What caliber would you choose........

sandman0921

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OK, despite my better judgement, I've decided to take the plunge and purchase my first double rifle in the next 2-3 months. While I would love to have one of the vintage (or new) bespoke english doubles (Wesley Richards, Holland and Holland), I still love my wife, and want to stay married as long as I can :LOL:. As such, I've been looking at the various manufacturers of modern double rifles (Merkel, Heym, Kreighoff, Chapuis, Verney-Carron, and B. Searcy). Not that they're inexpensive by most firearms standards, but I wouldn't have to take out a second mortgage to cover the cost of one.

After researching different manufacturers, both here and on other forums, I am leaning heavily towards commissioning a Verney-Carron Azur PH Round Body double rifle. From all I've read, they're a very well put together double, and have a lot of standard features that cost extra on other manufacturer's rifles. They supposedly balance very well, and are very accurate. Plus they're supposedly very accurate for a double. I talked for a while to Mr. Busch at Kebco, LLC who orders and imports them from the factory in France. He was a very nice, and entertaining fellow. He answered my questions no matter how dumb they were. The only thing that gives me pause is the fact that I've never handled or shot a VC double. I've handled and shot others, but not one from Verney-Carron. I wish I would have made it to DSC or SCI to get fitted and handle one of these rifles at the very least, but I couldn't swing it this year. However, I feel pretty comfortable in my choice after talking with Ken. I'm going to get fitted in the next few weeks by a fellow that Ken at Kebco recommends in PA so that I do it right from the get go.

After all that, my question is what caliber should I choose? At first, I had my heart set on a rifle in 500 N.E. 3" because elephants will be hunted with it one day, along with buffalo, hippo, etc.. However, the more I read, I'm not so sure it would be the best choice in caliber for me. I know a lot of PH's, and members who contribute to the Africa Hunting forums love the big 500 as a stopper, and that's why I originally was leaning towards that caliber. However, the more I read, I really like the idea of a double in the classic 450 N.E. 3 1/4". I'm a hand-loader, and there is a plethora of 0.458 bullets to choose from. I also have recently taken delivery of an AHR DGR rifle in 450 Rigby Rimless, so I already have a good supply of 0.458 500 grain bullets (realizing the traditional 450 NE load fired a 480 grain bullet). Also, the recoil factor is less than a 500 NE. Performance is on par with the very popular 470 NE, and at less pressure. I've also considered a 450/400 NE, and I know that a lot of guys on here love that caliber, but I think for me, I would prefer the 450 NE 3 1/4" or 500 NE. Finally, it's the old classic double nitro express cartridge, and where the "modern", cordite-loaded doubles all started way back when. There's gotta be a little bit of a"nostalgia factor" when carrying a 450 NE 3 1/4" double rifle around Africa, right? The only real pause I have with a 450 NE is that I already have a 450 Rigby and I kinda would like something in a different caliber. I know that sounds crazy, but it's how my brain is wired.

So what say you all? Would a 450 NE 3 1/4" be a good choice in a double, or should I stick with something more common/popular like the 470 NE, or should I go for broke and get the 500 NE? This likely will be the only double rifle I ever own (I know some of you are saying ....yeah right;)). I want to make sure when I settle on a caliber, I won't look back one day and wish for something bigger.

Thanks in advance for any comments.
 

CAustin

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No 500 NE is what I would buy if I could. Merkel would be my choice of brand simple because I have shouldered one at Cabelas. Just don't buy a Sabatti.
 

tarbe

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I believe I would go with the 450 NE for the very reason you mention....as a handloader I can stand a better chance of working up useful loads at each end of the spectrum (maybe!).

However, as you already have a 450 Rigby....I'd be tempted to do something else. Maybe a 450-400? You can shoot elephant with one, right??
 

tarbe

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Or maybe sell the 450 Rigby and use the funds to buy brass and bullets and dies for that 500 NE! :)
 

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The aforementioned names are all high quality (i.e. Merkel, VC, Kreighoff, H&H, Rigby, etc.)...

The recoil.... Lol... When your already there... What's a little more?

How often you will use? How many bullets will you go through?

With the game your seeking, they are all more than enough....

Just go with what look, feels right & makes sense.

Good luck to you fine sir!
 

PaulT

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Sandman, welcome to the wonderful world of doubles !

I went through what you are going through now, a few years back, and have been completely satisfied with my purchase, I sincerely hope you will be too, doubles, any double, is not an insignificant cost.

When I was shopping for a double my requirements were way more specific than yours are now.

I was then employed a full time hunting guide concentrating on buffalo and my specific requirement centered around the potential for backing-up for clients in the early part of our season where contact with animals was at extreme close range and in thick cover where anchoring shots needed to be fast and often quickly repeated.
Bow hunts also provided the same potential requirements.

I too ended up buying a V.C in .500 N.E and have been extremely impressed with its performance and very happy with the quality of the build.

I have the Round-body action with short, matt-black barrels and with the lead ballast removed from the butt stock it weighs in at a convenient 9lb 10 oz, which is a great compromise between carry weight and shooting comfort.
I load mine with 475gn C.E.B Raptors @ 2400fps and it absolutely DEMOLISHES buffalo ! and prints nice clusters at 50yds to boot.
(there are some pics of it here somewhere with a buff I took with it recently)

Having witnessed the majority of double cartridges from 450/400 through to .577 on buffalo(loaded with factory generic projectiles), I would suggest you will not notice much difference in reactions from buffalo with most calibers between the .450 and the .470

The 450/400 is definitely a step up from say a .375 bolt gun and the .500 is definitely a step up from the .470

When loaded with modern quality projectiles some of these calibers become another beast entirely.

If I were to do it again, knowing what I know now, and having experienced what I have experienced, I would buy a smaller caliber, probably a .450, in a lighter rifle (9lbs is PLENTY) and loaded properly with these generation 6 projectiles and go and get the job done.

Hope to have been some help, good luck with the purchase Ken helped me a LOT when buying mine, buy with confidence from Ken he is A+.

Paul.
 

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Hi Sandman,

Great problem to have! I joined the dbl rifle ranks a year or two back and it IS everything its made out to be!
I had my heart set on a 450NE for the same reasons as you, as well as having shot one, I found the recoil really easy.
I have ended up with a Krieghoff .470NE because I found a unique rifle (3x barrel sets - .470NE, 9.3x74R and 20G shotgun) at a great price. Its not a .450NE, but man its great to shoot.

I would still choose a .450NE given the choice, but you wont go wrong with anything from 450/400 up!

Enjoy!
 

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i dont think you can go wrong with the 450 NE 3.25", 470 NE, or 500 NE 3".

your choice should be based off how often you shoot and how often you plan hunt elephants. if you like to shoot a lot at the range or out the woods the 450 NE 3.25" will be cheaper to feed as a hand loader. a rifle in 470 NE will hold its value better then the other two. the 500 NE 3" will cost more to feed and have greater recoil but will have better downrange performance on critters. all three are solid cartridges that wont let you down.

personally id go with the 450 NE 3.25" but then again I already plan on a 505 Gibbs which mimics the 500 NE 3". i might pick differently if i wasn't already going for the Gibbs.

i know this probably didnt help you much but its hard to pick one over the other when your talking about three excellent cartridges!

-matt
 
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Pondoro

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Sandman....FWIW, a friend recently recieved his .450 NE V-C round action...

I must say, having handeled the modern Krieghoffs, Merkels, Chapuis I must say those V-Cs are the most resemblent to the old brit rifles....I like it at lot. His has a proper balance and weighs in at 10,6 pounds and is regulated with Hornady ammo..

If I was to order a new large bore double today I would take a V-C in either .450 , .470 or .500NE. All are great rounds.
 

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P9110203.JPG
Here's my V.C Round-Body C.C.H action ejector model in .500 N.E in action.
In this instance the 475gn C.E.B entered the skull, travelled through the neck muscle, through the top of the chest, through the top of the abdomen and exited the top of the rear opposite hip after smashing the bone !
About 5 & 1/2 feet of penetration, all at approx. 140yds.
 

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I have no experience using doubles in Africa but I can say that I'm a gun snob with tastes that exceed my budget. I've had nearly a hundred english guns (no rifles) and can state emphatically that they are so vastly superior that everything else is a serious compromise. (but life and marriages are all about compromise)

What the auction market tells me is that everything under .375 H&H is a bargain in the English DR arena by a wide berth. I would suggest familiarizing yourself with what calibers you can tolerate and see if you can find something English that will meet your requirements vintage if you want a best gun for the price of a modern non-English rifle. I see Westley cartridges, oval bore rifles, nitro for black powder and some of the medium metric calibers available at fair prices. When it comes time for heirs to sell your collection they'll certainly be in a better asset class than the more contemporary offerings from Belgium, France, Germany and Italy.

Caveat: I do not know what is sufficient or appropriate as to caliber for the game you intend to pursue and that might make all the difference. No .470NE, or above is going to be affordable and English.
 

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I have the exact rifle you are looking at in 470 NE, I also bought mine from Ken...................... I have had two 470NE doubles and I do believe if I had it to do over again I would have gone with the 450NE. For the reasons you pointed out but also in the same weight bullet you are gonna get better penetration on the .458 than the .475.

.
 

sandman0921

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Thanks for all of the advice on caliber choice for my first double. I'm leaning heavily towards the 450 N.E. 3 1/4" now, although the 500 N.E. is still a possibility. I probably will only have the shot at 1, maybe 2 elephants in my life, but buffalo is probably something I'll do more I hope..

The 450 N.E. just seems to make more sense at this point..
 

matt85

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do keep in mind that a gun regulated for the 480gr Hornady cartridge will not likely shoot well with any other cartridge. you would have to have it regulated to a different cartridge if you wanted to use something else. this would be a major downside the the 450 NE 3.25" if you dont buy it strait from the manufacturer.

my dream rifle is a Heym 88B with a 28" barrel chambered in 450 NE 3.25". but i would have them regulate the rifle for either Woodleigh's or North Fork bullets. i DO NOT like Hornady ammunition.

-matt
 

sandman0921

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Yeah, we've discussed the Hornady bullets before with my 450 Rigby, and I agree. The more I've read about the DGX's the more I've been a little wary on using them on things that can bite back, or stomp you into the ground. As such, I've gone with the 0.458 Barnes TSX 500 grain bullets instead....

That's exactly what I'm going to request with this Verney-Carron double, and see if they will regulate it with 500 grain solids of some sort, either Woodleighs, CEB's, or North Fork's (probably)....
 

matt85

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Woodleighs are a good relatively inexpensive choice if you want to shoot often. North Forks are superior bullets but are very expensive. Barnes has always been a solid choice in my book but i believe you cant get .458" solids at the moment due to the ATF so i would pass on those. ive never managed to get CEB bullets to shoot well in any of my rifles...

Swift may also be a decent choice now that they are producing solids.

-matt
 

AkMike

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My Searcy 450, the Sauer as well as the 500/450 Hollis all shoot well with either the 480 grn bullets or the 500's.
The 450 and 470 are just about twins in all ways so that's a toss up.

But the 500NE will be a step up and you can tell the difference!

I prefer the 450's personally.
 

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That's exactly what I'm going to request with this Verney-Carron double, and see if they will regulate it with 500 grain solids of some sort, either Woodleighs, CEB's, or North Fork's (probably)....

they will be using factory ammunition to regulate it with, so you will have to see what and if they can get in the bullet type you want...........alternatives to hornady are kynoch http://www.kynochammunition.co.uk/cartridge collection.html , and wolfgang romey http://wr-munition.com/british-express-cartridges.html. . if you go for a .450 the standard bullet weight is 480grn
 

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