Is there such a thing as too big?

tigris115

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So sometimes when farting about on the ol' YT, I often see videos about the fabled 700 Nitro Express, the product of a Californian client who wanted a 600 Nitro from H&H, got rejected because of some contract, made a giant cartridge, and birthed the 700 Nitro Express. I also love the channel Forgotten Weapons, who covered both 4 bore rifles and a recently made custom 2 bore rifle.
But it got me thinking, is there such a thing as making a bullet too big with not enough reasons why? Because you got things like the 416 and 458 that can down any thick-skinned brute with a well placed shot and using a rifle that'll kill the quarry, not your nest egg. Even rifles in 470 and 500 are easier to find for a reasonable price (as reasonable as a double rifle can be). Whereas according to most sources, one bullet for the 700 Nitro costs $125. For comparison, a 500 NE is about 8-10 bucks per round, and shooting a 458 Win Mag sends about 6-8 bucks down the range. So from this, I feel like the truly mammoth cartridges like the 577 upward just aren't worth it unless you really want them
 

Tanks

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There are few things against those really big cartridges. First the weight of the rifle increases quite a bit and unless you go old style and have a rifle bearer, it becomes unpractical for most hunts where you walk a ton.

Secondly, you hit a point of diminishing returns. Due to recoil being extreme the second "aimed" shot would be pretty slow to bring back on the animal.

Ammo cost is not a concern. If one can afford a low 6 figure rifle then $125 a round is not much of a problem for that person.
 

Alistair

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Personally I'm of the opinions that the 'sensible' modern cartridges stop at around the .50 calibres - the Gibbs, the NE, the Jeff etc.

There just doesn't really seem to be an animal alive that 'needs' more and I reckon they're about the top of most peoples recoil tolerance too.

The old BP stopping rifles in 4 and 8 bore are 'useful' if obsolete as in terms of energy and penetration they don't actually look all that hot versus the nitro cases above so were needed back in the BP days give a decent chance of putting down large and angry critters.

I'm sure many would disagree but for me, a .577 offers no major advantage versus the .500 in terms of terminal effect, but lots of real disadvantage in weight, recoil, recovery time for a second shot, cost. Hence it's a toy. The 600 and 700 even more so.
 

chashardy

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Almost all experienced PH's will advise clients to use a rifle that they can handle comfortably and accurately. I'd guess that eliminates all of the huge bores bigger than 470NE.
I'm sticking with my 375H&H and my 416 Rigby. All the stopping power I need. Not planning to hunt Godzilla.
 

35bore

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If a person wants, can afford, and can handle the recoil I say go fo it. Personally, if I could afford it, I'd have one of each of the above mentioned calibers.
 

BeeMaa

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When it comes to firearms, nothing is too big...until you flinch.

Working up in caliber is a great help.
Starting out with a mid-bore 9.3 or .375 and working up to a .470 caliber + stopper is advisable.
The more proper technique and practice, the better.

"A man has got to know his limitations" Harry Callahan, Magnum Force.
 

Bullthrower338

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Started with 375, went to 458 win mag, but settled on and love my 450 Dakota. I can reload for less than 2 bucks a round. Most I’ve shot in one day was 70 rounds during a safari training shooting school.
And a beautiful 450 it is @davetexas
 

tigris115

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There are few things against those really big cartridges. First the weight of the rifle increases quite a bit and unless you go old style and have a rifle bearer, it becomes unpractical for most hunts where you walk a ton.

Secondly, you hit a point of diminishing returns. Due to recoil being extreme the second "aimed" shot would be pretty slow to bring back on the animal.

Ammo cost is not a concern. If one can afford a low 6 figure rifle then $125 a round is not much of a problem for that person.
Yea I've pictures of a 700 NE and it looks like a nightmare to carry, especially in hot, humid Africa. With money, I tend to forget that at some point, money stops being an issue for some people
 

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For me, hunting dangerous game in Africa is an experience inexorably linked to the African myth. Earnest Hemingway used a Westley Richards .577 NE and even though might not be the most practical gun, I would much rather face my buffalo or elephant with a .577 and get a little bit closer to Hemingway.
 

WAB

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I shot a .700 at the H&H range that was in for final test shots before delivery. If I remember correctly the rifle weighed something like 24 pounds. Totally impractical for hunting, more of a curiosity piece.
 

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I use a .375 because it is the most versatile and useful one rifle package that I can bring to Africa (absolutely hate a multi-rifle bag drag). I own several forty somethings, and one day I will likely bring one - not because it would be better, but simply because I may feel like it. In the age of premium bullets, anything with a a five or higher in front of the caliber makes no sense to me at all.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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There is hunting, and there is shooting. My buddies at the range have some awesome beasts that make a lot of noise and make them happy. Nothing wrong there. Not my scene though, and to the best of my knowledge the big calibre boys seldom if never go hunting. Hunting is split: PG and DG. My 375 FL is great for the former, and still enough for buff with a PH nearby. Thats just responsible, and good enough for me.
 

Von S.

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A great big black bear came running at light speed after about 8 shots sounded. I knocked the safety off and put a quickened 350 grain rnjsp hit him broadside festooning his shreads organs into the low slung sparse bushes. The bear immediately face planted and lay there deader than Julius Caesar in a bed of Saint Albanas Pine. A short time later a father and son team with their 7mm-08's showed up with question of ownership of the corpse. They actually did manage to hit the bruin..... 4 times.....one in the stomach and 3 in the ass. After seeing what the 458 did they relented.

My point is that I believe in carrying something that will knock down what you might see, not what you'll most likely see.

Have you ever been hunting when a big animal crossed paths with you and your immediate though was," I wish I was carrying something much smaller"?
 

Tanks

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... Hunting is split: PG and DG. My 375 FL is great for the former, and still enough for buff with a PH nearby.

I personally don't want to depend on the PH if for whatever reason things go South, so I will keep on bringing enough gun. On my hunt that got postponed to next year I will have the .500 NE for elephant and buffalo. I will have the .458 B&M with 258 grainers for PG and leopard though I will bring 420 grain raptors and 450 grain solids as a backup to my .500 NE just in case.

In a Tuffpack there is no difference between having one gun in there vs two as it has wheels. Even with two one is below the weight limit.
 

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Almost all experienced PH's will advise clients to use a rifle that they can handle comfortably and accurately. I'd guess that eliminates all of the huge bores bigger than 470NE.
I'm sticking with my 375H&H and my 416 Rigby. All the stopping power I need. Not planning to hunt Godzilla.

I agree 100% with you. I would just like to reiterate that the firearm in the hands of the hunter, and the specific firearm in the hands of the Professional, have two very different roles to play in the hunt and should never be compared. That is why the real big bores make perfect sense in the Professional Hunter's hands.
 

RayAtkinson

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Absolutely there is...Over the years I saw so many hunters in AFrica that were more afraid of their rifle than the buff, lion, or elephant!! To start with even a 800 gr. bullet at 2200 FPS isn't going to knock a 11 ft tall, 3 ton elepant off his feet with less than a brain, spine, shot and a 375 will do the same with a brain, spine shot...A heart lung shot bids well with the 458 Lott, 505, 500 but a 577 or 600 won't do it any better. This Ive been assured of by some of the most experienced PH in Africa..

The other thing that I always consider is the return to battery, and in the short rows with a elephant or Lion upon your coming down from recoil and chambering a rifle are the most important moments of your life..I don't want to have to deal with recoil at such a moment, prefer a 416 or 458 Win., happy mediums that cover all the bases..My choice for 40 years was the 404 Jefferys, it worked, it had nostalgia and I never felt fear with that old girl in my hands..
 

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A great big black bear came running at light speed after about 8 shots sounded. I knocked the safety off and put a quickened 350 grain rnjsp hit him broadside festooning his shreads organs into the low slung sparse bushes. The bear immediately face planted and lay there deader than Julius Caesar in a bed of Saint Albanas Pine. A short time later a father and son team with their 7mm-08's showed up with question of ownership of the corpse. They actually did manage to hit the bruin..... 4 times.....one in the stomach and 3 in the ass. After seeing what the 458 did they relented.

My point is that I believe in carrying something that will knock down what you might see, not what you'll most likely see.

Have you ever been hunting when a big animal crossed paths with you and your immediate though was," I wish I was carrying something much smaller"?

I guess if the best is one in the guts and three in the arse caliber will make little difference......
 

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