Opinions on the real big boys? 500J, 505 Gibbs, .500 NE, 577NE, 600NE, 700NE etc.

If you find a big bore you fall in love with go for it. Buying beautiful toys we don’t really need but somehow justify is a curse (or maybe a blessing) many of us have.
will ammo and components be expensive? Most likely - so make sure you really want it.
my only bit of advice is to shoot something similar in size/weight/recoil to make sure you do actually like that much recoil. I’ve had a few of the larger calibers and sold them - everyone’s recoil threshold is different - for me when it reaches about 70lbs in a 9-10lb rifle I begin to flinch. If I can’t comfortably and accurately shoot a rifle it’s of little use to me.
 
I wholeheartedly agree, if it is uncomfortable and you can't shoot it well, get rid of it. I recently learned how to load and thus investigate regulation loads. I was told my 450/400 3" 'should' be shooting around 2150 fps. I tried and it was all over the place as well as uncomfortable. Then I discovered the factory ammo gives about 2000 fps, so I loaded for that and it suddenly shot well and was a treat to shoot.
 
As someone who is still new to the whole world of big bores, the >0.500 stuff seems like the stuff of dreams, real exotic offerings akin to owning a Bentley or Lamborghini. The fact that they are typically chambered in rifles that cost more than new truck help lead credence to this assertion.

What does everything think of the really big stuff? (0.500 and greater). Which cartridges are you familiar with in this group? It appears that felt recoil is still drastically different from something like a 500NE (74.5Lb-f) vs 600 NE (154 lb.-f).

Do you find much need for a "hunter" to own these chamberings or are they better suited to PH's? Is there a limit or threshold that you've experienced where the recoil just felt like too much to manage?

Would you recommend one to someone who likely won't hunt anything larger than Bison/Cape Buffalo in their lifetime? i.e. no Elephant, Hippo, Rhino etc. Have you ever hunted non-African game with these chamberings? I.e. Moose/Elk/Bear/Bison.

Is there any such thing today as an affordable rifle chambered in the 0.500+ class? I know that CZ and Sako offered these chamberings in rifles that have since been discontinued. Would the most entry level rifle today be something like a $10,000 double chambered in 500 NE?

I'm curious to hear this discussion from those of you who own/have owned these chamberings.

Answering the questions...

1) Big bore .50+ calibers


To establish "cartridges you are familiar with in this group" credentials, I should say that I own a .470 NE Krieghoff double, a Mauser 66 .458 Lott, a Blaser R8 .458 Lott; I own or have owned 5 different ZKK 602/CZ 550 (.375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .458 Win); and I have shot a meaningful amount of rounds from .500 NE, .505 Gibbs, .500 Jeffery and .460 Wby.

I will spare you the dissertation and get down to the bottom line:

1- There is not a whole lot of difference, at either end, between .500 NE and .470 NE. To me, the .470 is more practical simply due to commercial ammo availability and diversity, but the .500 NE is, in my mind, probably the most practical .50+ hunting cartridge.

2- While the .500 NE is shootable with reasonable accuracy by almost any reasonably practiced shooter, in a proper weight double (i.e. ~11 lbs.), most if not all other .50+ calibers have too much recoil for most shooters in the rifles they are typically offered in. Let me explain: somehow most folks understand that a big bore double should weight in the 10 to 11 lbs. range to be reasonably shootable, but most folks insist on bolt actions weighing in the 8 to 9 lbs. range, and many put a scope on them to boot. This has 2 logical consequences:

a) Tell you what: .500 Jeff + 8.5 lbs. bolt rifle + scope = more often than not, shooters afraid of their rifles, and generally wearing a nice third eyebrow (scar from "scope kiss", and boy oh boy can these be painful!)​
b) As to shooting accuracy, welcome to the trigger yanking contest....................... and I do not mean spreading a 2" group at 50 yards, I mean missing an entire Buff at 25 yards...................​

2) Client hunting-need for a .50+ caliber

I will send you back to Red Leg's and Mark A Ouellette's posts.

The one word answer is "no".

The caveat already mentioned above is that in my experience there is not much difference between a .470 NE and a .500 NE double, so, if incurable romanticism is upon you and you MUST hunt your Buff with a double, and you MUST shoot a .50+, then the .500 NE double checks both boxes and is still shootable in classic weight (10 to 11 lbs.).

3) Entry level rifle today like a $10,000 double chambered in 500 NE

The one word answer is "no".

The old adage applies: you get what you pay for, and, if he forgives me :), I will loosely quote Red Leg a second time, from another thread: "this is the difference between a rifle that will shoot 100 rounds and a rifle that will shoot 100 years."

My own evolution...

I will abstain from giving an advice, but my own evolution has been:

--- like many, I started with the double rifle obsession and the "double square bridge magnum" Mauser obsession (and I can still make a pretty good case for them)... but now I personally take a Blaser R8 to Africa...

--- my first .458 Lott was/is a Mauser 66 weighing 8 1/2 lbs. ... I cannot remember the last time I shot it, but I still remember vividly the headache that 3 rounds produced (a sure sign of a mild concussion)...

--- I HAD to try the .505 Gibbs, .500 Jeff, and even the .460 Wby - and by that I do not mean just going bang once at a 1/3 square-yard 5 gallon bucket at 15 yards, but grouping 3 rounds in the center of a 6" paper desert plate at 100 yards ... call me a sissy, but I am a lot more consistently accurate with .458 Lott / 500 gr in a 11 lbs. rifle...........

I know, I know, there are plenty of folks out there who will tell us that they split lemons at 100 yards with these canons; God bless them, they are more man than I am :E Rofl:

1680550230083.png

3 rounds of .458 Lott / 500 gr TSX full power loads at 100 yards from the sticks with 11lbs Blaser R8 mounted with Selous barrel and Leica Magnus 1-6.3x24 (1" target grid)

--- the two points where my friend Red Leg and I continue to differ, is that I do not mind walking all day with a 11lbs. bolt rifle, any more than with a 11 lbs. double rifle (we shall see how this changes as I get further and further on the downside of my 65 years); and I still like a "stopper" rifle for Buffalo and Elephant ... just in case ... although I happily concede that I have - so far - never needed one...
 
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Just a quick question on the Blaser R8 big bores, where does the extra weight come from since the platform is standard? I presume it is just the barrel, although then isn't the balance upset? I looked at a few this weekend, 308 and 30-06. They both balanced very well, but neither weighed anywhere near 11 pounds.
 
As someone who is still new to the whole world of big bores, the >0.500 stuff seems like the stuff of dreams, real exotic offerings akin to owning a Bentley or Lamborghini. The fact that they are typically chambered in rifles that cost more than new truck help lead credence to this assertion.

What does everything think of the really big stuff? (0.500 and greater). Which cartridges are you familiar with in this group? It appears that felt recoil is still drastically different from something like a 500NE (74.5Lb-f) vs 600 NE (154 lb.-f).

Do you find much need for a "hunter" to own these chamberings or are they better suited to PH's? Is there a limit or threshold that you've experienced where the recoil just felt like too much to manage?

Would you recommend one to someone who likely won't hunt anything larger than Bison/Cape Buffalo in their lifetime? i.e. no Elephant, Hippo, Rhino etc. Have you ever hunted non-African game with these chamberings? I.e. Moose/Elk/Bear/Bison.

Is there any such thing today as an affordable rifle chambered in the 0.500+ class? I know that CZ and Sako offered these chamberings in rifles that have since been discontinued. Would the most entry level rifle today be something like a $10,000 double chambered in 500 NE?

I'm curious to hear this discussion from those of you who own/have owned these chamberings.
Is this rifle going to be a Safe Queen or a “plinker” for lazy Sunday afternoons at the range when it’s not raining?
 
Is this rifle going to be a Safe Queen or a “plinker” for lazy Sunday afternoons at the range when it’s not raining?
Neither really as I don't realistically see myself buying one of the 0.50s, I was just more intrigued by the "idea" and romanticism of them.

I think I'll be more than content with 375/416/458 and 470.
 
You’re not wrong. But in my experience, the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is actually not the best suited for BODY SHOTS on big elephant bulls.

Take one bull tusker, for example. I put a full magazine (6 rounds) of 300Gr Remington round nosed steel jacketed FMJ solids into his heart-lung region from a BRNO ZKK602 (in .375 Holland & Holland Magnum). He actually managed to cross a stream and expired on the other side of the stream after 45 minutes or so (we found him after an hour). Postmortem showed that no less than 3 of the solids had gone through his heart. It didn’t seem to slow him down one bit.

Now, some might say “Modern .375 solids would have been far more effective on the elephant bull”. True, but in this case… those Remington FMJ solids had done exactly what they were supposed to do- Punching through the heart. A modern Cutting Edge Bullets Safari Solid couldn’t have done any better in this regard. But despite all that, they didn’t punch wound cavities into the animal’s vital organs which were large enough to cause him to hemorrhage from blood loss quickly.

Problem with using non expanding bullets for body shots on animals like elephant (which obviously mandate the use of solids)… is that you’re essentially relying on sheer bullet diameter to create those wound channels (no bullet expansion). A .375 caliber solid (in my experience, at least) doesn’t have what it takes to be a good choice for body shots on elephants (not quickly, at least). But a larger caliber does.

Had I made those same shots with a .505 Gibbs (loaded with 600Gr solids at a proper velocity), then I have no doubt that the elephant would never have gone so far.

Now, for brain shots on elephant… a .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is perfectly adequate from any angle.

View attachment 526707
View attachment 526723View attachment 526724View attachment 526725View attachment 526726
Absolutely agree with all that. As for the 375 comment regarding penetration, I was specifically speaking of frontal brain shots.

I shot my elephant with a 416. Not surexwhat I would use on a second, or 3rd;)

505 Gibbs woukd certainly be a contender in a bolt gun. Would love to take one with my Thomas Bland 450NE no. 2. Hammer gun....
 
Answering the questions...

1) Big bore .50+ calibers


To establish "cartridges you are familiar with in this group" credentials, I should say that I own a .470 NE Krieghoff double, a Mauser 66 .458 Lott, a Blaser R8 .458 Lott; I own or have owned 5 different ZKK 602/CZ 550 (.375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .458 Win); and I have shot a meaningful amount of rounds from .500 NE, .505 Gibbs, .500 Jeffery and .460 Wby.

I will spare you the dissertation and get down to the bottom line:

1- There is not a whole lot of difference, at either end, between .500 NE and .470 NE. To me, the .470 is more practical simply due to commercial ammo availability and diversity, but the .500 NE is, in my mind, probably the most practical .50+ hunting cartridge.

2- While the .500 NE is shootable with reasonable accuracy by almost any reasonably practiced shooter, in a proper weight double (i.e. ~11 lbs.), most if not all other .50+ calibers have too much recoil for most shooters in the rifles they are typically offered in. Let me explain: somehow most folks understand that a big bore double should weight in the 10 to 11 lbs. range to be reasonably shootable, but most folks insist on bolt actions weighing in the 8 to 9 lbs. range, and many put a scope on them to boot. This has 2 logical consequences:

a) Tell you what: .500 Jeff + 8.5 lbs. bolt rifle + scope = more often than not, shooters afraid of their rifles, and generally wearing a nice third eyebrow (scar from "scope kiss", and boy oh boy can these be painful!)​
b) As to shooting accuracy, welcome to the trigger yanking contest....................... and I do not mean spreading a 2" group at 50 yards, I mean missing an entire Buff at 25 yards...................​

2) Client hunting-need for a .50+ caliber

I will send you back to Red Leg's and Mark A Ouellette's posts.

The one word answer is "no".

The caveat already mentioned above is that in my experience there is not much difference between a .470 NE and a .500 NE double, so, if incurable romanticism is upon you and you MUST hunt your Buff with a double, and you MUST shoot a .50+, then the .500 NE double checks both boxes and is still shootable in classic weight (10 to 11 lbs.).

3) Entry level rifle today like a $10,000 double chambered in 500 NE

The one word answer is "no".

The old adage applies: you get what you pay for, and, if he forgives me :), I will loosely quote Red Leg a second time, from another thread: "this is the difference between a rifle that will shoot 100 rounds and a rifle that will shoot 100 years."

My own evolution...

I will abstain from giving an advice, but my own evolution has been:

--- like many, I started with the double rifle obsession and the "double square bridge magnum" Mauser obsession (and I can still make a pretty good case for them)... but now I personally take a Blaser R8 to Africa...

--- my first .458 Lott was/is a Mauser 66 weighing 8 1/2 lbs. ... I cannot remember the last time I shot it, but I still remember vividly the headache that 3 rounds produced (a sure sign of a mild concussion)...

--- I HAD to try the .505 Gibbs, .500 Jeff, and even the .460 Wby - and by that I do not mean just going bang once at a 1/3 square-yard 5 gallon bucket at 15 yards, but grouping 3 rounds in the center of a 6" paper desert plate at 100 yards ... call me a sissy, but I am a lot more consistently accurate with .458 Lott / 500 gr in a 11 lbs. rifle...........

I know, I know, there are plenty of folks out there who will tell us that they split lemons at 100 yards with these canons; God bless them, they are more man than I am :E Rofl:

View attachment 526743
3 rounds of .458 Lott / 500 gr TSX full power loads at 100 yards from the sticks with 11lbs Blaser R8 mounted with Selous barrel and Leica Magnus 1-6.3x24 (1" target grid)

--- the two points where my friend Red Leg and I continue to differ, is that I do not mind walking all day with a 11lbs. bolt rifle, any more than with a 11 lbs. double rifle (we shall see how this changes as I get further and further on the downside of my 65 years); and I still like a "stopper" rifle for Buffalo and Elephant ... just in case ... although I happily concede that I have - so far - never needed one...

You did very well! Here are two 3 shot 50 yard groups from my 500 Jeffery. 570g TSX at 2300 fps. I didn't do 100 yards just because of the lack of magnification of my Leupold 1.5-5x scope, figured the hold error with my old eyes might swamp the rifles accuracy and I can multiply group size by 2.

mOXPJI5.jpg
Ti0lQWX.jpg
 
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Just a quick question on the Blaser R8 big bores, where does the extra weight come from since the platform is standard? I presume it is just the barrel, although then isn't the balance upset? I looked at a few this weekend, 308 and 30-06. They both balanced very well, but neither weighed anywhere near 11 pounds.

Hello Kevin;

Here is the breakdown as measured on my postal scale :

1680553635582.png


Conversely:

1680553677101.png


Note: in both cases for naked rifles weight, subtract the scope and mount. As for scoped rifles, there are scopes lighter than the Leica Magnus 1-6.3x24, but it is the one premium glass with the longest eye relief since Swarovski discontinued the 1-6x24 EE, and it is therefore the best in my view...
 
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You did very well! Here are two 3 shot 50 yard groups from my 500 Jeffery. 570g TSX at 2300 fps. I didn't do 100 yards just because of the lack of magnification of my Leupold 1.5-5x scope, figured the hold error with my old eyes might swamp the rifles accuracy and I can multiply group size by 2.

These are great groups! (assuming no lead sled was used? - I am only interested in accuracy I can duplicate in the hunting fields...)

I would think that 5x ought to be enough magnification to shoot at 100 yards (my scope tops at 6x and I find it plenty enough for 100 yards).

Note that my shots were taken standing up from the sticks. I have every confidence that the gun groups tighter from the bench, but I have not seen too many shooting benches in the African bush :E Rofl:

Looks like you are one of the few who can shoot the .50+'s well. Good for you :)
 
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N
These are great groups! (assuming no lead sled was used? - I am only interested in accuracy I can duplicate in the hunting fields...)

I would think that 5x ought to be enough magnification to shoot at 100 yards (my scope tops at 6x and I find it plenty enough for 100 yards).

Note that my shots were taken standing up from the sticks. I have every confidence that the gun groups tighter from the bench, but I have not seen too many shooting benches in the African bush :E Rofl:

Looks like you are one of the few who can shoot the .50+'s well. Good for you :)

No lead sled. When I shoot for 100 yard groups with our 270s we have either 10x or 14x as max magnification. I killed a cow elk with the 500 Jeffery at 225 yards kneeling with a sling. I'm confident with the 500 Jeffery out to 300 yards either kneeling or sitting with a sling, 400 yards as a stretch.
 
No lead sled. When I shoot for 100 yard groups with our 270s we have either 10x or 14x as max magnification. I killed a cow elk with the 500 Jeffery at 225 yards kneeling with a sling. I'm confident with the 500 Jeffery out to 300 yards either kneeling or sitting with a sling, 400 yards as a stretch.

Good for you, we all find happiness in our own ways :)

This is your shoulder, right? :E Rofl: Better yours than mine :E Lol:


As said above, you are more man than I am :A Worshipl:

"500 Jeffery out to 300 yards ... 400 yards at a stretch": interesting concept. I am not as traveled as others on AH.com but I have yet to meet a PH that would allow (never mind recommend) engaging DG past 100 yards. But hey, should that next world-record three-toed unicorn pop its nose above the next ridge ;)
 
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Yes but I've learned to give her more respect now. If I do load development I use a lead sled. When I shoot for groups or sight in I don't. I generally practice offhand, kneeling or sitting with a sling.
 
Ha Ha mate, well no actually. On the contrary, I love the nostalgia of them. I do not currently own a .500 plus, but do own .500/416 and .470 doubles and a .404. I get the tradition of them. I used my 12 bore Paradox in Namibia to roll a couple of warthog for leopard bait and to create a small mountain of sandgrouse. My Blaser S2 performed perfectly (if not traditionally) in Mozambique.

However, what drives me a little crazy is when an aspiring African hunter comes on board asking about the utility of using a .500 or bigger, and gets nothing but encouragement.

The modern African "safari" to kill a buffalo will be 7 - 10 days. It is quite possible that the client's only opportunity will be at an old bull standing with two of his pals deep in mopani shade seventy yards away with a very narrow shooting window. It is a target and shot that a novice buffalo hunter could find and make using a scoped .375 that feels and performs much like his deer rifle at home. Instead, he has a 500 something or another in his hands with either a red dot or irons for sights and a PH urgently whispering "can you make that shot?"

If the client is a wealthy experienced sportsman truly interested in the nostalgia of the hunt, he can easily walk away. He'll be back nest year. But the client who has saved for years for this one opportunity is making decisions from a totally different perspective.

As I said above, if that is where someone wants to spend their money, fine. I just think it is the wrong focus for someone beginning to think about their first DG hunt.
Yeah you are right it is a strong argument. If someone wants to hunt with an open sighted big bore they have to be prepared for limited shot opportunities when compared to a scoped rifle. I think I shoot my 450 Rigby really well but there has still been quite a few times when I looked down those open sights in the field and then brought the gun back down off my shoulder because the shot that was available was just too difficult with open sights. Having said that I haven't yet had an instance where I couldn't eventually get myself into the position I needed to for an effective shot with the iorns but I am sure that luck will run out one day.
 
Yea I get off the bench and on to sticks quickly with big bores. Benches and big bores don’t go together. Wish I had a standing bench setup.
 
It's ironic on this site how logic interjects randomly about cost or what a traveling hunter should use. In general we are all participants in the most expensive hobby on earth barring collector cars, trophy wives, boats, planes, or real estate. A fine rifle is a thing to behold in any caliber and if you have the discipline to master it, take it on a hunt and use it. Shooting truly large bores .5 and up isn't easy to master, but it can be done if you're willing to make the time and money investment. I used a very fine 500j on my last safari for 2 buff. I practiced for a year with it, (I'm a hand loader), I didn't keep count but I'm sure I put 500 or more rounds through it to get ready. I only wanted to use open sights which added to the complexity and effort put forth on the hunt. It was very satisfying. Will I take it over again?..., I don't know, I have some 404's, 416's, and 375's that are dandies and much easier to shoot and carry. My goal is to use everything I have on safari at least once. This safari business means different things to different people, for me its about the fine firearms that are in my opinion functioning works of art. Big bore rifles are cool for sure (and expensive), I think everyone would agree there, but are they for everyone, probably not. I might add that if its your first time to go over, I'd probably recommend focusing on your current useable equipment, boots, binos, and physical conditioning and get some experience and success, then start making choices about big rifles and what you're going to chase next.
Absolutely agree with you. Hunting is a passion.
Not a need or only thing to do.
You like fine firearms, then get one
Learn to use it well.
Every body talks about CRF and why you may need it for DH hunting.
How about your PH becomes some time not able to back you up.
Will your little toy save you and the ph.
Murphy's law applies here.
375 and 416's are not stoppers if you need to.
500 and above are at top end.
45 calibers have proven both as standard in the old hunting world and as well stoppers.
So finaly it is what you want.
Krish
 
Yea I get off the bench and on to sticks quickly with big bores. Benches and big bores don’t go together. Wish I had a standing bench setup.
Has anyone built a really great one? Is this an ok place or do we need a new thread but how about some pics and dimensions. I'd love to build one;)
 
Has anyone built a really great one? Is this an ok place or do we need a new thread but how about some pics and dimensions. I'd love to build one;)
550 magnum comes to mind. Got one from AH member NTO.. GOT brass and bullets fron Neal Sherly the designer of the rifle
Based on 360 wby brass blown out to .550.
The Ammo fits 416 CZ 550 ACTION. You can either use the 460 wby based btass or 505 based brass. For 505 based brass CZ 550 action needs work done. Ch4d makes dies for them. Barrels are also available from Pack nor . Shoots 700 gr bullets. Bullets are availanle ftom CEB, BARNES, AND ALASKAN. Mr. Neal is working with Norma to make brass in the future.
Krish
 
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