Hemingway went to Africa in 1933 and 1954. On his second trip, the .577 Nitro Express Westley Richards you see here and in the video above was the gun he carried.
The .577 Nitro Express is one of the most bad-ass hunting rounds of all time. Hemingway’s rifle fired a 750 gr. bullet, and generated a crushing 7,010 ft⋅lbf. By comparison, a .30-06 Springfield shooting a 220-gr bullet generates a wimpy 2,981 ft⋅lbf.
Famous Africa hunter John “Pondoro” Taylor wrote that the .577 Nitro Express was “a magnificent killer – it literally crumbles up an elephant”. Unfortunately, it could have the same impact on the man shooting it.
Westley Richards Droplocks (aka “hand detachable locks”) are one of the most famous side-by-side actions ever created, and the .470 Nitro Express cartridge is also highly regarded. If you’re thinking of heading to Africa on safari, this gun would be ideal for everything from Cape Buffalo to Elephants. Westley Richards still makes them today. The double rifles have a starting price of around $100,000+.
LOT 1047, WESTLEY RICHARDS DROPLOCK DOUBLE RIFLE: Cal. 470 Nitro. S# 1431. Dovetail lump 26″ bbls. w/ single standing leaf express sight in matted quarter rib. pedestal front sight topped w/ blade including bright bead & flip up high visibility sight. Sling swivel attached to bottom rib. SST. Ejectors. Polished & jeweled hand detachable locks underneath hinged floorplate. Lock up is via dbl. under lugs w/ doll’s head top fastener. Westley Richards camming top lever. Stalking safety w/ gold “SAFE” & gold “BOLTED”. Action is decorated w/ 70% pattern of bold scroll. Full length bottom tang. Capped checkered walnut pistol grip stock w/ drop points checkered side panels, sling swivel & English leather covered pad. Grip cap is engraved to match & features trapdoor storage. Wide splinter forend w/ engraved pull lever style latch. Consignor states that rifle was recently checked for regulation by maker & that it is very accurate w/ Federal ammunition. LOP: 14″. Weight: 12 lbs. CONDITION: bbls. & furniture retain better than 90% freshened blue. Coin finished action exhibits crisp engraving. Hand detachable locks still display brilliant jeweling. Grip cap blue is beginning to show a plum tone. Wood shows a few scattered compression marks w/ none protruding through the finish. Checkering remains crisp. Initial oval is engraved w/ “LCT”. Leather covered pad retains strong black color. Action is tight & on face. Ejectors are strong. Bright bores w/ crisp rifling. ESTIMATE: $17,500-22,500.
I love guns that tell a story, and as I was checking out the doubles in Poulin Auctions’ upcoming sale, this old double rifle starting telling me one the moment I saw it.
I could tell it had seen a lot of action, and considering the caliber, I could imagine what that action was: Africa during the golden days and lots of big, dangerous game. I sure it has had many cape buffalo, rhinos, and elephants in its sights.
Instead of being a Holland & Holland Royal, it’s a Grade 3 / Dominion. Rifles like these were workhorses, favored by professional hunters and serious sportsman who wanted a rugged gun that could be counted on to perform flawlessly safari after safari.
Unlike your standard H&H Royal rifle, this one has a slightly rounded bar (nice is you ever carry it there) and a blued action with minimal engraving. The blued action is gorgeous to the eye. But to the gunmakers, I’m sure it was pain in the ass. On a finish like that, the tiniest screw-up stands out like fresh blood trail on snow.
Size and performance wise, the .500/.465 Nitro Express pushes a 440 grain bullet @ 2,150 ft/s and generates a tooth-rattling 4,930 ft·lbs of force. That’s a bit less than a .470 Nitro Express (500 grs @ 2,150 Ft/s, generating 5,140 ft lbs of force), but more than enough to clobber all but the biggest, most POd animal (and a lot more than a .30-06 — about 2,850 ft lbs).
Holland & Holland .500/.465 Nitro SxS double rifle: 26″ Whitworth chopperlump barrels, quarter rib, one standing, two folding sights. Front sight with folding moon. An unusual Holland described in the ledger as a “best-quality hammerless ejector cordite express rifle”. Border engraved hand-detachable action with a blacked finish throughout. Fitted with the Holland detachable mounts, the scope is marked British made W. Ottway & Co. Ealing London. The rifle went back to Holland & Holland in 1951 for regulation of sights and scope. Appears to have seen little use since that time. Stock of densely grained, well-figured dark walnut measures 14-1/4″ over a leather pad. Tight on the face, the bores are perfect. Weighs 11 lbs, 12 oz with the scope. Cased. A fabulous rifle for your next safari! Price: $75,000