Bore - Rifles
By Sherman Bell
Reprinted courtesy of Double Gun Journal.
From my perspective, eccentric as it may be, there is romance and adventure in the study of big-bore
black powder rifles—rifles that shoot huge lead balls or conical bullets, propelled by multiple drams of real powder. In this context, “big bore” does not refer to the .450 or .500 caliber rifles or even the formidable .577s. I offer a study of rifles whose bullets are commonly quantified in fractions of a pound, rather than caliber. The light, handy and effective 16-bore rifles used a one-ounce ball. At the large extreme, the mighty 4 bore shot quarterpound spheres or even heavier conical bullets. The breech-loading bore-rifle was the dominant force for hunting big game and the biggest of big game during most of the last half of the nineteenth century. These big-bore wonders from the past, were not all doubles, some were fine single-barrel rifles and we will include them in our study. The singles used some of the
same action mechanisms, had the same high degree of workmanship and came from the same British workshops as our beloved doubles. They are wonders in their own right and surely deserve their place of honor—even in this journal, normally dedicated to doubles. Regardless of configuration, each “bore-rifle” is a rare vestige of centuries past. They will not be made again and although they still exist in some numbers, they are like the widely scattered members of an ancient fraternity. Most of them do not get