Big Bore Rifle


October 16, 2004, 11:05 AM
I'm looking for a big bore rifle to own. I'm either looking at a .375, .416, or .458. I am wanting something that will have the most knock down power up to around 200 yards or so. I doubt that I'll ever make it to Africa, but incase I do I want something that will stand up to anything. I know that this is all pretty much "overkill" around Texas except for shooting rabbits....LOL...J/K. Also if I get a .458, I should get it in a .458 lott correct? I have heard that you can shoot the win mag out of it right? How's recoil on all of these?


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October 16, 2004, 11:40 AM
Given your desire to shoot out to 200 yards or so, I'd suggest the .416 Rem Mag. Brass and ammo are easier to get and much less expensive than .416 Rigby. More choices in rifles, too.

Load 350s at 2350 fps and you're good to go with much less recoil than the .458s, especially the Lott. By the way, in my experience, Remington factory ammo tends to be loaded on the hot side, whereas Federal's factory ammo is at the nominal specs of 400s at 2400 fps, vs. Remington at 2500 fps (out of my .416 RM's 60cm barrel).

Of course, there's nothing wrong with a .375 H&H out to that distance, but it's really a medium bore and not a big bore. Then again, strictly speaking, the .416 is a "'tweener," either a heavy medium or a light heavy.

October 16, 2004, 12:15 PM
One of my favorite subjects: Big Bore rifles

You have half of your problems solved though. You know you really don't have much application for the rifle, you just want one.

That gives you some flexibility. For sheer economy's sake look at a 375 H&H or a 458 Winchester, these are the bargin big bores so to speak. You wont save a lot on the guns, ammo will be where your savings happens. When you start looking at the more exotic big bores brass and bullets get spendy.

I like the 375H&H a lot, it shoots very similar to a 30-06, just a bigger bullet, more energy, and more recoil. If you have the ballistic tables of the 06 down in your head, the 375 H&H is an ideal companion cartridge.

Now I look in my gun rack and I have identified a need ( only because I don't own one ) to fill in a space above the old Holland. If I was being practicle ( I'm not ) I would get a 416 of some flavor, with a 350 gr spire point bullet it does pretty much like the 375 H&H does, similar ballistics to a 06. Bonus is 400 gr stopper bullets. Like I said I am not being practicle at all, and I know it, so the current apple of my eye is a 404 Jeffreys.

Frankly I am of the opinion that if your going to go through the exercise of a big bore rifle I want it in the classic chamberings. I am not going to pick a pet dog and preach on it though.

The real question in big bores is what rifle? This will make or break a pleasant experience. The are really only a few reasonably priced options. CZ-550's, and Winchesters are the two best in the budget range. Yeah there are some push feed rifles that are chambered but I wouldn't consider for a minute one of these big bore rifles unless it was CRF. Next question is wieght, golden rule " light is not good in this class of rifle" 9lbs without scope is good, 9.5-10 lbs is better. Another big issue is stocks, wood stocks need crossbolts or they crack, and stock style is important, a drop at the heel is not good, as it makes recoil worse, not because there is more, just how it pounds it into your shoulder.

I listed two manufactures above they are not the only game in town, but pretty much are in that price point, above the $1000 mark there is a lot of semi custom stuff. But I will save you some time; a quality square bridge mauser action starts over a grand and most are $2500-4000 for the actions alone, price a out a Dakota rifle in a big caliber, this is medium high quality ( there are more expensive trust me )

My suggestion is look at the CZ rifles these can be bought for under $700, then restock it. Toss the original in the fireplace when your done. The other good choice is the around $1200 model of the Model 70, this is pretty close to good to go. If you really want to try to save some dollars, hunt down an old Enfield, use a Douglass or a Shaw barrrel. This could be done pretty cheaply, as the bolt face is big enough, and the actions are large. They take a lot of work to clean up nicely though, but if your handy and have some machining ability its a good choice. Downside is that the resale value of these is pretty bad. Watch your Pint and Quarts on this one and don't let optimism overshadow good sense.

buzz meeks
October 16, 2004, 08:29 PM
I'll chime in for the CZ as well. I own two and I'm the first to admit they need some work to meet the highest standards. But for any but the most discerning, they are a great entry into the world of large bore rifles. Perhaps most importantly they are what all large bores should be- controlled round feed.

Having said all that, the Ruger Express is awfully pretty. But discontinued, perhaps?

October 16, 2004, 09:02 PM
I was actually looking at the CZ the other day. I can't remember what the cost was, but it was something close to 600 give or take a few. Better than what I thought. I still can't decide what I am really wanting. I think I'm leaning towards the .458 lott and the .416. Just haven't decided on the rem or the rig yet. I have seen the .458 win shells run $39 for 20 but I haven't seen any of the other rounds because my shop don't keep stuff like that around. I think that box has been there for 4 years. LOL. Thanks for everyone's information.

October 17, 2004, 11:27 AM
You can, of course, go hunt Nilgai or Eland at game ranches in Texas.:)

I'm going to disagree with some folks here and say that heavier ain't necessarily better. These are hunting rifles, and you shouldn't need a porter to tote it in the field. If it kicks too hard at the bench, get a gel pad for your shoulder.

I think a 8.5 pound .375 works fine - 9-9.5 with scope is okay. My #1 in .375 weighs about that much, and it has plenty of kick, but I can still bench it.

The Rigby runs at low pressure, which is an advantage in very hot tropical climates. I would pick it over the .416 Remington. CZ also now has available a "American Model" which has a straight stock, like most of us yanks prefer. I want one in .416 Rigby, myself.

It's pretty easy to find used .378 and .460 Weatherbys. That should tell you something:D

You don't mention a budget, but have you looked at one of the new 405 Winchester replicas? One of those or a 1886 Winchester in .45-70 is quite a handful.

October 17, 2004, 12:23 PM

I am not making a case for big bores on the bench, they are not bench guns we never designed to be. A small pillow in your shoulder helps, if you don't have a gel pad.

Even in the field I like the extra 1/2 lb or so. With this class of rifle balance is important, and when they get light they don't have that balance. I am not suggesting a field piece here, but some of these rifles are right at 8 lbs and I want the extra weight, when it is done right this is mostly in the larger contour of the barrel, and the extended magazine, with a good weigth distribution.

Around 10-10.5 ( max 11 ) is ideal, in my mind, my reference is to above the 375 H&H caliber here, the 416/424/458 calibers have a lot more recoil.

Back to the CZ 550, even with the American stock these need some help. I have done a fair amount of reading on these, and in the 416 Rigby these are going as little as 10 shots and cracking the stock. If you start with the American stock, these can be doctored by adding crossbolts (if it is a Lux stock I wouldn't bother), depending on how handy you are this can be a fairly low dollar upgrade, or cost a fair amount if you have someone else do it.

My CZ 550 is in 6.5x55 so it doesn't have anywhere near the recoil of the big bores so I am not nor do I suspect I will have issues. The going rumor is if your CZ is chambered above the 375 H&H, do stock work first. Here is a link that goes into the hows and whys much better than I will:

My suggestion on a new stock has justification in that when you are doing stock work, the labor costs the same whether you start with a plank out of the barn or a good stock blank, nothing changes in the amount of steps needed to make a stock. A couple of hundred dollars spent on a good piece of wood makes the difference between having something nice and a reworked barn door on your rifle.

CZ is also talking about introducing the 505 Gibbs next year, don't hold your breath, but it has been talked about and requested several times. One thing I really wish CZ would offer is an option to buy a better grade of wood on these, a good straight grain English walnut would be nice. They could finish it like they are now, but this would definately be a nice option, and make the work on their stocks worth the effort. This shouldn't be more than a $100-150 upgrade, and I would jump on another CZ with that option. Their is some cryptic reference to it on their website but none of the dealers know anything about it.

October 17, 2004, 12:32 PM
But I use the .45-70. I load mine hot, and they run in a Ruger #1S, which will be used someday soon to drop a Cape Buffalo. I'm also building a Siamese Mauser boltgun in that chambering. Accuracy isn't really the problem folks make it out to be, nor is the bullet trajectory, if you know what you're doing. Just watch a Quigley or Blackpowder Cartridge Silhouette match sometime. They aren't doing anything new that the folks with the original Shiloh-Sharps, Ballards, and Rolling Block Creedmoors didn't already know. ;)

Desert Dog
October 17, 2004, 12:44 PM

I am with you on this one. 45-70, to me, is about the most PERFECT big bore. Loaded hot, with the correct bullets, it will take anything on the planet, this side of a Brontosaurus, and the thunder lizard might want to wary as well!

Everything old is new again... :D

October 17, 2004, 12:50 PM
I nearly bought a #1 in .45-70 at the last gun show. Nice wood, and the #1S in .45-70 has a fairly light barrel. It is a handy, compact, and powerful rifle.

I was also really interested in the .405 Winchester in a #1, but Ruger ruined them by building them in the #1H, with the truck-axle sized barrel. Bummer.

October 17, 2004, 12:56 PM
I'm also building a Siamese Mauser boltgun in that chambering.

Ok, while 45-70 isn't my favorite cartridge, you definately caught my interest on that one. How about some details? I have thought about one of these for years and if I get a 45-70 that would be my first choice.

I actually know where a couple of these are and a little positive encouragement could get me motivated to add one to my project gun collection. ( there are a couple lined up in the que first ).

Otherguy Overby
October 17, 2004, 01:13 PM
Why not consider a 450 Marlin?

Or, just a newer 45-70 Marlin, they are strong and you could load one pretty hot.

A 45-70 guide gun, maybe?

October 17, 2004, 01:38 PM
How 'bout a Remington 700 / .375 UltraMag...? :what: :D

Black Snowman
October 17, 2004, 02:17 PM
Splurge that $8000 for an EDM Arms Windrunner in .408 Cheyenne Tactical. (
Or, if you don't have an unlimited budget for a wildcat in a custom rifle get the CZ. (

October 17, 2004, 03:10 PM
I actually have a marlin 45-70gs that I bought 1 year ago, but my problem is that I don't reload at this time. I'm kinda stuck with using light whimpy loads that remington sells. Where bouts can you buy some hot loads without paying out the a$$ for the bullets and shipping?

Black Snowman
October 17, 2004, 03:30 PM
Buffalo Bore has good stuff:

October 17, 2004, 03:36 PM
Since Africa is out, I think a .375 H&H Magnum caliber rifle will suit any need you will encounter here in North America.
It is plenty powerful, really more than adequate and factory ammunition is still priced in the realm of affordable unlike the even more powerful Weatherby and Remington offerings in this caliber.
The recoil isn't bad either, less than a 3" 12 guage shotshell.
.378 Weatherby recoils so hard it is actually unpleasant to fire more than a few rounds at a time.
Forget the .416 stuff, it is stupidly overpriced as is .458 Lott and .460 Weatherby and again recoil can be more than unpleasant after more than three or five shots.
Factory .458 Magnum ammunition is pretty pathetic anymore and you can actually duplicate most of it with a good strong .45-70 rifle and careful reloading.
While I am no real fan of big Weatherby calibers on this continent, if you want the ultimate rifle then I would recommend a Mark Five Dangerous Game Rifle in .375 H&H Magnum.
Everything is done just right with these rifles, even the little details are impressive.
Expensive? Yes.
Worth it? Worth every penny, and what you save on ammunition cost will offset the price of these extremely well made rifles.

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