.600 Nitro Express

.600 Nitro Express

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The .600 Nitro Express is a round in the Nitro Express
Nitro Express
The Nitro Express series of cartridges are used in large-bore hunting rifles, also known as elephant guns or express rifles. They are named after the propellant they use, cordite, which is composed of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine...

 series which was introduced in 1903. It is the second largest calibre in the Nitro Express line, exceeded only by Holland & Holland
Holland & Holland
Holland & Holland is a British gun-maker based in London, England. They offer hand-made sporting rifles and shotguns. H&H holds two Royal Warrants.-History:Holland & Holland was founded by Harris Holland in the year 1835....

's .700 Nitro Express
.700 Nitro Express
The .700 Nitro Express is a big game rifle cartridge made by Holland & Holland, London, England. It was developed in 1988 by Jim Bell and William Feldstein and built by H&H. Feldstein had tried unsuccessfully to get H&H to build a .600 Nitro Express for him, but they had already ceased production...

 round.

Overview


It was developed for elephant gun
Elephant gun
An elephant gun is a large caliber gun, rifled or otherwise, so named because they were originally developed for use by big-game hunters for elephants and other large dangerous game. They used black powder at first but then started using smokeless powder...

s, but most hunters felt that it was too powerful and harsh in recoil for anything but emergency use to stop a charging animal. Because of the larger cartridge, there was more recoil and guns chambered to fire the .600 were significantly heavier than those firing the .577 Nitro Express
.577 Nitro Express
The .577 Nitro Express is a rimmed cartridge in the Nitro Express series of big-game hunting ammunition. It is also known as the .577 Nitro Express 3" and there is a variant called the .577 Nitro Express 2.75"...

, which was already considered as being at the extreme end of manageable gun size and weight for a professional hunter.

English professional hunters using .600 Nitro double rifles generally had them carried by a gun bearer until just before they were needed. This was because these rifles often weighed 15 pounds (6.8 kg) or so, and an exhausted carrier simply could not use one effectively in an emergency. Slightly smaller-calibre rifles were used for all other shooting. Usually not used in the regular course of hunting, the .600 nitro express was often employed by the professional hunter as an "emergency" rifle to stop a beast at close range after the customer had fired, missed, and the target animal charged the hunting party.

Classic 20th-century .600 Nitro double rifle
Double rifle
A double-barreled rifle or double rifle is a type of sporting rifle with two barrels instead of one, available in eitherside-by-side or over-and-under barrel configurations. Double rifles are one of the family of combination guns...

s were almost always completely hand-made from raw steel and the best walnut wood, and they were and are extremely expensive. Making one could employ a gunsmith working full-time on a single rifle for many months, even for a whole year. Like other double rifles they were regulated so that both barrels would shoot to the same point of impact at the range specified by the customer. For a high-grade specimen in good condition, a price in excess of $US100,000 can be expected.

Performance


All .600 Nitro Express cartridges carried a 900 gr projectile. Early versions were loaded with cordite
Cordite
Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance...

. While the .700 Nitro is of course larger, the .600 Nitro is the largest dangerous game caliber to have been used during the heyday of African ivory hunting.
The .700 was a 1980s creation as a result of a well-to-do gentleman being denied a .600 NE calibered rifle from renowned maker Holland and Holland.

Though the .600 was larger than the .577, it was not nearly as popular among professional hunters of the day. In use, a professional hunter would carry this rifle only when expecting a charge, or when the hunter was in the "thick brush", with a gun-bearer carrying it at other times. The rifles chambered for these rounds were most often side-by-side double rifles with boxlock actions made by the Jeffery Company of England. However, Jeffery did introduce their Model 1904 Farquharson-based
Farquharson rifle
The Farquharson Rifle is a single shot hammerless falling block action rifle designed and patented by John Farquharson, of Daldhu, Scotland in 1872. George Gibbs, a gun maker in Bristol, became a co-owner of the Farquharson patent in 1875 and was the sole maker of Farquharson rifles until the...

 falling block, single shot rifle in 1904 specifically for the 600 NE.

See also

  • .600 Overkill
    .600 Overkill
    The .600 Overkill cartridge is a hunting cartridge designed to fit the CZ-550 action, by American Hunting Rifles.-Design:The .600 Overkill was designed by Robert Garnick of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA...

  • .700 Nitro Express
    .700 Nitro Express
    The .700 Nitro Express is a big game rifle cartridge made by Holland & Holland, London, England. It was developed in 1988 by Jim Bell and William Feldstein and built by H&H. Feldstein had tried unsuccessfully to get H&H to build a .600 Nitro Express for him, but they had already ceased production...

  • .577 Nitro Express
    .577 Nitro Express
    The .577 Nitro Express is a rimmed cartridge in the Nitro Express series of big-game hunting ammunition. It is also known as the .577 Nitro Express 3" and there is a variant called the .577 Nitro Express 2.75"...

  • Nitro Express
    Nitro Express
    The Nitro Express series of cartridges are used in large-bore hunting rifles, also known as elephant guns or express rifles. They are named after the propellant they use, cordite, which is composed of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine...

  • Elephant Gun
    Elephant gun
    An elephant gun is a large caliber gun, rifled or otherwise, so named because they were originally developed for use by big-game hunters for elephants and other large dangerous game. They used black powder at first but then started using smokeless powder...


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