Back in the day, in the early 20th century, the transition to smokeless powders was complete and commercial black powder rounds were being loaded with smokeless nitrocellulose-based powder. In the dark continent, the Europeans settlers were faced with an assortment of formidable four-legged adversaries. The big five were the elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, lion and leopard. In the Indian subcontinent there was the Bengal tiger and elephant as well as the Asiatic lion.
Long Guns, Rifles & Hunting Guns
The original tool of the trade for professional hunters, mostly ivory were an assortment of weapons. The traditional where the paradox long guns. Based on traditional shotgun gauges with the mighty 8 gauge being very popular. They fired large chunks of lead down a smoothbore with a rifled section near the muzzle and these where black powder driven. These where heavy, hence the gun bearer. The English and other Europeans where not lazy but humping a 20-30 pounds of rifle was fatiguing at best, leaving the bearer in no shape to shoot. The gun bearer had to have nerves of steal and faith in the ability of the hunter to get the job done as the bearer gave up his rifle to the hunter and had only the light weight that the hunter had been carrying. The 404 Jeffery and 416 Rigby where the rimless rounds chambered in bolt guns of the time, while the 470 and 500 Nitro Express rounds where flanged (rimmed) round employed in the British double-barreled rifles.
.375 H&H Magnum & .338 Lapua Sniper Rifle
In 1912 Holland & Holland introduce the first of the mighty belted magnums, .375 H&H magnum. This became the go-to round for hunting guides from Alaska, India and Africa. It was flat shooting and arrived with a wallop. It could anchor anything from large antelope and wildebeest and it still takes on elephant to this day. The place more gun is really needed if you’re up close and personal with a dangerous species, like cape buffalo who like to hide in the grass and are very close when seen. Other than closeup the .375 H&H belted magnum or its stable mate the flanged version for double rifles is all the gun you need. A bit heavy for the North American scene it is a guide favorite for big bears, moose and bison in Alaska. Guides need a lot of gun to take down a charging animal if a client fails to nail it. The .338 Lapua Magnum is one of the few rimless magnums and is a favorite of allied snipers operating in the middle east. But it is also a good heavy game rifle. The .404 Jeffery, 416 Rigby and the mighty .505 Gibbs are not considered technically magnums. These spit out heavy solid bullets at moderate velocity.
In the U.S. Weatherby is the king of the magnums and loads the heaviest loads per caliber than any other ammunition manufacturer. Most of the magnums in the U.S. market are belted, the belt is used to headspace the cartridge and was at the time a marketing strategy. If it has a belt it’s got to be powerful. Also, the belted rounds fed from the magazine of a bolt action rifle better than a rimmed or flanged round. After all you don’t want a round hanging up if you’re trying to stop a charging cape buffalo, rhino or elephant at close range. But the trend is swinging back towards the rimless cartridge in magnum loads, as they feed better and reliably from a magazine.
H&H Chambered in .700 H&H
The largest and most punishing rifle on both ends is an H&H chambered in .700 H&H. A rimmed round for doubles. It came about because H&H had seized production of rifles in 600 H&H. Both are express (magnums) and are rimmed for doubles. These two can take about anything on the planet, maybe going back to the Jurassic.