black powder expresses


August 7, 2013, 04:57 PM
guns like the 450 bpe and 577/500 black powder express....why did they call them expresses,they werent high velocity were they?
what did they hunt with them?
any more info anybody have one?

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August 7, 2013, 06:15 PM

Go down to History and Origins. It's somewhat complicated - basically it was called called .500 Express at the time but it's a caliber that transitioned from black powder to smokeless and we've gone back and renamed the earlier versions for clarity.

Jim Watson
August 7, 2013, 07:01 PM
The origin was in the Purdey "Express Train" rifles. Everybody knew an express train was fast.
They got high velocity as black powder goes, by using a lot of powder and a light bullet.
A friend has a Webley .450 BPE ca 1887 if not earlier, and it is regulated for a 270 grain copper tube hollowpoint bullet over 120 grains of powder. About 1700 fps.

These are NOT elephant guns. Lion at most.

You shot an elephant with an 8 bore (.835-.850 caliber.)

August 7, 2013, 08:22 PM
If ya read enuff on the subject of BP "Express" loads you'll find it's related to:

Ballistic coefficient: bullet length determines what's "Express".

Velocity: BP has velocity limits due to low gas/high solids(smoke) production.

Twist rate: shorter bullets need slower twist, longer bullets need faster twist.

Range capability: long range (1000yds) bullets are long, short range (400yds) bullets are short.

These four factors, there may be more, controlled the "Express" rating of a cartridge back in the day.

Express loads were large caliber, .50cal on up. The larger the caliber, the greater the recoil, due to the mass of the bullet...Newton's law :-D

If the ballistic coefficient was to be kept high, for long range shooting, a .50cal bullet had to be long enuff to weigh 600 to 700 grs. Bang that off & it makes ya wanna run away from home! No clam-shell muzzle brakes back then. No rubber recoil pads.

Larger than .50 caliber bullets, to be long enuff, have to weigh even more. The recoil is worse.

So the Express load was developed for BIG game that had to be taken at shorter ranges anyway. Shorter bullets, weighing less, but in large caliber, retaining high cross-sectional density, & higher velocity, still packed a wallop. And their recoil was much less. They just ran outa steam, at long range, 'cuz wind resistance overcame their lighter mass.

Silhouette shooters know all about this subject. Very few of 'em shoot the .50 - 2.5''. It was developed for buffler at short range w/a 450gr lead bullet. And 36'' twist. It's an Express load, by definition, even though it never bore that name.

A 600gr .50 cal bullet needs 18'' twist, 'cuz it's longer. And here comes the recoil!

.40-65 & .45-70 are popular for long range Silhouette, 'cuz the bullets can be long & not weigh enuff to generate punishing recoil.

Kindest Regards,

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