The Battery of an Old School Professional Elephant Hunter

Hoss Delgado

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I had the good fortune to exchange correspondence with one of my favorite living hunters , Terry Irwin. Terry shot hundreds of Elephant back in the day and l was most curious about his choices. I read his book many years ago , but lost it when we shifted from Maine to Texas . I recently acquired his email address and dropped him a fan letter . He was kind enough to reply. So , Terry Owned a .458 Winchester Magnum Mannlicher Shoenauer rotary Magazine rifle , a very rare model made only from 1958 to 1960 ( funnily enough , another Favorite Hunter of mine , Richard Harland was also issued this same model of gun during his Elephant Culling duties ) . I wanted to ask Terry the following questions :
1) How many shots on average , would it take with a .458 Winchester Magnum to drop a bull Elephant ?
2) Did he own any rifles of larger caliber than the .458 Winchester Magnum ?
3) What was his total battery ?
Terry's reply was interesting and short , yet precise.
He seems to have no problems scoring one shot kills on Elephant with his .458 WINCHESTER MAGNUM .
His largest caliber was a .458 WINCHESTER MAGNUM . While he also used the Department Issue .404 Jeffery Mauser , a .303 Lee Enfield and Double barrelled rifles of Nitro Express Caliber , the largest he owned was that .458 Winchester Magnum Mannlicher Shoenauer rotary Magazine rifle . I find his killing of an elephant with a .22 Hornet mind boggling . That's a tiny bullet ! Probably the smallest documented caliber used on an African Elephant ( I do know that a few Indian Rogue Elephants near Shiliguri used to be dispatched with the .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum full metal jacket bullet through the exposed ear hole , but the Animals were tranquilized first . )
His battery was in total :

One .458 Winchester Magnum Mannlicher Shoenauer rotary Magazine rifle
One .375 HH Magnum Winchester Model 70
One. 30-06 Winchester Model 70
One .270 WINCHESTER MODEL 70
One 12 gauge Aya Double barrel 3 inch chambered shotgun with two sets of barrels ( one of which were cylinder bore for leopard ).
Terry's choices , to me , reflect the era when Kynoch had just discontinued their line of centre fire Cartridges. Barring the .375 HH Magnum , they were all American Calibers.
I find his experiences with the .458 Winchester Magnum interesting. It's not a caliber many of us like today ( myself included ) . But he appears to have had no problems. The reason ( according to Terry ) is that , from a 26 inch barrel as Steyr Mannlicher made for him in his custom. 458 Winchester Magnum , the correct Velocity can be acquired. How interesting !
I find it ever more mind boggling that Terry would use your ordinary run of the mill Hornady Ammunition ( 500 gr FMJ Meplats ). I personally have not had good experience with this brand in my .375 HH Magnum Winchester Model 70 . Contrast this with Mr. Richard Harland who used to load his issued .458 Winchester Magnum with 450 grain Monometal solids.
I wish l would ask Terry more about whether he would use his shotgun on leopard , with slugs or buckshot . But l guess it missed my questioning.
Would Terry's battery be a solid choice today ?
Well .... Hell yeah.
I would totally take a shotgun , a .270 , a .30-06 and a .375 HH Magnum to Africa :D I would replace the .458 Winchester Magnum with with a .505 Gibbs Magnum by Kilimanjaro rifles though , loaded with 525 grain Cutting Edge Monolithic meplat brass Solids . But that's just me.
It IS interesting however to note that Terry mentions the .458 Lott , saying that he would use it if it was there during his time. That leads me to believe that he MAY have opted for a .458 Lott over the .458 Winchester Magnum if he had one.
It's fascinating how he picks a flaw with the floor plate design in most Rifles . Apparently , due to shooting so many rounds , he used to experience Magazine floor plates popping open with almost every rifle he owned ( including a rebarrelled .458 Winchester Magnum Westley Richards Mauser ) before he got the Mannlicher. I sadly experienced this Same problem on a .460 Weatherby Mark V on a feral hog hunt many years ago.
I hope anyone here might find this of interest. I also have a nice email from Mark Sullivan somewhere in my computer and also from the sadly deceased Ian Gibson about their respective batteries.
PS : Barring what he wrote in his email , l tried to fill in the gaps from my memory of reading his memoir .
 
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rinehart0050

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Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Great input and appreciate you sharing.

Goes to show that shot placement is likely more critical than anything else on any game animal. While I have had multiple shots with a .22 on squirrel nonetheless taking an elephant with one seems crazy for obvious reasons. I suspect there were individuals there with a larger rifle bore to intervene should need arise.

Don’t get me wrong that there are other factors in a clean quick dispatch of an animal, shot placement however is so critically important.

193 days until I’m in Namibia with Khomas and have started practicing off sticks. Hope to keep it in the 10 ring or dang close when the moment arrives.
 

Hoss Delgado

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Great input and appreciate you sharing.

Goes to show that shot placement is likely more critical than anything else on any game animal. While I have had multiple shots with a .22 on squirrel nonetheless taking an elephant with one seems crazy for obvious reasons. I suspect there were individuals there with a larger rifle bore to intervene should need arise.

Don’t get me wrong that there are other factors in a clean quick dispatch of an animal, shot placement however is so critically important.

193 days until I’m in Namibia with Khomas and have started practicing off sticks. Hope to keep it in the 10 ring or dang close when the moment arrives.
I 100 % agree. I myself personally used a .375 HH Magnum Winchester Model 70 on my Australian Water Buffalo. But l had someone back me up with a .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle . There WAS an incident which shook me up a bit. I had received a stock of Hornady DGS ( Dangerous Game Solids ) as a birthday gift which l was eager to try. I fired two shots at an Australian Water Buffalo bull , both of which distorted and failed to reach the heart. The guy with the .470 Nitro Express then put the Bull down. I swore off Hornady since then.
The next time , l shot another Water Buffalo , l was using Kynoch 300 grain round nosed full patch solids . The first shot aimed at the heart , broke the Foreleg , but didn't hold together long enough to reach the heart. It distorted. The second shot , a lung shot , is what killed it , after it went 80 ( ish ) yards blowing blood from its mouth and nose . Far better results than the Hornady. It was not until l started using Swift A frames ( expanding bullets ) that l was able to secure a one shot kill on these Australian Water Buffalo . I have slowly lost my faith in full metal jacket rounds for really heavy game ( although l write this with a heavy heart as l don't want them to go obsolete ) and use Cutting Edge 300 grain Monolithic meplat brass Solids now . You can load them to boosted velocities without deforming risks.
Take a look at Norma's .505 Gibbs Magnum 600 grain FMJ round nose solid load. It's only loaded to produce a 2100 fps Velocity which is pretty low for a .505 Gibbs. Any higher and it will distort and deform the bullet. Of course , some guns don't give you a choice . Mark Crudgington , the owner of George Gibbs Gun makers , refuses to make his .505 Gibbs Magnum rifles capable of firing Monolithic solids :( So you're stuck with FMJ solids
Happy Hunting ! I am off to Botswana next year for a mixed bag hunt and a Cape Buffalo :)
 
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fourfive8

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Hoss,
Well said and couldn't agree more with your assessment. All bullets are NOT created equal no matter what the manufacturer's/endorser's hype says or even old, often told endorsements parrot. You have to study the design, understand it and compare to known performance.

For example; there are several "bonded" bullets out there and have been for some time. However, they are NOT all equal. You can take a conventional thin copper jacket and bond it to a soft lead core and call it a bonded bullet but it will come apart just like any "soft", frangible cup and core always has. The weakest part of the design after all is no more resilient than the soft lead interface just outside the thin bonded layer of lead that is actually bonded to the jacket. Or, you can put a very thin retaining ring inside the jacket of a cup and core bullet and call it a LOCK as one company has for too many years and sell it as a tough big game bullet. It never was and never will be. You can take a copper jacket, put a lead core in it, reverse it and call it a "solid" .... which it never was and never will be. Old sayings, wive's tales and oft repeated parroted endorsements based on misconceptions die hard. Your experience with the Kynoch "solid" mirrors the experience of the late Don Heath (Ganyana) with that bullet- it's just a reversed, soft, cup and core that is called a "solid".

I wonder which design of monolithic solid was used for the assessment by Gibbs?- there is a lot of difference among monolithics!

And BTW, the best monolithic solids I have 1st hand experience with are the GS Custom FN Solid and the two versions by North Fork- the CPS and the FPS. Each of these by both companies is I believe of annealed copper. Each have functional drive bands. Unfortunately, NF is calling it quits- dang!
 
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Hoss Delgado

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Hoss,
Well said and couldn't agree more with your assessment. All bullets are NOT created equal no matter what the manufacturer's/endorser's hype says or even old, often told endorsements parrot. You have to study the design, understand it and compare to known performance.

For example; there are several "bonded" bullets out there and have been for some time. However, they are NOT all equal. You can take a conventional thin copper jacket and bond it to a soft lead core and call it a bonded bullet but it will come apart just like any "soft", frangible cup and core always has. The weakest part of the design after all is no more resilient than the soft lead interface just outside the thin bonded layer of lead that is actually bonded to the jacket. Or, you can put a very thin retaining ring inside the jacket of a cup and core bullet and call it a LOCK as one company has for too many years and sell it as a tough big game bullet. It never was and never will be. You can take a copper jacket, put a lead core in it, reverse it and call it a "solid" .... which it never was and never will be. Old sayings, wive's tales and oft repeated parroted endorsements based on misconceptions die hard. Your experience with the Kynoch "solid" mirrors the experience of the late Don Heath (Ganyana) with that bullet- it's just a reversed, soft, cup and core that is called a "solid".

I wonder which design of monolithic solid was used for the assessment by Gibbs?- there is a lot of difference among monolithics!
He probably used A Square ! A Square Monolithic solids had no bands or lead in them ( if my research is accurate ) which lead to increased barrel strain .
Don Heath had a similar experience with A Square Monolithic solids in the M1 Garands used by his men to shoot cow and calf Elephants ( 220 grain Meplat A square Monolithic solids ) and the .458 Winchester Magnum Model 70 rifles used by his men to shoot bull Elephants. The barrel life was less than 500 rounds .
My friend in Bear Country replicated this test . He is a massive gun collector of fire arms manufactured in America and actually bought a huge stock of A square monolithic solids in .30-06 and .458 Win Mag ( He also has 9 rounds of .577 T - Rex , but Sadly doesn't own a gun in that Caliber. I really wanna let off a few 750 gr Monolithic meplat brass Solids some day :( ) . For his test , he used one of his M1 Garands and a Colt Sauer .458 Winchester Magnum rifle ( beautiful gun. Came with a DETACHABLE MAGAZINE ) .
True to form , the M1 Garand had it's rifling wear out in 571 shots ( although , you could notice key holing from round 528 ) . The .458 Winchester Magnum Colt Sauer lasted 540 rounds before it's rifling got worn out in the barrel . I still think he did a very foolish job using that expensive Colt Sauer . They were a hot item :( . BUT they did account for a lot of elk , moose and 3 Grizzly Bears and 5 black bear and dozens of feral hogs.
BTW , could you explain to me , exactly what is a " cup and core " solid ? I hear the term a lot but am not familiar :)
I use Cutting Edge Monolithic meplat brass Solids myself :D Awesome stuff. But since l don't handload ( yet ), l have to pay a friend at our local range to load them up for me :( . I buy the brass , Bullets and Propellant .
 
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CTDolan

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Mono-metal bullets can be made from various alloys, some being brass.

Cup and core is the original metal-jacketed bullet. They're made by drawing a cup of metal (typically an alloy of copper) and, partway through the process, inserting a lead core. Bonded bullets have a lead core that is chemically bonded to the jacket, usually via a process involving heat (the processes vary, each manufacturer having their own, proprietary method).

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CTDolan

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The idea behind a bonded core, as you likely know, is to prevent jacket-core separation. A good example is the Nosler Partition vs. a Swift A-Frame. The Nosler is not bonded, the result of which is frequent separation of the forward core from the jacket (this is not bullet failure as the Nosler is designed to shed up to around 40% of its weight). The Swift is bonded, therefore the forward core and jacket remain intact (the bullet shedding, at most, a few percent of its weight).
 

Hoss Delgado

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Mono-metal bullets can be made from various alloys, some being brass.

Cup and core is the original metal-jacketed bullet. They're made by drawing a cup of metal (typically an alloy of copper) and, partway through the process, inserting a lead core. Bonded bullets have a lead core that is chemically bonded to the jacket, usually via a process involving heat (the processes vary, each manufacturer having their own, proprietary method).

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Thank you for simplifying :) So basically , a Cup and core , is a nickel , steel or copper jacket placed over a lead core. Bonded , is when the jacket is attached to the lead core . I can see now , why my Hornady bullets failed ! The lead actually got squished out of the base ! :( ( Little hard to explain , l should have taken a picture if l knew that someday l would join AH forums years later ) .
I think I'll stick to Monolithics :) and guns which can handle them
 

Hoss Delgado

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The idea behind a bonded core, as you likely know, is to prevent jacket-core separation. A good example is the Nosler Partition vs. a Swift A-Frame. The Nosler is not bonded, the result of which is frequent separation of the forward core from the jacket (this is not bullet failure as the Nosler is designed to shed up to around 40% of its weight). The Swift is bonded, therefore the forward core and jacket remain intact (the bullet shedding, at most, a few percent of its weight).
The first time l heard the word " Bonded " was as a child when l met Mr. Mark Sullivan in the late 1980s . Mr. Sullivan was using a .577 Nitro Express Double rifle at the time to back up his clients ( a British gun... He got a Heym .577 Nitro Express Double which was built to honor him many years later ) . He made a statement how " Bonded bullets ain't available in the .577 Nitro Express easily " . 30 something years later , l think he is happy with today's wide selection :)
Very useful in his " Battles " ( his catch phrase for stopping a charge )
 

CTDolan

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Correct, a cup and core is a metal jacket around a lead core (and, as you say, solids usually feature a steel jacket...by the way, the Hornady DGS also has a steel jacket (put one next to a magnet some time), and an alloyed lead core, originally not bonded, its performance in the eyes of many leaving much to be desired).
 

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