Most people think I have the perfect job. All I have to do is build guns, play around with them, and go shooting. Now don’t get me wrong I love what I do and in most cases can’t wait to get to work everyday. But every now and then you have to say to yourself “ This is too much gun”. One of our good customers called me and told me about the new double rifle he had just bought. It is a 1929 vintage Holland and Holland Royal chambered in .577 Nitro. I was very impressed; the rifle is like a dream gun to anybody who appreciates great guns. He also said that he needed some ammo made for the double and wanted me to work up loads that would regulate the barrels to hit in the same place at 50 yards. Well, without thinking and imagining the chance to shoot a rifle built in 1929 by some of the finest rifle builders, not to mention that the Double is worth over $100,000 dollars, I said yes!
The rifle showed up a few days later and was just what I expected. The workmanship was splendid and the wood straight and with the right amount of figure in the grain to give the rifle some character. After checking with Holland and Holland, I found the Double to be regulated to shoot 750-grain bullets at about 2050 feet per second. Now this load generates about 7000 foot-pounds of energy and about 110 pounds of free recoil. That’s like taking a bag of cement and having some one smack you in the shoulder with it. Getting hit once is not too bad, but to do it over and over again is like getting in the ring with Joe Frazier – No fun!
I read all that I could find on the .577 Nitro and really liked what A-Square had to say about the caliber. “ The 577 are not for everyone, the recoil is fierce”. “ Jack touched off one barrel, it drove him back two steps, the barrel rising to almost vertical and knocked his glasses away from his face…. That was wonderful”. Well I don’t know how wonderful it will be but I will have a definite respect for this rifle. I worked up some loads with 750 grain Barnes solid and the 750 Woodleigh soft point, using 155 grains of IMR 4831. Bob McKown and I headed to the range to see how well my best guess load would print at 50 yards and where the point of impact would be. This is not a rifle you could shoot off a bench without hurting yourself-Bob tried to shoot the rifle from a high shooting rest and literally hurt his shoulder so bad that he couldn’t shoot for two weeks after. The bullets hit too low on the target, the soft points about 4 inches low and the solids 8 inches low. I preceded to drop powder to bring the point of impact up on the target and after 32 shots using 3 different shooters and 6 trips to the range, we had both the solid and the soft point bullets hitting the same point of impact at 50 yards, The groups on a big gun like this will surprise most people and this rifle is no exception with the solids grouping under 1 inch and the soft under ½ inch.
I will never regret shooting this big old Double nor will I ever forget it. The bruises went away in a few weeks but the memory will be there a lot longer. I got a phone call yesterday from a gentleman who heard about us shooting the .577 Nitro at the range and wanted to know if we could load some ammo for his two custom built .600 Nitro Express rifles. Well here I go again, how could I turn him down? I can’t miss out on shooting one of these.