the workers.

     The Norfolk Hotel was left behind for the Northern Frontier District with Safariland, one of the most famous outfitters in Kenya. In Rumaruti Kerr Hartley supplied a tame rhino, a young one, for the rhino scene. Granger suggested he and his White Hunter actually hunt a rhino and capture the kill (and hopefully a charge) on film. The famous John Hunter was in camp with Hartley and agreed to be the white hunter. All three liked the idea but Hollywood nixed it as he was too valuable--the picture would be terminated if Granger was killed or injured. How did Hollywood know the the rhino idea? The director wired the information--the director who did not get along well with Granger--Bennett!

     Next, to Mt. Meru where the Masai and Kikuyu were hired to play supporting parts. At Machakos two Masai had killed two Kikuyu and the tribes were ill at ease with each other. The last days of filming were in the foothills of Mt. Kenya staying a stately house built by a wealthy French lady. Later, the actor William Holden bought the house and turned it into the Mount Kenya Safari Club. At Mt. Kenya Philip Percival introduced Granger to Eric Rungren, a very well-known White Hunter. Rungren had just been chewed up by a leopard and was on the mend. Eric asked Granger if he would like to come on a buffalo control operation. A rogue buffalo was the terror of local villages and Granger swore everyone to secrecy as the hunt would have been also terminated by the director. Granger used a double trigger .470 and he was uncomfortable with it as his .577 was equipped with Westley’s famous single trigger. Granger recalls:

     “Then it stood up and I saw it. It was only about seventy yards away and, shaking with excitement, I tried to line up on its shoulder as it took off. There was a shattering roar in the stillness and the buff flinched as I heard the thunk of the striking bullet. Then, before I could get in another shot, it disappeared into the thick thorn...Whispering to Eric...I realized that the buff had come ‘round in a circle and was now heading straight for me. Eric yelled to me to shoot and as the gun came up to my shoulder...I fired and the bullet hit the buff high up in the head, dazing it a bit. Frantically I squeezed the trigger but in my excitement I’d squeezed the same one and of course nothing happened. I think the buff was as confused as I was, as it hit me in the ribs with the side of its horn, throwing me into the thorn bush and I could feel the blast of Eric’s gun  as he let off with both barrels. But that didn’t stop the buff either. He trampled over Eric and started to turn. I finally squeezed off my second shot and reloading, put two more into its shoulder, but it still wouldn’t go down...Eric...(shot)...upward from a lying position...and that finally dropped it.”

     There is a scene in the film where Granger and Alan Tarleton’s cobra have a go of it. Granger wanted Tarleton to milk the snake of its venom but, Tarleton said, if done the cobra would not flare its hood. So, the snake’s mouth was taped shut to protect the film’s star. In the scene the tape came off and Granger was shaken a bit by being so close to a dangerous snake. “There is something else I didn’t tell you,” said Tarleton, “That’s a spitting cobra. He could have blinded you.”

     At Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile all the actors were given sleeping sickness shots. Granger came down ill with the shot and had a fever of 103 degrees. Kerr, showed no ill effects at all. Here, at the Falls, Deborah Kerr cuts her long hair to make it more manageable. Granger reminisces, “She looked as if she’d just come out of a hairdresser’s which, of course she had. It got a big laugh which was a pity as the rest of the film was so realistic.” After the Falls, the actors and crew flew to Kampala to recover in a hospital. Granger had a colonoscopy to check for amebic dysentery. “Don’t do that too often, or you might get to like it” was quipped to Granger as he was on the table.

     The filming was completed with the Watussi tribe. The men were over 7 feet tall and built the palace by hand, with no nails, that is shown in the film. By now all water was filtered through a distillation plant to keep everyone healthy and MGM flew in turkey and plum pudding for the Christmas, 1949, dinner.
     The next year King Solomon’s Mines was released and was very popular. It was an important part in the post war African films. This was a time when African big game hunting was a respected adventure and many magazines, including Playboy, printed articles of the hunt. Hundred-pound elephants were attainable on a 30-day safari but these were times when only the well-to-do hunted Africa. It was to be decades before the average working man would begin to populate Africa’s game fields. 

     In 1967 Stewart Granger starred in a second film in Africa. The Last Safari plots Granger seeking to shoot a huge elephant what killed his friend. Granger’s role is outstanding. The two costars, Kaz Garas and Gabriella Licudi, should get an award for the worst acting in history. In his later years, Granger retired to his southern Arizona ranch, near  Patagonia, about 30 miles from the author’s winter residence.


Granger and Kerr. Note the famous leopard skin hat band.

The dvd cover for King solomon’s Mines.

Granger shouldering a big 8-bore. This rifle was in MGMs arsenal and stamped “MGM” on the right of the grip.

Granger removing smoking cartridge cases from the 8-bore.

Video cover for The Last Safari.

Reverse for The Last Safari showing a nice Holland and Holland double rifle. Kaz Garas carries a Winchester Model 70 in .458.

Where it All Began

by Cal Pappas

Welcome to my new web site! It details the two passions in my life--double rifles and hunting in Africa. The site will not be the gospel according to Cal--my ego is not that big. Rather, it will be a source of information on the two area that excite me, and hopefully you, too. I’ll begin with posting dozens of articles from the 1950s and 1960s. Many are unknown to today’s hunters and shooters of double rifles. (I believe the copyright has expired but, since I’m not selling anything here, I hope any transgressions can be forgiven). As time goes by, I will post reloading data, photos of my doubles and well as from many friends within my circle. Photos of my hunts as well as some of the PHs I have hunted with. And, most importantly, contributions are welcomed. Send me as much stuff as you can! The only items I have but will not post now are those involving the .600 nitro express and extensive reloading data for the bore rifles (10 to 4 bore) as I am working on books for both of these topics.

To introduce myself, I graduated high school in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts in 1973, went to college in Mass. (Greenfield, Fitchburg and UMass-Amherst), taught school for four years in Mass and Vermont and moved to Alaska in 1984. By the late eighties I developed in interest in double rifles and Africa. Interestingly, my first experience in African hunting literature was through my mother’s books (Bell and Hunter for two). She was an artist and the only books she could find with African animals was in the hunting books. And, during my junior year i high school, mom bought me the 1972 Guns and Ammo Annual. If you can find a copy, read a dozen articles on Africa and the big bore double rifles. At           $ 3.95  It changed my life!  I still have the issue today. It is bound in clear tape to hold it together and I still glance at it now as I did 36 years earlier.

Then, in the mid-1980s, I dated an art teacher at the high school I was working at. She had a copy of Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure bu B. Bull. No doubt, on of the best books I have ever read that gives a chronology of African hunting from the early 1800s to the 1980s. From there I was on a mission ot sell my Winchester collection and acquire double rifles. I was bitten and had the fever!

So, that is where it all began for me. I have articles published in the Double Gun Journal, The Winchester Collector, and The African Hunter. I currently write The Doubles Column for the AH and would encourage all of you to subscribe to this, the finest of the African hunting magazines. I currently shoot and hunt only with double riles and own or have owned a .450-400 3”, .450 no2, .600, .450 bpe, .500 bpe, 20-.577 light nitro, 8 bore, 7 bore, and am currently looking for a 4 bore double. I have hunted Africa 12 times and August of 2008 will see yet another.

Enjoy the site. My only stipulation is that to enter you must click on and agree to the conditions of the disclaimer about reloading, shooting, and hunting. Other than that, read, have fun, send me your double rifle and African stuff, hunting and shooting experiences, reloading data, questions (I will try to answer or direct you to one who can), and general comments. And, one request. If you write something to put on the site, please use language your mother or pastor will approve of. We can express ourselves without using language that will make another blush! Thanks!