A Mighty 2 Bore Muzzleloader

No other shoulder fired firearm throws a bigger mass of lead than the mighty 2 bore rifles. Ever since learning about the existence of these monster arms I have been fascinated by them. Sir Samuel Baker, the famous British adventurer, wrote about his personal 2 Bore rifle named, ironically, “Baby”.

I was afraid to use it, but now and then as it was absolutely necessary, it was cleaned after months of staying loaded. On such occasions my men had the gratification of firing it, and the explosion was always accompanied by two men falling on their backs (one having propped up the shooter) and the “Baby” flying some yards behind them. This rifle was made by Holland and Holland, of Bond Street, and I could highly recommend it for the Goliath of Gath, but not for the men of A.D. 1866.

- Sir Samuel Baker -The Albert N’Yanza, Great Basin Of The Nile, 1866 pp.138

Colin, of Stolzer & Son’s Gunsmithing, apprenticed under Master Gunsmith Steve Zihn. I have previously covered the amazing 2 Bore that Steve built. Colin assisted Steve with some of the parts for that 2 Bore and recently has been building a 2 Bore himself and chronicling the build in detail on his website.

8 bore ball (middle), approx. 3500 grain 2 Bore ball (right)

He had two main design goals. The first was to slim down the profile of the pistol grip so it was easy hold. This was achieved by building a solid steel boxlock action with dimensions similar to that of an 8 Bore (.835″ in caliber vs. the 1.326″ of a 2 bore1 ), but which could support the massive 2 bore barrel.

Note the beautiful animal’s head hammer.

The second goal was to reduce the recoil as much as possible. In pursuit of lower felt recoil, Colin tried to make the weight of the rifle as close to 30 lbs as possible. By the time it was finished it weighed 24 lbs. For comparison that is more than a loaded M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)! A recoil pad was added, something purists of these guns avoid (for reasons I cannot fathom).

Adding lead to the stock for weight and balance.
Firing the 2 bore in slow motion. Remember it weighs 24 lbs!

The finished rifle is a beautiful work of art and engineering.

The stock was made from a piece of American Black Walnut cut on Collin’s own property.
Colin made matching accessories.

This blog post has only scratched the surface of the detailed documentation, photos and videos that Colin made while building the rifle. I highly recommend reading Colin’s account of the process.

Colin told me that he plans on selling his creation. I do not know how much these custom rifles are worth, but I am sure he will discuss it with you if you are interested. His contact details can be found at Stolzer & Son’s Gunsmithing.

A big thank you to Colin for providing me with information and letting me use his photos.

  1. This rifle is slightly smaller than the normal 2 bore and has a bore diameter of 1.275”. There is some variation in these guns and I remember hearing somewhere that “Baby” was closer to a modern 4 Bore than a 2 Bore. 

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • To put things into perspective, 3,500 grains equals half a pound.

  • Steve,

    Thank you for the great post about the build, and thank you for the blog itself I enjoy your articles.

    Colin Stolzer

  • Matt Groom


  • Ken

    What is the muzzle energy of that 2 bore?

    • Ken, good point! Colin, do you know how fast the lead is propelled?

  • I haven’t actually chrono’d any loads yet, if I had to guess I would say probably in the 1200-1300fps range.

    I ran the numbers on a ballistics calculator a while back and IIRC the muzzle energy was around 12,000FPE at 1300fps, without chronographing the loads though it’s just a guess.

    Colin Stolzer

  • Ken

    In the .50 BMG range…nice.

  • I cant believe that the shooter in that video didnt lean into the gun like you have to on some of the nitro express rifles.

  • That’s me in the video, and the reason I don’t have to lean into it like you see in a lot of the other videos is for a couple reasons. The first is this is black powder and doesn’t generate the sharp fast recoil that smokeless does. Second reason is that this rifle weighs 24 pounds, compared to 12-16 pounds of most of the nitro express rifles. And the final reason is because I have been building and shooting big bore rifles for years and have a lot of experience with proper shooting stance and control of big bores.

    • Colin, can you feel the heavy lead ball traveling down the barrel after you pull the trigger?

  • No it has as fast a time as any muzzleloader, the noticeable effects of recoil all happen after the shot is over, just like any rifle. It all happens in a split second, it’s only when you slow the video down into frame by frame that you can really see how much effect it has. If you watch the videos on my site that are at normal speed it looks just like shooting any other heavy recoiling rifle.

  • John Waters

    I would like to see a sabot+cnc-cut 50 cal (*cough* lehighbullets.com) loading for this. 🙂

  • sergei

    bakers gun was not a 2 bore.The gun itself still exists in a museum and is between 3 and 4 bore. He used halfpound shells but never said ‘half pound ball’ anywhere in his writings. He also never used the term 2 bore either, anywhere in any of his books. The half pound shells he used were therefore slimmer conical projectiles.

  • Jim

    What is the load data for the BP #2 bore?

  • The load is 500grs FFg Goex. The balls for this one cast in wheel weights is right at 3000grains. It uses #11 caps.

    Colin Stolzer