‘Think artillery’ when it comes to the four-bore double rifles of Austrian gunmaker Peter Hofer.
STORY BY JIM DICKSON • Photographs BY PETER HOFER
The lengthy, illustrious history of the four-gauge rifle goes back to the days of the muzzleloaders very first employed against the pachyderms of India and Africa. These guns reached perfection with the advent of the breech-loading cartridge guns.
The normal load was 14 drams of black powder behind a 1,882-grain slug, which would give an approximate velocity of 1,200 to 1,400 feet per second. The immense unbridled energy of a shoulder gun firing the
maximum load for a ship’s swivel cannon generated 300 pounds of recoil power in a 22-pound rifle. For the record, a ship’s swivel cannon bigger than four-bore size will ordinarily tear itself out of the ship’s railing on firing.
To contact the four-bore rifle a cannon is no understatement. Its lengthy rifled
barrel really tends to make it a lot more effective than the ship’s swivel cannon.
The necessity of these monsters was driven by the inability of smallbore black powder rifles of the day to deal with the huge beasts of India and Africa. In these days the major game had not but discovered the worry of the white hunter and attacks by major game even though traversing thick cover could be anticipated.
Each 12-bore and 10-bore rifles have been attempted and discovered wanting on elephants and rhino, the latter of which may well charge as a matter of policy upon getting disturbed. There was also Africa’s Cape buffalo and Asia’s gaur, the biggest of all the wild bovines, a monster that tends to make the Cape buffalo appear like a runt in comparison. Only the eight-gauge and the four-gauge proved up to the job of reliably stopping them beneath the worst situations.
The eight-gauge guns with 200 pounds of recoil power in an 18-pound rifle proved the most well known, as they have been the most gun that quite a few guys could properly use. For these who have been man adequate to deal with them, the four-gauge was the logical decision. It is worth noting that absolutely nothing has ever come close to the stopping energy of the eight- and four-gauge guns, regardless of the power figures of higher-velocity smokeless cartridges bandied about. When facing a charge from the biggest and most harmful game on Earth in thick cover at a variety of just a couple of feet, you do not want something else. Attempting to substitute smaller sized calibers with higher velocity and paper power figures for major heavy bullets on major game at close variety has developed a lengthy line of tombstones continuing down to the present day. Size does matter.
THE Intense WEIGHT and recoil of these behemoths led to the decline in their use when effective smokeless powder rifles became accessible. Cartridge size is a different issue that figured prominently in their demise, but no a single has ever place this in print. A box of four-gauge shells weighs 25 pounds and will fill a Vietnam-era fanny pack. The shells themselves are just more than an inch thick. Examine this to the svelt .577 three-inch Nitro Express, whose rounds match nicely in shell loops on your shirt, and you can see that a complete day’s shooting by a experienced ivory hunter needs ammo bearers for the four-gauge. The .577 Nitro Express has only half the recoil of the eight-gauge and a third the recoil of the four-gauge, as effectively as a comparatively mild 100 foot-pounds of recoil power. Do not kid your self. That nevertheless hurts.
But the demand for the ultimate stopping rifle under no circumstances absolutely went away and incredibly compact numbers of four-bore rifles continued to be constructed. I effectively don’t forget handling a four-bore hammerless H&H that I lacked enough funds to invest in quite a few years ago. In a lot more current years, the four-bore was the topic of a single of the most impressive feats of double rifle regulation ever performed. The late David Perkins was a single of the finest English Finest Good quality gunmakers of the 20th Century. Given that most persons only want to invest in old established gunmaking names, he purchased the Charles Lancaster name to make guns beneath.
Perkins was assisting Mark Crudgington, a different good gunmaker, construct a four-bore double rifle when he achieved the good feat of calculating the quantity of the wedge that would go in between the barrels so that the gun was completely regulated the very first time it was test fired. It was a feat created all the a lot more complicated by the truth that double rifles have to be individually regulated, as the quantity of spreading the barrels to stop cross firing varies from gun to gun in the identical caliber. The major gauge guns are a bit a lot more forgiving, but nevertheless, this is the only time that I know of that this has been performed effectively.
IN TODAY’S Planet, velocity is king and magnums are all the rage. Austrian gunmaker Peter Hofer has risen to the challenge and constructed what can only be termed the four-Bore Magnum, a gun firing a 1-inch-diameter two,000-grain bullet at up to two,624 feet per second.
The normal loads are a higher load at two,418 fps and a medium load at
1,903 fps. Hofer says the recoil of the medium load is 199.14 foot-pounds (that is down to eight-bore recoil levels!), the higher load is 317 foot-pounds, and the maximum load is 373.21 footpounds.
The maximum load has an power of 30,671 foot-pounds. That is 5 instances larger than the effect power of the .700 Nitro Express.
According to the Taylor Knock Out worth formula, the four-bore maximum load has a KO Element of 750, the higher load has a KO Element of 690, and the medium load has a KO Element of 543. This is emphatically and drastically superior to all the contemporary nitro calibers. The KO Element of the .700 Nitro Express is a mere 196, even though the .600 NE is 155.9, the .500 NE is 89.three, the .470 NE is 72.9, and the .416 Rigby is 57.1.
Accuracy of the four-bore rifle is up to all requirements for heavy-gauge rifles, as it groups inside 9 centimeters (that is three.54 inches) at 40 yards with 1-inch-diameter bullets. You do not use a heavy rifle on major game at lengthy variety. Bear in mind the old elephant hunter’s suggestions to a newcomer to the trade: “Get as close as you can to the elephant and then get 10 yards closer.”
I would add the admonition to not overdo that, as I don’t forget a single hunter
who got also close and his elephant almost fell on him when he shot it. You can overdo something, it appears.
When firing a gun with more than 300 foot-pounds of recoil power, right type is mandatory. You can not brace against it and fight the recoil with out obtaining injured. You have to lean into the gun and get a firm grip on it, as a gun of this size and recoil can fly out of your hands if held loosely and fired. If you have a lengthy neck, you may well be advised to brace it as effectively to stop whiplash impact. Hold the gun firmly against the shoulder so that it does not function up speed just before hitting you, but not so tight that the tissue is compressed just before it has to be. Now loosen up the rest of your physique and fire, letting the gun push you upright. Individuals who fire major guns from a straight upright position or leaning backwards to superior balance the heavy weight of the gun have no a lot more area to be pushed back and finish up knocked down. The trick is to roll with the punch like a boxer and permit your self enough area to give with the blow and nevertheless not have an effect on your balance.
THE four-BORE MAGNUM weighs 30 pounds and is 49.9 inches lengthy with a 24.four-inch barrel. This additional weight is definitely required to deal with the recoil of this monster. I just want the black powder-era four-bores had weighed this a great deal. Smokeless powder produces much less recoil than black powder and a unique smokeless powder was created to fill up the enormous case. It had to burn slow, as a quick-burning powder would create unbearable recoil at these velocities and could trigger injury to the shooter. The enormous slug had to be began gradually like a rocket lifting off for the gun to be safely fired at these velocities. The unique higher-volume powder with pores and a hollow physique took years to create. It is the only powder with enough volume and a slow adequate burn price to make this gun shootable at these higher velocities. Personally I would be content material with stopping at the ballistics of the original four-bore load and would not want any a lot more velocity than their medium load if I ever felt the will need for a lot more energy. I certainly do not take into account 30 pounds an excessive weight for any four-bore and I am sturdy adequate to effortlessly deal with a gun of this size. This is a single gun I actually want I had the dollars to invest in and go hunting with.
Receiving the brass circumstances created to this size proved a daunting job and added to the headaches, time and price of the project. Designing the ejectors was a tough job, as they would have to deal with circumstances that weigh 1 pound when completely loaded. Receiving them sturdy adequate to function with out requiring excessive force to close the gun was a complicated issue. A lot of experimentation with the pivot points on the ejectors resulted in obtaining enough leverage that the exceptionally sturdy ejector springs are barely noticeable when closing the gun. Early four-bore guns created with ejectors commonly need you to hold the barrels additional down toward the muzzle to get enough leverage to close them effortlessly.
All told, it took 12 years to function out all the issues to create this rifle, which then requires 10,000 operating hours to make. That has raised the value significantly, as that dollars has to be recovered. Peter Hofer would have to construct at least 10 weapons at $899,189 USD just to break even. Presently the value for this gun is $1 million USD. It is not for absolutely everyone but it charges what it has to price. Bear in mind that this gun was
developed and created to push the limits of gunmaking and major game rifle
efficiency to a new level.
The higher price of the years of improvement is the cause that no a single else has performed it. A project like this is performed for the sake of performing it alternatively of mere monetary acquire. When you want to make the most effective gun ever created in its category, the price is higher each to the maker and the client.
Editor’s note: For a lot more info, speak to [email protected]
or pay a visit to hoferwaffen.com.