4 Bore Smoothbores for dangerous game?

Red Leg

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That is the design I was thinking of, thanks for the correction/clarification. Your William Evans sounds like quite a firearm.
They are simply amazing things. Saw a lovely Westley Richards “Explora” just a few months ago at a gun show. Some barbarian at some point had bored out all that pesky rifling.
 

4 Bore

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Welcome to AH 4 Bore. Excuse the hijack as I know preciously little about large bore shotguns/ smooth bores. It sounds like a lovely battery you have and are building. I never realized Watson Bros used the Westley Richards droplock design on their shotguns. Please post a close up photo of that 7mm Rigby in your profile. I’m a big fan of them. The rifle seems to have a few features resembling an early Brno ZKK600, with the pistolgrip and fore-end checkering pattern, hollow bolt knob, rear receiver pop-up peep sight button notch, rear sight etc. Its difficult to make out the detail as Avatar pictures are of such low resolution.

Regards,
Dewald
Hello , Dewald. It is a pleasure to be here and l hope to be a humble contributor here. I am glad that you took interest in my 7 MM Mauser. I apologise for being unclear about my Gun. You are right. It is from the brand " BRNO" . But the caliber is 7MM Mauser or .275 Rigby. The Ammunition retailers in my country call it 7MM Rigby Mauser.
So , in Depth , My current Battery is as follows :
1) A 7 MM Mauser / .275 Rigby Caliber Bolt action rifle by BRNO , gifted to me by my Grandfather who originally owned the gun. I use it to take thin skinned game , like Antelope or deer sized game
2)A 12 bore 2.75 inch chamber Beretta Over under shotgun with fixed chokes. The upper barrel is quarter choke . The lower barrel is half choke. This gun also used to belong to my grandfather and he gifted it to me . I use it for Waterfowl and upland game. I originally wanted a side by side 12 bore , Because it looked traditional , but actual shooting made me find the over under to be more accurate.

3) A .450 Nitro Express Double Rifle made by John Rigby . I bought this gun myself , after saving years of my wages as a lawyer. I use Hornady solids with it and it is my favourite all round weapon. I have used solid bullets for cape buffalo and expanding bullets for deer sized game. I really like it because it is more than powerful enough to reliably stop dangerous game ( even in a charge ) , while still being acceptable to use on the lighter class of game with the right kind of bullets , unlike a .577 NE or a .600 NE . It also has a very controllable recoil and outstanding accuracy ( something l was not expecting in a double ).
If l was allowed only 2 guns on the Safari , l would content myself with only the .450 NE and the Shotgun. But luckily l also use the beautiful 7mm.
To this modest but effective battery , l was considering adding the 4 bore double Smoothbore made for me by Watson Brothers. I was under the impression that it would be a better weapon than my .450 NE when faced with a charging animal ( the .450 Has done really good in this aspect , having dropped a charging buffalo once ). I was also under the impression that someday , l might use it as an elephant gun. But you experienced gentlemen have convinced me otherwise. I shall stick to my .450 NE as my dangerous game rifle
 

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By the weight of the shot charge yours sounds like it is likely a 12 gauge? Is that typical of the design?
 

4 Bore

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Fascinating post and cool project! Just curious 4 bore, why have you decided not to fit it with rifled barrels? Did you consider partially rifled barrels, I.e. the old cape guns?
Hello , sir. To answer your question , Watson Brothers doesn't make a rifled 4 bore . They only make 4 bore shotguns.
Also , when l had this gun in mind at first , l wanted a Smoothbore , because of the (flawed) idea that it could be a multi purpose piece , using solid slugs for dangerous game and Birdshot for Fowl and SSG for Small deer . It was only much later that l was informed that a 4 bore Double barrel Smoothbore with zero chokes , will be absolutely useless for throwing any kind of shot , at an acceptable pattern. Without some choke present , there will be large holes in the pattern through which birds or small game can escape lightly injured or even completely unharmed. I still went forward with the idea , thinking that at least l would have a good 4 bore ball gun for elephant and cape buffalo , which can help me in the unfortunate event of a charge . Now , l realized that the only thing l can use this gun on , are picked shot on a cape buffalo ( exclusively broadside shots / lung shots ) .
 

4 Bore

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By the weight of the shot charge yours sounds like it is likely a 12 gauge? Is that typical of the design?
Which gun are you talking about , sir ? My 4 bore Smoothbore or my 12 bore shotgun ?
 

4 Bore

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Truly not meaning to quibble, but that is 4.5 inches from where the rifle is actually pointed on firing - not the “aim point”. Inherent rifle (or musket) accuracy buys insurance against inaccuracy introduced by the shooter. That additional MOA is always there - a little or a lot. Considering that your erstwhile client will have been lugging that cannon around the jesse for a bit, that shooter induced inaccuracy could be meaningful. Though I suppose if one can afford a bespoke 4-bore double shotgun, one can hire a gun bearer (y) - it would be appropriate to the period. Though it should be considerably lighter than a 4 bore rifle.

Look, I love these old things. I have a good friend who has taken buffalo with a 10, 12, and even a 20 bore paradox. (I have taken a brace of warthog with mine.) However, all three of his we’re extraordinarily accurate inside 100 meters, and each was firing specially constructed bullets hand made by Ross Seyfried for the purpose of penetrating a buffalo. I will concede that a hard-cast 4 bore slug tucked low in the chest just behind the foreleg will likely kill any buffalo in Africa. However, that is a pretty precise target even at thirty-meters. I have much less confidence such a projectile would reach both lungs. Certainly not enough that I would want to try it.
I agree with you , Sir. Paradox guns are infinitely more accurate than a Smoothbore . My grandfather currently uses a 12 bore Holland and Holland Paradox gun himself for deer. He had his one made in 2012
 

4 Bore

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Fascinating post and cool project! Just curious 4 bore, why have you decided not to fit it with rifled barrels? Did you consider partially rifled barrels, I.e. the old cape guns?
Regarding the Cape Gun question , l assume you mean those doubles which have one rifled barrel and one Smoothbore barrel . I don't think anyone ever made a cape gun in 4 bore .
Regarding Partially rifled barrels ( i.e like paradox guns ) , l do believe that the largest size ever made for a paradox gun was 8 bore.
I have never seen a 4 bore paradox , sir . Or even heard of one .
 

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Truly not meaning to quibble, but that is 4.5 inches from where the rifle is actually pointed on firing - not the “aim point”. Inherent rifle (or musket) accuracy buys insurance against inaccuracy introduced by the shooter. That additional MOA is always there - a little or a lot. Considering that your erstwhile client will have been lugging that cannon around the jesse for a bit, that shooter induced inaccuracy could be meaningful. Though I suppose if one can afford a bespoke 4-bore double shotgun, one can hire a gun bearer (y) - it would be appropriate to the period. Though it should be considerably lighter than a 4 bore rifle.

Look, I love these old things. I have a good friend who has taken buffalo with a 10, 12, and even a 20 bore paradox. (I have taken a brace of warthog with mine.) However, all three of his we’re extraordinarily accurate inside 100 meters, and each was firing specially constructed bullets hand made by Ross Seyfried for the purpose of penetrating a buffalo. I will concede that a hard-cast 4 bore slug tucked low in the chest just behind the foreleg will likely kill any buffalo in Africa. However, that is a pretty precise target even at thirty-meters. I have much less confidence such a projectile would reach both lungs. Certainly not enough that I would want to try it.

I totally agree and at 20 lbs or so, a gun bearer would have to be part of the team. The client would be better off carrying his 450 NE and only switch over to the 4 bore when a possibility to use it may arise.

Definitely not for everyone and everything will have to be just right to make it work, but I reckon it would be a fun hunt and a huge challenge to achieve.
 

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Hello , Dewald. It is a pleasure to be here and l hope to be a humble contributor here. I am glad that you took interest in my 7 MM Mauser. I apologise for being unclear about my Gun. You are right. It is from the brand " BRNO" . But the caliber is 7MM Mauser or .275 Rigby. The Ammunition retailers in my country call it 7MM Rigby Mauser.
So , in Depth , My current Battery is as follows :
1) A 7 MM Mauser / .275 Rigby Caliber Bolt action rifle by BRNO , gifted to me by my Grandfather who originally owned the gun. I use it to take thin skinned game , like Antelope or deer sized game
2)A 12 bore 2.75 inch chamber Beretta Over under shotgun with fixed chokes. The upper barrel is quarter choke . The lower barrel is half choke. This gun also used to belong to my grandfather and he gifted it to me . I use it for Waterfowl and upland game. I originally wanted a side by side 12 bore , Because it looked traditional , but actual shooting made me find the over under to be more accurate.

3) A .450 Nitro Express Double Rifle made by John Rigby . I bought this gun myself , after saving years of my wages as a lawyer. I use Hornady solids with it and it is my favourite all round weapon. I have used solid bullets for cape buffalo and expanding bullets for deer sized game. I really like it because it is more than powerful enough to reliably stop dangerous game ( even in a charge ) , while still being acceptable to use on the lighter class of game with the right kind of bullets , unlike a .577 NE or a .600 NE . It also has a very controllable recoil and outstanding accuracy ( something l was not expecting in a double ).
If l was allowed only 2 guns on the Safari , l would content myself with only the .450 NE and the Shotgun. But luckily l also use the beautiful 7mm.
To this modest but effective battery , l was considering adding the 4 bore double Smoothbore made for me by Watson Brothers. I was under the impression that it would be a better weapon than my .450 NE when faced with a charging animal ( the .450 Has done really good in this aspect , having dropped a charging buffalo once ). I was also under the impression that someday , l might use it as an elephant gun. But you experienced gentlemen have convinced me otherwise. I shall stick to my .450 NE as my dangerous game rifle

A wise choice. You may want to look into some other ammunition.
 

Dewald

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Hello , Dewald. It is a pleasure to be here and l hope to be a humble contributor here. I am glad that you took interest in my 7 MM Mauser. I apologise for being unclear about my Gun. You are right. It is from the brand " BRNO" . But the caliber is 7MM Mauser or .275 Rigby. The Ammunition retailers in my country call it 7MM Rigby Mauser.
So , in Depth , My current Battery is as follows :
1) A 7 MM Mauser / .275 Rigby Caliber Bolt action rifle by BRNO , gifted to me by my Grandfather who originally owned the gun. I use it to take thin skinned game , like Antelope or deer sized game
2)A 12 bore 2.75 inch chamber Beretta Over under shotgun with fixed chokes. The upper barrel is quarter choke . The lower barrel is half choke. This gun also used to belong to my grandfather and he gifted it to me . I use it for Waterfowl and upland game. I originally wanted a side by side 12 bore , Because it looked traditional , but actual shooting made me find the over under to be more accurate.

3) A .450 Nitro Express Double Rifle made by John Rigby . I bought this gun myself , after saving years of my wages as a lawyer. I use Hornady solids with it and it is my favourite all round weapon. I have used solid bullets for cape buffalo and expanding bullets for deer sized game. I really like it because it is more than powerful enough to reliably stop dangerous game ( even in a charge ) , while still being acceptable to use on the lighter class of game with the right kind of bullets , unlike a .577 NE or a .600 NE . It also has a very controllable recoil and outstanding accuracy ( something l was not expecting in a double ).
If l was allowed only 2 guns on the Safari , l would content myself with only the .450 NE and the Shotgun. But luckily l also use the beautiful 7mm.
To this modest but effective battery , l was considering adding the 4 bore double Smoothbore made for me by Watson Brothers. I was under the impression that it would be a better weapon than my .450 NE when faced with a charging animal ( the .450 Has done really good in this aspect , having dropped a charging buffalo once ). I was also under the impression that someday , l might use it as an elephant gun. But you experienced gentlemen have convinced me otherwise. I shall stick to my .450 NE as my dangerous game rifle

Please don’t apologize. What country are you from?

I wish I could afford a .450 by Rigby after years of saving at your age.
 

Red Leg

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I agree with you , Sir. Paradox guns are infinitely more accurate than a Smoothbore . My grandfather currently uses a 12 bore Holland and Holland Paradox gun himself for deer. He had his one made in 2012
I am remiss in failing to welcome you to the site! You will find a friendly group hangs out here - and most of us, old curmudgeons enough to be a bit jealous of you getting started on this wonderful sport of ours. That gun of your grandfather’s has to be a special thing. My Evans does not like the new H&H ammunition as much as Ross’s handloads, but out to seventy yards it is still minute of wild boar.

Curious the shotgun purpose of the 4 bore? In North America, before they were outlawed, they were used by waterfowl market hunters - normally from a “sneak boat” to fire into rafts of ducks or to crawl up on flocks of geese (something of a refined or modernized punt gun). Even one by Watson Bros would have pretty challenging dynamics to use on flying game. I suspect the local sporting clays or driven shoot wouldn’t be entirely glad to see it either. ;) I am under the impression that in some areas of the UK the big bores can still be used on waterfowl?
 
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WAB

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Hello , sir. To answer your question , Watson Brothers doesn't make a rifled 4 bore . They only make 4 bore shotguns.
Also , when l had this gun in mind at first , l wanted a Smoothbore , because of the (flawed) idea that it could be a multi purpose piece , using solid slugs for dangerous game and Birdshot for Fowl and SSG for Small deer . It was only much later that l was informed that a 4 bore Double barrel Smoothbore with zero chokes , will be absolutely useless for throwing any kind of shot , at an acceptable pattern. Without some choke present , there will be large holes in the pattern through which birds or small game can escape lightly injured or even completely unharmed. I still went forward with the idea , thinking that at least l would have a good 4 bore ball gun for elephant and cape buffalo , which can help me in the unfortunate event of a charge . Now , l realized that the only thing l can use this gun on , are picked shot on a cape buffalo ( exclusively broadside shots / lung shots ) .

A conundrum to be certain. However, if it is proofed for heavy charges with a conical bullet it will have some utility on game. I would steer well clear of roundballs for hunting. I’ve done a fair bit of traditional muzzleloader work over the years. The difference in performance between roundballs and conicals is stark. To the point that I even went to buffalo Bal-ets (a short slug designed for use in slow twist guns) in my rb guns.
 

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Please don’t apologize. What country are you from?

I wish I could afford a .450 by Rigby after years of saving at your age.
I am from Bangladesh. Luckily , most people in Bangladesh are very pro- hunting and we have yearly deer and duck seasons here .
But my family is into the shipping business , so l got the travel the world a lot , before l became a lawyer and decided to settle down in my home land. I still visit Africa every Year , with my Maternal Grandfather who is a passionate hunter ( even at the age of 75 , he fires a 12 bore Paradox , without even flinching or showing any signs of recoil ).
Regarding my .450 NE by Rigby , l got extremely lucky. That gun belonged to a local Landlord here from the 1930s ( During British Colonial Era ) . After he died , his Great Grand children were selling off his things in 2016. The kids didn't have any idea that they were selling off a double rifle. They thought they were selling off a Double barrelled side by side shotgun , and so they priced it stupidly cheap :p . I had a good look at the gun one day and saw that it is in perfect working order ( with the original gun case too ! :D ) . It might have been immoral of me not to correct them on what an expensive handmade beauty they were selling , but l did the only thing any reasonable sensible guy will do in that situation. I bought the gun for the Bangladeshi equivalent of 950 pounds :D I immediately bought some Hornady ammunition for my .450 NE and took it to our local shooting club to try it out.
In many ways , l like my vintage gun more than the currently made Rigby Double rifles . Currently Rigby doesn't make rifles in .450 NE anymore. They only make them in .450/400 NE , which has a little less stopping power than the .450 NE ( from what l have read , anyway ) . The gun works exceptionally , and the only damage to the gun , was that the leather on the gun case was rotting when l bought it . I easily rectified that problem , by finding a good leather worker who restored my guncase perfectly.
One thing does worry me , though . My fire arms instructor told me that many old Big game rifles have the rifling in them wear out after years of use. Till now , l put 46 rounds through that gun and it works perfectly , but sometimes l worry about what to do if my .450 NE's rifling wears out :(
 

4 Bore

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A conundrum to be certain. However, if it is proofed for heavy charges with a conical bullet it will have some utility on game. I would steer well clear of roundballs for hunting. I’ve done a fair bit of traditional muzzleloader work over the years. The difference in performance between roundballs and conicals is stark. To the point that I even went to buffalo Bal-ets (a short slug designed for use in slow twist guns) in my rb guns.
Do smoothbores even fire conical bullets ? I thought they needed rifling to stabilize them ?
 

4 Bore

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I am remiss in failing to welcome you to the site! You will find a friendly group hangs out here - and most of us, old curmudgeons enough to be a bit jealous of you getting started on this wonderful sport of ours. That gun of your grandfather’s has to be a special thing. My Evans does not like the new H&H ammunition as much as Ross’s handloads, but out to seventy yards it is still minute of wild boar.

Curious the shotgun purpose of the 4 bore? In North America, before they were outlawed, they were used by waterfowl market hunters - normally from a “sneak boat” to fire into rafts of ducks or to crawl up on flocks of geese (something of a refined or modernized punt gun). Even one by Watson Bros would have pretty challenging dynamics to use on flying game. I suspect the local sporting clays or driven shoot wouldn’t be entirely glad to see it either. ;) I am under the impression that in some areas of the UK the big bores can still be used on waterfowl?
They can be used legally in the UK , Bangladesh , all of Europe :) They are usually Fully choked though and used with AAA shot . In Bangladesh though , 12 bore is the universally used Calibre .
Mine is a chokeless Smoothbore 4 bore for firing slugs or ball
 

Russ-F

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Red Leg:
4 bores & punt guns can still be used for wildfowl shooting in the UK.

I used a 4 bore for wildfowling for many years.

4 Bore:
I’d question the practicality of using a gun designed for 16 dram loads which will weigh over 20 pounds as a ‘shotgun’ for wing-shooting. A four bore shotgun firing 4oz of shot would normally use 8 or 9 dram loads & so can weigh a ‘reasonable’ 15 to 16 pounds which is ok as regards recoil (although there’s still a lot of it) & still handles effectively. I think you either need a 4 bore rifle or a 4 bore shotgun but not try to make one specification do the two jobs. Alternatively have two sets of barrels - a set of heavy rifled barrels for your buffalo & some lighter smoothbore ones for wing-shooting. If Watsons can’t do rifled barrels (the rifled tubes are available in the UK trade) then perhaps consider another maker.

As regards the concern that un-choked barrels are going to throw patterns with lots of holes in – they’ll produce around 40% patterns (at 40 yards) just like a 12 bore will. The thing is you’ve got more than 3 times the shot charge so as ever it comes down to how far you expect to shoot birds at.

Thanks for clarifying the origin of your 7x57.
 

4 Bore

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Red Leg:
4 bores & punt guns can still be used for wildfowl shooting in the UK.

I used a 4 bore for wildfowling for many years.

4 Bore:
I’d question the practicality of using a gun designed for 16 dram loads which will weigh over 20 pounds as a ‘shotgun’ for wing-shooting. A four bore shotgun firing 4oz of shot would normally use 8 or 9 dram loads & so can weigh a ‘reasonable’ 15 to 16 pounds which is ok as regards recoil (although there’s still a lot of it) & still handles effectively. I think you either need a 4 bore rifle or a 4 bore shotgun but not try to make one specification do the two jobs. Alternatively have two sets of barrels - a set of heavy rifled barrels for your buffalo & some lighter smoothbore ones for wing-shooting. If Watsons can’t do rifled barrels (the rifled tubes are available in the UK trade) then perhaps consider another maker.

As regards the concern that un-choked barrels are going to throw patterns with lots of holes in – they’ll produce around 40% patterns (at 40 yards) just like a 12 bore will. The thing is you’ve got more than 3 times the shot charge so as ever it comes down to how far you expect to shoot birds at.

Thanks for clarifying the origin of your 7x57.
Sir , that's exactly the problem. I tried getting one gun that could do both. I figured that since l already own two rifles and a shotgun , l could have a gun made which could serve both purposes. Then , l got the 4 bore. It will weigh 20 pounds and have 26 inch barrels. I knew from the beginning , that it wouldn't be the ideal weight for wingshooting , but l can carry a 20 pound gun slung on my shoulder for an hour or so , without feeling much discomfort. ( I carried a friend's .600 NE Double once , the whole day , during our walk from camp ) It wasnt going to be a dedicated wing shooting gun . More of a Ball Gun , which can be used for taking down wild fowl in a pinch. And what you said about the 40 % pattern is exactly what my gunmakers said . He said that a 4 bore carteicar carries 3 times the shot of a 12 bore. BUT he also added that with ZERO choke , the pattern would be bad , since it would spread TOO much , with many holes in it. I still went forward with the idea of getting the gun hoping that at least it would be a powerful Smoothbore ball gun.
And l 100 % agree with you about having two sets of barrels ( one rifled for bullet and one choked for shot ) . It would be a good thing indeed. I suppose l was tempted at the idea of being able to use both bullet and shot from the same set of barrels without needing to change it in the field ( Because even though l don't object to carrying a 20 pound 4 bore , l wouldn't always want to carry a spare set of barrels with me ).
Then l found out that a 4 bore Smoothbore firing slug would lack the penetration / stopping energy of a Rifle . This combined with the " Dinner plate " accuracy up to 50 yards , got me to realize that l could only use it for lungshot via broadside at very close range and that it won't be a " charge stopper " like l thought.
 

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Are you committed to the 4 bore? It sounds like you want a 12 ga paradox gun.
 

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Are you committed to the 4 bore? It sounds like you want a 12 ga paradox gun.
I often get to fire my Grandfather's 12 bore Paradox , sir. I just wanted a 4 bore , because of the RAW stopping power l thought those quarter pound projectiles would offer
 

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an interesting part of this discussion is the need to harden projectiles in order to get anything like penetration.
today, the commonest way to harden lead bullets is by adding tin.
the max hardness that can be obtained with tin added is 1 part tin to 10 parts lead.
to go harder you need to add antimony, but this cannot alloy with lead unless ton is also present.
the problem with antimony is that the harder the bullet gets, the more inclined it is to shatter on striking a target.
this could be signing your own death warrant on dangerous game.
the victorians used mercury added to lead to harden it, but who wants to do that!
hardened conical bullets would be a given for dangerous game, which means a rifled barrel.
bruce.
 

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