A Mighty 2 Bore Muzzleloader

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

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 bore ), 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
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

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2 of 15 comments
  • Jim Jim on Aug 31, 2010

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

  • Colin Stolzer Colin Stolzer on Sep 01, 2010

    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