Why no lever-action rifle for Elephants?

Philip Glass

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As some have mentioned the caliber selection is an issue as well as the propensity to jam are reasons to not use a lever for DG. I love lever actions and have many of them. At this point in my hunting career I would not chase elephant with anything but a double. It’s just too dangerous.
Philip
 

tarbe

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For Donald Trump, now it is time to follow the foodprints of Theodor Roosevelt and kill an Elephant with a lever gun.

A 30-30 is appropriate, I think….

HWL

I am happy just to see the demise of a few swamp rats.
 

crs

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"I think teddy used a 1895 Winchester in .405 win to shoot elephants,lions and rhino,s and maybe cape buffalo too."
Indeed. As did Osa Johnson in the 1920-1930s, the first female licensed PH in Africa.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_and_Osa_Johnson
IMHO, Osa was as cute as she was deadly! Always a combination to be treated with care and respect.

My modern Miroku/Winchester 1895 .405 has taken a lot of medium game and two biggies; a Cape Buffalo and one Asian water buffalo. Used hand loaded premium bullets on the two biggies.
The 400 grain Woodleigh bullet (at 2100 fps) used on the Cape buff and the 300 grain North Fork CPS (at 2250 fps) used on the water buff were definitely "premium " bullets; both did their job very well.

Those familiar with the ballistics of the 450/400 will note that the same 400 grain Woodleigh bullet in the .405 is in the same velocity envelope. Therefore, the .405 is capable of taking ele, but my 1895 .405 has not had the opportunity.

Now for the elephant ? Yes!
Here is my lever action 1886 .45-90 (.458 2.4) "elephant gun"


It has taken game from Blackbuck to Bison in Texas and Leopard, Cape buff, and ele in Africa.
The African game was taken with hand loaded .45-90 ammo using a variety of bullets from cast to Monolithic. The buff primarily with Kodiak FMJ 450 grain at 2150 fps. The Leopard with Nosler PP, and the ele with NF and Punch solids(with frontal brain shots).

This rifle has NEVER jammed or failed to function properly when shooting either 45-70 ammo or 45-90 ammo (which it can do interchangeably).
The Marbles folding barrel sight is good for close up biggies and the Marbles fording peep for smaller and/or more distant targets.

I trust this will answer the yes/no part of this discussion?
If not go read the Vince Lupo 45-70 Safari stories: http://www.garrettcartridges.com/luposafaris.html
 
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Forrest Halley

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Ok there's been enough false talk about the lever gun and reliability. Let's turn on the truth for a moment. Double rifles should be perfect for what you're laying out for one. An R8 had better work flawlessly in every caliber for what it costs. Bolt actions are for the most part being sent out to a specialist for tuning before being turned to DG hunting.
Lever actions are for the most part neglected in this respect. They are sent to parts changers and cosmetologists and they look rugged and tough when they come back. There are a few folks out there that really understand the geometry and relationships internally and how to optimize them. They all have SASS aliases. I firmly believe that armed with a lever gun that had been sent to one of them and had all the money put toward an action job you would come out ahead of these custom firearms that are being set as benchmarks. I believe you could hose down any elephant walking with a well tuned .45-90 or even .45-70 and turn heads with how much faster you turned out shots 3, 4, and 5.
 

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Crs, I'm glad to see a tang sight on your 45-90. I have them on a Lever gun as well. The last time I proposed them to someone on this site, I got my hat handed to me. The prevailing thought by others was that "those things would poke your eye out" if used on a big bore. Since mine are not on a heavy hitter I quickly stopped touting them, but I didn't change my sights either.
 

crs

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Sigh,,, Just think - If all shooters shared all the same knowledge, we would have nothing to argue or debate.
For instance, I know nothing about a rifle called the R8; Do not care either as all my rifle needs are already met; safes are full also.
Also, thank goodness there are sites such as this where we can share our little bit of knowledge to our mutual benefit.

Shootist 43- yes the tang sight (done right) is very useful for small or distant targets. It is also useful when testing in new hand loads. The folding barrel sight is faster for me for close in game or large targets such as bison or close in elk.

Tigris - The 1886 has been made since , well 1886. It kills ele just fine, thank you , with modern ammo.
Things such as scope sights and modern ammo have given many rifle designs much broader application.

No more time to chat. Back to wrapping presents.
 

IvW

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So when it comes to elephant hunting, the big debate seems to be a bolt or double. However, I think there are benefits that the lever-action style rifle has over the other 2.

Not only would a lever-action rifle beat a double in ammo capacity, but it would also beat a bolt rifle in speed as you would only need to do 2 movements of the hand to reload instead of 4, making it better for tight situations. And while a double rifle can shoot 2 rounds as fast as the hunter needs them, it's still only w and a 4 barrel rifle would be grossly cumbersome.

So my question is this. Why has no-one made a lever-action rifle based specifically made for thick-skinned, big-boned dangerous game rounds? I know the 45-70 can be used for that sometimes, but from what I've read, it's more adept at NA dangerous game and not as recommended as something like a .458 or 500 NE.

If ammo capacity and speedy reloads are the reason I would prefer a single shot with one well placed shot from a capable cartridge.....hunting elephants is not cowboy action shooting.
 

BeeMaa

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As some have mentioned the caliber selection is an issue as well as the propensity to jam are reasons to not use a lever for DG. I love lever actions and have many of them. At this point in my hunting career I would not chase elephant with anything but a double. It’s just too dangerous.
Philip
As a client hunter, I'd be OK with using a bolt action, double rifle or even a single shot for DG.
As a PH, that's a different story.
It's the hunters proficiency with the rifle and the inherent reliability of the action that make a good combination.
Of course proper caliber, bullet and good shot placement are also major factors.
That said, lever actions just aren't my style, but that doesn't mean they aren't capable of taking DG.
 

tigris115

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This is going off-topic, but I think doubles and levers being popular in their respective homelands has a lot to do with history and colonialism

Doubles: Really hit their stride in Europe during/before the colonization of Africa/much of Asia. So it made sense that Africa would have a big double culture

Lever: Very much perfected in America, where things like elephants haven't roamed in over 10,000 years.

I ain't a gun expert or historian so please take what I say with a grain of salt but it's a hypothesis
 

crs

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Bruce,
Wanker?
Some years ago, I worked in Europe and in England with an English salesman that often used that term in a derogative manner. Is that the sense of your use WRT Teddy R?
Care to share details? ;)
 

crs

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The gentleman began this thread with some back ground information and opinions and then asked this question (and ONLY this question) -
"Why has no-one made a lever-action rifle based specifically made for thick-skinned, big-boned dangerous game rounds? I know the 45-70 can be used for that sometimes, but from what I've read, it's more adept at NA dangerous game and not as recommended as something like a .458 "

My response was that making another such lever gun is not necessary as there has been at least one such gun made and marketed in America for over 100 years. The rifle referenced is the Winchester 1886 chambered in .458 2.4 (also called a .45-90 to designate caliber and black powder charge). Starline brass for this rifle has 96 % of the capacity of the Winchester .458 Magnum (.458 2.5)
It is the bullets, not rifle actions that kill game and the .458 2.4 can launch a 400 - 450 grain solids plenty fast enough to kill any animal. It has been done many times with the .458 2.1 also.

All I did was answer the original question.
I did not try to convince anyone to use an 1886 for any purpose and I do not care whether they do or not.
Also no interest in hearing the same tired old BS about about what can and cannot kill certain animals.
Hell, you can kill any animal with a .308 and steel jacketed solids. That has been done too.

Yes, there are specialized tools for special applications, and those specialist should try to use the tools best suited to them and the tools with which are most competent.

To each his own.
 

Certus

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Elephant have been taken with .50 Alaskan in a marlin 1895.

And as above said - Winchester 1886 is incredibly strong. A .45-90 loaded as above, 450gr at 2150, is more powerful than my .450 nitro was loaded for from factory (440gr@2000fps). I have no doubt the load for the .450 will get the job done. Sectional density is 0.3 which is the recommended minimum for elephant, so 450gr is slightly more.

Another chambering with plenty of oomph is the .50-110. In a modern 1886 you can get a 525gr to 2100-2200fps. Also plenty.

Hmm.. think I’ll buy myself a levergun for Christmas. :D
 

bruce moulds

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I thought the 450 nitro used a 480 gn loading as std.
I know the kynoch original ammo I had used this bullet.
with regard the Winchester 50/110, there is a good chance the barrel twist would be insufficient for elephant bullets, unless you rebarreled.
bruce.
 

Certus

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I thought the 450 nitro used a 480 gn loading as std.
I know the kynoch original ammo I had used this bullet.
with regard the Winchester 50/110, there is a good chance the barrel twist would be insufficient for elephant bullets, unless you rebarreled.
bruce.

Heya Bruce.

Cogswell and Harrison used 440gr for some of their guns.

With the .50-110 that’s why I said modern, since, as you mentioned, the original twist was slow and intended for 300gr (IIRC?), but in a modern gun, go for gold!

Cheers,
Troy.
 

tigris115

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So since there are elephant calibers for lever action rifles, how come they never caught on as an African PH gun in the way they did for North American guides? Is it just habit or does the 1-2 punch of a double outclass the higher capacity of the lever?
 

Certus

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So since there are elephant calibers for lever action rifles, how come they never caught on as an African PH gun in the way they did for North American guides? Is it just habit or does the 1-2 punch of a double outclass the higher capacity of the lever?

Good question. I look forward to seeing the answer. I’ll hazard as to say that it’s an off the shelf availability issue. The loads required for a lever action to do the job aren’t there in factory format, and the cartridges and twist rates required also typically aren’t there in a factory gun. My example is the .50-110 mentioned above. Factory twist was super slow, for a 300gr bullet. But if you put a custom barrel with a faster twist on you can throw a 525gr at the same speed those 300gr’s are going - 2100-2200ish FPS.
I’d love to do it with a lever gun. Or anything lol. I’d just love to hunt an ele.
 

Certus

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I just went through the vintage African hunting thread to find these ones. 2 show Winchester 1895’s. One is a tubular magazine lever gun, but isn’t a photo with elephant. There were a few more pics with rhino and lever actions but I didn’t include those here.

full


watermark.php


watermark.php
 

BeeMaa

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So since there are elephant calibers for lever action rifles, how come they never caught on as an African PH gun in the way they did for North American guides? Is it just habit or does the 1-2 punch of a double outclass the higher capacity of the lever?
IMO.

The lever gun was designed and built in America in the mid 1800's and came to prominence during the American Civil War.
This make the lever gun uniquely American and is celebrated today with Cowboy Action Shooting.
It was also glamorized in Western style TV shows of the 1950's and 60's.
The rest of the world did not get the memo.

The double rifle for Africa was an export from the British gunmakers that went along with their colonization of Africa.
More than that the double rifle is truly two independent rifles in one.
A failure of one barrel to fire because of a malfunction in the lockwork will not have an effect on the other.
This makes the rifle uniquely suited for DG hunting, particularly in the hands of a capable PH.
Doubles rifles were not needed for American game and British occupation didn't last very long (~150 years).
As a result, the double rifle in America never really caught on.
 

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