.470 NITRO EX­PRESS

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD -

KOOS BAR­NARD

The .470 Nitro Ex­press, in­tro­du­ced to the B­ri­tish gun tra­de in 1900 by Jo­seph Lang, be­ca­me ex­tre­me­ly po­pu­lar and was a­dop­ted by ma­ny gun ma­kers. Its pro­mi­nen­ce is not en­ti­re­ly due to good per­for­man­ce in the field – po­li­ti­cs, and to be mo­re di­rect, B­ri­tish co­lo­ni­a­lism play­ed an im­por­tant ro­le in its ri­se.

In In­dia and Su­dan the lo­cals we­re get­ting fed up with B­ri­tish ru­le and se­ver­al u­pri­sings had to be quen­ched. As B­ri­tain had been u­sing the Mar­ti­ni Hen­ry .577/.450 for mi­li­ta­ry pur­po­ses for so­me y­e­ars and ma­ny B­ri­tish of­fi­cers, as well as In­di­an no­ble­men, had a­cqui­red spor­ting rifles in the ex­tre­me­ly po­pu­lar .450 Nitro Ex­press for hunting, the lo­cal In­di­an and Su­da­ne­se re­bels had access to good sup­plies of B­ri­tish am­mu­ni­ti­on. In an ef­fort to kill the am­mu­ni­ti­on sup­plies for the ma­ny .450s in “il­le­gal” hands, the B­ri­tish go­vern­ment ban­ned the use of .450 ca­li­b­re rifles and the im­por­ta­ti­on of .450 am­mu­ni­ti­on.

The B­ri­tish of­fi­cers and hun­ters vi­si­ting the two co­lo­nies had to find a re­pla­ce­ment and the .470 Nitro Ex­press, a mem­ber of the .470/.475/6 fa­mi­ly of car­trid­ges ( Car­trid­ges of the Wor­ld lis­ts four) be­ca­me for so­me re­a­son im­men­se­ly po­pu­lar.

Laun­ching a 500gr bul­let at an ad­ver­ti­sed 2 125fps it was de­ad­ly on a­ny­thing In­dia and A­fri­ca could dish up. So­lids (ac­tu­al­ly full me­tal jac­ke­ted bullets) put buf­fa­lo and e­lep­hants do­wn with e­a­se whi­le softs we­re me­an me­di­ci­ne on li­on and ti­gers. Being a rim­med car­trid­ge, and with a good num­ber of hun­ters pre­fer­ring a dou­ble for dan­ge­rous ga­me hunting, it was na­tu­ral that B­ri­tish gun ma­kers would a­dopt the .470 Nitro.

E­ven to­day Hol­land & Hol­land, Pur­dey and ot­hers are still ma­king guns cham­be­red in .470 Nitro and they are not the on­ly on­es. Eu­ro­pe­an ma­nu­fac­tu­rers such as C­hapuis, K­rieg­hoff, Sa­rasque­ta, Heym, Be­ret­ta and Fran­cot­te to na­me just a few, al­so pro­du­ce dou­bles in this ca­li­b­re as does Butch Se­ar­cy in A­me­ri­ca. Ru­ger’s No 1 sin­gle-shot rifle is al­so a­vai­la­ble in .470.

The .470 Nitro Ex­press dif­fers a litt­le from se­ver­al of the old En­g­lish big-bo­re car­trid­ges. Being in­tro­du­ced in 1900, it was ne­ver a black po­w­der car­trid­ge and li­ke the ca­ses of so­me of the .470/.476 fa­mi­ly of car­trid­ges, its ca­se too sports a s­lig­ht shoul­der. Li­ke ot­her big-bo­res in its class, the .470 Nitro Ex­press is a short-ran­ge buf­fa­lo and e­lep­hant stop­per. It does its be­st work at ran­ges un­der 75m and with o­pen sig­hts. It can be u­sed out to say, 150m on lar­ge an­te­lo­pe or the big cats, es­pe­ci­al­ly w­hen fit­ted with a sco­pe. Yes, e­ven the­se big-bo­re dou­bles can be sco­ped success­ful­ly, but nor­mal­ly one would re­ser­ve the .470 for c­lo­se-ran­ge work.

Alt­hough dou­bles are fi­ne guns and ha­ve a re­al “Out of A­fri­ca” sa­fa­ri look and ap­pe­al, I am not par­ti­cu­lar­ly fond of them. You of­ten he­ar com­ments li­ke: “This rifle tru­ly points li­ke a well-ma­de En­g­lish dou­ble”, w­hen so­meo­ne picks up a rifle and shoul­ders it. Truth is very few big-bo­re dou­bles, e­ven the En­g­lish on­es, point and hand­le well – for me at le­ast. I ha­ve on­ly hun­ted one a­ni­mal with a dou­ble but ha­ve u­sed a wi­de va­ri­e­ty on the shoot­ing ran­ge, fi­ring a lar­ge num­ber of rounds. I find them he­a­vy and clum­sy, es­pe­ci­al­ly mo­dern Eu­ro­pe­an dou­bles.

The on­ly well-ba­lan­ced on­es I ha­ve hand­led we­re tho­se dain­ty dou­bles ma­de for small ca­li­bres such as the .303 and the 9.3mm fa­mi­ly. My choi­ce would be a sin­gle-shot on a Ru­ger No 1 acti­on but, as you all know, sin­gle-shots are, for ob­vi­ous re­a­sons, not re­com­men­ded for fol­lo­wing up dan­ge­rous ga­me. Dou­bles of cour­se, ha­ve one big dra­w­back – they are pri­cy, very pri­cy.

Any­way, a dou­ble in .470 Nitro Ex­press is not a bad choi­ce for a man who re­gu­lar­ly g­oes af­ter dan­ge­rous ga­me (pro­vi­ded he is com­for­ta­ble shoot­ing a dou­ble). Fac­to­ry rifles are re­a­di­ly a­vai­la­ble in South A­fri­ca as well as am­mu­ni­ti­on (Fe­de­ral and RWS), as well as com­po­nents for re­lo­a­ding. Bar­nes, Wood­leigh, S­wift and ot­hers ma­ke bullets whi­le Nor­ma, Fe­de­ral, Ber­tram, Hor­ne­ber and Kyn­och ca­ses can be or­de­red. S365 seems to be the be­st lo­cal po­w­der for the .470 – 103 to 109gr of S365 will do the trick with 500gr bullets.

The mi­ni­mum sug­ge­sted lo­ad is good for a­bout 2 070fps whi­le the max­i­mum will launch a 500 grai­ner at ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly 2 230fps. W­hen u­sing a dou­ble the on­ly pro­blem re­lo­a­ders ha­ve is to find a lo­ad that will re­gu­la­te pro­per­ly. I­de­al­ly you do not want the bullets to stri­ke mo­re than one inch or 25mm a­part at 50m.

The .470 is a short-ran­ge stom­per of he­a­vy ga­me and can be stret­ched to re­ach out to 150m if need be. So, if you li­ke dou­bles and are pre­pa­red to spend the mo­ney you will not be sor­ry if yours co­me in .470 Nitro Ex­press.

Il­lus­tra­ti­on of car­trid­ge u­sed with per­mis­si­on of Pier­re van der Walt, who o­wns the copy­rig­ht.

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