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.
James Julia auctioned this piece of firearm/literary/American history today: this Westley Richards droplock double rifle in .577 Nitro Express that was once owned by Ernest Hemingway. The gun hammered down for $295,000. That’s without the buyer’s a premium of 15%. So whoever bought Papa’s mammoth double dropped around $340,000 to get it. Those are some deep pockets.
The gun would probably be worth $70,000 – $80,000 without the provenance. And who would ever want at .577 NE double rifle with a single trigger? Facing down a charging elephant is no time to run a quality check on something like that.
You can read more about Hemignway’s monster double in this article from Garden & Gun magazine.
If you really want a .577 and you missed out on Hemingway’s gun, go to Schwandt Classic Arms and take a look under double rifles. There you’ll see a better rifle for about half the money. It’s a Holland & Hollandy Royal in .577NE. It’s a sidelock (droplocks are over rated) AND it has double triggers. I’ve seen this gun in person and it’s awesome.
I don’t know if I would want to shoot a .577 NE , though. I’ve fired a .470 NE double rifle and that gun bounced my brain around pretty well. Anything more than that is too much for me.