Forgotten Weapons Captures the Unholy Recoil of a 4-Bore Rifle in Slow Motion

    When faced with large, dangerous game set on ending your life before you end theirs, there really is no substitute for raw power. That’s a fact that African big game hunters throughout history have recognized, and reflective of this are the huge, cannonesque rifles they took with them into the brush. Some of the┬ámost massive and impressive of these were the weapons in various incarnations of the 4 bore caliber, named for being roughly the diameter of bore slugged by a round lead ball weighing one quarter of a pound. Later centerfire nitro 4-bore cartridges fired bullets as heavy as 2,000 grains (0.286 lbs) as fast as 1,500 ft/s. Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons puts his shoulder on the line shooting a single-shot blackpowder centerfire 4-bore rifle under the watchful lens of a high speed camera, capturing the rifle’s tsunami-like recoil in slow motion detail:

    Ultimately, the 4-bore rifles didn’t lack for power, but were cumbersome to carry, and due to their large bores actually possessed inferior penetration against thick-skinned dangerous game when compared to their smaller nitro magnum counterparts, such as the .505 Gibbs and .500 Nitro Express. As a result, the huge 4 bore rifles remained for the most part curiosities only, although their existence is a testament to their owners quest for maximum power.

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]