Greener .577

Discussion in 'Double Rifles' started by Thomas Rutledge, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    I've wanted a double rifle my entire life and now I have one. I bought a Greener built in 1897 on a sovereign action. Its .577. Its the only large bore Greener I have seen but no others on the internet I can find. I have a report from Graham Greener describing it as a mid grade and its proofed for .577 NE 3" Any info on these rifles would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
     

  2. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    If, as you say, it is one of the early NE rather than BPE rifles, then you have a very useful DG rifle. Graham has a very comprehensive book on the history of Greener and its guns. https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Se...ome-_-Results&an=graham+greener&tn=&kn=&isbn= Not the cheapest, but now that you have joined the Greener Society, not a bad addition to the library. The Sovereign was one of Greener's strongest actions early in the nitro era, hence its use on a big double rifle. The rifle would have originally been regulated for a cordite loading. Assuming the barrels are still in good shape, and the solder still solid, I am sure you can work up a load which will regulate well. Greener's rifles were not Holland & Holland Royals, but were extremely well made "working" rifles. As you note, they are rather scarce. They made large quantities of export shotguns during this period which generated far better margin than bespoke rifles. Would love to see some photos of your new acquisition. If you haven't, you really should get that rifle to a competent double rifle expert, and have him go over it very carefully (depending upon where you purchased it, that may have already occurred?) 100+ year-old rifles and guns have a way of attracting the attention of shade tree gunsmiths with no clue what they are doing with a double rifle. Better to get things right now than discover it at the range or on safari.
     

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  3. mdwest

    mdwest AH Elite

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    thread.is.useless.without.pics.

    just sayin....

    :)
     

  4. crs

    crs AH Enthusiast

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    Let us see that prairie dog rifle of yours. Pix please.
     
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  5. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    Thanks Guys. Pics to follow. I will need my Son to help me with that.
     

  6. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    This was very helpful. Thanks.
     

  7. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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  8. mdwest

    mdwest AH Elite

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    Color me jealous! Nice double!
     
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  9. Travis2282

    Travis2282 AH Veteran

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    Beautiful rifle!
     

  10. ve7poi

    ve7poi AH Enthusiast

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    Very nice double
     

  11. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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  12. Pondoro

    Pondoro AH Fanatic

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    A great find....(y)
     

  13. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    I would consider shooting the rifle to regulate. My concern is the rifles age and the fact it is built lighter than most .577s at 12 lbs. It has been restocked at least once. The current stock is well done in American walnut and appears thinner in the wrist than I would expect from a rifle with this much BOOM. I am thinking a reduced load with a lighter 650gr might be appropriate. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
     

  14. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Tough balancing act. The penetration on the .577 can sometimes be problematic. There is a Boddington video somewhere of Bill Jones trying to tap a bull elephant with a frontal brain shot with too mild a load - seemed to not too irritate the bull unduly.

    The restock would be all the more reason to have someone go through it very carefully - inside and out. It is a lovely rifle, but looks like it has seen some use.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  15. Russ-F

    Russ-F BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Member

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    Tom,
    That’s a very fine Greener. It’s always good to hear of someone getting a rifle which they’ve always wanted.

    In Volume 16 – issue 1 of the Double Gun Journal a regular writer Sherman Bell wrote about his similar rifle & using it in Australia (back issues are available from the publisher I think).

    The Greener book mentioned earlier in the thread is something you should have as there’s so much background information about the company in general in it which you are sure to find of interest.

    The proof marks on yours tell a story as they do on many guns.

    As it was built in 1897 it was proofed under the 1896 rules of proof which were in use until 1904. From the proof marks on your rifle it looks like it was proofed as a .577 express rifle (i.e. for black powder) – the option to proof for a smokeless (nitro) powder was available at the time & would have resulted in the charge weight & name of powder being stamped along with the other proof marks. At this time the proof house used ‘Riflelite’ as well as Cordite for nitro proof of rifled arms. Your rifle was subsequently re-proofed for the .577 3” Nitro cartridge in 1994.

    Your rifle pre-dates the introduction of the .450 – 3-1/4” Nitro Express cartridge by Rigby in 1898; the .577” NE was introduced a year or so after that.

    The original chambering being the normal (still quite potent) black powder express cartridge rather than the nitro version helps explain the relatively lighter construction – albeit still an extremely robust rifle.

    I’ve seen a .577 Greener rifle very much like yours in the UK a couple of times, I knew the owner, it also had been reproofed for nitro cartridges – I wonder if it was the same rifle as he was intending to sell it (c.2010). He said it shot well & it was certainly a well made rifle in sound condition.

    Greener often used just a breech pin through the top strap of his actions rather than a breech & hand pin – it this applies to your action it would be wise to make sure it’s tightened properly as the action has more of a tendency to shift in the stock when fired with only the breech pin fitted. UK & US gun terminology can differ so the ‘breech pin’ is the bolt with the slotted head seen in the top strap (normally under the top lever). The ‘hand pin’ is the smaller bolt, the end of which can be seen near the tip of the top strap (it’s head is hidden by the trigger guard).

    My Rigby was a 2-2/3” NE rather than the 3” version. As you say, with the weight in mind you may be like to duplicate the 650 grain 2-2/3” load (in a 3” case though) - it will still knock most things down.

    Regards
    Russ
     
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  16. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    Agreed. It has been to a good smith as of yesterday. No plans to hunt but if I did sell it with some AMMO I would like everything to be documented so the new owner would know exactly what they had. I feel it will stay in the family collection for some time though. Thanks.
     

  17. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    Russ, thanks for that info. I would love to build the individual history of this rifle so I am very interested in any information I could get from what may be a previous owner. My history is vague. If you are able to help me connect those dots I would appreciate it. Thanks.
     

  18. Thomas Rutledge

    Thomas Rutledge AH Member

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    Russ, what exactly is the process to reproof a rifle for a different technology from Black to smokeless powder? That which was done in 1994. Thanks.
     

  19. Russ-F

    Russ-F BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Member

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    Tom,

    Essentially re-proofing a black powder rifle for a smokeless (nitro) load is no different than proofing a new rifle. The test rounds are loaded in such a manner to produce a pressure overload of a magnitude pre-determined by the proof house.

    The proof house can & do refuse to accept for proof firearms which they consider are very unlikely to pass proof.

    As mentioned in the related thread on re-proofing BP rifles for nitro loads it’s very rarely done for rifles mainly as there’s such a difference in the strength of the actions of most BP Express rifles compared to Nitro ones. Interestingly where guns (shotguns) fail proof it’s most commonly due to a problem with the action (i.e. it springs or even cracks) rather than barrels - even when a barrel is the problem it’s more likely to be a bulge or distortion (which may be undetectable to the non-expert eye) that causes them to fail rather than being actually blown apart. In other words the fact a gun holds together doesn’t at all mean it passed proof.

    Regards

    Russ
     
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  20. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Good catch Russ. As you note, the gun essentially survived a proof load from each barrel. I would strongly urge any owner who shoots it, not to feed it a diet of Nitro rounds. I also suspect finding a load which regulates would be a real challenge in such a loading. On the other hand, building a nitro-for-black load which duplicates the original BPE ballistics would be a worthwhile exercise. What to hunt with it is a bit of a question. One of our regular contributors is a fan of using the .577 BPE for Cape Buffalo. I wouldn't, and the fact that these rifles were immediately supplanted by true nitro versions by the hunters who were using them should be informative. Not sure where you are located Thomas, but that light of weight would make a wonderful driven boar rifle.
     

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