Last year I wrote about a massive 2 bore rifle, that was not yet fully complete. Colin Stolzer, of Stolzer & Son’s Gunsmithing, contacted me with some additional information and photos of the completed rifle. Colin build some of the parts of the rifle while he was an apprentice of Master Gunsmith Steve Zihn. Click to expand all the photos.
Colin also forwarded on an email from Steve Zihn. I wondered if it was a true rifle or a paradox gun (part smoothbore, part rifled). Steve confirms that it is a rifle:
it’s a real rifle, not a paradox gun. 36″ barrel , but it only came to 22 pounds. If I ever do another one I am going to make a recessed breach because you can’t get your hand around anything larger. that’s why it’s “only” 22 pounds. If I were to use a barrel that would get it up to 30 pounds I’d still have to wrap a stock around it. Then no normal man (even with big hands) can grip it and the recoil will cause it to jump out of you hands completely.
You can tell them about yourself 6′ 5″ tall, and 240 pounds . You shot the 4 bore and it was enough to cause you trouble. So you can just imagine what a 2 bore would be like (4X the recoil at the same scale) It will make a good post for you. then tell them about the 8 bores you are building. If there ask anything more I’ll chime in later and endorse you.
Back when I was apprenticing in his shop he was commissioned to build a 4 bore Muzzleloader in a similar style as the 2 bore.
When it was nearly finished and needed to be sighted in I got the pleasure of helping do that job. The 4 bore exerts 255 PSI at 32 FPS of felt recoil(if I remember the number correctly), and I can tell you that at 6′ 5″ and 240 pounds and being very experienced with big bore guns, it was still more than enough to push be back a quick two step. And after 2 shots left me black and blue for about 5″ around my shoulder area(part of that was because the rifle was built for a smaller statured person so it really didn’t fit me). But the owner of the 4 bore shot it once and sent it back to Steve to sell.
The man bought more gun than he could handle, and I believe it was more painful than he wanted to ever shoot again(speculation on my part).
Heh, personally I am pretty recoil sensitive. As much as I want to shoot one of these *big* bores, I think I would rather watch someone else shoot them
I asked Colin why these types of big bore guns are never seen with a muzzle brake:
In a smokeless powder rifle of these calibers a muzzlebrake would be a necessity but with blackpowder, which is what most of the big bore guns are, the powder doesn’t convert to gas expansion rapidly like smokeless so the benefits of a brake would be minimal.
And then you run into the aesthetics, the guys who buy these kinds of rifles are typically traditionalist and putting a muzzlebrake on a classic African rifle would be a sacrilege to most of them, so it just isn’t done. I’m honestly not sure a guy could build one of these is a smokeless configuration, by the time you got enough steel into the action to hold the pressure, you wouldn’t be able to hold the gun up, and even then the recoil would probably be literally lethal.
I’ve read pretty much everything I can find on big bore rifles, and almost every one of the classic dangerous game hunters wrote of the 2 and 4 bores giving them headaches, spinning them around(Sir Samuel Baker said his 2 bore would try to spin him around like a “weathercock in a hurricane”) nosebleeds, and concussions from the recoil. Sir Samuel Baker ended up with permanent nerve damage from using the 2 bore that effected him in his declining years to a point were it left him basically punch-drunk all the time and his wife had to care for him.
This type of rifle starts at $4500 and then goes up depending on what wood , engraving, checkering etc. you want.
Colin is currently specializing in building custom muzzle loaders, including double rifles and big bore 8 gauge/bore rifles. He can be contacted at his website Stolzer & Son’s Gunsmithing.