I'm with you on the 0.400 and up definition but on the energy front, if you want to be pedantic, many of the large 338/375's will also surpass 5,000ft-lbs of energy but generally do so with a 300 grain projectile or smaller.IMHO, I think small bores go up to .308, medium bores extend to sub .400, and above .400 rifles calibers are the base of big bores. A .416 Rigby/Rem. Mag have more energy than a .458WM.
For me I have trouble differentiating between “big bore” and “stopper”. Especially in the context of DG hunting. I’ll admit it is a nuanced opinion. There’s a reason the overwhelming majority of PHs aren’t carrying 416s…I think any caliber that can hurl a 400gr bullet and create in excess of 5000lbs of energy should be considered a big bore.
I think the "stoppers" are generally the >0.500 class but I've seen a few argue that .458 Lott is the bare minimum as a stopper. I think of 500NE, 500J, 505gibbs, 577 NE etc. as "stoppers."For me I have trouble differentiating between “big bore” and “stopper”. Especially in the context of DG hunting. I’ll admit it is a nuanced opinion. There’s a reason the overwhelming majority of PHs aren’t carrying 416s…
I believe the conventional wisdom threshold for a “stopper” is a 500 grain .458 cal bullet at 5000 fpe. Historically speaking. That’s from people with decades of practical experience over the last 100ish years. But yes, I think the same people would say that once you step up to the 500s+ it’s a whole other ballgameI think the "stoppers" are generally the >0.500 class but I've seen a few argue that .458 Lott is the bare minimum as a stopper. I think of 500NE, 500J, 505gibbs, 577 NE etc. as "stoppers."
With those two guidelines, 458 Winchester/Lott. Either would work fine for me. If you are able to hand load, there are many options for versatility and pure fun. Many great and varied choices of bullets for the .458's. And normally components and factory loads are quite a bit less expensive than the .500's and above.If you had to pick one for overall utility and enjoyment.
If 404 aren’t stoppers why do PH use them.Not saying I have any sway to write definitions, but here’s my thoughts on it anyway:
Small bore = 30 cal and under
Medium bore = .318 - .416
Large bore = .423-.500
Stoppers = .500-.600
Bigger yet = irrelevant and inferior to the stoppers
If I want an all-a rounder largebore for all 5 big-five, My preference is the 470NE, but a 458Lott or 450 Rigby certainly has the potency as well.
If you want a stopper, you’re not a typical hunter, you’re either a professional, or you’re exclusively an elephant hunter. 500 Jeffery, 505 Gibbs, 500NE, and 577NE are in the stopper calibers. Most can’t shoot them well and should probably stick with “Large Bores” rather than stoppers they can’t operate well enough to use for crisis management at 2 paces.
I don’t hate 450-400s, or 404Js, but they are not ideal calibers for elephant and that’s why they are barely large bores. If you want to kill buffalo, they are wonderfully well suited.
If 404 aren’t stoppers why do PH use them.
Cost of rifles and of ammo was part of the reasoning when I formed this question. Some of these more exotic cartridges are exclusively delegated for the rich.Some PHs use 375HH, a lot use 458WM, Harry Selby carried a 416. There are a number of reasons they carry what they do rather than a stopping rifle:
1.) They can’t afford one.
2.) They aren’t hunting in an area where they need to stop something.
3.) The biggest thing they might need to stop is buffalo and lion In their area.
Nothing stops an elephant like a .577NE but that’s a minimum of a $27,000 gun, even with the PH discount from Heym on a bare-bones model.